Google is now selling its own Glass-compatible frames for prescription lenses, but they’ll set you back $225 a pair, lenses not included. That’s a bit steep, especially when you’ve already forked over $1,500 for Glass itself. A DIY project from design studio Pixil 3D can modify Glass to work with your existing prescription glasses for under $1 in material costs, provided you already have a 3D printer (or still way under even if you have to get someone else to print it on demand).
The adapter is just a simple plastic clip, but it seems to work well based on the demo video, and again there’s the $224 in savings you’ll net from not buying Google’s official option. In case you’re worried about how hard it is to modify Glass, it really just involves the removal of a single screw. As for the 3D printing portion, that might require visiting a local shop with a 3D printer, but the costs associated with that usually don’t exceed a few bucks.
Project creators Noé and Pedro Ruiz started Pixil 3D in South Florida to design and prototype innovative gadgets with 3D printers. They’ve made some pretty cool stuff, including this 3D animated BMO from Adventure Time with a programmable LED face.
Glass is still a device with a very limited user base, but if it does make its way to the consumer market later this year as is apparently planned, then this handy little gadget could be a useful cost-saver for a much larger group of people.
Read more from the original source: Save $224 With This 3D-Printed Adapter To Affix Google Glass To Standard Frames
So I bought a plant. I named it Stan. I’ve never really been a plant guy. But maybe Parrot’s new wireless plant monitor can help. Stan’s life depends on it.
The Flower Power is a small Bluetooth-capable sensor. It runs on a AAA battery and simply sticks in the plant’s dirt. It’s cute and hardly noticeable. The device measures and tracks light intensity, air temperature, fertilizer level and soil moisture. These are things people with a green thumb understand, but the rest of us completely forget about. That’s why there’s an app for that.
Setup takes a few minutes. Select the type of plant in the smartphone app and stick the Flower Power in the dirt. After a couple of minutes, the Flower Power is connected to the app and sending live data. It needs to be partly exposed to track sunlight. The device is weatherproof.
The Flower Power app contains a database of 6,000 plants. Stan is a money tree and the app contained that listing. And yes, cannabis is in there, too.
The Flower Power takes all the pseudoscience out of maintaining plants.
This device takes a lot of the guesswork out of plants. Likewise it takes some of the magic out too. The Flower Power takes all the pseudoscience out of maintaining plants. That’s great! But it’s also a bit sad since it turns gardening into a chore dictated by push notifications.
Is it accurate? As far as I can tell, it works fine. The air temperature reading is dead-on and it knew when I forgot to water Stan, which was often.
Each Flower Power is only set to monitor a specific plant. For instance, if selected to monitor green beans, it will not provide appropriate readings for the tomatoes planted in the neighboring bed. A device is recommended for each type of plant. At $59.99 each, it can be a bit pricey to outfit an entire garden. But Parrot does brag that it brings professional-level monitoring to the home consumer.
Parrot is on the forefront of an open market. There are several competitors including the Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor and SoilIQ, a SF 2013 Startup Battlefield contestant that has yet to launch its product. Still, even with several other players, the Flower Power should flourish in the emerging Internet of Things market.
The Flower Power works. Stan is proof of that. So far, because of the push notifications, he’s lived longer than any of my previous plants and I don’t see him drying out anytime soon.
Read the rest here: Parrot’s Flower Power Plant Sensor Gives You A Mobile Green Thumb
Apple’s TV business still consists only of an over-the-top streaming media box, and not a proper TV set despite longstanding rumors that kind of hardware was on the way – but it’s showing impressive growth nonetheless. The company sold approximately 10 million Apple TV units last year, according to estimates based on figures Apple CEO Tim Cook offered up at the annual Apple shareholder meeting today.
Apple made over $1 billion in revenue from sales of its Apple TV devices and content in 2013, Cook explained during the meeting with investors, which translates to sales at or around 10 million units, as noted by Asymco’s Horace Dediu. With just over 5 million units sold in 2012, that makes Apple TV the company’s fastest growing hardware product category, according to the analyst, with around 80 percent year-over-year growth.
The growth of Apple TV could be ascribed to any number of factors; there wasn’t a major hardware revision last year for the streaming box, but Apple did add a wealth of new content sources through new partnerships with media companies. 2013 also saw a significant increase in Netflix subscribers, which could have helped its fortunes as that’s a key part of the Apple TV’s consumer appeal.
Apple still hasn’t fielded any television set hardware, but another observer points out that the Apple TV business on its own is now around 1/4 of the entire U.S. flat-panel TV industry, which means there’s probably little incentive for it to join that relatively small race.
Rumors suggest we’ll see refreshed Apple TV hardware coming this spring from Cupertino, and a deal announced today where Apple adds a $25 gift card to every Apple TV purchase seems to indicate Apple is indeed clearing stock to make way for something new. With a refreshed streaming box and more services than ever, we could see 2014 growth for Apple TV beat even last year’s significant upward trend.
See original here: Apple Made Over $1B On The Sale Of Around 10M Apple TV Units In 2013
There was once a rumor that Apple would actually use a ring device for input to an Apple television. Neither of those gadgets exist yet, of course, but Ring is a Kickstarter project trying to fund a finger-based wearable that could enable the kind of controls envisioned in that Apple flight of fancy.
The Ring is a hardware device that resembles an ordinary (if slightly chunky) ring, filled with sensors and electronics to give it the ability to control devices and render input. It can enable gesture controls, of the kind you’d get with a Wii remote, for instance, as well as text input by drawing letters in the air, gesture-based authorization for finalizing payments, and transmit alerts from connected devices via a built-in vibration motor and onboard LED.
That may sound familiar, since the Fin wearable that made its debut at our TechCrunch Battlefield competition this year at CES in Las Vegas has similar aims. The Ring is much further along, however, and even demoed at our TechCrunch Tokyo 2013 Startup Battle last year, where it took top honors. The Ring is currently in its sixth iteration, and has moved from something you’d barely call wearable, to a ring available in six finger sizes that resembles the average class ring in terms of dimensions.
Sensors on board can detect even the smallest finger movements, according to Ring’s creators, and the gadget works with preset gestures for common controls (calling up messages, playing music or activating the camera), plus you can configure your own custom gestures using the companion app. There’s also a pre-set alphabet for text and number entry, and it can pair directly with other Bluetooth 4.0 devices that are compatible with its software, or to any Wi-Fi or IR capable device via a hub accessory that receives commands from the Ring itself and then passes those on.
Eventually, the plan is to house all Ring-enabled apps in a central software store, accessible via your mobile device or computer. The Ring is currently compatible with iOS and Android devices with Bluetooth 4.0 support, and Windows Phone software is also in the works.
The campaign raised over $200,000 of its $250,000 goal in its first day on Kickstarter, and offers single unit pre-orders starting at $165, with a projected delivery date of July, 2014. That means it’ll come just in time to serve as a wedding band for late summer unions, if you want something that’s functional as well as fashionable.
Reporters are drunkenly finding their way home from a long week in Barcelona, where the Mobile World Congress conference yielded a number of exciting new phones and tablets.
Intro Music by Rick Barr.
Read more from the original source: This Week On The TC Gadgets Podcast: All MWC Everything
Toronto-based startup InteraXon, maker of the Muse brainwave-sensing headband, had a very interesting potential suitor, according to a source close to the startup speaking to TechCrunch. Specifically, Google came calling, but InteraXon isn’t necessarily interested in being acquired by the search giant, our source reports.
A recent profile of InteraXon from the Financial Post provides a potential reason the startup is shy when it comes to a Google exit: co-founder and CEO Ariel Garten told the paper that she was in it for the long haul, with the aim of building a $500 million business over a span of five years. The startup has $7.2 million in funding already, with a $6 million Series A round from Horizon, OMERS Ventures, A-Grade (yep, Ashton’s investment vehicle), Felicis and more, plus $1.2 million in earlier funds raised from ff Venture Capital and others. The startup also raised nearly $300,000 in a crowdfunding campaign for its Muse headband which ended in December last year.
Garten was approached by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, longtime champion of the Google Glass wearable headset, according to our source, with an offer to discuss Google’s interest in the company. InteraXon’s Muse headband is a six-sensor headset that monitors brainwaves, for use with brain exercise training software, as well as a development platform for building apps to control virtually anything, including remotely pouring the user their own beer, or turning on TVs/controlling connected devices simply with the power of thought. Below, you can see the InteraXon Muse in action, as demonstrated by our own Colleen Taylor.
The tech could fit into Google’s plans in a number of ways. Most immediately, it would offer Glass an alternate input method that wouldn’t require users to employ their hands or voice at all. Navigating the UI and performing actions in Glass software could conceivably be brainwave-directed, which would solve its occasionally awkward use paradigms and bring it that much closer to realizing the dream of truly hands-free, wearable computing.
Of course, it also has ramifications in terms of its potential for collecting and aggregating data from a new source. Brainwaves are a newly emerging biometric information category, and one that has immense potential in terms of what benefits it could yield to a data-centric company like Google. As InteraXon repeatedly notes, measuring brainwaves doesn’t give you the ability to read thoughts or record dreams, but it does represent a tantalizing new aggregate data pool from which to draw insights that could eventually shed light on customer intent. The Muse headset does indeed promise to help users gain better awareness of their emotions and moods, after all.
Recent rumors pointed to Google’s growing interest in wearable technology acquisition targets, and InteraXon definitely fits the bill. The company was actually founded in 2007, too, and originally focused on doing large-scale corporate installations before launching its consumer product crowdfunding campaign last year.
Here is the original post: Rumor: Brainwave-Sensing Startup InteraXon Was Approached By Google About An Acquisition
Have you been in a Best Buy recently? The stores are starting to look more like exhibition halls than a warehouse retailers. And that’s by design. Stores within stores. Nearly every Best Buy store now has space dedicated to Samsung products and about half of the stores has space for Windows products.
The company details the store-within-a-store concept in its 2014 fourth quarter results financial release. Released today, it shows that Best Buy managed to squeak out a profit even though it saw “slightly negative” sales in the first half as sales fell to $14.47b from $14.92b.
The release notes that the company has opened 1,400 Samsung and 600 Windows stores-within-a-store along with completing the first phase of optimizing its sales floor. The company has 1,495 retail stores in the US. Any recent visitor to Best Buy can attest something is different.
Gone are the aisles filled with wire frame shelves. In their place are logical areas focused around a lifestyle or brand. All the Windows tablets are together on a specific Windows branded table. All the Samsung products are together in an area bright white and blue. And yes, there is of course the Apple table complete with its glowing white Apple.
Brands buying space in stores is nothing new although this space is usually limited to just shelves at the end of an aisle. Apple pioneered the store within a store years ago when it decided that it wanted a special spot for its wares. It clearly worked as other brands follow suite.
Retail is changing and Best Buy is trying its damnedest to keep up. Circuit City didn’t evolve quickly enough. At this point, with its once-arch rival gone, Best Buy is fighting the Internet. This financial report shows that it is making unique moves by leveraging popular brands. Samsung, for instance, does not have the retail presence of Apple yet it’s just as popular. If you want to play with a Samsung product, Best Buy is your destination.
Read more here: There Is Now A Samsung Store In Nearly Every Best Buy Store
Apple has shared some information around how Touch ID and its Secure Enclave keeps information private in an updated security document newly posted to its “iPhone in Business” microsite. The new info provides an inside look at how exactly the Secure Enclave generates and communicates encrypted and temporary identification information to the rest of the system to make sure that fingerprint data is never exposed to anything beyond itself.
Each Secure Enclave is provisioned during fabrication with its own UID (Unique ID) that is not accessible to other parts of the system and is not known to Apple. When the device starts up, an ephemeral key is created, tangled with its UID, and used to encrypt the Secure Enclave’s portion of the device’s memory space.
Additionally, data that is saved to the file system by the Secure Enclave is encrypted with a key tangled with the UID and an anti-replay counter.
The Secure Enclave portion of the A7 chip is of course responsible for handling fingerprint data collected by the Touch ID sensor. Apple goes on to detail how the A7 processor helps gather the fingerprint data, but can’t actually read said information itself, and how the exchange that takes place between the A7 and the secure enclave is encrypted to prevent any hijacking of the data at that point.
Communication between the A7 and the Touch ID sensor takes place over a serial peripheral interface bus. The A7 forwards the data to the Secure Enclave but cannot read it. It’s encrypted and authenticated with a session key that is negotiated using the device’s shared key that is built into the Touch ID sensor and the Secure Enclave. The session key exchange uses AES key wrap- ping with both sides providing a random key that establishes the session key and uses AES-CCM transport encryption.
As for Touch ID itself, Apple details how the fingerprint-based unlocking and iTunes purchasing authorization tech works in a completely new section of the iOS Security document. It mostly explains what users likely already know about Touch ID: When it does and doesn’t work (i.e. after a restart), but also adds a few things that might not be clear from normal use – Touch ID unlocking stops working after an iPhone 5s has been left locked for 48 hours or more, for instance, requiring a text or number-based password input.
Apple also reiterates its firm “no third-parties” rule with Touch ID and fingerprint information, which is worth recalling given Samsung’s different take on the matter, with its Pass API announced earlier for platform developers.
Touch ID authentication and the data associated with the enrolled fingerprints are not
available to other apps or third parties
The document also includes previously revealed technical data around the Touch ID scanner itself, which takes an 88-by-88-pixel, 500-ppi raster scan of the finger being applied, which is then transmitted to the Secure Enclave, vectorized for the purposes of being analyzed and compared to fingerprints stored in memory, and then discarded. This info, it’s worth recalling, is never transmitted to Apple’s servers, nor is it stored in iCloud or the iTunes backup of a device.
Apple closes the section on Touch ID with a detailed, step-by-step explanation of how unlocking the smartphone with the tech works, which is worth a look if you’re unclear on the behind-the-scenes magic or security protections involved:
On devices with an A7 processor, the Secure Enclave holds the cryptographic class keys for Data Protection. When a device locks, the keys for Data Protection class Complete are discarded, and files and keychain items in that class are inaccessible until the user unlocks the device by entering their passcode.
On iPhone 5s with Touch ID turned on, the keys are not discarded when the device locks; instead, they’re wrapped with a key that is given to the Touch ID subsystem. When a user attempts to unlock the device, if Touch ID recognizes the user’s finger- print, it provides the key for unwrapping the Data Protection keys and the device is unlocked. This process provides additional protection by requiring the Data Protection and Touch ID subsystems to cooperate in order to unlock the device.
The decrypted class keys are only held in memory, so they’re lost if the device is rebooted. Additionally, as previously described, the Secure Enclave will discard the keys after 48 hours or 5 failed Touch ID recognition attempts.
Another new section details iCloud Keychain, the syncing service that stores your passwords for use across platforms. Apple notes the system is designed to prevent unauthorized access to iCloud Keychain stored information in the event of a compromised iCloud account, and to prevent third-party access to any passwords housed in the service.
Below is an excerpt of how iCloud makes sure that keychains are recovered only by authorized users, without even actually transmitting the local iOS security code to Apple itself.
iCloud provides a secure infrastructure for keychain escrow that ensures only authorized users and devices can perform a recovery. Topographically positioned behind iCloud are clusters of hardware security modules (HSM). These clusters guard the escrow records. Each has a key that is used to encrypt the escrow records under their watch, as described previously.
To recover a keychain, the user must authenticate with their iCloud account and password and respond to an SMS sent to their registered phone number. Once this is done, the user must enter their iCloud Security Code. The HSM cluster verifies that the user knows their iCloud Security Code using Secure Remote Password protocol (SRP); the
White Paper 26 iOS Security code itself is not sent to Apple. Each member of the cluster independently verifies that the user has not exceeded the maximum number of attempts that are allowed to retrieve their record, as discussed below. If a majority agree, the cluster unwraps the escrow record and sends it to the user’s device.
Apple has also added new information about iMessage, FaceTime encryption, single sign-on and Airdrop in terms of areas of interest to check out. If you’re a fan of learning how things work, or just want to know what steps Apple takes to protect any biometric information (and other data) it collects and transmits during normal iOS operation, the entire security document is definitely worth perusing.
See the original post: Apple Details Touch ID And The A7′s Secure Enclave In Updated iOS Security Document
Sony announced today that it is shuttering 20 of its 31 retail stores located throughout the States. The 11 remaining stores are located near major markets.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. As the company’s press release states, this move is designed to place Sony in a more competitive stance. The Sony of today is in flux. It’s offloading unprofitable divisions left and right in an attempt to right the capsizing ship and sold off its PC business just last month. The company has eliminated over 12,000 positions over the last two years. These store closings will kill an additional 5,000 jobs.
Sony is clearly looking for any way to reduce its liabilities and size. Even though it’s had retail stores for more than a decade, the stores never took off despite a rebranding in 2011. They used to be called Sony Style stores and were awash in Sony products. They were lifestyle stores, designed to showcase product rather than sell it.
But while Sony’s retail strategy was influx in 2010 and 2011, Apple’s stores were taking off. Sony later cloned Apple stores and dropped the word Style from the name. But it didn’t work.
Retail is hard. Ask Circuit City, Gateway and small town computer shops. To be successful it requires equal parts luck and skill. Sony clearly doesn’t have either.
Read more here: Sony To Close Two-Thirds Of Its US Retail Stores
Motorola may not have released any new devices at Mobile World Conference 2014 in Barcelona, but that doesn’t mean the company doesn’t have news to share. At some point this year, the company plans to release a new smartwatch, and in “late summer” it will launch a new version of its flagship Moto X device.
The news comes in the form of a Q&A, being posted on Motorola’s Twitter account:
Taking Moto Maker outside of the US has been a long-time coming. It looks like 2014 will be a busy year for Motorola, which is being acquired away from Google by Lenovo.
Image Credit: Remy Gabalda / Getty Images
Here is the original post: Motorola plans to release new smartwatch this year and new version of Moto X in ‘late summer’