Santa Cruz tech rolls out at CES

15 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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Plantronic’s Esther Yoon demos the Backbeat Fit at CES.

Two Santa Cruz companies were among the thousands of exhibitors at the Consumer Electronics Show, which wrapped up in Las Vegas last weekend – one industry veteran, Plantronics, and one start up, Future Motion, which is just hitting its stride. Both were on hand at Pepcom’s media showcase.

Future Motion introduced the Onewheel+, the latest version of a motorised balance beam skateboard with, naturally, just one wheel.… More

Broadband needs to be faster, because 4K isn't getting slower

12 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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But the test pattern is marvelous.

The speed required to deliver 4K video via the Internet is still 15 Mbps. That was the consensus at CES two years ago, and it is still the minimum speed that Amazon recommends for its 4K video streams, according to B A Winston, the global head of video playback and delivery for Amazon Video.

He was on a 4K panel at CES last week, and said that Amazon’s challenge is delivering content over unreliable networks – more bits means more congestion – and working within the limits of whatever connectivity and technology consumers bring to the table.… More

Republican congressmen plan their own kind of telecoms policy activism

10 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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“Over the last several years, what we’ve seen has been lot of reaction in congress, reacting to things. What I think we’re going to see now more is planning”, said Bob Latta, a republican representative from Ohio, who holds a key telecoms committee portfolio in Washington, D.C. He was on a four-congressman panel at CES, talking about the reconfigured Federal Communications Commission. It will begin the Trump administration with a republican majority and, Latta expects, commissioner Ajit Pai installed as chairman.… More

Spend on broadband not crumbling concrete, says California congressman

9 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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Issa on home turf.

Representative Darrell Issa (R – San Diego) embraced Donald Trump’s plan to pump a lot of federal money into infrastructure during a CES panel discussion in Las Vegas this weekend, and broadband is at the top of his shopping list. If the federal government is going to spend a trillion dollars again, Issa thinks it should be forward looking projects that get funded, and not repair jobs left over from the last century.… More

Limits of self driving cars will be drawn by mobile carriers

8 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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Continental’s 5G roadmap.

When fully autonomous vehicles arrive depends on where you want to be driven. If there’s a low latency, high speed mobile network available – likely, a 5G network – then you’ll be able to take a nap in the back seat. If connectivity isn’t there or isn’t up to the necessary standard, then you’ll have to sit behind the wheel and be ready to take control on short notice.
That’s my takeaway from a briefing at CES yesterday by Continental, an automotive technology company.… More

Key congressman says Pai will be next FCC chair

7 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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Speaking at CES today, representative Bob Latta (R – Ohio) – a major player in congressional telecoms policy – said he’s looking forward to working proactively with the new administration and, particularly, the new Federal Communications Commission, which will be led by Ajit Pai.

“You look at the FCC and the change there, commissioner Pai will be the new chairman of the FCC”, he said.

Update: afterwards, Latta confirmed that he thinks it’s likely that Pai will be the next FCC chair, probably on a permanent basis, and with all due regard for the principal that “he who looks into a crystal ball will eat ground glass for lunch”.… More

Simpler hubs evolve as smart home ecosystem gets more complex

7 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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Doesn’t look complicated.

Smart home hubs made a bit of a comeback at CES this year, with several companies showing second generation products. One company, Wink, leaned in to the self install market with a relatively inexpensive new device that’s intended to be simple and seamless to set up, and incorporates lesson learned from its first generation. Another company, Carrier, rebranded an existing hub as “Cor” and leveraged its existing distribution channel to go after the big system sale end of the market.… More

FCC commissioners play it safe and loose at CES

6 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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There was an elephant in the packed CES meeting room where three Federal Communications Commissioners spoke yesterday, and no one noticed him. The session, moderated by a deferential lobbyist from the show’s producer, the Consumer Technology Association, ran its full allotted half hour, with no mention of Donald Trump, who will be setting the course for federal telecoms policy when he chooses a new FCC chair – perhaps one of the current republican commissioners, perhaps not.… More

It's OK when dumb people kill, smart cars not so much

5 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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Not even with the best intentions.

“Would we accept thirty-five thousand deaths at the hands of a machine?” That’s the question Gil Pratt, the CEO of the Toyota Research Institute posed as he discussed the challenges of designing autonomous vehicles at CES yesterday. U.S. society does accept 35,000 traffic deaths a year at the hands of human drivers. Might not like it, but humans are allowed to drive nevertheless.

Pratt doesn’t believe the same casualty rate, or even half that rate, would be acceptable if cars drove themselves.… More

New phone designed, named and launched by ZTE's fan base

4 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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It takes a crowd to stand out in a crowd.

ZTE is crowdsourcing its brand strategy, along with product design and test marketing. Based in China, the company has been in business for nearly twenty years, and selling in the U.S. in a meaningful way for ten years.

On the consumer side, it’s a smartphone maker. But it’s also a major telecoms infrastructure player, including mobile infrastructure. Company executives didn’t say much about that aspect of the business today during a media presentation at CES, except to drop some hints about developing 5G infrastructure in tandem with consumer products, and to say that their plan is to develop technology that will allow 5G service to be deployed on 4G networks.… More