First 3D Photo Booth Turns People Into Action Figures for $250

Creative lab Party is reinventing the photo booth. From now until January 14, 2013, consumers in Harajuku, Tokyo who have an extra 15 minutes and $250 can get striking miniature models of themselves. “It’s a reservations-only combination 3D scanner and printer that won’t just capture a flat face shot, but a head-to-toe, 360-degree, topographically accurate rendition of you,” reports Fast Company. Continue reading First 3D Photo Booth Turns People Into Action Figures for $250

New Book Suggests 3D Printing Could Spell Trouble for Toymakers

Former Wired editor Chris Anderson believes current 3D printers are the equivalent of the 1980s dot-matrix printers. And just as we now have sleek full-color inkjets with impeccable resolution, he anticipates 3D printers will dramatically improve in the coming years, potentially spelling trouble for toymakers. In an excerpt from his new novel “Makers,” made available on Business Insider, Anderson tells a story of printing dollhouse furniture for his daughters, who wanted a unique variety like that within the ‘Sims’ video game. Continue reading New Book Suggests 3D Printing Could Spell Trouble for Toymakers

Manufacturing the Future: The Top 10 Trends Expected in 3D Printing

In a report titled “3D Printing and the Future of Manufacturing,” tech business solutions provider CSC outlines the top 10 trends to watch for in 3D printing. “Once considered science fiction, the ability to do 3D printing — to produce objects on demand at relatively low cost — has become a reality,” writes Vivek Srinivasan and Jarrod Bassan in a Forbes guest post. “And the trend is going to pick up steam in 2013. Here’s a look at 10 trends to watch in 3D printing next year and beyond.” Continue reading Manufacturing the Future: The Top 10 Trends Expected in 3D Printing

Telecom: FCC Approves Dish Network Plan to Convert Spectrum

Many hedge fund and telecom execs have bought up various bands of spectrum in hopes of converting it for wireless networks. The FCC has denied several requests, keeping its strident allotment for airwaves, but the commission recently gave the rare green light to Dish Network.

“Late Tuesday, the FCC unanimously approved [Dish Chairman Charlie] Ergen’s plan,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Under the order, Dish would be required to not use a portion of its spectrum to avoid interference with neighboring airwaves, according to FCC officials. The company would also be required to cover at least 70 percent of the new network in each of its geographic license areas within seven years.”

Ergen started assembling the spectrum five years ago through government auctions and investments in flailing satellite companies, spending roughly $3 billion. “At a stroke, the FCC has now raised its value to as much as $12 billion, according to some analysts’ estimates. Mr. Ergen has to do the hard work of putting that spectrum to use or getting FCC approval to sell it,” the article states.

“Wireless service could give Dish an important new line of business in a mature U.S. pay TV market, where its cable TV rivals are able to sell popular ‘bundles’ of telephone, television, and high-speed Internet service.” Rather than building its own network, Dish could partner with a carrier like Sprint Nextel, or potentially even an outside company like Google, to offer wireless service with the spectrum.

“Consumers, meanwhile, could benefit whatever Dish decides, as the FCC’s decision frees up more bandwidth for data-hungry devices like smartphones and tablets,” explains WSJ. “The drawn-out process of converting that spectrum also highlighted how slowly regulators have moved to put much-needed airwaves to more valuable uses.”

Wireless Game-Changer: FCC Proposes Airwave-Sharing Scheme

A new spectrum sharing rule proposed by the Federal Communications Commission would be the biggest wireless regulatory change in decades and could prove a pivotal move in addressing ever-increasing data traffic. “Under the proposed rule, wireless carriers, corporate offices, or researchers could reserve pieces of that spectrum in different regions and at different times — a system managed by a central database,” Technology Review explains.

“The approach guarantees that the spectrum will be available and not subject to interference in certain areas by a crush of new users, as might happen if the new chunk of spectrum were made available with no regulation at all.”

The step “is a critical milestone,” says David Tennenhouse, Microsoft’s VP of technology policy. In addition to releasing more spectrum, the rule will enable “dynamic spectrum sharing that is particularly well suited for absorbing growing wireless data traffic,” he says.

“Cisco Systems estimates that mobile data traffic will grow by a factor of 18 by 2016, and Bell Labs predicts it will increase by a factor of 25,” notes the article. “Many more airwaves could eventually be shared with the help of cognitive radios, which sense available frequencies and shift between them.”

The rule applies to spectrum in the 3.550 to 3.650 gigahertz band, which is currently used by radar systems. At first, the “checked-out” spectrum might be free, but a pricing system may eventually be implemented to allow a wireless carrier to pay for priority access in times of extreme high demand.

“Whatever the details, the move spells the beginning of the end of a system in which spectrum is either exclusively owned by a private company, walled off for government and military use, or unlicensed and crowded,” suggests the article.

MPA Unveils New Mobile App Designed to Combat Piracy in Theaters

Movie theater personnel in the Asia-Pacific region can now quickly report illegal video recording to the Motion Picture Association with a new app available for tablets and smartphones.

“Using the mobile app, called MAD4 — abbreviated from ‘Make A Difference’ — theater managers and their teams will be able to type in information about camcording incidents through an online reporting platform,” explains The Hollywood Reporter. “The data will then be available to MPA officials for follow-up action or investigation.”

The MPA announced the new app this week at the CineAsia trade fair in Hong Kong. Also included in the app are training videos and resources to express the impact of piracy on the film industry and inform employees what to do when they witness illegal recording.

“We have been given to understand that more than 90 percent of newly released movies that appear illegally on the Internet and on the streets around the world originate from illegal copies being made in cinemas,” Ashish Saksena, CEO of Indian exhibitor Big Cinemas. “The MAD4 application is a great new tool ensuring that all staff will know what needs to be done to prevent illegal recordings being made in cinemas.”

TIME Lists Top 10 Gadgets of the Year: iPhone 5 Takes Top Spot

  • Although Apple may have to cede the top spot on smartphone sales, its iPhone 5 still sits at No. 1 in terms of overall device and operation system quality, earning the coveted TIME Magazine ‘gadget of the year’ award.
  • TIME’s Harry McCracken calls the iPhone 5 ‘one of the most artfully polished gadgets anyone’s ever built,’ adding that ‘when it comes to melding hardware, software and services so tightly that the seams fade away, Apple still has no peer,'” VentureBeat reports.
  • “Despite 5 million units sold in its opening weekend, and stellar sales results that catapulted iOS back into the mobile operating system lead in November, the iPhone 5 probably can’t catch the Samsung Galaxy S III, which launched in the summer and reached 18 million units by early November,” the article continues.
  • Apple did not, however, gain recognition from TIME for its iPads, even though the new iPad mini earned a warm welcome by many in October.
  • TIME‘s top 10 gadgets are as follows: 1) iPhone 5, 2) Nintendo Wii U, 3) Sony Cyber-shot RX100, 4) Raspberry Pi Model B, 5) Lytro, 6) Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, 7) Microsoft Surface with Windows RT, 8) Samsung Galaxy Note II, 9) Nest, and 10) Simple.TV.

Mobile Trends: Should Laptop Makers Shift Their Focus to Tablets?

  • Tablets are set to outsell laptops by 2015, according to a new report from IDC, underscoring the necessity for PC makers to focus on designing attractive slates.
  • “This forecast further emphasizes the massive shift toward mobile, which has been underway for several years: Smartphones began outselling PCs last year and will easily continue to do so as consumers and enterprises do more computing on the go,” reports GigaOM.
  • “Many PC makers were either late to the mobile device game, or not part of it at all, and have watched sales dollars filter to those making smartphones at first, and now tablets,” the article continues.
  • While the IDC report suggests that laptops won’t entirely go away — just as desktop PCs have remained — GigaOM suggests the model of computing that relied heavily on these PCs is changing, and IDC’s predictions could be “too conservative.”
  • The report also notes the decline in unit revenue for mobile devices, compared with the revenue of desktops or laptops. “That means computer makers will have to make up the difference in volume and the best chance to do that is by seizing momentum early, much as Apple did with its iPad,” the article states.
  • “Additionally, tablet hardware is improving quickly, and perhaps more importantly, so are the applications that run on tablets,” GigaOM continues. “Activities that once sounded absurd on a tablet just two or three years ago are now possible on an iPad, Android slate or Windows RT device. Instead of looking back at ‘old-school computing,’ laptop makers should be looking ahead at potential software and cloud services that tablets will benefit from.”

Digital Downloads: Kaleidescape Plans to Offer Time Warner Movies

  • Kaleidescape Inc. originally looked to reduce the hassle of physical DVDs and Blu-ray discs by enabling consumers to copy the movies and save them to a hard drive. After being sued by the DVD Copy Control Association, the company has since revamped its business model to keep up in the digital age of downloads.
  • “The closely held company plans to let users of its hardware buy and download digital movies, while still being able to make and store copies of DVD and Blu-ray discs they own,” the Wall Street Journal writes. “Kaleidescape is initially stocking its first online store with movies licensed under a multiyear deal with Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. movie studio.”
  • With numerous services that offer movies for rental, purchase or streaming, Kaleidescape is notably pricey.
  • “Kaleidescape’s systems, designed for people installing fancy home theaters, start at $14,490,” the article states. “But Kaleidescape hopes to build its audience among affluent customers who are willing to pay extra for the highest quality content, a sophisticated program guide and other features. Unlike most online video stores, the company says, its downloads will include all extra scenes and additional content found on DVD or Blu-ray discs.”
  • The deal with Time Warner provides the service with 3,000 feature films and more than 8,000 TV episodes, which will be priced between $6 to $20. Kaleidescape plans to enter licensing deals with other studios as well.
  • The company also supports the UltraViolet format. But downloading titles can take a while — up to five hours for a Blu-ray over a standard Internet connection.

Larry Page Talks Future of Search and Company Projects

  • Google CEO Larry Page, who rarely agrees to interviews, sat down with Fortune to discuss the future of search, clashes with Apple, the company’s numerous Google X projects, and more.
  • Page acknowledges the change in advertising models, but views disruption as a good thing. Google still devotes 70 percent of its effort into search and ads.
  • “The perfect search engine would really understand whatever your need is,” he says. “So one of my favorite examples I like to give is if you’re vacation planning. It would be really nice to have a system that could basically vacation plan for you. It would know your preferences, it would know the weather, it would know the prices of airline tickets, the hotel prices, understand logistics, combine all those things into one experience. And that’s kind of how we think about search.”
  • On Google’s competition with Apple, Amazon and others: “I’d like to see more cooperation on the user side. The Internet was made in universities and it was designed to interoperate. And as we’ve commercialized it, we’ve added more of an island-like approach to it, which I think is a somewhat a shame for users,” Page says.
  • “I think it would be nice if everybody would get along better and the users didn’t suffer as a result of other people’s activities. I try to model that. We try pretty hard to make our products be available as widely as we can. That’s our philosophy,” he notes.
  • The remaining effort at Google is split between apps (20 percent) and new projects (10). “I think investors always worry about this. You know, ‘Oh my God, they’re going to spend all their money on self-driving cars.’ I feel like no matter how hard I try, I can never make the 10 bigger, because it’s actually hard to get people to work on stuff that’s really ambitious. It’s easier to get people working on incremental things.”

Streaming: Is Netflix Popularity with Kids a Double-Edged Sword?

  • In August 2011, Netflix launched its “Just for Kids” page, which features commercial-free age-appropriate content organized by “superheroes” and “princesses.” Recently, the streaming service signed a content deal with Disney for an estimated $300 million a year.
  • “But Netflix’s popularity with children could be a double-edged sword,” the Wall Street Journal suggests. “Analysts say the streaming service could be undermining the very companies that supply it with most of its children’s television content, namely Disney and Viacom.”
  • Sanford C. Bernstein analyzed TiVo data, finding that kids’ cable ratings were up 8.5 percent in the first quarter among viewers who didn’t stream content compared to the relatively small 0.4 percent uptick among those who did. “Disney ratings grew 11 percent for nonstreaming users and 6 percent for streaming users, while Viacom ratings grew 6 percent for nonstreaming users and only 2 percent for streaming users,” WSJ reports.
  • “Bernstein says those trends have persisted through the year. And looking at an individual network tells the same story. From the end of 2011 through August 2012, ratings at Nickelodeon were up 11 percent among nonstreamers, compared with only 3 percent among streamers,” the article continues.
  • Unlike Nickelodeon, Disney Junior and Disney XD ratings are rising. “But both channels are relatively new and are coming off a small base. And even there, Netflix appears to be having an effect,” the article states.
  • “For Netflix, the risk is that Disney and Viacom demand significantly more for children’s content to make selling it worthwhile. In extremis, they could even decide to stop selling it to the streaming company.”

The State of Worldwide Intellectual Property: Innovation on the Rise

  • Innovation is on the rise all across the globe, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization.
  • The IP division of the United Nations released a report full of statistics that show IP trends around the world. It found, among other things, that China’s patent office has surpassed the U.S. as the largest, and 2011 set the record for the highest number of patent applications filed worldwide.
  • “Sustained growth in IP filings indicates that companies continue to innovate despite weak economic conditions,” WIPO Director General Francis Gurry stated at a press conference. “This is good news, as it lays the foundation for the world economy to generate growth and prosperity in the future.”
  • The Atlantic highlights numerous interesting findings including:
  • The total number of patent applications filed worldwide in 2011 was 2.14 million, while the estimated number of patents granted reached nearly 1 million. The increase in the total number of patent filings worldwide between 2009 and 2011 was 293,900.
  • China’s patent office received 526,412 applications in 2011, marking a 34.6 percent growth in patent filings.
  • The total number of applications received by the U.S. patent office in 2011 was 503,582 (with 224,505 patents granted). This represents a 9.7 percent growth for the U.S.

Strategic News: Mark Anderson Delivers 10 Predictions for 2013

Forbes provides an overview of the latest computing and telecommunications predictions for 2013 from tech guru Mark Anderson, as published in his Strategic News Service newsletter.

1) Tablets or “CarryAlongs” will become the dominant segment of computing devices.

2) Intel will fade into obscurity as Qualcomm and ARM take over computing, dominating the production of mobile chips.

3) Most U.S. homes will have Internet-enabled TVs, and other developed nations will follow suit as bandwidth improves.

4) The LTE vs. fiber battle will determine carriers’ business model for the years to come. “Customers choosing broadband LTE in DSL-served regions will be paying more and getting more; but those choosing LTE in fiber-served regions will be paying more for wireless broadband but getting less.”

5) Google will become the next Apple. “Google’s efforts in email, video, smartphones, maps, and driverless cars open up new long-term expansion paths, with more to follow.”

6) The driverless car will work toward ubiquity as countries pass laws to allow it and major brands work on developing new features.

7) e-Books will substantially outpace paperback sales in 2013 and will eventually dominate the market.

8) “Enterprise IT struggles to achieve very modest gains, with executive purchase decisions captured between large cash holdings, increased Asian competition, and their own poorly performing customers.”

9) “‘Hacktivist’ efforts acquire an important and permanent role in political transparency.”

10) Supply chain security will determine global technology purchases. “Recognition that today’s supply chains are virtually all compromised will lead to plant relocations and a new set of business opportunities for onshore component makers.”

Yahoo Teams with NBC Sports for Sharing Content, Cross-Promotion

  • Yahoo has deals with CNBC and ABC in order to expand the reach of its news content to millions of viewers. The company recently announced a similar agreement with NBC Sports, which is the first such initiative under the new CEO Marissa Mayer.
  • Yahoo and NBC Sports will cross-promote and share content such as live coverage, Rivals college content, and fantasy sports products.
  • “Though both sites will maintain editorial independence, the partnership will include collaborations on original Web content that will appear on Yahoo Sports and and will utilize both company’s popular personalities such as NBC’s Bob Costas and Mike Florio and Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel and Adrian Wojnarowski,” notes The Hollywood Reporter. “Yahoo Sports also will link to and promote the NBC Sports Live Extra streaming player.”
  • “And Yahoo Sports will become the exclusive fantasy game provider of NBC Sports’ Rotoworld, while Yahoo Sports’ will power recruiting and college sporting news for and the NBC Sports Regional Networks,” the article continues.
  • Yahoo says the partnership will help fans access news and analysis in real time, regardless of where they are.
  • “The complementary nature of this partnership is unmatched in digital sports media,” says Mark Lazarus, NBC Sports chairman. “Through our growing television and digital platforms, the Yahoo Sports partnership dramatically expands the digital reach of NBC Sports around the biggest sporting events. We are committed to continually growing this alliance for the benefit of both parties, our sports-property partners, and, most importantly, sports fans.”