Aereo launched a service that makes over-the-air TV available over the internet back in 2012 resulting in an inevitable lawsuit by big media companies (ABC, Fox, CBS and others) claiming it’s illegally distributing their content. Today, the Supreme Court announced it will hear the case, titled ABC, Inc., v. Aereo, Inc. (docket 13-461). Other than Aereo’s fledgling service, at stake is the ability of broadcasters to charge pay-TV companies for the right to carry their signals. If Aereo wins, there have been indications that cable/satellite services might buy it or build their own version, cutting the broadcasters out of a large sum of cash.
Both sides have pushed for a decision by the Supreme Court, and Aereo just released a statement saying “We remain unwavering in our confidence that Aereo’s technology falls squarely within the law.” Aereo and others like Cablevision have suggested this case is critical for the cloud computing an cloud storage industry, as well as tools like DVRs.
After last year’s shenanigans, we naturally wanted to get ThinkGeek’s Ty Liotta on stage. What better way to help wind down the final day of CES than with a grab bag of weird and wonderful tech toys?
Those little StickNFind Bluetooth stickers are back for another CES, and this time out, they’ve got even grander ambitions than helping your locate your lost keys. Founder Jimmy Buchheim swung by our CES stage this week to show off plans for retail applications. The idea is pretty simple, really: put the company’s Beacon offerings all over your retail location, and you can tell who’s looking at what and for how long. How’s that for targeted marketing? The store can create an app with a map, which will help the shopper locate specific items in the store and, naturally, serve up coupons and such based on tracked shopping habits. The company is showing off a slew of different sized Beacons (as you can see in the palm of my hand above), with ranges up to 0.6 miles and batteries that last as long as nine years.
Bucheim told us that the company is talking with retail partners with regards to rollouts, but wouldn’t spill the beans about who might be interested.
Filed under: Misc
An internet connection is usually the only thing between you and your remotely stored data. Not with IDrive’s new “Safe” service, however, which is a strange mix of traditional archiving and newfangled cloud storage. For a one-off payment of $100, the company’ll send you a physical 1TB hard drive to fill up, collect it from you, and store it indefinitely (with no recurring charge). With 24 hours notice, IDrive will dive into its warehouse, dig out your HDD and let you have at its contents through the magic of the interwebs — higher pricing tiers are also available for individuals or businesses that require more frequent data dumps. We can almost see why some might prefer their very own HDD as opposed to an anonymous server rack, even if both are technically out of reach. Best to keep some treasured family photos backed-up though — that flight isn’t going to wait 24 hours for you to recover your e-ticket.
Apple’s iBeacons have a lot of potential for inclusion in location-based games, according to The Tap Lab CEO Dave Bisceglia, who spoke to Re/Code in an interview. Currently, iOS game developers who want to incorporate location into gameplay are limited to determining location via Apple’s internal GPS system, which is not designed to deliver precise information, especially indoors.
iBeacons, on the other hand, are physical Bluetooth low-energy transmitters that are able to provide micro-location information to nearby apps, with an accuracy range of a few feet. For this reason, iBeacons could be incorporated into a whole new category of games that offer multiplayer interactions and other features at specific real-world locations.
Bisceglia’s company, for example, is behind a location-based game called Tiny Tycoons. In the game, the idea is to travel around the world and claim real-world locations, kind of like a cross between a city building game and Foursquare.
Rule the REAL WORLD! Tiny Tycoons is the first location-based tycoon game on the App Store. Build your fortune, travel the globe and claim your favorite real-world places before someone else does!
RISE TO THE TOP: In Tiny Tycoons, you can be a Celebrity Chef at a 5-Star Restaurant, the Lead Barista at your favorite Café, or a Millionaire CEO with offices around the world. The choice is up to you!
The company is currently testing an internal version of Tiny Tycoons that takes advantage of Apple’s iBeacons, which are used within the game to alert people when they enter a building “owned” by another player. For example, in the video below, Bisceglia enters a Starbucks and gets an iBeacon-based alert from Tiny Tycoons providing the name of the player who owns the location and a prompt to purchase it.
Bluetooth LE, which iBeacon is based on, is also a promising technology for upcoming games. Pkpkt, a game released in mid-December, utilizes Bluetooth LE to let users steal virtual currency from one another in real life, in a futuristic game of tag. Knock, an app released in November, also uses Bluetooth LE in a unique way, allowing the iPhone to unlock a Mac. While iBeacon technology is promising for location-based gaming, Bluetooth LE itself could result in a whole new crop of interactive, multiplayer games and apps.
Nintendo’s handheld 3DS gaming device uses a wireless-based system that is somewhat similar to iBeacons to allow two devices to communicate with one another. It also utilizes hotspots around the world to deliver game information, and iBeacons could work similarly, albeit more simply as they would not require a user to connect to Wi-Fi.
First introduced during the 2013 Worldwide Developers Conference, iBeacons allow iPhones and iPads to wirelessly communicate with physical beacons via Bluetooth LE, with the beacons able to deliver specific information to apps when a user is nearby.
iBeacon technology gained some popularity towards the end of 2013 and has been utilized in multiple unique ways. For example, Shopkick and Macy’s teamed up to deliver location-based notices when customers passed by products, and Apple has implemented iBeacons in its retail stores to provide product information to browsing customers. A cafe has used iBeacons to deliver free publications, MLB plans to integrate them into stadiums, and most recently, an iBeacon scavenger hunt was held at CES.
Who better to wrap up the big stories and trends with than Gary Shapiro? The CEA’s president/CEO will be joining us on-stage to discuss the week that was.
Brian Heater and crew take to a champagne-soaked stage following the Best of CES 2014 awards presentation to run through the winners and exchange witty banter about the world of CES this year. Terrence recounts his head bashing experience earlier in the day, Christopher Trout sends out an invitiation to drinks back at his and Michael Gorman expounds on the return of webOS. Join us for a surprisingly down-to-earth and informative episode — with short bursts of mayhem — of the Engadget Podcast, conveniently located at the streaming links below.
Host: Brian Heater
Producer: Jon Turi
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Filed under: Podcasts
Two of the biggest stories at CES 2014 involve gaming, and neither involves the big three entrenched console makers (Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo). Oculus VR’s latest prototype, dubbed “Crystal Cove,” and Valve’s Steam Machines initiative are overshadowing even Sony’s big PlayStation Now news, to say nothing of curved displays and wearable whatevers. Despite that overshadowing, Xbox Chief Product Officer Marc Whitten isn’t too worried about either — in fact, he’s really excited about both and what they mean for the larger game industry he loves.
“This is literally the most golden of golden ages that I’ve ever seen around gaming,” Whitten told us in an interview this week at CES 2014. “I think this is what makes gaming great. And you love seeing the passion of seeing someone like Palmer [Luckey] and those guys at Oculus. And seeing someone like John Carmack get on and really be focused on it is great. I don’t know how it could be anything but good.” He didn’t say whether or not dev kits are with Microsoft, but he’s used the headset and likes what he’s seen.
Moreover, he isn’t worried about it cannibalizing Xbox One sales. “It’s just gonna increase the surface area, and I think that’s an incredible thing,” Whitten said. Valve’s Steam Machines initiative is another story.
First things first, we had to know if Whitten had a response to Valve head Gabe Newell’s jab at Xbox One’s 3 million sales number. (Spoilers: he didn’t.) “The last thing I’ll ever do in my entire life is get into a flame war with Gabe Newell. There’s no win in that,” Whitten laughingly told us. Jokes aside, he’s skeptical of the Valve initiative. “I personally don’t know how to think about Steam Machines yet,” he said. “I’m not knocking it or whatever. I continue to think that PC gaming — the sort of uber configuration and I can change everything and I can mod — that’s an important thing and there’s a lot of people that wanna do that.”
Specifically, we wanted to know if he sees the initiative as competition for both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Frankly, he doesn’t. “When you get into that living room environment, you don’t want to spend any of your brain cells doing anything but being entertained. I don’t want to work on it; I don’t want to feel like I have to know how it works. I would like to be blowing things up now, or watching a thing now. That’s the fundamental thing that you want to do,” he said. “I think there’s space for both. I’m not sweating it.”
So far, we agree with Whitten’s assessment. The living room experience on a game console like Xbox One or PlayStation 4 remains vastly superior to that of even Steam’s long-running Big Picture Mode (intended for living rooms). In 2014, Valve’s SteamOS and Machines initiative still needs to prove competitive with the new game consoles. With the competition stiffer than ever, we can’t wait to see what everyone has in store. As Whitten said, all of this is nothing but good for gamers.
While Miracast wireless display mode is now available on many Android devices, it is both loved and loathed — loved by those who want just wireless screen mirroring, and loathed by those who want to keep doing other things on the smaller screen. If you belong to the latter group, then MediaTek’s got your back. At CES, the Taiwanese chip designer showed off its solution that lets you beam video content to a Miracast-enabled display, without having to give up your mobile display for your other tasks — be it internet browsing, e-mailing or even gaming. See for yourself in our video after the break.
A company rep told us that in order to take advantage of this solution, app developers will need to use MediaTek’s upcoming API to enable this feature. There’s no word on when consumers will get to use this at home, but given that MediaTek’s shipped over 200 million smartphone processors last year, we’re pretty sure that developers will want a share of this piping hot pie.
When it comes to unique passcodes, it doesn’t get much more secure that an eye scan. Thanks to EyeLock’s Myris, you’ll be able to create super complex passwords that you won’t have to remember — using a USB-powered add-on to authenticate your identity instead. Myris is about the size of a makeup compact and is cloaked in a blue cloth exterior. On the backside, there’s the camera that’s lined with a light ring, changing color to indicate where you are in the scanning process. It starts light blue, then changes to dark blue at the start before finally showing green when it’s complete. Once connected to the aforementioned port on your laptop or PC, the device takes a scan of your eyes to set up its defenses with the help of a companion app. That capture takes about 15 seconds while moving the camera toward the eyes from arm’s length and then backing it away. In the process, Myris snaps a whole library of images before converting them to a video-based template unique to up to five users. The software allows the setup of those insane passwords and manages profiles in order to complete the configuration.
When using the gadget to unlock the item of choice, Myris completes its scan in less than a second. There is a bit of a learning curve in terms of how to best hold the device so it can do its thing, but we were able to get the hang of it after a couple of tries. Instead of happening on the computer it’s tethered to, authentication happens on the device in a specific sequence of events. The company says this will keep identities secure in the event of theft or loss. In terms of security, the peripheral supports AES 256-bit encryption while working with Windows, Mac OS X and Chrome OS to lock down things like email, online banking, internet VPNs, workstations and more. Myris is set to arrive sometime this spring and we’re told that the price tag will be under $300. What’s more, the future implications for cramming this security into laptops and desktop machines may make the most compelling case for EyeLock’s tech. For now, jump past the break for a quick demo of how it works.