Microwave ovens weren't designed for patient people

12 July 2014 by Steve Blum
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Doesn’t cook any faster.

GE is floating a prototype sensor suite for cookware that will measure the caloric and, eventually, nutritional values of microwave meals. It’s an interesting concept. But it’s still a lab concept. It does point to two things, though.

First, consumer goods manufacturers are looking at ways to combine sensors, connectivity and powerful server-side processing to deliver rapid, granular data to people on a routine basis. Everything around us is measurable, and creating devices that can automatically gather that data and send it on for processing – make it meaningful – is rapidly becoming commonplace.… More

Broadcasters descending into madness, says CEA president

23 May 2014 by Steve Blum
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Gary Shapiro, the president of the Consumer Electronics Association, has published a blistering attack on U.S. broadcasters, characterising their rear-guard opposition to new technology as the madness and nonsense of Alice’s Wonderland and urging congress to yank the licenses of television stations that act against the public interest. Not just in what they put on the air, but also their business practices. Shapiro points to a decision by CBS executives to suppress a news story that didn’t fall in line with their business goals…

Last year, CBS leadership reversed a decision by 40 CNET editors who voted the DISH Hopper Sling the best innovation at the 2013 International CES®.


Locking down home automation means locking out success

The best thing to do if you’re developing a home automation product is to allow it to be controlled by someone else, Ryo Koyama, CEO of Weaved, told Parks Associates’ San Francisco Connections conference this week. Hardware designers need to harness the brain power of app developers. “Let them define the killer app that sells your product”, he said.

Koyama was speaking on behalf of Qualcomm and its AllJoyn platform, which is an attempt to create a common interoperability protocol for the Internet of Things.… More

Microsoft CEO chooses long chase over head on attack

Winning depends on the pitch staying playable.

The launch of Microsoft Office apps – Excel, Word, Powerpoint – for the iPad has been hailed by some as a turning point for the company and a bold leadership stroke by new CEO Satya Nadella. If anything, the excitement is a fair measure of Microsoft’s problem: the best it can do is port thirty year old software to the market leader’s tablet.
Ironically, Excel and Powerpoint were originally developed for the Mac OS.… More

Sony picks in-house OS for wearables and survival

Used to be staying alive was innovation enough.

Google’s try at adapting its Android operating system to specifically support wearable devices isn’t getting much love from manufacturers. Following Samsung’s lead, Sony has decided to make its own Android mod for wearable products, instead of using Google’s Wear platform. It’s a necessary gamble if Sony still wants to be Sony.

The company is trying to remake itself into a mobile-oriented, innovative brand. Like it used to be when Sony launched the Walkman 35 years ago.… More

Sony axes legacy PCs, TVs to focus on mobile

7 February 2014 by Steve Blum
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Innovation deficit.

Sony is distancing itself from the soon-to-be-legacy television and personal computer markets, in a effort to play catch up in the mobile device game. The company that redefined color quality in the 1970s is spinning its television business off into a separate subsidiary, and is selling its Vaio computer brand to a Japanese corporate restructuring specialist. It’s a response to what it calls “drastic changes” in the global PC industry…

Sony has determined that the optimal solution is to concentrate its mobile product lineup on smartphones and tablets and to transfer its PC business to a new company.


Smart home business models proliferate despite need to consolidate

19 January 2014 by Steve Blum
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Smart homes need a platform, not a box.

Google’s purchase of Nest, a smart thermostat maker, adds one more contender for king of the home automation business models. The prospect – and it’s only that – of a free, ad-supported smart home web portal is attractive, because the growth of home automation products and services depends on an easy and easily understood selling proposition.

It was clear at CES that the home automation market is still fragmented beyond consumer comprehension.… More

Google positioned to set standards for smart homes

Nest is in good hands with Google.

The quest for a mass market business model for home automation products and services took a new turn this week, when Google announced it’s buying Nest, which makes networked thermostats and smoke detectors. Since it’s unlikely that Google is going to drop $3.2 billion just to make pretty gadgets, the working assumption has to be that it’s developing an online platform to support networked products. Just as it developed the Android operating system, then bought Motorola’s mobile phone manufacturing business as a development tool and to lock down valuable patents.… More

Consumer electronics collapse into the mobile phone

12 January 2014 by Steve Blum
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Copernican model of consumer electronics.

Smart phones, tablets and wearable bits of networked silicon dominated the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, as the television was declared dead, high end audio and desktop computers were invisible in the flagship booths of major manufacturers and laptops were indistinguishably grey.

The week began with an analyst with the Consumer Electronics Association – the show’s organiser – projecting that smart phones, feature phones and tablets will, together, account for 45% of industry revenue in 2014.… More

Lowe's Iris home automation service goes national

11 January 2014 by Steve Blum
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Point of sale.

“We made the investment to go national”, said Kevin Meagher, vice president and general manager for home automation at Lowes. “We’re pleased with progress to date, we have confidence in the huge potential for the market”.

He was talking about Iris, Lowe’s home automation control platform that was introduced at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, amid predictions that it was doomed to failure. Instead, as Meagher explained at this year’s show, it’s grown to include about thirty devices from more than a dozen manufacturers.… More