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

Amazon Announces Alexa Voice-Controlled Household Devices

Internet retailer Amazon introduced two new Echo-related products yesterday: the $130 Amazon Tap — a smaller, portable version of the Echo; and the $90 Echo Dot — a hockey puck-size version of Echo, minus the powerful speaker. As is the case with the newly popular Echo, users interact with both devices via the Alexa voice service. Amazon Tap features a rechargeable battery and uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to connect with mobile devices and the Internet. The Dot, which connects via wire or Bluetooth, is designed to provide Alexa for existing speaker systems. Continue reading Amazon Announces Alexa Voice-Controlled Household Devices

Doppler Labs Develops In-Ear Audio Tuners for Live Music, AR

Augmented Reality is about to get a boost, not from a new set of glasses, but from ear buds. Doppler Labs, via a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $600,000, has produced Here, live in-ear audio tuners that let the user tweak live audio from the environment or a music event. Each bud has its own microprocessor, and, importantly, there is no latency. Doppler Labs made Here for audiophiles and live music fans, and plans to provide a pair to every Coachella paid attendee, with pre-set filters for every music act. Continue reading Doppler Labs Develops In-Ear Audio Tuners for Live Music, AR

Apple Readies Debut of iPhone 5se, Feature-Rich Version of 5s

Apple fans browsing the Internet were excited to read about a new 4-inch iPhone 6c. Not so fast. According to sources who have used the upcoming iPhone with a 4-inch display, the information is false. Rather than release a smaller version of the iPhone 6s (for customers yearning for a less daunting screen size than 4.7 or 5.5 inches), Apple is upgrading the iPhone 5s first released in fall 2013. The upgrade is not a preview of the iPhone 7, as rumored, but retains the 5s’s design and include a headphone jack. Continue reading Apple Readies Debut of iPhone 5se, Feature-Rich Version of 5s

Battery Life, Other Details Leaked About Microsoft’s HoloLens

Microsoft’s augmented reality headset, HoloLens, has come a bit more into focus, thanks to Microsoft technical evangelist Bruce Harris. Specifically, Harris revealed that the device will provide five to five-and-a-half hours of battery life when working on Word documents or email, and about two-and-a-half hours when used for computational work involving complex renderings. Harris also said that the AR device has “no option for a wired connection” and was “built to dissipate heat.” Continue reading Battery Life, Other Details Leaked About Microsoft’s HoloLens

Augmented Reality Glasses: Vendors Talk Now, Release Later

The main message from many of the AR glasses vendors on the CES show floor was that their current technology meets market needs, but they already plan to release major improvements on the current product line within the next year. Some of them demonstrated working prototypes of those next-generation glasses. Others had non-working mock-ups with descriptions of technical specifications that they said were close enough to the planned deliverable to be discussed publicly. We saw solutions from companies such as Osterhout Design Group, NuEyes, QD Laser, Lumus and Vuzix. Continue reading Augmented Reality Glasses: Vendors Talk Now, Release Later

CES: Virtual Reality Startups Tackling Big Problems (Part 2)

Yesterday, we reported from the Sands Convention Center at CES where a number of innovative startups — including IonVR, The Eye Tribe and Reach Bionics — are demonstrating some compelling solutions for improved VR experiences this week. Today, we’ll be examining three other companies exhibiting at the Sands: Impulsonic and its Phonon ‘sonic architecture’ package; the Freefly VR head-mounted display from Proteus VR, that features a Bluetooth-connected controller; and ImmersiON VRelia, which offers a unique spherical encoding and compression solution with its mobile VR headset. Continue reading CES: Virtual Reality Startups Tackling Big Problems (Part 2)

How Virtuix Used MEMS and Sensors for Omni-Directional VR

Put on a headset and enter a virtual world for a first person shooter game. Now connect yourself to an omni-directional treadmill and make that VR game fully physical, as you walk forward, backward, crouch and shoot in every direction. That’s what Virtuix president David Allan showed at the MEMS & Sensors conference during CES, detailing how he created a system that allows a user to jump, strafe and generally have fun… without falling over. “The system needs to hold you in place and understand your movements and gestures,” he said. Continue reading How Virtuix Used MEMS and Sensors for Omni-Directional VR

OrCam Unveils Discrete Digital Assistant for AR Applications

Israel-based technology company OrCam is introducing its compelling take on augmented reality at this year’s CES. The company’s device is similar to Google Glass, but the hardware is more discrete and does not save images or audio, which could help alleviate privacy concerns. The MyMe digital assistant is designed to give the user advice based on the world around them. The assistant speaks through a Bluetooth earpiece and the tiny camera clips to a shirt. All of the data processing is done in real time. Continue reading OrCam Unveils Discrete Digital Assistant for AR Applications

CTA: Tech Spending to Increase This Holiday Shopping Season

About 160 million U.S. adults — or 74 percent of holiday shoppers — plan on purchasing tech gifts this season, according to the Consumer Technology Association’s 22nd Annual CE Holiday Purchase Patterns Study, which predicts holiday tech spending will reach $34.2 billion this year. Top gifts include smartphones, headphones, tablets and portable Bluetooth speakers, while 12 percent of shoppers indicate they plan to purchase a wearable device. CTA has identified six types of tech shoppers that could help retailers better understand the preferences of today’s consumers. Continue reading CTA: Tech Spending to Increase This Holiday Shopping Season

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