If your favorite audio or video broadcasts are spamming you with obnoxious ads (or anything else you don’t like) an Apple patent could yank them out by the roots — then substitute your own content. First, the system would check media content in real time through audio analysis or metadata scanning. Then, it would determine if its “of interest” to you by checking it against a profile based on your listening habits or personally defined preferences. Finally, if it thinks you’re into a particular stream, it would continue playing it, and if not, it could blast something from your own collection. It could even do a TiVo-like time-shifting function — ensuring you’d catch that entire guitar solo while not missing a single word from your favorite show.
Sure, the Pebble has nabbed its share of headlines and accolades lately, but that doesn’t mean it’s got the nascent smart watch market all sewed up. Case in point: veteran MetaWatch recently pulled back the curtains on its new Strata smart watch, and it’s already picking up plenty of steam on (where else?) Kickstarter.
Unlike some of the other smartwatch concepts that have been dreamed up in recent months, the Strata is the brainchild of a known quantity. MetaWatch has been tackling the problem of putting topical information on people’s wrists for nearly eight years now — the company’s roots lay with the clothing and accessory mavens at Fossil, which produced a pair of fashion-conscious smart timepieces in May 2011 before the team split off and formed their own company that August. Since then that team has been working on developer-oriented smart watches, but now they’re ready to bring the Strata to the masses.
Conceptually, the Strata doesn’t stray too far from the models that preceded it. In short, the watch connects to a compatible iDevice or Android handset via Bluetooth and provides call information, text messages, and weather updates at a glance. Thanks to MetaWatch’s SDKs and open-sourced software developers can tap into the Strata with apps that live directly on handset it’s connected to. A few nifty add-ons like an integrated running app, music controls, and an alert that warns users when they’ve wandered away from their phones rounds out the (rather handsome) package.
Where the Strata really bucks the trend it helped start is its strong focus on iOS support, and specifically support for iOS6. Take a look at the watch’s Kickstarter demo video to see what I mean — go ahead, I’ll wait.
Yep, there’s nary a mention of Android to be found. That’s not to say that the Strata will leave Android users behind. MetaWatch’s earlier development units were meant to be used with Android devices, and the project’s description notes that the Strata already works with devices like the Galaxy Nexus. There’s no word yet on what other specific models the Strata will play nice with, but apparently most Android handsets running on 2.1 or later should do the job.
Then again, that iOS push may be a savvier move than it appears at first glance. Huge consumer electronics companies like Motorola and Sony have thrown their gauntlets into the wrist-mounted display ring with devices that link up to their respective Android smartphones, with varying (and not very considerable) degrees of popularity. Apple’s hardware ecosystem on the other hand hasn’t yet played home to this sort of wearable device, and the Strata’s novelty and utility may be enough to inspire a new generation of iPhone-toting wrist-glancers.
So far, the Strata’s Kickstarter campaign seems to be moving at a steady clip — the project only went live yesterday morning and at time of writing 361 backers have chipped in a total of $ 62,000 to help MetaWatch’s latest make the leap from prototype to product. If this sort of momentum keeps up, we should be looking at a fully-funded project before Monday rolls around, but with tremendous popularity comes tremendous pressure — the team behind the record-breaking Pebble smart watch recently announced that they wouldn’t be able to stick to their original September launch window.
Coincidentally, MetaWatch also aims to push out its first Stratas to Kickstarter backers in September, and there’s word of a retail push in the works too. We’ll soon see if demand for this little guy reaches the same fever pitch that propelled the Pebble to the top of the Kickstarter charts, but for now you may want to lock one down before they’re all gone — a first-run Strata can be had for $ 159, while developer-oriented packages and special edition variants can cost as much as $ 299.Related Posts:
The government’s US Ignite partnership aims to push the growth of next-generation broadband networks, teaming up with over 100 start-ups, universities and existing tech companies like HP, Comcast and Verizon for the project. The President is set to sign an executive order today that aims to cut the cost of broadband construction across federal roadways and properties by up to 90 percent. The White House is also is looking to improve “next-generation applications and (the) digital experience,” running on networks that are a heady 100 times faster than what’s in use today. The National Science Foundation has thrown in $ 250 million to assist the partnership’s creation of a national 1-gigabit network that would connect together academic and developer hubs. Mozilla has decided to team up with the foundation to offer up a $ 500,000 prize pot for developers looking to help create the “internet of the future”. The challenge aims on education, healthcare, public safety and other (admittedly broad) topics, with the top ideas capable of grabbing $ 15,000 from the prize fund. And if Google reckons gigabit networks are the way to go, who’s the White House to argue?
Imagine barreling through the Amazonian rainforest with machetes flailing from the windows of your off-road rig, and just as you’re about to kick the vehicle into low gear, you pause to consider the impact of your vehicle’s exhaust (among other things) on the delicate ecosystem around. Fortunately for eco-minded folks, Portland-based EV manufacturer MotoCzysz — creator of the wicked E1pc electric motorcycle — plans to allay some of those concerns with its all-electric eStark SUV. For the basis of the vehicle, the company has turned to Brazilian auto manufacturer TAC Motors. The two partners will work together to integrate MotoCyzysz’s electric D1g1tal Dr1ve powertrain into otherwise diesel-thirsty Stark SUVs. Naturally, they’ll also need to fill it with a healthy battery pack, which’ll undoubtedly weigh down the otherwise plasticky carriage. Currently, the companies plan to manufacturer 3,600 eStark SUVs, which the partners hope to sell in Brazil and North America. Don’t count on taking the eStark onto the freeway anytime soon, though — the high cost of US safety certifications will likely keep this one away from city streets.
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This is the age of thinking thermostats and, not to be outdone by a well-known circular model, hardware startup Ecobee has released the Smart Si. It is a smart thermostat with small color screen and a web interface so temperature wonks can update their heating models on the fly.
The Smart Si is not quite as sleek as the Nest but offers more accessible settings – think of this as the Linux to Nest’s OS X. The web interface allows you to see your home’s current status, set a vacation profile, and view reports on your system’s performance including HVAC and heater usage.
The system pulls in weather alerts as well as alarms from your home system and you can chart and graph all of your performance parameters. Arguably, I doubt many will get very intense with this stuff, but it’s definitely available.
Ecobee has been around since 2007 and the introduced one of the first Wi-Fi-enabled thermostates. This is their effort at building a high-end thermostat but the company has plenty of experience in the space. The company also recently announced wireless Smart Plugs that allow you to control electronics in your house using the ZigBee networking standard.
The Smart Si costs $ 220 and is available now for pre-order.
This is a very high production value video introducing Red Rex Velvet, a mustachioed supervillain who wants to rid the city of Seattle of Phoenix Jones and the rest of the vigilante superheroes running around spraying people with mace or whatever the hell those basketcases do. The video is actually pretty good, dude’s mustache sucks, but I would drink whatever drink that is that shoots sparks out of it the whole time. I bet that stuff gets you CRUNK. Because one time at a barbeque I drank a beer that somebody had put out their cigarette in, and let me tell you — I got WOOZY. Then I swallowed the butt and puked on the grill.
Hit the jump for the how about all you superzeros just kill each other the same time and we call it a day?
If you spent any time in high school thinking about ley lines and bio-implants, you were probably a Shadowrun player. The game, which petered out after a disastrous run as a PC/Xbox game in 2007, brought the high-tech of William Gibson to the magical realms of Mr. Gygax. It was, in short, pretty cool.
A Kickstarter project aims to bring back all that fun in video game form, adding lots of what you missed about Shadowrun back to the PC. This new version will be a RPG involving the Shadowrun world complete with various character types – elves, samurai, humans – and, although this is discouraged, deals with dragons. $ 15 gets you a copy of the game while $ 60 gets you a t-shirt and some in-game perks.
Pledge $ 10,000 and the real magic happens:Previous rewards + Mike Mulvihill, who led Shadowrun game development at FASA Corp., will COME TO YOUR TOWN TO RUN A TABLETOP GAME OF SHADOWRUN FOR YOU AND FIVE OF YOUR FRIENDS. (He’ll even buy some snacks.)
You can read about the game here or fund it over at Kickstarter. The game has already gained pledges of $ 2 million on a $ 400,000 goal, so there’s a good chance it will get made.
All eyes are on Nintendo, now that it has revealed losses of $ 460 million. Buried in all of the financial paperwork were the revelations that it sells the 3DS at a loss, its plans for digital distribution and its projected sales figures for this year. It aims to flog 18.5 million 3DS handhelds and 10.5 million Wii consoles by March 31st 2013. But wait, what about the Wii U? That figure actually encompasses both old and new hardware, so it is either hoping for a sharp fall in Wii sales or a tough opening for the new baby. It’s a bold pair of figures that relies upon how well New Super Mario Bros 2, Animal Crossing and the new hardware capture the public’s imagination in a time when people are tightening their belts (especially if they’ve been using Wii Fit).
Continue reading Nintendo aims to flog 18 million 3DS, up to 10.5 million home consoles this fiscal year
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Colin Giles, Nokia’s executive vice president of sales, has announced that he’s stepping down. It follows the company’s dour financial results for Q1 and will lead to a restructuring of the company’s sales organization, aiming to strip layers from what’s currently in place. Giles has been with Nokia since 1992 and was heavily involved in the company’s movements in China and the larger Asia market. However, he had only been involved in Nokia’s Leadership Team for just under a year. He will stay with the team until June 30 and cites a desire to be closer to his family following his departure. Announced through Nokia’s official channels, the process aims to “ensure greater customer focus” — we suppose that will involve more than just white polycarbonate.
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In some of the old science fiction stories I remember from Weird Tales and Ray Bradbury and the like, robots always figured. But they always came the way you might expect a new dryer or hot water heater to arrive. In a big box, packed in straw or foam, heavy and metal of course as they always were back in the day. But the world of robots is different from the way they imagined it then: the metallic golems of yore have given way to a sort of Cambrian explosion of potential robot types, imitating everything from worm to dog to bird.
A team of researchers hopes to both expand that robodiversity and change the way our future companions are delivered. Funded by the NSF, they’ve begun a 5-year-long project exploring the idea of on-demand robots.
MIT is leading the effort, specifically Professor Daniela Rus from CSAIL. They have researchers from University of Pennsylvania and Harvard on the team, and the object is to “make it possible for the average person to design, customize and print a specialized robot in a matter of hours.”
Imagine, just for a domestic example, that you have a crawl space that’s difficult to get into and possibly dangerous. You could hop online or go to your local robot shop and have them create an ambulatory, four-legged robot with a couple pincers in it, so you could easily get any tools or toys that happen to go under there, or check for mice, or inspect wiring and construction for damage.
A standard robot might do, but you might need it bigger or smaller, or with or without a camera, or with a magnet or insecticide dispenser instead of a gripper. Or maybe the robot you need is outdated or expensive, or requires assembly, or must be shipped from Korea. Why should replicating a copy of a product with the end user apply only to media? Have it made right in your neighborhood, ready for pickup in the afternoon after the resin body has solidified and the stock boards have been updated with the latest control firmware.
The project leaders sum up its scope thusly:
The capability to customize cyber-physical systems on-demand would change how we plan for contingencies. Rescuers engaged in humanitarian aid and disaster reliefs in remote locations could minimize their logistic needs on-site. Warehouses of spare and replacement parts that may never be used could be replaced by storing only their designs digitally, not the physical parts themselves.
Fundamental problems in computer science about what is computable by digital machines will change. The problems will be reframed in a larger context as what functional hybrid machines are constructable from cyber-physical primitives.
As for the research itself, it will encompass more or less the entire ecosystem: supportive tools and materials for design and engineering of the “mechanical, electrical, computing, and software aspects of the device,” algorithms for production and assembly, programming and operational environments, and more. A few prototypes show how functional robots can be created from a few parts and an “origami” type structure.
They intend to include K-12 students in the process as well and establish sub-programs at the universities participating in the project. The $ 10M in NSF funding could end up going rather quickly when all these things are considered.
Needless to say, the potential revolutionizing of product engineering and delivery could have enormous implications down the line, although at the moment it is mostly speculative. Notably, this is fully orientated towards consumer applications, not military, where one might reasonably expect on-demand robotics to be sought after. The results of this program’s research are sure to be interesting and influential, as anything with a pedigree like this with fabrication and decentralized design and engineering as a starting point is certain to bear fruit.