The Ring Is Real

Being able to use custom gestures to control smart devices? Awesome! There’s a new Precious in town.

TechCrunch

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It’s been almost a year since Takuro Yoshida and his team blew up Kickstarter with the Ring, a wearable that uses simple wand-like gestures to control gadgets in the home.

Promises abounded: You’ll be able to control the lights in your home with the flick of a finger. You’ll be able to change the song on your iPhone, turn up the music, or even snap a photo.

And then, as is the case with many hardware projects, Logbar (the company behind Ring) ran into a few obstacles. Manufacturing was delayed, as the team worked to make the device smaller and more (truly) wearable, and other delays put the product months behind schedule. In fact, early backers only received their units in December of this year.

But all that said, the Ring is still an attractive wearable, in my opinion. We caught up with Yoshida at CES…

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These 5 trends will change social media in 2015

This is an interesting look at the world of social media change as we head into the new year. The landscape is broadening and deepening, and the note about IoT at the end is certainly most intriguing.

“The challenge in 2015 will be how to more intelligently integrate the fast-growing Internet of Things with social media. This might start with tapping users’ social graph — their unique network of friends and followers — in better ways. A very simple example: a smart fridge that tracks your Facebook Events, sees you’re planning a party and how many people have RSVP’d and alerts you to make a beer run. By listening to social media in more sophisticated ways smart devices stand to get even smarter in the year ahead.”

Financial Post

To gauge how much you followed changes in social media this past year, here’s a pop quiz: 1) Which new social media network is known as a “virtual bathroom wall” and is already causing concern among Canadian school officials? 2) Which platform recently drew one million signups in just five weeks — eight times as fast as Facebook — with promises to share its ad revenues with users? 3) Which messaging service now allows users to transfer money using just their debit card information, free of charge?

If you had no idea they are Yik Yak, Tsu and Snapcash, don’t worry. Just a few months ago, almost no one else did either. The pace of social media change has always been brisk and is now accelerating, leaving in the dust entrepreneurs and businesses who are struggling to incorporate new tools.

In the interest of getting ahead of the curve, here’s…

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Perspective from the East Coast

“Sure, it’s “sexy and glamorous and fun” to work for consumer tech startups, said Robert Coughlin, chief executive of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, a nearly 30-year-old trade group, during an interview in his office at Technology Square on Main Street.

“That’s all good; we all love entertainment,” he added. “But if you’re an ambitious, talented IT grad and want to have a meaningful impact on society and your fellow humankind, you’d want to work in the life sciences.”

They will also point out that earlier generations of engineers there developed the machines, systems and software that would give rise to the PC revolution. They’ll note the region was the birthplace of business software, early Internet companies and firms that built the backbones of services you use all the time, including Nuance’s natural language processing in Apple’s Siri, the ITA airline data integrated into Google search or the Android mobile operating system.”

-from Boston Is an Innovation Hotbed and Doesn’t Care Whether You Know It

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Samsung Gear VR Launches Today For $199

PRETTY SWEET!

TechCrunch

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Anyone with a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 can take a dip into virtual reality today with the launch of the Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition.

For an entry fee of $199 on Samsung’s or AT&T’s sites, you can experience a variety of VR experiences on an included 16 GB MicroSD card starter kit, as well as the Oculus store. At the time of writing Samsung hasn’t confirmed whether or not you’ll be able to get all of the card’s content on the Oculus store, so if you’ve expanded your phone’s storage with a card of your own you may have to do some swapping on occasion.

Those who already own the most recent Oculus Rift developer kit will notice a few big differences when they strap on the Gear VR. Because the screen is a Galaxy Note 4  you attach to the headset, you’ve got a 1440p screen rather…

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Twitter is tracking the apps on your phone

Just as an FYI, in case you didn’t already know this…

Gigaom

In its latest effort to improve its ad targeting, Twitter will start collecting information on what mobile apps its users have downloaded.

If you’re in the Pandora camp instead of the Spotify camp, Twitter will know. Harbor a penchant for celebrity gossip with both the TMZ and Perez Hilton app in your arsenal? Twitter will know. If you’re on a diet and you’re tracking your calories with an app, Twitter will know.

The company says it’s using the information to benefit you, by improving its recommendation engines on other Twitter accounts you should follow. As mentioned in the Twitter Analyst Call, an “instant timeline” for new users is also on its way. Information on what apps a person has downloaded could help Twitter build that.

The second purpose, one not mentioned by Twitter in its blog post, is the holy grail of free consumer web companies: Ad targeting. Twitter needs as much information…

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Meet Plague: An app plumbing the depths of viral networking

This sounds SO COOL. The collision of science, art and technology.
“In such an off-grid network, there’s no easy means of blocking individual users or flagging content. As devices get close to one another they link together, share their content and then disappear without a trace, truly emulating the behavior of epidemiological pathogen. It’s a fascinating concept in networking, but also one that’s a little bit scary.”

Gigaom

We use the term viral to describe the way information spreads across the internet, but a new social communications app has taken that concept to its extreme. Instead of using the word “virus” as a metaphor, an app called Plague developed in Lithuania is making the virus the model for how it spreads content from device to device.

Plague shouldn’t be confused with Plague Inc., the extremely twisted but highly addictive mobile game, but they share a similar goal: to engineer a virus that will infect the world. In Plague Inc. you’re stuck within the in-game world, though, while Plague spreads from phone to phone across the physical globe.

Plague screenshot sleep

Every disease is a simple bit of content, whether text, a link, a photo or a video. When you unleash it, it immediately seeks out the nearest four smartphones with the Plague app installed, infecting them with your content. When…

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3 lessons from a winning media company that takes no advertising

Love America’s Test Kitchen. Love public TV. As former publishers, we also find this idea really interesting:
“I don’t think it’s a question of print being dead. I think it’s a question of a publishing model that’s dead.”
Food for thought.

Gigaom

America’s Test Kitchen, with its two print magazines Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country, flies under the radar of people who don’t cook — but it’s an excellent (and rare) example of how a media company can survive and thrive in 2014.

One way America’s Test Kitchen, which launched with Cook’s Illustrated magazine in 1993*, has flourished by giving away very little content for free. In fact, it only bundled together access to its three subscription websites — AmericasTestKitchen.com, CooksIllustrated.com and CooksCountry.com — last year for $69.95 annually, and you still have to pay for the print magazines separately. Those print magazines have over 1.3 million subscribers; the websites had over 500,000 paying subscribers as of last year.

The Federalist has a lengthy interview with America’s Test Kitchen CEO Christopher Kimball. Foodies should read it in full, but there are great lessons about online media strategy too. Here are a few:

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