Growing movement in Silicon Valley aims to get people to log off once in a while.
Stuart Crabb, a director in the executive offices of Facebook, naturally likes to extol the extraordinary benefits of computers and smartphones. But like a growing number of technology leaders, he offers a warning: log off once in a while, and put them down.
In a place where technology is seen as an all-powerful answer, it is increasingly being seen as too powerful, even addictive.
The concern, voiced in conferences and in recent interviews with many top executives of technology companies, is that the lure of constant stimulation — the pervasive demand of pings, rings and updates — is creating a profound physical craving that can hurt productivity and personal interactions.
“If you put a frog in cold water and slowly turn up the heat, it’ll boil to death — it’s a nice analogy,” said Mr. Crabb, who oversees learning and development at Facebook. People “need to notice the effect that time online has on your performance and relationships.”
Scala Inc. today offered five tips for retailers that are looking to get started with digital signage systems to educate consumers about available products and services, cross-promote products and improve the customer experience.
A recent retail sector technology adoption study from CompTIA found that one in three U.S. retailers currently uses digital signage with another 22 percent planning to implement soon. Among the top ways retailers use digital signage are for sales or promotional announcements; photo displays including images of customers using products; and custom videos such as tutorials, advice and customer testimonials.
“A growing number of retailers are adopting digital signage because they see it can help them alter the usual shopping patterns of consumers,” said Marcy Patzer, senior director of retail strategies, Scala. “By enabling this change even for a split second, retailers entice customers to stop their routines and direct their attention to something new. That split second can truly transform consumer shopping activities and buying cycles.”
Scala offers retailers the following five tips as they look to get started with digital signage:
We recently reviewed the Raspberry PI for use a Home Theater PC (HTPC) and found that performance was a little sluggish. In order to improve performance, Raspberry has now released Raspbian, which is a, hard-float optimized version of Debian. One of the main areas of improvement for general use will be web browsing.
For XBMC users, audio stream decoding is significantly improved.
The chart above shows the amount of CPU time required to decode various audio formats in real time on the Raspberry Pi. This is particularly important for XBMC users as all audio streams are decoded in software on the ARM CPU, and high-bitrate audio streams can be troublesome. This data shows a significant performance increase when decoding these formats on Raspbian. Full benchmark results can be found here.
The latest release also brings improvements to the firmware, kernel and applications, and is recommended as the distribution most appropriate for general users. An SD card image of Raspbian is now available for download from http://www.raspbian.org
Most of the talk about OLED today revolves around consumer electronics, but the Korean government wants to make sure Korea leads the way in commercial applications. As such, it has chosen LG to be part of the “Future Flagship Program” and has tasked the company with developing a 60-inch flexible OLED display by 2017. The transparent flexible OLED is planned to be deployed in applications such as a window displaying information at bus stations, aquariums and retail stores.
The program’s primary sponsor, The Ministry of Knowledge Economy, expects to generate $56 billion in exports and create 840,000 jobs through the research and development of transparent and flexible displays.
LG Display said that the project will be able to further widen the technological gap between Korea and the fast-growing economy of China in the display sector.
A few months ago, we reported that Aereo were being sued by several broadcasters. Well, the jury’s out and Aereo has won, for now. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan said she understood how the service provided by the company, Aereo, may be unfair to broadcasters. But she said the law left her no choice but to reject a request by News Corp.'s Fox and other broadcasters to pull the plug on the company.
For $12 a month, subscribers can rent a mini antenna and have its content streamed to their devices over the internet, satisfying the requirement to have an antenna.
Unfortunately, the hearing was the result of a request for a preliminary injunction. A final ruling will follow, no doubt by many appeals. Aereo’s CEO told the judge that extended litigation would “be the end of the company”, so maybe the deep pockets of the broadcasters will win out in the end.
South Korean CJ Group is planning to equip about 200 U.S. movie theaters with equipment that will bring movies into the 4th dimension. Such equipment comprise moving seats, giant fans that simulate wind, strobe lights for lightning and explosions and tiny nozzles that can spray water, mist, bubbles, scents and odors.
CJ Groups 4DPlex already screens about 20 movies per year in international locations. Costing about $2m to equip a 240-seat theater (half of which is funded by the theater owner) means selling 250,000 tickets at an $8 premium to recover the investment for both parties. Director of Cinepolis in Mexico said that their 4DPlex theaters do two to three times the business of conventional theaters.
If the plans come to fruition, it must spell trouble for D-Box Technologies, who have around 100 locations that offer moving seats. With home theaters and media rooms becoming more popular, will this be enough to entice former movie goers back to the big screen?
As a cord cutter myself, I’ve been eagerly awaiting something come to fruition from Canonical’s Ubuntu TV. Previous inquiries have been greeted with a stock response:
“community has been incredible. We are still at a very early stage of development, but it certainly seems to have attracted huge interest which we are only now fully getting on top of.
Right now, we’re focusing on working with hardware and content partners to bring Ubuntu TV to your living room.
If you are interested in updates, the easiest thing to do is join the Ubuntu TV group on Facebook.”
It looks like the wait may be almost over. A new website http://www.doadjustyourset.com/ is now the source of the Ubuntu TV Project Weekly Update. The first week’s post has just gone up. I still don’t think it’ll happen tomorrow, as one of the posts on this week’s update is asking for recommendations on scopes. From the screenshots (or mockups) on the main Ubuntu TV web site it looks like it’s going to be a great product.
With Microsoft looking like they’re abandoning Windows Media Center (a mistake in my opinion), the timing could be just right. Of course the fact that it runs on UNIX is going to make it a non-starter for most (unless they can match Apple’s success with OS X).
StrandVision Digital Signage today announced that it has served more than 5,000,000,000 pages of digital signage content to its customers. The milestone, which was reached on July 5 at 8:33:42 a.m. central time, is the result of an ever-increasing customer base, multiple digital signage feeds across customer sites around the world and an accelerating number of pages and information that its customers are streaming to their respective customers, visitors and employees over their digital signage networks. The signage messages are being displayed via physical digital signage players and displays, employee browser home pages and virtual screens on internal and external Web sites.
“StrandVision Digital Signage continues to grow in importance as a business marketing communications tool for our customers,” commented Mike Strand StrandVision founder and CEO. “Our flexible, cloud-based subscription service allows our customers to create customized digital signage networks that range from a single screen to multi-facility corporate-wide and even international deployments of hundreds of digital signage players. We find that our customers often start with basic systems and then dramatically expand them as they realize the potential. The success is evident in the numbers.”
The Consumer Electronics Association announced the publication of a standard for 3DTVs to render closed-captioning services and another for synchronizing active-shutter 3D glasses via an infrared signal.
The first spec, CEA-708.1, "Digital Television (DTV) Closed Captioning: 3D Extensions," specifies signaling to allow closed captioning to be rendered with stereoscopic 3D program content. The standard allows for a standardized method to set a value for the perceptual depth for closed-captioning text, or a series of values that change over time.
The other -- CEA-2038, "Command-Driven Analog IR-Synchronized Active Eyewear" -- defines a way for controlling "active" 3D glasses worn by viewers using an infrared signal sent by a TV set.
Last summer, I was asked to join a dealer on a customer visit to talk about AV needs. The visit was at the client’s new corporate office, which was a newly renovated space. Upon arriving, I took a good look around and saw that it was a beautiful space. Carpet was already in, paint was on the walls and they were clearly down to just doing touch ups. Two weeks away from occupancy, they now wanted to discuss their AV needs and also to let us know that they had little budget left.
I saw a huge conference room table with sixty gorgeous chairs, covered with plastic to protect it from the touch ups being done. I just had to ask about it:
Me: “New table?”
Client: “Yes, it’s new and selected just for this room. Isn’t it beautiful?”
Me: “Yes, it is indeed beautiful. When did you order this table and how much did it cost you?”
It had been ordered more than 18 months prior and the cost was six figures. The huge conference table was clearly the focal point of the new space, yet the AV systems that would make this table really shine were considered last. In the AV business, this is all too typical. Customers often think about carpet, paint, furniture and window coverings before they even consider AV in their space.
Control4 announces a home automation Starter Kit that enables smart-home control in a single room with the ability to expand to a complete home system. The package enables homeowners to experience the benefits of automation for under $1,000. The Starter Kit includes the new Control4® HC-250 Controller, the brains of the system, plus a Control4® SR-250 remote, which can control all the devices in your entertainment system, plus movies and music, lighting, and more.
The Control4® Starter Kit allows you to easily:
*Get rid of all the remotes on your coffee table. With the Control4 SR-250 remote, you can control everything in your entertainment system: TV, DVD player, receiver - you name it.
*Add lighting control - so that lights will dim when the movie begins or that the outdoor lights automatically go on when the sun goes down.
*Enjoy multi-room audio - distribute music to the patio, the kitchen or both in one seamless, digital music experience.
*Integrate temperature control - adjust the temperature from your couch through your TV or from the office using your mobile device.
*View security video feeds - see who is at the door or arm/disarm the system through the touch of a button.
*Incorporate the benefits of smart locks - secure your home with a touch of a button, even from your bed.
Digital signage and digital menu boards are going mobile with food trucks.
Food trucks are one of the fastest-growing dining trends spreading to cities across the country, with delivery trucks, wagons and even old school buses re-purposed as foodie havens. And some of them are taking digital signage on the road with them to display their menus in a dynamic and fluid fashion, or even to help entertain diners.
Eat at Recess, a San Diego-based food truck founded in September 2011 by entrepreneur Jason Swinford, uses a digital signage display from NEC Display Solutions for both branding, with logos and scannable QR codes, and entertaining, with an Xbox Kinect and Blu-ray player connected to the NEC high-brightness display.
In a recent press release, Sony and Panasonic announced that they would be teaming up to jointly develop a printing method-based OLED technology, which would be suitable for low cost, mass production of large, high resolution OLED panels. Mass production is not expected to commence until 2013.
Hopes for low-cost OLED seem to have been dashed by Kazuhiro Tsuga, the newly appointed president of Panasonic, who said that he does not expect prices of its next generation OLED TV’s to fall to that of LCD models for a considerable time.
LG and Samsung have a significant jump start on the Japanese; however, each is pushing a different OLED technology. Samsung is backing AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode), while LG is betting the farm on WOLED (white OLED).
Panasonic and Sony seem to have gotten over their Betamax vs. VHS war and we’re probably smart to team up, especially on a “printable” OLED due to the lower manufacturing costs, but it does seem that Sony may have made another about-turn after announcing that they were abandoning OLED a few years ago, and then showing CrystalLED at CES. Recently, Sony reported the worst loss in its 66-year corporate history for the business year ended March with red ink of 457 billion yen ($5.7 billion), so sharing R&D costs will help preserve cash and hopefully result in a lower cost product.
Whatever the outcome, the Korea vs. Japan battle will be good for competition, which is pretty crucial given the projected price of $10,000 for a 55-inch OLED later this year.
3D television has still to make major in-roads into the home for television, but the 2012 London Olympics could be the boost that in-home 3D needs. According to NBC, they will provide 242 hours of 3D coverage. Given that 5,535 hours will be recorded that’s only about 5%. I’m not a big 3D fan, but thought it might be interesting to watch the opening ceremony and an event or two in 3D (having never watched 3D sports). I don’t have (nor do I want) 3D at home, so off to Google I went to try and find somewhere in Chicago to watch the Olympics in 3D. Nothing: no movie theaters, no bars. Given movie theaters are resorting to concerts and opera to fill their seats, one might of thought that the Olympics would be a good opportunity to get more revenue. Apparently not. Obviously, the time difference does make it a bit awkward, but I thought I would have found something in one of the biggest cities in the US.
In related news, DirecTV has announced that they are cutting their 3-D channel from 24-hour to part-time due to lack of content. In a similar move AT&T dropped ESPN 3D from their channel offering, stating that it wasn’t cost justified considering the lack of demand.
Manufacturers are always keen to stress that 3D TV’s account for over 10% of all LCD TV sales. To be quite honest, that’s almost as pointless as saying that all TV’s purchases are now color. I’d we willing to wager that the vast majority of those buyers only have 3D because it was a feature on the higher end model they purchased.
Let’s see if 3D takes the Gold or straggles along in last place at the Olympics.
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