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Social Robot Jibo Melts Crowdfunders' Hearts
July 18, 2014
A crowdfunding campaign for Jibo, a little robot designed to become one of the family, kicked off Wednesday on Indiegogo, and it already has raised more than $577,000 -- nearly six times its $100,000 target. The voice-controlled robot with a friendly face is a do-it-all personal assistant. It can take pictures, provide information from the Web or apps, order food, display e-books and much more.
Bet You Wish You'd Installed a Blender in a Cooler Lid
July 16, 2014
The hottest crowdsourced hit of the summer is the Coolest Cooler, an unassuming party cooler that features a built-in ice-crushing blender, a removable waterproof Bluetooth speaker, a USB charger, an LED lid light, a gear tie down, super wide wheels for dragging it over sand, a bottle opener, a divider to help keep your margarita ice separate from your sandwiches, and a knife built into the lid.
Nest Offers Discounted, Wave-Less Smoke Alarm
June 17, 2014
Google's Nest subsidiary has returned its Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm to the market, less than one month after recalling 440,000 units because of a defect. The device has been discounted to $99 from $130. The Protect was recalled because of a software glitch that could prevent it from properly sounding an alert. Nest issued a temporary software update to disable its Wave feature.
Honeywell's Lyric May Disturb Google's Nest
June 10, 2014
Honeywell has launched its Lyric smart thermostat, a device widely seen as a challenge to Google's Nest product. Like Nest, the Lyric can be controlled by a smartphone app; however, it uses geolocation to turn home heating and cooling systems on or off when the consumer's smartphone is within a specified distance. Apart from that, the two devices generally appear to have fairly similar features.
Sony Storms Out of the E3 Gate
June 10, 2014
Sony laid down its markers for PlayStation's months and years ahead with a slew of announcements at the E3 gaming trade show. PlayStation 4 has been handily outselling Xbox One since the consoles launched at the end of 2013. E3 is a key battleground for Sony and Microsoft, as they reveal upcoming software and hardware to entice new customers or keep existing users plugged into their ecosystems.
The 5 Things That Made This Year's WWDC Radical
June 06, 2014
While there were two hours jam-packed with announcements at the keynote presentation kicking off Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference this week, you can count the really important announcements that will create lasting change on one hand. The new programming language, Swift, isn't one of them. Wait, what? Not Swift? Why? There are five bigger deals.
Android TV Pegged for June Appearance
June 04, 2014
Android TV has appeared in tech industry rumors for years, but recent reports suggest the long-awaited technology actually may be making its way into the real world at last. Google apparently plans to announce the launch of Android TV at its Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco later this month, according to "multiple sources familiar with Google's plans."
Apple Teases Consumers, Doubles Down With Devs
June 03, 2014
Apple managed to pull off a mean feat on Monday at its WorldWide Developers Conference. Without announcing a single hardware device, it teased consumers with dozens of updated features in iOS 8 and the next version of Mac OS X -- dubbed "Yosemite" -- then doubled-down with app developers by offering tons of new APIs, along with elements of deep integration between apps and devices.
Can Apple Do for Smart Homes What It Did for Smartphones?
June 02, 2014
Apple is rumored to be launching a smart home platform at its developer conference this week. The smart home market is actually in a place that's rather similar to where MP3 players were when Apple launched the iPod, and the iPhone is basically an iPod with phone capability. The smart home effort is in part about music and video distribution, and iPhones are commonly used as remote controls.
Microsoft Circles Back to Halo
May 17, 2014
Microsoft is returning to one of its biggest franchises with the announcement of a new Halo game, set to debut next year for the Xbox One. Accompanying the release of the title is a new TV show based on the series. The release of Microsoft's latest console, the Xbox One, provided the opportunity to rethink how to move the franchise forward while highlighting the console's assets.
Brave New IoT World
May 14, 2014
Wearable technology and other devices, objects and systems connected to the Internet will be fully pervasive in our society by 2025, according to a new report. The Internet of Things references the many objects in our everyday lives that share data over the Internet. While the trend already is taking effect, it will have a much more widespread impact on our lives in a decade's time.
Precision Cooking Fires Up the Crowd
May 14, 2014
A new crowdsourced Kickstarter project has blasted out of the gate and racked up more than $1,000,000 in funding -- its goal was a modest $100,000 -- with 34 days to go. The project? The Anova Precision Cooker. At first glance, the Anova Precision Cooker looks like a massive electronic thermometer with a plug-in cord. It's used for the sous-vide style of cooking.
The Role of the UI in Video Discovery
April 28, 2014
As the competition around video services has increased across all global markets, a common theme has arisen among the various players in the market: The interface matters. For video services, particularly those offered online, the user interface is the face of the service to the consumer. For this reason, the focus on the user interface for video services is higher than at any time in the past.
Microsoft's Makeover: Nadella Confirmed, Ballmer Vindicated
April 28, 2014
Last week, Microsoft delivered its quarterly report, and it was a big deal. It was CEO Satya Nadella's first real quarter and the Nokia merger was completed. This is just the beginning of the Microsoft makeover, but two things indicate that in the end, Ballmer finally did what was right for Microsoft in prepping the company for Nadella -- and that Nadella was the right choice to lead the firm.
Micro Brings 3D Printing to the Mainstream
April 09, 2014
The Micro is the latest consumer-targeted 3D printer to generate buzz after flying past its $50,000 Kickstarter goal. It took only 11 minutes for the printer to reach its goal. As of mid-day Wednesday, the Micro had brought in more than $1.8 million from more than 6,400 backers. The Micro is the world's "first truly consumer 3D printer," its makers claim, in part because of its affordable price.
Amazon Sets TV on Fire
April 02, 2014
Amazon on Wednesday put paid to the buzz circulating around its plans for a set-top box, announcing Amazon Fire TV at a New York event. The size of a CD box and just over half an inch thick, Fire TV takes on set-top boxes, the iPod, Apple TV and game consoles. It plugs into users' HDTVs to provide instant access to Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, Showtime and Amazon videos.
LG Sheds Light on Internet of Things
March 25, 2014
LG Electronics on Monday unveiled a light bulb designed to illuminate consumers lives in a more intelligent way. The Smart Lamp can be controlled by an iOS or Android device over Bluetooth or WiFi. The 10W LED bulb is 80 percent more energy-efficient than other incandescent bulbs, LG claimed, and will last for up to 10 years when used for around five hours per day.
Super Joey Makes Dish Hopper a TV Junkie's Delight
March 14, 2014
How do you make Dish Network's Hopper HD-DVR system even better? Easy -- you supersize it. Introduced earlier this year at CES, Super Joey has officially arrived, and for TV fans it more than lives up to its "super" moniker. Utilizing the same Hopper and Sling technology as previous versions, it now increases the recording power. The Joey units are basically room extenders to the Dish set-top box.
Qplay Puts a Personal Spin on Internet TV
February 26, 2014
TiVo cofounders Mike Ramsay and James Barton on Tuesday launched Qplay, a brand-new company that aims to bring a new level of personalization to Internet TV. Comprised of an iPad app, a TV adapter and a dedicated cloud service, Qplay is designed to let users curate Internet video from across the Web and create "Qs," the company's name for personalized and shareable streams of content.
Recognizing and Defending Against Creeping Violence
February 17, 2014
I spoke last week with a woman who built a house in Belize. Apparently it was burglarized several times. After she moved away, her husband mysteriously died there -- he had stayed to protect the house before they sold it. Then I got a visit from a friend who'd retired to Brazil but badly wants to come home. He recently had his gold chain ripped from his neck while he was on a private beach.

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