Posts Tagged ‘Hardware’
3D printer prices are falling steadily, something that shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the vagaries of the electronics market. What cost a few thousand last year is now hovering at less than a grand while knock-offs are going for around $ 500 or less, depending on the model. It’s a great time to be a 3D printing hobbyist. But are these new printers worth picking up? I’ve used a few… Read More
I love it when a software startup ventures into connected hardware, even if that hardware is a tad pricey and might not even see the light of day. Enter Hamburg-based Flying.com, maker of Flying, an iOS app for frequent flyers that competes with Munich-based Mileways. Read More
Kazam has a battle on its hands. The company may have been launched by former HTC execs, but it can only trade on that association for so long. That’s something the firm is directly addressing here at MWC, it seems, with the launch of two new…
Microsoft said that Stephen Elop would run its hardware division as soon as it finished acquiring Nokia’s device business, and the company has just taken a big step toward making that leadership change a reality. Current Devices & Studios lead Julie…
It’s hard for me to imagine a hardware startup that is more exciting, more fascinating, and that has more potential to ripple out into a million amazing things than Oculus and their Rift virtual reality headset.
Many of you, it seems, would agree. After weeks of voting, our readers and this community have chosen Oculus VR as the Best Hardware Startup of the year.
As has been said many a time, Hardware is hard. Though the barrier to entry is lower than it’s ever been, the creation of new hardware is still a field that most don’t enter.
It makes sense, then, that the competition here was incredibly fierce. Oculus’ fellow nominees in the category:
- 3D Robotics, a company that wants to make aerial drones accessible to businesses of all sizes.
- SmartThings, which is building a platform to allow any electronic device — be it your toaster or a ceiling fan — to become an Internet-connected “smart device”
- Sonos, the remarkably simple wireless speakers that let you bring sound to every room in your house in just a few taps.
- Square, creators of the dongle that lets anybody — be it your buddy who’s having a garage sale, or a major coffee chain — accept credit card payments in just a few minutes.
While Oculus shipped an early, developers-only version of their headset last year, they’ve yet to release a consumer-ready version (or even announce an official date for one). And that’s just fine. This is a case where “Screw it, Ship It” simply does not apply; where it’s not just acceptable to hold the product close until it’s at a point of perfection, but where that is the only right decision. The reason they haven’t released a retail product is not for lack of talent, interest, or funding. It’s because they must get it right the first time, and they know it.
This concept — virtual reality in the home — is one that science fiction has promised us for decades. The available technology is finally reaching a point where it’s becoming feasible — and when it does, Oculus is positioned to pave the way. Industry legends are leaving their post at companies they created to be a part of it. The most adored company in the gaming world has pledged their R&D resources to them. Developers around the world are already building apps and concept demos for the device, knowing full well that consumers won’t have their hands on it for months to years. If Oculus can’t pull this off, I’m not sure anyone can.
Congratulations, Oculus. We’re all excited for the next few years.
Modbot wants to put the hardware to make robots in the hands of everyone in the world with a set of universal robot building blocks, accompanied by a virtual…
Video Rating: 4 / 5
Google today sold Motorola to Lenovo for $ 2.91 billion. While many speculated that Google would release phones after it bought Motorola in 2011, it didn’t happen — Motorola remained a partner like other Android OEMs. Recently, Google acquired Nest, and TechCrunch has learned that Google has big plans for the team behind the connected device company.
Google will keep the Nest group intact inside the company. The new division will still work on hardware devices, but not necessarily thermostats or smoke detectors. In fact, Google would like Fadell to work on gadgets that make more sense for the company. Will it be a phone or a tablet? It’s unclear for now.
While Nest first became popular with its thermostats, Google didn’t buy the company for these devices. First and foremost, the company wanted to snatch the great product team.
Nest founder and CEO Tony Fadell used to work for Apple on the iPod and was a founding member of the iPhone development team. Many people working in hardware consider him one of the best executives that understand both hardware and software — he is comfortable working at the intersection of the two.
Moreover, Fadell managed to attract great Apple engineers when he started working on Nest. They wanted to follow Fadell’s plans and were good engineers. And that’s exactly what Google was looking for when it acquired Nest.
When it comes to budget, Google is willing to let the Nest team use as many resources as it needs. In other words, the company is getting serious about consumer hardware, and Motorola was just a false start.
Google will keep Motorola’s patents, and it seems pretty clear now that Google only wanted that from the get-go.
Acquiring Nest and selling Motorola now make more sense when you put these two things side by side. Something was missing with Motorola. With Nest, Google finally has the right team and mindset to create and produce gadgets.
Toronto-based startup ShopLocket, an e-commerce platform originally designed to let anyone sell anything from a single item to a line of goods quickly and easily via their existing presence on the web, has been acquired by an unusual suitor: PCH International, the company founded by Irish entrepreneur Liam Casey that has made its name operating as the go-between for major electronics brands and their Asian supply partners and manufacturers.
The exact terms of the deal, under which ShopLocket will continue to operate under as a sub-brand, are undisclosed. “It’s a good deal,” said Casey. “Everyone’s really happy.”
The match seems odd at first, but makes sense in light of recent developments at both companies: ShopLocket, run by TC Hardware Battlefield judge Katherine Hague, recently launched its own pre-order sales platform to help hardware startups capitalize on the inertia generated by crowdfunding campaigns, before they reach the stage where they’re able to sell shipping product. There’s a lot of interest coming out of successful Kickstarter campaigns, after all, but often nowhere for that interest to go as startups rarely have the means in place to continue collecting orders after their crowdfunding drive has ended. Perhaps more importantly, ShopLocket alsos provide a full-fledged alternative to a Kickstarter or Indiegogo-hosted crowdfunding campaign if a startup was interested in going it alone. Casey said the company “closes the loop” that begins at his hardware accelerator, Highway1, giving startups a complete solution for creation, development and sales of their products.
“I picked them for the passion they have for what they do,” Casey said. “They have a passion for the entrepreneur’s journey and an ability to build an authentic relationship with the community.”
Companies are often interested in building their own hardware Kickstarter projects, Casey told us, but they lack the ability to continuously provide accurate and authentic updates about where products are at in the development cycle, and that’s a huge challenge for these startups. PCH and ShopLocket can use their combined expertise to help on that front, which will hopefully result in stronger, more satisfying crowdunding experiences for the people actually buying the products.
PCH International has recently shone a spotlight on its interest in hardware startups in other ways, too. The company is showing off the first cohort of its new early-stage hardware startup accelerator called Highway1 at a demo day next week in San Francisco. Highway1 offers classes of around 10 startups $ 20,000 in seed capital as well as engineering and design advice in exchange for between 3 and 6 percent of equity, as well as the relationships PCH has made with key suppliers in China. It also provides support for later stage companies through its existing PCH Accelerator program.
Casey outlined some outcomes tied to those efforts made possible by the ShopLocket acquisition, like the ability to create exclusive products for people and the chance to provide membership-based early access to particular products created by its startup partners. Since it already has factories “queuing up” to get a chance to work with it, PCH has big advantages on the supply side for those looking to crowdfund hardware projects, too.
The ShopLocket addition to the team provides yet another advantage PCH can offer its new target market of emerging hardware companies, and might be a considerable value incentive for those startups evaluating the worth of its accelerator help. So while it’s still an acquisition that on the surface seems a little out of left field, there remains a clear logic to what amounts to a shrewd strategic pick-up. PCH has mostly been an under-the-radar friend to tech hardware companies in the past, but it could be on the brink of stepping into the spotlight as a major contributor the gadget startup movement that’s been growing for the past couple of years now.
Apple is rumored to be working on an Apple TV successor, planned for release in the first half of this year according to 9to5Mac. The update would be a set-top box just like its existing model, but with improvements to the new OS and additional content types, the report claims. A separate report out today from iLounge says that Apple will introduce native gaming support to the Apple TV, along with direct support for game controllers, which currently only work via connected iOS devices.
The Apple TV is already a gaming box in that it supports AirPlay streaming of game content from iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad. Developers can build experiences that employ the Apple TV in specific ways, too, so that they can provide multi-screen gaming experience to users, as is the case with the Real Racing series. And new controllers that are supported under Apple’s MFI program and the new Bluetooth game controller API provided with iOS 7 (like the new SteelSeries Stratus which goes on sale today) will work with existing Apple TV devices, likewise through the host iOS device.
iLounge claims knowledge of an update that would add game controller support as well as direct game installation on the Apple TV themselves. 9to5Mac, however, suggests only that Apple is building new hardware to replace the current Apple TV, and suggests that a game or app store is a strong possibility for inclusion. 9to5Mac’s own-sourced rumor reporting has a very high rate of accuracy, for what it’s worth.
Apple’s existing method for getting games on the Apple TV, i.e. using connected devices and iOS software combined with AirPlay, has a number of advantages for the company in terms of promoting platform buy-in and halo purchases, and with the iOS 7 Bluetooth controller support, the combination of the two effectively becomes a home microconsole, so it’s unclear how much the company would have to gain by building support for Bluetooth HID gaming hardware or game software directly into the Apple TV. A hardware refresh that updates things like streaming performance or other core parts of the Apple TV experience makes more sense in the context of these reports.
The current Apple TV last received a significant update in March, 2012, so it’s due for a refresh. Rumors of a dedicated Apple television haven’t borne fruit, and don’t look likely to do so anytime soon, but a refresh of the set-top box as an early 2014 launch makes sense in the overall picture of Apple’s hardware update cycle as a way to keep things fresh, since the company tends to favor fall for major announcements on the iPhone/iPad side of things these days.
When contacted by TechCrunch, Apple declined to comment on these reports.
You get funding, you get funding, everyone gets funding!
The company initially asked for a lofty $ 125,000 to build its uber-smart fitness wearable. As of today, with 17 days left in the campaign, Atlas Wearables has collected north of $ 196,000 on Indiegogo with the vast majority of its pledging ringing in as pre-orders.
Rather than just counting your steps for the day, the Atlas — which was shown off for the first time on stage at our Hardware Battlefield — is capable of determining exactly what exercises you’re doing to give you a better sense of both your fitness level and your form. The creators likened it to creating dots of paint in a 3D space. Then, along with other sorts of tracking, the device learns different exercises.
The company made it to the final round of the inaugural Hardware Battlefield at CES 2014. The judges questioned the device’s ability to track different exercises that were very similar. Apparently the masses on Indiegogo do not share in this concern or rather trust that the company can make good on its word.