Moov Fitness Tracker Passes Its $40K Crowdfunding Goal In 90 Minutes

Yesterday, ex-Apple engineer Nikola Hu and friends launched a crowdfunding campaign around Moov, the next generation in wearable fitness tracking. The device, which lets you accurately measure your form during different sporting activities like running, swimming, and cardio boxing, has already picked up some steam with backers.

According to the team, Moov reached its $40k crowdfunding goal in 90 minutes.

“As an entrepreneur it feels great because it proves there is a real consumer demand for digital coaching,” said cofounder Meng Li. “We are ecstatic and galvanized to keep learning and listening to feedback from our pre sales community.”

Of course, with unexpected demand comes the issue of ramping up production and keeping on schedule with the promised ship date. The Moov is scheduled to be available in Summer of 2014, and the team tells me that they still expect to meet that deadline.

However, they have not determined whether or not they will put a cap on pre-orders in the coming days.

The team also tells us that many users who pre-ordered the device are now changing their mind, and looking to buy a pair of Moov units instead of one. As part of the crowdfunding campaign, Moov offered the $59 device for a discount of $99 for two units.

Given that many users decided they wanted two instead of one, Moov has made it easier for those users to go back and order the second one under the same email address and still receive the discount.

Despite the fact that it’s joining an incredibly crowded space, Moov stands a chance at becoming a bigger player in this vertical. Rather than launching yet another sleek wrist band that tells you about your steps, Moov pairs with an application to give you real-time audio feedback on the way you’re running, your form when lifting weights, etc.

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Not only do users get data about their workout and their progress, but they also become better at working out. This prevents injuries and also offers more bang for the proverbial buck.

If you’re interested in checking out Moov, head over here.

Excerpt from: Moov Fitness Tracker Passes Its $40K Crowdfunding Goal In 90 Minutes

Ben Horowitz’s Bitcoin Bet

Today in bitcoin ephemera I present this interesting bet between VC Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz and Felix Salmon, noted bitcoin curmudgeon. Ben has invested in multiple bitcoin startups while Felix has a really cool name and is a well-known economics writer.

The bet is simple: in January, 2019 the folks at Planet Money on NPR will poll a sample of Americans. “If 10 percent or more say they have used bitcoin to buy something in the past month, Ben wins. If it’s fewer than 10 percent, Felix wins,” Planet Money host Jacob Goldstein wrote. The idea came to the pair when Horowitz annotated Salmon’s writing on RapGenius.

The winner gets a pair of alpaca socks, the first item ever paid for in bitcoins.

Salmon believes that Bitcoin’s volatility and rise to prominence makes users think they’ll make more money by sitting on the currency rather than spending it. He brings up the example of the original pair of Alpaca socks bought for bitcoin – that person is probably upset he sold all those bitcoins for some socks. While the original sock purchase is lost in the veil of time, it should be noted that someone paid 10,000 BTC for a pizza in 2009. That pizza would be worth $7,280,000 today.

The potential for profit from sitting on the currency, then, will discourage growth argues Salmon. Horowitz is far more bullish, expecting bitcoin to become the de facto payment mechanism for the Internet by 2019.

“There’s no way that bitcoin is going to be a common payment mechanism in five years’ time. It probably will not even exist. It’s just going to be a vague memory,” grumbled Salmon.

How would I bet? I think Salmon is right, to a degree. I think what we know as bitcoin will be subsumed by the general Internet, and recreated a way to trade value that has little to do with bitcoin as it exists today. Bitcoin is too wasteful, too slow, and still in its beta stag. Just as Windows 3.1 is distant memory in this era of Windows 8.1 so will this early bitcoin be immensely different from bitcoin in half a decade. I’m not BTC bull but I’m not a bear, either. The world needs bitcoin, just not in its current form.

Go here to read the rest: Ben Horowitz’s Bitcoin Bet

Atheer Labs Turns To Crowdfunding To Bring Its 3D Augmented Reality Glasses To Life

The jury is largely still out on wearable gadgets like Google Glass that let you passively consume information that appears in front of your eyes, but Soulaiman Itani isn’t satisfied with just looking. Instead, his company — Mountain View-based Atheer Labs — has been working on a device that lets its users physically manipulate that information too.

Sounds like yet another load of sci-fi nonsense trickling into the real world, but the experience is much closer than one might think. Earlier today Atheer Labs kicked off an Indiegogo campaign for two new pairs of augmented reality glasses they hope will get developers and tinkerers excited about their vision of the future of computing.

“The digital world shouldn’t be limited to screens any more,” Itani told me. “It should be all around you and customized to you.

The vision highlighted in the company’s Indiegogo teaser video essentially depicts the intersection of Google Glass and “Minority Report”. In order to interact with any of the information or apps that appear before you, you reach out and manipulate it with your hands, thanks to sensors that track your hand movements and gestures in space.

We’re still quite a ways from being able to play with something that polished, but the groundwork has already been laid. Atheer first showed off its work at AllThingsD’s D11 conference last May, and very early demos of the experience seemed promising at best and kludgy at worst.

Don’t expect this sort of tech to come cheap though. The real star of the pair is the Atheer Development Kit (or ADK if you’re feeling jaunty), an $850 model that packs what Itani refers to as “everything that’s in your tablet”. By that he means a slew of sensors, WiFi and Bluetooth radios, and a–sadly undisclosed–Snapdragon chip to power it all. At first glance it may not seem like enough juice to deliver on everything that Atheer has promised, but Itani is adamant that the software that allows those gesture tracking sensors and displays to work in tandem is lean enough to keep things moving at a respectable clip.

And the end result? Something like holding a 25-inch tablet in front of your face at about half arm’s length, except you can reach into that tablet with fiddle with whatever you find.

Meanwhile, the less expensive Atheer One is meant to tap into an Android device you carry around on your person for its computing horsepower and content — Itani says it’s compatible with the full library of Android apps. As you’d imagine, that means there’s going to be a pretty hard limit on compatibility, but Itani says the only limiting factor is whether or not a device is capable outputting “very large images”.

“A three or four year old phone might not work,” Itani said. “But we’ve been testing with the Nexus 4, that’s more than enough.”

Despite all the work that’s gone into turning the Atheer concept into an actual pair of products that should see the light of day next year, deep down Atheer doesn’t want to be a hardware company. This initial run of developer devices are reference units that will, with any luck, inspire some dyed-in-the-wool hardware players to take a chance on creating devices that can help push Atheer’s wild-eyed vision forward.

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Microsoft Exec Charged With Insider Trading, SEC Alleges 400K In Illegal Gains

Reality is always better than fiction. Today the Securities and Exchange Commission charged a — now former — Microsoft “senior manager” with insider trading. The employee, Brian Jorgenson, is accused of working with a friend to trade Microsoft stock and shares of its partners ahead of news such as earnings, generating almost $400,000 in profits over the course of the partnership that began in April of 2012. The pair had intended to use the spoils from their venture to start a hedge fund, according to the SEC. Protip: If you are going to abuse your job’s access to information to grind out illegal profits with a friend in hopes of building up a big enough stack so that you can open a hedge fund, don’t get caught. You look silly. Not to mention like a bastard. Still, making a cool $393,125 in a year and a half ain’t no small kaboodle, so you have to give Jorgenson and his co-conspirator Sean Stokke props for pulling of the scheme, at least financially. Bastards. Here’s how it worked: Microsoft planned to invest $300 million into Barnes & Noble’s Nook reader project. Jorgenson found out, passed the information along to Stokke, who bought, according to the SEC, “$14,000 worth of call options on Barnes & Noble common stock.” Microsoft announced the deal, and bounced Barnes & Noble’s stock up about 50%. Profit to the pair? About $185,000. Imagine what they could have made if they already had that hedge fund money they wanted to raise. The SEC goes on to note two other cases, including trading before a Microsoft earnings announcements. According to ZDNet, Microsoft fired Jorgenson, and helped the SEC in its investigation. Here are the formal charges:

Jorgenson and Stokke are charged with violating Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5, both directly and pursuant to 20(d) of the Exchange Act.  The SEC seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, and financial penalties against Jorgenson and Stokke as well as an officer-and-director bar against Jorgenson.

Top Image Credit: Flickr

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Watch Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor Facetime a terminally ill fan in the middle of a gig

Modern technology enables us to do incredible things — witness Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor pausing a gig to make a Facetime call to a terminally ill fan.

Loudwire notes that the fan is photojournalist Andrew Youssef, a long-time NiN fan, was diagnosed with stage-4 colon cancer in 2011. Youssef’s regular coverage of live music events and column for OC Weekly caught the eye of Reznor, and the pair kicked off a friendship that seen them take lunch together.

➤ Trent Reznor Facetimes a terminally ill fan during a Nine Inch Nails show [Loudwire] | Hat tip @viticci

Thumbnail image via Dmitry K / Flickr

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Google Amps Up Glass’ Audio Smarts With ‘Listen To’, Sound Search & Google Play Music Access

‘Ok Glass, listen to Atari Teenage Riot’…

Google’s augmented reality specs, Google Glass, are getting a new set of features focused on audio. The new functionality gives Glass users the ability to ask Glass to pull up a track from Google Play Music or All Access and play it by telling it to ‘listen to’… plus the name of the band.

“Your favorite songs from Google Play Music, including millions of tracks from All Access, are coming soon to Glass,” notes Google on its Glass website.

As well as adding audio control commands, Glass users can also query what song is playing around them by asking ‘Ok Glass, what song is this?’ — and using Google’s Sound Search feature to hunt for the answer.

Google has also designed a dedicated pair of  earbuds to pair with Glass, which plug into the side of the headset and nestle in your ear — displaying the distinctive, stylised ‘A’ of the Glass logo.Glass earbuds

“With these new features, we’re now building a great music experience on Glass, whether you’re a classical music professor, an acclaimed sound engineer and hip-hop producer, or someone who wants to listen to their favorite tunes anytime, anywhere,” said Google’s director of Glass marketing, Ed Sanders, in a statement.

Google has gradually been building out the functionality of Glass, even though the user-pool remains strictly limited to its U.S.-based Explorers program.

As well as the new ‘listen to’ feature, Glass’ standard voice commands include the likes of ‘take a picture’ and ‘send a message’. Other Glass features include the ability to record video, view directions, translate something you’ve said, and view Google Now notifications such as when your flight is departing and whether it’s on time.

Adding audio controls is a pretty fundamental feature for any mobile device but one that’s likely to be used a lot — adding a key string to the Glass bow. Getting people talking to Glass to control such a mainstream habit as music listening may also be one way Google is hoping to normalise the experience of speaking to a pair of specs.

Or it might be when Mountain View (eventually) opens up Glass to the mainstream. In the meantime Glass users remain an exclusive club, comprised of fashionistas, curious minds, early adopters and Robert Scoble.

Google has got one of its Explorers, DJ Young Guru, to flaunt Glass’ new audio smarts on video (below).

The new Glass audio features were reported earlier by The New York Times.

The rest is here: Google Amps Up Glass’ Audio Smarts With ‘Listen To’, Sound Search & Google Play Music Access