CES 2018: Roku Debuts Licensing Program with OEM Partners

Roku debuted its Roku Whole Home Entertainment Licensing Program, which will partner with original equipment manufacturing (OEM) partners to integrate voice search and other entertainment-related features into smart soundbars and speakers. The options for the new licensing program includes Roku Connect, a free program for its OEM partners that will enable them to build high-end wireless speakers that both connect to the Roku ecosystem and synchronize multi-rooms. A logo will identify the speakers as part of the program. Continue reading CES 2018: Roku Debuts Licensing Program with OEM Partners

Report: About 16 Percent of Americans Own Smart Speakers

NPR and Edison Research released a report this week indicating that about one in six Americans (39 million people) now own a smart speaker, up 128 percent from last January. “Amazon’s Echo speakers are still in the lead, the report says, as 11 percent now own an Amazon Alexa device compared with 4 percent who own a Google Home product,” reports TechCrunch. Amazon and Google promoted their devices heavily and cut prices during the holiday shopping season. “The Echo Dot became a top seller across its site and by manufacturers through the Black Friday weekend.” Continue reading Report: About 16 Percent of Americans Own Smart Speakers

CES: Ujet Unveils Energy-Efficient Scooter With Smart Battery

Ujet rolled out its first energy-efficient, lightweight, portable, electric smart scooter at CES. Priced at $8,900 or $9,900, depending on which smart battery is selected, the Ujet weighs less than 100 pounds due to the frame’s alloy and carbon composite materials, and tires constructed of single-wall carbon nanotubes. Easily chargeable via a standard outlet (no charging station required), the scooter can be controlled remotely by an Android or iOS app that provides access to customer support, performance monitoring, ignition system, locks, directions, location, even the ability to disable the Ujet in the case of a theft. Continue reading CES: Ujet Unveils Energy-Efficient Scooter With Smart Battery

Amazon Imagines Alexa Will Soon Replace Your Smartphone

Amazon is aiming for a future in which its digital assistant Alexa replaces the smartphone. The future Alexa will evolve from speakers to touchscreens and a new, simpler kind of computing based on voice commands rather than apps. The rationale is that the smartphone has become ever-more complicated, with dozens of apps that distract the user. Developers also have an interest in moving off the smartphone, which has also been shown to have negative health effects. Rather than a distraction, Alexa offers specific interactions. Continue reading Amazon Imagines Alexa Will Soon Replace Your Smartphone

Amazon Intends to Rule the Smart Home With Alexa Devices

Amazon is making a big push to be everywhere in the smart home, which is why its devices are relatively inexpensive: the new Amazon Echo is $99.99, Echo Plus is $149.99, Echo Spot is $129.99 and the new Fire TV stick is $69.99. The company is betting on being ubiquitous enough in homes to become the de facto standard for smart home devices — in essence, a new operating system. Proof that Amazon is playing a long game is the Echo Plus, which with a single command could turn off the lights, lock the door and turn off the TV. Continue reading Amazon Intends to Rule the Smart Home With Alexa Devices

Echo Dot Leads the Charge for Amazon’s Record Prime Day

Amazon’s annual Prime Day proved to be a major success on Tuesday, breaking its own single-day sales record for the second consecutive year. According to the e-commerce giant, Prime Day sales surpassed those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with total sales figures more than 60 percent higher than the previous year’s event. Deals are reserved exclusively for Prime members, and the company signed more new members on July 11th than any other single day in its history. The Echo Dot smart speaker was the best-selling Amazon device as well as best-selling product from any manufacturer across all categories. Continue reading Echo Dot Leads the Charge for Amazon’s Record Prime Day

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

Google Home Is More Likely to Answer Correctly Than Alexa

A study conducted by New York digital ad agency 360i revealed that Google Home is six times likelier than Amazon Alexa to answer user requests correctly. However, consumers are much more likely to purchase the Amazon product than Google’s. Amazon currently dominates with 70 percent of the voice-controlled speaker market, says eMarketer. Amazon released its new Echo Show with interactive touchscreen this week, and according to one reviewer, it’s not much different from Android or Apple voice assistants. Continue reading Google Home Is More Likely to Answer Correctly Than Alexa

Google Blocks Burger King Ad From Activating Google Home

Burger King released a TV ad in which an actor activates the Google Home digital assistant to describe the ingredients in the Whopper sandwich. Prompted by the actor, Google Home searches Wikipedia for the Whopper and lists the makings of the sandwich. Within hours of the ad’s release, however, both The Verge and BuzzFeed discovered that the commercial no longer activated the device. Burger King did not work with Google to create this marketing approach, and Google reacted by stymying it. Continue reading Google Blocks Burger King Ad From Activating Google Home

Apple Updates How Home App Controls Smart Home Devices

Apple has launched a new website for its HomeKit software and Home App, which are used to control connected appliances and other devices in a user’s house. The site displays the compatible devices from 50 different brands and allows users to group them so that multiple actions can be triggered with a single tap or voice command. Apple has recently faced more competition in the smart home space because of Amazon’s Echo, which can also operate home devices via voice commands. Continue reading Apple Updates How Home App Controls Smart Home Devices

Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Both Amazon and Google are thinking about turning their respective home speakers — Echo and Google Home — into home telephones. Knowledgeable sources say the tech giants could introduce the feature this year, with the goal of gaining yet more control over consumers’ home lives. But the companies are also finding that it’s not so simple, facing issues related to privacy, telecom regulations and emergency services — as well as the potential that consumers will be wary that their conversations are being recorded. Continue reading Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Alexa, Google Assistant Beset by Zombie Apps, Low Retention

VoiceLabs just released a report that shows Amazon Echo and Google Home, holiday season hits, have problems to overcome in order to achieve mainstream acceptance. Its data reveals only 3 percent of users who enable an Alexa or Google Assistant voice app become active users by the second week, and, of the 7,000+ Alexa Skills voice apps, 69 percent have zero or one customer review, a sign of low to no usage. In comparison, Android and iOS apps have 13 percent and 11 percent retention rates respectively after one week. Continue reading Alexa, Google Assistant Beset by Zombie Apps, Low Retention

Digital Trends Announces its Top Tech of CES 2017 Winners

Tech publication Digital Trends unveiled its Top Tech of CES Award Winners. Best of Show this year went to Samsung’s $449 Chromebook Plus, which will roll out next month. “Designed with cooperation from Google, the Chromebook Plus is the first Chrome OS device built with Android apps in mind,” notes DT. “The 2,400 x 1,600 panel has a digitizer for built-in stylus support, and flips a full 360 degrees for dedicated tablet use.” Additional winners include Sony’s Bravia A1E 4K OLED (home video), Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 mirrorless camera (photography), Nvidia’s PilotNet (automotive), Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 (computing), the HTC Vive tracker (gaming), the Honor 6X budget phone (mobile), Beyerdynamics’ Xelento Remote (headphones), and GoldenEar’s Triton Reference speakers (home audio), among others. Continue reading Digital Trends Announces its Top Tech of CES 2017 Winners

Sony CEO Reveals Plan to Make Products ‘Objects of Desire’

During his CES presentation, Sony president and CEO Kazuo Hirai revealed plans for the company’s future, including an emphasis on creating personal experiences for customers, generating sustainable growth for the Sony brand through continued innovation, and developing new products as “objects of desire.” “When you experience one of our products, interact with one of them, we want to generate an emotional response,” he explained. Hirai recognized Mike Fasulo, president/COO of Sony North America, for his “incredible efforts in this pursuit,” and announced the company’s new 4K OLED offerings, new 4K Bravias and Android TV OS. Continue reading Sony CEO Reveals Plan to Make Products ‘Objects of Desire’

First Impressions of CES 2017: Where is All the Data Going?

CES is always a data scientist’s nightmare, and this year is no different. Why? It’s simple. The hardware vision we’re being served (24/7 connection with everything) immediately triggers one critical question: Where will all this data go? How will this comically fragmented data be integrated in a way that creates value for your lives, our families, our organizations? The central conundrum of wearables and IoT, which we see nowhere here, is that the firehose of data created by these devices can only create value if merged together in a way that’s (a) central, (b) safe, and (c) relevant to our lives. Emphasis on (c), of course. Continue reading First Impressions of CES 2017: Where is All the Data Going?

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