Get ready for episode 21 of The SmashCast! In this podcast, We discuss the Airboard, the myriad of Facebook announcements, Samsung’s VR headset at Best Buy, and Microsoft’s support of piracy. We also started a brand new segment called, “Throwback Thursday” where we reminisce about our favorite tech of yesteryear.
Click the button below to listen to/download episode 21 of The SmashCast. (Right click and select “save link as” if you want to download the episode to your computer for later.)
Okay Smashers, it’s time for episode 3 of The SmashCast! In this episode, We discuss our excitement for some of the upcoming features of Android’s lollipop release, our opinions on Amazon’s recently announced voice controlled speaker “The Echo,” as well as a brand new segment called RIDICITECH. In this segment we find ridiculous technology on the internet and discuss how to make it better. Get listening SMASHER!
Click the button below to listen to/download episode 3 of The SmashCast. (Right click and select “save link as” if you want to download the episode to your computer for later.)
If you’re a criminal in Silicon Valley, watch out for the K5! A company known as KnightScope (a likely undercover subsidiary of Nightrider) is looking at new ways to fight back against crime using technology. They’ve assembled a human size robot known as the K5 that provide a deeper level of surveillance and intimidation to criminals. These robots coming in at 5 feet tall and weighing a whopping 300 pounds, use lasers, high sensitivity microphones, and a 360 degree camera to guard the perimeter of an area. The lasers are, unfortunately, non-lethal as the robots are designed more for intimidation purposes than actual defense.
The multiple sensors enable the robot to navigate around the perimeter of a building to keep an eye on unusual activity. Video stream and alert information is then sent off to the company’s security department alerting them to threats and enabling them to take action. According to CBS, one of the co-founders of KnightScope stated how this is done, “The robot is looking at the video, listening for glass breakage, any loud sound that breaking in would cause. We’ll get the license plate, picture of the vehicle, geotag location, and time.” CNET provides some great coverage in a video they created below:
Additionally, KnightScope did not disclose what specific companies have employed these robots in the Silicon Valley, however, they claim that around 4 dozen companies are on a waiting list to purchase a K5 robot.
I would be interested in getting one of these for my home and seeing if I might be able to reprogram it to run over intruders. At 300 pounds on wheels, who needs lasers?
What do you think of the robots? Do you think they will provide a more effective way to deter criminal behavior? Let us know in the comments below.
Do you remember Rock Band? Hours upon hours were probably spent in the basements of your parents home rocking out with your best friends. Nowadays Rock Band seems like a thing of the past. While Rock Band had some great success in its time, the series lost steam and hasn’t recovered since RockBand 3 was released in 2011. however, there seems to be a glimmer of hope for us wannabe Rockstars!
This week Harmonix, Rock Band’s developer, announced its plans to release Rock Band 4 later this year forXbox One and PlayStation 4. While this is exciting news for Rock Band enthusiasts, Harmonix’s plans for Rock Band 4 are a little different from past games. According to an interview with IGN, Project Manager Daniel Sussman states:
There are a lot of things that I think we can do, both on the publishing side and the development side, to sustain Rock Band 4 as a product. Rock Band 4 is a sequel relative to Rock Band 3 and that 4 is really an indication of our commitment to innovation in this space and the idea that this is a bona fide evolutionary step from Rock Band 3 in a lot of ways. It does not imply that there will be a Rock Band 5, 6, 7, and 8.
We think that there’s an opportunity this time around, given the technology to interact directly with our audience and also to react to the feedback that we get directly from our audience to sort of expand upon a core game of Rock Band 4. So Rock Band 4 will expand through title updates, through content updates, over the long span. We view Rock Band 4 as the Rock Band for this console generation, and it will continually evolve through a dialogue with our community. I think Rock Band is a great title to utilize that approach in the console space.
From this statement it appears that instead of creating a ‘new’ Rock Band annually, the plan is to simply update Rock Band 4 with more songs and features. While this seems like a great idea, this likely means ongoing DLC (Downloadable Content) that will likely come at a cost. But hey, paid for content is better than no content at all.
To get you pumped up for the new Rock Band, check out the video below.
Can you feel your Thunderstruck fingers getting ready for action. Of course you can! With that said, what are your thoughts? Is the resurrection of Rock Band a good decision? Will Rock Band regain its once incredible popularity? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
Last month we reported on a leak from top executives in the television industry that Apple was working on its own television service to rival the likes of Sling TV. Today, the Wall Street Journal reported further details on Apple’s rumored service according to sources “in-the-know.” The service is intended to be a “slimmed-down” version of cable that is accessible via the internet on Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, etc… The question remains whether the price of the service and its channel offerings will be sufficient to entice customers to make the switch.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
Apple has been talking to Walt Disney Co., CBS Corp., and 21st Century FoxInc., among other media companies. The idea is to offer consumers a “skinny” bundle with well-known channels like CBS, ESPN and FX, while leaving out the many smaller networks in the standard cable TV package.
Apparently this “skinny” bundle will reportedly offer around 25 total channels. Offering significantly less channels than traditional cable, Apple would is reported to offer the service at a cheaper rate. According to the WSJ’s same sources, the service should be priced between $30 and $40 dollars. Additionally, the service is said to be announced this June with a target launch date of September. Apple has a lot of work to do to get this service into our hands.
How does the price compare?
According to a report put out by the FCC mid last year, consumers pay an average of around $64 dollars for “expanded basic cable service.” This would put Apple’s service between 53% and 37% cheaper based on final pricing. However, the channel offering is significantly less. Nielson.com reported last year that the average U.S. home received 189 channels into their home. This would put Apple’s service at only 13% of the average channel volume offered by tradition cable. However, Nielson also reported that “consumers have [only] consistently tuned in to an average of just 17 channels. ”
Nielson’s report is evidence that consumers are paying for far more than they are actually using when subscribing for cable/satellite. As such, Apple may be onto a viable television model that provides consumers with the channels that they need without all the “fluff.” What needs further analysis is whether those 17 channels are relatively consistent across the consumers, or whether their preferences are sporatic across the board. The results to that question will dictate whether or not Apple’s TV service offering will be viable to the masses.
Additionally, something else to consider is that often times consumers are buying both internet and cable in bundles; making the price of each service significantly cheaper. For example, Comcast offers the XFINITY Starter Double Play service for $79.99. This service includes 140 channels and internet speeds of 50 MBPS. Comparatively, you can purchase solely the XFINITY internet at the same speeds for $34.99. If Apple’s TV service releases on the higher end at $40 per month, then combined with internet, the consumer is paying $5.00 less at the expense of 115 (82% less) channels. Using this comparison, Apple’s television service may not be as initially impressions.
What else might set the service apart?
Considering that this service isn’t likely to be substantially cheaper than the alternative, it is highly likely that Apple has another card up its sleeve regarding how they plan to revolutionize the television industry. One thing is certain, consumers are moving in the direction of consuming the majority of their media content via online streaming. A study put out last year by Frank N. Magid found that a whopping 83% percent of US television watchers stream online content; up 9 percentage points from last year’s reported 74% percent. With streaming on the rise, if Apple can re-invent the way we stream with betters ways to discover and consume content, the company could be onto something.
There has always existed a delineation between live TV and internet streamed media. Often, if you want to watch a new episode of your favorite seasons’ episodes as soon as they release, it’s required that you watch on traditional live television. The online streamed alternative is typically available the next day. There are a few exceptions to that rule, but most of them require that you have a cable or satellite subscription to gain online streaming access any earlier.
While I couldn’t find any large-scale data to support my theory, the primary reasons that I have heard from people regarding why they stick with cable is to watch sports. While local channels cover some of the games, to get access to the majority of each season’s competition, you’re going to need a cable or satellite subscription.
I would also argue that one of the key elements that is missing from online streaming services is an improved way to discover new media. While there are plenty of algorithms to recommend new content to you, it just isn’t the same as scanning through channels and finding shows that catch your eye. The cover art and description of a show is only so enticing. If Apple can solve for both of these problems AND bring the benefit of streaming content on-demand, they will have a very competitive product offering.
What do you think Apple needs to bring to their TV service to be competitive? What would entice you to cut the cord? Let us know in the comments below.
After two years of success with their Roku 3, the company has decided to stop resting on its laurels. Hardware upgrades have now been applied to their current lineup and software updates given to a surprising number (6) of legacy devices still supported reaching back to 2011. The newest version adds a new remote which has dedicated Voice Search capability. This new Voice Search function allows you to pull up and navigate to any channel on vocal command. The specifications of the internals are not yet known, but it is said that the outgoing Roku 3 is basically the new Roku 2 without the special remote and an added headphone jack.
On the software side, a new feature called Roku Feed will allow you to follow specific movies as a type of wish list. It’s billed as a place to look when you just don’t know what to watch! Many of us have felt Netflix search fatigue, and such a feature will surely help alleviate that decidedly first-world problem. (I’m glad we solved this prior to world-hunger…Sarcasm)
For years Roku has had the market cornered on company-sponsored channels and private, indie channels alike. The ability for anyone to push out content within a private channel on Roku has helped move their reportable numbers into the thousands of channels. This is somewhat of a meaningless statistic because most of those are completely uninteresting, but when compared to Apple’s ecosystem of (classically) fewer than ten supported applications, the difference is stark.
However, as other devices are competing with Roku’s lineup, they’ve seen their numbers slip year after year. Presenting at this year’s CES, Parks Associates showed that Roku had decreased from 46% to 29% market share since 2013 as both Amazon and Google have introduced multiple alternatives. These alternatives, Chromecast and FireTV (and Stick), are sold at very competitive price points with compelling media streaming service options. Now with these competitors and the coming age of a la carte TV, HBO Go, and Sling on other streaming boxes, Roku will need to keep innovating features and aggregating services to continue to compete.
What do you use to stream, and why do you prefer it? Let us know in the comments.
Once again T-Mobile is trying to outplay “traditional” phone carriers with its next Uncarrier move, the Score program. Score allows all customers (including prepaid) to get discounts on their next phone purchase. According to T-Mobile’s website, “For $5 per month, SCORE! gives everyone—from prepaid customers, to bring-your-own-phone types, to those who buy their phones outright—direct access to exclusive pricing on their next smartphones.”
What is this exclusive pricing you might ask? Here’s what you Score! (Pun deliberately intended)
After 6 Months, T-Mobile customers can upgrade to “entry level” 4G smartphone. This entry-level smartphone is limited to the Alcatel Onetouch Evolve 2. Once you have been with T-Mobile for 12 months you are eligible to receive the Alcatel Onetouch Fierce 2, LG Optimus L90 or Concord II at no cost. You also have the ability to receive the following discounts:
$100 off the Google Nexus 6
$110 off the Samsung Galaxy S5
$150 off the Samsung Galaxy Note 4
While the deals may seem enticing, you really don’t Score as much as you might think. First if all, Score costs $5 a month, so by the time you are ready to take advantage of the 12 month special pricing you have already spent $60 for the score plan. Additionally, if you are looking to purchase the Nexus 6 (which will be old news 12 months from now) you will only be saving a meager $40.
In addition to the price plan, the phones that T-Mobile has listed for you to choose from are either low-end smartphones, smartphones most of us already have, or smartphones that won’t please Apple consumers (it can very hard to please Apple users, but my partner will live.).
With that said, $40 dollars off is better than nothing, but is it worth handing over your hard-earned funds for the year with nothing to show for it for 6-12 months? Do you feel that the plan provides enough enticing value? Let us know in the comment section below.
Google is constantly challenging the limits of technology, and today the annual developers conference proved that point. Google announced a partnership with Levi Strauss to develop smart clothes, a project known as Project Jacquard. Let’s just hope they do not turn out to be beauty and the geek pants with a built-in keyboard.
The project name refers to the type of yarn that is being created to support the tech. According to Project Jacquard’s website:
Jacquard yarn structures combine thin, metallic alloys with natural and synthetic yarns like cotton, polyester, or silk, making the yarn strong enough to be woven on any industrial loom. Jacquard yarns are indistinguishable from the traditional yarns that are used to produce fabrics today.
Using conductive yarns, gesture-sensitive areas are woven into a textile, the connected to electrical components and small circuits. What’s great about this yarn is no special equipment is needed by clothing manufacturers for production, making it much more achievable–the Jacquard yarn can be used for any standard industrial loom.
But what about the other electrical components? Google explains that these components will be engineered to be as discreet as possible. Google has been able to make the components so small that those wearing the clothing will not be able to tell that it’s there. Currently, Google has been able to create connectors and circuits smaller than a button you would find on a jacket. Initially, I thought the conductive yarn would be thick and extremely noticeable on the piece of clothing. Luckily, this is not the case; with the design knowledge Levi provides, the Jacquard yarn is disquised
Check out this video to learn more about Project Jacquard:
The use of this type of technology is exciting and will open doors to a whole new world to clothing manufacturers. With it, instead of picking up your phone every time you need to text someone or get your Clash of Clan attack in, you can stay where you are and simply use the touch pad on your clothing.
With this technology developers will have a new opportunities open to them. Google has stated that developers will be able to connect existing apps and services to the Jacquard-enabled clothing. Google also plans on creating custom connectors, electronic components, communication protocols, and cloud services to help developers create functionality for the clothing.
This technology cold become extremely useful in the home as well. I could see implementing a touch sensitive textile on furniture to control televisions, computers, and, of course, your tablet or smartphone. If you’re anything like me you lose a remote at least once a week. If they can do away with my remotes, I will be sold!
What are your thoughts? Would you purchase Google’s smart clothes? Do you think that smart clothes are even needed? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.