This Week in Web: January 4-10, 2016
This week’s noteworthy news from around the web includes tech companies looking to score a touchdown by streaming for the NFL. Twitter and our favorite brands are making it easier for us to advertise for them, because that is what we want to Tweet about? And, you can control your home entertainment from your Apple Watch. Most of this week’s web chatter originated at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where many creative tech gadgets made the news. We highlight just a few, including one that tempts us to get out of bed with the smell of croissants, one that tells us we are eating too much, one that folds our clothes(!), and one that even reminds us to breathe. Also, the screens of the future will roll up like a burrito.
The lack of professional sports streaming prevents many cable and satellite customers from cutting ties with their providers. The NFL is taking steps toward joining the entertainment industry by planning to live stream three NFL games from London next year. According to Reuters, Apple and Google are both bidding on rights to StreamCast the games. Yahoo streamed one game last year, but is apparently not bidding to do it again. The NFL has not indicated whether the games will be a package deal, or divided among bidders. Next year’s Thursday night games, including live-streaming rights, are also up for bid. Partnering with the NFL and streaming professional sports will be a huge score for the victorious tech company as professional sports make their way online.
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Twitter launched “conversational advertising” this week, where brands ask for your input, which in turn helps them spread their campaign message. When you click on a hashtagged multiple choice answer to their poll question, a pre-filled dialogue box with a branded Tweet is provided, which you can then choose to post. You have the option of editing the Tweet before posting, a risky proposition for companies due to the potential for negative commentary from trolls, dissatisfied customers, and jokers. If you do share your input on the brand’s post, the brand will then send an automated “thank you” Tweet that will appear in your timeline. The benefit to brands is clear, but what is the users’ incentive to fill their timelines with ads?
It is much harder to lose the remote in the couch cushions if you are wearing it on your wrist. This week, Peel announced their universal remote control app is now available for Apple Watch. Like their smartphone/tablet app, it can be programmed to control over 400,000 models of televisions, DVD players, and streaming devices. The app must be used in conjunction with Pronto hardware, which uses IR and Bluetooth to connect your phone with your home electronics. The app will provide you with a miniature program guide and personalized suggestions based on your history. You can select what to watch or listen to, as well as adjust volume and turn devices on and off. The app is free on iTunes and the hardware lists at $49.99. I imagine people attempting to stealthily change the channel from their partner’s wrist after the remote-wearer dozes off watching TV.
Tech gadget extravaganza
Here are some of the most newsworthy products presented at the Consumer Electronic Show this week:
- A television that rolls up. LG shared a thin, flexible, 18-inch OLED display screen that can be rolled up like a piece of paper. The technology is still in development stages. “The trick, LG tells [Digital Trends], was figuring out how to deposit its organic light emitting diodes on a plastic substrate rather than glass.” This has already been implemented in some smartphones, but in that case the flexible screen is protected by rigid glass. The future of TVs and laptops just rolled out.
- A rock that reminds us to inhale. Breathing seems like something that we should not need to be reminded to do. But relaxed and mindful users of the Spire stone largely disagree. This wearable gadget that looks like a stone monitors breathing patterns as an indicator of your state of mind. If you have not taken a deep breath in 20 minutes, or your breathing indicates tension, you will be cued to breathe or to engage in a meditation “boost” (provided by the app). If you have had a nice, long period of calmness, you will be congratulated. Spire will also count steps and let you know when you have had a long period of inactivity. These gentle reminders are aimed at helping increase focus, calmness, and productivity. It is waterproof, costs $149, and is available for iOS only.
- A belt that forecasts how much weight we’ll gain. Samsung calls it a Welt: wellness + belt. It looks like a regular dress belt but has well-hidden sensors in the buckle and a mini-USB charging port. The belt counts your steps, monitors your sedentary time, and keeps tabs on your belt tension for signs of overeating. It will even tell you how much weight you will gain this week if you continue to eat like you did today. It is currently a prototype with no price announced, but is expected to come to market later this year [Source].
- An alarm clock that smells like breakfast. Instead of the annoying buzzing and beeping of the typical alarm clock, the Sensorwake “olfactory alarm clock” tries to gently wake you with the delicious aroma of coffee, peppermint, chocolate, croissant, or espresso, or the less delicious smells of the seaside or a jungle. No, there is not a bacon-scented option. The machine uses dry-air diffusion and aroma capsules, each lasting for 30 wake-ups. And if the smell of chocolate only gives you sweet dreams of Willy Wonka, the clock will sound an alarm after 3 minutes of uninterrupted diffusion. It is available for pre-order now at $89, scheduled to ship in June 2016.
- A robot that folds our laundry! I have dreamed of this for this for a very long time. The Laundroid uses image recognition and robotics to fold clothing and stack it on a shelf. It is as big as a fridge and slow, taking 3 to 10 minutes to fold an article of clothing, but there is hope for the future. Japanese company Seven Dreamers says it will completely automate laundry by 2019. I will also need a robot to put away the folded laundry, please.
Share your thoughts with us! Will streaming sports help you cut the cord if you haven’t already? Will you tweet advertisements for your favorite (or least favorite) brands? What was the most innovative or outrageous technology you saw from the Consumer Electronics Show? Would you wear a welt to monitor your waist and a Spire stone to remind you to breathe?