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Gadget Ogling: Wireless Lights, Sunny Wearables and Flashy Smartphones
December 13, 2014
Welcome, dear readers, to another installment of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the best and worst in just-announced gizmos. On the docket this time around are wireless Christmas lights, solar-charging jackets, a speed-reading wearable and much more. The Aura Wirelessly Powered Christmas Lights aren't attached to long power cords designed to snake along, around and through the tree branches.
FCC's Spectrum Cash Cow Produces Rich Milk
November 25, 2014
Bidding for wireless spectrum in the United States Federal Communications Commission's latest auction has gone through the roof, raising more than $36 billion as of Tuesday morning. A total of 70 qualified bidders are seeking 1,614 licenses in the 1695-1710 Mhz, 1755-1780 Mhz and 2155-2180 MHz bands. The auction almost certainly will raise even more money over the next few weeks.
Wristband Heads Off Password Headaches
November 25, 2014
Has software glut got you down? Do you reuse passwords because creating unique ones for all your online accounts would cause a memory overload? If so, you may be interested in a bit of jewelry called the "Everykey," by a startup with the same name. Everykey is a wristband that removes the need to remember the countless log-in credentials we use every day.
Starwood's Keyless Entry Streamlines Hotel Check-In
November 04, 2014
Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide -- which owns and manages a number of high-end hotel brands including the St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin, Le Méridien, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element -- has announced the rollout of SPG Keyless, a tech offering that allows guests to use their smartphone as a room key. Hilton introduced similar technology earlier this year.
August Smart Lock Gets Key Exposure in Apple Stores
October 14, 2014
The August Smart Lock will become available for purchase at Apple retail stores in the U.S. starting this week, the company announced on Tuesday. Priced at $249.99, the smart device uses Bluetooth and a mobile app to create a virtual key. It has been shipping since late August in limited quantities to those who ordered it online, but it currently is backordered, with delivery expected in 90 days.
Samsung Plots Foray Into Speedy 60-GHz WiFi Market
October 14, 2014
Samsung on Sunday announced that it has resolved issues hindering the commercialization of 802.11ad standard 60-GHz WiFi technology. The company's solution maintains maximum speed by eliminating co-channel interference regardless of the number of devices on the network, using what it claims is the world's first method that allows multiple devices to connect simultaneously to a network.
Apple Redoubles Efforts to Fix iOS 8 Glitches
September 25, 2014
Apple on Thursday announced it's preparing iOS 8.0.2 -- which will include a fix for problems triggered by iOS 8.0.1 -- and plans to release it in the next few days. In a rare move, Apple on Wednesday suspended downloads of iOS 8.0.1, which aimed to fix problems uncovered after the launch of iOS 8. What's more, it recommended a downgrade for owners of Apple's new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
FCC Chews on the Mobile Net Neutrality Question
September 17, 2014
The FCC on Tuesday hosted a roundtable discussion on the possibility of Net neutrality rules being applied to mobile networks. Participants in the talk included representatives from The Center for Media Justice, Consumers Union and CTIA. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler earlier this year suggested that the 2010 rules, which exempted mobile services from Net neutrality provisions, should be reconsidered.
Rise of the Smartwatch
September 15, 2014
Taken separately, last week's announcements from Apple, Intel and T-Mobile were impressive. Intel and T-Mobile basically announced they were going to explode the existing mobile market, changing it dramatically. Apple embraced some slow-moving technologies, which should speed them up dramatically. I don't think what Apple announced is in the same league, but it also will drive change.
Gadget Ogling: A New Nook, a Good (M8), a Lock With No Key - and Music, Music, Music
August 26, 2014
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook conflates lots of different things: It's an Android tablet designed for reading, made by Samsung for Barnes & Noble. That might seem confusing, and I'd agree. It's essentially a branded version of the Galaxy Tab 4 with an e-commerce focus. Specifically, there's a Barnes & Noble Newsstand app, with games, movies and books on offer.
Close Your Eyes and Rest Easy - Blink Is Watching the House
August 21, 2014
One of the most troubling issues with home security and remote-monitoring products is the complexity and cost to set them up. Blink, a new Kickstarter project, is different. It promises to be astoundingly easy, and it's inexpensive, too. Backers can get a simple remote motion detection and video camera unit for just $69 -- or two for $119. Better yet, no subscription service is required.
The Connected Car, Part 2: Wired For Wireless - It's All Business
August 12, 2014
The connected car is a battlefield among technology purveyors fighting to get their hardware plugged into the vehicle's network bus. Open source technology is becoming a key contender. OEMs are sorting through a garage full of options from versions of embedded Linux to the Automotive Grade Linux distro and the Android car platform. The connected car concept is picking up speed.
Beacons Hit the Retail Spotlight
August 07, 2014
It was just six months ago that we saw what beacon technology could do on a wide scale. For Super Bowl XLVIII, the National Football League installed wireless transmitters in Times Square and at MetLife Stadium to send simple yet specific messages to smartphones: "bathrooms to the right," "snacks to the left," and so on. The deployment was considered a bold test for the nascent technology.
WiFi Insecurity: Crying Wolf or Big Bad Wolf?
August 07, 2014
Can a hacker take over a passenger jet by sneaking in through its WiFi or in-flight entertainment system? The possibility of that occurring, as suggested by cybersecurity firm IOActive, has security experts hot under the collar. Ruben Santamarta, principal security consultant at IOActive, is scheduled to present the team's findings Thursday at the Black Hat security conference.
Sprint Sheds Hesse Along With T-Mobile Hopes
August 07, 2014
Softbank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son has announced sweeping changes for subsidiary Sprint. Effective Aug. 11, Sprint President and CEO Dan Hesse is being replaced by Marcelo Claure, founder and CEO of Softbank subsidiary Brightstar. Also, Sprint has dropped plans to purchase T-Mobile. Hesse's replacement was expected, as Sprint has been hemorrhaging customers and piling up losses for some time.
LittleBits Leaps to the Cloud
July 31, 2014
LittleBits, the maker of what might best be thought of as electronic Legos, last week launched cloudBit, a module that provides users with access to the Internet. LittleBits offers modules that are used, like Legos, to build gizmos with electronic capabilities. The modules are held together by magnets, and no soldering or wiring is needed. "This is serious cool," said tech analyst Jim McGregor.
GoTenna Makes Wireless 'Magic'
July 22, 2014
Startup GoTenna has launched its eponymously named device, which lets users communicate without the need for a cell tower. "This is an interesting concept," said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research. "It's like a walkie-talkie on steroids." The device uses BlueTooth LE to pair with a user's smartphone. It can exchange text messages only with another GoTenna.
Sprint Launches the Swiss Army Knife of Mobile Hotspots
July 14, 2014
Sprint last week unveiled a mobile hotspot designed to satisfy all the wireless needs of a consumer in one 4.7 x 4.7-inch device. Sprint LivePro is a multifunctional device that acts as both a mobile hotspot and a mini projector. Users connect via Sprint's 4G LTE Spark network -- the company's enhanced LTE service that launched last October -- or through its WiFi network.
Supreme Court Turns Deaf Ear to Google's Street View Appeal
June 30, 2014
The Supreme Court has declined Google's appeal of a lower-court ruling in a class-action lawsuit that alleges it violated federal wiretap laws with its Street View cars. The court left in place a decision the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down in September. The appeals court declined to dismiss the case, ruling that Google was not exempt from liability under the federal Wiretap Act.
Godzilla Foreshadows Trouble for Internet of Things
June 16, 2014
The Internet of Things has come under attack by pranksters in recent days. The events could signal tumultuous things to come as more and more everyday objects connect to the Internet. Homeland Security has advised the customers of digital sign maker Daktronics to "take defensive measures" following a series of cyberpranks on the company's traffic signs.
Samsung Invests $2B in Biopharmaceuticals
May 12, 2014
Samsung is investing at least $2 billion in... biopharmaceuticals? With this foray into the drug industry, Samsung hopes to become a major player in biotechnology, which is expected to be a booming industry in coming years. A key component of this play is so-called biosimilars -- cheap versions of brand-name biotechnology drugs that no longer are protected by patents.
Nod's Ring May Be Smart but Not Precious
April 29, 2014
Nod Labs on Tuesday jumped into the wearable tech market with a ring device that's designed to serve as a universal controller. Featuring Broadcom Bluetooth Smart and Nexus-Trellis software, Nod's namesake wearable input device is designed to offer touchless interaction with set-top boxes and other connected home devices without the need for remotes or cameras.
Twitter Tries to Defuse Turkey Controversy
April 15, 2014
Twitter has agreed to close some accounts in Turkey, but the two sides are still at loggerheads over allegations of tax evasion and whether or not Twitter must maintain a physical presence in the country. Twitter Vice President of Global Public Policy Colin Crowell led a delegation of sorts to address the country's multifaceted grievances with the social media site.
FireChat Messaging App: Look Ma, No Internet!
April 02, 2014
FireChat, an iPhone app designed for anonymous hyperlocal communication, could change the way we connect with one other: It does not require an Internet connection or even a cell signal to work. FireChat takes advantage of the Multipeer Connectivity Framework in iOS 7. This feature allows developers to connect devices to each other using Bluetooth, WiFi, and peer-to-peer connections.

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