Google I/O 2013 is entering day two in San Francisco and a Google Glass developer session is happening right now. The focus is on the current Mirror API, which allows for online, web services-based apps that push simple content to the headset. This enables current apps like the New York Times. But, the Mirror API is quite limited, allowing only online apps and not providing any direct access to the Glass hardware. That’s changing, though, with Google announcing the Glass Developer Kit, or GDK. This will allow for Android apps that run directly on the Glass hardware, providing much greater functionality and offline access. When is it coming? “Sometime in the future” is the best we’re able to get.
With PC laptop shipments projected to decline by 7.3% this year, Windows 8 machines desperately need a shot multiple shots of adrenaline. The Toshiba KIRAbook may be just that.
The KIRAbook is Toshiba’s first entrant in their newly fashioned “KIRA” line of luxury ultrabooks. At first glance, you can see that the KIRAbook is meticulously designed, and it radiates a Cupertino-esque level of fit and finish. We haven’t seen this kind of quality from Toshiba for a very long time (if ever).
That doesn’t mean the KIRAbook offers anything new in terms of design. There are still shades of the Macbook Air to be found here and there, as is the case with all top of the line Windows ultrabooks.
The KIRAbook has a smaller profile than the Macbook Air, but somehow manages to include a retina-quality 2560×1440 WQHD touchscreen display. Although I didn’t get an opportunity to compare it side by side with the retina Macbook Pro, or for that matter the Chromebook Pixel, but it’ll definitely be one of the best laptop displays out in the market once it’s released.
The display is most certainly the KIRAbook’s marquee feature and Toshiba’s primary justification for its slightly onerous pricing, which I’ll get to in just a moment.
Inside the KIRAbook, you’ll find an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The KIRAbook is also bundled with full versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements, as well as a complimentary two year service and support package that Toshiba claims to be on par with Applecare.
At least on a spec level, the KIRAbook lives up to its “luxury” label. But that also means it’s saddled with a luxuriously high price.
The non-touch KIRAbook with Core i5 starts at $ 1,599. It gets a little crazy from there. The touchscreen KIRAbook with Core i5 goes for $ 1,789, while the top of the line touchscreen KIRAbook, with Core i7 and Windows Pro, goes for a whopping $ 1,999. That kind of pricing blows its PC and Apple counterparts out of the water.
For comparison’s sake, the 13-inch Retina Macbook Pro starts at $ 1,499, albeit with a smaller 128GB SSD. The Lenovo Thinkpad x1 Carbon starts at $ 1,187, while the touchscreen equipped model starts at $ 1,319. The Asus Zenbook Prime, with a touchscreen and a nearly retina quality display, is currently retailing for $ 1,253 on Amazon.
Toshiba representatives told me that they don’t expect the Kirabook to become the bestselling laptop PC on the market. They understand it’s a bit of a niche product. If anything, the Kirabook is a statement that Toshiba is capable of producing top of the line hardware in a very appealing package.
No word on whether the KIRAbook is worth its price tag, but we’ll be sure to keep you in the loop with a full review soon. It’ll be available in stores May 5th.
I like to use my SLR, but there are many times when I leave it behind because I’m not sure whether it’ll be able to handle the conditions I plan to be using it in. LA-based hardware startup Outex is trying to make sure that photographers can use their cameras anywhere, without having to fork over north of $ 1,000 for environmental protection gear, and it’s taking to Kickstater to fund the latest piece in its product puzzle.
The Outex is a flexible casing for DSLR and other interchangeable lens cameras (it works with mirrorless systems, too) created by founder JR deSouza and his cousin Roberto Miglioli based on their shared love of photography, a hand-me-down from their grandfather, and a lack of good affordable options on the market for protecting cameras during use in harsh conditions. DeSouza told me in an interview that he and his cousin needed something that would work for surfing, kayaking, shooting around the pool, military applications and more, but that didn’t mean sacrificing portability or spending a mint to buy.
In a little over a year, the company has already managed to rack up some impressive customers, including photographers working for Red Bull, National Geographic, Outside Magazine and Vogue. The Outex is being used by a lot of videographers now, too, and the company wanted to build a solution into its product that better serves that market, while also opening up new possibilities for still photography. That’s what this Kickstarter project is about: funding the creation of the “Big O,” an LCD viewfinder window for the Outex.
DeSouza says they came up with the window after first toying with the idea of adding some kind of external LCD monitor to the Outex, and then realizing that the simpler, better and more widely compatible solution would be to simply add a glass window to the case (which itself resembles a kind of camera wetsuit) that would allow the built-in monitors on cameras to be used in any circumstances. Being able to see the viewfinder while the camera was in the Outex was one of the most common customer requests, however, according to deSouza, so coming up with some kind of solution was necessary.
Seeking Kickstarter backing is a first for Outex, and deSouza explained that the reason it went the crowdfunding route this time around was actually the result of a combination of factors.
“I felt that Kickstarter would be a good opportunity to accelerate our development,” deSouza explained. “The key is to be genuine and to do Kickstarter for what it is, and it becomes a great opportunity to get the word out and discover other things[...] I really do think there’s value to the community and the discovery process that also comes along with Kickstarter.”
Outex isn’t meant to be hardcore scuba gear like the Ikelite protectors favored by professional photographers, but where those cost around $ 1,500, a $ 375 pledge gets you everything you need to outfit your SLR with protection for up to 10 meters of submersion, as well as a host of other environmental perils. With the cost of high-quality photo gear coming down, it’s only fitting that a hardware startup emerges to so challenge the price tag on some of the more expensive accessories, too.
I love hardware. That’s why I want you guys to bring some of the coolest hardware projects imaginable to Disrupt NY this year. That’s why I want you guys in our Hardware Alley.
Hardware Alley is a one-day celebration of hardware start ups both young and old. The goal has always been to show off amazing hardware that we have written about over the past few months, as well as a few surprises. Last Disrupt we featured the guys from Thermovape, Makerbot, and Lit Motors. This year we want to fill Disrupt NYC with more amazing companies.
For more details on Disrupt head over here. We’re looking for new or even unlaunched products, as well as potential Kickstarter projects. Prototypes are fine as long as they’re amazing.
You can see the previous Hardware Alley participants here. You can sign up here. Bootstrappers can contact me directly at email@example.com if you need a break on price. Hope to see you in the alley… the Hardware Alley.
Our sponsors help make Disrupt happen. If you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact our amazing sponsorship team here firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skulls of the Shogun is an interesting experiment in cross-platform gaming: it’s a multiplayer strategy game available for the Xbox 360, Windows 8, Surface, and Windows Phone, letting you play with your friends no matter which device they’re using. While the limited success of some of those platforms could impact the game commercially, there’s at least good news for those who have bought into Microsoft’s ecosystem: Skulls not only works across several devices, but more importantly, it’s also a great game. It blends a charming and absurd sense of style and humor with gameplay that manages to be both accessible and challenging — it’s the rare strategy game that actually works well with a controller.
The rare strategy game that…
The Japanese consumer electronics industry continues to feel the squeeze in the economy, with one of the more painful effects being mass layoffs of workers. In the latest development, Panasonic Corp. says that it will reduce its workforce by 10,000 employees by the end of this fiscal year, which completes in March 2013. The company had already warned that it will post losses of $ 10 billion for the full year, because of writeoffs in its mobile, solar panel and lithium batter businesses.
The mobile business in particular has been seeing some tough times, with Panasonic Mobile reportedly preparing to pull out of the European market altogether, leaving it covering only Asia going forward.
While Panasonic has yet to make an official statement about the 10,000 layoffs, CFO Hideaki Kawai made the plans public in an interview with Reuters. They are part of a wider strategy to reach operating profits of $ 2.52 billion (¥200 billion) in the next three years. At the moment a fifth of its 100 business units are losing money, and there are plans for some of these to also be sold off, too.
Panasonic, along with other Japanese consumer electronics giants, have been between a rock and a hard place for a while now: on the one hand, there is the global economic downturn that has seen reduced consumer spending; on the other, the rise of Chinese and Korean, and other Asian companies making similar goods for significantly cheaper prices — or simply better quality, more desirable goods — has impacted these companies’ margins. Panasonic is a grandaddy of Japanese consumer electronics — it was founded in 1918 and remains Japan’s biggest employer — but in the last five years, it has posted four annual net losses.
The 10,000 cuts come on the heels of 36,000 layoffs at Panasonic last year. Several other Japanese consumer electronics giants have also faced mass layoffs. These include 11,000 workers reportedly getting the chop at Sharp (made public in September), and Sony announcing redundancies of a further 2,800 workers in October, part of its plan to cut 10,000 in total.Related Posts:
Valve’s hardware beta is apparently getting underway ahead of schedule, as a recent 4chan group interview with company head Gabe Newell revealed that the beta’s already in user testing. Moreover, Newell says that three different controller prototypes are in circulation. He echoes Valve hardware engineer Jeri Ellsworth’s words from earlier this year, saying controllers are yet another step in Valve’s journey with Steam from desktop PC to living room. He also says that the options currently available simply aren’t good enough. “The reason we’re doing controllers is we didn’t think there was enough interesting innovation going on.”
We’ve yet to see any of Valve’s hardware prototypes, but the last word was it shouldn’t be too long before they’re ready for consumption … in one form or another. Be sure to let us know if you spot one!
Move over software, the London and Cambridge, U.K.-based accelerator, Springboard, is launching a dedicated program for hardware startups, focusing on the Internet of Things. The new three-month accelerator bootcamp — called Springboard Internet of Things — is backed by program partners ARM, Unilever, Neul and Raspberry Pi, who will play an active role in supporting Springboard founders and providing senior mentors to participants.
Here’s how Springboard describes the new accelerator, which will be based in Cambridge
Springboard Internet of Things (“IoT”) is an accelerator program that accepts the ten best teams in any area of IoT technology — from bright idea to Series A funding. Participating founders receive more than $ 150,000 of free services, seed capital and mentoring from more than 100 industry leaders around the world, in an intensive three-month bootcamp.
Springboard founder Jon Bradford said he believes the time is right for a dedicated hardware accelerator, with the rise of Internet of Things projects on crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter (now accepting U.K.-based projects), and a general sense of growing momentum and energy in the maker community. He also points to Chris Anderson’s new book Makers, which talks of a new industrial revolution powered by garage tinkerers and enthusiasts, and references a recent post by YC co-founder Paul Graham on why hardware is ‘having a moment’.
“We believe that there is a massive untapped opportunity with low power device technology — which has been demonstrated by the maker and Kickstarter community,” Bradford added in a statement.
Eben Upton, CEO and Founder of the low cost mini computer Raspberry Pi, said in a statement: “To date, the Internet of Things has been largely the playground of corporates. Dramatically falling hardware costs are shifting innovation toward smaller teams in a similar manner to how web technologies have evolved over the last 10 years.”
Springboard IoT will sit alongside Springboard’s other programs — as a supplement to the London-based Springboard web and the Springboard Mobile accelerators. Mentors for IoT include Hermann Hauser (Amadeus), Sherry Coutu, Niall Murphy (Evrythng & The Cloud), Usman Haque (Cosm & Pachube), Pilgrim Beart (AlertMe) and Brad Feld (Foundry Group & FitBit).
Entrepreneurs wanting to bag a place on the Springboard IoT program have until January 6 2013 to compete for one of ten available slots. To apply for a place on Springboard IoT visit www.springboard.com.
Google has posted a video called “Ask Me Anything” to the newly revamped Nexus website, and it shows quite clearly what role Google plays in your life.
Google answers your questions. Yes, that sometimes means a real question like “How much does the Earth weigh?” But perhaps more often, the questions that Google answers for us come from a tangent. A random search, followed by a click, and another click, and another click, until you’re somewhere new, learning something unexpected.
Maybe it’s the videos you watch on YouTube, or the ebooks you buy, the games you play, or a particularly enlightening email from good old Uncle George.
The point, however, is that Google wants to give you as many ways to ask your questions as possible. The hardware is irrelevant.
So Google braved a storm in the North East that started out as a sheepish school girl and ended up in leather pants with a cigarette (you know, Sandy), and still managed to pull off their big announcement yesterday.
So, the question now is, will you ask these devices anything?Related Posts:
Windows 8 may be a piece of software, but it’s spawned computers the likes of which we’ve never seen before, including desktops that turn into tablets, tablets that turn into laptops, and laptops that fold backwards into tablets once more. The software is causing a proliferation of touchscreen devices, and breathing new life into the active stylus as well. Here, we’ll show you the hottest new Windows 8 and Windows RT devices you can buy, and trace them all the way back to when they were merely rumors.