Friday, March 31, 2017

Casio Smartwatch


If you're always late because your analogue watch is off by a few minutes, then perhaps Casio's new timepieces will save you from future embarrassment.

The Japanese watchmaker will soon be releasing a new set of wristwatches that incorporates a module called the "Connected Engine 3-way." That's fancy speak for a system that uses a combination of GPS, radio waves and your phone's timeserver function.

This results in a wristwatch that will always show accurate time from anywhere in the world, auto-adjusting itself to match the current timezone without ever needing adjustment. Energy consumption will also get better, as the GPS receiver of the new module uses 25 percent of what the original did, while the GPS antenna is now 20 percent smaller. The original Connected Engine used in some Casio watches has been upgraded, so it can connect to your phone via Bluetooth.

The newest watch to feature the new module will be the GPW-2000 in the "Gravitymaster" set, and will be available on May 19. It's an aviation-based concept and the watch's face includes similar dials to the altimeters you'd see in a cockpit.

The GPW-2000 can also display your location on the watch face and comes with a "flight log" function that syncs with the G-Shock phone app. It also features solar self-charging, so you'll never be short of battery power.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Samsung Refurbs


Tech giant Samsung Electronics said late on Monday that it plans to sell refurbished versions of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, the model pulled from markets last year due to fire-prone batteries.

Samsung's Note 7s were permanently scrapped in October following a global recall, roughly two months from the launch of the near-$900 devices, after some phones self-combusted. A subsequent probe found manufacturing problems in batteries supplied by two different companies - Samsung SDI Co Ltd and Amperex Technology Ltd.

Analysis from Samsung and independent researchers found no other problems in the Note 7 devices except the batteries, raising speculation that Samsung will recoup some of its losses by selling refurbished Note 7s.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters in January that it was considering the possibility of selling refurbished versions of the device or reusing some parts.

Samsung's announcement that revamped Note 7s will go back on sale, however, surprised some with the timing - just days before it launches its new S8 smartphone on Wednesday in the United States, its first new premium phone since the debacle last year.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Elon Musk Investment


Tesla Inc founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk has launched a company called Neuralink Corp through which computers could merge with human brains, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Neuralink is pursuing what Musk calls the "neural lace" technology, implanting tiny brain electrodes that may one day upload and download thoughts, the Journal reported.
Musk has not made an official announcement, but Neuralink was registered in California as a "medical research" company last July, and he plans on funding the company mostly by himself, a person briefed on the plans told the Journal.
It is unclear what sorts of products Neuralink might create, but people who have had discussions with the company describe a strategy similar to space launch company SpaceX and Tesla, the Journal report said.
In recent weeks, Neuralink has also hired leading academics in the field, the Journal reported.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Apple Patent


An Apple patent has revealed designs for a new gadget that could instantaneously turn an iPhone into a MacBook hybrid.



The technology giant filed the patent last year for an electronic accessory device that can be used to extend the functionality of a smartphone to a laptop-style terminal.

“It is anticipated that the accessory device is not a stand-alone computing device but only acts in concert with a host device,” the patent, which has just been published, says.

“The host device can be a portable computing device, such as  a smart phone, media player, tablet computer, or other portable computing device.”

9to5mac notes that the iPhone would effectively become the ‘brains’ of the laptop which would run iOS over MacOS.

Another design showed an iPad which could slot into the space where the laptop’s screen would usually be.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Google Punishes Symantec


Google is considering a harsh punishment for repeated incidents in which Symantec or its certificate resellers improperly issued SSL certificates. A proposed plan is to force the company to replace all of its customers’ certificates and to stop recognizing the extended validation (EV) status of those that have it.

According to a Netcraft survey from 2015, Symantec is responsible for about one in every three SSL certificates used on the web, making it the largest commercial certificate issuer in the world. As a result of acquisitions over the years the company now controls the root certificates of several formerly standalone certificate authorities including VeriSign, GeoTrust, Thawte and RapidSSL.

SSL/TLS certificates are used to encrypt the connections between browsers and HTTPS-enabled websites and also to verify that users are actually visiting the websites they intended to and not spoofed versions. These certificates are issued by organizations known as certificate authorities that are trusted by default in browsers and operating systems.

The process of issuing and managing certificates is governed by rules created by the CA/Browser Forum, an organization whose members include browser vendors and certificate authorities. When those rules are violated, browser and OS vendors can revoke trust in the offending certificates and sanction the responsible certificate authorities, going as far as kicking them out of their root certificate stores.

Google says that an investigation into a recent incident indicates that Symantec has not upheld security practices expected of certificate authorities, such as validating domain control,  auditing logs for evidence of unauthorized issuance, and minimizing the ability for the issuance of fraudulent certificates.

If Google’s plan is put into practice, millions of existing Symantec certificates will become untrusted over the next 12 months in Google Chrome. This will be a gradual process where every new Chrome release will distrust a new batch of certificates starting with Chrome 59,  which will revoke trust in certificates that have a validity period of over 33 months.

This will put enormous pressure on Symantec, as the company will have to contact all customers, validate their identity and the ownership of their domains all over again, and replace their existing certificates with new ones, most likely at no cost.

Some companies will likely have problems replacing their certificates on such short notice, as they might be used in payment terminals and other hard-to-reach embedded devices.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Google Security Updates


Google has spent the past year working with third-party manufacturers and phone carriers to improve its update system for Android, which is often criticized for not being fast enough to protect users from known vulnerabilities. And while Google says it has made some progress in this area — Android issued security updates to 735 million devices from more than 200 manufacturers in 2016 — about half of Android users still aren’t receiving important security patches.

“There is still a lot of work to do to protect all Android users: about half of devices in use at the end of 2016 had not received a platform security update in the previous year,” Android security leads Adrian Ludwig and Melinda Miller wrote in a year-in-review post. Android issued monthly security updates during that time frame.

When phone makers discover vulnerabilities in their products — either through external reports from security researchers or through internal audits — it kicks off a race to patch the problem before it’s widely exploited. But in the Android ecosystem, which includes hundreds of carriers and manufacturers, pushing those updates out to every user is a complex process.

While Google-manufactured Pixel and Nexus phones and tablets receive automatic updates, hundreds of manufacturers that run Android on their devices don’t push security updates to their customers immediately. This practice can leave customers waiting for months to get updates, and their devices are vulnerable in the meantime.

Ludwig told TechCrunch that Google has been able to cut the wait time for security updates from six to nine weeks down to just a few days by working with carriers and manufacturers. “In North America, just over 78 percent of flagship devices were current with the security update at the end of 2016,” he explained. “It’s a good number in terms of the progress that it represents. We think we can do better.”

Thursday, March 23, 2017

New Apple Products


Apple Inc. introduced a revamped version of its most popular-sized iPad at the cheapest price yet, and a shiny red iPhone 7, whose sales will help to combat AIDS.

Apple unveiled a new 9.7-inch iPad with a brighter Retina display starting at $329, and a special edition red-aluminum finish iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, part of the company’s decade-long partnership with (RED), which contributes to the Global Fund to fight HIV and AIDS.

The new iPad starts at $329 for 32GB with Wi-Fi and $459 for 32GB Wi-Fi plus cellular. It will be available to order starting March 24 in the U.S. and more than 20 other countries and regions. The iPhone (RED) models will be available in 128GB and 256GB models starting at $749 from March 24. Apple also announced new storage capacity for the iPhone SE. That 4-inch display model will now be available in 32GB and 128GB models, doubling the current capacity and replacing the previous models.

Other product launches Tuesday include a new app called Clips, that helps people combine video clips, photos and music that can be shared through social media and messages. Apple also said its Swift Playgrounds iPad app, which helps students learn to code, is available in five additional languages: Japanese, French, German, Spanish and simplified Chinese.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lights, Camera... The Top 7 Trends in Corporate Video Content

by Vern Oakley

We live in a visual society, and increasingly a video society. The corporate world knows this, and is leveraging video for uses other than just branding or marketing. Video is now often used to communicate important messages for moving people to action: for example, to invite investors to take a stake in your company, to encourage employees to rally around a strategy or initiative, or to recruit prospective employees.

As a filmmaker and creative director, I’m constantly looking for the next technology or trend to make my own work stronger and understand the context that corporations are coming to the table with. Here are some trends I’ve noticed lately.

1) Welcome to the video tsunami. Video is by far the way more and more people want to receive messages and information. We’re at the crest of the wave, and the surf is up. By 2020, 84% of all Internet traffic will be video. That’s an astounding number.

2) Video continues to move in-house. Many of the Global 1000 corporations have in-house video departments.  The middle market is looking to outsource the whole video operation and avoid staff and space allocations.  More to come on that.

3) There’s a lot of terrible video out there. The barrier to entry is so low in terms of costs, and business is so thirsty for content, which means that there is a perfusion of mediocre video. A great percentage of it is simply ignored.

4) Smart businesses demand ROI and ROI demands context. To understand and create effective video content is a skill unto itself. What distinguishes the merely acceptable from the truly great is an advanced level of strategic and creative thinking, a firm grip on the business challenges, and the societal context your audience is experiencing.

5) Virtual Reality is a contender. We’ve barely scratched the surface of VR’s massive potential for corporate and institutional applications. While VR is currently in the “trough of uncertainty” stage of its development, there’s no doubt more immersive and interactive video experiences are here to stay.

6) Culture beats strategy. Cultural differentiators are the most surefire (some might say only) way to stand out in a crowded global business environment. It starts at the top – no secret there.  A lot of the most compelling work solves a specific communication challenge around building and improving a company’s culture, for example, human resources (recruiting, on–boarding  retention), investor relations, CEO or executive messaging, values, purpose, and corporate communications.

7) Business has two speeds: faster and faster. Every project has tight time constraints. This is a result of the speed of business and the reality of the lives of corporate leaders. As service providers, we need to understand their pressure and work with it to assemble pop-up teams at a moment’s notice, and how to do great creative work under duress.

Video is here to stay. The future is filled with potential and opportunity. In the end, understanding your audience, making work that begs to be viewed and shared, and having clarity around the business problems you’re using video to solve add up to the successful use of video in a noisy world.

Veteran filmmaker, teacher, speaker, and industry thought leader Vern Oakley is CEO and creative director of Tribe Pictures, which he founded in 1986. Oakley has created films for Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit organizations, universities, and their leaders, including American Express, AT&T, Pfizer, Princeton, and NYU Law. His mission is to help humanize the world’s most successful leaders and institutions, helping them to craft their stories and to create meaningful human connections. To this end, he has studied with a variety of experts and institutions, from Arthur Penn and the Actor’s Studio to Harvard Business School.

Oakley directed the major motion picture, A Modern Affair, as well as the Emmy-winning children’s TV program, Reading Rainbow. His work has won over 500 international awards, including the Cannes Golden Dolphin, and he is currently an Adjunct Professor in Baruch College’s Communications Graduate Program. To learn more, visit www.vernoakley.com.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

iPhone 8 Rumors


Apple just might whet our appetites for a September unveiling of the iPhone 8 (or iPhone X) with an event later this month or early in April regarding some new iPads and maybe some low-end iPhones. But we won’t be distracted: On to the iPhone 8 rumors!
The word is that Apple and Samsung are going to hogging up most of the shiny, energy-efficient OLED displays being pumped out this year, leaving poor Huawei and others on the outs. And after all that, it turns out that Apple’s OLED displays on its anticipated 5.8-inch iPhone 8 will have a “gentler” curved screen than that found on the rival Samsung Galaxy S7 (and likely, the S8).
This mild news comes courtesy of Nikkei Asian Review, as reported by 9to5Mac and others. The news is based on one unnamed source…
“The curve will be gentler than screens in Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge handsets. This is partly due to the challenges of making curved glass covers to match screens, according to the source.
While the curved screen will allow a viewable area of about 5.2 inches and make the iPhone even sleeker, it will not offer significant new functions, the person said.”
In other words, based on this report, don’t anticipate Apple doing anything wild and crazy like running information down the sides of its curved iPhone displays.
This latest report is part of a back and forth narrative that has bounced from Apple going very curvy to settling for a regular old flat screen.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Vihoo Indiegogo Offer


Vihoo has announced the launch of their aerospace-engineered Phone Ring on Indiegogo, March 16th, designed by a NASA engineer.



In light of the iPhone’s 10th anniversary, Vihoo re-designed the phone case into a premium aluminum phone ring that embraces the iPhone with a simple click, and preserves the look and feel of iPhones as Apple designers intended. The two-piece hinged, diamond-cut, anodized premium aluminum ring offers the smoothest iPhone experience yet. In combination with Vihoo’s Ultra Premium shatterproof, full-screen rounded edge 3D Corning Glass Protector called “The Schild Visor”, users can “take the edge off”, resulting in a seamless user experience.

The iPhone accessories market has seen rapid growth with each release of a new model, and in just the first two weeks of a new release, consumers buy more than $250 million of accessories. However, the more beautiful and rigid the iPhone design evolves, the thicker and larger, the rubber and plastic cases become; morphing the iPhone into walkie-talkies-looking phones.  More than 30% of iPhone users don't like or use cases due to their size and look, and unlike other phone cases, the Vihoo Phone Ring respects your choice to keep your phone simple and elegant.

With this in mind, Vihoo founders, Harry and Jack, rolled out a design that makes the case for iPhone users who hate covering the intended design of their phone with chunky, rubber cases and complicated application processes.  

“Our Phone Ring actually came out of our trying to build the best possible stand for our new wireless Phone PC project---an ultra thin,wireless smart device utilizing artificial intelligence and adaptive learning with gesture control to improve the user experience, says Harry Reninger- Co-Founder Vihoo Inc. We love Apple engineering and hated to put a rubber/plastic case on our iPhones. We wanted to create a best-in-class protection system while maintaining the look and feel of the phone itself.”

The Phone Ring’s patent pending hinge technology, allows for a hassle-free application with hinges that open at the bottom and once the phone is placed inside, magnets help click it close, with no interference to your phone’s signal. This level of engineering extends to the patent pending Crash Zone Technology. Co-founder, Jack's former NASA aerospace engineering has applied fracture dynamics to the Phone Ring, embedded in all four corners of the phone to absorb impact, plus dense cushioning, lining the sides and the strength of the magnets itself.

Consumers will have the chance to pre-order exclusively on Indiegogo the Vihoo Phone Ring and Premium Corning Glass Protector combination for $40, which will retail for $80. The Phone Ring will also be offered individually for $25, retail for $39.95, in the iPhone classic colors as well as the top 10 Pantone colors for 2017.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Other World Computing

by Bayle Emlein
          
As CES 2017 got underway in Las Vegas, Other World Computing CEO Larry O’Connor was delighted to show off OWC’s latest products. For nearly 30 years, Other World Computing has built a solid reputation on quality products. You’ve got to be reliable to last that long in this industry.
     

For nearly two decades OWC has been making memory support for Apple/Macintosh computers. Because they’re so forward-thinking the Apple products just beg for a bit more: a bit more memory, faster external storage, USB ports. OWC enables users to upgrade to current standards without having to invest in a whole new machine every 2 years or paying today’s premium prices for four years worth of memory growth.
     
If you’d really rather have a Macbook, or your job mandates one but doesn’t provide it, look at the Thunderbolt 3 dock for the current generation of Macbooks. It adds 5 USB 3.1 ports, S/PDIF lossless audio transfer, FireWire 800 to connect legacy devices, Gigabit ethernet 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, a Mini DisplayPort, Audio In/Out, and an SD Card Reader. Like the docking stations of yore, the Thunderbolt 3 hooks up to larger displays: in this case up to two 4K monitors at the same time. With the ability to add so many peripherals so easily, you’ll hardly notice that in this decade the innards of each model of the Macbook have been glued or soldered in place and cannot be upgraded individually. Unlike your (grand)father’s docking stations, the Thunderbolt 3 is sleek and elegant, matches the Macbook, and becomes a portable part of the system.
     
Even more forward-thinking, in my opinion, is the OWC  business decision to move more manufacturing back to the main plant in Texas. This choice, made well before the election, was a business choice. It’s easier to maintain quality control and manufacturing integrity when you’re not crossing oceans and borders. It’s also easier to maintain team morale when the team meets and half of it isn’t struggling just to stay awake. And since team morale is a key ingredient in quality control, it’s a key ingredient in the OWC formula. Meeting together is a whole lot easier when everyone is operating is contiguous time zones.
     
Right now the Thunderbolt 3 is listed at $299.95, with pre-orders due to ship in March available at $279.00. If you have an older Macbook, look at other versions of the Thunderbolt to see if you can update it to meet your needs at a fraction of the cost of a whole new computer.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Google Family Link

Google has just one-upped Apple on mobile in a significant way: today the company today announced the launch of Family Link, an application for parents that lets them establish a child’s first Google account, as well as utilize a series of  parental controls to manage and track screen time, daily limits, device “bedtimes,” and which apps kids can use.
While all the major mobile device providers – Apple, Google, and Amazon included – offer parental controls on their devices –  Family Link is different because it’s a two-party system. Instead, it works more like the third-party parental control and monitoring software already on the market, where an app installed on a parent’s device is used to configure settings and keep an eye on kids’ digital behavior.
For the system to work, Family Link requires that both parent and child use Android. The parent will first download the Family Link mobile app to their own device, running Android KitKat (4.4) or higher. An iOS version is not yet available, says Google.
From this app, parents will set up the child’s Google account. It’s designed to be used for those children under the age of 13, Google notes.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Immotor Go

.By George Harding


For those who have long walks from train/bus/car to the office, Immotor may be a perfect solution. It is a motorized trike that is very compact and easy to use.
It is stable because it has three wheels and runs its motor from an enclosed battery. Not only that, it is very portable, being easily collapsed when not in use.





This device is equipped with an electric motor powered by a battery pack that is rechargeable either when installed or outside of the device. The battery can be used to power other items using 110v power, if desired.
Immotor has GPS installed, which keeps track of where you are and where you want to go. It detects motion and tracks safety and accident awareness.
It is available for preorder for $1,099, a substantial discount from its regular price of $1,499. It is shipped from China.
Immotor Go         
www.immotor.com

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Samsung S8 Update


With its rival LG Electronics’ new flagship smartphone G6 off to smooth sales, Samsung Electronics has made a rare move to release an ad for the Galaxy S8 on TV three weeks ahead of its official launch.

Such advertisements are usually unveiled one or two weeks prior to the official launch.

LG said over the weekend that the G6 sold more than 30,000 units over the first two days since its launch Friday. Its preorders exceeded 82,000 units during the eight days that began March 2.

“Although the initial interest was bigger for the G5, there were still a lot of inquiries for the G6 over the weekend and most preorders led to actual sales. Customers seemed to like the G6’s full display, thin design and light weight,” said an official of SK Telecom’s authorized retail store Sehwa agent, located in Jung-gu, downtown Seoul.

In light of the positive market response to its smaller rival, Samsung released a 15-second teaser video for its upcoming flagship Galaxy S8 from Thursday. This is three weeks ahead of its official launch on March 29.

“Samsung’s rare move to release a TV ad for the Galaxy this early appears to (be an attempt to) keep LG from dominating the nation’s premium smartphone market before the S8 rollout,” said an industry watcher who declined to be identified.

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is slated to be unveiled on March 29 in the US and UK, and on March 30 in Korea, with the release date expected to be on April 21.

As for LG, market analysts said if its favorable sales continue, it could bring a turnaround in the company’s mobile communications unit, which posted 1.3 trillion won ($1.1 billion) in operating loss last year.

“The LG G6 sold 20,000 units on the first day of sales, a record high compared to its predecessors. The figure was higher than double and quadruple that of theGalaxy S7 Edge and Galaxy A5,” said Kim Dong-won, an analyst of KB Securities.

“If this trend continues, LG’s mobile business is likely to see a reduction of more than 1 trillion won in operating losses from the previous year,” he added.

On the news of the positive start of the G6, the shares of LG Electronics closed at 65,300 won on Seoul’s main stock exchange, up 1.87 percent from the previous day.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Intel Acquires Mobileye

First they partnered, and now comes the acquisition: the computing giant Intel has confirmed that it is acquiring Mobileye, a leader in computer vision for autonomous driving technology, for $15.3 billion — the biggest-ever acquisition of an Israeli tech company.
Specifically, “Under the terms of the agreement, a subsidiary of Intel will commence a tender offer to acquire all of the issued and outstanding ordinary shares of Mobileye for $63.54 per share in cash, representing a fully-diluted equity value of approximately $15.3 billion and an enterprise value of $14.7 billion,” the company noted in a statement. The deal is expected to close in about nine months, Intel said.

Mobileye today covers a range of technology and services including sensor fusion, mapping, front- and rear-facing camera tech, and beginning in 2018, crowdsourcing data for high definition maps, as well as driving policy intelligence underlying driving decisions. This deal will bring under Intel’s umbrella not only a much bigger range of the different pieces that go into autonomous driving systems, but also a number of relationships with automakers. In the call today, Mobileye’s CTO and co-founder Amnon Shashua said the company is working with 27 car manufacturers, including 10 production programs with Audi, BMW and others going into 2016.

“This acquisition is a great step forward for our shareholders, the automotive industry and consumers,” said Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO, in a statement. “Intel provides critical foundational technologies for autonomous driving including plotting the car’s path and making real-time driving decisions. Mobileye brings the industry’s best automotive-grade computer vision and strong momentum with automakers and suppliers. Together, we can accelerate the future of autonomous driving with improved performance in a cloud-to-car solution at a lower cost for automakers.”

“We exp
ect the growth towards autonomous driving to be transformative. It will provide consumers with safer, more flexible, and less costly transportation options, and provide incremental business model opportunities for our automaker customers,” Ziv Aviram, Mobileye Co-Founder, President and CEO, added.  “By pooling together our infrastructure and resources, we can enhance and accelerate our combined know-how in the areas of mapping, virtual driving, simulators, development tool chains, hardware, data centers and high-performance computing platforms. Together, we will provide an attractive value proposition for the automotive industry.”

Monday, March 13, 2017

And Here's More

By Robert Sanborn



Jamo is the Scandinavian design of audio and speakers. Take a look at the Jamo Soundbar from CES.

Klipsch also has a CES webpage worth taking a look at especially my favorite, the Mid-Century Magnificent table top speaker. From Klipsch came my favorite quote: “stop buying crap audio, it’s embarrassing”.  An interesting part of their presentation was about EyeLock. This is a company that Voxx partnered with three years ago, and then purchased them two years ago. Looks like they might have something after all.

Casio has always been one of my favorite press events to go to and see what they think is exciting and usually, they are not far off. Their watch lineup is something to lust after and I am not sure I want the Edifice EQB-600 or the ProTrek Smart Watch WSD-F20. Could go with both but the prices are high but they have everything. Smarter, thinner, GPS, locations, tracking, and more and more. $390 for the Edifice on Amazon and $500 for the other.

Another pre show event I look into is the Showstoppers Launchit.  Each year, they bring in several companies in the launch stage to meet and present before a panel of people to tell them whether their product might be worth investing in. Quite interesting to see the products and hear about their chances of success which in most cases might be pretty slim but I think each of them go away with some really sound advice.  What amazes me is the number of options for companies to get funded from Kick Starter to Indigogo, Angel Lists, and the like. Ok, how about your own personal laundry folding machine? Foldimate.  Another cool thing was a speaker that only you can hear. For someone who doesn’t like ear buds, this might be just the thing for me. And there were a lot more but I had to leave early. The winner of the event was Nonda. Take a look.

LG was another massive press event. What they will be doing for 2017 is making a big investment in car assist systems. They are also making a big push to connect everything in the home with their DeepThinQ technology which you can read about here. How about a refrigerator with a flat panel screen that not only allows you to surf the web, find recipes, but also look inside the fridge to see what is there. Also, a robot that becomes an airport assistant for travelers and of course, the super UHD televisions using a new nano technology to create a high quality image no matter where you sit. Their studies discovered that 90 percent of television watchers don’t sit in the sweet spot in front of it. Biggest reason the curved TVs are going away. Creating new sound also with Dolby Atmos Sound which is a higher technology sound from your set and speakers. And finally, there is “wall paper”, the super thin, 2.57mm thick screen that attaches to the mounting bracket on the wall with magnets. WOW!

And the show had yet to get underway

Sunday, March 12, 2017

More from CES 2017

By Robert Sanborn

CES has so much to choose from that you have to pick and choose and so I put together a list of companies that I want to see what is new from them that can help me in my work but also the many people that I talk to with questions about computers and technology.

I visit Monster Cable because they often have a lot of cool things to show off and you never know who they bring to their press conference; some people really cool and there are others that you wonder what are you doing here? In the latter category, I have to pick on Lance Stephenson. He played a number of years for the NBA Pacers in Indianapolis and people never had a neutral opinion about him or his on court antics. He was good. No doubt about it but the Sports Illustrated headline said it all: “From Pacers star to unwanted free agent”. Google it. He is now one of the many celebrities with Monster. And I also have to say, the concert they had for their Dealer Awards Dinner was spectacular. George Benson and Friends Play the American Songbook with the BBB Orchestra with Bernie Dressel was incredible.

Head Monster Noel Lee was as animated and entertaining as ever so for those kinds of reasons, that was a fun press conference and event to attend. Will do it again next year but unfortunately, this year they talked more about remaking Monster than they did about new products so from that perspective, it was kind of dull. The music was definitely worth it. What was new was a boom box, new head sets, and finally, an iSport head set for people on the move. Other than the intro video, not a word about cables but they are the gold standard for cables.

Panasonic Press event was more interesting for the automotive side than the consumer side. Panasonic is the worlds leader in lithium batteries for the Tesla automobiles. In fact, their automotive group is the largest of Panasonic in the USA. So what caught my eye was the Panasonic countertop induction oven. Panasonic is also reviving the Technics Brand by bringing out  a cordless direct drive Turntable, the SL-1200GR. Priced at $1,299 British Pounds or $1,627. Read the Review
You know how silly it seems to get when on one side, Monster brings out Lance Stephenson and Panasonic brings out Mickey Mouse.

On the other hand is Voxx International. This is the gobbler of companies and the brands in their stable is quite long from some budget conscious speakers from 808 Audio to top of the line audio from Klipsch to electronics for the home and auto. How about a $49 water proof speaker, the CAM H2O. They do have some cool stuff. Another one of theirs is Project Nursery with a wide range of baby monitoring devices that is a different take on how it is done.

Stay tuned, there's more to come!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Consumers Wary of Smart Homes


Nearly two-thirds of consumers are worried about home IoT devices listening in on their conversations, according to a Gartner survey released Monday.
Those jitters aren’t too surprising after recent news items about TV announcers inadvertently activating viewers’ Amazon Echos, or about data from digital assistants being used as evidence in criminal trials. But privacy concerns are just one hurdle smart homes still have to overcome, according to the survey.
In fact, Gartner found that most consumers don’t feel they need what smart homes offer. Consumer IoT is still in an early-adopter phase, Gartner concluded from the online survey, which was conducted in the second half of last year in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. Nearly 10,000 people responded.
Connecting home appliances to each other and the internet can make life easier and homes more efficient. For example, smart thermostats can learn a family’s life patterns and turn up the heat or cooling only when needed. If several products can be orchestrated together, they can build up complex sets of actions like dimming the lights, drawing the blinds, and pausing the dishwasher when the TV comes on -- at least in theory. But for all this to succeed in the long term, consumers will have to want smart homes and be willing to pay for them, probably through subscriptions, Gartner analyst Amanda Sabia said.
If several products can be orchestrated together, they can build up complex sets of actions like dimming the lights, drawing the blinds, and pausing the dishwasher when the TV comes on -- at least in theory. But for all this to succeed in the long term, consumers will have to want smart homes and be willing to pay for them, probably through subscriptions, Gartner analyst Amanda Sabia said.
Some of the results revealed Monday aren’t promising.
Three-quarters of respondents said they’d just as soon set their lights and thermostats by hand as have IoT do it, while only a quarter were attracted to the idea of devices anticipating their needs and making changes automatically, Gartner said. The results were similar for doing things manually versus through voice commands to IoT devices.
The most widely used smart-home products today are home security alarm systems that detect suspicious activity and report it to a security company, which then contacts the resident, Gartner found.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Kimo Sabe Mezcal


Kimo Sabe, the new face of mezcal, has signed a three-year deal to become the official and exclusive mezcal sponsor of SXSW. The deal commences with this year's South By Southwest® Conference, where Kimo Sabe will hold numerous high-profile activations, including hosting numerous happy hour parties at the Trusted Friends Lounge inside the Austin Convention Center, a sampling exhibit at the Lady Bird Lake Outdoor Stage at live music events, as well as many other surprise pop-up activations throughout the festival. With mezcal being the fastest-growing spirit category in the world — and Kimo Sabe the fastest growing mezcal in the US — planting their flag at SXSW is another major step for Kimo Sabe in creating brand distinction in the burgeoning category. The deal was announced today by Jim Walsh, CEO and co-founder of Kimo Sabe, Ashely Walsh Kvamme, COO and co-founder of Kimo Sabe and Scott McNearney, Director of Global Sponsorship at SXSW.

To meet the growing demand for the spirit, a press conference with Kimo Sabe and the governor of Zacatecas, Mexico, announced last week a ground-breaking partnership that will create sustainable, organic ecosystems for the cultivation of varietal agaves, generating up to 100 new agave farms and creating over 1000 new jobs in the state. The move is part of Kimo Sabe's plan to build bridges with Mexico when others are suggesting walls.  

Since its launch in 2015, Kimo Sabe — which translates to Trusted Friend in Sonoran Indian — has racked up a number of prestigious awards including becoming the first mezcal to win top American Distilling Institute (ADI) honor "Best In Class International Specialty Spirit" for 2016, which judged Kimo Sabe against all mezcals and tequilas.  

Not only is mezcal the fastest growing spirits category, it is also the second most trending alcohol on social media, appealing to people who love tequila but who are seeking a superior alternative to call their own. Kimo Sabe's mission is to turn traditional tequila and whiskey drinkers onto the more refined and flavorful world of mezcals. SXSW attendees will have ample opportunity to take the taste test for themselves as the agreement calls for Kimo Sabe to have a major presence at SXSW with many activations.   

The SXSW sponsorship agreement fits seamlessly into Kimo Sabe's bold and successful rollout strategy, which has set a bullseye on the top tequila markets in the US. In just a short time, Kimo Sabe has seen double-digit gains of tequila market share in California, Nevada, New Jersey and Arizona. Kimo Sabe has also recently launched in Texas, Minnesota, Colorado, and Tennessee, with plans to expand to Illinois, Florida, and New York this spring, and Wisconsin and Georgia this summer.

QUOTE FROM KIMO SABE
"SXSW celebrates the expression of passionate, creative talent, inside the biggest party of the year — a perfect place to experience Kimo Sabe Mezcal and keep the party going with Trusted Friends," said Jim Walsh and Ashley Walsh Kvamme.