Polycom dives into videoconferencing on tablets, Asus unveils a new line of Ultrabooks, Twitter to get "tweet" trademark, and Facebook launches an iPad app -- finally.
Links from Tuesday's episode of Loaded:Facebook for iPad Polycom adds tablet video conferencing Asus "Real Ultrabook" line BlueStacks puts Android apps on Windows Twitter to own "tweet" trademark Subscribe: iTunes (MP3) | iTunes (320x180) | iTunes (HD) | RSS (MP3) | RSS (320x180) | RSS HD
If you're lazy and dig the idea of a robot fetching you beer, the idea of a robot going to the office for you is even better. Anybots, a California robot start-up, is launching its QB telepresent robots this fall, and I recently got to take one for a remote spin.
The idea behind telepresence robots is to give users the ability to project their presence to a remote location through a robot, essentially driving a video conference around and interacting with colleagues in a richer manner than voice or video alone.
For the test drive, I first "robotted in" to the Anybots office in Silicon Valley (how quaint that this verb is still a nonentity on Google). My surrogate was QB12, one of many robots lined up in a hallway there.
The 25 QBs made so far are basically self-balancing Webcams on wheels. Lacking arms and legs, they look like living room lamps on Segways. They weigh about 35 pounds and can travel up to 3.5 miles per hour, fast enough to keep up with someone walking. Their lithium ion batteries can power them for six to eight hours of use.
When a QB is hosting a user, its eyes glow. The Web browser interface (currently Mac only) is very simple--you can see what the robot sees through its panning camera eyes; a smaller window displays a shot of its wheeled base to help steer. Navigation is through arrow keys.
You can also indicate objects (but unfortunately not atomize them) with a class II laser pointer, controlled by mouse. Three built-in microphones focus on the loudest voice they can pick up. A small screen mounted on QB's head will show a video of the remote user if he or she has a Webcam, or simply a photo.
Telepresence felt like a Webcam chat combined with Street View combined with an FPS game, as well as the sensation of riding a unicycle a million miles away. Driving the QB, though, was a very intuitive experience, and the robot's LIDAR obstacle-sensing system prevented it from crashing into people and walls, even when I wanted it to. … Read more
SAN FRANCISCO--Nestled inside the badges that were handed to attendees at Facebook's F8 developer conference here on Wednesday were what looked like little paper dog tags emblazoned with Facebook's logo. These are part of something calls "Facebook Presence," which at this point is little more than a gimmick for the hordes of techies here.
But it calls up the possibility that when Facebook finally makes a concrete move into the hot "geolocation" space, it may look something like this.
Here's how the RFID-enabled "Presence" works. The tokens contains a number, which … Read more
In case you haven't noticed, "green" is big business. One way for HDTV makers to cash in on the public's craving for efficiency is to label a TV "eco-friendly." Sony's KDL-VE5 series does just that, but unlike a lot of so-called green electronics, this TV can actually save power in a new, potentially very effective way. That's because it incorporates a "presence sensor" that can automatically turn the picture off when it detects nobody's watching.
Amazingly, the feature worked pretty well in our tests, and we hope to see … Read more
Dolby has a new surround format: Pro Logic IIz.
Here we go again. Another new format with more speakers, but this time, the "surround" speakers are in the front of the room, three or four feet above the left-and right-main speakers. These height channels are designed to provide a greater sense of envelopment than previous generations of Dolby or DTS surround.
Pro Logic IIz incorporates all of the features and capabilities of Pro Logic IIx.
"Expanding on established Dolby Pro Logic II matrix-decoding innovations, Dolby Pro Logic IIz identifies and decodes spatial cues that occur naturally in all content--stereo and 5.1 broadcast, music CDs, DVDs, 5.1 and 7.1 Blu-ray Discs, and video games," the Dolby site further explains. "Dolby Pro Logic IIz processes low-level, uncorrelated information--such as ambiance and some amorphous effects like rain or wind--and directs it to the front height speakers."
You don't have to buy new, specially encoded discs to experience Pro Logic IIz, but do you really want to buy another pair of speakers, wall-mount them, and run a pair of speaker wires up your wall, to the sides of your TV?
Dolby doesn't require the height speakers to be identical to the main-left or -right speakers. Some Pro Logic IIz systems will use a total of nine speakers (five front, four rear), plus one or more subwoofers.
Onkyo's TX-SR607 ($599 MSRP) is the first receiver to feature Pro Logic IIz; the company will soon offer additional models equipped with the new Dolby processor, to be announced later this year.
Then again, Yamaha's higher-end receivers have had height, aka "Presence," channels for years. Those extra speakers supplement the sound from the front speakers with ambient effects produced by Yamaha's proprietary Cinema DSP, which provides various multichannel configurations up to 11 channels. Obviously, Dolby's Pro Logic IIz uses different technology, though the end result may be similar. … Read more
Matt Webb pointed out in his LIFT presentation today that humans “take pleasure in watching things unfold.” True – even if the events are a quasi-authentic account of something that has already happened.
Coincidentally, the Spanish site Per Soitu reports about a fascinating example of “fake authenticity” and the emerging trend of using Twitter for storytelling. On February 23, 2009, exactly 28 years after about 200 soldiers and paramilitary members of the Spanish Civil Guard toppled remnants of General Franco's dictatorship, a group of Spanish Twitterers revived minute by minute the historical coup d'etat that occurred on February 23, … Read more
I spent last week in San Jose, Calif., at Cisco System's annual analyst event called C-Scape. Since it snowed twice while I was gone, Cisco could have said nothing and it would have been worth the trip, but John Chambers and Co. made sure to fill the two-and-a-half days with loads of content. Unlike past Cisco events, which could have been held in an MIT engineering lab, this one focused on stuff way above Layer 3 in the old OSI stack. Cisco believes it can continue healthy double-digit growth in the future by focusing on:
1. Phat content: Think … Read more
Have you seen Cisco System's TelePresence? If you haven't, you should. TelePresence is a next-generation video-conferencing offering from Cisco and to call TelePresence "technology" minimizes its scope. TelePresence includes television monitors, desks, chairs, and everything you need for connectivity. Once installed, you get a Star Trek-like experience. Cameras react to voices and focus on the person speaking. Television monitors display remote participants across a virtual table as if they were in the same room. Geek heaven!
TelePresence is nothing like any video-conferencing technology I've ever seen or thought about. The first time I heard about … Read more
Anyone who has ever used an instant-messaging program has seen the basic idea of presence. That little status bar that says "available," "away," "out to lunch" or "cursing the Mets" is your presence--the computer's understanding of how and under what means you are available.
Today, that information is stored on the computer, but is mostly acted on by other people. Perhaps you see that someone's status is busy, so you send them an e-mail asking them to call rather than pestering them with an IM. Or, you see that someone … Read more