Look over to one of the upper corners of the room you’re in. What’s there? If you’re like me, probably nothing.
Three Stanford product design majors are building a speaker to take advantage of the wasted space and natural acoustics of the corners of your room.
The Tiptop speaker is a small pyramid that can stand alone or fits into a mold made for the upper corners of a room; like a Jambox, it’s wireless and Bluetooth-enabled. When mounted in a corner, the speaker takes advantage of “room gain,” using the natural acoustics of a room to make the sound richer and more appealing.
“[The shape] changes how you use the product, but it also changes how the product uses the space” co-creator Jack Brody tells me, arguing that too many speakers are “repackaged goods” rather than actually fresh ideas.
They are aiming to raise $215,000 by June 1, just two weeks before the three seniors will graduate, to start producing the speakers. On Kickstarter, they’re selling Tiptops for early bird specials of $175 (first 200) and $199 (next 300), as well as the standard price of $249.
They also have philanthropic goals, pledging to give a portion of their proceeds to a Bay Area non-profit music foundation if they surpass $400,000 on Kickstarter, and lower, lighthearted goals, offering to do a push-up for every $1 donation “so we can get ourselves in Tiptop shape.”
The three product design majors worked on a social media aggregation site last spring, which they quickly abandoned.
“We knew we could never actually bring that to market,” Brody says. “This time around was totally different.”
They were in a capstone class for the product design major, where their classmates were working on a wide range of projects—from another successfully funded project Grip Clip to recyclable backpacks to run of the mill iOS apps.
Walker says they thought about the problems they and their friends had, particularly as college students and young adults living in small spaces.
One night this past fall, the three were in Walker’s room discussing ideas and music. Thompson was surfing Kickstarter for inspiration, while Walker sat at his desk; Brody lay on the floor looking up at the ceiling, when using the corners of the room struck him. They held the speaker up to the corner to test the sound and loved it.
“Things have kept happening like that,” Walker says. “It feels like the right use of our time because it’s almost developing itself. The idea came up very organically.”
They began making prototypes in Stanford’s Product Realization Lab, changing small details like smoothing the corners of the wall mount to make up for rooms’ imperfect corners.
They had friends come into a room with their eyes closed and would play songs for them with a speaker in the middle of the room and then with the speaker up in the corner. Walker says their friends thought they were playing two different speakers, and thought the “corner speaker” was much better.
They ran a similar test on me and it was my “aha” moment of reporting when I knew they were on to something. The same song sounded a lot richer and fuller when it was up in the corner. Plus, with a desk and room as messy as mine, I can use all the help I can get in de-cluttering.
Thompson, who is currently in New Jersey playing professional soccer for Sky Blue FC, balances training, schoolwork—she’s still an enrolled student and travels back to Palm Drive for the occasional test or meeting—and developing the product. As a result, Brody and Walker handle more of the physical iterations, while Thompson does more online work.
The trio hopes to raise their lofty Kickstarter goal to pay for more prototypes before settling on a final product and shipping to Kickstarter supports and potentially new customers by the holiday season in December.
View original post here: Tiptop Speakers Launches On Kickstarter To Take Advantage Of Your Room’s Natural Acoustics
China is investing $810 million into the development of Beidou (BDS), the navigation satellite system that it is positioning as a rival to the U.S.-developed GPS.
According to China Daily, the money will be used to build an industrial park that will house 30 to 50 companies focused on developing an ecosystem for Beidou. Based in Tianjin, the industrial park is expected to welcome its first 20 companies in June.
The Chinese government not only wants Beidou to eventually dominate China’s $19.2 billion navigation service sector, but also sees it as a way to make China’s military less dependent on foreign technology. This would protect the country if the U.S. decided to deny it access to GPS and also potentially give it a strategic advantage. As DefensePolicy.Org writes, “Aside from the commercial applications of Beidou, the placement of an independent global navigation system would give China a considerable strategic military advantage in the event hostilities should break out in the Asia-Pacific Region. Most notably, such an advantage would be useful in countering foreign naval forces and with particularity those of the United States.”
Beidou can also offer China more quotidian advantages. For example, developers hope that the system will allow taxi drivers to quickly locate nearby passengers, which in turn would cut down on emissions and improve the capital’s air quality. Watches synced to Beidou navigational satellites can identify a user’s location within 10 meters and clock synchronization signals to within 50 nanoseconds.
In a March interview, the chief commander of China’s lunar exploration mission Chang’e-3, Ye Peijian, said that Beidou will achieve full-scale global coverage by around 2020 and will be able to provide highly accurate and reliable positioning and navigation with the aid of 35 satellites. China has so far launched 16 navigation satellites.
Beidou has been used by the Chinese government and military for transport, weather forecasts, fishing, forestry, telecommunications, hydrological monitoring and mapping since December (it originally launched on a trial basis back in 2003), but more than 95 percent of navigation terminals used in China still rely on GPS. According to industry statistics cited in China Daily, the total output of China’s navigation service sector in 2012 topped 120 billion yuan ($19.2 billion).
In addition to its navigation and timing functions, Beidou’s terminals will also be able to communicate with the ground station with short messages in Chinese characters. China’s government hopes that its language functionality will allow it to grab 70 to 80 percent of domestic market share away from GPS by 2020, and also allow Beidou to gain traction in other Sinophone countries.
Read the original post: China Is Investing $810M In Beidou, A Navigation System It Hopes Will Eventually Rival GPS
For a service that provides file hosting, there are only so many ways to make it appealing to as many users as possible. There are integrations with other apps, seamless desktop and mobile experiences and, well, design.
Dropbox has been the leader in that arena, providing an extremely clean and simple interface for its users. Its light blue and white design is a signature of the company, and Google Drive is clearly taking notice.
Today, the team announced a bit of a visual refresh for shared folders, which was an absolutely ugly experience before today. In addition, you’ll be able to add shared items to your drive with a simple click:
Over the next week, users who are invited to open a shared folder will notice a much improved visual layout of the folder’s contents. You can even click on an item to preview and flip between the content.
Want to keep the shared folder? Use the “Add to Drive” button on the top right to store it directly in your Drive for fast access across all devices.
Here’s what it will look like once you get it:
Drive, which was born of Google’s suite of services like Spreadsheet and Docs, has become one unified service to store all of your files. Sounds a lot like Dropbox’s offerings, except Dropbox doesn’t have the editing capabilities that Drive has. It’s a huge advantage. The other advantage is all of the mainstream at-home consumers that Google has access to, something that Dropbox hasn’t found its way to, as we pointed out in its Yahoo! partnership announcement this morning.
If you’re familiar with Dropbox, here’s the light and breezy layout that you’ve grown accustomed to:
Box wants to store all of the world’s enterprise files, which is also competitive with Google’s Business App version of Drive. Both Dropbox and Box have advantages, though, as they can find their way into other products, spreading their seeds into the work and life flows of people that Google can’t.. Amazon has gotten into the fray, too, hoping to be the chosen destination for everyone’s files.
It’s one thing for Google to own search, email and video, but when you toss everyone’s personal and work files into the mix, that’s something that gets the competitive juices flowing. Its choice to start integrating and consumerizing all of its offerings was a smart one, spearheaded by CEO Larry Page. You can have the most sophisticated technology in the world, but if it looks like crap, then people won’t use it.
Hosting files in the cloud isn’t sexy, but it sure can be a profitable business. All of these services give you storage for free, allowing you to pay for more once you’ve filled it up. My, how far we’ve come. Remember huge hard drives?
[Photo credit: Flickr]
Continue reading here: To Chase Dropbox’s Design Prowess, Google Drive Improves Its Layout For Shared Folders
An online database built by Google.org, the technology giant’s charitable division, to track unused TV white space spectrum has been approved for a 45-day public trial by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Electromagnetic spectrum is fast becoming a limited resource as billions of people try to access the Internet on their smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC. Parts of the existing radio spectrum are unused though, or could be used to better effect. The problem has always been keeping track of where these pockets are though, and relaying this information to the public or providers whose services would benefit from redistribution.
Google wants to promote dynamic spectrum sharing, which would allow another party to take advantage of some spectrum when it’s not being actively used by the owner. The new database, therefore, would allow regulators and industry stakeholders to oversee the amount of spectrum not in use and ensure it’s reallocated when appropriate.
To become certified as a TV White Spaces Database Administrator though, Google is entering a 45-day trial with the FCC starting today.
Anyone who signs up during this period will able to see the TV white spaces spectrum that is available in their location as of January 29, 2013. Google says that once the database is certified with the FCC, registered devices will able to check the database automatically and identify what spectrum is available in the nearby area.
That means Internet service providers – and perhaps even members of the public – will be able to take advantage of unused spectrum on the fly, improving the chances of finding a stronger and faster connection.
Google isn’t the only one trying to address the spectrum problem though. Earlier this year Microsoft gave an update on its spectrum observatory in Brussels, which is also examining how the existing radio spectrum can be better managed.
It follows a similar setup in Redmond and Washington that can track and analyze spectrum usage to determine where expansion plans should occur next.
Image Credit: Adam Berry/Getty Images
Originally posted here: Google database for tracking unused spectrum enters 45-day public trial with the FCC
We sat down with Agarwal to chat about how the firm is independent from Bain Capital, the asset management and financial services firm co-founded by Mitt Romney. Agarwal explained that Bain Capital Ventures is under the umbrella of Bain Capital, but has separate operations, management and oversight from Bain Capital. One advantage that Bain has with its relationship with the private equity giant is access to the massive network of companies that are part of the firm’s portfolio.
Agarwal also answered audience questions on how much capital startups should raise, how to divide equity, and whether founders should take money off the table.
Check out the video above for more!