Two quick hits from the Microsoft side of things: The Surface Power Cover is now up for pre-sale, and the rumor engine is kicking around the bit that LTE-capable Surface 2 devices have landed in Microsoft stores. Read More
EdX’s open online education system has drawn a lot of interest — enough interest that the non-profit has just loosened up its membership structure to allow for more participants. The revamp lets 12 additional organizations offer free internet-based…
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In just three years, the Galaxy Note has grown from a niche device to a must-have, which is almost as eagerly anticipated as Samsung’s Galaxy S flagships. When we placed the Galaxy Note II in the hands of our tame phone driver, they had nothing but…
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Most of us assumed it was only a matter of time before Google released the Now launcher that debuted on the Nexus 5 to the Play store. Now that day has come… provided you’re the owner of a Nexus or Play Edition handset that runs KitKat. The new…
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With hardware suddenly all the rage, accelerators devoted entirely to the genre are popping up all over the place. And that includes the far-flung regions of Russia.
The Navigator Campus will be the first private hardware technology park in Russia’s Kazan region. If you’re unsure where that is, well, it’s at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka Rivers in European Russia. Ok, nevermind. Suffice to say that the Navigator project will focus on consumer robotics, 3D-printing, smart electronics for “smart home” systems and wearables. And we are talking hard-core Russian tech expertise here.
Navigator is launching with $ 4 million in backing by founders Ramil Ibragimov (Runa Capital) and Vasil Zakyev (shtrafy-gibdd.ru, Ohmymentor.ru). It may not sound like much, but you can do quite a lot with $ 4 million in Russia. And they are not stopping there. The GRAVIZapp angel fund, specializing in hardware startups, will co-locate there. And they plan to build a network of hardware hackspaces and accelerators in the region, hoping to raise that funding to top $ 30 million spread across the region. Thus, neighboring cities like Ufa and Perm will get their own Navigator spaces.
Serguei Beloussov, Runa Capital senior partner and Acronis CEO, believes that access to scientific and business experts, VC mentors and hardware industry players like Dell, Samsung, IBM, Cisco, Intel and Foxconn will mean “we will soon see more venture-backed hardware deals in Russia.”
Some 93 out of 120 spots have already been taken by startups, covering various fields including 3D printing, robots, healthcare hardware, and consumer electronics.
A few hardware projects located there have already raised early money:
• iBlazr – a crowdfunding startup from Kiev (with $ 150K+ raised on Kickstarter previously) is building a ‘smart’ LED-flashlight for smartphones and tablets.
• Krisaf – robotized gym equipment for accelerated rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy.
• ENNOVA – a startup manufacturing NOVA 3D printers.
“Our ambitious aim for the next 5-10 years is to launch this kind of projects in each and every Russian city with up to 1 million citizens in order to create a powerful hardware-community based on the Russian engineering history,” says Ibragimov, of Navigator.
It sounds like they might just do it. The Russians are coming…
Sony’s PlayStation 4 went on sale in North America in time for the holiday season three months ago, and in Western Europe on November 29 last year — and has yet to hit shelves in the company’s home market of Japan — but sales of the gaming console are still going strong.
Sony has surpassed it own full-year target of five million units by the end of March, reporting today (via Reuters) that it had sold 5.3 million units as of February 8.
This comes days after Sony tweeted that the PS4 had been the best selling console in the U.S. in January — beating out Microsoft’s Xbox One, which launched on November 22, although Redmond claimed the top spot for number of games sold.
Microsoft also claimed the top console sales position for December, based on NPD numbers. And said a total of three million of its XbOnes (as the device is colloquially know to tech hacks) were sold in 2013 (vs 4.2 million PS4s — 2.1 million of which were sold in the first two weeks).
Judging by today’s data, Sony’s PS4 is maintaining that early lead, with one core console country left to come in its current rollout schedule.
The PlayStation 4 is due to go on sale in Japan on February 22, kicking off with a live-streamed launch event at the Sony building in Tokyo. Microsoft has yet to nail down a firm launch date for the Xbox One in Japan, beyond saying it will land there sometime in 2014.
Last month, rival Japanese gaming giant Nintendo reported a sales target miss for its controller/console combo, the Wii U – and slashed sales expectations by almost 70% — as it struggles to compete with, on the one hand, home console heavyweights like the PS4 and, at the other end of the market, smartphones being used for casual gaming.
Unless you still own a GameCube GameBoy Player, it’s probably been awhile since you’ve seen a GameBoy Advance title up on the big screen. Come April, that could change: Nintendo announced today that the Wii U eShop will start carrying GBA classics…
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Google’s Android OS is the dominant mobile platform by market share, but it’s also increasingly pushing beyond portables and onto a range of other devices types — including, if this crowdfunding campaign delivers on its promises, the boring old wall switches in your home.
bRight Switch is a prototype project that’s within touching distance of its $ 115,000 Indiegogo crowdfunding goal (with less than a day of its campaign left). Its aim is to replace plain old light switch hardware with what’s basically a small tablet fixed to the wall, expanding the functionality of the switch interface beyond simply just switching your lights on and off.
The bRight Switch actually plugs into a base unit to convert a wall switch from dumb switch to smart screen, but its makers claim the installation process is an easy job for an electrician.
The bRight Switch tablet design is customised for a wall-mounted context to offer features that make sense in such a setting, such as people detection to automatically turn on lights on when someone walks into a room.
Other features the smart switch is set to support include the ability to remotely switch your lights on and off via the Internet and a learning mode that gets to know your routines over time and automatically switches lights on and off based on prior usage.
Also on board is a security feature whereby you can play back footage recorded by the camera on one of the switches in another room. Plus videocalling (via Skype, or similar) and streaming music via Internet radio services such as Pandora.
Other features include a built-in alarm; temperature display; dimmer ability for certain types of bulbs; an intercom feature allowing for chatting between bRight Switches located in different rooms; plus other security features such as setting an alarm to be triggered by motion in a particular room.
The units will also run standard Android apps, so you could presumably fire up Angry Birds on your wall if you’re really bored. bRight Switch’s makers are also planning to supply an open API to encourage developers to create new apps for the wall beyond what they’ve envisaged.
Of course, all these features are aspirations at this point with only a prototype of the bRight Switch in existence. If the device hits its funding target, which at the time of writing is looking pretty likely, its U.S. based makers reckon they can deliver to backers by July.
The switches use Wi-Fi to plug into your home router to support functions such as Skype calling and streaming Internet radio, while the Z-wave wireless protocol is used for talking to lights around your home that are not wired directly to the switch.
How much will this smart light switch set you back? They’re charging $ 75 per switch for non-Bluetooth switches, and $ 90 for the Bluetooth version. Or $ 325/$ 435 for a five-pack of the two respective options.
What’s the point of the Bluetooth addition? Added functionality such as the ability to link up to external Bluetooth speakers for “full spectrum sound” — or, getting even more customised about home automation, the ability to track your phone (and therefore you) around the house, providing a “custom personalized experience as you move from room to room.”
Chrome web apps may behave like native software at times, but they still require some form of the Chrome browser to run — even if it’s just a basic process. They may not need that component for much longer, though. The Next Web has discovered a…
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Kickstarter funding will often lead to the more traditional kind, and in the case of Boombotix, that’s exactly what happened. The California startup raised $ 17,000 for its music syncing app, which allows people to synchronize playback of music across multiple devices using mobile networks, and nearly $ 130,000 for its Boombot Rex mobile Bluetooth action-ready portable speaker. Now, it has also raised $ 4 million in venture funding from Social+ Capital, Baseline, Red Hills and many others.
May of its partners in this round are strategic in nature, and Boombotix co-founder Lief Storer says they were chosen for their ability to help build the brand.
“The investors’ interest is vested in amplifying our brand through product development and strategic marketing,” he explained in an interview. “There isn’t a single expense [in terms of using these funds] that stands out, but having key human capital in place to continue building the talent in the organization will be essential to the long-term strategy.”
Boombotix isn’t saying how many speakers it managed to see since its launch back in 2010, but it has seen its sales grow by triple figures since the debut of its Kickstarter campaigns, which also led to deals secured with retailers including Amazon, T-Mobile, Microsoft and Apple.com. The selling point of the Boombot REX is that it can stand up to mud, dust and some water exposure, as well as take spills, while providing quality sound, portability and also speaker phone functions, including the ability to use Siri on the iPhone from the gadget.
Its audio sync tech was designed to be an answer to user requests to broadcast to multiple speakers at once, which isn’t supported with standard Bluetooth. It isn’t perfect, but the app gets around this by allowing multiple devices (i.e. smartphones or tablets) to sync playback of music perfectly over a mobile network, which means that each can output music to their own attached Bluetooth speaker for what is effectively multi-speaker sound. Of course, you need more than one device to make it happen, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Boombot has begun to position its speakers as a wearable play, in part to capitalize on the growing interest in that device category. It’s true that they’re small and clip-mounted, and can be easily attached to clothing, but the key to growth will be holding appeal beyond the current action sports group of core buyers. With fresh funding, perhaps that kind of expansion is exactly what’s in store.