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Dish Networks' Hopper 3 Takes a Leap and a Bound
March 26, 2016
Dish Network continues to up its game with its whole-home TV set-top box and accompanying devices. Since introducing its Sling-based TV-anywhere solution and whole-home DVR three years ago, Dish has remained one hop ahead of the competition. Since its launch, the Hopper has featured Sling technology that allowed for the streaming of content from the living room to almost anywhere.
Gadget Ogling: Bathroom Bots, Bedroom Bulbs, and Doorbell Detectives
March 22, 2016
Can you imagine a time before robot vacuum cleaners? The world was a messier place, certainly in the homes of those with too little impetus to pick up a broom or vacuum cleaner once in a while. Thankfully, for those of us who don't mind sweeping but are less enthused about using the mop, robotic help is on its way in a more affordable model: the Braava Jet from iRobot.
Xbox Signals It's Ready to Rumble
March 16, 2016
Microsoft this week announced that it would support cross-network play between its latest gaming console and other platforms. Cross-network support would allow Xbox One players to engage in multiplayer gaming with friends and randoms on platforms such as Steam and the PlayStation Network. It will be up to developers to support cross-platform games, however.
Gadget Ogling: All-In-One Cooking, In-Car Movie Nights, and Rolling Robots
March 15, 2016
Tovala is going to change everything, apparently. It's a countertop cooking system that acts as oven, microwave, toaster, broiler and steamer. It appears to have all the convenience of ready-made meals, while providing healthier eating options than a typical TV dinner. While you can create your own dishes, Tovala offers its own meals created by professional chefs that are delivered fresh to your home.
Philips Gets Biological With Home Lighting
March 14, 2016
Philips Lighting on Monday unveiled its Philips Hue white ambiance connected light bulbs. Designed to feature more natural light, the bulbs can gradually brighten in the morning to help users wake up naturally, while at night they can dim to help ease users to sleep. They also deliver a color temperature range that can be adjusted via a connected dimmer switch or through an app.
Home Alone? Now Nest Can Tell
March 10, 2016
Nest on Thursday announced two new features, Family Accounts and Home/Away Assist. Family Accounts would let up to 10 people access the Nest products in a connected home from their Android or iOS devices. Home/Away Assist was designed to track the patterns of household members, utilizing learning algorithms and activity sensors that are built into products such as the Nest Learning Thermostat.
Gadget Ogling: Lingering Echoes, DIY Scanner Projects, and Empowered Pitchers
March 8, 2016
Amazon is doubling down on its Alexa personal assistant with two new models of the Echo speaker: Echo Dot and Amazon Tap. The Dot is a more compact version of Echo. While it does have its own speaker, it apparently has nowhere near the quality of the Echo proper. As a standalone device, it looks more suited to standing in as an alarm clock and delivering the day's headlines than playing music.
One of Amazon Echo's Babies Might Outshine the Parent
March 7, 2016
Amazon launched two new versions of Echo last week: the Echo Dot and the Amazon Tap. I've actually had the chance to look at both, and they flesh out the line nicely -- but I think the Dot actually could outshine the original Echo. I'll share some of my reactions to both devices and speculate about what could come next as Amazon expands this product line.
Greenwave Brings Unity to IoT Networks
February 23, 2016
Greenwave Systems on Monday announced the expansion of its AXON Platform to unite mobile machine-to-machine and residential IoT networks into one fully manageable network service. Mobile carriers, telecommunications operators and service providers can use AXON for Mobile IoT to integrate a variety of communications protocols into the same standard IP-based language.
Gadget Ogling: Gaming Revivals, Clever Cameras, and Smartphones for All
February 22, 2016
Sir Clive Sinclair helped popularize video games as a viable home entertainment option with the ZX Spectrum. After reviving the brand a little over a year ago with the introduction of the Vega microcontroller, which plugs into televisions, Sinclair and Retro Computers now have launched a handheld version, the Vega+. The Vega+ design is aligned with other current handheld consoles.
Gadget Ogling: Tweeted Cocktails, Dimensional Doodles, and Crazy Cubes
February 18, 2016
Sometimes you'll stumble upon a delectable tweet -- a melange of words, pictures, videos or GIFs that looks good enough to eat. But is it good enough to drink? Data Cocktail is a system that hunts for the latest five tweets that include keywords related to available ingredients, and then will mix a drink based on them. The machine also will print the "recipe" for the crowdsourced drink.
Gadget Ogling: A Personal Padlock, a Grown-Up Desk, and an Informative Mirror
February 10, 2016
Tapplock is a padlock that unlocks when you press your finger against a sensor to let it read your print. There are other smart padlocks on the market you can unlock using your smartphone via Bluetooth, though there are a couple of points that help Tapplock stand out. First, the price for backers of the crowdfunding campaign is reasonable, at $29 for the basic version and $49 for the larger model.
Amazon Echo: Get Your Uber Rides, Pizza Pies and Hit Music Here
February 9, 2016
Amazon last week added Uber calling, Spotify listening and Domino's pizza ordering to its growing list of functions available to Echo's voice-activated speakers and Alexa software. Users need only to ask Alexa to call an Uber or an UberX, which is one of the various levels of the Uber private car service, to get a ride. New Uber users can get $15 off their first ride by using the 15Alexa discount code.
Gadget Ogling: Babe-Friendly Smartwatches, Pretty Routers, and Automated Aromas
February 2, 2016
If I were a parent, I assume I would have a strong opposition to giving a smartphone to an under-14 child of mine. Don't get me wrong. I would, I surmise, be all in favor of my offspring being able to tap into the Internet to explore, learn, and communicate. I'd also want my kid to be reachable at all times -- but, ideally, in a more-controlled way than by carrying a typical smartphone.
Starry Eyes Speedy Internet Access
January 28, 2016
Project Decibel on Wednesday announced Starry, a company that promises easy broadband Internet access at speeds of up to 1 GB with no caps. Starry will deploy what it says is the world's first millimeter wave band for consumer Internet communications. Initial deployment will be a beta in Boston in the summer. Starry has an FCC license to run pilots for 24 months in Boston and 14 other cities.
FCC Chief Proposes End of Set-Top Box Rule
January 28, 2016
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Wednesday announced that he'd shared with colleagues a long sought-after proposal to loosen the set-top box's grip on home entertainment. The proposal seeks to spur competition and consumer choice in an arena dominated by large cable and satellite television providers. Wheeler's proposal would provide a mechanism for creating new ways to access video content.
Gadget Ogling: Super Strollers, Posture Prodders, and Portable Projectors
January 26, 2016
Regular readers will know that I am not a parent, so you might wonder why I'm including a self-propelling stroller in this week's cavalcade of riches. The answer is elementary: It's a smashing idea. Granted, it's maybe because I don't have a child that I think as much. Aside from pushing itself along the sidewalk, the Smartbe Intelligent Stroller can warm bottles, charge devices and play music.
Foxconn Makes $5.3B Bid for Sharp
January 22, 2016
Foxconn Technology Group has offered as much as $5.3 billion to purchase Sharp, according to media reports this week. Foxconn, formally known as "Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.," is said to have offered between $5.1 billion, or 600 billion yen, and $5.3 billion, or 625 million yen. A response to the offer is not expected before the end of January, as the discussions are private.
Gadget Ogling: Baring Souls, Soaking Up Sound, and Tracking Babes
January 19, 2016
As time advances, more responsibilities seep into our lives. We get wrapped up in our own worlds, and don't necessarily make enough time to spend with the friends and family members who've been important parts of our worlds for decades. Concepter's Soul time tracker seeks to make us more conscious of the time we spend with those who matter most to us.
Sony Builds Smart Home Hub Into Ceiling Light
January 15, 2016
Sony this week announced its Multifunctional Light, a ceiling lamp that's kitted out with sensors to talk to smart things. It includes sensors for motion, illumination, temperature and humidity. There's also WiFi radio, a memory card slot, a condenser microphone, and an infrared controller for air conditioners. The lamp form factor offers convenient placement, said a Sony Electronics spokesperson.
Behind the Scenes at CES
January 11, 2016
CES surprised me again this year. For a show that comes too early in the year for most buyers and companies, it still stood out as having some truly amazing things. It will be remembered for showcasing the birth of personal flight vehicles, along with a Tesla-beating car, and Ford showing how it could do what Apple couldn't. I'll fill you in on some of the back stories at CES.
Samsung Places Fridge at Center of Smart Home
January 8, 2016
Samsung on Wednesday unveiled the Family Hub Refrigerator at CES, ongoing in Las Vegas through Saturday. The new refrigerator sports a 21.5-inch full HD LCD screen on the upper right outside door, which doubles as a communications center. The screen lets users post, share and update calendars, as well as pin digital photos, share images and leave notes.
Apple Rings In 2016 With Record App Sales
January 7, 2016
Apple on Wednesday announced that customers spent a record $1.1 billion on apps and in-app purchases the during the holidays. Jan. 1 was the App Store's best day ever, with consumers spending about $144 million, the company said. Since 2008, the store has generated close to $40 billion in revenue for developers. Consumers spent more than $20 billion in the store last year.
New Smart Cam Can Distinguish Between Cats, Cat Burglars and Cars
January 6, 2016
Netatmo on Monday announced a smart security camera and floodlight combo at CES 2016. The Presence camera is designed for outdoor use and can identify objects such as people, animals and vehicles. The camera, which connects to a rectangular floodlight, can be customized to send alerts to a smartphone app or desktop browser based on what it sees and where it sees it.
Ford Wants Smart Cars and Homes to Talk to Each Other
January 6, 2016
One of the highlights of Ford's Tuesday CES event was its announcement of plans to connect its Sync smart car technology with smart home applications from Amazon and Wink. The integrations will give consumers remote control of things like home security and lights from their vehicles, along with the ability to unlock car doors and turn on the ignition from their living rooms.
Gadget Ogling: A Smart Home Hub, a Tiny Drone, and a Whispering Camera
January 4, 2016
LG's SmartThinq Hub seeks to bring together all of your connected appliances and smart sensors under one roof. As extras, it sprinkles on top music streaming, through radio stations or whatever you happen to play on your smartphone -- and reminders, through its 3.5-inch display. The hub can monitor and control robot vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, ovens and air conditioners, among other things.
Home Broadband Use Falls as Consumers Go Mobile
January 4, 2016
A recent Pew Research Center study found that adoption of traditional high-speed Internet in the U.S. has fallen to 67 percent, the lowest level since 2012. More consumers were using mobile phones, the study found. Thirteen percent of respondents said they were smartphone-only customers, compared with 8 percent in 2013. Fifteen percent said they have cut the cord on cable and satellite TV.
CES Insanity in 2016: The Cannabis Defense
January 4, 2016
CES is probably the best example that folks who work around tech are just a tad insane. While no big product has yet emerged, there will be a ton of crazy stuff to see. Yes, there will be robots, smartwatches, tablets, PCs, smart appliances, exoskeletons, body monitors, head thumpers, drones, self-driving cars, augmented reality, virtual reality, holographics, 3D printers, and a ton of junk.
Smart Homes Meet Connected Cars: X Marks the Spot
December 29, 2015
Several factors have contributed to the sudden expansion of connected car services available or coming to the market, notably the expansion of mobile broadband networks, high penetration of smartphones, and automakers' re-evaluation of connected services as a competitive advantage. Crossover between connected car and smart home ecosystems offers a unique opportunity for the ecosystem players.
Gadget Ogling: Streaming Socks, a High-Powered Hoverboard, and a Vigilant Vacuum
December 29, 2015
Finally, a pair of socks I would not be ever-so-slightly disappointed to find among my gifts on Christmas morning. Netflix has released some designs for socks that can stop streaming the show or movie you're streaming if you should nod off. The socks detect when you've stopped moving for a long period and hit the pause button. If you're still awake, you can wiggle your big toe to halt the action.
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How do you feel about technology and security?
Very insecure -- I would gladly pay extra for better security.
Very insecure -- I'm using technology less as a result.
Very insecure -- but I'm willing to make the trade-off.
Secure enough -- I take reasonable precautions.
Secure enough -- I'm not a likely target.
Very secure -- I trust tech companies to protect me.