Wireless charging is less fussy, but still a work in progress

24 February 2018 by Steve Blum
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One of my goals for CES was to see if wireless charging technology is ready for mainstream consumer adoption. The answer is yes if you’re making contact with a charging pad, but only maybe if you’re not.

Charging pads, of one kind or another, were easy to find at CES. Near field charging – putting a gizmo in direct contact with a wireless charging device – appears to be a maturing technology. Although the Qi standard is gaining – Samsung, LG and Apple support it in some of their models – compatibility is still an issue.… More

Comcast ready to build a channel line-up of home automation platforms

25 September 2017 by Steve Blum
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The home automation space is a fragmented mix of apps, platforms, gateways and products, not unlike the video content business. Comcast just purchased Stringify, a meta-platform that talks to dozens of other platforms, aggregates hundreds of products and services, and delivers them to a single smartphone app. Not unlike a cable company.

Stringify was my pick for most likely to disrupt the home automation business at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. Funded by a $6.3 million seed funding round, led by ARTIS Ventures, it’s ripened to the point where it’s ready for harvest.… More

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

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

Niche computer maker Purism turns lack of trust into a selling proposition

12 June 2016 by Steve Blum
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Simple security comes at a cost.

If you want to know what every bit on your computer is doing, I mean really know, then you’re the kind of customer that Purism has in mind. The South San Francisco company makes a range of Linux-based laptops and tablets with 100% open source software not-quite-preinstalled. That includes applications of course, but also device drivers, the boot system and everything else.

Not-quite-preinstalled means that the device comes with all the software and a totally naked hard drive.… More

Wireless charging is still a contact sport

11 June 2016 by Steve Blum
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Closer to reality.

Energous Corporation is walking back claims of wirelessly charging batteries from across the room, but is moving ahead with products that charge on simple contact, without having to plug anything in. That kind of technology is reasonably well established – it’s a common enough demo to see at CES, for example – but the solutions on offer are still fiddly in nature and there’s no generally accepted standard yet.

Last year, at Pepcom’s Mobile Focus event in San Francisco, Energous had a gizmo generally the size and shape of a high end audio speaker on its exhibit table, that a spokesman said could deliver 4 watts of electrical to a suitably equipped device 15 feet away, and 16 watts at five feet.… More

The IoT hub is dead and Stringify killed it

6 January 2016 by Steve Blum
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Simple solution for home automation chaos.

Stringify has mixed the glue that will bind home automation and the other gizmos and platforms of the Internet of Things together. Two weeks ago, the Los Gatos, California-based startup launched its server-based and mobile centric meta-platform that allows consumers to control 200 products and services offered by dozens of companies via a single smartphone app.

It’s a brilliantly simple proposition: instead of using a dozen different apps to control a dozen different products, a consumer installs one app that talks to a server that talks to a dozen different servers – cloud to cloud, if you like – and makes them all work together.… More

Energous technology promises wireless charging at a distance

26 September 2015 by Steve Blum
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Big charger with a small beam.

The easiest way to charge a wearable gizmo is to do it while you’re wearing it. Taking off a fitness monitor, say, every night is a fast route to leaving it behind every morning. Energous Corporation has a way to make that happen.

The company demoed its short range wireless charging technology at Pepcom’s Mobile Focus event in San Francisco in May. The idea is to use 5 GHz WiFi transmissions, pinpoint focused by a Bluetooth steering beacon, to charge handheld devices.… More

Home automation company faces the and now what hurdle

14 June 2015 by Steve Blum
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Not much new.

Ring – the company formally known as DoorBot – is still keeping it simple and growing slowly. It produces a camera with a motion sensor that attaches to your front door and lets you see who’s there – whether you’re at home or justing looking in from somewhere out on the interwebs via Ring’s Android or iOS app, or a browser. For a fee – $3 per month or $30 for an entire year – it’ll also store six months worth of high definition video.… More

Billions to be spent replacing Iridium satellites – will the business fly this time?

3 February 2015 by Steve Blum
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A flood of cash was ploughed into building telecommunications systems in the 1990s, with generally bad results for the original investors. Some companies went through bankruptcy, but more or less came out the other side still functioning. Others collapsed completely, with the assets selling at fire sale prices.

The most glorious of those failures had to have been Iridium. Backed by Motorola, it launched a low earth orbit constellation of 66 satellites that were designed to communicate with brick-sized phones from any point on or over the planet.… More