Consumer uptake of IoT tech depends on cutting the power bill

1 November 2014 by Steve Blum
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The one thing you can count on an electricity meter to have is, well, electricity. A steady source of (for all practical purposes) unlimited power makes engineering a wide area, low bit rate network easy, and gaining the benefits of real time control a straightforward, relatively low tech proposition.

Other utilities aren’t so lucky. On the whole, it’s not a great idea to pump 120 volts into a gas or water meter, even if it were cost effective.… More

Wearables need network neutrality, of a sort, to thrive

19 October 2014 by Steve Blum
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Cord cutting is easy if you live in a signal rich environment. Or at least easier – anyone who has experienced the frustration of trying to make a mobile call from an interior room in a central business district hotel knows it isn’t a slam dunk. But once you move out into suburban and rural areas, reliable indoor phone and Internet service usually means keeping the wire. (And yes, I know, fixed wireless is a potential solution, but usually not – at least according to the FCC.… More

Datawind squeezes costs out of bandwidth for developing markets

4 October 2014 by Steve Blum
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$80 for a tablet with a year of mobile Internet service included is a powerful selling proposition, particularly in the developing markets that Datawind is targeting. The Canadian company showed its newest tablet – priced at $38 with WiFi connectivity only – at the Showstoppers event at the CTIA show in Las Vegas last month.

Datawind has solved two tough problems: making a cheap and functional tablet and bundling it with even cheaper mobile service in a useful way.… More

Start ups join identity verification battle

25 January 2014 by Steve Blum
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Cash is king, but kings are increasingly scarce.

There are two ways to look at threats to the electronic payment systems consumers and retailers – online and brick and mortar – rely upon: as an ongoing process of swatting down isolated and rarely successful attacks, or as a full scale war that the good guys are completely capable of losing. Since the holiday mega-crack at Target stores, I’m leaning towards the latter.

The point of sale is a critically weak link.… 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

After hitting bottom, the only way Blackberry can go is up

7 January 2014 by Steve Blum
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I was dead, but I got better.

Blackberry is salvaging something out the wreckage of its mobile phone business, by porting its BBM chat service – formerly Blackberry Messenger – to the iOS and Android platforms. And it’s claiming a fair amount of success. According to a spokesman at this evening’s Showstoppers CES press, Blackberry has doubled its BBM user count – going from 40 to 80 million users worldwide – in the two months or so since it launched its iPhone and Android apps.… More

Innovative technology and practical business plans win Showstoppers pitch fest

6 January 2014 by Steve Blum
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Could be standard lap top equipment soon.

A tiny, hand held projector that “can turn any wall into a touch screen” took top honors this afternoon at the second annual Showstoppers LaunchIt entrepreneurial beauty pageant at CES. Founders from a dozen start up companies gave five minute pitches to a panel of angel investors, who followed up with brief, but pointed, questions about business plans, pricing and, crucially, some kind of evidence that a market for their products and services exists.… More

Ready, fire, aim for real

12 January 2013 by Steve Blum
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High caliber consumer electronics takes on new meaning.

To shoot something a thousand meters away with a rifle, you need a sharp eye and steady hands. Or a high tech rifle that tracks your target and pulls the trigger for you.

TrackingPoint offers just such a weapon, and introduced it to the CES world at the Showstoppers event last week. It has a video camera, processing power and WiFi capability so someone can watch what you're doing in real time.… More

Leaving CES, entering the future

Developers jump on a new mobile platform.

If mobile, desktop and other devices like TVs converge on a single operating system, it'll be a Linux variant. When processing, display and input technology get to the point that the size and form factor of a device is irrelevant, an open source ecosystem will provide a cross-sector point of convergence for developers and manufacturers. Service providers will follow. It's an entrepreneurs' world.

Windows 8 will survive as a mobile operating system.… More

Headset turns thought into deed

8 January 2013 by Steve Blum
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Taking flight on wings of fancy.

The ultimate input and control method is a direct connection to your brain. NeuroSky has just such a device on the market. It's a reasonably sleek headset that reads your alpha and beta brain waves, and then translates the readings into commands that are passed on to whatever you're trying to control.

Their breakout product last year was the Necomimi – fuzzy cat ears that attach to the headset and then move up or down or wiggle according to your mood.… More