March 08, 2017
Gratitude & Remembering America's Core Values Will Set Us Free
Given how much travel writing I do these days, I rarely post anymore over here which is where it all began. Two of my former blogs became Down the Avenue when I started publishing to the web, now more than 15 years ago. Truth be told, Down the Avenue is like an old friend. When the blog editor opens and I see it's old familiar interface, it's like going into an old coffee bar you used to frequent in your home town.
The difference is, that instead of opening up an old fashioned notebook in that same coffee bar and putting pen to paper like I did for many years across many continents, I type in a window and all of my personal ramblings come out, word for word. And, instead of those ramblings getting buried under a bed or in an attic somewhere that may someday be seen by a select few, the words get published for the world to see in a matter of hours, and often minutes.
When I'm in a reflective mood or simply need to make sense of something, I turn to my favorite cafe (this longstanding personal blog) and it all comes out. Once it's out there in black and white, it's so much easier to see that our lives and the world is far from black and white.
After the election, I like so many Americans were stunned with the outcome. While my intuition told me that Trump would win months before it became reality, a voice deep inside me wished this nation of immigrants would see through his sad but brilliantly navigated narcissist roadshow.
The truth is that racism and fear of others not quite like us, has always been front and center, especially for the white man. I grew up in that world. While I may not have been surrounded by Conferderate born conservatives, I was surrounded by people who told me to stay away from the other side of the tracks, you know, where poor black people lived because, well....it wasn't safe. My thinking as a child was that if it wasn't safe, why don't we invite them over to our side of the tracks where it was safe. Seems logical doesn't it? At least in a child's mind, who hasn't learned about fear and hate yet, it is.
I started traveling because I craved diversity which my small home town in upstate New York had very little of. I wanted to know how others thought and lived and ate and slept and walked. My grandfather was a conservative and while he had his own prejudices that he often shared about the Poles, Italians, Czechs, Dutch, Germans, Jews and others who lived among us, it was often with humor.
That said, underlying tones would remain, enough for me to want to see their worlds first hand. That same grandfather voted for Reagan and sent my uncle to New York Military Academy, the same school Trump went to and during the very same years. Founded in 1889, this private school,which we visited on more than one occasion years later, is spread across 120 acres in rural Cornwall. I think it was perhaps therapeutic for my grandmother or somehow confirmed their decision that sending him there was the 'right' decision to ensure he was on the 'right' path. I was sent to private catholic school by the very same grandparents for the very same reason.
You see, there was so much fear that we'd end up on the wrong side of the tracks if we didn't have discipline in our lives and military and catholic institutions are designed to bring you just that. For me, discipline is internal, not external as defined by an institution, school or political ideology. When we stray from our own voice, our own knowing, our own intuition, our own understanding, we can get in trouble.
Forgive the musings, but the reason I bring up this story is because it has to do with divide, something which plagues our world right now.
You see he believed in the rags to riches America, that this country was the place that his granddaughter as a woman could most succeed. When I used to talk about living in Europe, he said "if you want to be astronaut one day, you can in America, you can't achieve dreams like that in Europe. Even though there haven't been any women presidents, why couldn't you be the first?" As hard and difficult as he was at times, he used to say things like that to me all the time -- anything was possible. This was rare for the male generation of his time and while he expected me to set the table and help my mother clean the dishes after supper, he never expected me to only consider teaching or motherhood because that's what women did.
I guess my mother knew that too since I never gave birth to a child, I've supported more than one man and have worked my ass off since I was 14, starting with washing dishes for Italian-run restaurateurs who never stopped screaming at each other. When you're raised by a man who runs their own business, you learn to have an entrepreneurial spirit. From as long as I can remember, I've made my own source of income.
To make a living, I've mowed lawns, raked leaves, shoveled snow, wheel barreled sand, sold chocolate, cosmetics, and books door-to-door, worked in rural fields, sold art in Holland, picked greengages, grapes and oranges, patched and sewed in foam and glue factories, washed dishes, milked cows in Israel, managed restaurants, taught English in Kenya, bused tables in Belgium, waited on tables and tended bar on five continents and 8 countries, photographed events, performed plate smashing and dance ceremonies in Greece, sold ice cream in Australia, played piano in England, co-led swing dance classes, created direct marketing and advertising campaigns, written articles, authored photo books, led communications and marketing teams, run departments at a software and hardware company, given presentations and speeches, managed accounts and clients at PR agencies, launched start-ups, run my own communications consultancy, drafted creative briefs and written strategic plans.
Whoah Nellie - are you tired yet? I am and that's the point.
When people are surprised that anyone with a brain voted for Trump, I'm not. I know this other America because I grew up in it and around it. My America was one where you could buy a house and afford to send your child to college. It was doable for the working class family and even easier for a middle class one. It's 68 years since my grandfather paid $4K for our corner house, the one that would become my childhood home. They made sacrifice after sacrifice to make sure I had a better life (after all, that's what most parents do) and yet I still can't afford to buy a home in THIS America.
While I may live in one of the most expensive cities in the country and a former Google employee apparently paid $2 million in cash for a tear down house on my street, I realize that San Francisco and the Bay Area isn't reality. I get that. What is reality is that while house prices may not be $2 million in Phoenix or Seattle or Denver or Dallas, they're still far beyond what the average American can afford today. College is through the roof and our weekly grocery bill is absurd.
My monthly rent would make anyone with an above average salary bowl over, my health insurance payments even with a high deductible are nearly $700 a month (that's nearly $9K a year) and they just went up again and I have no health issues. I'm told that because I'm over 40, they'll go up even more with Trump's proposed healthcare plan, which quite frankly simply isn't doable. I can't work enough hours in a day to sustain these growing costs and so savings get depleted every year.
I think to myself often: it's not as if I haven't proved that I can do whatever it takes to make a living and am humble enough to go there. But...I'm tired. Most people are. And, this my friends, is why American born citizens are angry. It's not just white laborers and manufacturing plant workers who are wondering how to survive but 90% of the country. Will there even be a retirement fund? The Silicon Valley bubble I live in don't understand this 'other world' and that's why they were shocked when Trump won the election and I wasn't.
There's too much pain out there. While we were all immigrants once upon a time making a living on this great land, many of us expected (or at least hoped) we'd be better off 30 years later rather than struggling more than ever to pay bills, college loans and a mortgage. We all have our own stories of how we struggle and why we're tired even with a great education, skills and oodles of rich tried-and-true experience.
This tired group voted for Trump.
While I may feel some of their same pains, I couldn't conceive going there, because I don't believe in divided nations, divided communities, divided families, the result of a fear based approach to governing. After every decision and tweet, there seems to be more racist rallies, marches and incidents. Why? Because these decisions and words violate how we feel as unique individuals who make up the United States of America: Asians, Jews, women, blacks, Muslims, Mexicans, Italians, the list goes on. Conde Naste so elegantly wrote in a piece about the executive order on immigration which has turned into a Muslim ban, many of whom see as a religious war: "Above all of it loomed the spirit of the order itself, a sharp and cynical act from the highest office of this nation that, in spite of its many stumbles, has stood more than any other in modern history for refuge, for openness, for fairness and opportunity."
As a born marketer and brand expert, I saw it coming -- Trump is a brilliant rally chief. Making America great isn't about turning back the hands of time, nor is it to create a mantra that suggests we aren't great as a nation today. Let's face it, we are at a crossroads and the decisions we make during this very pivotal time will determine whether we continue to lead the free world -- or not.
NPR's Robert Siegel interviewed Yale historian Timothy Snyder this week, who is known for his sprawling books about war, genocide and the descent into dictatorship in mid-20th century Europe. His latest book "On Tyranny" addresses the concern about the rise of Donald Trump, and his lessons range from establishing a private life and listening to dangerous words to being weary of paramilitaries.
Says Snyder in his interview:
"The president has never given any indication that he understands or respects the rule of law and the things that the presidents have done so far. And this speaks directly, I think, to the central threat, suggests that he is deliberately spreading a world of unreality. And this is exactly why we have to understand history, because where fascism, to use your word, begins is with the neglect or the repudiation of the real world. Fascism says what you and I experience as facts or what reporters experience as facts are irrelevant. All that matters are impressions and emotions and myths.
And so when the president and his aides set out to create a world of alternative factuality, that is the catalyst which helps us slide from one system to another."
As alarming as that sounds, it's what many people feel is happening to our democracy (we do live in one right?) yet can't quite put the same words to it. They're feeling a loss of control. A loss of fundamental freedoms.
Why these new orders are impacting so many Americans, including third generation white ones, is because it feels like a betrayal of our nation's history, principles, laws, and customs. And, as Conde Naste also writes: "a betrayal of her spirit and aspirations."
Since the beginning, America's attractive power enticed millions of immigrants to leave the comforts and security of their homelands for the promise of hope, opportunity, and a liberty the world had never known. They also unleashed an entrepreneurial spirit that created unparalleled prosperity and spawned the greatest generosity ever exhibited by a country.
Several years ago, I wrote a book review on Rescue America, which devours why we're flailing and how we can return to an America we can be proud of again. They make countless references to American history, the Constitution, the principles behind freedom and what it means to be "free."
They take a deeper look at the Declaration of Independence, why it was created and what our forefathers wanted for Americans as a result. Equality and improving the human condition was a large part of what the "greats" who ran this country wanted; they also wanted a unified America.
"The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition...is so powerful a principle...(it is) capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity...(and) surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions." - Adam Smith
Thomas Jefferson didn't really propose an ideal on equality, but rather recognized and acknowledged an equality that already existed. What Jefferson meant by the Pursuit of Happiness and a "free" America was the inalienable right of the pursuit of happiness that one is free to become the best self that one is capable of becoming.
I love this as much as I love the benefits that Abraham Lincoln envisioned for Americans: the capacity and the freedom to choose, by the quality of one's decisions and by the inherent value and ownership of the fruit of one's labors.
"The man who labored for another last year, this year labors for himself, and next year, he will hire others to work for him." -- Abraham Lincoln
As a nation, we have achieved astonishing wealth -- if you combined the wealth of the Greek, Roman, Chinese and English empires, the wealth generated in America over the recent century would supersede them. And yet as free and democratic as our virtues are, most of us are struggling in today's America.
It's clear from the recent chain of events, we've lost a lot of important things along the way, the concept of gratitude being a big one and that attitude needs to come from the top so it can trickle down. The way out of this mess of course is action from the bottom -- continuing to exude gratitude regardless of how tough it gets, fighting for our freedoms and personal voices, ensuring that we always have a free press, not a constrained one and a healthier and happier life for all, not just the wealthy white.
Those who voted for a different America didn't think of the consequences of a leadership that uses fear to increase their power rather than service to lead with integrity. Diversity is after all, our biggest strength and guidance from the top matters a lot. Our children ARE watching and that's the point -- this generation is learning about what kind of leadership is acceptable for the most powerful leader in the western world.
"The direction in which education starts a man, will
determine his future in life." -- Plato
The mentors we meet along the way and the guidance we get determines our direction even more than education. It also determines our resilience and our ability to take one more step amidst negative set backs.
This is why voting for someone with a moral compass matters more than the laws they implement. As a nation, this guidance is what makes up our core ethics, values, the way we treat others and the way we look at the world.
What happens when the principles that gave you all you possess eventually lead to distracting and damaging habits and attitudes that take you away from those principles and lead to the wasting away of prosperity?
Do you abandon those principles, or do you recommit to them through honor, discipline and commitment? Isn't it time that as a nation we unite more than ever and work on restoring and recommitting to America's core values before its too late?
"Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves
neither liberty nor security." Benjamin Franklin
Photo credit: New Ten Commandments Website
Entitlement stands at polar odds with personal responsibility and gratitude. When we come from a place of gratitude, it's astonishing what's possible in our lives and how it flows to others around us. Everyone benefits. Gratitude is critical to restoring our spirit and our values, individually and collectively as a nation.
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." John F. Kennedy
The best thing we can do is to sit in another man or woman's shoes as often as possible. By demonstration, we show that we embrace all Americans, not just those who look, dress, act and worship like us. These acts will not only squash the hate and fear-based rhetoric that suggest that all Muslims are dangerous, all blacks carry guns, and all Mexicans are drug dealers, but it will set our hearts free as humans. From this place and as united citizens, we will only vote for and hire candidates who will truly serve this nation, not destroy it. Remember it's not just the economy that is flailing, but our spirits too, which is a far cry from what it means to be American. When our spirits crumble and shatter, our nation's spirits will too. And this my friends, is far more dangerous.
In Honor of International Women's Day
Today is International Women's Day and there's no greater woman in my life than one who isn't alive anymore. Here's a toast today to my grandmother, a resilient yet loving woman who was born in 1916, the magical spirit who raised me. She was physically by my side until she died of cancer when I was 16, and has emotionally been by my side ever since.
Many years ago, an entrepreneurial friend of mine who also an author of technology and other business books sat me down to do a 'reading.' Mystical by nature, he is one of the few people I know who plays in both the science and spiritual realms, embracing them both equally and with ease. It was an aura reading and during my session, he saw a warm yellow glow around me, an angel of sorts he said, and as he described it, I knew it was same warm yellow as the shutters on my childhood home in upstate New York. This aura was a protector of sorts, he said, something I have always felt throughout my life.
You've likely heard the phrase 'he/she marches to the beat of a different drum.' There's always one family member who does just that and they are often referred to as the black sheep, the one who strayed from what the rest of the family considers 'normal.' It is often the different drum folks who appear to have no discipline externally, but inside, discipline drives them. It takes courage to take the internal road again and again.
"Just Trust Yourself & You Will Know How to Live." - Johann Wolfgang von Goet
She lived her life to powerful and passionate drum and raised me to live my life that way too. I think about that different beat often these days as our country cries in so much divisive pain. I recall a precious moment in the back patio of our wood paneled den, an add-on to the original house, and one my grandfather built by hand. I was cuddled up with a stuffed animal and one of those hand-knitted afghans that she had knitted as it was a cold winter's night. She said she planned to always be there to protect me -- her voice is as clear today as it was 40 years ago.
With my wide blue child eyes, I looked up at her and asked why I needed protection. With sadness in her voice, she said. "Because you will choose a more difficult path and I won't be there to help you. And, because you're a woman in a man's world." As children, we never think our guardians will disappear, leave or die because it's not in our realm of possibilities yet. I remember thinking: well I'll protect you too forever and ever, as small children do. There's always a forever and ever.
It took me many years to understand the man's world piece and how prolific it is, largely because I have always ignored traditional rules. They have a way of catching up on you however because reality is reality and as a woman, you'll eventually hit a stone wall you'll need to overcome in which case you need to make a decision: how do I want to cross over?
Mom always said to take the high ride and so I always have. There are times when we need to make tough decisions and be harsher than our nature, in order to stand up for ourselves and for what is right. That often comes at a price and as women, we often weigh the price. If we are protecting our children and a way of life for them, we may temporarily make that sacrifice out of love. And, sometimes we need to stand up and say No More, Enough. And, sometimes we need to bond together with other women to support what they're going through when you know they've been dealt a bad card and only by unifying can we overcome.
I applaud International Women's Day for being there as a day we can celebrate each other. I, like many women around the world, marched on January 21 (I even shot some video on the day), wrote about the proposed cuts on Planned Parenthood, and go out of my way to make sure no little girl suffers from poor self esteem. As a woman who went through Anorexia in my teens, it kills me when I see girls who feel unworthy and make unhealthy decisions because of it. We should embrace individuality, regardless of how we and the girls and women around us want (and need) to shine.
My grandmother and other powerful women in my life served as mentors and guides and in some cases, angels. Their faith in me gave me faith in a universe that will always provide what we need, when we need it....when we have faith in ourselves. Without family support and my dearest friends being far from my own back yard, I rely on that belief system which starts with gratitude and a sense of purpose.
Deep down, we all know our purpose and must live our lives beating to that purposeful drum, regardless of what that path and calling happens to be. Our inner voice guides us to that path and it's merely up to us to listen and follow that voice for true magic to happen. More often than not, I've been a solo journey since 16, and my grandmother's spirit has been with me, reminding me to take the high road, have dignity, honor, integrity and grace when ugliness gets in the way, whether that be in my personal life or business one. And along that high road, sometimes we need to make wrongs right and have the strength and courage to do the right thing, so that other women around us and who are not yet born, never deal with the same issues.
"Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History." Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
My grandfather played a role in that too. When I was a teenager and about to embark on a year abroad to South Africa on a scholarship within days, I had just ended playing a piece on the piano that my grandfather loved. He came up behind me sitting on that mahogany wooden piano stool and put his hands on my shoulders, a rare move for this disciplined and often hard man born into a 1916 world. "Whatever happens, I want you to know that I'm leaving you the house and everything in it when I die." Where did that come from I thought? It was so out of the blue. "Your mother made me promise that I would do this before she died and I'm going to honor it. There will be will anger towards you, not from your father but from your uncles but there is nothing I can do about that after I'm gone. They won't understand." Then he repeated: "I promised your mother and I agree with her: this is the right decision."
I guess it had something to do with both of them wanting to protect me. The truth is that the money I got from that corner house in small town America barely scratched the surface. Living in Silicon Valley, it didn't even cover two years of rent after taxes but in her own way, it was an effort to make sure I was taken care of as the only girl in the family. And sadly, my grandfather was right. My favorite uncle whose knee I bounced on as a child, who I devoured oysters and drank wine with as an adult and who I understood the most, never talked to me again.
This has very little to do with me being a woman as it does family dynamics and the fact that situations like this after a death are not uncommon. It saddens me in this world of growing divide under the current leadership however, that we don't pay more attention to what connects us rather than excuses to break important bonds, whether they be family ones or personal ones.
We have to remember that our view of how life should be and how people live their lives, is one microscopic view, such a small lens of which to see the world around us. And, as women, I feel the need to think beyond again and again, is even more critical. Putting ourselves in someone else's shoes (when it's a man's shoes, think about how he was conditioned - this is key), gives us the strength to break through barriers.
Women, at least the ones in my circles around the globe, have exceptional nurturing spirits. The feminine energy is known for this and now more than ever, we need to cherish it and share it with everyone around us. And, we need to do whatever we can to not just give girls and women the ability to shine, but to thrive and make their own choices about their bodies and their lives. Here's to the incredible women still living in my life whose heart and spirits touch me every day.
January 14, 2017
Proposed Cut of Planned Parenthood Funding by New Administration
As I listened to the discussion over the new Administration’s (can’t even say his name) proposed $250 million cut of Planned Parenthood on NPR this week, I thought "is this a throw-back Thursday joke of some kind?
This de-funding proposal, as all listeners of the latest developments know, is for standard women’s reproductive health services since federal funding doesn’t fund PP abortion. As someone who has lived in Africa twice and helped to bring on TEDx speakers to address the importance of birth control and empowering women in Africa and other developing regions of the world, I find it astounding that in the supposedly most developed country in the world, we’re having this conversation in 2017. Apparently most Americans still support Roe v. Wade (most recent numbers from Pew Research say 69%) and we've come so far with women's equality and rights or have we?
I was raised by my grandparents which means that my conditioning came from people born in 1915. Think about it. When I went on the pill for the first time after returning to the U.S. from living abroad, it came from Planned Parenthood – I wasn’t in an at risk category but felt safe going there when there were few people I could talk to about birth control. The grandmother who raised me died when I was 16 and I wasn’t about to turn to my grandfather. Yet, an interesting thing happened after I finally disclosed it to him. He said, “smart move – I’m glad you took the initiative, especially without your mother here to guide you.” Then we started talking.
He told me about a hospital scene when my grandmother was giving birth to my dad and the doctor asked him if there were any issues, what his decision was: to save my grandmother or the baby? I asked him with my wide open 21 year old eyes, “What did you say?” “Of course, I told him to save your mother. What kind of question is that?” as if I was a fool for not knowing the answer. My eyes watered up. Pro-lifers will likely say that the baby’s life is equal to the mother’s and sure, it is – after all, in an ethical argument, all lives are equal. After all, if there were labor issues in this scenario, I wouldn’t be here to write this heartfelt stream of consciousness or whatever it is turning into. Moments after his response, it occurred to me that the doctor asked my grandfather to make that decision. “Didn’t mom have the right to make that call herself?” I asked him. “No,” he responded. “It was the man’s decision.”
My grandfather was about as Republican as it gets, conservative about a lot of things and born in 1915, was an adult during times like this and yet he was pro-choice. Here we are having this conversation over a hundred years later as to WHY any government has a right to decide for a woman about her reproductive health? To decide for or in any way, impact a woman’s constitutional rights? Oh United States of America in all of your intellectual, financial, military and world power glory, haven’t you become smarter? Don't you know that women and diversity are the pulse of this powerful land?
How and where did this country get so lost? To a place of putting other desires above honor, truth and dignity. We have charted into a new world and definition of what it means to be an American or at a minimum, what American will now project to and come to be defined by the rest of the world.
Let’s not be so complacent or remotely okay with a new status quo, one which has begun to suggest that a man or woman’s honor, word, integrity, or conduct means nothing. How do we explain that words, conduct, and honor are not fundamental to America's ideology to our children who are watching and listening every single day? Words can’t describe how I feel as a woman listening to what is happening to this country and knowing what is yet to come in the next four years. The PP cut is just the beginning of many decisions that will take us far far back in time.
Meryl Streep summed it up in 5 powerful sentences in a response to the President’s Elect’s distasteful mocking of a reporter’s disability: “It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, I still can’t get it out of my head, because it wasn’t in a move. It was real life. It was the moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. This instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life. Because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing”.
Lifestyle, Technology, Home & Health: My Top Picks from CES 2017Let's face it --- the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which is held every year in Las Vegas, can be a dizzying experience. I've been going for about 25 years, almost always repping a product and sometimes more than one, from kids education software and the world's best speech recognition system in my younger days to a myriad of startup innovations ever since. I tend to find the product recaps predominantly male; in other words, most of the top picks tend to center around early adopter products and they tend to fall in the following categories: video, cars, audio, and big screen TV's. While these categories impact all of us, especially car technology, I tend to look at unique designs, products and services which also appeal to women and solutions that help travelers on the road, either be more productive, or have more fun. I've curated a list of 25 products in several categories and some of the factors that I looked at when making the cut include originality, innovation, design, and whether it is or can look at the bigger picture and solve a need beyond what it is doing today. I include wellness, because that matters to me a lot, so much so that we've expanded the Wellness category. In this piece, you'll find the following: Toyota's futuristic car that thinks for you, the easiest to learn electronic guitar you'll ever use, a smart suitcase cover, a smart bed, a personal connected wine bar, a companion robot, the world's smartest air purifier, a fashionable wrist wearable that pairs with headphones, vibrating jeans and swim suits that alert you when to apply more sunscreen, a stylish panoramic camera with 17 lenses, smart dumbbells, a smart skateboard, the world's first electric violin made from a 3D printer, a genetic measuring kit, a smart assistant, a Titanium folding bike, a wireless speaker with a wool covering to integrate with your living room, a wireless antenna so you can cut those ties to Comcast and others, intelligent thermal clothing, a device that helps women increase their readiness and interest in sex, an AI-based smart home hub, a voice operated kitchen assistant, a pocket flying camera that all travelers will love and smart aromatherapy to improve your well-being. I also shot some video of this year's CES, which runs around five minutes but it includes product shots and some on-site experiences, so be sure to tune in.
The Toyota Concept-iCars are always fun to see at CES since it allows you to get away from large TV screens, audio and video devices, and in this year's case, Virtual Reality and Connected Home promised life changing innovations everywhere. The new Toyota Concept-i is focused on utilitarian autonomous transport. This car is so futuristic looking that it may be hard to imagine driving, at least if you're a woman that is. It has scissor doors and edgy styling and while it's not available to purchase just yet, it is setting the bar for other manufacturers to meet in this category. Calty Design Research center have dreamed up a new concept of automotive UX for Toyota -- intelligent cars that continually learn, and, in turn, keep getting smarter. They idea was to build a brilliant car that gets to know you and your needs, and then starts to anticipate them for you. Yui, in tandem with Artificial Intelligence (AI), anticipates your needs and informs the car so that Concept-i can consider and execute that next action accordingly.
It may sound all too futuristic, right? The key is that you're still in charge of the car however, through biometric sensors throughout the car, Concept-i can detect what you're feeling. That information then gets analyzed by the car's AI after which, automated features kick in. If you're feeling sad, the AI will analyze your emotion, make a recommendation and if necessary, take over and drive you safely to your destination. Yes, really! One of these days, it would be great to test drive this sleek device -- in the meantime, she's beautiful to look at for those into modern and future design.
D-Vine Connect, Your Personal Connected Wine BarAt the Sands in Eureka Park, it seemed as if French startups were dominating the aisles. You couldn't turn around and not hear a French accent or French being spoke. Enter French start-up who apparently launched at last CES but came back with more innovation. Keurig for wine on steroids and beyond? Sort of. Their D-Vine Connect is a 10-Vins’ wine-centric appliance, which allows you to taste a whole lotta wine at home without having to head to a restaurant or a vineyard. Given that we're big foodies here at We Blog the World and have a whole section dedicated to Food/Wine and Restaurant Reviews, we love this innovation. Their product features an interactive built-in touchscreen, which allows you to get top notch information instantly, kinda like having your own sommelier in your own kitchen. Imagine having wine transform into even better wine immediately. In other words, it actually changes the QUALITY of the wine. Additionally, D-Vine Connect helps you pair wine as well. For example, say you'd like to grill a steak with a salad and string beans for dinner. Or alternatively, you're in the mood for a smooth Cabernet Sauvignon or a Chardonnay -- D-Vine Connect will deliver suggestions on dishes, food pairings and so on that will go best with your preferred wine for the evening. This can be incredibly useful when you have guests over or simply don't want to think about it. Given my background in Artificial Intelligence (AI), I was impressed by the AI integration. Yes, this machine learns your tastes over time, so it can even make recommendations to you in the future based on your preferences. Simple, easy and oh so wonderful for wine lovers like me. Bravo! We liked the user interface as well, which makes it easy for anyone to browse through a myriad of wines and learn in the process. It's great for discovery and for making meals that much better. We also love the fact that the D-Vine Connect sets the right temperature for each chosen wine. The machine decants it for you from a dispenser after you make a selection and approve, automatically. Their assistant plays movies with views of the vineyards and explanations from 10-Vins’ oenologist about the wine you’re tasting -- how cool is that? Apparently, it will also analyze data on wine consumption and share it with the wine industry. The D-Vine will be shipping later this year and apparently is planning to open a wine lounge bar in California before the end of the year - we hope that they let us know when they launch this so we can check it out.
Sleep Number 360 BedWhile we're talking lifestyle and home, we should also mention the Sleep Number 360 Bed, which was getting a bit of attention at the show. Imagine being tired after a long day and you're ready to head to bed, but before you do, the Sleep Number 360 automates a process that will keep you toasty warm before you dive under the sheets. Yes, really. The bed will heat up the foot of the bed, which is such a great feature for those who live in cold climates -- oh so lovely right? Photo: BusinessInsider What else is cool is that the bed also adjusts the actual angle as well as the firmness of the mattress as the user moves in his or her sleep, making it a more comfortable and relaxing sleep overall. For example, if you move from your back to your side, it will adjust accordingly. And, this feature will be a godsend for so many -- et hem, but can it work? I call it the Reduce Snoring Feature. In other words, if it senses you or your partner snoring, it will automatically adjust one of the individual headrests to make it stop. Wow, right? Could potentially save a lot of marriages. The bed also has a feature that will alert you to wake up, adjusting your alarm to your own preferences. The Sleep Number 360 smart bed uses SleepIQ technology and intelligent biometrics to sense everything you need so it can customize a sleep experience for you. Yup, the bed is kinda like a smart bed in that it knows how you're sleeping and comes with a mobile app so you can track it. In the morning, you’ll both learn how the Sleep Number 360 smart bed is adjusting to your individual comfort and the effects the bed has on your sleep quality through something they refer to as a SleepIQ score.
My Buddy RobotThis adorable robot is being pimped as the Companion Robot, a new innovation from San Francisco and Paris-based Blue Frog Robotics. My Buddy Robot has a number of fun and useful features that enhance your home, making it smarter I suppose one could say. On the edutainment side, you can participate in interactive games, math and language learning, which is great if you have kids of the right age. There's also a security component as well. You can use My Buddy to patrol, detect, alert and notify you remotely of any issues at home, including a potential burglar. It can also act as a smart baby monitor, another great family feature in a device that does look like a friendly 'companion.'
He's adorable right? On the smart home side, My Buddy can act as a hub and connector to IoT and home automation appliances -- think thermostat, smart TV, door locks, motorized curtains, lights, a HiFi station and more. You may not want to enable all of those features depending on your needs and interests, but from climate control to the kitchen, there are useful benefits. Imagine it also acting as a photographer, a concierge, a messenger of daily weather, news, recipes and more.
I also think the elder care piece of it is also a wonderful feature. For example, you can use the robot to detect any falls from an aging parent, and it can maintain social links as well as act as an agenda posology. Cool stuff and.....the design is incredible cute. See a few second video clip of him buzzing around in Vegas in early January.
Helix CuffThey were pitching the Helix Cuff as the world's first fashion wearable with smart wireless headphones -- on your wrist. Helix Cuff is the flagship product of Ashley Chloe, which caters to fashion-forward consumers who crave sleek digital wearables that are modern and elegant. Helix Cuff aims to bridge the gap between high fashion and functional form, they say. It comes in six fun colors and is paired with a smart app.
Magic Instruments Guitar
Spinali Design ClothingSpinali Design produces smart clothes which are designed to integrate with your smartphone with a goal of helping to fight the "burnout" factor in your life. French designed and owned, they manufacture smart clothes (they had their jeans and swim suits at CES) and smart accessories. Their "smart bikini" line Neviano, embeds a device that alerts you when to apply more sunscreen. Cool, right?
A range of 70 swimsuits numbered from 01 to 06 (from the most covering to the least covering), combine design, sensuality, innovation and technology. The Neviano UV Protect has "suntanning tips" and as noted above, a "sunscreen alert", which integrates the function "Valentine" which makes sure you apply more sunscreen when necessary. The Neviano UV Protect also manages the UV index, the Distance function and the Multisensor function.
Their vibrating jeans (yes, really -- and we hope to review them soon) comes with two vibrating sensors on the belt which is connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The geo-location feature allows you to make it easier to find your car or your meeting place. A feature called “Ping” will allow people to interact with their surroundings through a vibration that can be customized by duration, frequency and intensity. They tout this feature for those who want to discreetly attract someone’s attention, for people communicating in open offices, or for students. The system can also be programmed to inform you if you are running late. With its integrated push button, this smart clothing has a variety of uses, from security alerts, home support, geo-location of your children, isolated workers, and more.
The Hair Coach by KerastaseYou'd expect a hair coach product to come out of a French company wouldn't you? Powered by Withings, I had a chance to see the new hair coach at CES in early January. Totally personalized, they tout this as the world’s first smart hairbrush that empowers you to track and improve hair health over time. This product results from a collaboration between Kérastase, L’Oréal and Withings, which brings state of the art sensors and app connectivity to everyday products. The resulting innovation is a brush that syncs seamlessly to your smartphone to provide valuable insights that can help revolutionize the home beauty routine. I had a chance to chat with someone about their new innovation in their booth, so while the sound isn't great, my short video will give you an idea of the jist of it from a spokesperson at the show. You simply brush and the technology does the rest. For dry hair, you can follow hair elasticity to learn how to avoid dry hair and measure your cuticle damage to help ensure moisture retention. It also helps with breakage and the ability to optimize sebum distribution to avoid tangles. The smart app will measure all of this and provide insight into how to avoid damaging hair. I love this since this so called gesture analysis helps you understand and improve brushing habits. The handle is sleek and lightweight and boasts high density of professional-grade boar and nylon bristles and the brush seamlessly integrates with a mobile app. The brush detects when it is being used and begins data collection automatically. As soon as you complete your brushing session, all data will be sent automatically to your phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. They tell me it should be available sometime in Q3 of this year.
STARO: Panoramic CameraI love the design of this very cool panoramic camera, STARO, not yet out and only shown as a prototype, at least that was my understanding. This 360 panoramic camera claims to have the highest resolution at 136 mp which avid travelers will love. It's also small,easy to pack and beautiful to look at as well. Of course, I only saw it at their booth so didn't have a chance to test it out though we'd love to sometime this year on a trip where we can catch the best drama of course. The stitching of photos is decent but may require software to make it all come together.
See a sample shot of the Great Wall below, where you can see that the camera was able to capture most of the highlight detail in the clouds, while also showing detail in the wall itself. As noted above, the camera has quite a few lenses -- 17 in total (multi-lense simultanous imaging), which makes shooting sports easy. All lenses can simultaneously photograph and stitch 17 photos into a single panoramic photo with 136 million pixels.
They also boast one touch shoots, all of which can be managed within the Staro mobile app. Three photos in different EV levels automatically do HDR-merge, which is what provides the higher dynamic range they tout as a notable feature. Auto 3D modeling makes scene roaming more fluent and smooth and it is compatible with computers/tablets/smartphones and VR equipment. They offer wifi synchronization as well which makes it easy for travelers on the road to post to social media and share with friends/family at home. Total weight is sweet at only .4 pounds.
This is a standalone device that can supplement other camera devices you may already be using, unlike the Insta360 Nano which I reviewed recently and included in both our Holiday Gift Guide as well as my top picks for 2016. The Insta360 Nano churns out a few different 360 effects and note that the below shot was a selfie I took from inside a balloon on my most recent trip to the Dominican Republic. Here's another shot taken on a boat from the same trip.
Helko's Smart DumbbellsSince we're huge fans of wellness and holistic lifestyles here, I was drawn to the smart dumbbells at the show, which bring games to fitness from Helko. It seems to be early days from these guys so I don't have a lot of details on the product itself, except that its goal is to combine universal fitness equipment with multi-functionality of a biotracker and gamepad. These dumbbells are most definitely futuristic in every way with a modern sleek design that is sure to attract women and hipster millennials. They weave games and entertainment together to motivate your workouts -- cool idea and I'm looking forward to hearing more as they get closer to shipping.
SPECTRA: Most Portable & Intelligent Personal Vehicle
While we're talking about transportation, let's visit something smaller but also elegantly looking. Enter the SPECTRA, the most portable and intelligent personal vehicle. Like the Segway, you need to be aware of your posture and stance but it has a lot of great features to help you along the way. Unlike the Segway, it's portable, electric and they say, you're up and running after only five or so minutes of learning.
While this may be a little male dominated (it seems to be a theme for my post, right?), I love what these guys are doing. As a kid, I was a big skateboarder, so this chic innovation really resonated with me. As someone who has always had good balance, the Segway was a natural for me the moment I stepped on one so the SPECTRA in a natural progression, only smaller and cheaper.
Its length is around 19.4 inches, its range can go 11.2 miles at a 12.5 mile (top speed) and it only weighs in at around 12 pounds -- there are heavier laptops than this if you get all of the bells and whistles. The device boasts a 2D posture sensing module which has a series of pressure sensors and an intelligent algorithm, meaning you can control it simply by shifting your weight. Even though I gravitated to it because I'm a former skateboarder, you don't need any skateboarding experience to be able to use it -- they're designing this for everyone.
With the same stable structure as a skateboard, SPECTRA is mechanically robust (they say) and adaptive to all kinds of commuting needs. With the dual-hubmotor design in the front, it has the ability to climb up a 20 degree ramp and recharge when decelerating or going down ramp (nice feature!!). It comes with an app, which has a speed mode selection, digital control keys, a battery status and odometer screen, lock mode and sharing economy feature and a path post and SNS. There's also flashing brake lights in both the front and the back and in addition to the brakes on the bub motors, SPECTRA has dual protection with its extra electromagnetic drums. The company is Walnutt Technology and they're planning to do a Kickstarter campaign this spring, with shipping planned for sometime in the late spring or early summer.
Varius, World's First Electronic Violin (from 3D Printing)
3D printing is growing in popularity and is becoming more known among the masses. There seems to be no shortage of new products that can be created from a 3D printer, but an instrument? If you're a serious music guru regardless of what instrument you play (or teach), you may have a hard time thinking that an instrument created through a printer can deliver the same quality of sound as a traditional one. This will largely be a personal opinion of course, but the bottom line is that a 3D printed violin is now possible. Varius claims they're first to market with a 3D printed concert electric violin. Have a listen to a very short video I shot on the CES show floor of someone actually playing it.
Printed as a single piece, the 3D Varius violin departs from traditional musical instrument production technology. This particularity ensures a perfect accuracy of the audio spectrum and a total respect of the musician’s emotion, they say. It was designed to facilitate the transition for all violinists from a classical violin to the 3Dvarius. Its dimensions can be customized and adapted to any morphology. The instrument was also designed to offer a maximal playing comfort as the weight distribution was optimized to re-create the comfort of a classical violin. Its sound sensors, located under each string, were carefully selected to accurately translate the sound frequencies.
Join the genetic movement if you haven't already. I love this stuff -- bottom line, the more you know about your personal temple, the more proactive you can be to take better care of it. A very cool genetic assessment kit by Orig2n measures a bunch of things, including food sensitivities, fitcode (exercise, recovery, endurance, etc), your skin and whether you have genes or not for super strength, speed or intelligence (yes, really!).
I actually did this test with their team on the show floor so am still waiting for my results and whether I'm a SUPER WOMAN or not. It's a simple and quick process that merely requires you to take a swap of the inside of your cheeks (left and right) and send it in. Genetic assessments can empower you with information about your body so you can make more informed decisions about your fitness, diet and skin health. The company behind this cool test is ORIG3N, which is involved in stem cell research and regenerative medicine and apparently has established the world's largest cell repository in the world - how cool is that?
Based in my former hood and stomping ground -- Boston -- these guys are at the forefront of genetic testing in ways that can directly help consumers. After I get my results back in a month or so, I'll post an update on my experience including using their app.
Lenovo's Alexa Smart AssistantTruth be told, I'm a Lenovo fan and no, I am not a Lenovo ambassador nor have they ever been a client. I've owned a few of their laptops over the years and long for one today after several years of glitches with my MacBook Pro. I don't want to hear it from Mac fan boys -- there are issues despite your love with the simplicity and beauty of a Mac's design and I don't just mean compatibility ones. The Lenovo at CES I'm referring to is not one of their latest laptops however but a speaker...something they refer to as the Alex Smart Assistant, which many in the press room compared to the Amazon Echo although it's a tad cheaper. They call it a smart speaker (of course it has to be smart given the trend at CES in the last couple of years) and it employs Amazon Alexa. The speaker is available in two models and a variety of colors. I cringed when I saw a male writer talk about how he gravitated toward the black edition, which apparently sports Harman Kardon speakers. If you read WBTW often enough, you know that I applaud vendors who think about women buyers and offer a variety of fun colors and I don't mean masculine red, orange and bright blue. Lenovo gives us choices in elegant soft colors - bravo!! I've yet to test them out and would love to review a set, so check back for more when we get our paws on a pair. The basic Lenovo Smart Assistant is priced at only around $129. The Amazon Echo has 7 microphones whereas the Alexa has 8so in addition to their beautiful design, the sound should be top notch as well. The more advanced version (aka the Harman Kardon edition) delivers even better audio apparently.
Seattle Cycles' Titanium Folding BikeThis beautiful prize isn't an option for those on a budget. Starting at around $10K, the gorgeous titanium folding bike on the CES show floor was a stunner. Seattle Cycles tout their latest as the worlds lightest e-bike -- it folds up, is airline 'legal at only 16 inches and weighs about 18 pounds.
Designed for taking on travels by plane, boat or train, the Burke 20 can be folded and packed into a 28"x22"x12" suitcase in one minute, without disassembly of wheels, handlebar or use of tools. Unfolded, the 20-inch wheels, wide gear range, and a full titanium frame with an extended cockpit give a fast and reassuring ride. It apparently 'fits' like a full-size bike, has adjustable seatpots and handlebars and will work well for any rider from 5' tall to 6'+. It has a leather saddle, foam grip and MKS pedals. They may be targeting men, but I love the design and let's just say, wish I had one in my garage.Photo credit: Seattle-Cycles.
Beoplay M5 SpeakerNot quite as attractive as the Alexa Smart Assistant, but a speaker that touts itself as a piece of furniture, the Beoplay M5 is a wireless connected speaker that can function as a standalone or be connected to other speakers across multiple rooms. It is covered in wool so I applaud them for getting away from ugly black and gray, and the material is soft, covering is soft and can integrate well into a living room. Photo: BeoPlay Beoplay's music systems and speakers feature the Bang & Olufsen Signature Sound, sound which they say is honest, clean and with passion. We haven't tested these out yet either, but hope to sometime this year, so stay tuned. All their products are made from premium crafted materials and offer a palette of colors and placement options to match your style and interior. (YAY -- thanks guys!) For technical geeks, you may want to know that it's actually Bang & Olufsen’s sub-brand which is a bit more affordable than some of their higher end solutions. To get your music music to the Beoplay M5, simply connect via Bluetooth, Chromecast, AirPlay, Spotify Connect, or Bang & Olufsen’s Beolink Multiroom. It seems like this is going head-to-head (so to speak) with the Sonos Play:5, however unlike the Sonos, you don't need a dedicated app. With the M5, you can play it all via a regular Bluetooth speaker. Many of us want the ability to have Spotify et al to deliver music directly and have a little more flexibility and freedom for how we use the device. The cost is around $599.
The Mohu AirWave Wireless AntennaLet's be honest, I HATE dealing with Comcast and am not alone. We've all been at dinner parties or networking events where there's a hate fest discussion over Comcast and it doesn't seem to be any easier to cut ties with them -- believe me, I tried. The last time I called to nuke my TV to bring my cost down and just use them for wifi access, it cost more, a way to keep you tethered to their God awful expensive plans. Also shown at CES, the Mohu AirWave wireless antenna can go anywhere in your house, and I have to admit, I love the fact that you can avoid those ugly wires which none of my engineer friends seem to mind. This flexible feature allows for optimal positioning, so you can access live, local broadcast channels onto your Fire TV, Apple TV, Android, iOS, Roku, and more. They tout this as the industry’s first-of-its-kind wireless over-the-air (OTA) and over-the-top (OTT) device that integrates live, local broadcast TV with free streaming channels across popular streaming devices as noted above. It is really dedicated to people like me who are looking for smart and creative ways to CUT THOSE CABLE CORDS for good. AirWave was built to give cord cutters open, simple and complete wireless access to the live TV and streaming content they enjoy, all in one place and with no monthly fees. Photo: Mohu AirWave wirelessly connects to the Mohu TV application (available for free across all compatible devices), so you can channel up and down through live broadcast content and free streaming content in a familiar, cable-like TV guide. You'll be able to view streaming video in a cable-like program guide, complete with program descriptions and select your favorite channels, while also being able to view up to 14 days of upcoming content. You can set up AirWave anywhere in a home where there is an Internet connection and the price point is sweet at only $149. (available this spring). Bravo!! We can't wait to test this out -- if it works, I'll be their loudest voice and biggest fan!
Sprimo, World's Smartest Air PurifierLet’s face it -- indoor Air Pollution is dangerous and climbing at alarming rates. Air pollution in general rise worldwide, killing more than 3.3 million and one study says it could double by 2050. Given that we spend nearly 90% of our time indoors (some research says more) and indoor air pollution is slated to be from 3 to 10 times worse than outdoor air pollution, it’s no wonder that that cases of Asthma and Allergies are climbing and at an all-time high. If you think that all the places where you or your kids spend time is at safe levels, think again. Studies show that 50% of America’s schools have problems linked to indoor air quality and an issue in 6 out of 10 homes worldwide. Purer air is said to improve kid’s productivity and results at school. Bottom line, what we breathe in day after day, can impact the quality of our sleep, energy levels and even life span. Enter Sprimo, the “go-to” product for people who want the best quality air in the personal spaces they work, play or sleep. Unlike traditional air purifiers that focus on large square footage areas to measure success, Sprimo is aimed at improving the quality of life through bursts of clear air instantly. Sprimo’s small, lightweight and nearly silent air purifier is smart and adapts based on people’s issues, from chemicals and dust to seasonal allergens. Anyone who suffers from allergies can benefit from Sprimo as well as those at higher risks, such as children and the aging. The purifier’s low entrainment air flow works as a shield to block contact by reducing the chance of you breathing an airborne virus by up to 60%. Sprimo’s new Personal Air Module (PAM) and cloud-based mobile app delivers real-time data on air quality via your smart phone so you can be alerted wherever you may be. Simply plug it into your iPhone and you’re good to go – you’ll be alerted whether you’re breathing in poor quality air or not. They'll be taking pre-orders starting in March and Sprimo will ship sometime in Q4. See a video of me at their booth - note that the steam you see was made possible by cold ice and merely for the purpose of seeing roughly how large the clean air blanket is around you when using Sprimo.
C-me Pocket Flying Cameras by Hobbico
Truth be told, I didn't have much time to learn about this product at all but I did SEE it briefly and loved the design as well as the fabulous four color options. I've been wanting to test out a drone for awhile now, however the combination of ugly designs, the price and the fact that they seem to cater mostly to men, has held me back. Top all of that with the need to get a certificate, a process of registration that albeit I'm told is easy, is still a barrier. They're also sizeable and I get the feeling there's more of a learning curve then I'm willing to commit to, at least now. And dang, they're noisy.
Travelers will likely be most interested in camera drones, which are typically ready-to-fly quadcopters that have stabilized cameras for shooting both video and stills. Drones with cameras can be used for a variety of things, including video production, search and rescue, agriculture and more. The simplest reason to use one is to simply see the world from above, which is an entirely different perspective than we normally get when we travel. I ran across a small and attractive one that seems to be a great fit for travelers called C-me, which they don't really call a drone, but a pocket flying camera -- they tout it as the smallest micro folding pocket flying camera to be precise. Those who think (like I do) that most drones are ugly, made for geeks and too bulky, take a look at this more consumer-oriented option that comes in fun colors and cloaked in a design that women will love.
Photo: Hobbico.It's small enough to fit in your pocket and provides one-touch instantaneous social media sharing of full HD images and videos including selfies - bravo! So, whether you’re taking high-flying selfies or full HD aerial images and videos of your trip to the Grand Canyon, Hobbico’s C-me makes selfies and video easy. It is the first micro folding drone that fits in your pocket, the first device of its kind with a Full HD 8MP digital camera, and the first to feature touch-of-a-button social media sharing to your favorite social channels. It’s also a snap to use – no previous flight experience necessary – as it comes with an innovative single-thumb control interface that can be mastered in only five minutes plus connectivity to the most popular IOS and Android smartphones via their free-to-download C-me app. When not in flight, the arms and propeller blades uniquely fold completely inside the body cavity for the ultimate protection against accidental snagging or catching that can cause damage or imperfection to the blades or arms resulting a less-than-perfect flight performance. A proprietary chip delivers many of the features of a commercial-grade drone for half the price of other camera drones. The device uses a Full HD 8MP digital camera with resolution equivalent to the iPhone 6 and self-generated WiFi, which all travelers will love. There's also a 360° option for panoramic video, a burst mode that captures up to 15 images sequentially with one touch and a feature which I love, a ten second delay timer, although I wish they offered longer options, i.e., 25 seconds and even up to a minute for those harder to take shots when you're on the road. Nature shots come to mind. And look at this fabulous C-me in PURPLE! Although we haven't tried it yet, they tout one-touch takeoff and landing, which for those who fear the drone learning curve, seems like a godsend. It's not quite available yet (dang) but a spokesperson tells me I may be able to get my paws on one sometime in March to review -- we can't wait! Photo: Hobbico.
Clim8: Intelligent Thermal ClothingThis is a B2B innovation -- in other words, it's not clothing you can go out and buy, but technology that will be built into clothing you already know, a bit like the Intel chip inside for clothing, but rather than speed, it's about warmth, or more accurately -- regulation. They don't think of themselves as a smart wearable but it absolutely is in that it's smart about regulating the temperature in your body. You can receive what they refer to as thermal consistency in order to maintain personalized comfort, no matter what the weather conditions or activities that you do. Their revolutionary (their word, not mine) textile process, integrates tiny sensors into the yarn, leading to optimal temps. Sensors in the garment monitor skin temperature and their app analyzes your surroundings, activities and skin temperature. From this process, heating zones embedded into the garment activate to adjust skin temperature and maintain thermal comfort. Cool, right? The garment then regulates heat exchanges by evaporation as it matches sweating zones on your body.
Fiera: Personal Care Device for WomenSo many online sites cater to the geek in all of us, but let's face it, most of the picks and reads are tailored to men. I read the round-ups and rarely do we find cool innovation picks that's about something a bit more obscure or, hmmm, controversial, like sex. Fiera, which they refer to as a Personal Care Device, is the first hands-free wearable product for women, which is designed to increase interest in and physical readiness for sex, naturally. Fiera is used before sex to help get her mind and body ready for a physical, mental and emotional connection with her partner. Given that the chief 'scientific officer is a woman, I decided to listen for a bit longer when I first heard the pitch at the Showstoppers media event.
WooHoo's Smart Home HubWooHoo is an Artificial Intelligence based Smart Home Hub & Cloud-based platform designed by SmartBeings. They were exhibiting at Showstoppers and at the Sands (Eureka Park), so in the early startup category. They say they're the first device with facial recognition, voice recognition, an Internet of Things (IoT) hub and a 7 inch touchscreen all in one. The world's easiest-to-use cloud based SmartHome software is also baked in, they say. Is it the easiest and most innovative? Hard to say since I only had a quick peak at it, but I like the promise. With a name like WooHoo, it's no surprise that they're Silicon Valley based, the home of some of the silliest names I've ever heard. That said, its easy to remember and I suppose....cute! Think of it as an Amazon Echo combined with a Nest Cam except that it also has a touchscreen. Its motion detection is a useful feature as well, meaning you can use it as a security cam for your home (cool) and you can make video calls on it as well, the connection being via Bluetooth, Z-Wave, Wifi, and more. The extra security comes from a number of ways, but some of it has to do with its smart ability to recognize both your voice and your face, as well as your own personal touch, i,e, customize it with your own commands that you use frequently. Photo: WooHoo Its early days, so it's not shipping yet, but I'll be curious to test it out when it is and not one of the earliest shipping ones either - I'd rather wait until any early version bugs are ironed out, but overall, it seems to be a really comprehensive solution with lots of bells and whistles for the price.
AromaCare, a Wellness Aromatherapy CompanionYou know we're huge fans of mind/body balance here at We Blog the World, so much so that we have an entire section dedicated to wellness, from general wellness travel to wellness stays and health-related products and services. I love Aromatherapy and am a huge believer of its value -- we even included essential oils in our holiday gift guidethis past year. Imagine a smart aromatherapy diffuser and a smart app that allows you to control smells through your smartphone. The AromaCare delivers you a blend of essential oils by a simple and calibrated way to improve your well-being and health. Photo: AromaTherapeutics Their connected diffuser creates a well-being bubble for 20 minutes, which they refer to as a “personal and natural care” session. The company behind it, Aroma Therapeutics, has developed six blends as ready-to-use essential oil capsules: Sleep to help improve falling asleep and improve sleep quality, Calm to destress and calm down, Tonic to stimulate the body and soul, Memory to improve concentration, Breath to liberate the lungs and Pollen which provides seasonal support. AromaCare also plans a White capsule for people wishing to use personalized treatments (by using their own essential oils), a feature that I personally love. It works with a mobile App which allows you to control sessions, get access to the consumption as well as coaching - Boost, Air or Zen - sessions over a one-month period in order to obtain longer lasting health benefits.
Hello EggWhat a name right? Hello Egg seems like it would be an assistant right? Maybe even one that belongs in the kitchen? This smart voice-operated kitchen assistant from a company called RnD64 (seriously??) has a number of useful features, including the ability to plan your weekly meals and order groceries for you. It will also provide easy-to-follow step-by-step recipes via video RnD64, whose name I'll never remember, unveiled it for the first time at this year's CES. Photo: RnD64 Think of it as a smart digital assistant that can automate your meals for you based on dietary preferences and needs and can also adjusts to unplanned surprises, such as a friend stopping by for a bite and you have very little in the fridge. Hello Egg can also overlook your kitchen pantry, orchestrates your shopping list priorities, and if you want, handles the delivery of your groceries, a godsend for so many single men I know. The device will also answer cooking-related questions and backs you up with 24/7 support of a real cooking experts team -- who couldn't use that? I know I could. Give or take, it will be priced around $350 and available sometime in Q2. My video recap of the show:
December 03, 2016
We Blog the World's Holiday Gift GuideIt's that time of year again and with December comes holiday soirees, cocktail gatherings, family celebrations and whether you have kids or not, it's the season of giving. It's the time we give of ourselves just a little more and buy gifts for loved ones which come in all shapes, prices, categories and colors. If you check out last year's holiday gift guide, you'll see that we tend to discover fun finds across the board, from food/wine, entertainment, technology, kitchenware and accessories to beauty, wellness, perfumes, bags, clothing, shoes and jewelry. When it comes to gear and wear, we try to pick items that match a frequent traveler's lifestyle and I personally look for design, elegance, creativity, value, style, comfort and of course functionality. Our favorite pick of the year goes to the iRobot Roomba 980, (it's under our technology category below) and we also reviewed it earlier this year. While it's not a new product on the market, it saves me so much time and helps to keep our home dust-free. Two thumbs up for the Grillbot as well, which is a bit like an iRobot for your grill. What can I say -- products that automate your life so you can spend more time in nature or traveling is a godsend! In the fashion category, we're huge fans of Aetrex for shoes and Craghoppers for men's clothing. We hope to do Favorite Picks by Category in the near future as we expand our product, fashion/style, wellness and beauty reviews.
Beauty & Fragrance
Raw Spirit FragrancesMeet Raw Spirit, a luxury fragrance brand that works with the unique cultures to weave in the best that their 'land' has to offer, one of the things we loved about this perfume brand discovery. They source some of the rarest and most natural ingredients, drawing inspiration from their captivating travels. The Raw Spirit brand was inspired by Australian photographer Russell James’ collaborative art project, Nomad Two Worlds, which explores the clash of ancient and modern cultures and celebrates the richness of Indigenous and marginalized communities around the world, including Haiti where they source the premium Haitian Vetiver, Florida's Everglades, Australia, Fiji and more. And, they're all about sustainability and giving back. A few of their fragrances include Wild Fire, which we liked for its woodsy, sensual scene incorporating sandalwood, creamy amber and floral notes of Ylang Ylang, jasmine petals, cedar wood and musk. This fragrance was inspired by the Western Australian outback. For each fragrance, there are also a few different sizes to choose from, making it an easy pick for either a stocking stuffer or a more seductive wrapped gift. Their Desert Blush is a warm, sophisticated, floral scent, inspired by the Western Australian desert at sunset. Think wild-harvested Australian sandalwood with the intoxicating floral note of Australian Boronia. Bijou Vert, which French speakers will know, means Green Jewel, no surprise given that the scent is all about sensuality, inspired by Haiti, which was apparently once known as the "Jewel of the Antilles." For this one, imagine notes of Haitian vetiver, grapefruit, mandarin, geranium, lotus flower, black pepper, patchouli and cedarwood. Love! Winter Oak is a smooth, creamy, warming scent, which was inspired by the oak-lined trails of the Chumash Lands of California on cool winter mornings, when crushed oak leaves and twigs release their rich scent. Nice analogy right? It's theirs, not ours, but we LIKE it! This fragrance is all about aged American oak and layers of suede, saffron, premium Haitian vetiver and musk. We are also fans of their creative branding and their mission. Summer Rain invokes citrus, inspired by the Florida Everglades in the summer. There's kaffir lime and grapefruit with a burst of orange flower and jasmine petals, Haitian vetiver and cedarwood while Mystic Pearl, inspired by Bali, is the scent of the 'pearl.' I imagine you're thinking ocean waves about now, so while you're in that visual frame of mind, now conjure up a heady mix of white flowers, jasmine and frangipani, with a hint of coconut and the tropical spices cinnamon and clove. Bravo! All of their perfumes are created in collaboration with Master Perfumer Harry Fremont (Firmenich) and part of their proceeds go to support Indigenous Australian cultural projects. Try a few of them and see what you think. You can order Wild Fire here and of course, there are smaller bottle options on Amazon as well, including Summer Rain, Desert Blush, Bijou Vert, Winter Oak, Wild Fire and Citadelle. For all of their options including more of their backstory, visit their site at: https://rawspiritfragrances.com.
Money Cologne & PerfumeI hadn't heard of the Money cologne and perfume line before recently, so we decided to test it out for both men and women. His Money has hints of warm ocean breezes and bright citrus notes combined with rosemary, grass, and woods. The idea of course is to create an invigorating personal scent of success. In their words, not ours: "Masculine. Daring. Unforgettable." There are now two choices for women and men: Her Money's original scene starts with fresh linen, cotton and silk, not unlike the men's line. The difference with Her Money is obviously the scene, which has a whole lotta floral tones to it. There's also pink grapefruit, mandarin, freesia, passion fruit, Hawaiian wedding flowers and just a hint of melon. They also have a new one out called Her Money and His Money Make it Rain 2017 now available on their site. All of their fragrances are made in the USA and they love to say "Each bottle contains 1.7 fluid ounces of success." The line was started by a technology guy who teamed up with perfumer Larry Murrison and as part of the quirky branding, they add shredded U.S. bills in every Money box - hilarious right? For more information, please visit www.liquidmoney.com. You can order Liquid Money cologne here.
Osmotis Age Prevention Sheer Facial Tint SPF 45Meet one of the skincare products from Osmotis. It's hard to find a tinted sunscreen that has a high SPF factor, so we love the discovery of their SPF 45 that comes in three shades of color, to erase imperfections while enhancing your natural skin tone. The included Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB sheer, oil-free tints are a great tinted option for daily UV protection. The SPF 45 cream has antioxidant vitamins and Sodium Hyaluronate which also helps smooth and soften your skin as well.
Entertainment & Foodies
Juiceman 3 in 1We're huge fans of juicing and tested out the JuicePresso earlier this year which we love - it's oh so elegant!! This year, we put the Juiceman 3 in 1 to the test. Juiceman offers other products as well, however the 3 in 1 combines a blender, juice extractor and citrus juicer all in one, which saves space in your cupboards while being highly functional and diverse. It uses a powerful 800W motor and does a great job at juicing both large and small citrus. We love the fact that they include a seal-tight travel lid, which is incredibly useful for those on the go, which as avid travelers, is more often than not. The juice extractor worked equally well for both fruits and veggies (we do a lot of green juicing over here), so loved the extra large (2 liters) pulp container that comes with the product, as well as the non-drip spout, which can be messy with other juicers. There's also a stainless steel filter basket and they include a useful cleaning brush as well. You can even wash the parts in the dishwasher which you can't do with all juicers, so two thumbs up for its flexibility!
Italian ProseccoWe tried out three bottles of Prosecco from Italy which is a great bubbly alternative to champagne for those holiday parties. Meet the every so delicious Bianca Vigna Brut, Progetti Divini Brut and Piera Martellozzo Extra Dry. The Bianca Brut is 100% Glera and comes from the hills of Italian Conegliano. This fruity bubbly is creamy and dry in the mouth, but there's a whole lotta fruit in the finish, which we paired with a variety of cheeses. Elegant and harmonious, with a hint of pear and peach, the Cantina Progetti Divini is a full bodied Brut that is balanced and dry. It's a great choice as an apertif and goes well with vegetable pastas, light/white meats and fried dishes. You can also pair it with marinated fish dishes as well. Our favorite of the bunch was the Piera Martellozzo Extra Dry Brut. Its barreled in stainless steel for two months and like the Cantina Progetti Divini brut, it is great as an apertif and goes well with appetizers, light main courses and fish. It's super dry which we loved but also has fruit tones throughout, mostly pear and apple. It's a great choice for those holiday cocktail bashes where you're serving light, healthy snacks on a tray. For information can be found at http://www.wine-searcher.com and then search for the above names.
Norman Love ChocolatesA fabulous stocking stuffer is one of the holiday gift boxes from Norman Love Confections. The 2016 limited-edition collection features ten seasonal flavors including Candy Cane, Cranberry Apple Biscuit, Pumpkin Pie, Mint Patty, Linzer Cookie, Cup O’ Cheer, Mulled Cider, White Christmas, S’mores and Gingersnap. They offer an assortment of the holiday flavors in 25- and 50-pc green signature gift boxes and three gift baskets filled with a variety of gourmet chocolate holiday items, are also available. A great gift for your significant other, parent or grandparent is the Santa’s Sweet Ride Basket, which is priced at $134, and contains a ten piece candy cane-shaped gift box, a five-piece box of Norman Love Confections BLACK, a four-piece box of S’more Love, one package of peppermint chocolate holiday nark, a package of chocolate-covered jelly beans, two inclusion bars, a package of candied nuts, gluten-free pretzels, a hollow chocolate Santa and a chocolate-covered gingerbread man. Oh so decadent! They also have an exclusive chocolate club you can join as well. More information including how to order can be found on their website at http://www.normanloveconfections.com.
GrillbotGrill lovers will be excited about the Grillbot, an automatic cleaner for your grill which comes in a variety of fun colors. The concept is relatively new as Grillbot has only been around since 2014. Like the iRobot, you simply place the Grillbot on your grill, close the door and let him go! The grillbot does all the grill cleaning for you so you don't have to. The device goes back and forth across all areas of your grill until it's clean, it's fully-automatic and begins as soon as you push the button. The default time is ten minutes however you can also set it to clean for twice the time if your grill is particularly dirty or larger than average. We've used it at least 20 times so far and each time, ten minutes was ample to get the grill clean. It's one of our favorite product picks this year. We also love the nifty carrying case as well which is optional. The handle is so handy that rather than use valuable storage space in an inside closet or the garage, we simply hang it on a hook on the left of the grill so it's easily accessible. There are replaceable wire brushes which are easy to swap out -- you simply pop them off to clean and apparently you can even toss them right in the dishwasher for cleaning although we haven't tried that yet. There's also a rechargeable Lithium Ion Battery, which they include with your Grillbot, making it easy to charge when he loses steam. The grillbot comes with three strong high-power electric motors, which cuts through the grease to really get your grill clean. Truthfully, we were surprised that it cleaned so well - Anthony was sure that it was a "gimmick" and that we'd have to end up cleaning it afterwards regardless. You can get the Grillbot Automatic Grill Cleaner, Black Bundle with Stainless Steel Brush with the case or a solo red one without the case! More at www.grillbots.com.
Gear & Wear
ecbc HerculesThe ecbc Hercules is a laptop backpack which has been crafted with very tough Kodra nylon, a great choice if you have fragile gear, including laptops and camera gear. We were keen to take a look at this backpack, largely because of its endless pockets and sub-pockets, which if your'e an avid traveler who has a lot of tech gear, is a MUST! Toughness and durability is equally important, especially if you do have tech gear -- keeping it organized is increasingly a challenge and I've tried a number of packs out. Frequent flyers take note: the high quality Hercules backpack features the ecbc FastPass System allowing you to unzip the specialized electronics compartment, lay the bag flat on the security conveyer and go through TSA without having to unpack your laptop, tablet and cables. It can store laptops up to 17” and features self-repairing YKK zippers, high density protective foam pockets for smaller devices, a phone pocket, and a moisture wicking air mesh back panel for superior comfort and best of all, this pack only weighs in at around 2.7 pounds. They tout the pack as durable and rugged as well and we've yet to put that to the test, but will report back if it doesn't "endure." It has self-repairing, water-sealing YKK Zippers, can fit up to 17” Laptop with Removable Modular Insert for Smaller Devices, has a Padded iPad / Tablet Pocket, a 20 Liter Capacity, 21 Storage Compartments (our FAVORITE part of this pack), its high density protective foam for the laptop pockets, a phone pocket, a quick access/ticket pocket, a zippered water bottle holder, multiple organizational compartments, a moisture wicking air mesh back panel, Duraflex adjustable padded shoulder straps and a padded top handle. It is also water resistant, which is a great feature for adventure travelers. I went for the ivory/cream colored pack although they offer a few options: green, a dark blue, black and a berry red. Note that the cream is more like a tan than it is an off-white/cream for those who are color sensitive. More information including how and where to order can be found at http://www.ec-bc.com/.
Body Bark ClothingWe recently discovered Body Bark, a clothing line made from the cellulose fiber of sustainable Beech trees: MircoModal of Lenzing Ag. We love the incredibly soft fabric which is also very durable and retains its shape well, both important qualities for travelers. All made in the USA, the material is eco-friendly, the style sophisticated and the colors neutral so they can be paired with anything in your suitcase. While some of the items come in red, blue and other colors, the line mostly focuses on black and white, which we think is an ideal "go to" choice for any trip. For example, the high neck tank top is sensual and elegant but also functional. You can obviously wear it alone or use it as a layer, making a great staple in your closet at home or when you're on the road. We learned that how the clothing is spun is part of the magic. The clothing is spun using Siro and Royal spinning techniques, which apparently result in stronger yarn, softer yarn and a better drape.
Aetrex ShoesWe love love love this brand! The name Aetrex doesn't quite sound like a shoe brand when you first hear the name, but it's because of it's long history around comfort and wellness. Their mission? To literally create the healthiest shoes on the market today. Let's just say that they're so comfy, it feels like you're wearing slippers. They offer casual, dress, sandal, athletic and therapeutic footwear for both men and women and all styles use their cutting edge technologies and are all about customization and adjustability. Originally known for the landmark development of arch supports and medically-oriented footcare products, Aetrex is known for their PURE comfort but also great design, a rarity to find both in one shoe. Aetrex is also renowned for its over-the-counter Lynco Orthotics that are recognized as the #1 orthotic system on the market which means that they are often recommended by doctors and pedorthists -- what a more perfect shoe brand for travelers, right? While we focus on boots in our Holiday Guide because of the 'season,', please note that we put their sandals to the test during a family travel trip in August, so be sure to check out our review. One of our favorites is the Skyler Boot for women, which comes in a few different color combo choices: barley, black and merlot (shown below). The Skyler is styled with a classic lace-up with incredibly soft leathers and a chic and trendy design. To top it off, the boot has a soft fabric lining and plush memory -- they very well may be the most comfortable boots you'll ever wear. The Autumn Ankle Boot in Cognac was another favorite. This trendy ankle boot has a burnished toe and a stacked leather heel, with a ton of comfort built in like every other model Aetrex makes. In addition to the warm cognac color (my personal fave), the boot also comes in Iron, Black and Merlot. I love the side zip, side stretch panel and soft fabric linings, all of which makes it SO comfy and easy on the feet, which is perfect when you're walking for hours on end sightseeing in your favorite urban destination. There's also rubber outsole for traction and a reasonably sized two inch heel -- no need to be in pain while looking stylin', at least not anymore. We love their variations!! The Dustin Chukka Boot is a lovely soft brown suede but is light-weight, easy to clean, and water-resistant for challenging weather situations, all of which make them a perfect choice for avid travelers. They also have certified slipresistant soles, which make them safe in slippery conditions when you're on the road -- think rainy European city in the dead of winter. Aetrex’s “Healthy 3” is incorporated in each style of their boot or shoe. They're our favorite shoe brand this year -- bravo Aetrex and team! More information including how to order can be found on their website at http://aetrex.com.
Wooden Watches by Original GrainInterestingly enough, we had a few watches in our Holiday Gift Guide last year but only one gem this year: Original Grain. We've been mesmerized by the authenticity of wooden grain watches for over a year now and only just got around to getting a top notch brand in this season. While there are a growing number of wooden grain watches, we LOVE the styles coming out of Original Grain. Have a look and you'll see why! Truth be told, there are more options for men but they are so elegant and so beautiful, we couldn't help but want to dive in. Each watch is handcrafted from a variety of sustainably sourced exotic hardwood from around the world. We also love that with Trees for the Future Non-Profit Organization, they plant ten trees for each watch sold, which provides both food and jobs people around the globe. Bravo bravo! Our favorites out of the men's line are their Ebony wood in black and Vera Wood (both are decadent and so worth having as an accompaniment to your wardrobe!!) And, how about this Zebrawood Rosegold watch out of their women's Minimalist line? OKAY, so they may not offer as many options for women as they do for men, but with a watch option this gorgeous, who needs a huge variety? The watch also comes in Ebony/Gold, Rosewood & Chrome and Dark Ebony & Gold....all of them decadent, luxurious, and chic! The above Zebrawood Rosegold is my favorite pick and it comes in a natural Zebrawood Bezel with an ultra sleek 40 mm case with scratch resistant Mineral Crystal Glass and uses a Japanese Miyota Quartz Movement for time. I love the premium cognac brown Italian leather band and despite my wide range of watches and leather bands, I love the subtly of this style and have found myself wearing it continuously through the holiday season. A huge two thumbs up! For more information, to view their selection for both men and women visit their website at https://www.originalgrain.com. You can order their Maplewood watch (a real beauty) on Amazon, one of our favorites.
Clothing by CraghoppersLast season, we tested a few items out from Craghoppers and love the brand, particularly for men's active clothing -- our favorites are their waterproof and seasonal jackets as well as their long sleeve button up shirts for more durable travel. Take a look at this fabulous jacket they refer to as the Caledon Jacket, which is both stylin' and functional. The coat is a blend of knit-look acrylic wool blend fabric with peached elbow and shoulder patches and it comes in a sophisticated olive green and in soft gray blue. You can get the Caledon jacket in olive moss on Amazon, as well as their slate gray one. Bravo too for their shirts as well, our favorite being the Kiwi Trek Long Sleeved Shirt. They offer a number of women's external gear as well, from jackets and fleeces to long sleeve shirts and pants. We loved their Pro Lite Pull Over with a zip, which is a great choice for that layer of insulation when conditions are rough. The light blue is oh so lovely (they call it Lagoon) and goes with pretty much anything you'd need to pair with it in your wardrobe -- great for those road trips or when you head skiing this season. It's also available in a rosy pink and a red as well and is made from super-light yet highly efficient micro-fleece fabric for added warmth.
There's so much to love about this brand. First off, they have uniquely engineered insoles that are a blend of natural latex and cork that are designed to replicate the shape of the foot, just like the footprint we leave when walking the sand. This is one of the reasons they are so incredibly comfortable, which is a godsend for travelers. Each shoe has Hallux support, an elevated footbed center, great arch support, deep heel indentation, great flexibility, durability and shock absorption and a Latex sponge layer. One of our favorites among the men's shoe line is the ever so comfortable but also stylish Naot MAGNATE, which is a deep rich brown/black leather laceup wingtip shoe.
This clothing brand is a new one for us, one we only discovered recently although they've apparently been around for over forty years. They focus on reliable and durable clothing for tennis, golf, yoga and active lifestyles. They tout that their big value add is providing a great "fit" and high quality materials that last. Their tops, bottoms, dresses, and outerwear are thoughtfully designed to flatter many body types, and I'd argue that they do so with elegant and sophisticated designs, one of the things that really stood out for us. Rarely does elegant and sophisticated meet great fit, quality, durability and work for adventure and "play." They offer their lines by activity (golf, tennis, athleisure, college and so on) as well as by color palettes to make it easier for planning purposes. For example, the have a wide range of collections to choose from depending on the look you want, including Garnet Red, Imperial Purple, Belaire Blue, Allure Red, Pure Gold, Peony, Mauritius and Alegro. Fun and stylish is at the core of their look and feel as you can see and take note of their classic styling throughout.
They have outerwear too, including some great jackets and vests. From fashionable quilted jackets with stylish snap flap pockets and vests in black, white, and truffle colors to sun protection tops and golf and tennis outfits, there's plenty to choose from this holiday season. We tested out one of their oh so cute tennis outfits which can be used for multiple purposes and a pair of their yoga work out pants. We love that their active wear has UPF 40+ built in, which blocks roughly 98% of harmful UV rays, a great feature for avid travelers an d outdoor adventure enthusiasts.
Below, their Kiki yoga pants - oh so fun and elegant. We love the sophisticated design and fit of these but also the creativity in the pattern.http://www.tailactivewear.com/.
King & Stone ShoesA new shoe line for us is King & Stone which operates a little differently than your traditional model of purchasing a solo pair of shoes. They focus on men and offer a subscription model so you don't need to think about shoes for your wardrobe -- they do it for you. For example, when you subscribe to King & Stone, you receive your first pair of shoes right away. Then every season (Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter), you can choose one new pair from a highly curated selection of styles and you can skip or cancel at any time. Seasonal subscriptions cost $75, broken up into $25 a month payments. We fell in love with their designs instantaneously and there are so many great styles to choose from, ranging from more casual and comfy to more chic and dressy, depending on your needs. Great for travelers is their Caelbad lace up shoe. We loved their MALACHITE from this line, which comes in a stunning Forest Green Suede, sure to go with a variety of outfits when you're on the road given its neutral shade. Take a look at its multicolored cotton lining and its white rubber sole has a star pattern on bottom. Although we haven't had a chance to try our favorite pair out yet, take a look at this stunning Runo shoe in Cobalt dark blue, also suede, with dark brown detail and a tan rubber sole. Oh so stunning!
Blade + Blue ClothingBravo for Blade & Blue shirts for men, all of which are made in the states for those who care about quality -- they work with master craftsmen whose family has been making shirts since the 1950's -- how cool is that? They tout their they sources premium Japanese fabrics from some of the finest textile mills in the world and that they take great care to work on just the right fit. In other words, their designs provide extra room in the chest and shoulders but is then slightly nipped at the waist so it's more flattering than standard shirts. Focus on design is what they're all about as well as comfort. For example, the height of the collars are slightly trimmed so it's a little sharper and more modern than classic designs. The shirts are made with an interior cuff trim; a navy herringbone tape is tucked just inside the sleeve cuffs -- oh so stunning. Love the attention to detail. Also the slimmer center placket shape of their shirts is sewn in with a stitch right at the edge of the placket. This technique creates a more streamlined look and eliminates the distracting, 'rumpled' effect that occurs with so many other shirts. So cool. The Lucas shirt was our favorite: a design with geometric circles in a deep navy color made from 100% fine cotton. The shirt is trimmed is trimmed with white marbled buttons and and as mentioned above, navy herringbone tape. Their short sleeve shirts are amazing as well. Take a look at their Japanese Indigo Blue short sleeve shirt -- we love this deep and rich color and the fun horizontal stripes that are classic but with a whole lotta creativity as well. For more information and how to order, check out https://www.bladeandblue.com.
Bluff PantsOkay, so we're not new to Bluff -- in fact, we reviewed them two years ago for the first time and Anthony absolutely loved them, so much so that he started asking me about them again in early November. The conversation went something like this: "Hey, any idea what's happening with the Bluff guys? Do they have anything new out? You know that they're still my 'go to' pants for every trip." Hmmm. "No, I didn't know that," I responded. He proceeded to pull an unwrinkled pair of his dark gray very worn Bluffs out of his bag and I couldn't help but laugh. Men and women pack so differently I couldn't help but think and yet, I have to admit how jealous I was at how SMOOTH his pants were despite the fact that they had been bunched up in his bag for four days. And so, we decided to test out their latest -- after all, we already have a true believer on our team. Two years in the making, Bluff's Chinos are built for life on the go and they come in Charcoal, Stone, Blue, Khaki, and Gold. Designed to look and feel just like cotton, they are constructed with a distinct stretch that allows them to bend and move with your every step and yes, Anthony tested them out again on a long weekend trip since we didn't have more time before this guide was slated to be published. They're 100% technical, breathable quick-dry polyester with nylon pockets and just like the previous pairs we reviewed, they dried quickly and YAY, no wrinkles. They have a hidden internal security pocket that is zipped up and out of view (we LOVE this for avid travelers), and a rear zippered pocket sized for an oversized travel wallet. Also a great godsend for travelers is their discrete side pocket storage which fits passports and most smartphones as well as a hidden loop to clip keys or a security badge inside your front pocket. We also love that they're all manufactured in the states and are machine washable. These guys started with traditional style pants in Regular and Relaxed Fit. They're rugged yet refined, which is one of the things that Anthony loved most about them and yet they're super lightweight and wrinkle resistant. They're also built to ward off stains, and thrive in the heat which is great when you're heading to those super hot destinations. Their pockets, like the Chinos, are hidden and secure and have a side pocket for your phone, passport or other gadgets. The other great thing about their traditional pants is that they come in a ton of colors, including dark and light gray, khaki, velvet brown, black and navy blue as shown below, which is the latest pair we opted to review this season. A huge thumbs up for their great range of colors and the addition of their Chino line. Truth be told, we love them both and would recommend ordering one of each for your upcoming travel needs. We remain fans of this brand two years later and couldn't recommend them enough as a great travel buy. More information including how to order can be found over at http://shop.bluffworks.com/. They now also offer shorts, blazers and shirts although we haven't tested those out yet -- maybe later this year. Watch these guys - they're doing great things!! Wellness Meets Mind & Body
Aroma 360 DiffusersMost diffusers work by heating the essential oils and the Aroma 360 folks take a different approach. Since essential oils are very delicate and volatile, they tout that the therapeutic benefits are destroyed when they are heated, as well as their ability to disperse well in large areas. The molecules fall as they come in contact with the cool air, shortening the life of the scent. We’ve been playing around with one of the Aroma 360 diffusers, which uses cold air diffusion. They offer a variety of models, so you can select one that best works for the amount of space you have and they come in both silver and black. The Picasso 360 is larger and the most robust solution is the one they call Museum which will scene every square inch of space via a HVAC system. We tested out the Mini 360, which works with open areas of up to 600 square feet. It is compact enough to put anywhere, especially since it’s tall and slender — only 2.5 inches in diameter and 12.2 inches tall. More info at http://www.aroma360.com.
HEPA Total Clean Air Cleaner from HoMedics to PurifyI only learned about just how poor most of the indoor air quality is in places where we spend the most time this past year when I did some consulting work for Singapore based company uHoo, which is the most advanced air and toxin air detector out there right now. The amount of research that has been done is extraordinary and at the end of reading through dozens of articles, I couldn't help but think -- why is this information so unknown among general consumers? Quite frankly, it's astonishing and shocking that you don't know the quality of the air in your kid's school, your office or even in your own home. When you want cleaner air in your surrounding environment, the HEPA Oscillating Tower HEPA cleaner from HoMedics is a great solution. A powerful tool for ridding your environment of pet hair and dander, pollen, smoke and dust, the HEPA Air Cleaner with UV-C is engineered to make the air in your home cleaner, fresher and healthier. The UV-C light kills bacteria and viruses, and the easy to clean HEPA filter removes up to 99.97% of airborne contaminants. It includes PetPlus odor filters remove litter box odor, wet dog smell and other household odors and their pre-filter captures hair, fur, and large fibers. Here's what we loved: its whisper-quiet motorized oscillation, a very useful three air purifying speed control, a 12 hour timer (useful for busy people) and a great filter replacement indicator (useful for forgetful and busy people like me) and a Smoke CADR. As for what we didn't love, there really wasn't anything, except for the fact that I wish it was a little smaller -- bear in mind we live in a city, so I wish everything was smaller except for my closet space. In the box, you get the Air Cleaner, two True HEPA Filters, a back grill cover, two Odor Filters, and a Pre-filter. A must have device for anyone who suffers from asthma, allergies or suffers any kind of discomfort from dust. I don't know about you, but I find that the dust in our house is worse than it's ever been, so being able to simply turn this gizmo on and let it handle the toxins and particles in the air so you can breathe better is a godsend. What can I say? It's a perfect holiday gift! Available on Amazon, you can get one for less than $200 -- after all, isn't your health worth it?
Book: The Best Meditations on the Planet
Magic Carpet Yoga Products: Have Mat, Will Travel!!
I love finding companies with products that are creative and fun especially with an interesting founder and story behind it. Magic Carpet Yoga Mats Founder and Designer Sophie Leininger grew up in California and Hawaii and apparently loves talking to the moon at night. Sophie now wanders the globe collecting stories and carpets to paint and weave into your daily yoga practice. Her hand-painted designs range from palatial Persian carpets to hand-woven tent coverings and each have their own story. She uses sustainable printing technologies and you'll be thrilled to know that each mat is tested latex, phthalate, lead free, and is child safe -- they even offer yoga mats for kids.
Another important point to note is that their mats are printed with very durable eco-friendly inks and don't ever run so can be used for Bikram/Hot Yoga without having to worry about color bleeds. And, the designs are ever so colorful and ever so fabulous -- have a look!
Edens Garden Aromatherapy
You'll learn that we're huge fans of Aromatherapy around here if you read us often enough or follow our social media feeds. Edens Garden essential oils can be used for a myriad of purposes, from incorporating them with other ingredients for oily hair, as a shampoo, perfume, a hair serum for split ends, as a nail strengthener, for stretch marks, a skin toner, acne or clogged pores. Essential oils can also help with things like cold sores, blisters, tired feet or as a hand sanitizer.
While we could have included this brand in the Beauty section of this guide, we love the health impact that essential oils can have when used on a regular basis. Note that we are not suggesting that they will aid a particular ailment or disease (I'm not a doc) so check with your own healthcare practitioner on what they best suggest for you as each individual responds to things differently. Their bottled blends serve a range of uses for everything from releasing anxiety to promoting flawless skin.
I have always loved lavender essential oil for relaxation which you can put in a diffuser or toss a little on a damp cloth and breathe it in before going to bed. They offer a variety of options from mixed blends to pure individual oils, like Lime, Pine, Rosemary, Lavender, Sandalwood, Pachouli, Sage and more. All have their merits and benefits. A few examples they offer in their literature for wellness include using lavender, coconut oil and honey as a face wash, a combination of Neroli, Sandlewood, Sweet orange, vanilla, EGCO and cane sugar as a sugar scrub, using Bergomot, Vetiver, and Jojoba on your wrists and temples when facing anxiety, or massaging a mix of Caraway, Grapefruit, Peppermint and EGCO on the stomach when faced with indigestion issues. They also suggest that Vanilla Jasmine or Rose Geranium can uplift your spirits, Ginger and Grapefruit can energize you, Clementine and Peppermint can help with fatigue and coffee oil, Neroli and ECGO can help with aging fine lines. Yes, really. I can't speak to whether this works or not since I didn't try it, but I'm game.
They focus on high quality pure oils (also called base oils), which can help dilute and enhance essential oils so you can obtain great results. While they also offer roll-ons, gift sets and even oils for kids, their selection of single oils is significant -- they've curated 135 single oils, so there's plenty to choose from depending on your need or desire. We loved the diversity of their offerings that have so many use cases.
If you want clarity of the mind, they suggest inhaling breaths of Frankincense before bed time and spiritual Spikenard while meditating. Cassia and Myrrh can be used to scent garments and sheets and Lime, Grapefruit, Bergamot or Lemongrass with a little water is great for wiping down the fridge or freezer and freshening it up. Want a natural disinfectant when you're traveling? Edens Garden suggests a blend of Eucalyptus, Lemon and Pine oils, along with 1 ounce of white vinegar to a 2 ounce spray bottle and voila! Lemon, Lavender or Blood Orange can refresh a sponge and Lavender with baking soda can be used as a carpet deodorizer. More information including all of their offerings can be found at www.edensgarden.com.
Quad Action Shiatsu Neck Massager
Okay, so who doesn't have aches and pains somewhere on their body, especially after a long flight or car drive? I tend to hold it all in my neck and shoulders, so the Quad Action Shiatsu Kneading neck and shoulder massage by HoMedics is a godsend. The massager has heat as well which helps to give even deeper deep kneading shiatsu and vibration massage to loosen those tight muscles. The integrated control puts you in control of your massage experience.
What I liked most was the ability to leave it strapped around my neck while I was sitting at the computer which is when I feel pain the most. You can choose between a deep kneading shiatsu massage, soothing vibration massage or a combination of both. The three speed settings allow you to select the intensity of the massage experience. We also love the added heat which not all products of this type have as a feature -- a huge bravo to the HoMedics team!
There's a cool reverse feature which allows you to change the massage direction, similar to what you would experience with a live masseuse. There's also a useful carrying handle as well, which is particularly useful when you're traveling. This is a a must buy for those long drives and you can even get it on Amazon.
Ellia Gather Aroma Diffuser & Essential Oils
The Ellia essential aroma diffuser is one of our favorite new toys, although it's so much more than a toy. We've tested out a few diffusers and frankly, they're all fabulous, work well and do what they say they're going to do -- we're huge fans of essential oils and diffusers since they can really help relax you during stressful times. The Ellia aroma diffuser is a little different in that it combines essential oils, music and color, all exuding from a round white container that looks like a bit of a pumpkin with holes in it. Through the holes, different shades of colored light come through -- soft purples and pinks for relaxing, or blues and greens which tend to be more energizing. You can also set it to a subdued off white if you'd like or simply choose to turn the color off altogether. The sound options are also varied, so if one meditative song doesn't work for you, you can change it to another one and adjust the volume depending on your needs.
We tested it out with their Fight It blend, which we simply added to the bottom of the diffuser -- they suggest around 5-7 drops per experience. Like many diffusers on the market today, it includes a remote. They tout that the run time is around ten hours continuously or up to 20 hours intermittently. It's a bit larger than we anticipated at nearly seven inches long and five inches high. The materials are a combination of ceramic and wood and it needs to plugged in, so you are somewhat limited as to where you can use it. That said, any living room or bedroom seems like the perfect spot or wherever you spend most of your time.
Our Ellia kit came with an Essential Oil starter set of three bottles, two blends and a single orange oil, which is cleansing, purifying, uplifting and refreshing. The two blends include something they call Fight It, which is great for seasonal support when your immune system is feeling compromised. It contains a blend of orange, clove, cinnamon, cardamon, eucalyptus and rosemary. Their Tune In blend includes essential oils of lemon, basil, rosemary, peppermint, and clary sage, which is great for clarifying, centering and harmonizing. While we didn't test it out, I love the blend they call Let Go, which is a relaxation blend, a great one for meditation and concentration. Their Go Blend infuses lavender, basil, mint, marjoram and cypress. Bravo! And, it's also available on Amazon, making it easy for those last minute holiday purchases.
EnviraScape Silver Springs Relaxation Fountain
How cool is this? More tranquil relaxation awaits you with the EnviraScape Silver Springs Relaxation Fountain, also by HoMedics. They mix sleek shades of silver and black with a bed of natural river rocks in an Asian inspired design. We've never taken a look at fountain products and I've personally been wanting to see if they affect your mood on a regular basis, or.....not! Imagine having the soothing, relaxing and serene sounds of water trickling down the fountain while you're working at your computer during the day? I figured it had to make a difference and given how stressed the holidays can be, I turned both the fountain on AND the Ellia diffuser in my office for three days straight -- win win! Need I say more? Let's just say that I'm planning to incorporate both into my regular work day as a way to keep things into balance. What a great gift for the holidays -- what we even love more is that it works for either sex and a myriad of ages as well.
They also incorporate light into the product, so there's a soft reflection of the natural flow of fresh running water down three layers - LOVE this feature! It's small enough to fit on most tabletops (we also tested it outside on our patio) so convenient for smaller homes and apartments as well. It's available on Amazon for under $30.
The TUNG BrushFor those of you who don't brush your tongue, here's a few things to know. 90% of the bacteria that cause bad breath live on the tongue — not on the teeth or gums. But bad breath, or “chronic halitosis” as the creator of Listerine famously labelled it in the 1920's, isn’t the only reason to clean your tongue . The same anaerobic bacteria that are blamed for cavities in your teeth form thick colonies known as biofilm, which allow them to thrive in the nooks and crannies of the tongue. There, they consume leftovers from your meals and emit volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) as waste. These VSCs are the primary source of the odor we know as “bad breath.” Meet the ever so cool TUNG Brush. According to them, the reason why you shouldn’t use your tooth brush to brush your tongue is because it is a bad practice to brush your teeth with the same brush that was exposed to the high levels of bacteria on your tongue. The TUNG brush and gel were designed by dentist Dr. Wieder and they recommend using a separate gel rather than a toothpaste to clean your tongue, which they make as well. Their gel, which uses a Zinc compound helps to neutralize the sulphur gas (what we smell as bad breath) emitted by the bacteria. More information about them can be found on their website at https://www.tungbrush.com/ and you can order starter kits easily and seamlessly over on Amazon.
Gemstones for Mindfulness & Healing?For those interested in mindfulness, gemstones and crystals can help as odd as that sounds. Truth be told, stones with miraculous properties have been around for millions of years and the unique qualities of various crystals can help to switch off your mind’s chatter, calm your spirit and sooth your soul. Crystals are known to ease your anxieties, dispel your anger, show you how to forgive and let the past be, and so much more. Judy Hall, who has been a visionary in this world for many many years has a new book out called Crystal Mindfulness. In her book, she describes how different crystals can benefit you and why. Flick through the pages until a picture catches your eye and work with the crystal as suggested, or target your crystal mindfulness practice more specifically using the book’s headings. All of her books including her latest Crystal Mindfulness is available on Amazon and so reasonably priced, you'll want to purchase several. As much as meditation and yoga can calm the spirit, so can walking in nature, breathing, a balanced diet and the power of natural resources, like gemstones. This book is a great guide to using crystal mindfulness in your every day life and includes 24 crystals for mindfuless, each with a photography that captures the crystal's energy. Bravo! I love her work -- I also have a copy of her best seller, The Crystal Bible and hope to read more of her work in the coming months.
TechnologyiRobot's Roomba Vacuum Cleaning Robot Earlier this year, we reviewed the iRobot Roomba Vacuum cleaner which we proudly call Rocky and love, love, love this product --- in fact, it's my favorite pick of everything we'd reviewed this year. If you're busy, travel a lot and like a clean house, then this is a must buy!! Having grown up with a conventional oh so English grandmother, we used to get on our hands and knees and scrub floors before guests would arrive -- a mop simply wasn't enough for some reason! Today, I have less time than ever to clean the house, especially with so much travel on the schedule. Just because I love to travel and travel often, it doesn't mean I don't want my house to be dust free -- in fact, I'd argue that a product like iRobot's Roomba is a godsend for travelers because of the time saving factor alone.Aside from all of its useful features and benefits, imagine having a robot clean your floors for you while you're packing for your next trip? The Roomba 980 is the first of their product line to combine adaptive navigation with visual localization, cloud connected app control, and increased cleaning power on carpets. The Roomba combines adaptive navigation with visual localization for up to two hours, recharging and resuming as needed until it cleans an entire level of a home. The Roomba also features brushless, dual counter‐rotating debris extractors that grab dirt from any floor type while reducing hair tangles and brush maintenance, which is great in the kitchen and bathroom, especially if you have pets. iRobot’s HOME App allows you to connect Roomba 980 to your Wi-Fi network, so when cleaning schedules don’t match social or work schedules, you can start a cleaning job from anywhere, anytime. This was one of the nifty features that we thought would be great for mobile warriors and avid travelers who are constantly on the go. It's available on Amazon and makes an incredible holiday gift -- it's hard to imagine life without Rocky after using this efficient little robot for several months now.
NetGear Routers/ModemsLet's face it -- NetGear isn't a new brand to the market and if you've ever been in the market for a router, no doubt you've been introduced a NetGear and may even be using one. We love the new Nighthawk Cable Modem, which is a router and modem baked into one which not only saves time, but money since you get the value of two devices in one -- this is also great for small spaces as well. One thing to note however is that because we had a separate router and modem initially, it took a little more work to set up a combo unit initially. That said, once you have it set up, it purrs along beautifully. I called Comcast (our provider) to tell them about a new modem since they need to validate it in their system for you to be up and running. Later, I learned that this can be done seamlessly (and quickly I might add), online. We did a second run with it just to see the difference and it saved us about 30 minutes of time, so we recommend going the online route if you can. You'll need to have the registration number and model number and once you enter it, you're good to go. The NetGear unit provides you with a Wifi SSID name which is usually NetGear and a number or series of numbers. It's worth noting that your SSID name can be changed instantaneously which we did of course. If you are running a wireless printer, you'll want to add the new SSID name to the printer as well so they can talk to each other. In our case, we tested it out with both a Brother and Epson printer, the latter of which is included in this guide, and it took less than five minutes to get it connected to the new wifi network. You can get the Nighthawk Cable Modem over on Amazon for around $200 which is a great deal when you consider the fact that you get the router and modem together. Two thumbs up! The Nighthawk X8 is another choice from NetGear if you only want to go with a router and this gem is incredibly fast. It's gotten rave reviews and this tri-Band WiFi and Quad Stream performance boosts X8's combined wireless speeds to up to 5.3Gbps. A whole lotta wow speed for those who care about improved reliability, are gaming or like us, want to be connected in the back of our outdoor patio. Four external Active Antennas plus four internal antennas amplify the WiFi range and six gigabit Ethernet ports means even more wired devices can connect to the router making it a great option for families or households with multiple devices. Their port aggregation 2 ports can combine to double maximum wired speeds as well which is worth noting for the technical among you. You can also get the Nighthawk X8 for about $350 and it makes a great gift for the holidays, especially if you haven't upgraded your router in awhile.
Dyson V6 AbsoluteDyson cleaners are known for their “super suction” and have a variety of stand-up models, including cordless models. Dyson machines now have smaller multiple cyclones than ever before, which create greater centrifugal forces and capture more microscopic dust (this is critical if you have allergies) than any other cyclones. Those if you who have had to push one of those heavy vacuums around know, they’re clunky, hard to move around and can’t make it under tough to reach spots. The Dyson v6 Absolute is a little different in that you move it a bit like a push mower. A Dyson Ball machine is different in that it rides on a ball, pivoting on a single point, which allows the machine to move in any direction. That’s the first godsend but once you get down to different models, there’s a whole lot more. Photo credit: DigitalTrendss One of the coolest parts about this upright machine which comes apart, is that it’s cordless, the first godsend for avid travelers. It’s very quick to get through one room, largely because it IS cordless and because it’s much lighter than traditional stand-up vacuum cleaners. There’s also a lot of options to choose from when cleaning, including a soft roller cleaner head, which is invented for hard floors, another feature that we love! The soft roller cleaner head removes large debris and fine dust simultaneously.
The Epson WorkForce ET-4550 Printer
Lucid Audio Gear
Me Foto Tripods & Accessories
Insta360 NanoWe just discovered this very cool new product that allows you to take incredible 360-degree selfies and capture special moments on vacation or over the holidays. Meet the Insta360 Nano, the world's first video camera which shoots and live-streams perfect HD 360-degree stills and video directly from your iPhone. The compact, sleek camera simply clips onto an iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6, 6 Plus, 6s or 6s Plus and you can then share your images and videos instantly with your social media followers on Twitter and Facebook. Even if you're not a super early adopter and haven't yet picked up one of those virtual reality headsets, you'll be happy to note that the Insta360 packaging is easily converted into a Google Cardboard VR viewer, to let followers, friends and family instantly experience your immersive video masterpieces. How cool is that? They tout their new Insta360 Nano as the most innovative, affordable and convenient mobile panoramic and VR video camera available. It's now available on Amazon for an RRP of only $199.00. Note that it takes TF cards and they recommend the Samsung and Kingston cards.
Beats by Dre's urBeatsWe love the urBeats wireless earphones which are not only high quality but come in a fun range of colors, including silver, gold, white, gray, black, pink which they call rose gold, and purple. And they're oh so stylish! They have solid metal housing; their precision-machined single-billet metal housing prevents vibrations and unwelcome sound from tainting your listening experience. Great for travelers, they're very durable as well which makes them handy for those heavily on the move. Included is a built-in microphone for calls, which means you can switch easily between songs and incoming calls. A godsend for anyone who isn't planted in one location for long is their tangle-free cables which are designed to be flexible and tangle-free. urBeats earphones come in with an in-line control microphone cable, a storage pouch and four pairs of ear tip fittings so you can pick the one that best fits your ear. You can purchase the on-ear headphones over at Amazon as well as their earbuds.
SMARTvr by DodoCaseWe've covered their cases before and look forward to taking a look at some of their newer leather cases with card slots in the not too distant future. At the recent GetGeeked media event in San Francisco, we were able to connect with the DoDoCase team live and experience their latest SmartVR virtual reality glasses for smartphones. SMARTvr is a premium, portable, smartphone virtual reality viewer certified by Google that gives you a surreal virtual reality experience without any work at all. You simply attach the $40 gadget to your smart phone and it will unlock your smartphones virtual reality capabilities anytime, anywhere. There's a whole lotta WOW through those lenses too -- for travelers who don't get enough time in their favorite destinations, download Ascape and be prepared to be wowed. Let's just say that I didn't want to have a smile on my face despite daily praise from my industry pal Robert Scoble who lives and breathes this stuff. Within a few minutes using the Ascape app attached to my iPhone and I felt as if I was in a boat somewhere on the Caribbean and it was so real at times that I thought longer usage could bring on the smell of freshly caught fish. You can capture your life in immersive, interactive 360° video with freely available creation apps or 360 degree cameras that can be shared instantly on social media and relived fully in virtual reality. In addition to travel experiences, imagine similar life-like virtual reality sporting events, live concerts, breaking news, video games, social media posts, family get togethers, awards shows, educational courses, movie trailers and more. This very compact device is made of cast aluminum and ballistic nylon and is the smallest and most durable VR viewer. It supports both Android and iPhone, folds flat, fits in a pocket, has a Microsuede Lens cover and light blocking shield and only weighs 3.2 ounces. Remember too that there are thousands of VR experiences available on Google Play and the Apple App Store.
MyCharge For Extended Battery LifeLet's start with the Razor Platinum, which is crafted from anodized aluminum. What we love about this device is that all the connectors are buried in the device itself so you don't lose the connecting cables or in my case, spend your time searching for them at the bottom of my purse. The 13400mAh RazorPlatinum is the most powerful portable charger in the myCharge lineup and can also power a laptop. The USB-C port delivers a 36W output and is able to fully charge a MacBook in 100 minutes - YAY, a godsend for travelers. You can charge any tablet, smartphone or other device via the RazorPlatinum's standard USB-A port. Additionally, you can recharge the RazorPlatinum via the MacBook 29 watt adaptor in just two hours. It's compatible with the MacBook, Tablets, Smartphones, USB-C and USB-A Devices. Their hyper-charge is ultra-fast....they tout that they're 65% faster than competitors and the device maintains battery power for up to a year. Their Style-PowerXTRA is one of their more stylish versions, which also works with all smart phones and tablets and is 2.5x extra battery. It's also lot smaller and lighter than the MyCharge Razor Platinum and is a good choice for those shorter trips. More information on their range can be found at https://mycharge.com. A great stocking stuffer for a girlfriend, daughter, fashionista or family member is their fun colored 2200mAh Style Power portable charger. It has an integrated USB recharge cable, which allows your smartphone to be charged approximately 500 times. We love its size -- super compact and light, the Style Power is a great solution for people on the go and like to travel light.
Alcatel IDOL 4sWe haven't done anything with phones before, so this is new for us -- we'd like to put the latest Alcatel to the test in a bit more depth on a future trip, but from our preliminary look, we love this phone for travelers looking for an unlocked phone that can easily be used in any country in the world. We were going to 'go to town' with it on a trip to Indonesia last month but the trip was put on hold, so our hope is to use it on the road sometime in Q1 2017. What we did have time to do is look at the user interface, clarity of the screen quality, the camera and the apps, all of which are impressive. We also love that the screen is large (photography lovers will appreciate this) and it's super thin, which also means light, a great quality for avid travelers. Their 16MP camera and 8MP front-facing camera opens up more shooting opportunities when on a trip and let's not forget their pre-installed Fuse app that even lets you take 360 degree photos - LOVE this! Alcatel's 3.6-watt JBL certified speakers provide unreal audio that can fill a room -- who wants to travel with extra speakers when you don't have to? Additionally, the exclusive Boom Key lets you go from pocket to picture in under one second, make instant photo collages, increase volume and bass and more. The IDOL 4S is the first smartphone + Virtual Reality goggles package where you can literally explore VR experiences right out of the box. While we purely tested this from an unlocked phone for the mobile warrior abroad scenario and not the VR capabilities, it's worth mentioning since you can get the phone as a set which includes an immersive 5.5-inch Quad HD 2K display with AMOLED technology makes sure you don’t compromise resolution even in bright sunlight. You can get the Alcatel IDOL 4S on Amazon with Virtual Reality goggles and a JBL Headset for only around $400.
The Galaxy ZEGAWhile we've never tested anything like this before, we thought it was a fit for our holiday gift guide this year when we discovered that not just kids get excited about this realistic tank battle game, but adults as well. It's a great game for fathers to play with their sons since it's such a real-life shared experience given its interactivity. Your smartphone controls the tanks and you can use the app to battle it out on or off magnetic snapped-together battlefield. With mobile and mini-screens consuming far too much of our time, it makes it harder to play games together as a family, a far cry for what it was like when I grew up. The Galaxy ZEGA from SmartX lets parents and kids of all ages remotely tackle each other on or off the Galaxy ZEGA battlefield to gain points, skills, longer ‘lives’ and other treasures. In Galaxy ZEGA, the real and virtual worlds collide as real-world battlefield using palm-sized tanks (called ZEGAs). run around on the battlefield. Players can shoot their opponents with lights to gain points and eventually earn up to 30 more skills so they can disable other ZEGAs with virtual ‘oil spills,’ freeze opponent’s speed and more to win battles. The Galaxy ZEGA game comprises four ZEGA tanks (two come in the Galaxy ZEGA Starter Kit), each with a name, personality, unique strengths, and weaknesses. Their X-base accessory allows users to gain points, skills and treasures when the ZEGA drives over the lighted X-base. ZEGAs can also be upgraded through the app with treasures won in battle as well, adding more fun and creativity to the game. The Galaxy ZEGA Starter Kit includes two ZEGAs, battlefield and chargers and costs around $149.99. Additional products include extra ZEGAs, X-bases and other accessories. More information can be found at www.galaxyzega.com.
JBL Waterproof | Rugged SpeakersWe recently had a chance to play with a few of JBL's more rugged speakers, which are great for avid travelers. One of their smallest and most convenient for trips (it's light and waterproof), the JBL Clip 2 is an ultra-light, ultra-rugged and ultra-powerful portable speaker. Completely waterproof, the JBL Clip 2 provides 8 hours of playtime, allowing you to take your music wherever you go, whether it be on land or water.
With the speaker, you can stream music wirelessly via Bluetooth, or plug it into any smartphone or tablet with its attached audio cable. You can also wirelessly connect two Clip 2 speakers together to enjoy amplified sound. What else is cool for mobile warriors is that you can use the speakerphone to make clear, noise and echo free phone calls. The JBL Clip 2 is covered with durable waterproof fabric as well making it ideal for adventure enthusiasts. You can order it over on Amazon and they come in Black, Blue, Red and Gray.The other fun rugged and waterproof speaker from their line that we like and think would make a great holiday buy is their BL Charge 3 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker. These are also available on Amazon in black, blue, teal, red and gray. This hip looking speaker is as durable as the Clip 2, larger in size but also waterproof. You can connect via Bluetooth up to 3 smartphones or tablets to the speaker and there's a built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery that supports up to 20 hours of playtime and charges smartphones and tablets via USB. Like the Clip 2, you can take calls from your speaker with the touch of a button thanks to the noise and echo-cancelling speakerphone. Additionally, you can build your own ecosystem by connecting multiple JBL Connect enabled speakers together to amplify the listening experience. We tested it out on one recent trip to the beach (sure, you can swim with it) and outside on a patio when it was drizzling out and it continued to play music with great quality despite the wet weather conditions. Bravo -- two thumbs up!!
Video Conversion Suite by VIDBOXSome of us still have videos hanging around from years ago that sit unplayed and unused because we simply haven't had the time to get them into a digital format. Videotapes can deteriorate over time and quite frankly, who uses video tapes anymore? Your old videos will have color bleed, white specks, and other distortions. The Video Conversion Suite provides everything you need to easily convert your videos to digital formats easily and seamlessly. All you need is a VCR/camcorder and a PC or a Mac (they support both) with or without DVD burner, and you can easily transfer your video to DVD or digital files. They offer the product in four languages: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese and they support the following video standards: NTSC, SECAM and PAL. Output formats are as MOV, MPEG1, MPEG2, WMV and MP4 file formats. Disclosure: we do get products sent to us by vendors to review from time-to-time, including some of which are included in this guide, however all opinions expressed here are our own -- we were not paid to write about any of these products nor told what to say. We select products that we feel are good fits based on our own personal experiences and inclusion is based on years of playing and working with products.
May 27, 2016
Exploring the Future of Travel @ TravelTechCon
Introducing Travel Tech Con, an independent conference organized by a group of travel startup founders who share a common passion of moving the travel industry forward. Now in its first year, the event this month spanned over two days, the first of which had 15 startups present at the Plug & Play Center in Sunnyvale California. Day two focused on players in the world of travel tech addressing what needs to change in the next ten years to bring an industry with an antiquated infrastructure up to what consumers expect in 2016 and beyond.
Photo credit: EMaze.
From Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, the Internet of Things, Big Data, Open Travel Standards, Automotive Innovations and more, we heard from Adobe’s Head of Global Industry Strategy & Marketing for Travel & Hospitality Mohammad Gaber, Emergent VR’s Peter Wilkins on the future of VR and Travel, OSLET’s Gadi Bashvitz on using personalization to drive conversions, Chute’s Ranvir Gujral on AI, GEIOS’ Michael Frischkorn talked about using IoT to help travelers create more memories, and Roomstorm’s Maksim Izmaylov talked standards, a necessary for efficient global communication.
There was also an interesting panel on emerging automotive tech which was addressed by Roadgazer’s Maria Mokhnatkina, Bosch’s Tom Lindma, Skurt’s Tin Hang Liu and Princeton Optronics’ Alexey Kovsh. The second day was held at Yelp so not surprising to hear from Yelp’s Rachel Zhao who talked about making it global while keeping it local. SFOX’s Akbar Thobhani, Factom’s Tiana Laurence and Norm Rose talked about the opportunities Blockchain can bring.
Think of it as a distributed network that offers value….value that can’t be duplicated. When you’re dealing with strangers, blockchain can offer tremendous benefits. Since travel is so distributed and so global, blockchain is a way to help make travel booking more direct and more efficient, cutting out the umpteen number of middle men that are in the way of a vendor and the consumer today.
This will allow direct booking will increase and improve. Since blockchain is all about being decentralized, it may be harder at first to establish loyalty although new models will certainly evolve to re-engage and build loyalty with customers. The future is here but it's just not distributed…yet. The idea for vendors is that they should be able to continue using their existing systems but supplement them with blockchain to more directly reach their customers.
Blockchain is contextually the next infrastructure platform that could eliminate the middle man in travel as well as help to reduce fraud. Other trends include the growth of services like AirBNB and couchsurfing and as more services like it emerge, identity and transparency will increasingly become more important. And of course, we talked about the interests of millennial travels since their patterns of behavior is so different than the generations behind them.
Millennials increasingly want experiences not physical objects. People are traveling earlier than ever and they want to see the world. There’s less fear than ever before, largely because millennials are more familiar with the world because of social media and technology.
While so many tour companies and destinations still focus on print articles and advertising, they don’t realize that most millennials find their ideas about where to travel and what to do through social media and online networks. They trust what their friends recommend on these social networks over something they might read in a magazine they don’t have a personal connection with. Because they use technology all the time and it’s an integral part of their world, they also expect technology to be part of their travel experiences.
May 10, 2016
uHoo, Most Advanced Indoor Air Quality Sensor Now Available for Pre-orders
When I was approached by a company that is trying to transform how we all think about the air we breathe, I was intrigued. After I learned that it wasn't an outdoor environmental play, but indoor air, I was even more intrigued. After all, how bad could indoor air be? It turns out, pretty bad.
After I did some of my own digging, I wanted to be involved. There are some alarming stats of why you should care and why what they're doing matters.
Meet uHoo, the most advanced indoor air quality on the market, which is now open for pre-orders over on IndieGoGo starting today.
More than any other product in the market, uHoo provides real-time alerts on unhealthy air, going deeper and broader than other products. What sets uHoo apart is its eight dedicated sensors, detecting Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Ozone, Air Pressure, Volatile Organic Compounds, which are found in paint and home cleaning products, Temperature, Dust and Humidity and all sensors are dedicated, which is not the case with most other solutions.
With concerns on indoor air quality at an all-time high and the fact that we spend nearly 90% of our time indoors (some studies say more), uHoo aims to transform people’s health by providing an affordable solution for asthma and allergy sufferers, for people with toddlers at home and for anyone who genuinely cares about their health.
Couple that with unhealthy indoor air being linked to cancer and heart disease, 6 in 10 homes being hazardous to their owner’s health and half (yup, that's 50%) of America’s schools having problems linked to indoor air quality, a product that detects the particles and chemicals we breathe in real-time can be transformative to our day-to-day lives.
What Don’t We Know?
Given the tragic news reports on poor air quality in schools and drinking water in Michigan, it’s more important than ever to be proactive and know whether you’re in a healthy environment before it’s too late. With uHoo, you can know first-hand what the quality of air is like in any room or building where you live or work. uHoo is only 3.3 inches in diameter, 6.2 inches high and weighs less than a pound, so it can easily sit unnoticed at home, in gyms, churches, spas, community centers, basements, your office or kid’s bedroom. The list is endless as to where uHoo can be used.
According to the American Lung Association, “it’s hard to know when air in your home needs cleaning; the indoor air you breathe can be hazardous to your health without any telltale signs.” In other words, we can’t manage what we don’t know or can’t measure. Their site includes other useful information worth checking out as well, like identifying what makes indoor air unhealthy and how pollution can hurt your body. They also have a useful list of what all of them are so you know exactly what could be in the air you breathe at home or work.
Revolutionary For Businesses Too
You can have multiple devices on one account, so you can monitor different locations around the clock. This is not just a great feature for businesses that are looking to ensure the quality of the air is healthy for employee’s optimal well-being and productivity, but can significantly reduce operating and health-related costs by knowing how to regulate the air more effectively.
Here's How It Works
Simply plug uHoo in to a power outlet and connect it to the WiFi network – uHoo does the rest. The quality of air is detected instantly and shows up on your smartphone via a free app (support for both iOS and Android).
All of this data is securely and safely stored in the cloud for easy access from anywhere in the world and can be shared with loved ones and/or health practitioners. The ability to share data and devices means that you can stay on top of other family member’s indoor air quality, such as an aging parent or grandparent, or your child when you are away. What else is cool is that it shows the history of your rooms over time. You'll also get notifications so you can track what's going on in real time.
Or, you can simply get a glimpse of your day, knowing which rooms performed well and which ones didn't. uHoo even recommends things you can do to improve your air depending on what the reading is. Imagine being able to track your kid's school remotely -- if the air is unhealthy, you can know about it right away. Same goes for your own home, office or wherever you spend a significant chunk of your time.
There's also a very cool Health Diary, which allows you to track how you're feeling and when. It will record symptoms or issues in the room you happen to be in, all of which correlates back to the data uHoo is picking up.
You can also see results in chart form, which will lay out the results by VOCs, ozone, temperature, humidity, CO2 and so on.
uHoo comes in two versions: Classic and Premium, the main difference being the number of dedicated sensors that the device will detect. The device comes with a power adapter, and a micro-USB cable.
Details on how to pre-order a uHoo from only $99 for a limited time can be found on https://www.indiegogo.com/at/uhooair. I love this - questions on any of it, let me know. Since I'm working the company, I already have a uHoo and absolutely love knowing when I'm breathing healthy air or not. This is particularly useful for travelers as well who stay in hotel rooms on a regular basis -- you might be surprised by the results, even from high end hotels.
They'll be shipping in Q4 of this year and availability is worldwide.
May 08, 2016
In Honor of Mother's Around the World & My Own
The truth is, I used to reflect about Mother's Day every year and even write about it occasionally. My mother who was actually my grandmother -- Irene was her lovely name -- was one of the most inspirational woman I've ever known and I've encountered a lot of amazing female souls over my lifetime. It wasn't until later in life that I learned that Irene was the English name for Renee and the French name came from my mother's side who apparently came from several generations of French heritage, although we rarely talked about that.
I always assumed I was much more English than anything else until Ancestry.com told me otherwise and I realized just how dominantly French my background really was. In fact, my nearly 30% Italian genetic make-up was even more prominent than the English side of the family -- their DNA seemed to have passed over me somehow. When I think of her, I think of roses. I think of tulips too, since we planted them together and without fail, they sprouted from our upstate New York garden every spring.
What set her apart was her ability to be raw and truthful, raising issues people were uncomfortable hearing, but doing so in the most genuine and diplomatic of ways -- her English mother Ida taught her well perhaps although given what I knew about my great grandmother, my guess is that it was simply unique to Irene. I've never been able to live up to the level of dignity and elegance that she showed everyone around her simply by walking into a room.
I learned so much about the trials and tribulations of motherhood and what it was like to be a woman growing up in the 1920's and 3o's simply by being a good listener in my mother's kitchen, one which was never modernized. Its retro white cupboards remain until this day even under new ownership.
I wrote about the connection between My Mother's Kitchen and blogging on my personal blog 12 years ago (yes, I've been blogging for a long time) and that wasn't even an early entry. Her sassiness and loveliness will always be remembered and while it is no doubt tragic that she never witnessed my wedding day nor has she seen me as an adult woman facing so many of the same challenges she did over forty years later, her voice and the decisions she made never leave me.
She was one to take the high road, which I've had to do on more than one occasion, especially in business when those who you encounter are not as ethical and honorable as you had hoped.
I wasn't planning to write about Mother's Day this year -- honoring her memory is a wonderful thing to do, but often so painful that it derails me from a forward march, which is more and more necessary every day as I see myself age as she had and for many of the same reasons. Given how much I've traveled and where I've lived (ten countries), a part of my life she also never witnessed, I have been fortunate to discover other incredible women who while may have never replaced her, were integral to shaping how I see the world....through sad and nurturing and yet still innocent and deliciously loving female eyes. While most of these women are no longer with us, kudos and hats off to Josephine Blodgett, Betty Cummings, Donna Blodgett Ambrosino, Bertha Blodgett Herkel, Audrey Farnum, Bernie Daggett, Shirley Lockwood, Dona Badman, Callie Marcellus, Adelaide Sachs, Maryjane Fredericks, Nila Edwards and Charlotte Lawton. Seeing each and every one of them in my mind's eye brings a smile and a comforting imaginary hand I can somehow hold onto during tougher times. As for the others, one of these days, I will write about all of them, but for today in honor of mothers around the world, the Clinton Foundation came up with a great list of six moms they want to honor this year, who share an unyielding desire to support their families and give their children better lives. As they so beautifully portrayed, "regardless of their starting point, it’s the upward mobility these moms are working to enable that’s important. This Mother’s Day, and every day, we’re honored to help empower moms to build better lives for themselves and for generations beyond." I chose three of the women they honor today who are part of the Clinton Foundation's initiatives - for the others, please read the original piece on Mom's That Inspire Us. CHRISTINA MWALE, SMALLHOLDER FARMER, MALAWI Christina Mwale, a smallholder farmer with the Clinton Development Initiative (CDI), lives with her son on a small farm in Malawi. With each harvest, Christina hoped that she would finally grow enough crops to support her family and earn an income. But more often than not, the harvests would yield less than before. With the help of CDI, Christina was able to learn new farming techniques that have helped her improve the quality and quantity of her crops, and increase her earnings. Her new income has enabled her to move her family into a new house. And she is also using her money to purchase land so she can generate a higher profit from her harvests in future seasons. Christina has become a leader in her community. She finds being able to support her son and share her knowledge with other smallholder farmers in the community to be the most rewarding parts of her work. SHARON BOYD-STRUTHERS, ART TEACHER AT ROCKEFELLER ELEMENTARY, ARKANSAS Sharon Boyd-Struthers, a mother and grandmother, is an art teacher at Rockefeller Elementary in the Little Rock School District. She epitomizes the wonderful relationship that the Clinton Center staff has with educators across the community. Sharon is a regular attendee of the Clinton Center’s annual professional development workshop held in partnership with the Arkansas Arts Educators Association, which supports teachers in continuing their education. During the Clinton Center’s temporary exhibit, Chihuly, Sharon lead a summer-long program, where she taught children the art and creativity of glass fusion. Upon completion of the Chihuly exhibit, the Clinton Center was able to support Sharon and her students with the addition of a second kiln for her classroom. She understands the important role a teacher plays in a child's life, and whether it's with her students, her children, or her grandchildren, Sharon goes out of her way to provide young people with enriching opportunities. (PHOTO CREDIT: ST. BERNARD PROJECT) EVELYN STEVENS, NEW YORK Evelyn Stevens lived with her son Khepera in a home in Far Rockaway when Hurricane Sandy hit. The storm badly damaged the first floor of their home, forcing Khepera to move out. The loss of her home and Khepera moving out was devastating to Evelyn. Evelyn quickly began to take the necessary steps to repair and rebuild her home. She received assistance from FEMA and Flood Insurance and then used that money to hire a contractor to start the reconstruction. Unfortunately, the contractor ended up being fraudulent and never started the work. Determined to rebuild a home for her and her son, Evelyn applied for aid from various nonprofit organizations. The St. Bernard Project, a CGI commitment maker and Clinton Foundation partner, answered her request to assist with the rebuilding of her home.
March 30, 2016
DENT 2016: From the Morality of Sex Robots & AI to Free Diving & Mental Health
Putting a dent in the future -- isn't that a compelling idea? And, what's even more compelling is that it means such different things to different people and why the eclectic DENT Conference in Sun Valley Idaho, is so unique.
From technologists, entrepreneurs and scientists, to artists, astronauts and Olympic Gold medalists, people gather around to hear radical new ideas, learn from the best of the best and share their best practices, all under the roof of the Sun Valley Inn, a stone's throw from Baldy Mountain and incredible skiing, even in the Spring. The brain child of Seattle-based Steve Broback and Jason Preston, DENT is now in its fourth year and my third year of attending, DENT's format is a mix of educational, interactive and thought provoking, with un-conference break-out sessions, fireside chats and general talks.
Since the backbone of the conference stems from the technology community, it seemed fitting that American futurist and author Amy Webb would speak. As the Founder of the Future Today Institute and an Adjunct Professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, she dabbles in a lot of projects. She asks us wryly: "What happens when we get what we say we want?" On the topic of Emerging Tech Trends and the hot button in Silicon Valley right now: Big Data, she addressed where and how that data will change how we think about the world and how we interact with it. What if an algorithm could predict our news? What if a news story could be written by an algorithm, using curated and scraped data that could get published? If you follow financial and sports news today, you may be surprised to learn that many of these stories are already being written by algorithms. Yet, it's not something we really think about and curation is already there in some industries. What if algorithms designed our real world experiences OR even more radical: what if algorithms could program our people?
Photo credit: www.goldenhourblog.com
I've been seeing this for the last few years -- curation is becoming more and more automated and we are moving towards hyper personalized news. Rather than reading a single news story, data that reaches our desktop or mobile device is becoming more personalized for you....all programmed by an algorithm.
The nugget of news will be personalized based on our own old data and online behavior which means that there’s an infinite number of possible stories that could be distributed. What if in the not too distant future, there will be editors but no journalists. Imagine that you will have your own personalized news feed that is pre-filtered based on your likes and preferences.
Yes, it's happening, but it begs the question: is that what we really want? Because there are so many possible places to get our news, the real value will be super customized and personalized. Sure, it will be content vetted, but isn't there an element of joy when we discover new things outside our comfort zones? If the vetted, curated big data funnel merely delivers me content on travel, photography and food because those are topics of interest I search about the most, will I ever learn about something new I might want to try, like martial arts or sky diving?
And, if I'm a democrat that searches more for Bernie Sanders talks than Ted Cruz, will the articles on Bernie be more favorable than the ones on Ted Cruz, and how does that algorithm decide what bias to let me see -- and more importantly, not see. What gets marshaled to the top and what gets moved to the third page of my search? Machines are learning from human behavior every day, including political views, our income brackets and the ugly biases of racism and homophobia. Truth be told, we are leaving bread crumbs everywhere, every single day. Perhaps in the future, we will PAY to be anonymous and that will be worth more than anything else. I couldn't agree more.
Amy reminds us that the future isn't something that happens to us passively -- – it is something that we are creating proactively and collectively. PATH's CEO Steve Davis addressed Malaria. What does Malaria have to do with technology and innovating the future you ask? A lot when you reflect on the fact that it's 2016 and with all of our advancement, Malaria still remains the number 3 killer in the world.
A child dies every two minutes, and 453,000 people die each year. How is that possible you wonder? It's not just that Malaria is a disease of poverty, but Malaria contributes to poverty.
If you're not familiar with PATH, they work on vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, service and system innovation and they partner with organizations to drive down these diseases that affect so many and so unfairly. With so many creative and bright minds in the room, Davis asked people to think about how to effectively design new issue and systems over the next 10-15 years around products, around operational management and logistics and around financing, all of which could accelerate the progress they make in Africa and beyond.
Currently, Malaria is not being solved by the private sector but he suggests that the real solution is a complex level of collaborations between private sector and governments and that cost and affordability is critical to solving this. Says Davis, "In regular technology innovation, we think about the cost later.
With Malaria, we need to think about the ultimate cost first and then design around that to get to that price, otherwise it won't work." They work in endemic conditions, where there’s not proper education systems and the environment is harsh which means that their work comes with enormous constraints. It should be no surprise that the health systems they work in, especially in Asia and Africa, are incredibly complicated from years of aid and development agency and colonialism mixed with new agencies pouring money into the system.
They are tracking index cases through droids and an app and using this model alone, they are attempting to check and treat every household to better figure out where people may have gotten infected. With a bunch of new data models, knowing where the reservoir is and where the mosquitoes are, is critical to their long term success.
They've been working with Tableau to see where transmission is coming from and to give the data back to the health workers in the front line. To make malaria history, they need to deploy resources faster than the disease can spread, so it's an aggressive but important mission. There's a huge sea change in global demographics. The faster we can get people in these countries to move into lower and middle working class, the faster we can eradicate diseases that are impacting so many.
DENT is a dazzling and mind-expanding experience where people join forces for various collaborative efforts to move the needle and dent the future.
This my friends is how community forms and how the magic and power of one mind + one mind = ten minds gets started. It happened in Silicon Valley and it happens around the world, including once a year in beautiful Sun Valley, where people with a genuine desire in helping good ideas grow and spread, all come together with overlapping interests and empathetic hearts. Those interested in additional photos, below is a collection of networking and after hour shots....
Greg Kisor, Renee Blodgett, Michael Grabham -- photo courtesy of Russell Sparkman
Kris Krug with Jason Nunnelley
Above, Matthew F. Reyes of GoPro and Scott Jordan of ScotteVest
Above, Jason Preston interviews Buick's Dan Kinney who leads User Experience for their Global Connected Customer Experience Group. See journalist Myriam Joire's video interview with Dan at DENT.
Speaking of Buick, how's this for stunning? T'was nice getting picked up from the airport in a gorgeous Regal, especially with backdrops like these.
Larry Brown plays magical tunes...
Marsha Collier, Phil Colley, Buick, Renee Blodgett
Simon Winthrop performs
Steve Broback, Co-Producer of DENT and Phil Colley of Buick's OnStar team
Renee Blodgett, Greg Kisor, Maryam Scoble
Food and wine is also an integral part of the event, so a great choice for foodies who also love tech and innovation...below are some shots taken at the delicious Vintage Restaurant, where Buick held a thought provoking dinner. See my write-up on two foodie gems in the heart of Ketchum.
There's also delicious dining at the Warfield Distillery & Brewery in the center of town...
And, a delicious spread at the home of Scott Jordan, CEO of ScotteVest
Did I mention that Sun Valley also has superb skiing, even in mid-March?
March 30, 2016 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, Magic Sauce Media, On Innovation, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, Science, Travel, TravelingGeeks | Permalink | Comments (0)
March 07, 2016
Watermark Conference for Women Hits Bay Area on April 21
I love conferences and events solely dedicated to women, especially those where mentorship is part of the value-add, whether that be from listening to inspiring powerful women's talks throughout the course of the day or networking with women going through similar issues you might be facing at home or at work. I'm new to learning about the Watermark Conference for women in the Silicon Valley Bay Area and plan to attend this year. At last year event, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who's now in the race for the White House, delivered a keynote address to thousands of attendees.
Keynotes this year include Glamour's editor-in-chief Cindi Leive, TV personality, comedian and author Mindy Kaling, Sama and Laxmi founder Leila Janah, Soccer Superstar Abby Wambach and Entrepreneur John Jacobs. The conference has networking, professional development, inspirational panels and keynotes. More details can be found on their site, including speakers, sessions and bios on the keynotes: https://www.watermarkconferenceforwomen.org. This year's event will be held in San Jose on April 21, 2016.
Watermark offers Community & Connection, Info & Inspiration, Motivation & Momentum....so you can Discover What You Want & Achieve It!
The event brings together acclaimed women who share their wisdom and expertise on a wide range of personal and professional development topics, to help you find clarity on your goals and what you need to accomplish them.
Topics include managing your money, reinventing your career, dealing with change, how to market yourself and network effectively, how to help your community, finding funding for your business, managing your health, attitude and more.
The event is targeting non-profits, community leaders, entrepreneurs, self-employed women, job seekers, students, or frankly anyone looking for some motivation and inspiration.
They will also have an Exhibit Hall which will feature organizations showcasing a wide variety of products and services as well. What else is cool is that the conference advocates for the advancement of women in the workplace by offering regular leadership development programs and networking opportunities and promoting gender diversity and equality initiatives.
Watermark also supports girls’ leadership programs, as well, to help build a well-qualified workforce for the future. The Watermark Conference for Women is generously underwritten by presenting sponsor Juniper Networks and supported by the following sponsors: Cisco, EMC, Amazon, Gilead, Akamai, Johnson & Johnson, Mercer, riverbed, and Oracle. Media partners include: KFOG-FM, KGO 810 and NASH FM. You can follow them on Twitter @wtrmrk as well to join in an ongoing discussion.