Heat You, Not the Room, & Avoiding Traffic Jams

As cooler weather has hit, there’s the age old problem of whether to turn up the thermostat and pay more, or leave it set lower and chill, so to speak. A new bracelet created by a group of students at MIT may save you the choice. The MIT wizards have created the Wristify, a thermoelectric bracelet that tracks the air temperature and your skin’s temperature, and allows you to control your body temperature. They found if you heat or cool just one part of your body, you’re more comfortable, despite the air temperature. The bracelet, which looks like a watch, heats or cools your wrist, and lasts 8 hous on a battery chargeThe MIT students won a $10,000 prize for the gadget, and hope to make it available soon.

If anyone loves their commute, and especially traffic jams, I haven’t met them. Help could be on the horizon. Back to MIT again, where a professor has developed an algorithm that works with adaptive cruise control available on some cars…and adding rangefinders and sensors to cars without adaptive cruise…Professor Berthold Horn says that coming up on a jam, within a minute the system would kick in and even traffic flow…partly by reducing sudden braking that causes backups to get worse in the first place. Adaptive cruise control has just been on higher end cars up to now, but as the tech gets cheaper, and shows up on more cars, we may get to a point where the jams can be evened out or eliminated. The self driving cars promised by 2020 will help, too!

In the early days of personal computing, there was the quest for the so-called ‘killer app,’ something that would absolutely compel people to buy it…think word processing or spreadsheet programs. Now, in social media, it’s the killer service, and for Facebook that has been photo sharing. Both Twitter and Google+ have rolled out features to try to pry users away from Facebook. Twitter just added previews of photos and videos directly inside tweets….no more click to expand. Not surprisingly, Google is looking to math to ease people away from Facebook and into Google +…they now not only upload and enhance all your photos, and find the best ones, now they have full resolution uploads to iOS. Will either cut into Facebook? It’s too early to tell, but with over 250 billion photos on Facebook, even siphoning off a few will boost Twitter or Google +.


Twitter Passes Up Facebook, and Samsung Glass??

Facebook has been dethroned with those fickle teens…by Twitter. 26% of teens say Twitter is their most important social site, eclipsing Facebook at 23%. Facebook has dropped from 43%! Twitter can’t get smug…Facebook owned Instagram is also at 23%.

GoogleGlass has not only moved Microsoft to experiment with wearable tech…Samsung has patented smartphone connected sports glasses. They have a usb cord dangling from the back of the frame, and if they build them the way the patent drawing looks, they will make GoogleGlass look totally hip and cool.

Former Apple CEO and Pepsi exec John Scully is looking at taking over ailing Blackberry, along with an unnamed group of partners. If he buys this one and screws it up worse, like he did at Apple, there’s no Steve Jobs to come back and bail him out.


Tablets and e-readers Are Staring Down 50% penetration, & Walmart Girds for Amazon

A survey from Pew Internet Research shows tablet ownership in the US has hit 34% in 2013! Counting e-readers, it’s 43%! At this growth rate, 50% will be crossed soon!

Walmart has started @walmartlabs in San Bruno. It’s trying to fend off the growing threat from Amazon.com. They’re trying to recruit engineers and tech talent, but may find naming conference rooms after Justin Bieber and charging for cafeteria food won’t fly in Silicon Valley. It may take management spending some time in the Valley to really grasp the difference from Bentonville, Arkansas!


Video Way Up on Mobile, & Netflix Originals Get Extras

As I came across this story, a colleague in the next cube was watching a short video on her smartphone yesterday…underscoring that 40% of YouTube traffic is now mobile…up from 25% in 2012, and 6% in 2011! Just don’t do it walking down the street…smartphones are still a hot ticket for thieves!

GoogleGlass is getting more commands. Soon be able to have Glass call you a car tune your instrument, or translate a foreign language on the fly….how cool will THAT be for overseas travel? We’re waiting for ‘Ok, Glass, get me a raise!’

Netflix has produced a number of original shows…some with reasonable success. More are on the way, and you can also expect deleted scenes and bloopers…just like a lot of DVDs.


Pay By Email, and a Pacemaker Without Surgery

Square is introducing a super simple way to send cash through any email
account…they say it’s totally safe, too. You set up a debit card with them, and just CC cash@square.com. It could get them a chunk of the Paypal market.

An amazing pacemaker is now on sale in Europe, and may be headed here. Ieeespectrum.com says it’s the size of a triple A battery, and goes right in
the heart with a catheter…no cutting. Takes a half hour.

RBC Capital says the new Retina iPad Mini expected next week will outsell the new fifth generation full sized iPad 2 to 1 over the holidays. Even though phones seem to be growing, maybe the sweet spot for tablets is the smaller size!


Microsoft Dropping Cookies & “Showrooming is Growing!”

Microsoft may be about to do away with cookies…sounds good, doesn’t it? Well of course there’s a catch…they are planning to replace them with a new tracking system that will follow you across desktops, Windows Mobile, and X Box.

Twitter is apparently exploring personalized breaking news notifications. That is the idea behind an account called @eventparrot, tailored to you by your apps. It will direct message you with news aimed at you…naturally, it’s also another way to sell your data.

The practice of ‘showrooming,’ where people shop for items at a store, then buy them over the web, has gone mainstream in just a year. Mobile marketing firm Vibes surveyed a thousand shoppers and found a 156% jump in the practice in the last year.


Chromebook 11 & Office (Finally) for iPad?

Google has announced the HP Chromebook 11. Like all Chromebooks, everything’s in the cloud, but it’s the price of a smartphone at $279, and has a very sharp 11 inch screen. The case is very similar to the polycarbonate MacBooks of a few years ago.

A small Silicon Valley startup called Kumu Networks is working on radically reinventing wireless communications. Their system would effectively double the capacity of both cellular and wifi systems, according to the Wall St Journal.

Some very long awaited news for people who are really trying to make the iPad more of a productive device- following the introduction of a touch interface Office on Windows machines, Microsoft will release Office for iPads. It’s way past about time. Could the release of Apple’s suite on the web for free have pushed them a bit on this?