November 19, 2014
Fun New Travel Apps Tout Their Horns at Web Summit
At the fourth annual Web Summit event in Dublin from November 4-6, 2014, 22,000 people from around the world came to see new gadgets, get cool demos and hear the latest scoop on where technology is heading. Since we love travel, we decided to spend a little time learning about what some of the new travel start-ups were up to on the show floor.
While we mostly cover news and destinations for the luxury traveler, we threw in several apps into the mix that would be useful for hotels, airlines, property and guest house owners and even boat owners.
What I found fascinating was just how diverse the nationalities were across the board -- there are some creative apps coming out of Portugal, Israel, Germany, Finland, Greece, the states, France, England, Ireland, Italy, Finland, Russia, Brazil, Austria, Holland, Belgium, Australia and even Monaco and Malta, among countless others. I put together a curation of some of the apps I came across during my scouting exercise across three days at this massive technology event.
Yonderbound is another B2B solution. Based in of all places Monaco, the female founder team (uncanny fact but they're both named Barbara), is trying to help travelers get a kick back for sharing their knowledge and travel experiences. Millions of people share their travel knowledge on popular sites for free and Yonderbound thinks you should be rewarded for it -- up to 70% of the net revenue you produce.
TripFlr is a new travel app from London-based co-founder Jerome Lapaire and team. The pitch? What else but "travel with flair." Remembering the name of a bar or a shop is often a pain. City by city, you can now store your favorite spots and all the places you have yet to discover in your private Triplogs!
Georama is a real-time vicarious travel platform. They help people experience the world anytime, anywhere. Georama's technology allows viewers to explore a destination in real-time by interacting with a guide who is live streaming their perspective.
They're targeting tourism organizations, hotels, airlines and more to help them inspire and engage with prospective travelers around the world.
The Find Out App helps restaurants, nightclubs and bars interact with users on their key information to improve the experience they have on the ground. Based in Paris, they only started out about a month ago so are trying to add new venues as quickly as they can, and will expand to other cities as things progress. Guestvista is aimed at social travelers. Travelers can learn about useful hints and tips from others. The company is based in Ireland.
InLoco gives you an opportunity to travel with locals. This Brazilian-based company has been loading their content from Brazil and will be adding European users soon. The idea is to discover non-tourist sites, meet new people and find more interesting alternatives by traveling with a local resident.
Plan Chat lets you create a plan for anything with content from everywhere in a familiar centric manner. Hotel Booking say they are the best hotel search engine. It looks a bit like an Expedia but for hotel booking only.
Guest 2gether out of Austria, is a social network for hotels. They create a new vacation experience for each customer.
When you're at your hotel, you can meet up with other people staying at the same hotel and meet up to do activities together or dine together based on common interests.
BookBedder say that they can make hotel booking even better. I chatted with Swiss-based co-founder Yannick Blondeau at the event. BookBedder is a collaborative hotel booking website where hotels and guests join forces to get reduced costs and better deals on hotels.
Quicket is a mobile travel service that combines existing flights, hotels, cars, fees and air services for independent travelers.
BookGreener gives travelers lists of authoritatively rated eco-friendly hotels from around the world. Based out of Indonesia, the ever so eco-conscious founder Alexandre Tsuk wants to change the way people think about hotels and make travelers more conscious about where they stay. What else is cool is that every time a traveler books a hotel, BookGreener plants a tree.
Social Airways has a great idea. The Cyprus-based founder and CEO Stylianos Lambrou wants to help flyers get more value from others on their flight, every time they fly.
It's a social flights platform that connects people who are on the same flight, so they can share rides, information and anything else that might be useful. I love this and hope it sticks.
Conichi say that they plan to revolutionize the interaction between hotels & restaurants and their guests. Through the Conichi App, guests are automatically recognized and their visits are tracked in order to provide optimal customer service.
In addition to being able to greet guests personally, their preferences are stored so hotels and restaurants can grant them personalized recommendations and provide additional benefits that best suit their interests and preferences.
Big-data, personalization and smart-analytics are combined to optimize the guest experience and explore new levels of guest loyalty.
Family Vacation is a cool app based in Bucharest and New York that helps families book travel. Think of it more like a marketplace where families can find, customize and book personalized vacations provided by locals from around the world.
Inn Style is a web based alternative to irksome spreadsheets and dusty diaries for all kinds of accommodations owners -- they tout, that it will be the easiest way for you or your clients to start taking online bookings.
Hero & Creatives is run by a woman CEO based out of Portugal. I love this idea - essentially they match you up with guide photographers in your destination of choice. How cool to explore the world with a local photographer who can show you an entirely different perspective on a country or city.
Direct Hoteling is a database of hotels and other businesses providing accommodations so you can find the best offer out there.
Travel Myth is another hotel recommendation engine, but one which is based on your interests. Based in Greece, this company's app could be really useful if it sticks - we need more granular ways to search, discover and book hotels based on our personal likes and dislikes, so I really like the idea.
Gloudio is a fun idea out of the UK. They are combining traditional pre-recorded geo-located audio guides for well visited sites like museums with crowd-based audio content for an enhanced user experience when they're on the road.
Exploranza out of the Czech Republic hopes to help travelers discover hidden gems. There's no doubt we need more sites who can curate experiences for travelers in a much more efficient and high quality way but I'm not sure they have quite nailed it yet.
That said, they don't plan on charging tourists for this curated premium content and they hope the value will get better and better over time. Kymboo.com's tagline is Tourism 4.0.
Based in Spain, they say they are the first professional booking system for hotels, resorts, cottages and property owners where they can share marketing of their products.
Boatsetter out of Florida, hopes to offer a safe and secure way for boat owners to charter out their vessels to selected clients. Each charter includes state-of-the-art insurance, on-water support provided by BoatUS and US Coast Guard licensed captains available to hire.
Nifty idea but probably pretty niche, at least initially. The idea is obviously that customers will see value-add immediately since they can subsidize the cost of ownership and have a better maintained boat over time.
Roaming Byme is based in France and their team hopes to solve the roaming cell phone issue. They tout themselves as the traveler's mobile operator, where they hope to solve traveler's roaming bill shock issues.
YapQ, based in Israel, has created a mobile app that tells you what's around you. They curate destinations and activities you want to do frequently in a city or town, such as a well known museum. The other beautiful thing about their app for a traveler is that you can use it offline and get the same benefit.
Pimp Your Stay with a team out of Malta, has certainly found a memorable name that is suggestive but also fun. They provide hotels access to detailed guest data (with opt in permission from the guest of course), so the hotels can add extra value to their stay.
Now, with additional personalized information on a guest in advance, hotels can turn a standardized service into a truly personalized stay.
Naymit, out of Germany, makes places findable, allowing you to create a one word address so visitors can find your front door or any other location in an instant. Imagine in the future that you might be able to type your "Naymit" name into your car navigation system and it'll just work.
Let's Open Now is based in Holland and is trying to help travelers find what they're looking for that is open when they need them. Outria out of Belgium, crowdsources events, information from members and social networks and they distribute that information to new members.
Green Hopping is all about green travel. Through their site greenhopping.eu, you can browse, discover and get inspired by green travel ideas and places.
Cyclister, you shouldn't be surprised to hear, is based out of Copenhagen Denmark, a city of cyclists. You can list your bike on Cyclister, decide on the price you want to rent your bike for and make money off each rental, a bit like the services that allow people to rent out their cars when they're not in use. This is certainly useful in cities where cycling is a preferred way to get around like Copenhagen for example and I could also see this working in Amsterdam and Montreal.
Next to Me, out of Italy, is creating an accurate submeter indoor navigation system that allows users to locate and access their services within their location.
Audio Trip, out of Poland, is a storytelling app that changes your smart phone into a personal local guide.
Cruise Me allows you to search, discover and connect, all within the cruise world. It's still a bit hush hush as they haven't officially launched yet, but apparently the app from this Florida-based startup is slated to go live sometime in January or February 2015.
Share My Taxi, based out of Munich Germany, is a blend of Uber and Lyft. They use professional drivers and there's also a mobile app that makes traveling with taxis, Uber, Wundercar and others social and green by sharing a ride if its available. This is also more economical for travelers who want to get from A to B safely.
Cityist has started out with Paris-based content since that's where they're currently based. They tout themselves as the next Generation Of City Guides. They are a website, offline mobile app & marketplace that turns tourists into local experts.
Local Fixer's Co-Founder Elliot Costello and team are based in Melbourne Australia. Finally, a fun travel app from the Aussies. It's a bit like a LinkedIn for the travel sector, where you can include offers in your profile, ranging from offering your pad to rent for the week, or posts of other things you can offer travelers, such as bikes, your car to use, or things you'd like to sell which might be useful to them during their stay.
Deal Broker is a B2B solution that is targeting travel suppliers and help them find great tours and activities for travelers. They customize the content under the tour operators brand/logo that they can then send out to their travel prospects.
DealBroker can also send mobile notifications through social media, text or email. Deal Broker specializes in relevant offers around a specific destination, such as tours and activity offers. They are leveraging the trend that tour operators and activity suppliers want to cooperate and need easier ways to do so. It would be a great multi-touch solution for example, for rental car companies or airlines.
Tziip is based out of Finland and their pitch is a bit like like Lyft but more social. In other words - get a ride and/or share a ride.
Group Booked from Ireland, touts themselves as the AirBNB for groups, but for more than just accommodations. Another value-add they say is that while they book for groups, they'll take individual payments, making it more flexible for groups of people to book.
Hudway is a mobile app that helps drivers follow directions in fog, snow, rain and at night via road windshield projections.
Tour Plus, based out of Malaysia helps you plan, enjoy and share your trip by creating an automatic itinerary for you. In other words, you put the places you want to see into their app and they'll map out the best way to do it for you. You can also share that itinerary with others.
Travel Appeal from Italy, allows hotels to control, manage and improve their reputation.
BELOW SHOTS: On the Show Floor at Web Summit 2014 in Dublin
Photos of apps from vendor websites, 1st Photo taken from Travelblat and photos from Web Summit Show Floor from Renee Blodgett.
Web Summit 2014 Exceeds 20,000 Attendees in the Heart of Dublin
Last year I missed Web Summit, what has become Europe's number one technology event, amusingly labeled as the Davos For Geeks. I went the first two years and this year's event is a far cry from my year one experience when they only had 500 attendees.
Now in its fourth year, 20,000 people flew into Dublin early this week for the premier 3 day event. Founder, Paddy Cosgrave opened the Summit in the morning, emphasizing the importance of the social element to the Summit where deals can – and have been – done. That said, there was still a lot of activity around the main stage, where they had a host of high level discussions and speakers on the hour all day.
The center stage had Brendan Iribe, the founder of Oculus Rift who spoke about the rise of virtual reality and its applications in everyday life. Skip Rizzo the Director for Medical Virtual Reality and early stage developer of Oculus Rift gave a demonstration of the technology's uses for post-traumatic stress disorder for returning veterans.
From being shot at to street explosions, the virtual reality exposure therapy has assisted veterans in dealing with their PSD, explained Rizzo, outlining how in one recent study, of 23 completers of the therapy, 16 showed gains and benefits resulting from it. Next stage development will be treating civilians who have experienced stressful situations in their lives. Index Ventures partner Saul Klein talked about how entrepreneurialism is becoming mainstream.
From money and venture hype to an emotional topic around healthcare. Jorge Soto described how from a personal family diagnosis of cancer, a way to decode disease and identify cancerous cells in their earliest stages may have been found.
Then, John Collins of Stripe spoke of the rise of his online payment company and how it has disrupted the existing online payments ecosystem."
Gary Marcus, scientist, best-selling author and NYU professor took on the topic of artificial intelligence, Amazon's Werner Vogels chatted with Ben Rooney, Stewart Baker, Matthew Prince and James Ball took on privacy rights, and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston chatted with Laurie Segall from CNN on the main stage. Below Paddy talking to a speaker.
Evernote's CEO Phil Libin spoke about his company being an 'anti-social network' and that 'you should be able to say less and do more.'
From a geek app to acting, actress, businesswoman and philantropist Eva Longoria spoke to Jemima Khan about the importance of women in business. "Women start businesses at three times the average yet can't get funding," she said issuing a challenge to the women in the audience. "
Later in the afternoon, former CEO of Apple John Sculley took questions after his main stage appearance with David Carr.
One thing about a conference growing to 20,000 attendees so quickly, is that rather than it feeling like a conference, it felt more like a university campus, or even a small town if you will. Within the web summit, there were micro-summits that addressed various topic sectors.
For example, they had a Builders, Enterprise, Machine, and Marketing Summit, and at each of them, there were a host of start-ups demoing their latest.
Town Square and Village Green also had their own selection of start-ups and then there were "alpha company booths" in the main exhibit hall dedicated to early start-ups, which was about a 10-15 minute walk from the main stage. Here I was able to see demos from lifestyle vendors, specifically digital health -- Kolibree, the connected electric toothbrush (disclosure, I'm an advisor), Gudpod, who hopes to revolutionize the way people take vitamins & supplements with a ‘Keurig like’ internet connected appliance & pod system and Bluetens, who is bringing medical grade mobile electro-stimulation device to the masses to help relax your muscles.
Food Summit was a great addition to the event this year. I wrote about their initial announcement back in November of 2013.
The Food Summit portion has also grown quickly and there were countless vendors touting their latest in fresh ingredients and farm-to-table practices. Gluten and GMO-free were buzz words throughout and I saw everything from a fresh apple stand surrounded by pumpkins (t'is the season) to homemade yoghurt, ice cream, jams, jellies, honey and olive oils.
I absolutely loved tasting the oh so many samples from Crossogue Preserves. Imagine these flavors on your toast in the morning: grapefruit, Irish whiskey, orange and ginger, lime and brandy, plum and port, gooseberry and elderberry, hedgerow, fig and apple and more. Yum!!
Other favorites were the Irish sea salt and Harnett's Oils, such as hemp, grapeseed, orange and rosemary and basil oils. I was in heaven. It was a great way to spend an hour or so away from the tech and the noise.
To get to the Food Summit, you had to pass by Herbert Park, which was on the grounds of the main event, which was held this year at the well known Royal Dublin Society on Merrion Road in Dublin. It was a perfect fall day with plenty of ducks on the pond and vibrant colors exploding from the trees.
Photo credits: Stage photos from the Web Summit sportsfile Flickr stream. Photo of Kolibree & Bluetens, Herbert Park and all Food Summit Photos: Renee Blodgett.
November 17, 2014
Sculpteo 3D Printing Engine Will Create a Mini YOU!
We've been seeing significant advances in 3D printing lately, a prototyping process that makes it possible to create an actual object from a 3D file. The object is formed by applying successive layers of solid material.
This fall in Paris, I attended an event called Digital Day, which was a conference focused on an interactive discussion around the latest in technology and innovation largely from French start-ups.
The event held workshops and vendors participated in an area where they showed up their latest. I was fascinated by Sculpteo, who has offices in both Paris and San Francisco. On-site, they had a machine which scanned YOU and then from that scan, was able to create a 3D object of yourself...a miniature version that is.
And so, of course I did this, how could I not? Below I'm standing in the machine as I wait for it to circle around me and scan my body.
Above is the engineer at work as the image of me comes up on the screen in real time. As it formulates what it needs of my body, I watch in amazement. Sculpteo allows users to upload a 3D file, change the size and dimensions of the object directly within the browser, select a printing material, and order their design to be 3D printed and shipped.
Below are a few views on the computer screen of what the Sculpteo machine sees as it scans my body.
Here are some of the objects of people Sculpteo has already created to give you an idea of what they're capable of....
I've been waiting to receive my 3D image of myself before posting this review -- alas, it has arrived. How fun! I'm astonished at how realistic it is.
It was sitting atop one of my books on a bookshelf and a friend noticed the miniature "me" from across the room and walked over immediately to pick it up.
He looked up and down at "it" and then at me and repeated the process. "Incredible," he said to me in a very committed voice. "Simply incredible." I couldn't agree more.
July 09, 2014
GlazedCon & Wearable World Expo Come to London This Fall
I've attended a few GlazedCon events now and find them to be incredibly useful from both a content and networking perspective. They are specifically focused on an area that is exploding and isn't going to slow down anytime soon: Wearables.
We're proud to be a media partner again and this time, GlazedCon is expanding to London on October 22, 2014, where they'll gather together Wearable and IoT executives, along with other top tech thought-leaders to debate the real business opportunities for the hottest emerging tech ecosystem.
The event is instrumental for key executives, startups, media, mobile warriers and investors. In conjunction with GlazedCon London, they will be holding the first annual Wearable World Expo where over 50 of the hottest Wearable Tech companies will showcase products so cool you'll actually want to leave with them....or at least let the world know about them!
We have a special 30% discount code for those interested in attending below:
Discount Code: 30% off tickets glazed_weblogtheworld
June 04, 2014
Kickstarter Success Story Lima Announces $2.5M Series A Financing From Partech Ventures
The team behind Lima, which consolidates all of your content and enables you to see the same files on all of your devices regardless of operating system or device size, today announced that Partech Ventures, an American-European Fund, has invested $2.5 million in a Series A Financing round to accelerate Lima’s development worldwide.
Lima was perceived as a must-have after nearly 13,000 people supported its initial launch on Kickstarter last summer. Lima not only reached its initial funding goal in less than 12 hours, but became the 6th most crowdfunded technology project at that time, raising a total of $1.2 million.
The goal of the new investment from Partech Ventures will further accelerate the Company’s development of the Lima platform and allow the team to expand its engineering, marketing, sales and distribution efforts across North America, Europe and Asia.
What got me excited about working with Lima is that they provide a solution to the painful siloed data problem that zaps my productivity every day. While I'm a Dropbox user and find it useful for sending huge files when in a pinch or when there's no other alternative, I find the interface too geeky and I can't organize things the way I want.
I also have to pay for storage (same ole same ole) and it still means that I can't access my fat photo library sitting on an external hard drive at home from any device I happen to be using at the time. Frankly, it shouldn't be this hard nor should I have to think about it.
Unlike other solutions like iCloud Drive, Dropbox and others, Lima doesn’t create yet another silo for your content: it actually reinvents how your devices store data. Composed of a hardware adapter and a multi-platform app, Lima changes the OS architecture of your different devices, so that they all contain the same files. With Lima, your organization structure is the same across devices and you no longer need to copy and transfer files between devices, or to upload them to the Cloud. Hallelujah!
For the first time ever, local device size no longer matters, a godsend for those who don’t want to upgrade their smartphone or computer to accommodate their growing file library. Lima allows all of your devices to be as big as your Lima System at home regardlesshow much local memory you have on a specific device. If you make a change on one device, it will be instantly echoed seamlessly across all others.
I'm excited to be working with a team who wants not only has an innovative approach to the explosive issue of personal data but has the potential to revamp an archaic content management and file storage system. Kudos to founders Severin Marcombes, Gawen Arab and the entire team for having the persistence and passion to see this through. Stand by for product updates in the coming weeks and months ahead!
May 08, 2014
FutureCast & Andrew Keen Take on Wearables at AT&T Foundry
AT&T Foundry Innovation centers are the home to technology collaboration, innovative ideas and new projects. The center in Palo Alto teamed up with Ericsson and earlier this year, they kicked off a series of interactive discussions led by Cult of the Amateur and Digital Vertigo author Andrew Keen.
They host a series of salon-style discussions called FutureCasts, where they bring together the brightest minds in Silicon Valley to tackle the future of a wide array of technologies. Each event brings together more than 30 leading experts – enterprise executives, startup founders, academics, journalists and public officials – on a technology topic.
The latest FutureCast focused on the Wearable Revolution and featured Recon CEO Dan Eisenhardt Wednesday night, May 7.
The discussion centered around how wearable technology will change our lives in the areas of sports, manufacturing, health, lifestyle and beyond. Dan talked about how their heads up display technology got started and is now being frequently used by skiiers and athletes around the world.
Says Dan about simplicity and design in wearables, "you have to focus on the user and what they want. It's often about saying no rather than saying yes which is harder to do. In other words, we need to take more things away and dumb it down so it's an easier experience for the user."
Andrew organically brought people into the conversation including myself....my input focused on my hot button, the #1 reason I don't wear ANY wearable product on the market today -- Design -- or rather lack thereof. Since it's still early days, we have a whole lotta technology being built by technologists for technologists and designers are not an integral part of the development process.
To my left was one of the guys behind the Rufus Cuff from Rufus Labs which is currently on IndieGoGo. The Rufus Cuff is an advanced wearable device that has 3-inch wide screen, a radical design, and what they refer to as a reimagined form factor. While their campaign is doing well, the product is far too geeky "looking" for me to ever wear, despite how useful it may be.
Today, there's not enough conversations between creative designers who care about form factor and the technologists who care about function. Since the space is still premature, early adopters are the ones driving sales and interest. A wearable product has to solve a problem between form and function yet it also has to be stylish and attractive.
Monisha Prakash from Lumo Bodytech piped in whose product tracks your body's position and alerts you when you're slouching. They have sold 23,000 units so far with Lumo Back being their flagship product, a wearable sensor and smartphone app for lower back posture and activity, which impacts back pain, fitness, confidence, and yes...appearance.
Lumo Lift, their other product, focuses on chest, shoulder, and upper back slouching, a big problem for many office workers who sit at desks all day long.
AT&T's Chris McConnell and David Garver shared several insights along the way, including to the above, "23,000 units sold" stat. Their main point was while the numbers may be decent, whether that number will explode or not will dependo on whether that product (or any other product in the wearables space for that matter), can continuously solve a problem of contextual relevance.
In other words, if someone has a back problem then a niche wearable solution will be useful enough for them to spend the money. It solves their problem so its a worthwhile spend and in this case, a beautiful design will likely be secondary, although if its something they need to wear long term, then design will increasingly become more important.
Says Dan of Recon, "if you want to go out for a run or a ski, you may want to be able to leave your phone home especially if a watch, a necklace or a band can give you the data you need and perhaps just the text messages from only 3 people you care about."
In addition to regular communication, there's also communication when security and safety is a concern. Meet Artemis, whose tagline is smart jewelry for personal safety.
The team behind the products are seasoned travelers who have experienced adventure, street crime and worry over the safety of loved ones. I spoke to founder and CEO Jeff Axup who feels that wearable products will play an important role in making that happen. Their goal is to use Artemis wearable jewelry to help reduce the threat of personal violence.
A different approach but also one that focuses on safety comes from Zach Vorhies and his team at Zackees who have created cycling gloves with comfortable leather palms, an absorbent towel around the thumb, retro-reflective trim and breathable spandex throughout.
If you need to get around a car that’s blocking a bike lane, you can extend your left hand and active the turn signal gloves and check the lane for oncoming traffic. Signaling your intent before you pop out of that bike lane will go a long way in making your intent clear, keeping you safer from other drivers sharing the road.
The Magellan guys were also there and while they're mostly known for their GPS systems, they're out and about pumping up their Echo Smart Sports Watch.The Magellan Echo solves the biggest problem when doing sports with a smartphone -- viewing and controlling apps while the phone is tucked away. Echo streams data and controls from your smartphone to your wrist.
At a glance, you can see distance, pace, and heart rate from apps in realtime. While the colors are bright, fun and oh so sporty looking, they're still a bit clunky and masculine looking for me.
Clark Weber from their team however had a great point when he said to me, "it's designed to be worn when you go off and do a sport and don't want to bring your phone with you or a larger device, not necessarily for everyday use." It made me rethink the usefulness and functionality of it and perhaps even testing it out.
I was there with Kolibree, the world's first connected electric toothbrush. While not a traditional wearable, a lot of people have been throwing connected devices into the wearables space. As our phones become less of an attachment and more of a fixure on our clothing, purses and wrist bands, smart phones that share data on what's happening with our health, including dental health, start to fall into the wearable space.
Kolibree is currently on Kickstarter until May 25 and while their goal has already been met, you can still order toothbrushes for less than you will be able to get them when the product ships in the Fall.
The real question the AT&T guys ask - "are mainstream consumers ready for wearable clothing and products that are connected and fixtures of our "selves"? They think not, although agree with the Accenture guys who are mostly focused on larger scale B2B projects.
Enterprise makes sense and in that space, price point is less of an issue if increased productivity will save tens of thousands or millions of dollars on an expensive running conveyor belt. Fashion is also less likely to be an issue.
Brent Bloom from Accenture talked about the work they're doing in the enterprise space, helping Fortune 1000 companies save money. If someone can do their job more efficiently then we have a win win. Today, they are already successfully helping desk-less workers keep their hands free and be more productive while getting access to data.
Says Greylock's Sean White, "products need to be both utility and fashion and we need to understand the social implications of what the utility will create if the fashion isn't there." Hear hear Sean! Dutch born fashion designer and engineer Anouk Wipprect, who is currently doing a project with AutoDesk, couldn't agree more.
The holy grail asserts the AT&T guys is that as a consumer, I want to pay one price per month and connect to all of my devices. Will carriers across the globe add smaller low bandwidth devices to your existing services in the future? Inherently economic models will change -- they have to.
Simplified plans that support more devices without making a serious dent in your wallet is what needs to happen for wearables to become mainstream says Anthony Pelossi of Magellan, who asked the room who has a tablet and pays for 3 or 4G service rather than just rely on the wifi. Only a few people raised their hands and remember that this audience is a room full of early adopters and movers and shakers in Silicon Valley, so you can imagine that price is a serious consideration for mainstream users.
"Solve that problem," says Pelossi and "you've solved half the battle with wearable devices." I'd agree on this to a point, but bottom line, as a woman who does care about fashion as much as function, until the wearables also become stylish enough to WANT to wear, there will be a significant delay on adoption and social acceptability. I'd also argue that we'll expect to buy wearables at more traditional retail outlets rather than Best Buy or some geeky online site.
Keep your eye on AT&T Foundary's upcoming FutureCasts. While a list of topics and categories haven't been officially announced nor have specific dates, they promise that many more of these engaging discussions are coming. Thanks Ericsson, AT&T Foundary and Andrew Keen for a tintilizing evening!
May 07, 2014
DLD Kicks Off Their First NYC Event in Chelsea
The DLD (Digital-Life-Design) Conference has been around for awhile albeit more well known in Europe than in the states. It makes sense since it started in Munich Germany in 2005 and only expanded in recent years, first in Israel and most recently to the states with their first official U.S. conference in New York City from April 30-May 1, 2014.
Their mission is to act as a global network on innovation, digitization, science and culture which connects business, creative and social leaders, opinion-formers and influencers for crossover conversation and inspiration.
DLD is organized by DLD Media, which is part of Burda Digital and originally founded by Steffi Czerny and Marcel Reichart. DLD has also hosted events in Beijing, San Francisco, London, Moscow, New Delhi, Rio, Hong Kong and Tel Aviv, where there is a growing community because of the efforts of Israeli-based Yossi Vardi who acts as Chairman of the conference together with Hubert Burda.
Who attends? The conference is invite only, but the categories and interests of those who make up the audience are aligned with the content. Think creative communities, international leaders, disruptors and thinkers from digital and consumer markets, as well as media, technologists, scientists, designers, politicians, artists and social scientists from around the globe.
The format is a combination of keynote style talks and panels.
I last attended the original DLD in 2010 and still remember the magic of Munich in January. Snow fell on me as I walked from my hotel to the venue every morning and back every night, the majority of my commute on pedestrian only streets. As cold as it was, I took plenty of shots of remarkable people and activites over the course of a few days.
I lived on salty pretzels, sausage, beer and coffee and recall having a fight with my new Google Nexus phone, brutal enough that I tossed it in a snowbank because it wouldn't work after umpteen attempts. DLD felt like early days of TED except without the celebrities and Monterey Beach nearby.
One of the things that make DLD so unique is the eclectic and rich curation of tantilizing voices and minds from around the globe by Steffi, Marcel, Hubert and Yossi. Like TED, Davos and Renaissance Weekend, the attendees could equally be speakers because they all have inspiring, compelling content to share.
When the audience is as engaging as the people on stage, but are also compassionate and eager to help make the world a better place, then you have a "creative global community with heart" in a business setting. It's a bit how I see and would describe DLD!
Imagine hearing and engaging in discussions on the future of investment, net neutrality, youth marketing, the future of art and design, urban planning, violence, social physics, failure and neuro science all within a 48 hour period.
Imagine in that same 48 hour period, having a chat with Deepak Chopra on spirituality in the workplace and then hearing about future plans for the Arctic Passage from Iceland's President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. I originally met Grimsson at the Startup Iceland Conference in Reykjavik last summer (refer to my write up on the event including his talk). Below is a shot I took of him in the networking area at DLD during a tea break.
By now, you're pretty energized, which is great preparation for your visit to a nearby German biergarten for massive plates of sausage, pretzels, sauerkraut and pickled vegetables while listening to an authentic Bavarian band.
Imagine that sometime during your day, you discovered an interesting project or two by Victor Chan, the Founding Director of the Dalai Lama Center, who has also co-authored books with the Dali Lama. Below, he reflects in the courtyard while we took a session break after the rain finally cleared.
Then, later, you dive deep into a discussion about where beauty is missing in the world from architecture to schools and churches.This small group of really smart people you met over German beer care enough to think of solutions about where the world can start.
I chatted with right brain and left brain thinkers from Sweden, China, France, England, South Africa, Australia, Germany, Israel, Finland, Austria, India, Iran, Pakistan, Estonia, Russia, Singapore, Ireland, Denmark, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and Canada.
This is a sample of some of my warmest memories over the course of two days. Welcome to DLD! Their first New York event did not disappoint and held to the same top notch standards they're so known for at their main event in Munich every winter.
One of the other fabulous things about a European run event, is that they care about food. And, of course, presentation matters!
While the conversations in the lounge areas and the after parties could keep you engaged for hours, they also have an hourly agenda for conversations happening on the main stage. I'll start with one of my favorite talks by an Austrian designer I originally met at TED more than a decade ago.
Stefan Sagmeister kicked off his thoughtful and quietly provactive session on Beauty with stunning images of a medieval castle in Lisbon. He said, "Every aspect of this castle was informed by form."
He asks, "how did we manage to get from the darkest side of the middle ages into the 20th century and somehow along the way, lost our desire to make things beautiful?"
He points out that the end of the 19th century was obsessed with beauty and weaving in culture and history into architecture, art and design: the Parliament which is Greek, the Opera which is of Renaissance architecture and the Gothic-ness of Vienna's City Hall.
Yet today, Sagmeister asserts, "theres not a single high end designer who talks about beauty, which IS about being human."
Below is an image taken from his design website.
I had an interesting chat with Dutch-Brazilian visual artist Rafaël Rozendaal who uses the Internet as his canvas. His artistic practice consists of websites, installations, lenticulars, writings and lectures. Spread out over a vast network of domain names, he attracts a large online audience of over 30 million visits per year.
His work researches the screen as a pictorial space, reverse engineering reality into condensed bits, in a space somewhere between animated cartoons and paintings. Rafaël's installations involve moving light and reflections, taking online works and transforming them into spatial experiences.
The below digital image is a website called Room Warp. Note that the below screen capture is a still of a moving digital image that will make you a tad dizzy if you stare at it for too long. You need to go to roomwarp.com to see the live image in action.
He creates digital art that all have their own website name. Others fun examples include FutureIsUncertain.com and IfYesNo.com.
While we're on the topic of art, let's move to Kollabora founder Nora Abousteit who was on a panel entitled Creative Cities which Peter Hirshberg moderated. Says Nora on art as it relates to cities and technology, "Art helps us reframe things in the technology world." What's happening in Las Vegas with the Downtown Project is certainly an example of this.
Also in the discussion was Burning Man's Jenn Sander, Gidi Schmerling from the Tel Aviv Municipiality and CEA's Gary Shapiro.
This engaging discussion was about all the elements that make cities thrive. How do you turn a city/metro area into a creative technological hub like Silicon Valley?
If similar factors come together argues Shapiro then a similar ecosystem can evolve. He pointed out that Tel Aviv and Silicon Valley share a culture that allows failure and supports entrepreneurs taking risks which is necessary for a startup culture to succeed.
While I missed the Cracking the Code of the Art Business panel, Arty's Carter Cleveland, Artnet's Ben Genocchio, Christopher Vroom from ArtSpace, Aditya Julka from Paddle 8 and Michaela de Pury explored this topic in depth.
Digital Music was also part of the agenda, another game changing industry. Says Shazam's CEO Rich Riley, "the way people consume music is changing dramatically and it's important that the industry responds to how people want to listen to and share music." In other words, don't force a square hole into a circle!
Below, Blaise Belville and Torsten Schmidt discuss digital trends in music.
I'm a sucker for meeting a new musician regardless of what instrument they play or style they're passionate about. As a storyteller, I often find that musicians have the most interesting stories at conferences, particularly technology ones.
Given how many Israeli attendees there are, it was no surprise to see Israeli violinist Miri Ben-Ari perform on the main stage. She had me at hello; her energy is electric, her style vibrant and her music foot tapping.
I also attended the Wearables Panel because it's a hot topic right now and one I have a personal interest in because the design is crying for innovation. What was most refreshing is that of the four panelists, three were women.
The problem with wearables today for me as a woman, is that none of them are desirable enough to want to wear. Despite how functional and cool they are, the design behind the wearable is still being made by technologists for technologists.
Intel's Sandra Lopez, MIT's Amanda Parkes and Nike's Stefan Olander discussed the future of wearables and where it's heading. The session was moderated by the Financial Times' Vanessa Friedman.
Sandra and Amanda noted that while today, we might think of buying a wearable device or object of clothing on a technology site or online store, in the future, if it is a fashionable item we want to wear because of how it looks and makes us feel, then we'll expect to buy them at more traditional retail outlets.
I certainly don't need another technology infused bulky plastic black watch or geeky looking Fitbit-like arm band to clash with my outfits.
Another fabulous panel of all women was the Freedom of the Internet in the U.S. and Europe. Bloomberg's Diane Brady moderated a discussion between Miriam Meckel from the University of St. Gallen (solo shot below) and the European Commission's Viviane Reding.
As if suggesting that it rarely happens, Viviane says "a government should have power to do precisely what they want and need to do to make Internet safe and open." She was fabulous btw.
The "Building a Vertical Business for the Consumer Internet" Panel
Adding some humor and controversy to the DLD stage was Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock. "A photo with $4.6 billion dollars printed under Evan William's face in the Wall Street Journal is NOT disruption," he asserts as he talks about humanism and how current economic and investment models are not necessarily supporting the best entrepreneurs and ideas.
If there's not a significant return on investment, then the idea and entrepreneur doesn't get funded, when in fact, it could return a small return on investment and perhaps offer something of great value to the world. The money guys around me seemed to have smoke coming out of their ears while he was talking. It would have been fun (and spicy) to have a debate after his talk!
On a media panel moderated by Jessica Lessin, John Markoff and Steven Levy discussed the state of technology journalism and how it has evolved over the past twenty years.
"The art of real investigative reporting has been lost to fast twitch journalism," says Levy who went on to share his opinion on the pitfalls of curation. He suggests that after content gets recycled umpteen times, no one knows who the original author is anymore since the primary source gets lost when it is replicated so frequently.
Below, the 20 Years of Funding panel included Landmark Ventures' Zeev Klein, Acton Capital Partners Christoph Braun, Time Warner Investments Scott Levine, Israel Growth Partners Moshe Lichtman and Greycroft's Alan Patricof.
The closing interview was originally slated to be a fireside chat between Richard Saul Wurman and Iceland's president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson but there was a change of plans. The final act was instead, a touching interview between Yossi Vardi and his former "boss" Steve Case.
Steve talked about his old days at AOL where he said he was less of a CEO and more of a mayor. In those days, he said the focus was on the 3 C's: context, content and community.
Other pressing issues he raised was the fact that we'll fall far behind the innovation ladder if we don't make it a priority. "Immigration reform necessary to make sure we attract the best people to Startup America," he said. Vardi agreed which led to the role of startups today and how people will succeed. "People are not interested in facts, they're interested in good stories," says Yossi.
Now, please join me on a visual journey to DLD NYC, starting with the DLD NYC Band Michael Aranella and his Dreamland Orchestra.
Ryan Rzepecki of Social Bicycles, David Rose with his new book Angel Investing, Brad Templeton and Dr. Amol Sarva.
Steve Case watching one of the presentations from the front row.
I went back in time when I ran into this trio -- a former dynamic team together so many years later minus Jerry Michalski of course. Below, Daphne Kis, Kevin Werbach and Esther Dyson.
Gino Yu, Renee Blodgett
Yossi on stage
Lakshmi Pratury, Steve Case, Renee Blodgett
Sunny Bates and Nate Mook
Dan Dubno and Gary Bolles
Don Dodge, Petra Vorsteher, Renee Blodgett, Shara Nechmad
Lakshmi Pratury, Asha and crew
Lara Stein and Yossi Vardi
Renee Blodgett, Burda's Olga Kammerer and ELLE Magazine U.S. Correspondent Nadine Sieger
The sax player gave me a closer look at his marvelous instrument.
Holly Harper Dodge & Don Dodge
Did I mention that they had live entertainment at the closing night after party?
Kudos and hats off to Steffi, Yossi and team for pulling off yet another perfectly crafted and curated event!
All photo credits: Renee Blodgett, except for the group shot of Creative Cities which was pulled from the DLD blog.
April 10, 2014
Kolibree, World’s First Connected Electric Toothbrush Now Live For Pre-Orders on Kickstarter
Today, Kolibree, the guys who brought the world's first connected electric toothbrush to market at CES in January, announced that their connected toothbrush is now available for pre-orders on Kickstarter, the renowned crowdfunding platform that allows users to help fund a project or product.
I've been involved in a marketing and communications role and as an advisor since the beginning, so it has been quite a fun ride so far. Since we first showed the prototype in Las Vegas at the beginning of the year, we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from everyone from mom's who are excited about being able to monitor their kid's brushing for the first time, entrepreneurs who recognize great innovation and existing electric toothbrush users to geeks and developers who are interested in building third party apps to gamify the experience at an even deeper level.
We've come a long way since the beginning and Kolibree's earliest prototype -- it's now time to move this ever so elegant connected toothbrush to the next level!
Funds raised from Kickstarter supporters will be used to manufacture and distribute Kolibree’s connected toothbrush, starting with a limited rollout in June and wide distribution worldwide starting in the U.S. and Europe in late Q3/early Q4 2014.Unlike anything else that exists today, Kolibree’s smart, connected toothbrush has a unique technology with sensors to analyze your brushing habits...
Those brushing habits are then displayed on a mobile dashboard you can readily access from your phone or tablet.
You can learn about your brushing behavior from that data to improve your habits over time. By being armed with smart data, you can be more empowered to take better care of your teeth and make future dentist visits less painful and less expensive. Kolibree is particularly useful for parents who want to instill positive brushing habits for their kids as early as possible.
The Kickstarter rewards are being offered at various funding levels. For those who want to be in the first commercial batch, the first 500 funders will be offered a Kolibree toothbrush for only $99, with a price point of $129 for the next 1,000 supporters.
The toothbrush at these price points will come in Feather White and include two brush heads. Supporters who wish to receive a Kolibree toothbrush in their choice of Feather White, Dove Gray, Berry Blue or Cerise Pink can do so for only $149, which will include two brush heads. All orders will receive an induction charging station and the free mobile app, which supports both iPhone and Android smart phones.
In addition, there will be a specific offer for developers for $199 with beta API access and free support and an educational software package for dentists.
The Kickstarter campaign today, will run through May 23, 2014, has a fundraising target of $70,000.
Designed for families, the free mobile app works with several toothbrushes so the entire family can participate and all of that data can be monitored in a single profile on one phone. Kolibree rewards your progress, allocating points to kids to encourage them to improve their brushing habits. Games will keep users motivated to improve their brushing habits as well as brush for longer each time.
Kudos to the entire Kolibree team who are infused with passion and a commitment to getting this right....and it's only just the beginning!
We welcome feedback and encouragement of course. Most importantly, for the next month, please meander over to the Kickstarter page and support the campaign in any way you can. That includes social media call outs, telling friends, calling your mom, ordering a couple as gifts - you get the idea! Please ACTIVATE and help Kolibree get to market!
January 06, 2014
KEECKER’s Smart & Connected Robot Launches at CES 2014
Paris-based KEECKER is showing off its new smart, wirefree and connected robot on the International CES 2014 show floor in Las Vegas Nevada this week. The new connected device will redefine the home entertainment and connected devices market. With a powerful video projection and 360° audio & capture system, KEECKER allows you to project movies, listen to music, browse the web, make video calls, play video games, transform the design of your home and more, all controlled through your smartphone.
Using KEECKER's innovative technology, you can transform your home with just one single device, eliminating the need for so many ”siloed” technology solutions we are forced into using today. KEECKER can project digital rich art, media, images and video anywhere as well as move around your home. Truly wirefree and mobile, KEECKER rolls alongside you using its advanced motorized wheels.
Moving beyond entertainment as we know it today, KEECKER transforms any room into an entertainment arena and any surface into a massive and immersive screen. Freed from its ”container”, content can be projected anywhere, whether its traditional entertainment, video, photos, interior design or beyond.
Equipped with a powerful video projection and 360° audio and video capture system, KEECKER allows you to project movies, listen to music, browse the web, make video calls, play video games and more.
While many devices such as computers and smartphones are solely for personal use, KEECKER enables the sharing of collective experiences at home, bringing families closer together. Interested in taking a dive into the Milky Way or bringing your children under the sea in the comfort of your own home?
Want to draw monumental artwork on your walls or create pop up interior design just for a night? Whether you want to walk through your house Skyping with a friend in Tokyo, wake up to a view of Tuscany on your bedroom wall or countless other dynamic scenarios, KEECKER can create that experience for you.
KEECKER can also be used to check home analytics (temperature, humidity, sound level, light level, CO2 level and more) and for security purposes, so you can check on your home remotely from the road. From entertainment, games, web apps and home security to interior design creation, image and sound immersion, KEECKER can transform any room using your imagination.
KEECKER makes the nightmare experience of connecting home systems to game consoles, ISP boxes and mobile devices as well as the unsightly cables and wires in every corner of the house a thing of the past.
KEECKER is 16 inches wide and 25 inches tall and is controlled via a free smartphone application (iOS, Android and Web). KEECKER’s prototypes are white with final colors to be announced at launch.
The device will come with one terabyte of local storage space, and be available to consumers in the $4,000-5,000 price range starting in Q4 2014. It will include the robot, free apps and its recharge base.
Disclosure: I provide consulting to keecker.
January 6, 2014 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Conference Highlights, Events, On Innovation, On Mobile & Wireless, On Robotics, On Technology, On the Future, TravelingGeeks | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Kolibree Unveils World's First Connected Electric Toothbrush
Kolibree, a company dedicated to innovative solutions to keep you healthy and smart, launched the world’s first connected electric toothbrush last night at the large renowned Unveiled Media Event in Las Vegas on the eve of the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Unlike anything else that exists today, Kolibree’s smart toothbrush has a unique technology to analyze your brushing habits and display them on a mobile dashboard you can readily access from your phone.
Kolibree’s connected toothbrush is paired with a mobile app. You simply download the free mobile app, connect via Bluetooth and every brushing is recorded. Then, the data about how you brushed automatically synchronizes to your smartphone telling you whether you brushed long enough and reached the hard-to-reach but important parts of your teeth and gums.
With the Kolibree connected toothbrush and mobile app, you can take control of your health and teeth with easy-to-understand monitoring and scoring. You can easily share your stats with your dentist and family or choose to keep it private. Designed for families, the app works with several toothbrushes so the entire family can participate. Kolibree rewards your progress and cheers you on when you are improving, allocating points to kids to encourage them to improve their brushing habits.
The Problem Kolibree Solves: Your dentist may have told you that plaque and tartar build up can lead to losing your teeth if not monitored and acted upon fast enough. Many people don’t realize that poor dental care can also impact the overall care of your health.
While Kolibree does not proclaim to solve periodontal disease or suggest that it can keep cavities or gingivitis at bay, the better you take care of your teeth, the more likely it is that you can and will avoid serious problems.
Before Kolibree, the issue is that there has been no easy and quick way to monitor whether you’re doing an A+ job or a C- one when you brush, so how can you improve on a habit you don’t have any data about? Kolibree solves that problem, making it easier than ever.
The Kolibree connected toothbrush will be available starting in Q3 2014 but ready for pre-order starting this summer. The price of Kolibree will range from $99 to $199 depending on the model and will include a free mobile app.
Full Disclosure: I am providing consulting to Kolibree.