One Device: A work in Progress

•April 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Owning a number of different devices can often mean having to regularly transfer data between them to keep them synced, or storing private information in the cloud. Offering a truly connected alternative, Seed is a set of mobile and computer products that use the processing power and data of a single docked smartphone.

Designed by South Africa-based computer engineering student Nick Rout, the basis of the system is a smartphone — which nowadays rival the computational power of desktop computers of only a few years ago. Using a powerful processor such as a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 or an Adreno 420, 4GB mobile DRAM and 128GB of flash storage, the smartphone would be able to dock into a tablet, notebook, desktop PC and HDTV using a magnetic locking mechanism. Instead of each device being separate and running different operating systems, the smartphone acts as a portable computing system that simply plugs into the form that users want to work with. The video below explains a bit more about Seed:

The concept is something that has already been explored commercially with the Asus PadFone, a smartphone and tablet docking system. Seed, which will run on the open source Ubuntu OS, aims to connect more than just mobile devices, however. Although the project is currently still in the design phase, such a system could bring down the cost of owning multiple devices — as well as the multiple connecting cables that go with them — and make sharing between them a thing of the past. In the future, could ideas such as this help consumers see devices less as disjointed platforms and simply a different way to experience the same technology?

Unlocking the potential of an open hardware ecosystem – Google Project Ara

•March 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Google did a revolution in the smartphone software ecosystem by launching Android a while back which enabled small software developers to create some great software products that help us today. It is with this open mentality that Google is trying to do the very same in the smartphone hardware ecosystem.

Project Ara: A new effort to let people create phones with little building blocks of hardware? It’s about Google trying to connect 6 billion people to the internet — and Google’s services.

Want to build your own phone with modular blocks of functionality? That may not sound appealing until you think of the possibilities. You can upgrade your phone’s screen from 720p to 1080p, for example, instead of buying a whole new phone. Looking to add a better camera to your handset? Swap out an image sensor module for a better one. The idea is a sound one, but it comes down to execution. Enter Google’s Project Ara, an open hardware platform to bring this idea to the masses.

Motorola has been working on Project Ara for a year and is ready to start getting feedback from what the company calls “Ara Scouts”: You can sign up here if interestedPhonebloks is another, more recent, idea that’s even closer to what Motorola is doing. Take a peek at the idea:

Motorola is partnering with the Phonebloks community, which is a smart idea: Why reinvent the wheel when you can work together on a similar effort with shared goals. It’s exactly this type of effort that begins to answer the question, “Why did Google spend $12.5 billion to purchase Motorola?”

Google has already made great headway from the first billion smartphone users. Now it wants to connect and engage with the remaining 6 billion. Consider Project Ara another way for Google to do just that. Will the project be successful? Only time will tell, but since it’s another way for Google to get people connected to the internet — and therefore to Google apps and services — this is one modular phone project that won’t easily be allowed to fail.

 

CES Roundup – Connected TVs, Wearables & Robots at the forefront in 2014

•January 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Connected Television -

LG resurrected fallen iOS competitor WebOS in the South Korean giant’s new range of “Smart TV” connected televisions. The platform — which LG says will power 70 percent of its connected sets in 2014 — sports a slick user interface and has been bestowed with several useful touches, like the ability to recognize when a user connects an external device and present contextually-relevant menu options.

The new sets come bundled with apps for popular services including YouTube, Facebook, Skype, and Twitter, and users will be able to download new apps and content from the LG Store. LG has not yet released pricing or availability information.

Meanwhile, streaming content company Roku announced partnerships with Chinese manufacturers TCL and Hisense for their own connected television platform, Roku TV. Under the agreements, the same software that powers Roku’s popular streaming boxes will be adapted and pre-loaded on sets from the two TV makers.

Wearables -

Not content to stop at televisions, LG also unveiled two new wearable fitness devices on Monday. The Lifeband Touch is a wrist-worn activity tracker similar to a Nike Fuelband, while LG’s Heart Rate Earphones are Bluetooth-enabled in-ear headphones that measure biometric data like heart rate and maximum oxygen consumption from the external portion of the ear.

Lifeband Touch sports an OLED display that, in addition to the time and standard biometric data, can be configured to relay notifications from a connected smartphone. The Heart Rate Earphones can also be configured to send data to the Lifeband Touch for display. Both devices are slated for release in the first half of 2014 with pricing yet to be determined.

The wearable parade continued with the Polar V800, a combination fitness tracker and GPS wristwatch. Polar’s entry provides more granular detail than most other activity trackers, collating data from individual training sessions to forecast recovery time and help users get adequate rest between sessions.

Robotics -

French technology company Parrot announced two new iOS-controlled robotic devices, a small jumping robot dubbed the Jumping Sumo and a miniature flying drone the firm is calling the MiniDrone.

The Jumping Sumo is a two-wheeled, floor-bound bot that the publication says can make near-instant 180-degree turns and spring-assisted jumps up to three feet, while the MiniDrone is a palm-sized quadrocopter. Both devices are controlled with iOS apps and feature built-in cameras.

At the same time, Orbotix unveiled a second-generation remote-controlled device of its own, showing off the new, tubular Sphero 2B. The Sphero 2B is a ruggedized version of the iOS-controlled toy sold in Apple Stores around the world, featuring knobby, replaceable tires and new multiplayer games.

Telecom -

AT&T Mobility chief Ralph de la Vega announced that the carrier plans to support HD Voice on its network sometime this year. HD Voice uses wideband technology — including new audio codecs and an expanded audio range — to vastly improve the audio quality of mobile phone calls and reduce background noise.

So quite a lot to look forward to this year! Stay tuned!

2013 roundup: What’s in store in 2014

•December 31, 2013 • Leave a Comment

 

 

 

 

 

2014-trendsAs we move on to the NEW YEAR, here is a round up of a few interesting stats on elements of Digital Marketing that we often use.

Yes, a lot happened over the past year, some of it game-changing. Yet, let’s not forget to keep one eye on the road ahead.

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Interface Trend: HP + Leap Motion

•September 20, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Hardware startup Leap Motion, which managed to sell an impressive number of pre-orders for its standalone Leap Motion Controller gesture control computer accessory, today announced that the first fruits of its OEM partnership with PC-maker HP will hit shelves this Fall. The HP ENVY17 Leap Motion SE is the first shipping computer to build the startup’s tech directly in, and features a new embedded Leap Motion sensor that dramatically reduces size vs. previous embedded designs.

The standalone Leap Motion Controller may have sold in considerable numbers via pre-orders, but reviews for the device were less than enthusiastic. The company isn’t focused on replacing keyboard and mouse, but on providing another input method option that will be better suited to software specifically designed for its use. HP will bundle the ENVY17 Leap Motion SE with Airspace, Leap Motion’s app store software, as well as select pre-installed applications exclusive to the computer maker.

We think it is a great start to a change in personal computing interfaces which will be more immersive and portable at the same time. Also interesting will be a plethora of applications that will be developed in the near future which makes the utmost use of this technology.

Google quietly introduces Helpouts: Google+ Hangouts that connect people to experts

•August 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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Google is currently testing Helpouts — touted as “a new way to connect people who need help with people who can give help, over live video, anytime, anywhere”. The new service will be tied into Google+ and it’s basically Google Hangouts: not with friends, but with teachers.

The service isn’t live yet, as Google is still in the midst of gathering people with expertise across a number of topics. There are currently eight categories listed under the Helpouts support page, which include: Home & Garden, Computers & Electronics, Health & Counseling, Nutrition & Fitness, Fashion & Beauty, Art & Music, Cooking and Education.

Google isn’t taking the “expert” part lightly — anyone who wants to create a Helpout has to list down evidence of qualifications such as certificates, training and experience. If you want to provide any medical service, Google will also get a third party to check your certificate or licensure.

Helpouts can either be charged (with payment handled via Google Wallet), or for free. Google will take a platform fee of 20 percent for any paid Helpouts, which includes credit card transaction and Wallet fees.

We think it will be a great way to connect peer groups with their circles. What do you think?

Water surface turned into a touchscreen display panel!

•August 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Japanese researchers from the Koike Laboratory at Tokyo’s University of Electro-Communications have used a Kinect depth sensor and a projector to create the AquaTop Display. By adding bath salts to a tub, they found that the opaque water could be used as a projector screen.
Combined with the depth sensor, the water transformed into a touchscreen display, enabling users to interact with virtual objects using their hands. The system allows the user’s limbs to freely move through, under and over the projection surface.

It detects input to allow for interactions such as protruding fingers out from under the water and scooping it up with both hands, which aren’t possible with current impenetrable rigid surfaces. By floating their limbs on the water surface, it is also possible to fuse the user’s body with the displayed objects for further augmented interaction by “becoming one” with the screen. You can check out the AquaTop Display in the video below. Albeit a bit long it is a fascinating display of things to come.

 
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