Ford Discovers Silicon Valley (at last!)
Jan30

Ford Discovers Silicon Valley (at last!)

Ford Motor Company recently announced  the opening of a new R&D department in Silicon Valley, tapping former Apple engineer Dragos Maciuca to head the department. CTO and VP for global product development, Raj Nair, says that the company is “[…] increasingly seeing the car being the biggest consumer electronics device you can have.” Ford says the plan is to have a team of approximately 125 software and user experience engineers in the department by the end of the year. This should give Ford the biggest automotive center in the valley, with employees primarily lured by the “very competitive” pay and the opportunity to build products that change the way people live. The new department is also strategically located to place Ford’s cutting edge R&D closer to potential partners.  With more young software engineers likely to be in Silicon Valley than in Detroit, the location makes the department the perfect place to source emerging talent. While some might say Ford is late to the Silicon Valley “party,” CEO Mark Fields disagrees. According to him, having the right business acumen and trend-watching is enough to match the head start other companies have. Looking at the current trends, it’s probable that Ford will try just about anything, up to and including 4G remote-controlled cars. Fields says they have the opportunity to solve transportation, as well as to grow the business beyond the traditional scope. While he’s probably right, it’s difficult to tell how Ford’s touted projects could be particularly vital to consumers, or where it could take future research. More importantly, Ford is lagging in the ‘Infotainment’ arena, losing the edge it had in 2007 with Sync. The current work hasn’t been promising, even though Ford says it’s working on autonomous driving. Ford has the right idea in being in Silicon Valley, but the company has some catching up to...

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Leatherman Tread Puts a Spin on Functional Fashion
Jan29

Leatherman Tread Puts a Spin on Functional Fashion

The wearable tech industry is a new, fast growing segment of technology. With the ability to carry valuable tools around with us in portable form, it’s no wonder these gadgets generate a lot of excitement. Leatherman is wasting no time making waves in this trend, releasing the Leatherman Tread this coming summer. This intriguing deviation is unique within the industry: it combines the mobility of a wrist adornment with the utility of a multi-tool. The band comprises of a series of links, each providing 2-3 working tools, with over 25 distinct uses. The design is something quite ingenius. Not only is the bracelet completely adjustable, but it can be customized by re-building the links using a slot fastening system. You can put in or take out tools, shrink or expand the length, and even use the chain clasp to open bottles or act as a square driver. In addition, it includes phillips and flathead screwdrivers, hex drivers, more than one type of box wrench, a SIM grabber, and more. If the aforementioned features weren’t enough, the makeup of this handy device is molded stainless steel (via metal injection). That means you don’t have to worry about breakage, as is common with other small tools. While the naked bracelet is rugged and fun, there will also be an alternative available later this year: a quartz powered movement option. You might be wondering if this is TSA approved, especially if you’re a frequent traveller. The answer is yes. In fact, that idea was what prompted the original idea for this device: a useful all-in-one tools that would pass safety checks at airports. Leatherman’s new bracelet is slated to be available in stores and online in early May or late April, and the basic option (steel) should run $150. More expensive options could run as high as $200, $500, and beyond depending on the movement and material. One thing’s for certain: Leatherman has done their research and The Tread is posed to create an entirely new category for wearable...

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A Preview of Microsoft’s New Holographic Goggles
Jan23

A Preview of Microsoft’s New Holographic Goggles

Microsoft Corporation has been hard at work for several years developing their latest breakthrough in computing technology. Project HoloLens is a head-mounted holographic computer, similar to Oculus Rift, but with far more powerful capabilities. Project Hololens has an all-new interface—one that can be controlled by voice commands. For example, Project HoloLens (also known as “Baraboo”) has the ability to transport the user, via holographic display, to the surface of Mars. The user can “walk” on Mars and can even be joined by other users in different locations with all connected individuals being able to see and hear each other.  The possibilities for team-based simulations are almost endless. A possible real-world use for this device could take the form of virtual communication concerning the repair of a malfunctioning widget. In reality, the repairman could still be in bed in his own house, but, in the virtual reality world of Hololens, that person could be standing right beside you walking you through what you should check to determine the exact problem, even to the point of drawing virtual arrows and circles to show you what you should do to make the repair. Another feature of this technological marvel is the capability to allow the user to connect to all his or her devices/apps from wherever they happen to be at that moment. The holographic screen projects an image of said app into the air, allowing the user to “tap” the display the same way he or she would on a physical device. But wait… there’s more! Users will also have the ability to sculpt virtual toys, such as snowmen, Barbie dolls and Marvel action figures, and then print them out using a 3D printer. Rapid prototyping just took a huge leap forward. Project HoloLens works by allowing the brain to interpret light signals as matter. Light bounces around violently in what the designers have dubbed the “light engine” of the device. This light then filters its way into the goggle’s eyepieces, where it bounces between multiple layers of green, red and blue glass before finally entering your eyes. All of these “special effects” create the illusion of 3-dimensional matter. Microsoft plans to release Hololens in the spring of 2015. While Magic Leap, the Google equivalent, is expected to be released at approximately the same time, Google declines to comment on the progress of the gadget’s production....

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Smart Bed for Kids Monitors Sleep, Keeps Monsters Away
Jan09

Smart Bed for Kids Monitors Sleep, Keeps Monsters Away

Bedtime of the Future Has Arrived Sleep Number just introduced its latest product at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas, that product being a bed that monitors the sleep patterns and sleep quality of children. The high-tech creation, dubbed the SleepIQ Kids bed, is based on the Sleep Number x12 smart bed for adults. Not only does the bed monitor the child’s sleep cycle, but it also determines whether diet, stress, and activity are adversely affecting the quality of sleep received. How on Earth does this thing work? How does the SleepIQ Kids bed work? Hidden within the bed are tiny sensors that use “digital-signal capture” from within the mattress as well as processing motion and pressure. Factoring in the child’s breathing and heart-rate – also monitored throughout the night – the SleepIQ provides what is called a “SleepIQ score” ranging from 1 to 100, with 100 being the ideal for a good night’s rest. Something For Both the Parents and Kids Alike In addition to monitoring sleep, the bed also offers a number of features, attractive to both parents and children. Accessible by Android app or computer, a “sleep dashboard” lets parents remotely check on their child. Among  many useful monitoring functions, it will indicate when the child I gotten out of bed, a great safety feature benefiting parents of children who tend to “wander” at night. Parents also have the ability to remotely control some of the bed’s features, including turning off the bed’s reading lights when it’s time for bed. The bed also tilts to make bedtime reading – or breathing through stuffy noses – that much more comfortable. So, when can you get your child’s SleepIQ bed? Expect arrival in the United States later this year, with the SleepIQ Kids bed’s starting price hovering around $1,000. It will be available in twin, full, and queen...

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Sony Wants to Make Homes Smarter and More Stylish
Jan07

Sony Wants to Make Homes Smarter and More Stylish

The “smart home” concept of the 21st century has mostly been centered around household devices and appliances that could connect to the Internet. Now that we are firmly integrating that concept into our daily life through the machine-to-machine (M2M) protocol and the Internet of Things, technology giants such as Sony are looking beyond home security systems, ovens, and refrigerators that update their functional status to the cloud. Sony’s current vision of home automation is transformative and stylish. The Sony Life Space UX line of products aims to transform living spaces into various experiences that reflect the users’ personalities and moods. Sony is designing smart devices that project and stream digital content with which users can truly interact. The concept is to take an empty space and fill it with light, sound and digital imagery for the purpose of creating a rich user experience. The Life Space UX items created by Sony are small, portable, stylish, and very powerful. The Symphonic Light Speaker, for example, is a designer table lamp that links to devices such as desktop computers or even smartphones for the purpose of streaming high-quality sound and displaying directional light shows that can liven up any room. A simpler light and sound device in the Life Space UX collection is the LED bulb speaker, which can be screwed into a light socket to stream music. In terms of graphic displays, Sony’s vision of smart homes in the near future does not involve screens. Instead, portable projectors can display ultra high-resolution images on walls. The images can be scaled so that they can be transferred from the living room to the kitchen and from the home office to the shower. Also available in the Sony Life Space UX catalog are tabletop screens that can essentially turn any table surface into a touch screen so that users can comfortably work on tasks such as sharing photos, organizing files, editing documents, etc. In the end, the Sony Life Space UX is a welcome entry in the current paradigm of smart home...

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