tech in the spotlight
Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 7, 2014 08:04 PM
It’s actually tough to make a call on what’s trending at CES 2014 this week with any coherence, as the range of technologies and new products on display at the show's first full exhibit day range from racing robots and recreational drones to wearable sensors, power chargers, and bends, wedges and curves.
Speaking of curves, director Michael Bay’s (Transformers, Pearl Harbor) unfortunate meltdown at Samsung's event Monday night was strewn across the Twitterverse. While touting the virtues of Samsung’s latest curved-screen models, as large as 120 inches, the teleprompter failed, and “Bay himself couldn’t come up with a single reason why anyone should care," Forbes commented. “In a nutshell, the moment summed up the TV industry’s problems: there are plenty of new TV’s to ogle at CES 2014.”
Korean companies LG and Samsung both unveiled TVs that bend from flat to curved with the touch of a button on a remote after years of selling the notion that flat screen panels were best. Sony, meanwhile, is pushing 4K resolution—a technology that is coming soon once the cost of adding that many pixels to your television is cheap enough for the mass market and the TV’s themselves become large enough to reap the benefit.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 7, 2014 06:42 PM
When it comes to alternative powertrain technologies, Toyota is in a great position to take a bit of a flyer. It made the right call in becoming the predominant brand in gasoline-electric hybrids with Prius, and it doesn't seem to be hurting from how the company has essentially declined to pursue a serious expansion of its tiny electric-car efforts.
Now comes Toyota making a significant bet on cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Joining rivals including Honda and Chevrolet in pursuing what could be considered the "greenest" power source of them all, Toyota was highlighting its FCV fuel-cell vehicle at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week after unveiling the concept at the lightly attended Tokyo Motor Show in November. It could be on sale in 2015.
Toyota said its FCV could provide a 310-mile range between fill-ups, which is on the order of what many vehicles provide between fill-ups of gasoline. The most significant difference, of course, is that fuel-cell vehicles produce only water vapor as a byproduct and produce no polluting emissions.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 7, 2014 05:36 PM
John McAfee created an antivirus program that became the industry standard, making him an unbelievably wealthy man. But since splitting from the company in 1994, McAfee's wealth—and personal reputation—have taken a tumble, especially after he hid out in Belize while being considered a "person of interest" in a murder investigation—and blogged about it.
But McAfee's antics have also drawn some negative attention to Intel, which bought McAfee Inc. in 2010. Now, after grappling with McAfee's outspoken opinions and unruly actions, the company announced it will be officially rebranding the security software, devoid of McAfee's name.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced the change at the Consumer Electronics Show, where Intel is busy unveiling new efforts in wearable tech. While the McAfee sheild logo will remain, the software—which will be made available for free on mobile devices—will now be known as Intel Security, a change that is estimated to take a year to implement.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 7, 2014 04:50 PM
Consumers are already unhappy with the size of their cell-phone bills, but providers have got the mobile-hungry masses in a vulnerable spot: Pay up if you want to keep watching those cat videos wherever and whenever you want, America!
AT&T announced during Monday's Developer Summit at this week's Consumer Electronics Show that it will start selling data sponsorships, which will allow companies to sponsor data downloads by AT&T customers so the download won’t count against the consumer’s monthly limit. The sponsoring brand’s logo will be visible on the screen and the monthly bill, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"Customers just look for the Sponsored Data icon and they know the data related to that particular application or video is provided as a part of their monthly service," said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility. "That’s what makes this a win-win for customers and businesses." Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 7, 2014 03:43 PM
Considered something of a pipe dream just a few years ago, it's become pretty clear that driverless cars are on their way. And now BMW has "thrown its hat into the autonomous-car ring with a concept technology that can take the wheel when the going gets tough, and a promise that 'highly automated driving' will be commonplace by the year 2020," as USA Today reported.
BMW demonstrated its ActiveAssist technology at the International Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas and even let some journalists tag along as a passenger in a driverless vehicle. ActiveAssist demonstrated that BMW already has captured the necessary technology not only for slow-speed jaunts but for precise control, as the automaker put it, "up to the vehicle's dynamic limit."
Just about every automaker recently has demonstrated increasing chops for driverless cars to match—and sometimes in concert with—the progress that is being made by the likes of Google and other tech brands. And as a technological feasibility, there no longer seems to be much question that it could happen sooner rather than later.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 7, 2014 02:36 PM
Industry executives were holding their breath last week at the possibility that a late promotional blitz by BMW in the US market could surpass Mercedes-Benz at the wire and preserve the annual sales leadership in the American luxury-car segment for the third year in a row. But instead, Mercedes won the title with room to spare—for the first time, after two years of BMW and more than a decade of predominance by Lexus.
On the strength of its new CLA compact and a redesigned S-Class sedan launched in the fall, as well as a revamped E-Class family earlier in the year, Mercedes Benz ended the year outpacing BMW-brand sales by 3,248 units, or 312,528 sales to 309,280 sales for BMW. Mercedes also attributed its win to doing a better job, in partnership with its dealers, of providing customer service.
"The volume is a validation of what we are doing in the marketplace and what we are doing with our dealers and our focus on customer experience," Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, told Automotive News.Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 7, 2014 01:19 PM
Riding the wave of wearable tech at CES 2014, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich took center Monday night to announce that the company is "in the midst of a transformation from world of screens and devices to a world of immersive experiences," as he proceeded to show-off Jarvis, a smart headset with earbuds designed for runners with embedded heart-rate sensors, eliminating the standalone chest strap design.
Jarvis, a speech-driven VPA like Siri, draws power from a phone's microphone jack, so there’s no need for a separate charger. Paired with an Android smartphone app, it lets users check directions or check out nearby restaurants, too. Krzanich also showcased a geo-fencing smartwatch that isn't dependent on a smartphone connection that could be used to track children's whereabouts.
But if it's going to be wearable, it must be fashionable. And so just as Apple has added several fashion heavyweights to its executive arsenal, such as Yves St Laurent's Paul Deneve and Burberry's Angela Ahrendts, Intel announced it has partnered with Barneys New York, The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and global fashion retailer Opening Ceremony to bring couture to worn devices. "As we go through the year, you will see more partnerships as we develop these technologies," Krzanich added.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 7, 2014 12:27 PM
Domino's likes to make good pizza, but the brand long has made even more hay with the logistics of getting the pizza to its customers. Likewise, Ford has made some mean cars, especially lately, but the company continues to tout its leadership in the infotainment realm too.
So it only makes sense that the two companies now have gotten together to launch what they're calling the first e-commerce app for the car in the QSR business. By mid-year, Domino's and Ford intend to introduce an app that allows Ford Sync users who also have a saved online Domino's customer profile to order pizza from the car in just a few simple, voice-activated steps on their smartphones via Sync AppLink.
"The ability to tie all of this together with the Sync system and be able to order Domino's while driving safely is a pretty big leap forward," J. Patrick Doyle, Domino's CEO, told brandchannel.Continue reading...