TechSummit Rewind #003: January 3rd, 2014

Editor’s Note: This is the TechSummit Rewind, which can be read here every Saturday starting on january 3.

Tobii, SteelSeries team up to bring world’s first mass-market eye-tracking peripheral

Tobii-EyeX1

 

Tobii Technology and Steelseries announced a partnership to launch the world’s first mass-market consumer eye-tracking device for gamers.

Bruce Hawver, Steelseries CEO:

“We’re proud to announce this new partnership at CES. As the leader in eye-tracking technology, Tobii is positioned not only to impact but also to change the way that gamers experience and play games. Eye tracking is something entirely different and exciting for this consumer market, and we are thrilled to be working alongside Tobii and the developer community to deliver an entirely new technology to this industry.”

The Tobii EyeX Controller, which was showcased at CES, will be an example of how eye-tracking peripherals can look and function.

Henrik Eskilsson, Tobii Technology CEO:

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Steelseries to bring a truly revolutionizing gaming product to market that will be a key milestone for expanding eye tracking into new, exciting, mass consumer markets. SteelSeries is recognized for premium products and a deep commitment to gaming and game development. Our organizations complement each other in a way that creates optimal conditions for eye tracking to provide amazing new experiences for gamers and to bring about a major evolution in human computing.”

The eyes are used to signal intent and interest, guide your actions, aim, express emotions and more. This extremely powerful dimension of interaction enabled by eye tracking opens up richer and more immersive gaming scenarios with games that respond to the player in ways that until now have not be possible.

Tobii eye tracking increases the bandwidth between the gamer and the game, allowing gamers to do more at the same time, which also creates a “richer” gaming experience. Add an extra aiming mechanism, remove the interruption of the game play by creating easier access to menus and commands, or make games with complex controls easier to learn.

Hawver:

“The integration of eye tracking into the game experience is literally a game changer — not only for the gamers themselves but also for developers. Eye tracking capabilities offer game developers a new, creative approach to game development. It becomes a truly immersive experience for players.”

The Tobii EyeX dev kit makes implementation of Tobii eye tracking in games and other software easy. It includes Tobii’s “industry-leading” eye-tracking hardware, unique middleware and development framework, and inspiration from out-of-the-box functionality in a wealth of applications and games.

Eskilsson:

“Tech enthusiasts and gamers around the world are waiting for eye tracking to happen in consumer devices, and the expectations are extremely high. For those who want to be part of the next big thing in gaming and computer interaction, don’t wait. With the SteelSeries device on the way, the time is now if you want to be among the first to bring eye tracking into games and apps. With Tobii EyeX, you get the tools to innovation and unleash your full creativity in developing the ultimate experience in gaming.”

DreamWorks announces launch of Android ‘DreamTab’ with original content

dreamtab_04

 

DreamWorks certainly knows what kids want to watch, with its swath of highly-successful children’s programming, and Android tablet maker Fuhu knows a thing of two about children’s tablets — having produced the insanely-successful Nabi 2 line, for instance. The two have put their youth savvy together to create a new slate called the DreamTab that comes with its own stylus and an array of kids’ apps. The studio told the New York Times in January that it’ll launch an eight-inch model this spring for under $300 with content that can interact with other DreamWorks toys or show kids how to draw, for example. It’ll also include other educational apps to further entice parents and could even have animated characters like Shrek tell kids when it’s time to shut it down. A 12-inch model will arrive later, and though there’s no word on specs at this time, DreamWorks said the new models will provide around the same power as an iPad.

Netflix adds director’s commentary option to House of Cards season one

House of Cards

 

Fans can now revisit season one of popular Netflix exclusive series House of Cards with director’s commentary tracks from all six of the show’s directors: David Fincher, James Foley, Joel Schumacher, Charles McDougall, Carl Franklin and Allen Coulter. Viewers can access the additional commentary option under the alternate audio/subtitles menu on all devices. Usually these kinds of extras are tied to physical media, but Netflix announced recently it would give them a test run starting with its original content like this show and Orange is the New Black. If you appreciate the extra insight, give them a listen. We know the streaming company makes many of its decisions based on analytics so vote with your play button.

Pandora launches Alarm Clock feature in Android app

pandora-android-alarm-clock

 

Last month, Pandora updated its iOS app with a top-requested new product feature from the service’s listeners. The response from listeners using that new feature has “been overwhelmingly positive” and version 5.1 of Pandora’s Android app allows listeners on Android devices to wake up to their favorite Pandora music as well.

Just like the one we built for iOS, the Alarm Clock for Android includes key features like the ability to easily snooze. When the alarm goes off, you music will begin to play with album art scrolling in the background. At this point, you can choose to keep listening to your music by tapping the song title or artist name on your phone screen, snooze or turn off the alarm. There are also a few notable features that are unique to the Android Alarm Clock, including the ability to customize how often your alarm repeats throughout the week. Since you don’t have to keep the Pandora app running in the foreground in order for the alarm to play music when it fires, the Alarm Clock for Android is “easier than ever” to use.

For those of you that are a slave to your snooze button, you can set the snooze option for five, 10, 15 or 20 minute increments. When this option is activated, your music will pause and the amount of time remaining will be displayed along with a progress bar counting down how many minutes you have left before the alarm will go off again. If you enjoy falling asleep to the sounds of your favorite Pandora tunes, the Alarm Clock for Android was built to also work in conjunction with the Sleep Timer.

Wii Fit U availability announced, still won’t work unless you use it

Wii Fit U

 

Nintendo’s tardy Wii Fit U has hit store shelves at a handful of price points and configurations as of January 10th, 2014 — all with the intent of making both you and your wallet lighter. If you missed out on last generation\’s fitness-game craze, a bundle with the game itself, a Wii Balance Board and Fit Meter fitness tracker will cost you $90. Just need the new game and a Fit Meter? That’ll set you back $50, while individual Fit Meters go for $20 each.

LG announces wearables, TVs, smartphones, appliances at CES 2014

LG-Logo1

 

LG kicked off Press Day at the Consumer Electronics Show and announced a boatload of products. In case you missed the 45-minute presentation, here’s a recap of what you missed.

LG+Lifeband+Touch+and+Heart+Rate+Earphones%5B20140513144509073%5D

 

The LG Lifeband Touch and Heart Rate Earphones mark LG’s first foray into fitness technology.

The Lifeband Touch is a smart activity tracker that is compatible with heart rate monitors as well as smartphones. Meanwhile, the Heart Rate Earphones’ dual-function design offers a convenient way for users to measure their heart rate while exercising. Both devices are designed to help users take greater control over their health. Lifeband Touch and Health Rate Earphones can wirelessly link up to each other, creating a seamless wireless ecosystem. Connected to Android and iOS smartphones, the devices can transmit data to the LG Fitness app, or to a number of other third party apps such as MyFitnessPal, Runkeeper or MapMyFitness.

Lifeband Touch was designed to be “asymmetric and flexible.” Featuring a touch OLED panel to display time, biometrics, incoming calls and music controls, the built-in three-axis accelerometer and altimeter allows the device to accurately measure key performance indicators such as distance, speed, number of steps, calories consumed and projected pace. Lifeband Touch also offers wireless connectivity via Bluetooth to transmit data to a smartphone or receive data from third party devices such as the Heart Rate Earphones.

LG’s Heart Rate Earphones feature PerformTek sensor technology which measures blood flow signals from the auricle, the external part of the ear to capture accurate biometric data such as heart rate and maximum oxygen consumption. A clip-on medallion connected to the earphones provides Bluetooth connectivity, enabling the unit to send data to a smartphone or the Lifeband Touch for a truly seamless experience.

LG_STUDIO2

 

LG Studio includes a full line of modern kitchen necessities, including ranges, wall ovens, cooktops, microwave ovens and dishwashers.

Spearheading the premium line of appliances is the 42-inch side-by-side refrigerator, which boasts a 26.5 cubic foot capacity. LG will also be showcasing its 25 cubic foot three-door refrigerator with Door-in-Door which can be opened with the simple push of a button.

The new LG Studio built-in refrigerator features LG’s SpacePlus icemaker, which frees up top-shelf space by moving the ice maker into the refrigerator door. LG’s built-in refrigerator also comes with an extra-tall ice and water dispenser which accommodates a wider range of containers, with an extended height of 9.2 inches. LG’s built-in refrigerator also comes with adjustable shelving and sliding door baskets, while multiple pull-out drawers allows for customized organization.

LG’s Smart Cooling Plus technology with Dual Evaporators react quickly to humidity and temperature changes to help keep food fresh. Digital sensors include the fresh food section also closely monitor temperature and humidity levels.

This new LG Studio refrigerator also features the company’s proprietary Smart Diagnosis. It helps customer service representatives quickly and efficiently troubleshoot mechanical issues over the phone.

All Studio refrigerators are Energy Star qualified in recognition of their energy efficiency. The refrigerators are built around LG’s Inverter Linear Compressor, one of the company’s four Core Technologies. With fewer moving parts and greater efficiency, the motor is backed by a 10-year manufacturer’s limited warranty.

LG’s TrueSteam technology ends the need to prewash dishes by discharging powerful, high-temperature steam particles from carefully aimed pressure nozzles. Food particles are dispersed, and dishes are left sparkling clean. Steam temperature and pressure are managed by the built-in steam generator, which ensures that the steam is strong enough to dissolve tough food residues but gentle enough to protect delicate items from damage.

The intelligent design of SmartRack allows the interior of the dishwasher to be more flexible and offers greater convenience to customers. While most dishwashers feature only two tiers, LG’s TrueSteam dishwashers comes with a height-adjustable third tier, ideal for oversized utensils such as spatulas, whisks or salad tongs.

LG Studio offers a complete range of cooking essentials, including gas and electric cooktops, single and double wall ovens, slide-in and freestanding ranges and microwave ovens. Appliances such as the wall ovens feature a Gourmet Recipe Bank housing 100 recipes — 42 of which are pre-programmed into the oven.

WEBOS_2[20140106095042898]

After acquiring WebOS last year from HP, we’re finally seeing the first fruits of LG’s labor. WebOS, which will be implemented in more than 70 percent of LG’s Smart TVs in 2014 makes content searching and viewing, connecting with other devices, and even the initial setup process incredibly smooth. The first time the user turns on the webOS-enabled LG Smart TV, an animated character reminiscent of Microsoft’s Clippy, BeanBird appears onscreen to help get connected and walk the user through the setup process. All the viewer had to go is shake the Magic Remote or press the OK button to receive further advice from the winged virtual facilitator. webOS can instantly recognize when and what kind of external device has been plugged into the TV and brings up a pop-up menu listing all relevant options for the user to choose from.

The new Launcher, a left-to-right scrollable menu that runs along the lower portion of the screen is one of the most distinctive features of webOS. The Launcher makes it possible to switch between broadcast TV, smart TV content and media stored on external devices without having to return to the Home screen. It allows the viewer to simultaneously watch a show, play a game or browse the Internet while searching or downloading other content. What’s more, Live Menu, which can be opened while viewing the TV, keeps the search, recommendation and channel options within easy reach.

The ‘Today’ menu is a one-stop content recommendation service, suggesting popular TV shows, programs that have been missed as well as full-length movies. Running horizontally along the center of the screen, the Today bar can also be scrolled up or down via the Magic Remote wheel to reveal more viewing options.

LG’s webOS also offers access to the LG Store’s collection and apps. The LG Store lets users browse the most-viewed and most-downloaded items available from across the Smart TV platform, including broadband TV programs and the latest games. The categories include 3D content, games and movies.

The addition of webOS to LG’s Smart TVs will support Ultra HD 4K from Netflix. All 12 of LG’s 2014 Ultra HD TVs support 4K Netflix streaming.

LG’s 2014 Ultra HD Tvs are designed to include the latest standards for connectivity, content protection and program encoding, meaning they’re equipped to handle 4K streaming. The capability can be TV ensured by the built-in 4K HEVC 60p decoder. LG’s 2014 Ultra HD TVs decode broadcast signals in both H.264 and HEVC H.265 formats, in either 30p or 60p.

LG also took the cover off the world’s first flexible OLED TV today at CES. With this 77-inch unit, viewers can control the angle of the TV’s curve for an optional viewing experience using the TV remote.

lg_g_flex

AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint will be offering the LG G Flex, seen above. T-Mobile and Sprint didn’t announce details on pricing or availability, but AT&T announced that it’ll be available in the first quarter of the year.

In case you need a spec refresher, full specs are available below:

    • 2.26GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor
    • 6-inch 1280×720 P-OLED display
    • 2GB RAM, 32GB internal storage
    • 13MP rear-facing camera, 2.1MP front-facing camera
    • 3,500mAH battery
    • Operating System: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean (at launch)
    • Dimensions: 160.5×81.6×7.9-8.7mm, 177g

 

Yahoo Sports iOS app lets users turn highlights into animated GIFs

The Yahoo logo is shown at the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale

 

Yahoo Sports’ iOS app has been redesigned for iOS 7, adding some nice flair that closely resembles the minimal flatness of Apple’s mobile OS, but that’s not even the most newsworthy part of the update. Help users harness their inner meme by introducing a GIF creator inside the app itself, called Loops. This allows users to take short game highlight clips and quickly meme-ify them with overlaid text. The GIFs can then be shared with friends, or posted to a feed on a main game results page.

Users can create Loops for professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey, with college football and baseball also supported. This is made possible thanks to the Sunnyvale, CA-based company’s acquisition of IntoNow, which allows Yahoo to record highlights of televised sports.

Gorilla Glass

Corning has adopted the manufacturing readiness of a novel 3D glass-forming technology to shape the company’s Gorilla Glass. Corning is targeting commercialization of finished 3D-shaped Gorilla Glass parts in 2014 and is working with G-Tech Optoelectronics Corp. (GTOC) to establish a vertically integrated operation in Taiwan.

Product design continues to drive the consumer electronics industry. More than half of the top 10 smartphone manufacturers already market devices that incorporate cover glass with subtle curves, and the demand for even more-dramatic form factors is increasing. Corning’s 3D-forming technology meets this demand and expands the design possibilities for industrial designers.

The relationship with GTOC allows Corning to provide a “one-roof” solution.

James Steinter, Corning Specialty Materials senior vice president and general manager:

“We can now take Gorilla Glass all the way from flat sheet to a finished 3D-shaped product in Asia, expediting turnaround times and minimizing logistical complexity. That’s a win for Corning and our customers.”

Corning’s 3D-forming technology can achieve precise tolerances and high throughput on a platform that is more economical than alternative two-mold forming methods. This technology uses Gorilla Glass of uniform thickness, assisting designers to introduce thinner and lighter devices and leverage the emergence of conformable displays for mobile and wearable applications.

BBM beta for Android gains Channels, voice chat

BlackBerry-Live-2013-BBM-App-001

Android users who’ve enjoyed their first taste of BBM got some new features today. BlackBerry released a private beta of the messaging client that introduces promised Channels and Voice support, giving Android users the same social feeds and free WiFi calling as their BB10 brethren. There’s no mention of when the feature will reach either the public BBM build or its iOS equivalent, but it’s clear that wider availability is close at hand.

AT&T tries to lure T-Mobile customers away with up to $450 per line

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AT&T is offering T-Mobile customers the opportunity to “upgrade their mobile lifestyle” with up to $450 per line when they switch to AT&T and trade in an eligible smartphone.

In addition to a “larger and more reliable 4G LTE network,” T-Mobile customers who switch to AT&T will benefit from a “superior smartphone lineup and award-winning customer service.” With AT&T, customers can take advantage of AT&T’s Mobile Share Value plans, which offer data and unlimited talk and text starting as low as $45 per month with no annual contract. AT&T Next offers customers the chance to upgrade to a new smartphone every year for $0 down.

Under the limited-time offer, T-Mobile customers who switch to AT&T can trade in their current smartphone for a promotion card of up to $250, which can be used toward AT&T products and services. Trade-in values will vary based on the manufacturer, model and age of the smartphone, but many of the “latest and most popular smartphones” will quality for a value of $250. T-Mobile customers can receive an additional $200 credit per line when they transfer their wireless service to AT&T and choose an AT&T Next plan, buy a device at full retail price or activate a device they currently own.

BlackBerry sues Typo Products over iPhone keyboard case

typo-keyboard-iphone

 

BlackBerry filed a lawsuit against Typo Products.

Typo, founded by entrepreneur Laurence Hallier and media personality Ryan Seacrest, announced that the Typo Keyboard would be available for pre-order this month. BlackBerry’s lawsuit against Typo Products alleges patent infringement and that Typo has “blatantly copied” the keyboard found on BlackBerry’s Q10 smartphone with its iPhone keyboard case.

Steve Zipperstein, BlackBerry’s General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer:

“This is a blatant infringement against BlackBerry’s iconic keyboard, and we will vigorously protect our intellectual property against any company that attempts to copy our unique design. From the beginning, BlackBerry has always focused on offering an exceptional typing experience that combines a great ergonomic excellence. We are flattered by the desire to graft our keyboard onto other smartphones, but we will not tolerate such activity without fair compensation for using our intellectual property and our technological innovations.”

Typo also released their own statement:

“We are aware of the lawsuit that BlackBerry filed today against Typo Products. Although we respect BlackBerry and its intellectual property, we believe that BlackBerry’s claims against Typo lack merit and we intend to defend the case vigorously. We are excited about our innovative keyboard design, which is the culmination of years of development and research. The Typo keyboard has garnered an overwhelmingly positive response from the public. We are also looking forward to our product launch at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week and remain on track to begin shipping pre-orders at the end of January.”

Acer announces new seven, 7.9-inch Iconia tablets for $130 and up

Acer-Iconia-A1-830

 

Acer is known to refresh its Android tablet lineup at CES, and they didn’t disappoint this year. Ahead of the CES madness, the company has announced new 7.9-inch and seven-inch models: the Iconia A1-830 and the Iconia B1-720.

The 7.9-inch A1 is the most premium of the two, with an aluminum backing and an IPS display for wide viewing angles (albeit with a 1024×768 resolution). It runs Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean (at launch) with an Intel Atom processor and 1GB of RAM under the hood. There’s 16GB of on-board memory that’s expandable to 32GB with a microSD card, and the rear-facing camera lets you shoot at a resolution of 2560 x 1930. Of course, at $149, it’s still on the cheap side, but it looks to be a good low-end option, with up to seven hours of battery life to boot. The A1-830 is available now, and Acer will sell an optional keyboard and cover as well.

AcerIconiaB1720-2

 

Now in the ultra-affordable category: the Iconia B1-720 costs $130, and your money buys you a basic slate that’s faster than last year’s version. You get a 1.3GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM, and the device is rated for up to five hours of battery life. The patterned finish is a touch classier than the previous B1’s glossy backing, too. The 7-incher is available now in North America, alongside an optional protective case.

 

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