Sony, Harman Kardon and JBL Debut New Smart Speakers

At the Berlin trade show IFA this year, manufacturers showed smart speakers that incorporate voice assistants from Amazon and Google. Sony debuted its LF-S50G, one of the first third-party products, including Google Assistant and offering 360-degree sound and a digital clock, due out in December for $200. Another rival is the $250 Harman Kardon Allure, which offers Amazon’s Alexa and features ambient lighting that keeps the music’s beat. In addition, JBL’s new LINK series features three wireless speakers with Google Assistant and Chromecast support. Continue reading Sony, Harman Kardon and JBL Debut New Smart Speakers

Fitbit to Launch First Real Smartwatch With Focus on Fitness

Fitbit will debut its first true smartwatch, the $300 Ionic, in October. This new gadget, however, is focused on the company’s core competency — fitness — although it still offers typical smartwatch functionalities, including music, mobile payments and push notifications. Since Fitbit views health and fitness as the killer app, the Ionic offers an expanded range of health-oriented functions. Fitbit co-founder/chief executive James Park said the decision to take this tack was because he saw that consumers have been confused about the purpose of smartwatches. Continue reading Fitbit to Launch First Real Smartwatch With Focus on Fitness

Jawbone Is Liquidating, CEO Launches Jawbone Health Hub

After producing Bluetooth earpieces and wireless speakers for years, Jawbone pivoted to fitness wearables in 2011, with the debut of its UP health tracker. Then came two lawsuits in 2015, with Flextronics and Fitbit, and research that reported the company had captured only 2.8 percent of the fitness wearables market. So it should come as no surprise that Jawbone has entered into liquidation proceedings, and co-founder/chief executive Hosain Rahman is no longer with the company, having left for a new venture named Jawbone Health Hub. Continue reading Jawbone Is Liquidating, CEO Launches Jawbone Health Hub

Screening Room Files Eight Anti-Piracy Patent Applications

Napster co-founder Sean Parker has been working on Screening Room, a controversial project that would bring Hollywood blockbusters into homes on the day of their release, for $50 per movie. J.J. Abrams, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg are shareholders, but industry skeptics are worried that Screening Room will provide pirates with easy pickings. But now Parker’s Screening Room Media has submitted eight patent applications addressing piracy, including a so-called P2P polluter. Continue reading Screening Room Files Eight Anti-Piracy Patent Applications

Google Makes Bid to Expand Revenue Sources Beyond Search

The focus for Google at its annual I/O developer conference was artificial intelligence. Google Assistant will now be available for the Apple iPhone, a way to introduce millions more people to Google’s AI capabilities. Google also revealed more about its software development kit for Google Assistant, saying it will be better integrated into TVs, let the user type requests and questions, and add skills such as payments and receipts. Third party developers plan to integrate Assistant into numerous products. Continue reading Google Makes Bid to Expand Revenue Sources Beyond Search

Qualcomm Debuts New Platform for Affordable Feature Phones

Qualcomm is rolling out its 205 Mobile Platform, designed for basic feature phones that will operate on faster 4G networks. Aimed at consumers in markets such as India, Latin America and Southeast Asia who cannot afford higher-end smartphones, the platform includes the Qualcomm 205 SoC in addition to feature phone hardware components and software, and offers longer battery life and faster access to social media and other content. Unlike feature phones for 2G and 3G networks, usually priced between $15 and $50, feature phones with Qualcomm’s new chip will cost about $50. Continue reading Qualcomm Debuts New Platform for Affordable Feature Phones

Nvidia’s Jetson TX2 Powers Devices with Artificial Intelligence

Nvidia unveiled its Jetson TX2 platform, designed for devices that have limited bandwidth like drones, traffic cameras, and manufacturing robots. Some of these devices, such as a camera drone, may capture large amounts of data without working in the cloud or a connected data center. Subsequently, these devices have to do most of the processing themselves and Jetson 3.0 promises to make them more powerful. The TX2 chip, which provides twice the performance of the TX1 while using only half the energy, is designed for artificial intelligence at the edge of a network. Continue reading Nvidia’s Jetson TX2 Powers Devices with Artificial Intelligence

CES: Glance Clock Provides New Uses for a Familiar Object

Glance Clock offers a visual solution for dealing with daily information overload. The stylish modern clock is linked by Bluetooth for proximity response or Wi-Fi for building wide connections to mobile phones. The device highlights select information as it updates on a smartphone or digital assistant. Calendars break down the day in colorful graphics on the clock face. Users can highlight notifications about to-do items and important events, anniversaries and more. Weather forecasts are announced by colorful animations and related details. As a direct indication of wider scale ambient reach, it also can display responses from Alexa or announce an Uber arrival with visuals and sounds. Continue reading CES: Glance Clock Provides New Uses for a Familiar Object

Dish’s AirTV Box Fuses Streaming, OTA Channels with EPG

At CES, Dish debuted AirTV, a 4K set-top box that features Sling TV, Netflix and Android TV for streaming apps and OTA channels, with the Sling TV guide as an organizer for all of the content. The accompanying remote control, which connects to the box via Bluetooth and offers voice controls, provides dedicated buttons for the streaming libraries. The set-top box is “about the size of an Apple TV or Roku box,” with ports for power, Ethernet, HDMI and USB. AirTV is priced at $100 or $130 for the antenna-compatible version. Continue reading Dish’s AirTV Box Fuses Streaming, OTA Channels with EPG

CES: Fasetto Rolls Out a New Class of Connectivity with LINK

Wisconsin-based startup Fasetto demonstrated its LINK storage and communications device at CES 2017. Ideal for media production, the portable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4G connected device might be the easiest way to distribute video via up to 15 mixed devices. A production unit merely needs access to a web browser and a little more than eight hours of battery charging time for streaming distribution. This device might also function as a budget version of on-set video support. The compact design (2-inches by 2-inches by 1-inch deep and a mere 4 ounces) packs up to 2TB of solid state storage with a 64 bit octa-core 2.1GHz Exynos 7420 processor and 4GB of RAM. Continue reading CES: Fasetto Rolls Out a New Class of Connectivity with LINK

Intel Demos Merged Reality Headset, Compute Card, 5G Modem

Intel demonstrated the first version of its Project Alloy headset, a “wearable” computer that enables a combination of virtual and augmented realities, or “merged reality.” At CES 2017, Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich announced Project Alloy will ship in Q4 this year, a fairly quick turnaround for a headset/project only first made public in August 2016. Project Alloy is evidence of Intel’s effort to position itself as a leader in wearable computing, in which the device contains all its essential computing components. Continue reading Intel Demos Merged Reality Headset, Compute Card, 5G Modem

Bluewave Showcases GET: 24-Bit Hi-Fi Headphone Amplifier

During CES, Montreal-based Bluewave privately showed the first Bluetooth aptX HD wireless headphone amplifier. The high-powered, high-fidelity, 24-bit portable solution allows any standard headset to receive near wired quality of the new aptX HD methodology. It also features an onboard MEMS microphone to add telephone conversations to a favorite production headset with the added boost of Bluetooth portability. The $100 GET is truly portable and ultra-compact (45mm x 22mm x 10mm) and weighs only 30 grams. Continue reading Bluewave Showcases GET: 24-Bit Hi-Fi Headphone Amplifier

$499 Kodak-Branded 360-Degree Camera Adds Second Lens

The original Kodak Pixpro 360 and Pixpro SP360 4K cameras were largely well received, but garnered some criticism regarding image quality. To address the limitations of a single lens and sensor system, the upgraded Kodak-branded 360-degree camera now features a more efficient dual-lens setup. The new Kodak Pixpro Orbit360 4K VR was unveiled at Photokina last fall by JK Imaging Ltd., the company licensing Kodak’s name, while pricing and availability details were revealed this week at CES. The new 360-degree camera will run $499 when it hits shelves later during Q1 2017. Continue reading $499 Kodak-Branded 360-Degree Camera Adds Second Lens

Bluetooth 5 Aims to Increase Speed, Reliability of IoT Devices

With the launch of Bluetooth 5, Internet connectivity is expected to be greatly improved. According to the Bluetooth SIG, which oversees the standard first announced earlier in 2016, Bluetooth 5, in its low-energy format, will enjoy twice the speed and up to four times the distance of today’s version. Manufacturers are just beginning to develop Bluetooth 5-compliant devices, which will be introduced into the market in the next two to six months, with the added prediction that “major products” could debut by the end of 2017. Continue reading Bluetooth 5 Aims to Increase Speed, Reliability of IoT Devices

Sony to Launch Mobile Versions of PlayStation Titles in Japan

In April, Sony will start releasing smartphone versions of popular PlayStation games in Japan as well as a pad and playing cards that gamers can connect to their smartphones via Bluetooth technology. Among those games are “Everybody’s Golf” and “PaRappa the Rapper.” Sony’s goal is to have a new and more constant revenue stream, given that the console business is dependent on the introduction of new hardware. Sony already provides die-hard PlayStation fans a subscription program for low-cost game rentals. Continue reading Sony to Launch Mobile Versions of PlayStation Titles in Japan

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