Open standards and clear consumer branding will be the cure for CES home automation confusion

18 January 2015 by Steve Blum
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The new good housekeeping seal of approval.

There were plenty of home automation hubs at CES, as it turns out. The first home automation products out of the gate, at the pre-show press events, were primarily one-off gizmo-and-app combos, but the usual suspects eventually showed up.

Lowe’s Iris system was prominent in a demo smart home built on the show floor. Nexia had a presence too. Both have a similar business model: sell a hub and support it through a cloud server for $10 per month.… More

Electric vehicle creativity is built around new business models at CES

17 January 2015 by Steve Blum
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You wouldn’t mistake it for a McLaren, though.

Connected cars were everywhere at CES this year. A hot looking set of wheels was the platform of choice for showing off cutting edge technology. Plenty was written about it and there’s not much I can add. But very few of those vehicles – only 2 that I saw – were innovations in and of themselves.

Gogoro is an electric scooter that’s built around a swappable battery system.… More

Mars needs wearables

9 November 2014 by Steve Blum
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How’s your heart rate?

Thinking in terms of long space voyages can be a useful product development exercise. The work Salutron did on physiological tracking technology for NASA’s Mars program has turned into a useful, inexpensive and adaptable range of wrist monitors.

If you’re sealing yourself into a tin can the size of a VW bus for a couple of years and leaving Earth, whatever you take with you has to be durable, simple and fit for purpose.… More

Guess what, you can find cats on the Internet. Even your own cat

12 October 2014 by Steve Blum
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Than again, maybe he doesn’t want to be found.

The Internet of Things gets a lot more relevant when it becomes the Internet of Your Things. Keys, phones and pets, for example. Stuff you need to find every so often. That’s the simple idea behind TrackR, a company founded by a couple of U.C. Santa Barbara students and funded on Indiegogo.

They make little coin-sized gizmos that you can attach to your stuff and link to your smart phone via Bluetooth 4.0.… More

How secure does your crock pot need to be?

11 October 2014 by Steve Blum
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If you let it simmer long enough, even a trojan horse will be tender.

The whole point of security is to make access to your stuff inconvenient. Not explicitly, of course, but that’s really what’s going on. If it’s harder for a bad guy to get in, it’s going to be harder for you too. It can be annoying to have to enter a pin code just to answer your phone But if someone uses it to clean out your bank account, that’s potentially a life changing event.… More

ARM is a growing server-side threat to Intel

1 February 2014 by Steve Blum
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Low profile, high potential.

2014 will be the year that specialised ARM-based chips gather momentum in the server market. That was not good news for Intel as it scrambled at CES to maintain relevance in the mobile device market. The last thing it needs – but the next thing it’s going to get – is competitive pressure on server processors, an increasingly rare example of a growth market that it dominates.

ARM maintained a relatively low profile at CES, leaving center stage to companies, like Qualcomm, that license its microprocessor architecture and make the chips that rule the smart phone and tablet space.… More

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

ZTE turbocharging Firefox mobile OS with two new phones

6 January 2014 by Steve Blum
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LG is in the Firefox game too.

The Firefox OS smart phone universe is expanding. ZTE, which launched the Open last year, essentially as a software developers’ kit, will be unveiling two new phones based on Mozilla’s open source, HTML5-centric operating system. The expected Wednesday announcement will launch the Open C and Open 2 smart phones, which are pegged to move up the value chain with more features than the $80 Open.

Two other Firefox phones were on display at the Pepcom event at CES this evening: the LG Fireweb, which is currently available in Brazil, and the Alcatel One Touch Fire.… More

Firefox OS performing as well as it can on ZTE Open SDK

29 November 2013 by Steve Blum
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Twitter top pick on Firefox app store.

The Firefox mobile operating system is clearly a work in progress, but that said, it works well enough already. I’ve been using a ZTE Open Firefox phone for three months, and can do most of the things I need to do and, as time goes on and software is released, more of the things I’d like to do.

The OS performs better than Bada, which I used for about a year on a Samsung handset.… More

Tylt battery pack ready to stuff a well-heeled stocking

28 November 2013 by Steve Blum
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Tylt Powerplant doubles up.

One of the bennies of going to events like Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular is that people give you free stuff to review. I walked out with a Tylt Powerplant rechargeable battery pack, a simple device which turned out to perform pretty much as claimed.

About the size of a computer mouse, it stores enough juice to recharge a mobile phone, at least once and probably a couple of times depending on the size of your battery.… More