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

Sony Slated to Release Xperia Ear Wearable Digital Assistant

On December 13, Sony plans to release the Xperia Ear on Amazon in time for holiday gift shopping. Priced at $200, the device, which will also be available eventually at Fry’s Electronics, Abt and B&H, will compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home — but in a form factor that resembles a Bluetooth earpiece. Sony had originally said it would release Xperia Ear in the summer, but then pushed the release date. The earpiece, available in black, is a companion to Xperia smartphones. Continue reading Sony Slated to Release Xperia Ear Wearable Digital Assistant

Snapchat Offers its Spectacles via Snapbot Vending Machines

Snap is already sold out on its first run of Spectacles, the $130 Snapchat sunglasses with a built-in camera for shooting video. The sunglasses were for sale in a pop-up vending machine, dubbed Snapbot, at the company’s Venice Beach headquarters, and now some of them are already for sale on eBay priced at $600 to $1,000. Snap is deliberately rolling out Spectacles in a playful fashion, with vending machines festooned with balloons and designed to look like a Cyclops cartoon character. Continue reading Snapchat Offers its Spectacles via Snapbot Vending Machines

Mi Box: Xiaomi Now Selling its New $69 Android TV Streamer

Chinese CE company Xiaomi introduced its first product geared for U.S. customers yesterday — the $69 streaming Mi Box, an Android TV STB that supports 4K video playback, HDR, and includes a Bluetooth voice remote. The company first unveiled the Mi Box at this year’s Google I/O developer conference. Since it’s based on Google’s Android TV, the device provides access to apps for Hulu, HBO Now, Netflix, Sling TV, YouTube and others. It also supports Google Cast for launching playback from mobile apps and makes recommendations based on a user’s YouTube and Google Play preferences. Continue reading Mi Box: Xiaomi Now Selling its New $69 Android TV Streamer

Apple Rolls Out its Latest iPhones, Smartwatch, Headphones

During yesterday’s Apple event in San Francisco, the company unveiled its next-gen iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. New features include the A10 Fusion SoC, IP67 water resistance, a home button upgraded with force touch tech, 25 percent brighter display panels, 12MP camera with new options, and support for wide color gamut displays and photography. In addition, Apple introduced the Apple Watch Series 2 featuring second-gen S2 SiP (System in Package) — also now water resistant and GPS-equipped — and Bluetooth AirPods and other new wireless headphones to make up for the loss of the iPhone’s headphone jack. Continue reading Apple Rolls Out its Latest iPhones, Smartwatch, Headphones

LG Expands Smart Home Strategy with New IoT Partnerships

At IFA 2016 in Berlin, LG is demonstrating smart home technology and its expanding IoT ecosystem with new partnerships and collaborations. In addition to connected smart refrigerators featuring sensors, touchscreens and cameras — as well as a host of new IoT accessories such as light bulbs and motion sensors — LG has announced that its SmartThinQ Hub now includes support for Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa. “To chat with Alexa, you’ll have to press a button on the LG hub, whereupon you’ll be able to ask Alexa to amend your schedule, play your favorite song, or check the forecast,” reports Digital Trends. “You’ll also be able to command Alexa via a remote.” Continue reading LG Expands Smart Home Strategy with New IoT Partnerships

Enseo Service to Bring Netflix to More Hotel Rooms Worldwide

Netflix and in-room entertainment platform maker Enseo have announced an expanded deal to bring the Netflix app to more worldwide hotel rooms. Hotel guests will be able to log in to their Netflix accounts via Enseo’s system and access TV shows, movies and their personalized lists and settings. “The two companies were already working together on Enseo’s product, the Enseo Entertainment Experience,” reports TechCrunch, “which also provides access to other streaming services like YouTube, Pandora, Hulu and Crackle.” Enseo was the first to bring Netflix to hotels with its original 2014 agreement. The new deal means Enseo “can now offer Netflix to any hotel under a contract in any country worldwide where Netflix is available.” Continue reading Enseo Service to Bring Netflix to More Hotel Rooms Worldwide

Apple Bets on New iPhones to Boost Sales, Holiday Revenues

Apple is readying the debut of its next iPhone, which sources say will feature a dual-camera system (on the larger version), a re-engineered home button that vibrates, and no headphone jack. By featuring a design similar to last year’s 6S and 6S Plus, Apple is breaking its typical two-year redesign cycle. The two phones will reportedly retain the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen sizes. The introduction of new iPhones is likely in response to dwindling sales, the result in part to the two-year gap between new models. Continue reading Apple Bets on New iPhones to Boost Sales, Holiday Revenues

Jump in Bluetooth Headphone Sales, Beat Wired for First Time

The NPD Group reports that Bluetooth headphones represented 54 percent of sales for the first half of 2016, marking the first time that Bluetooth headphones have surpassed sales of wired headphones in the U.S. “Bluetooth headphones saw a 42 percent year-over-year increase in dollar sales for the six-month period, while the overall headphones category saw a 7 percent increase,” notes Twice. The average sales price dropped 5 percent from the same period last year. The top brands for the period included Beats, LG, Bose, Jaybird and Skullcandy. Continue reading Jump in Bluetooth Headphone Sales, Beat Wired for First Time

MikMak Combines Comedy and Sales with E-Shopping Videos

Brooklyn-based startup MikMak is launching a shopping network that combines comedic 30-second “minimercials” and the ability to click and buy products. Founder/chief executive Rachel Tipograph notes that, while infomercials may have a bad reputation, the idea simply needs to be remade for the modern era. The network’s diverse cast of quirky hosts are improv comedians who promote oddball products, including an inflatable strawberry-doughnut pool raft and a waterproof Bluetooth shower speaker. Continue reading MikMak Combines Comedy and Sales with E-Shopping Videos

Jawbone is Selling Speaker Biz, Puts Fitness Trackers on Hold

After failing to gain traction in the wearables market currently dominated by Fitbit and Apple, Jawbone has ceased production of its UP line of fitness trackers and reportedly sold its remaining inventory to a third party reseller at a discount. It is not clear whether Jawbone plans to manufacture the fitness trackers again in the future. The company has also discontinued its Bluetooth speaker business and is currently looking to unload remaining inventory. According to multiple sources, Jawbone has been looking to sell its Jambox wireless speaker business. Continue reading Jawbone is Selling Speaker Biz, Puts Fitness Trackers on Hold

Samsung, SK Telecom to Build First Nationwide Network for IoT

Samsung announced it is partnering with SK Telecom to build a LoRaWAN network to cover all of South Korea, claiming it would be the world’s first nationwide network for the Internet of Things. The IoT network rolls out in Daegu next month and will be available throughout the country by the middle of this year. LoRaWAN (which means “long-range wide-area network”) was already used to build a citywide IoT network in Amsterdam. “LoRaWAN represents an attempt to standardize LPWAN (low-power wide-area networks),” explains TechCrunch, “which are meant to offer a cheaper and more power-efficient alternative to Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular networks for the Internet of Things.” Continue reading Samsung, SK Telecom to Build First Nationwide Network for IoT

Google’s Virtual Products Could Upend Traditional Ad Models

Google is building technologies that rely less on physical devices: Google Home and its virtual assistant; Project Jacquard, clothing with computing built into the yarn that responds to gestures and voice commands; and Project Soli, that allows gestures to control computers. Also new is Project Ara, a smartphone design that “surrounds” the user wherever she goes, which chief executive Sundar Pichai calls “ambient computing.” What’s unclear with the new paradigms, however, is how Google will generate revenue. Continue reading Google’s Virtual Products Could Upend Traditional Ad Models

Google Partners with Xiaomi and its 4K Mi Box for Android TV

During its I/O conference, Google introduced new hardware partners for Android TV and Google Cast, its solutions for watching Web content on TV screens. One of these is Chinese electronics company Xiaomi, showing a new Mi Box that supports 4K, high dynamic range and, for the first time, will ship to the U.S. The Bluetooth remote-equipped Mi Box offers voice recognition and built-in Google Cast technology, enabling the user to cast content from iOS and Android devices. Google also says new Sony Bravia and RCA TVs and a Sharp Net Player will ship running Android TV. Continue reading Google Partners with Xiaomi and its 4K Mi Box for Android TV

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