Internet of Things: Samsung Purchases Startup SmartThings

ETCentric community member Lee Lanselle forwarded us news that Samsung has acquired SmartThings, maker of smart-home controllers, for around $200 million. While SmartThings will continue to operate independently under CEO Alex Hawkinson, its three facilities are expected to move to Palo Alto to become part of Samsung’s Open Innovation Center (run by former Google and AOL exec David Eun). SmartThings, which is owned by Physical Graph Corp., began in 2012 as a Kickstarter project. Continue reading Internet of Things: Samsung Purchases Startup SmartThings

PC-Only Game with Galactic-Size Ambitions Raises $50 Million

“Star Citizen,” a PC-only game still in development by Cloud Imperium Games, is part space exploration simulator and part first-person action game in a huge universe of planets, space stations, cities and ships. Since the game’s announcement in 2012, the makers of “Star Citizen” have raised almost $50 million through crowdfunding, with 10,000 to 15,000 new people donating every month. In June 2013, it became the first crowdfunded project to raise $10 million. Continue reading PC-Only Game with Galactic-Size Ambitions Raises $50 Million

Tech Companies Argue the Internet Should Be a Public Utility

Tech companies of all sizes are urging the Federal Communications Commission to enforce net neutrality by reclassifying the Internet as Title II. This reclassification would mean that Internet providers would have to abide by the same laws as public utilities and there would be no Internet “fast lanes.” Representatives from Kickstarter, Spotify, Vimeo and others met with the FCC to discuss the issue last week. Netflix also submitted a filing to the FCC about the proposed net neutrality laws. Continue reading Tech Companies Argue the Internet Should Be a Public Utility

IoT: Printable Electronics Will Make Everyday Items Smart

In a new approach to electronic design, companies such as Thinfilm and Ynvisible are developing cheap and disposable printable electronics that do not require an Internet connection or an IP address to make everyday items connected components of the Internet of Things. Thin, plastic printable electronics can be embedded in almost any item to transfer information to a smart device. For example, a bag of lettuce may be able to alert a smart fridge when it is past its expiration date. Continue reading IoT: Printable Electronics Will Make Everyday Items Smart

VidCon 2014: YouTube CEO Unveils New Tools for Creators

During her keynote at VidCon in Anaheim, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced new and upcoming tools designed for content creators. Wojcicki unveiled a creator tip jar, analytics app, fan-submitted subtitles, channel management tools and more. The new products are intended to engage a larger worldwide audience, help build successful businesses and manage creative work. She also noted that YouTube’s new ad campaign has helped more than double awareness of creators. Continue reading VidCon 2014: YouTube CEO Unveils New Tools for Creators

Internet Giants Dispute Proposed FCC Rules on Net Neutrality

More than 100 Internet companies and two FCC commissioners are voicing their concerns over FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to regulate broadband providers. Wheeler’s plan would allow broadband companies to charge fees to content providers that want to access the fastest lanes, a proposal that does not treat all Internet traffic equally. Amazon, Facebook, Google and Yahoo are among the companies that described the proposal as “a grave threat to the Internet” in a letter to Wheeler. Continue reading Internet Giants Dispute Proposed FCC Rules on Net Neutrality

Board Game Sales Increase Despite Electronic Game Success

While most people may assume that the success of electronic gaming has negatively impacted the traditional board game industry, the result has actually been the opposite. Technology has brought new tools that can create tabletop games with 3D figures and other tangible advances. In the past few years, sales of tabletop games have dramatically increased. Dan Shapiro, who has worked at Microsoft and sold a company to Google, recently created a board game for children and found crowdfunding to be beneficial. Continue reading Board Game Sales Increase Despite Electronic Game Success

CENTR Camera Records Everything Around You All at Once

Startup CENTR Camera, comprised of former Apple employees part of the iPhone camera team, has created a camera that allows users to capture everything happening around them simultaneously. The camera combines smartphone hardware and imaging software. The circular shaped camera combines footage captured by four 5-megapixel cameras into one 360-degree panoramic video. The device can easily fit in a user’s hand, weighs about the same as a first generation iPod, and will cost $399. Continue reading CENTR Camera Records Everything Around You All at Once

Small Theaters Face Challenges in Shift to Digital Distribution

As Hollywood studios are shifting from distributing movies on film to digital distribution via hard drives and satellite, many small theaters cannot afford $60,000 or more to upgrade and support the new technology. Theater owners are faced with the difficult decision between investing in new equipment or closing down their theaters. Meanwhile, most major U.S. cinema chains have already converted to digital cinema, many with the support of Wall Street-financed programs. Continue reading Small Theaters Face Challenges in Shift to Digital Distribution

New Mohu Channels Adapter Combines Streaming and HDTV

After raising nearly $145,000 on Kickstarter, antenna maker Mohu plans to release its Channels TV adapter this June. The Mohu Channels device is a TV adapter that combines free over-the-air HDTV broadcasts with online video streaming services, such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu Plus. Mohu also hopes to include the ability to play back local files, time shifting functionality to pause and fast forward through live programming, and an Android app that can be used as a remote. Continue reading New Mohu Channels Adapter Combines Streaming and HDTV

Junction: Crowdfunder Allows Fans to Invest in Film Projects

The new San Francisco-based Junction provides wealthy movie fans with an opportunity for investing in films online. It is not another Kickstarter that helps projects get made, but instead allows potential investors to contribute to projects that already have enough finances secured for production. Junction is only open to individuals with annual income of more than $200,000 a year or net worth of $1 million. The incentive for producers is that outside investors will help minimize risk. Continue reading Junction: Crowdfunder Allows Fans to Invest in Film Projects

Facebook Plans to Purchase VR Startup Oculus for $2 Billion

In a surprise announcement yesterday, Facebook revealed its plans to acquire Oculus VR, maker of the virtual reality Oculus Rift headset. Reaction to the $2 billion agreement has ranged from excitement on Wall Street — to bewilderment by those questioning the accuracy of the news — to anger by some early supporters who pledged funds to the startup via its Kickstarter campaign. Others reportedly disappointed in the news include developers who purchased early prototypes of the Oculus Rift hoping to become the first to create games. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Purchase VR Startup Oculus for $2 Billion

New Wireless Earphones Monitor Fitness Without Smartphone

Performance tracking wireless earphones, The Dash, have become one of the most funded Kickstarter projects in history. The company had a target of $260,000, but has so far raised over $3.1 million. The wireless stereo earphones play music via an embedded music player or Bluetooth and offer fitness monitoring. It will track users’ vital signs including heart rate, oxygen saturation and energy spent, as well as movement such as number of steps, speed and distance. Continue reading New Wireless Earphones Monitor Fitness Without Smartphone

SXSW: Neil Young Launches Kickstarter Campaign for PonoMusic

Legendary musician Neil Young, the featured speaker on the eve of South by Southwest Music, introduced PonoMusic, his new high resolution audio ecosystem, to a capacity crowd in Austin, Texas. Only four hours earlier, he launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, which raised more than 50 percent of its fundraising goal before he appeared onstage. The mission of PonoMusic is to bring the highest-quality music to discerning consumers who want to experience music the way the artists intended. Continue reading SXSW: Neil Young Launches Kickstarter Campaign for PonoMusic

Augmented Television: InAIR Layers Web Content with Your TV

A $99 device called InAIR from startup SeeSpace hopes to combine the best of your laptop, smartphone and TV all in one place by layering social media and Web content inline with the programs you are watching. Billed as “the world’s first augmented television,” the project exceeded its $100,000 goal on Kickstarter by nearly $78,000 a few days ago. InAIR plugs directly into the TV through its smart HDMI cable, connects to the set-top box, and pulls data from the movie or TV show currently airing. Continue reading Augmented Television: InAIR Layers Web Content with Your TV

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