Google Glass Enterprise Edition Headset Found on eBay

Ever since being removed from sale last year, Google has slowly but surely been removing all reference to the device. Now, an unusual version of the headset has been found on eBay, which appears to be the long-rumoured enterprise-focused edition of the AR headset. The headset in question is in the ownership of a pawn shop in San Francisco, who are selling on the device through their eBay store when it was spotted by Cavin Kabe and posted on Google+.

The eBay listing for the headset includes a number of pictures, which show how it differs from the regular “Explorer” edition of the device that had been on public sale. It features hinges that allow it to be folded like a regular pair of glasses as well as changes to the charging port, which appears to be a proprietary connector with more in common with Apple’s MagSafe chargers than micro-USB. Additionally, this headset appears to match one found in an FCC filing last year for the Enterprise Edition of Google Glass, which would also mean that it may sport that device’s larger display, camera LED, and more efficient hardware, although images cannot support this.

Where this version of the Glass came from and how it came to be in the ownership of a pawnbroker remains unknown, with A to Z Pawnbrokers having multiple outlets in the San Francisco area and supplying no details about which store had received it. Whether this could be a blunder that reveals a new version of the Google Glass that is planned for a future release is unknown, and we can only hope that someone willing to examine the device ends up making the purchase which currently stands at $2,550.00, closing in on double the price of the original Explorer edition Glass.

Sony’s Future Lab Shows Off First Prototypes

It hasn’t been long since they revealed their Future Lab program, a research and development-focused part of the company that would show off its prototypes in order to get input from the public. At SXSW, the department showed off some of their first prototypes including the rumored “Project N” wearable device.

N can be described as a neck-worn version of the Amazon Echo, admittedly with a few extra features. Like most voice-activated digital assistants, it is triggered by a phrase, in this case, “Listen up Arc!” and will await your commands, as well as synchronizing with a mobile phone for location data. Currently, it is able to tell you the weather, give you local news, local restaurant info as well as taking a photograph via a built-in camera that is hidden when not in use. It can even play audio back to the wearer in a limited zone around their head using directional speakers on the device though the quality isn’t excellent. For better audio quality, the Future Lab has you covered, offering “open-ear earphones”, which move the driver out of the way of the ear canal, providing audio through a small tube into the ear while also allowing external sound to be heard.

Other prototypes on show include two types of projectors. The first is a touch screen projector intended to be mounted above tables which turns them into interactive surfaces able to be controlled in 3 dimensions. The second was an aimable projector that can be directed to any point along a wall using a black wand-like device. The projector even contained an array of speakers able to make it sound like the source was the location that the image was projected.

Lastly was a controller with inbuilt advanced haptic feedback. The demo on show was simply a ball viewed through a touchscreen, however when the controller was tilted and turned, the user can “feel” the ball move around as if it really existed inside the device. While less exciting than the other prototypes, it seems like a solid choice for a feature to integrate into the next Playstation controller.

It is great to see a technology company willing to show off their prototypes so early on in their development, and the future of any of these products isn’t assured and may rest in the hands of the feedback they receive. We can only begin to dream what crazy technology Sony will dream up next.

MIT Researchers Find Way to Power Wearable Tech with Bending Motions

From smartwatches to fitness trackers, the number of wearable electronics in our lives are only set to increase, but they all have one limiting factor: power. But what if all of these wearables could power themselves from your movements, just like a self-winding mechanical watch? MIT may just have the answer, announcing this week that a way of transforming small bending motions into electrical energy had been figured out in a paper submitted to the journal Nature Communications.

The technology involves a central polymer separator soaked in an electrolyte sandwiched with two identical electrodes. When bent, it causes a chemical potential difference between the two electrodes, which in turn produces a voltage and electric current between the electrodes, which can power a device they are connected to. When attached to a small weight, the metal could be able to bend under simple ordinary movements, similarly to an automatic watch. The one flaw that can be foreseen in this method is degradation in power generated over repeated use. The current prototype of the technology mostly maintained it’s performance over 1500 bend cycles, but due to each cycle damaging the metal electrodes slightly, there was some fall off.

Most traditional methods of motion-based power generation rely on the triboelectric effect (based on friction) or piezoelectrics (crystals that produce a small voltage when bent or compressed). These technologies typically have high bending rigidity and rely on high-frequency sources of motion, which make them ill suited to gathering energy from natural human motions. By comparison, this new technology is both flexible, simple and cheap as well as being based on similar technology and materials to existing lithium-ion batteries.

This discovery, if its flaws can be overcome and be mass produced, has the potential to make fitness trackers and other bodily worn electronics vastly more convenient in daily life and not a useless piece of plastic, metal and glass should you forget to charge it. It’s even possible that a self-charging smartwatch might be enough to make me give up my automatic analogue watch.

Image credit: MIT

Omate Rise Android Smartwatch Crowdfunder Raises $50,000 in Half-an-Hour

The Omate Rise, billed as the “World’s first standalone water-resistant smartwatch with carbon Fiber bezel powered by Android 5.1” by its creators, has smashed its $30,000 goal on Indiegogo, raising over $50,000 in the first half-hour of its 65-hour crowdfunding campaign alone.

Omate is an ambitious, two-year-old startup, based in both the Mountain View in California and Shenzhen in China, and focuses on creating fashionable wearable tech, often in partnership with other brands.

The Android 5.1 Lollipop Omate Rise runs on a 3G Dual-Core 1.2Ghz ARM Cortex-A7 processor and an ARM Mali-400 MP GPU, with a 360×360, 1.3-inch innolux display.

Croundfunding options range from the Super Early Bird Developer package (SIM Unlocked + Open Source Access + Limited Edition Engraved + Free Heart Rate Monitor and Keychain. Retail Price: $398) to the Super Early Bird Partner Pack (SIM Unlocked Five (5) units SIM Unlocked + Limited Edition Engraved. Retail Price: $1,745) both available for the first 48 hours only.

At the time of writing, the Omate Rise has raised $53,963, courtesy of 246 backers, with 64 hours of its crowdfunding campaign yet to go. Omate aims to ship its first run of smartwatches by March 2016, with a full retail version following soon after.

Norton Develops Wireless-Blocking Jeans

Anti-virus service provider Norton has helped develop a pair of jeans capable of blocking wireless signals, designed to protect credit cards and passports from being remotely hacked via radio frequency identification (RFID) signals.

The jeans were designed in conjunction with fashion retailer Betabrand and uses silver-lined pockets to form a wireless-proof ‘Faraday cage’ that protect against RFID signals. The duo are also offering a blazer, integrating the same technology. Both items, priced $151 and $198 respectively, go on sale next February.

Source: BBC

Smart Helmet Is Indiegogo’s Fastest Funded Campaign of $1 Million

The world’s smartest helmet, the Skully AR-1, is the fastest Indigogo campaign to hit the $1 million donation milestone. Looking at this helmet and what it has to offer, it’s really no surprise.

They had set a fundraising goal of $250.000, an impressive amount of money on it’s own, but it didn’t take them long to pass this. Only 45 hours into the campaign, the $1 million was breached. At the time of writing, the donations are up to $1.152.724 and that with 26 days left to go.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdcWd594lRw[/youtube]

The Skully AR-1 offers the user with a heads-up display, a rearview camera and GPS navigation. It can also connect to your phone for internet access, hands free calling or streaming music. The connection to a mobile phone is done via Bluetooth. On the helmet side it also features such things as Anti-scratch and glare visor and perfect-fit laser cut foam padding.

If you got interested in this pretty awesome new helmet, you can head over to Indigogo and pledge your donation, it all starts at $1.499.

Thank you Indigogo for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Indigogo.

Need To Charge On The Go? How About A Solar Dress?

With smartphones becoming so essential to everyday life for most people keeping your device charged is always an issue. So how do you keep your device charged on the go? Well you could buy a battery pack, mobile charger, even a solar powered mobile charger. But if you’re feeling really adventurous (and you’re female or just like cross-dressing) then you could wear a solar dress! Fashion designer Pauline Van Dongen recently showed-off her wearable solar dress, designed to keep you and your devices powered on the go. Her startup Wearable Solar certainly has some interesting potential. However, I can’t imagine many ladies would want to be seen in that monstrosity pictured above, let’s hope she has some more low-key designs up her sleeve!

Pauline Van Dongen explained the inspiration of her wearable solar idea to TechCrunch:

One of them is the fact that we highly depend on connectivity. We’re all addicted to our smartphones and we want them constantly powered, and the better our batteries get, the more we’ll use them. And at the same time, working as a werable tech designer, I know the difficulties when integrating these kind of bulky batteries that don’t allow for any comfort or wearability. So that’s why I thought, why not power your phone through your clothes? And eventually power other interactive qualities that our garments are becoming a platform for.

Source: TechCrunch

Image courtesy of Pauline Van Dongen

Turn Any Watch “Smart” with Glance

I bet there are a fair few people our there that want a smart watch, but don’t want to swap our their current favourite time piece in favour of a garish looking LED display. Smart watches aren’t exactly cheap, and there is a good chance that if you’re a series watch wearer, that your current watch wasn’t exactly cheap either, so how can you get the best of both worlds? A new kickstarter project called Glance has the answer.

This tiny aluminium device snugs under your current watch, think of it more like an attachment. Which sounds uncomfortable, although the creators promise it isn’t. At just $70 plus shipping for Kickstarter backers, the Glance is much cheaper than rivals such as Pebble, without the need for a completely new watch, but its hardly lacking in features compared to its rivals. It packs a 3D motion sensor, Bluetooth 4.0, a high-contrast and somewhat tiny OLED display.

It can show you incoming call notifications, read text messages via a scrolling readout system, respond to messages using a touch button or a shake gesture, which can relay pre-defined messages that are ideal for letting someone know you’re driving or in a meeting, without having to pick up your phone, making it incredibly discrete. It also features “air mouse” style controls for use on Smart TV’s or computers, tracking features, it’s waterproof, and it certainly sound interesting.

Head on over to the Kickstarter page for more details.

Thank you Venturebeat for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Venturebeat.

Oculus VR Snap Up Valves Michael Abrash

While many reacted badly to Facebook buying up Oculus VR earlier this week, both companies could do with some good news, and now it looks like they have it. Plucked from the ripe tree that is Valve, home of lord Gaben, Oculus VR have bagged themselves a new Chief Scientist in the form of Michael Abrash.

Abrash has a rich history in the gaming world, having worked with everything from id Software to the Xbox, but most importantly he was a key figure behind the research and technologies for Valve’s VR headset, giving him key experience that can help Oculus take things to the next level.

Oculus VR now have a considerable cash flow at their disposal, they can throw money at problems to get the staff and research they need to make a great product. Sure it’s at risk of Zuckerberg making a Farmville game for it, but as long as the company is retaining its ability to act independently and makes sure moves such as securing key industry experts to improve its development, then it should still be an awesome bit of hardware.

Thank you Tweak Town for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Tweak Town.

Facebook Drops Oculus Rift Bomb, Internet Fights Back!

Facebook have swooped in to pick up some serious hardware real estate this week, shelling out a staggering $2bn for virtual reality headset creators Oculus. While this new source of financial support is great news for Oculus and their Oculus Rift VR headset, many of the financial backers, consumers and even a few games developers are not happy and the fallout is hurting both Facebook and Oculus in a big way.

For starters there has been a wave of cancellations for Oculus Rift pre-orders, so much so that the pre-order cancellation page has hit the top of reddit’s /r/gaming and after a while even made the front page. Of course this is hollow as we don’t have numbers for real cancellations, but the evidence certainly stacks up that there are a lot of angry people out there in relation to the sale of the company, so many comments sections full of stuff that I simply cannot repeat here… It’s pretty much all too offensive for publication.

Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey took to Reddit to put peoples concerns to rest (see quotes below), unfortunately I don’t think many people are listening as all they hear is “facebook! facebook! facebook!”, which is ironic as it’s on Facebook that most of these ex-Oculus fans are doing most of their complaining.

“There are a lot of reasons why this is a good thing, many of which are not yet public. There is a lot of related good news on the way. I am swamped right now, but I do plan on addressing everyone’s concerns. I think everyone will see why this is so incredible when the big picture is clear.”

“It is an acquisition, but we will be operating independently. Our ongoing relationship really is more like a partnership.”

“We have not gotten into all the details yet, but a lot of the news is coming. The key points: 1) We can make custom hardware, not rely on the scraps of the mobile phone industry. That is insanely expensive, think hundreds of millions of dollars. This deal specifically lets us greatly lower the price of the Rift. 2) We can afford to hire everyone we need, the best people that fit into our culture of excellence in all aspects. 3) We can make huge investments in content. More news soon.”

“Oculus continues to operate independently! We are going to remain as indie/developer/enthusiast friendly as we have always been, if not more so. This deal lets us dedicate a lot of resources to developer relations, technical help, engine optimizations, and our content investment/publishing/sales platform. We are not going to track you, flash ads at you, or do anything invasive.”

“Almost everyone at Oculus is a gamer, and virtual reality will certainly be led by the games industry, largely because it is the only industry that already has the talent and tools required to build awesome interactive 3D environments. In the long run, though, there are going to be a lot of other industries that use VR in huge ways, ways that are not exclusive to gamers; the current focus on gaming is a reflection of the current state of VR, not the long term potential. Education, communication, training, rehabilitation, gaming and film are all going to be major drivers for VR, and they will reach a very wide audience. We are not targeting social media users, we are targeting everyone who has a reason to use VR.”

“This acquisition/partnership gives us more control of our destiny, not less! We don’t have to compromise on anything, and can afford to make decisions that are right for the future of virtual reality, not our current revenue. Keep in mind that we already have great partners who invested heavily in Oculus and got us to where we are, so we have not had full control of our destiny for some time. Facebook believes in our long term vision, and they want us to continue executing on our own roadmap, not control what we do. I would never have done this deal if it meant changing our direction, and Facebook has a good track record of letting companies work independently post-acquisition.”

Pre-orders being cancelled, a poorly timed reveal and a lot of heat and backlash from the community is not good for any product. Fortunately for the hopeful (like myself), the cash injection has secured the future of the product for some time and I’m not going to cancel my pre-order any time soon.

Developer Notch has stated Facebook “creeps me out” and said that Minecraft will no longer be coming to the Rift, at least in 1st party support form, there are already mods out there, but they’re sub-par in terms of overall quality. I expect a couple more developers will follow suit, but perhaps time will see them return if the company can prove that it will act independently and not morph into a Farmville accessory as many people are currently fearing.

I’m not sure this is a bad thing for the hardware or Oculus or even consumers, but once again only time will tell who is right and I really do hope I am right. We have a comments section below for good reason, get venting your thoughts on this one as we would love to know your what you think about this deal.

Virgin Atlantic To Trial Google Glass On Flights

Virgin Atlantic are planning to run a six week trial, equipping their cabin crew with Google Glass to see if they can improve the level of customer service they provide to passengers. Google’s wearable tech could allow them to make passengers journeys more personalized, offering each passenger up to date flight information, weather and event information for their destination, translation of foreign language information and more.

“While it’s fantastic that more people can now fly than ever before, the fact that air travel has become so accessible has led to some of the sheen being lost for many passengers,” Dave Bulman, Director of IT, Virgin Atlantic, said in a press release.

When combined with other technologies Glass can provide all kinds of feedback to staff, such as updating passengers about each users dietary requirements and drinks preferences. If the pilot program proves successful then Virgin Atlantic could introduce it on a larger scale.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Some Of The Weirdest Patents Of 2013

Since we are closing in on the last days of 2013 we thought it would be interesting to look back on some of the most weird and unusual tech patents of this year.

Motorola’s Throat Tattoo

The patent by Google owned Motorola was filed in May 2012 and published on the 7th of November 2013. The patent describes an application of an electronic tattoo, that would be tattooed on a users neck and would be able to be used as a mobile microphone, lie detector and digital display. How exactly does would this work? Well the tattoo would capture vibrations or sounds straight from the users throat, this way eliminating any background noise that often occurs with conversations over mobile phones. The system or tattoo would be powered by it’s own power supply and would then be transferred via Bluetooth or near-field communication (also known as NFC).

An example of the Patent for Motorola’s Throat Tattoo

 

Sony’s Smart Wig

Are we sensing a theme here yet? Not one to be out done Sony released a patent this year for a “Smart Wig” which would be able to everything from alerting the user via head taps to incoming messages, it would have GPS system for leading people around tailored routes via head taps which Sony said “would be excellent for the blind”. It would also be able to monitor blood pressure, body temperature and brain waves via built in sensors, it would also be able to “change power point slides” via a tug of the sideburns making it also a controller. According to analysts this may not be such a crazy idea, with some expecting “Smart Textiles” to be around 10 years away.

 

Sony’s Patent for a “Smart Wig”

Google’s Ad Tracker

Something that sounds a little bit more attainable in the coming years is Google’s pay-per-gaze ad tracker. We by now all know that Google is an expert in the two fields of technology and advertising, which is why this patent seems more viable than the others. The idea is that a head mounted camera tracks what advertising materials the user is viewing throughout the day, then it would measure pupil dilation to determine how effective certain ads are at catching different users attention. This idea sounds like it would be a perfect fit for Google’s upcoming release of Google Glass, however at this stage the company has a rule against advertising on internet powered eyewear. This may change in the close future though.

A patent by Google that could work hand-in-hand with Google Glass, if they relax the rule of advertising on internet powered eyewear

Microsoft’s Smart Bra

Microsoft were reportedly looking at merging technology with lingerie in a hope that it will help you lose weight. You read that correctly, the bra would measure things like heart rate, breathing, skin activity and movement to assess when the user would be going through moments of stress and in turn would be more likely to turn to “comfort food”. The bra would then transmit via Bluetooth data to the users smartphone alerting them and providing them with exercising to help them overcome the urge to eat “comfort food”. According to Microsoft for the Smart Bra to be viable, they would need to look at a better battery as apparently battery life has been an issue.

Microsoft’s patent for a “Smart Bra”

 

So it looks like this year a lot of companies were looking into integrating technology into everyday life. It will be interesting to see if any of these patents actually make it to production, however the future of integrating our lives and immersing ourselves in technology could soon be here and not a thing of the future and dreams.

Thanks to The Sydney Morning Herald for the information provided.

Images courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald

Pebble Seeds Engineering Schools With 4000 Free Smartwatches

Pebble are looking to spark the fires of innovation with their new project which is aimed at education. The company will be donating over 4000 of their Pebble smart-watches to higher ed schools including Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Stanford, Virginia Tech and more. Overall the will be donating around $600,000 worth of devices and along side their SDK they’re trying to get their tech into the hands of top developers of tomorrow. If this doesn’t spur the development of new apps and features at a rapid pace, nothing will.

The company is looking to find the potential of the device, for people to push its limits and make wearable tech the next big thing for Pebble and naturally Pebble want to be a strong contender against rivals such as Apple, Samsung and every other company that will be, or already have released smart-watches.

This could also prove a great way to boost sales for the company as the PR work will now be done by the students via word of mouth, not to mention hands on experience that could tempt others into a purchase. Pebble are also offering a special discount through its institutional partners to anyone who wants to order a personal device through them.

How effective this strategy will be for both Pebble and the students involved remains to be seen, but it certainly looks like a promising project and we look forward to seeing the results throughout 2014.

Thank you Tech Crunch for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Tech Crunch.

ION Glasses, The Back To Basics Wearable Technology

Google Glass is about giving you a lot of information via its heads-up display, overlaying that information into your vision and that can be a little intrusive and intense for some people, plus you look like with it on your glasses (at least in my opinion).

ION are promising a cheaper and less intrusive alternative, although that does come at the cost of functionality as the ION glasses don’t pack quite as many features as their Google rivals. There is an LED, Bluetooth stack and a button controller built into the frame of the glasses, that’s it, nothing else.

Santiago Ambit, the founder of ION thinks that this simplicity is key, why have so much going in front of your face any way. Being able to keep your phone on silent is handy, but a little LED indicator that only you could see, one that can be configured to different colours for messages and/or calls from different people could prove useful in meetings, or maybe for those times you just can’t be bothered answering your phone.

There is even a radar feature for finding your mobile device, a button to control your music and beep alerts should you need them.

The glasses are said to last a week on a single charge, but with just a tiny Bluetooth hook up, piezo buzzer, LED and a button in there, there is hardly much to burn through a lot of power anyway. The added benefit here is that the system can be embedded inside a standard pair of glasses, it’s minimal footprint doesn’t increase the weight much and the frames you get are suitable for prescription or sunglass lenses.

All this is for a pledge of just $89 and the company have already raised over $20k of the $150k they’re aiming for on Indiegogo. Personally I think this is a little bit too basic, but I’m sure there will be people out there who are happy to have a discreet visual notification system for their mobile device.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Indiegogo.