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Gadget Ogling: Pliable Phones, Clever Kicks, and Sumptuous Speakers
June 21, 2016
Lenovo has peeled back the curtain on a smartphone that you can wrap around your wrist, sporting a full-color screen. The "CPlus," as Lenovo calls the prototype, runs Android and has a 4.26-inch display. It will be available in 12 colors if and when it goes on sale. It's clear bendable smartphones will be a viable consumer product in the near future.
Plume Podifies Home WiFi
June 21, 2016
Plume last week introduced its eponymous self-optimizing WiFi system for the home. Plume adapts in real life to the different network demands made by various devices and ensures that each gets the fastest speeds possible, according to the company. The recommended setup is one pod per room and connecting space, such as a hallway, plus any cable or DSL modem or any modem/router combination.
Rubin Sees AI Quantum Computer Running the Show
June 15, 2016
Just one quantum computer running artificial intelligence algorithms would be capable of connecting pretty much all the devices on the planet, Android creator Andy Rubin said Tuesday. Rubin, who also launched Google's efforts in robotics, is now CEO of Playground, which together with Redpoint Ventures has invested in an unnamed startup working on quantum computing.
Devs Light Up for Alexa
June 10, 2016
Amazon last week announced the availability of more than 1,000 different skills for its Alexa voice assistant technology. Third-party developers have created the vast array of new capabilities for the highly popular line of consumer products that use Alexa, including the Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap and Amazon Fire. The announcement comes less than a year after Amazon released the Alexa Skills Kit.
Zenbo Home Robot Pours on the Charm
June 7, 2016
Asus recently unveiled a family robot that can serve as a home healthcare assistant, control connected devices in the smart home, monitor security, perform various online tasks, and function as a playmate, among other things. Asus' Zenbo made its debut at last month's Computex computer show. At the same time, Asus launched a program that provides devs with access to the Zenbo SDK.
Gadget Ogling: A Homier Google, Flicking Lamps, and Busy Earbuds
May 27, 2016
Taking a page or 10 out of Amazon Echo's book, Home is a blend of a smart speaker and a personal assistant, which you control using your voice. It can handle the types of queries Google Now and its successor, Google Assistant, can take on -- from simple questions like what's on your schedule for the day to more complex ones about the history of your favorite sports team.
Tiny HopperGo Neatly Stashes Loads of Mobile Entertainment
May 26, 2016
Dish Network continues to change the way we view recorded TV. It made location-shifting as easy as time-shifting via its Sling technology, and its Hopper let users transfer recordings to a mobile device. Now it has introduced another option for taking recorded content anywhere: the HopperGO, a compact DVR hard disk drive that lets users transfer content from a set-top box to the portable unit.
Gadget Ogling: Speedy Tortillas, Racing Robots, and Real-Time 3D
May 20, 2016
Flatev is a pod-based system for instant tortillas in the mold of a Keurig coffee maker. Insert a pod of fresh dough -- you have several choices, all organic -- then adjust settings for type of dough and desired crispiness, and 90 seconds later you'll have a fresh, warm tortilla. There's a heated drawer to keep your tortillas warm while you make as many as you need.
Google Plots Home Invasion
May 19, 2016
Google CEO Sundar Pichai kicked off the company's annual I/O developers conference on Wednesday with a keynote address that included previews of a batch of new products. Among those showcased were Google Assistant, a tool that can understand and respond to complex questions in real time; and Home, Google's highly anticipated response to Amazon's Echo speaker.
Could the Next Disruptive Consumer Product Be a Flip Phone?
May 16, 2016
Smartphones appear to be losing their luster, and the king of smartphones -- Apple -- clearly is not having a good year. Suddenly, I'm hearing that there is an upswing in flip phones, making this feel a bit like a Game of Thrones episode, when a believed-dead king returns to seize the throne by surprise. Clearly, the market is looking for the next big thing.
Google's Chirp May Try to Drown Out Amazon's Echo
May 13, 2016
The device, which might resemble the OnHub router, would incorporate its Google Now voice assistant technology. Google likely will launch the product later this year, although it's expected to preview it at I/O. The Echo, one of Amazon's biggest product launches in years, combines a speaker with the Alexa personal digital assistant -- voice recognition software that performs numerous functions.
Aging at Home, Part 2: Some Tech to Watch Over Me
May 6, 2016
When road maps for advanced care terminate in the familiar surroundings of one's home, as opposed to assisted living facilities and hospitals, technology can be as critical and comforting as human caregiving. Neither can replace the benefits the other brings. For individuals who would like to age in place, it's critical to factor in new and upcoming technologies when having end-game conversations.
Aging at Home, Part 1: Home May Be Where the Technology Is
May 5, 2016
Medicare started off the year putting into action a program to encourage more doctors to discuss end-of-life and advance care plans with patients. While the details tend to focus on the hard choices on the far side of those arrangements, new and near-future technologies could preserve life's simple pleasures on their front end. End-of-life conversations are meant to cover more than the final days or weeks.
Researchers Hijack Samsung's SmartThings IoT System
May 4, 2016
Researchers at the University of Michigan on Monday announced they had uncovered a series of vulnerabilities in the Samsung SmartThings home automation system that essentially could have allowed hackers to take control of various functions and break into a user's home. The researchers, working with Microsoft, were able to perform four proof-of-concept attacks.
Gadget Ogling: Digital Doodles, Magnetic Lighting, and Alexa Everywhere
May 4, 2016
Orée's Stylograph pen, which is made of copper, can transmit your scrawls and doodles to an iOS or Android device. It houses an accelerometer and a camera on the tip to capture what you're noting. You can get two days of use from an hour's charge, and if you're away from your smartphone or tablet as you're sketching or writing, you can store the data and transfer it later.
Alexa Takes Up Residence in a Really Smart Fridge Magnet
April 28, 2016
Invoxia on Thursday announced that Amazon's Alexa Voice Service has been integrated with its Triby digital assistants. The voice-activated unit is the first non-Amazon product to be Alexa-enabled. Triby, which has a magnetic frame, features a built-in speaker and microphone that can be used to listen to Internet radio or as a hands-free speakerphone, but its main function is to act as a digital assistant.
Gadget Ogling: Electric Nightmares, Cold Coffee, and a Smart Clothespin
April 28, 2016
I'm quite possibly the worst person in the world at waking up, without exaggeration. As a boy, I slept through a gas explosion that destroyed a home around 100 yards from my bedroom. All too often, I rely on my partner to shake me out of my slumber, as my own alarm clock rarely does the trick. I need something a little more forceful. The Shock Clock may be just up my alley.
Taking DIY to the Next Level
April 26, 2016
While hobbyists, inventors and innovators have been experimenting and producing a variety of do-it-yourself projects, their world is expected to undergo a hard shift as DIY moves to the next level. 3D printing is the cornerstone of the coming shift, and its effect on our daily lives will be multiplied by several converging forces: the collaborative economy, the jobless economy and personalization.
Gadget Ogling: A 360-Degree Cam, a Leveled-Up Kindle, and a Space-Saving Home Gym
April 21, 2016
Facebook has unveiled its latest push into hardware -- an open source 360-degree camera. Bearing 17 cameras and Web-based software to render footage in 360-degrees, Facebook Surround 360 is more of a design than a commercial product. It would cost around $30,000 to build one as is, Facebook said. The idea is to allow creators to iterate on the design to create their own cameras.
Gadget Ogling: Food Frenzies and Rollerblade Off-Roading
April 6, 2016
Of all the kitchen gadgets I own, the rice cooker is possibly my second-most favorite after the tea kettle. Sure, I could make rice in a pot, but the dedicated rice cooker makes it much easier to attend to other details instead of watching the pot. Xiaomi's pressurized version might prove even better. It recognizes the type of rice from a barcode scan and cooks it perfectly.
Amazon Doubles Down on Dash
April 4, 2016
Amazon last week announced that it had increased to more than 100 the number of Dash buttons Prime users can install in their homes to replenish supplies of household goods. Dash buttons, which essentially are free for Amazon Prime members, are connected devices that link to a customer's account. With the press of a button, they can order shipments of the product associated with a Dash module.
Oculus Rift Offers the Best VR Experience Yet, Reviewers Say
March 28, 2016
The first reviews of the Oculus Rift surfaced Monday, and reviewers praised the potential of the virtual reality system while pointing out some obvious concerns. The headset display is well-crafted, but drawbacks include the cost and the fact that it requires a powerful gaming system to run it, according to some reviews. "It has the potential to change the world," Devindra Hardawar wrote.
Dish Networks' Hopper 3 Takes a Leap and a Bound
March 26, 2016
Dish Network continues to up its game with its whole-home TV set-top box and accompanying devices. Since introducing its Sling-based TV-anywhere solution and whole-home DVR three years ago, Dish has remained one hop ahead of the competition. Since its launch, the Hopper has featured Sling technology that allowed for the streaming of content from the living room to almost anywhere.
Gadget Ogling: Bathroom Bots, Bedroom Bulbs, and Doorbell Detectives
March 22, 2016
Can you imagine a time before robot vacuum cleaners? The world was a messier place, certainly in the homes of those with too little impetus to pick up a broom or vacuum cleaner once in a while. Thankfully, for those of us who don't mind sweeping but are less enthused about using the mop, robotic help is on its way in a more affordable model: the Braava Jet from iRobot.
Xbox Signals It's Ready to Rumble
March 16, 2016
Microsoft this week announced that it would support cross-network play between its latest gaming console and other platforms. Cross-network support would allow Xbox One players to engage in multiplayer gaming with friends and randoms on platforms such as Steam and the PlayStation Network. It will be up to developers to support cross-platform games, however.
Gadget Ogling: All-In-One Cooking, In-Car Movie Nights, and Rolling Robots
March 15, 2016
Tovala is going to change everything, apparently. It's a countertop cooking system that acts as oven, microwave, toaster, broiler and steamer. It appears to have all the convenience of ready-made meals, while providing healthier eating options than a typical TV dinner. While you can create your own dishes, Tovala offers its own meals created by professional chefs that are delivered fresh to your home.
Philips Gets Biological With Home Lighting
March 14, 2016
Philips Lighting on Monday unveiled its Philips Hue white ambiance connected light bulbs. Designed to feature more natural light, the bulbs can gradually brighten in the morning to help users wake up naturally, while at night they can dim to help ease users to sleep. They also deliver a color temperature range that can be adjusted via a connected dimmer switch or through an app.
Home Alone? Now Nest Can Tell
March 10, 2016
Nest on Thursday announced two new features, Family Accounts and Home/Away Assist. Family Accounts would let up to 10 people access the Nest products in a connected home from their Android or iOS devices. Home/Away Assist was designed to track the patterns of household members, utilizing learning algorithms and activity sensors that are built into products such as the Nest Learning Thermostat.
Gadget Ogling: Lingering Echoes, DIY Scanner Projects, and Empowered Pitchers
March 8, 2016
Amazon is doubling down on its Alexa personal assistant with two new models of the Echo speaker: Echo Dot and Amazon Tap. The Dot is a more compact version of Echo. While it does have its own speaker, it apparently has nowhere near the quality of the Echo proper. As a standalone device, it looks more suited to standing in as an alarm clock and delivering the day's headlines than playing music.
One of Amazon Echo's Babies Might Outshine the Parent
March 7, 2016
Amazon launched two new versions of Echo last week: the Echo Dot and the Amazon Tap. I've actually had the chance to look at both, and they flesh out the line nicely -- but I think the Dot actually could outshine the original Echo. I'll share some of my reactions to both devices and speculate about what could come next as Amazon expands this product line.
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Live streaming video...
is the next big thing.
is a passing fad.
will dramatically improve citizen journalism.
will feed a lot more disturbing imagery to the Web.
doesn't interest me.