Google isn’t the only company working on mapping out the entire world with satellite imagery and detailed information about every nook and cranny in the universe. Two companies are teaming up to create publishable information on your site or news article using detailed satellite imagery and advanced publishing tools.
Skybox, a company that has raised $91 million to launch its own satellites into outer space to capture detailed imagery of our streets and buildings, is working with MapBox, an OpenStreetMap contributor, on some pretty sweet analysis and publishing tools. Two Skybox satellites will be launched this summer, so the tools are coming at the perfect time.
One of the examples of analyzing all of the images that Skybox captures, is a “change detection” system that focuses on one area and builds a playlist of photos that you can go through to detect changes in the area. Why would something like this be useful? Well, say you’re a company that has a fleet of ships and wants to know when they dock and leave. This tool could help track that:
Additionally, MapBox provides tools that allow anyone to annotate imagery. In the example above, you could easily add notes to each coming and going ship that you’ve detected, with important context that will help you go back in time to make sense of all of the imagery you’ve collected:
When I spoke with MapBox’s founder, Eric Gundersen, about the project, he pointed out that what you can do with maps is very limited right now, which is what makes this partnership important:
You can’t annotate images, you can’t zoom in, can’t interact on your tablet. This is our first experiment of “how do you package up information along with data,” that would usually be a PDF.
As Gundersen pointed out, the information that the tools above allow you to surface and track would normally be passed around in a huge Word document or PDF, which is a pretty rough and manual process for people who are analyzing thousands of images a day.
MapBox, which is fully bootstrapped, is working on some other really neat tools on their own, which should be available in the coming weeks. Think Google Map Maker, but easier to use and more available to the community that is already participating on the OpenStreetMap project.
[Disclosure: CrunchFund is an investor in Skybox, but had nothing to do with this post]
Waterloo-based Thalmic Labs is working on getting the MYO armband into the waiting arms of pre-order customers, which now number well above the 25,000 announced in March, Thalmic told me, making up over $4 million in total sales to date. MYO is a unique control device worn around the forearm, which measures muscle movement and electrical impulses and translates those into a control mechanism for various devies over Bluetooth.
This new video by Thalmic is a solid explainer for those curious about the engineering that goes into the MYO, and acts as a sort of general FAQ about how it works and what’s going on in terms of ongoing third-party development from the community MYO is trying to build. MYO’s official dev program is slated to come online in the coming months, and will include early access to hardware.
The new video is more about what’s going on within the company as Thalmic continues to build momentum ahead of its targeted ship date of sometime late in 2013, but the Sphero cameo is cool enough to make me slightly giddy. In case you didn’t know, the Sphero is the best dog toy ever created, and the MYO looks like it’ll make it even better in that regard.
On the business side of things, Thalmic passing the $4 million pre-order mark means that it has added over $300,000 in pre-sales since April 11, so over the course of just two weeks.
The Memoto is a tiny camera that you wear which takes a photo every 30 seconds and automatically uploads it to an online service. It’s a dedicated lifelogger’s dream, if there is such a being out there. Now, the Kickstarter-funded gadget has shown off its first official photos in a blog post and companion gallery posted today.
The pictures from Memoto are taken from a working Memoto prototype, and they haven’t been touched with post-processing software, the company notes. It also promises to tweak color saturation (to increase it, which is what the kids these days like in their fancy smartphone pics), and the exposure will also get some changes to account for darker lighting environments. Memoto also plans to refine sharpness and compression before the Memoto ships.
From what they’ve provided, I’d say the Memoto team is being overly hard on itself: these pics compare favorably to a lot of smartphone cameras out there, even if they’re slightly smaller in terms of resolution than most at five megapixels. Considering you’ll have 2,880 images over the course of a full 24 hours if you stick with the Memoto’s default setting of one pic snapped every 30 seconds, it’s probably for the best that these are 5 megapixel (which is more than sufficient for web resolution).
To recap for those who didn’t get in on the Kickstarter campaign, the Memoto is just 36x36x9mm, and features GPS on board to log the location of photos. Once you plug it into a computer, it connects to the Memoto service and uploads the photos. It also has a built-in accelerometer to help it properly orient photos no matter what the angle, and it has room on board for 4,000 pictures. Apps for iPhone and Android let you view your cloud-stored photos wherever you are.
Memoto could make or break itself based on image quality, and these first photos from a production prototype are promising in that regard. The company unfortunately won’t make its initial projected ship date of March, but hopes to begin mass production in April. Hopefully those hardcore lifeloggers out there can somehow manage for an extra month without documenting their every waking moment.
Editor’s note: Ross Rubin is principal analyst at Reticle Research and blogs at Techspressive. Each column will look at crowdfunded products that have either met or missed their funding goals. Follow him on Twitter @rossrubin.
Last week’s Backed or Whacked covered light-related products that could be controlled by a smartphone. Beyond making their way in the dark, though, modern humans have many other basic needs — maintaining well-being, feeling secure, and enforcing as much control over their domain as possible while exerting as little effort as necessary. The ability to achieve them with the aid of a smartphone, though, has arrived relatively recently, and the ability to crowdfund them via Indiegogo as per all of this week’s projects, even more recently.
Backed: Amiigo. Amiigo, which is Spanish for “friend in good shape who spells poorly,” is a chevron-shaped shoe clip that monitors movement, enabling you to know precisely how many calories you’ve expended repeatedly lifting the Boston Creme donut until it has been reduced to sugary crumbs. Amiigo enters the increasingly crowded contest for survival of the fittest begun by early entrants such as Nike+ and Fitbit. However, the trendy joint between the hand and forearm is where all the wriststers hang out these days. These include the Nike+ Fuelband, Jawbone UP, and other forthcoming entrants such as CES debutante Fitbit Flex and the HAPIwatch from HAPI Labs. To enter that club, the Amiigo shoe clip neatly docks into a wrist strap.
What the Salt Lake City-based team is counting on to set Amiigo apart from these rivals is more intelligence regarding the specific type of activity you’re doing. The idea of diving deeper into the nature of your exertion has been previously espoused by the developers of the $199 Basis, which employs fancy sensors to monitor the body’s reaction to exercise beyond motion detection. Amiigo, which has more than tripled its $90,000 funding goal with about 25 days left in its campaign, dispenses with the extra hardware and is due to ship to Indiegogo backers in June for about $99.
Backed: iSmartAlarm. ADT has run a legitimate business securing people’s homes and businesses. Recently, however, bigger bosses like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have told their capos that they want into the protection racket, see? Extracting a monthly fee for peace of mind, though, has heretofore taken place mostly within the customer base of those in multi-room dwellings. There have been a few alternative approaches, though, like the apartment-friendly but nonetheless professionally monitored SimpleSafe system.
For those who are comfortable handling alarms — false and otherwise — themselves, though, Raymond Meng’s team proposes iSmartAlarm, which includes a base station/siren reminiscent of the old Power Mac G4 Cube. iSmartAlarm, set to ship in April and starting with a basic package of only $79 with no monthly fees, has big plans for expansion. The company eventually seeks to include features such as sprinkler controls and GPS pet trackers.
For now, though, it is starting off with the basics — window/door-open sensors, motion sensors and, most importantly, that inert sign that scares away the bad guys. Should brazen intruders disregard the latter, the system can initiate taking successive photos of the perp and will send alerts to the smartphone owned by you or the vigilante of your choosing. iSmartAlarm’s campaign has been plodding along with over $30,000 raised of its $50,000 target with about 20 days to go.
Backed: Tethercell. Now that the crowdfunding world has provided the gear to convince you of your health and safety, it’s time to take it easy. Perhaps you want to turn on that FM radio on the porch a few feet away, but the thought of leaning forward displeases you. Debuting at CES along with the ultra-thin, time-telling bangle CST-01 that a future Backed or Whacked will discuss in more depth, the Tethercell may be your only hope.
Designed by aerospace engineers, the cylindrical device stuffs a Bluetooth radio into a AA battery shell, leaving enough room in the cavity to insert a AAA battery. You give up some device stamina, but gain the ability to remotely enable and disable all kinds of products either manually or according to a schedule. Tethercell can also alert you when the AA batteries in a device are running low.
Adding Bluetooth to products never intended to be controlled by a smartphone creates a wonderful twist on backward compatibility. While a shrinking number of devices that you might want to activate remotely take standard cells these days, the campaign’s Indiegogo page depicts small lamps, radios and baby monitors as examples. As Tethercell also works with some videogame controllers and many toys, the non-confrontational parent wishing for their kids to turn that damn thing off and pick up a book already can still pick one up for only $35 (although pairs are also proving popular). Recently charged above 47 percent of its $59,000 goal capacity, the Tethercell campaign has about 20 days’ worth of juice left.
See the article here: Backed Or Whacked: Life, Liberty And The Pursuit Of Laziness
BlackBerry 10 is leaky like a sieve: we’ve seen what is likely the first hardware, and developer previews have shown off the UI on video over and over for a while now. In the latest breach of BB10′s absolutely sub-par cloak of secrecy, a number of screenshots have surfaced over at Thinte (via BGR). The screenshots line up with what we’ve seen in preview demos in the past, but also show off some previously unreleased tidbits that are definitely intriguing, including a potential Siri competitor.
First, you can see the basic homescreen layout, which is likely familiar to many by now. The camera call and search buttons are a different take on the usual dock-type layout used by Android and iOS, and you can see there’s quick access to some commonly used system settings built-in.
Hub consolidates your messages, phone history and more, and is only a swipe away. It’s actually pretty clever, especially keeping in mind that RIM is focused on business users, who generally appreciate having an at-a-glance history of their latest communications on hand.
The Siri-style voice-powered interface is news to me, but it should look familiar to users of Apple’s iOS devices. We’ll have to wait and see if this actually ships with the first version of BB10. Voice commands are essentially table stakes at this stage with Google Now and Siri, so I’m not too surprised to see this.
A series of shots show off native apps from Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare. The presence of these kind of high-profile apps on the platform is a key ingredient for RIM’s chances at success, so I’m sure many users are happy to see them depicted here in action in what look to be legitimate screens.
Overall, these look like what we’ve seen of BB10 so far, but again, it’s still possible that some of these screens were manufactured, altered or staged. Don’t count RIM’s chickens before they hatch in other words, but it’s still interesting to get a better look at what RIM could potentially ship early in 2013.