If you ask most people, they’d tell you there’s nothing wrong with the standard classroom set-up of a blackboard and chalk, or a whiteboard and dry-erase markers. Nicholas DePorzio isn’t most people, though. At Northeastern University’s Husky Startup Challenge Demo Day, he took home the “audience favorite” prize for KrystalBoard, a liquid crystal-based writing board. His early prototype takes a few cues from Boogie Board’s line of scratch pads. Functionally, they’re almost identical: use a stylus to scratch your message into the panel then, when you’re done, simply press a button to erase it. What DePorzio believes sets his creation apart is the ability to scale to much larger sizes. His first prototype, tossed together in just six weeks, certainly has some rough edges (literally, the stand is made from roughly cut cardboard boxes). But, with a different selection of liquid crystal panels, the hope is that high-contrast classroom-sized KrystalBoards are well within his reach.
The first iteration uses a nine-volt battery to force the crystals to reorient themselves and wipe out any missives, but DePorzio is confident that a small solar panel (like the one on your 99-cent calculator) will have more than enough juice to “power” a much larger model. And “power” is a relative term, since technically there’s no electricity coursing through the single-crystal panels. The goal is to save time and money by doing away with erasers, chalk, markers and other disposable supplies. The Northeastern student even believes he can get the cost of materials below that of a standard whiteboard or blackboard, but only time will tell on that one. Taking home the first prize check though, should give the fledgling company a good head start.
Gallery: KrystalBoard hands-on
Filed under: Misc
Meet Google’s “talking shoe,” which aims to translate movement data in witty messages to users and their friends. The concept apparel, showcased at the search giant’s swanky SXSW Interactive headquarters, is part of a new arts project - ”Art, Copy, Code” – which aims to breathe a social, life-like experience into everyday objects. “If standing still was a sport, you’d be world champion,” the trash-talking shoe projects on a monitor hanging over a rainbow-colored obstacle course after it senses I’ve been standing still.
At a distance, users seem a tad pathetic trying to trigger positive feedback from the shoe. But when I strapped it on, I felt oddly compelled to impress my new automated coach. Combining coaching (even robotic coaching) made lifeless data unexpectedly motivational. Essentially, it’s Richards Simmons in a shoe.
In case critics think this is another one of Google’s flights of profitless creative fancy, Arts Copy Code is deliberately about improving advertising. “It’s explicitly aimed at how translating how Silicon Valley thinks about technology into how creative agencies think about advertising,” says project lead Aman Govil.
Brands such as Nike, who outfit professional athletes with health-tracking shoes and bracelets, could broadcast an athlete’s spring-training performance in realtime. Rival athletes’ apparel could trash talk one another automatically.
It’s still (very) early days for the arts project. The talking shoe (and shoe strap) concept was developed through a grant to electronics agency Yes Yes No. Google plans to open up the project to more everyday objects in the near future. One hypothetical use-case, imagines Govil, is an alarm block that sends snarky messages to co-workers if users have to hit the snooze on their alarm clock more than three times.
There’s been heightened attention to research that quantifies how much our friends affect our weight, success, and personal lives. University of San Diego political scientist and Connected author James Fowler found that having an obese friend can significantly increase people’s chances of also having their own set of marshmallowy love handles. And it’s no secret that a spirited friend can get us up at 5 a.m. for a morning run as much as they can tempt us into finishing their plate of fries.
Health startups have attempted to “gamify” good behavior by encouraging users to share personal goals with friends. Nike+ FuelBand, for instance, shares users’ exercise habits with their friends on the personal social network, Path.
This project attempts to remove the barrier presented by current products. The social aspect has always required one extra step of human effort. However fast a one-word message of encouragement could take to type about a friend’s morning run, the minor inconvenience is enough to seriously limit engagement. This new automated personality seems to have a place, especially when we’re all too busy to be personal.
Currently the project is just a concept. There’s no need to jump over to the Google Play store and find the buy link. But Google Glass was just a concept at one point, too.
- Forget|Tech Meets Blog
- Shoe|Tech Meets Blog
HP is filling out its homemade “Sleekbook” brand (read: not quite an ultrabook) with a couple of new 15.6-inch models here at CES. The headline act is the Pavilion TouchSmart Sleekbook, which, as the name belies, is equipped with a touchscreen for Windows 8. The specifications of the machine aren’t terribly impressive, but that’s because the price of the base configuration is $ 649.99. That doesn’t make it the cheapest touchscreen Windows 8 clamshell laptop we’ve seen — there are smaller ones like Asus’ $ 499 Vivobook and plenty of touchscreen convertible tablets with weaker Intel Clover Trail processors — but the TouchSmart Sleekbook does stack up well price-wise with rivals like the Acer V5 and the Sony T13. Unlike either of those,…
When Google took the wraps off Now we all got a pretty excited about the potential of the preemptive virtual assistant. Kimera Systems wants to build a similar system, but one that will make Mountain View’s tool look about as advanced as a Commodore 64. The founder of the company, Mounir Shita, envisions a network of connected devices that use so-called smart software agents to track your friends, suggest food at a restaurant and even find someone to paint your house. That explanation is a bit simplistic, but it gets to the heart of what the Artificial General Intelligence network is theoretically capable of. In this world (as you’ll see in the video after the break) you don’t check Yelp or text your friend to ask if they’re running late. Instead, your phone would recognize that you’d walked into a particular restaurant, analyze the menu and suggest a meal based on your tastes. Meanwhile, your friend has just reached the bus stop, but it’s running a little behind. Her phone knows she’s supposed to meet you so it sends an alert to let you know of the delay. With some spare time on your hands, your phone would suggest making a new social connection or walking to a nearby store to pick up that book sitting in your wishlist. It’s creepy, ambitious and perhaps a bit unsettling that we’d be letting our phones run our lives. Kimera is trying to raise money to build a plug-in for Android and an SDK to start testing its vision. You check out the promotional video after the break and, if you’re so inclined, pledge some cash to the cause at the source.
Neil Young isn’t shy when it comes to embracing new technology, something he put beyond question with his latest appearance on The Late show with David Letterman. The artist took the opportunity to reveal plans for his high-fidelity Pono music service. The aim is to tackle the poor quality in which he believes most people receive their music these days — the humble MP3. Young’s offering would comprise a three-pronged approach, including a music store with high-resolution recordings, a digital-to-analog style conversion technology, and portable hardware to listen to it all with. The simple intention is to offer music as it was originally intended to be heard, but at this time there’s no detail as to what this actually entails (sorry specification fans).
According to Rolling Stone, the big three labels are interested, and the goal is to unify, rather than diversify, the quality of recorded content. The Pono players (that yellow wedge you see above) will serve up your existing catalog, but you’ll likely need to re-buy some of your collection if you want the holistic experience. With no cards fully on the table, we’re at the ransom of Young’s celebrity endorsements, which all claim that the benefits are tangible. Young, of course, says “You can’t get better than this, this is what they do in the studio,” but until we get some details, or ears on, everybody knows this is nowhere.
Clearwire doesn’t have much time left before its promised LTE rollout goes live in early 2013, so it’s with some relief that we know the deployment is getting underway. CFO Hope Cochran told those at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia Conference this week that construction of the first cell sites starts this month, with efforts truly swinging into full gear during the fall. The executive also reminded us of a very pragmatic reason why many of the 5,000 LTE sites due by June 30th will target high-traffic areas — as Clearwire is only selling the faster data access to other providers, it should pocket more money in any regions where Sprint needs all the help it can get. Call it a virtuous cycle. Cochran certainly does: while Clearwire is free to make deals with others, Cochran says her company weighs any alliances against what it still considers a very special pact with Sprint. No doubt the 4G pioneer is hoping that it’s making the right choices, as other carriers aren’t waiting around.
On Thursday, we starting hearing claims that Google had strong-armed Acer out of launching its A800 CloudMobile in China with the Aliyun operating system. We reached out to the search giant for its response, but they declined to comment. Over the last 24 hours, though, Google has attempted to explain its stance, but at the same time has potentially created some confusion about how open Android really is. Below is the initial statement received by Marketing Land:
“Compatibility is at the heart of the Android ecosystem and ensures a consistent experience for developers, manufacturers and consumers. Non-compatible versions of Android, like Aliyun, weaken the ecosystem. All members of the Open Handset Alliance have committed to building one Android platform and to not ship non-compatible Android devices. This does not however, keep OHA members from participating in competing ecosystems.”
This is clearly outlining Google’s intention to prevent forked Android spin-offs from diluting the platform and the user experience. Fair enough. The trouble seems to be, however, defining when something is Android compatible, rather than its own separate (albeit Android-based) operating system. Amazon’s Kindle Fire will instantly spring to mind. The new tablets run on Ice Cream Sandwich, but are fenced-off from the official Play store and other Google offerings.
According to Alibaba — the company behind the offending operating system — this is a similar situation with Aliyun, albeit a change from earlier reports, who responded to the compatibility charge as follows:
“Aliyun OS is not part of the Android ecosystem so of course Aliyun OS is not and does not have to be compatible with Android. It is ironic that a company that talks freely about openness is espousing a closed ecosystem.”
So, what about that Google? Well, it seems that the main complication is the Open Handset Alliance, a sort of club that agrees to help maintain the integrity of Android for the benefit of users, handset makers and developers alike. Membership to this club doesn’t prevent you from working with other operating systems (Windows Phone, for example,) but does ask that you commit to the “one Android platform” mentioned above. So, Alibaba says it’s not Android, Google claims it is. Which, some might argue, has justifiably led the Chinese software firm’s VP of international corporate affairs, John Spelich, to ask “Will someone please ask Google to define Android.” This leaves Acer, and other members of the OHA, stuck in the middle, as well as raising further questions about Google’s plans for China (where Alibaba is very powerful), and Android as a whole. Unfortunately, back in the immediate, it looks like Acer will have to rethink its strategy for the CloudMobile A800, in one of the world’s largest markets. Though if we see a Jelly Bean version popping up soon, don’t color us surprised.
With the introduction of the $ 499 8.9-inch Kindle HD with LTE, Amazon now has a device with the same price tag as the new iPad. Of course, the devices are very different when it comes to capacity, connectivity and screen size but the consumers will have no choice but to compare them.
Yet, contrarily to what many have said, Amazon is not trying to be yet another Apple wannabe. The Kindle announcements were not a message for Apple. In reality, Amazon has found its own way in the hardware business by staying true to its identity. And it is doing it at full speed.
Amazon’s strategy has been clear for a years. Ever since the prices of the Kindle e-readers started to go down until hitting the sweet $ 99spot, it was clear that Amazon was selling and subsidizing hardware devices in order to sell content.
At first it was just e-books, now it is movies and MP3s as well, through the Amazon Prime subscription or with a more traditional per-item purchase. In order to drive prices down, Amazon started selling all of its devices with ads — euphemistically called special offers — on the lock screen.
Now all devices from the $ 69 entry-level Kindle to the $ 499 Kindle HD are bundled with ads. Users slowly but surely accepted those lock screen wallpapers. Amazon has to be careful not to annoy users too much even if it means lower prices.
Indeed, Amazon has to foster a great experience because it is what matters to the company. If Kindle Fire buyers stop using their devices a month after acquiring them, then it means that the company has lost its bet.
That is the reason why Amazon is hiring a lot of people on its hardware projects. The company needs good hardware in order to attract customers, and, even more important, to keep them in the Amazon ecosystem. The worse scenario is when Kindle Fire buyers find that a Nexus tablet would be much better for their needs and start abandoning their devices.
Building good devices now is important so that the vendor lock-in effect can kick in for the years to come. But Amazon’s lock-in is very different from Apple’s or Google’s.Amazon builds excitement by hinting at new stuff, not by being secretive
Apple is known for being very secretive about its plans for new products. Even Apple employees don’t know what the other teams are working on and security measures are implemented to drastically protect access to buildings on Apple campus.
But Amazon is not taking the same approach. Even though Amazon employees tend to spoil the fun by sending too much information to tech blogs, Amazon has adopted a very novel strategy in the days prior to the Kindle Fire HD unveiling. For example, they got all the tech press’ attention by stating that the original Kindle Fire was sold out on August 30. They made sure that everyone knew that new models were coming up — it was purely a communication move as devices can’t sell out, except if the company stops production.
Another interesting move is the Amazon ad that featured the new Kindle devices the day before the press conference. People talk about a new iPhone or iPad months before their announcements. Amazon cannot expect the same kind of anticipation and excitement.
Instead of adopting the same strategy as Apple without the same results, they found their own way and it has worked well. The coverage of the new Kindle devices was much more important than the coverage of Motorola’s or Nokia’s press conference — even in mainstream media outlets.DNA difference: Amazon has a unique approach to hardware and content
One of the major difference in style from other companies comes from Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos. At the press conference, he delivered a solid presentation that showcased what makes Amazon so different from other companies. He is both a charismatic and focused leader, proud of his company’s products when he unveiled them to the public. If Bezos’ original idea with Amazon was to sell all the books in the world through the Internet, he clearly believes in its Kindle devices as well.
Successful tech companies have a strong identity that separates them from the others — from Facebook’s hacker culture to Apple at the intersection of liberal arts and technology. “One thing I should tell you is that our approach is our approach, and we don’t even claim it’s the right approach,” Bezos said to AllThingsD.
Amazon is first and foremost a retail company and it understands that well by, for example, bundling movie streaming with two-day delivery in Amazon Prime or putting Kindle ads everywhere on Amazon.com so that it is only a click away if you want to add it to your cart.
But something odd happened. Amazon became one of the most technology-focused company due to its infrastructure needs to power the tenth most popular website in the world. With Amazon Web Services, the company started providing to other websites one of the most powerful and most used platforms. Instagram, Netflix, Foursquare, Pinterest, Heroku and countless other services rely on the platform.
Being the go-to platform is one of the inspirations behind Amazon’s content strategy. Instead of thinking about putting stores together to please their users like Google does, Amazon is trying to build a coherent content platform with many ways to consume content — subscriptions, rentals, Kindle Singles, Kindle Serials, etc. — and believes in that goal. They have the resources to be present on every front, contrarily to Netflix.
People won’t buy Amazon devices because they like the operating system or the hardware. They will buy an Amazon device because they find it so much easier to watch movies or read books using Amazon’s content platform. It comes with a few conditions: the hardware needs to be on par with other manufacturers, Amazon should keep hardware prices low without bothering the user too much with ads and the company should stay focused on making the best content platform in the world. That is why Amazon’s DNA is unique and totally different from every other tablet or e-reader manufacturers — especially Apple.Related Posts:
New Kindles are coming! New Kindles are coming! And Amazon is trying its hardest to build up hype.
The Kindle Fire was the retailer’s hottest product since its launch. The replacement is set be announced next week, but Amazon just took to the wires to announce the original Kindle Fire is sold out. OMGNOWAY!
It’s nearly guaranteed that Amazon will launch new Kindle models next week at its LA-based press conference. New ereader Kindles are expected alongside new Fire models. It should be a good showing by Amazon, but there is a lot of noise in this space now. A boat load of tablets launched at IFA the last few days and Apple is expected to release a Kindle Fire competitor in the coming weeks as well.
Amazon is clearly desperate for attention. And so, just like the, days before the announcement of the next model, Amazon is suddenly out of stock of its best selling item — and quickly issued a press release bragging as such.
SEATTLE—August 30, 2012—(NASDAQ: AMZN)—Less than one year ago, Amazon introduced Kindle Fire —combining 15 years of innovation into a single, fully-integrated, end-to-end service for customers. Kindle Fire quickly became the most successful product launch in the history of Amazon.com, earning over 10,000 5-star customer reviews, and is the #1 best-selling product across the millions of items available on Amazon since its introduction 48 weeks ago. Today, Amazon announced that Kindle Fire is sold out, and that in just nine months, Kindle Fire has captured 22% of tablet sales in the U.S.
“We’re grateful to the millions of customers who have made Kindle Fire the most successful product launch in the history of Amazon,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “This has been a big year for digital products on Amazon—all of the top 10 sellers on Amazon.com since Kindle Fire launched just less than a year ago are digital products. Kindle Fire is sold out, but we have an exciting roadmap ahead—we will continue to offer our customers the best hardware, the best prices, the best customer service, the best cross-platform interoperability, and the best content ecosystem.”
Kindle Fire offers customers a vast selection of digital content—over 22 million movies, TV shows, apps, games, books, magazines and more—in one seamless, end-to-end experience, making it easy for customers to browse, discover and purchase. Since Kindle Fire launched last September, all of the top 10 products on Amazon—across all products—are digital products.
After Friday’s $ 1.05 billion verdict in favor of Apple, Samsung is now trying everything to reverse the trend while Apple is charging foward at full speed. Even though the injunction hearing will take place on September 20, some Samsung devices, such as the Galaxy Tab 10.1, were subject to preliminary injunctions. The jury decided that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 did not infringe the iPad D’889 design patent — Apple’s trade dress — and therefore invalidated the prior injunction.
Samsung requests a dissolution of the sales ban, the $ 2.6 million bond from Apple that protected Samsung if it was determined that the injunction was unnecessary, and probably damages for lost sales.
Apple, fresh off of its court victory last week, just informed the court the products it is going after for a U.S. sales ban on the basis of patent infringement. Thankfully, at least for Samsung, most of these products are no longer available. But Samsung will no doubt fight Apple on this as well.
- Droid Charge
- Galaxy S Showcase
- Galaxy Prevail
- Galaxy S 4G
- Galaxy S2 (AT&T)
- Galaxy S2 (Skyrocket)
- Galaxy S2 (T-Mobile)
- Galaxy S2 Epic 4G
Samsung is trying not to lose ground in the legal battle against Apple. On June 26, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ordered a preliminary sales ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 based on the fact that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 was hurting Apple’s sales due to trade dress and design patent infringement. At that time, Koh seemed convinced because she did not even wait for an Apple hearing to issue the injunction.
That’s why it is important to note that Koh can overrule the jury’s decision and state that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 does infringe Apple’s D’889 design patent.
In addition to the importance of Koh’s next move, the device was part of the list of Samsung devices that infringed several Apple software patents — at least ’381, ’915 and ’163 patents, respectively for “bounce back” scrolling, pinching to zoom and tapping to zoom. Apple might be asking for another review of that verdict on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the appeals court.
As long as the final injunction process is not over, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is still not out of danger. Yet, Samsung’s argument seems valid. It is worth trying to obtain damages from Apple. As the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is already out, reparations and brand reputation could certainly be the main motivation behind Samsung’s court filing.Related Posts: