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Gesture Control

A company called Thalmic Labs Myo recently has come out with a new gadget.  Called a gesture controller, it is already in the hands of some early developers, and it’s producing some pretty interesting looks at what might be possible using the gadget. The device is an armband worn on the forearm that detects electrical impulses and translates that into input for computing devices. The Myo has strong possibilities for interacting with robots in particular, and while we’ve seen it manipulating some industrial bots, a new demo video from a Korean robotics firm shows what it might be capable of pulling the virtual strings with more human-like automatons.

The movement isn’t one-to-one, but it is impressive. And the company behind it has plenty of experience in making humanoid bots (inspired by Marvel superheroes) that can mimic human actions, but usually they go through a pre-programmed routine instead of responding to direct input. Also, this is the result of very little time with the Myo dev alpha unit, too, so there’s likely a lot more possible in terms of getting these mini superhero robots to parrot the actions of their human overlords.  After seeing things like this, you really wonder what this tech could be used for in the future.  Industrial applications would be immensely helpful, but a weaponized version could surface in the future.  Right now our technology defines us, hopefully it will never be our downfall.

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Zeus – The Future?

The future is here. The Zeus, a 3D printer that can scan and copy objects and, using the Internet, “fax” objects to other printers. That’s right it is basically an all-in-one.  Created by AIO Robotics, the $2,499 printer has a build area of 8 by 6 by 5.7 inches and can scan objects up to five inches high. It has a 7-inch front touch screen for managing print jobs and a replaceable extruder which makes it easy to fix things if they break. The system is, obviously, fairly simple: the 3D printer is a standard plastic filament system that can print at 80 microns and scan at 125 microns.  3D printers can be had as cheaply as $200 these days and 3D scanners are about the same price. But putting them both together, getting them to work together properly, and setting things up so you can transfer files between printers is a big deal. That said, I expect to see more and more of these things on the market as it gets easier to embed all of this hardware into a handsome case.  To be honest, technology likes this is almost scary.  The other day I saw a headline about a man who had been printing his own handguns, obviously using a 3D printer.  While very primitive and odd looking, the pistols were able to fire.  However this guy’s biggest mistake was putting videos of him firing them on the internet.  The police soon raided his home, arrested him, and destroyed the weapons.  Technology is always going to be used in a negative manner, and we need to keep this in mind.

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Cloud Computing and Storage: the Future of Business Collaboration

Merging personal data banks and external private cloud services is business imperative this year and moving forward. Businesses are starting to design private cloud services with the future in mind emphasizing duality and inter-operatability.  According to ITBusiness.com, “Hybrid cloud services can be composed in many ways, varying from relatively static to very dynamic. Managing this composition will often be the responsibility of something filling the role of cloud service broker (CSB), which handles aggregation, integration and customization of services. Enterprises that are expanding into hybrid cloud computing from private cloud services are taking on the CSB role.”

Also, Terms like “overdrafting” and “cloudbursting” are often used to describe what hybrid cloud computing will make possible. However, the vast majority of hybrid cloud services will initially be much less dynamic than that. IT claims that early hybrid cloud services will likely be more static, engineered compositions (such as integration between an internal private cloud and a public cloud service for certain functionality or data). More deployment compositions will emerge as CSBs evolve (for example, private infrastructure as a service [IaaS] offerings that can leverage external service providers based on policy and utilization).

This idea of Hybrid cloud computing is essential for businesses  and should definitely be a factor small internet ventures as well.

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Apple and Google At War?

Apple and Google have recently announced that they have agreed to dismiss direct lawsuits aimed at one another, and will work together to help push patent reform forward.  It’s a huge change for the two companies, which compete on everything from music sales, to productivity tools, to cloud storage, etc.  According to sources, about 20 lawsuits will go dark.

Here is the statement that was given:

Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies. Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform. The agreement does not include a cross license.

However, both companies can pursue legal action for things that could harm their core business.  So, Apple can still sue someone who works with Google.  Technology patent wars are incredibly common.  I think that this is all very interesting, because are they really mad that their ideas are being taken?  Or just fearful the other company will pull ahead?  This is not the last we will ever see of companies legally butting heads.

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Twitch.tv

Google/YouTube reportedly wants Twitch.tv, the explosively popular service meant to let gamers watch others play games, live. The reported price tag? 1 billion.

The concept behind Twitch seems crazy, for who would actually want to watch someone else play a videogame?  However the service has done nothing but rocket in popularity since launching back in 2011.  Turns out, people enjoy other people play games. With competitive games, like League of Legends, gamers watch to learn; with other, more casual games, like Minecraft, they watch just to be entertained.

Twitch.tv is actually something of an oddity, in that it’s an independent spin-off of another company.  Since it became an independent company, Twitch.tv has amassed over 35 million dollars.  I think that this concept is both very interesting and scary at the same time.  I think as a nation we are moving closer and closer to allowing people to watch our e very move.  Privacy is slowly leaving us.

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Groupon -> Gnome

Groupon is expanding its footprint beyond daily deals yet again, with an announcement of an iPad-based point-of-sale solution called Gnome. The platform includes an “all-in-one” cash register that can accept traditional payments as well as Groupon vouchers, integrated customer relationship management software, accounting software and more.

The point-of-sale solution looks to solve one of the challenges Groupon faced in years past, which was a key reason why many small business owners and retailers were soured on the daily deals platform: customers would come in, nameless and faceless people using their Groupon for a freebie or deeply discounted product or service, which they used one time and then often never returned.

With the integrated CRM module in the Groupon point-of-sale system, the idea is that merchants could begin to better track these customers, and create custom marketing campaigns using customer purchase history and other preferences.

I think that this is really smart of Groupon, simply because expansion is the key to continued profitability.  Not only are they improving the platform so that customers are having a better experience, they made it solely available to the Ipad.  This will also help Apple, as this will probably affect sales in a positive manner.

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Amazon Prime

amazon prime Amazon Prime

A few weeks ago, I started using Amazon prime as opposed to Netflix. To be honest, one of the reasons was because my family has a prime account, but as I used it, I’m noticing several ways that Amazon does this better than Netflix. Amazon Prime is one of the fastest growing movie and T.V. show streaming sites in the United States, and it is for several reasons.

First, Amazon prime has everything that a normal streaming website would have. Just like Netflix, it has  movies and T.V. shows. The selection, to me, seems to be a lot better than what Netflix has to offer. Although popular shows like Breaking Bad seem to make Netflix what it is, Amazon Prime offers a wider variety of shows and movies. This gives the customer more to choose from. Secondly, Amazon prime does something that Netflix does not. They offer the ability to purchase shows that haven’t been released yet, neither to Amazon nor to Netflix. Although it seems this might not be a favorable choice: paying to watch something whereas you can check out something else for free, it is much more appealing that it seems. My family has already bought or rented movies off of prime, because it is easier than going to see it in theatre’s or buying on DVD.

It seems Amazon has found the right combination of streaming and pay-to-rent movies. They have figured out that they can increase profit by charging a lower monthly fee than Netflix, but offering movies and shows for purchase.

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