Is the era of grandeur in product launching gone?

There was a time when product launches were a red carpet event. Be it the special invitees from the developer world and the tech news media, flocking in from all parts of the world to witness the “magical” opening of the iphone

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Or the Taylor Swift show at the Sony product launch

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Yesterday, at a quiet little press conference known as “Breakfast with Sundar” , Google announced a good chunk of products and among them was something really revolutionary , not because it was the first of its kind to the market, but more so because of its form factor and the pricing. They called it the “ChromeCast” And before you knew, it was sold out in every online store. Deemed as a direct competitor to AppleTV and Roku, and perhaps with a little edge due to its interoperability, looks like the battle of the giants has moved to the TV world now!

PS: you can read the first exhaustive review on it here

So let me leave you with a simple poll…

Digitizing the cash counters

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I’m sure the image that you see above has become quite a familiar sight across America. Apple stores have been flaunting a similar version for quite a while now, which almost resembles the Mophie . I first noticed this at Conshohocken Cafe , a quaint little breakfast place at Conshohocken, PA. Square , as they call it, they started to make money through the 2.75% transaction fee charged per swipe. Now my post was not particularly to about the Square, but instead, the Square Stand , that was announced today. At $299 a piece and a $499 iPad, this can replace the traditional cash registers in a blink of an eye. Sounds quite simple, as we start to see more and more dependency on the mobile device .

But wait, there is more. The exact same day, Paypal decides to announce its revolutionary product know as the Cash for Register . With a free credit/debit/paypal processing for the rest of the year for any qualifying US Business, we now have a competition!

The era of cash registers which opens up a “slot machine” of quarters and pennies is slowly disappearing. Whether its paypal or square, the digital revolution has spared none. Soon the traditional cash registers will just be a piece of antique in the museum!

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Project Mighty and Napoleon – Adobe version of stylus and ruler

Does anyone remember the ancient geometry box – the one that was a common sight in middle and high schools, back in the 80s and 90s? If not, here is something that could spark those memory cells.

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Now, fast forward to 2013 and to Adobe’s MAX Conference 2013 held this week at Los Angeles. Although the focus was mainly on the cloud offering of their wonderfully successful creative suite, something interesting sneaked in at the tad end – a project they called Projects Mighty and Napoleon . The names don’t reveal much, just as the website does not. But the concept talked about a stylus and a ruler (!!!). The idea is to let those creative elite to now use their iPads effectively; to connect directly to the cloud and to apps such as TypeKit and Kuler . Again, not much revealed, but these images do show some potential.

Project Mighty

Exactly how much the stylus would be useful outside the Adobe suite of apps is yet unknown. Having been a long time proponent of a “stylus-like tool for iPad, esp. while taking notes during meetings, this does come as a welcome delight. And of course, this could possibly change the way geometry is taught in schools!

Crazy little thing called “glass”

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The hype has been immense. Wearable gadgets have slowly started to turn into the new fashion statement. Soon carrying a smartphone in your pocket might no longer be enough for a common man!

In fact, the idea of a wearable gadget started long ago when Pranav Mistry introduced his concept back in 2009. For those who haven’t had a chance to watch the presentation, it sure is a must see.

It soon started to evolve. Although not quite in the way Pranav had envisioned yet, we started to see and hear rumors about multiple flavors of what can be classified as a wearable gadget. Soon bands such as the Jawbone Up and Nike Fuelband started to crop up, gaining a significant market share amongst the exercising consumer community. So did the rumors of smart watches .

And then came the Google Glass . Ever since the revolution of the search, Google has been trying to play the game of catch up, right from its gmail service, through android and smartphones to social networking. And finally, they seemed to have found a product line that could possibly be called unique! Built on its ever evolving Android platform, it does provide a possibility of a rather near-seamless integration with the smartphones, while in “transition”. And on April 27th 2013, they quietly released the source code to developers.

Needless to say, the plethora of applications that ran on smartphones, started to send out rumors of their “glass” versions. Twitter perhaps was one of the first to jump onto the band wagon with NY Times in a close second. There was then the announcement of apps such as Evernote, Skitch and Path which google demo-ed at the SXSW 2013 .

The possibilities are limitless. And perhaps one day the eyeglass industry would be transformed as much as the watch industry would soon be. In the meantime, let me leave you with Tim Stevens as he chronicles his days with the Google Glass!

The quest for an ultimate “smartwatch”

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There was a time when the watch industry was ruled by the Casios and the Seikos, with occasional luxury watches such as Rolex and Omega emerging as a distant dream. With the emergence of cell phones, their charm started to fade away. Time being more accurate on a cell phone, the menace of changing time manually when traversing across different latitudes started to be seen as tedious. And the smartphone market killed it all. Watches started to fade away from the phase of the earth, occasionally revealing itself on the wrists of the richer elite.

Along came iPod Nano, the VI in 2010. Although it failed to impress as a music player, simply due to it’s surprisingly small touch screen and its slightly bulky form factor. But the square shape and the watch dials that it offered quickly sparked the creative minds of the geek world. And they soon built a watch strap around it. And I, for my own biased reasons, quickly jumped on the concept and bought myself one. I must say I have not been terribly disappointed so far.

Although the iWatch aka ipod nano did not kick off as much, the concept of a “smart” watch slowly started to emerge. Need I say, the gadget elite such as Apple, Google, And Samsung quickly jumped into the race for the ultimate smartwatch. And soon enough, prototypes and concept mockups started to mushroom at different parts of the web world.

Hype has been unimaginably high. Yet, so far there has been just one decent contender and surprisingly it is not one of those gadget giants. Instead it was a startup known as Pebble Technology that has taken the giant leap.

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Built with an impressive SDK for the developers and a seamless integration with Android and iOS, Pebble comes at a unbeatable $150 price tag along with the alert features from a smartphone. Now, anything that Apple hints at is no longer a secret. And along came the rumors of a secret apple team working on an iWatch . Soon enough, Samsung announced that they are making a smart watch too!! Google did not want to be left behind as well, and they announced the Google Time .

At this point, I must make a mention about Microsoft SPOT Watch , announced back in 2003, launched in 2004 and withdrawn in 2008. And as always, Microsoft decided to play the catch up, by announcing its own smartwatch, 2 days back .

The future is promising. Just like the Phablets , the watch industry is no longer confined to the Rolex and the Casios and the Omegas. And for a person like me, who prefers to wear a watch regardless of the umpteen time gadgets around, this is a welcome change. Let me leave you with one of the concept videos amongst the hundreds that are floating around, that impressed me.

As always your thoughts are welcome ……

The era of Phablets

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Some call it the phablet revolution. And some say it is just a natural progression. Yet Apple famously came out with the thumb ad to not jump into the band wagon. Agreed, Samsung Galaxy Note did seem a little weird while talking. But so did bluetooth earphones… All it took was a few days of getting used to the new form factor.

The “unofficial” definition of Phablets goes like this – a class of smartphones with screen sizes ranging between 5 and 8 inches and designed to combine or straddle the functionalities of a smartphone and tablet. Dell Streak 5 was then identified as the first, although it was commercially unsuccessful. It was not until Samsung Galaxy Note was introduced in the Fall of 2011, the real meaning of the word and its associated concept started to take shape. And within a year, the world became a changed place. The 2013 Mobile World Congress held in barcelona between 25th and 28th Feb, was indeed a playground for all phablet aspirers. With a plethora of models and concepts , it truly stole the show!

So where do you think this could go? Tech Trader Daily writes, according to a reports by the wireless and mobile analysts at Barclay Capital, Phablets are sweeping the globe .

I, for my own personal bias have not yet made the brave move to switch from an Apple product to one of those phablets. But I’m sure as the year progresses, I just might be tempted to change my bias, unless Apple decides to enter the revolution!

Gesture Technology – Pointgrab

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I spoke about touch screen walls sometime back here. Although still in its formative years, using Microsoft Kinect and a household projector, presentations suddenly became a lot more “magical”! Taking it a step further, PointGrab recently introduced the Hand Gesture Recognition Software (HGRS) using a standard 2D camera. Based in Israel, Pointgrab introduced two new mobile (encompassing both tablets and smartphone) apps – CamMe, for gesture based photography and PlungaShot, a gesture based bow and arrow game on February 25th 2013 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona . Again, it is in its nascent stages, but the possibilities are amazingly abundant. Primarily in the presentation area, this could become a game changer, with its ability to deliver presentations from a distance without a remote control or aid from a colleague.

I personally downloaded the CamMe application, both on my ipad and iphone. For long I was searching for a decent app, with the with the ability to perform time- based photography. Although a bit buggy right now, CamMe takes things even further than a timer-based methodology, to snap a picture a second after you asks it to, from a distance.

With its SDK being open to application developers, I can very well see this being picked up by the imaginative elite to develop games, customized user interfaces, what all and what not!

Think Geek item of the week

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From gestures we go to telepathy! NeuroSky Mindwave Mobile lets you play games with the power of your mind!

Bend it like Beckham!

First came a “cordless” mobile phone . Then its size started to shrink and before you knew it began to flip. Then it became a smartphone. The smartphone turned into a touchscreen. And now the world of smartphones has taken yet another leap – bendable phones!

The rumors started to come back in 2011 and Samsung promptly denied those rumors. Things went quiet for a while, amidst the smartphone war between Apple and Samsung and the launch of Galaxy Note and iPhone 5.

And now they gave it a tentative release time in 2013!!

It uses the flexible OLED Technology along with a plethora of rumored plausible features such as a high-resolution 800×480 flexible AMOLED screen, a processor of 1.2 GHz and 1 GB of RAM and a form factor that measures 221mm x 67mm x 8 mm with 16GB and 32GB capacities.

While I leave you with that thought, here is a mind blowing concept video that Nokia came out with, back in 2011.

Think Geek item of the week

For those arcade loving Apple loving geeks out there, here is a new offering from Think Geek – a “Joystick-it” for iPad

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It’s not often that I’ve seen myself “WOWed” by a product or technology. I must admit, the last time it happened was while watching the launch of iPhone! But UBI Interactive has truly blown me away with what I just saw.

Completely unbiased by the fact that the founder and CEO of this startup was a classmate of mine back in college, the product and its potential is quite commendable. With a Microsoft Kinect and a “household” projector attached to a laptop running the ubi application, this can perhaps change the world in a lot of different ways!

Take a look at this video on what it can turn out to be …

übi interactive | Interactive Information Display enabled by übi [26.01.2012] from ubi interactive on Vimeo.

And it truly works, quite unlike its “conceptual” predecessors! Here is an actual demo!

This product has brought out the true essence of “Surface”!

Tablet with a “real” OS

This was a rather ancient concept – to run tablets with the same OS as a desktop or a laptop. Microsoft toyed with this idea back in 2005. , with rather limited success. And in 2007, a company called Axiotron came up with a tablet that runs on Mac OS X . But priced at around $2300, for a 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo, this did not fly well either. User community somehow could not grasp the fact that a gadget as small, was pricier than a laptop with a better processor. Times have changed since then. With tablets leading the sales over the desktops and laptops, Axiotron decided to relaunch the tablet, but this time under a different company name – Modbook Inc . The Modbook Pro as it is unsurprisingly called, the tablet looks a lot classier than its previous version. It comes in two configurations at 2.5GHz and 2.9GHz. Priced tentatively at $1100 – $1300 and capable of dual booting to Windows 7 as well, it certainly looks promising.

But as Apple moves its Mac OS X closer to iOS with every new version released and iPads along with the Android based tablets ruling the consumer market, it could take a while before we know if the product can hold on to its promise of an “ideal take-it-anywhere workstation”. The concept could possible face some road blocks in the enterprise sector as well, where virtual desktops have already made a mark in terms of mobility.