What’s all the Fuss with Wearable Tech

…and why should you care? Great questions. I recently saw something on this and have something to add.

In the 2010-2011 time frame, the realization that a well-established ecosystem could make or break a mobile platform was all the rage.  Apple, or more specifically Steve Jobs, had figured that out a long while back, and had been moving towards that direction after capturing the digital music market in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Today, there seems to be a new market emerging, and like the early development of the ecosystem, there aren’t a lot of people who quite get it.

Wearable Technology is supposed to be huge.

indexMany are asking how, when C|Net pronounced the Microsoft Spot Watch dead on 2008-04-23; and newer reincarnations like the Pebble have been met with mediocre success. While things like the Nike Fuel Band or the FitBit have been out for a while, they don’t quite fit the intended paradigm. They’re only a small part of the picture; and I’ll get to why shortly.

According to ComputerWorld, “Wearable computing is about augmenting your whole life and taking advantage of fast-improving Internet services without being glued to a screen all day.” This is only partially right. It’s more about the ecosystem the wearable tech is compatible with and (more importantly) the services you subscribe to and use with that wearable tech.  Because, if the companies involved can’t lock you in and/or sell you services related to the tech… what’s the point?

Your smartphone is going to end up becoming the hub or, mobile router if you will, in a personal area network or PAN that goes where you go. It lives within an ecosystem providing access to multimedia content, apps and connectivity that can be consumed, projected; and where all of the related data will be initially cached before moving on to permanent storage in the cloud. You consume it all – you guessed it – on the wearable tech.

Your mobile carrier will allow you to communicate as you do today, but not via voice calls.  Think VoIP.  You’re going to have devices that all interconnect via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and trade information back and forth, all at the same time.  Your Nike Fuel Band or FitBit will likely be replaced by a shirt or other piece of clothing that can display states of your workout, right on your sleeve or pant leg. Built in, washable sensors keep stats on your vitals and accomplishments as you continue to work out. You’ll pay – reasonable, nominal fees – for the tech, the apps, and the connected services. Vendors make money not on the tech per sell, but on the (licensing or reciprocal agreements and) services that you use and consume.

Wearable tech is all about integrating technology into your everyday life, and about selling the services that make it transparent.  This is why the iWatch (or whatever Apple’s gonna call it) and other items like the FitBit or Fuel Band are (at least initially) a big deal. The better job they do on catching on, the better chance the rest of the genre will have, and the less work vendors will have to do in selling the concept to the general public.

In my opinion, for this to work, wearable tech is going to have to be ecosystem and smartphone agnostic.  It’s going to need to work with every ecosystem and every “modern” smartphone, without issue, and without missing any “critical features.”

What I’m most concerned about at this point, is how carriers and hardware manufacturers respond to the “agnostic” requirement.  They don’t tend to be very supported of interoperability or sharing their networks and other services with those that don’t pay to play. I’m hoping by the time this really takes hold, carriers understand that they are a utility and not much more.

What do YOU think? Is your smartphone going to become a mobile router? As network speeds and liability improves will converged devices break up back into separate phones, music players and personal information managers or will that functionality melt away to something else more compelling?

Why don’t you sound off I the comments below and let me know what you think?

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Viber – Take the free way

viberToday, the free calls over the internet became more and more popular. And while there are plenty of programs that allows you to do so, it’s quite hard to choose. But of course, you go for the most featured and light program that you can find. That’s what I like the most about Viber.

First of all, it’s all cross platform. I know, it’s not the only one who has multiple platform support, but its features are making Viber a complete fast and free communication app. It’s fast, because it’s light, simple and efficient. While other programs offer you this and that function, Viber developers managed to get most of the features, well, the most useful ones, into one program. So, you have high quality voice calls, free text (even group text), photo messages and location-sharing with Viber users. Nothing of these requires registration. The application will detect automatically your contacts who are using Viber, and is working great on 3G connection or wifi without major differences. Anyway, be careful because the usage of 3G will use your data plan and can generate extra costs.

Viber-for-PC

As I mentioned before, it’s a cross platform software. So, except for linux, you can have Viber on almost any device using Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Nokia (Symbian) and Samsung Bada.

I was testing the Windows and Android versions. Well, I wanted to check the Video Call feature, which so far is a beta feature, between these platforms. On Windows I have the feature, marked as beta, but on Android is not. So, I can make a voice call between these platforms, but so far, the Video call feature doesn’t seem to be available on the mobile device. Location sharing is also a bit tricky. You only have a small purple arrow that will share your location with the person you are texting, if you activate the arrow. You can open the location in Maps, and let your GPS guide you to meet. Available on mobile device only.

If you want to install the windows version, you must first activate Viber on a mobile device, because Viber will use your telephone number as an identifier for the desktop version of the program. By using the desktop version of Viber you will get the advantage of getting all your viber contacts from your phone instantly on your desktop version.

The application is great for free calls. We all know how expensive the calls/messages with other countries are, so, it’s a good and efficient way to talk free with all your friends from all over the world.

Download Viber

 

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Chat with your friends with RaidCall

Chat with your friends with this group-based audio chat software for Windows.

raidcallVoIP is a huge deal. Making calls to friends and loved ones across the internet is easier than ever to do today.  This is one reason why I like apps like RaidCall, It’s an audio chat client for Windows.

RaidCall is free and light weight.  Setting it up is very easy.  With it, you won’t have to rent or set up local chat servers. Its low CPU usage and minimum memory footprint also allow for smooth, uninterrupted communication between you and your call recipients.

RaidCall supports Group Communications, too.  You can have up to 10,000 users at a time in a single RaidCall group and has a flexible group management system.  The client supports Hi-Fi quality voice chat from anywhere in the world; and has additional features like a voice recorder, polling, announcements, and an activity log.

RaidCall also supports instant messaging.  Aside from passing text messages back and forth, the app also handles file transferring and screenshot sharing, and chat records. It also supports personalized themes and emoticons.

RC-01

RaidCall is a decent VoIP client, but is seriously lacking in video calling support. With apps like Skype and FaceTime readily available (depending on platform) that support both audio as well as video chat, for many, RaidCall may be a non-starter in the consumer market.

For SOHO, it may be a decent choice, as video chat may not be a huge need here.  However, the lack of video chat support in a client like this is a huge hole.  Even though it’s free, there are other aps out there that are likely a better choice.

download RaidCall

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Mumble – the open-source group voice chat software designed mainly for online gaming

Mumble is a VOIP (Voice over IP) application which allows users to speak on a chat channel, as in a telephone conference call. It was designed for gamers, who use the software to communicate with other players in the same multiplayer game.

Mumble is a relatively new arrival on the VOIP scene; it has been around in a stable form for about a year, at the time of writing. It takes advantage of newer technologies, such as sound quality and low latency, removing the noise from the audio input.

It is a cross-platform product which is free and open source. It is integrated with the game software in a customisable game overlay so that as well as hearing the other players, you can identify which is speaking. It supports advanced voice activity detection and will record conversations if set up.

To start you must set up the Mumble Server, called murmur, which features secure communication and full extensibility.

We think this is a product with a bright future. It looks easy to work with on the face of it, but running into difficulties is unnerving. It has live support team contact available. There is some technical support from community forums, and there looks to be a wish list for future development. It looks and feels like a product that is on its way up and it will be interesting to see if it develops for usage outside the game arena, but first it needs to grow new functionality, to include things like a user database.

Download Mumble for WindowsDownload Mumble for Mac

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Make free audio and video phone calls with Skype

I live in Chicago, IL. My family lives in Houston, TX. My wife’s family lives in Scottsdale, AZ. We have three children and unfortunately, they don’t get to see their grandparents much. Before my father passed away earlier this year, he wanted to spend as much face time with his grandchildren as possible. Thankfully, we had Skype to fill the void. It’s the premier, consumer voice over IP (VoIP) calling solution available for Mac and Windows.

There are a couple different consumer video calling solutions on the market today. Many of them come with either the web cam you buy. Some, like Apple’s FaceTime and iChat are proprietary. However, Skype is the one that most everyone thinks of and reaches for when you’re looking to share special moments with long distance loved ones.

Whether you want to share a special event, that new outfit, some stunning scenery, or the results of the big game, Skype allows you to share all this and more with Jetson’s style video calling. You’ll never miss out on the moments that matter most, regardless of the reason you’re apart – a business trip, vacations, etc.

Skype provides a way for small to medium sized businesses to collaborate and save on travel. As long as the call is between two points, Skype won’t hit you for the cost of the call, but they also include business plans with better connections that better facilitate the sharing of ideas, meeting of new team members, etc., effectively minimizing the cost and time of unnecessary business travel.

The latest version of Skype also includes support for HD audio and video. Providing everyone on the call has an HD quality webcam, you can see the video call in HD. However, you’ll need to understand that video of just about any quality, HD most notably, takes up a lot of bandwidth. HD video is likely best sent and received through a wired, vs. wireless connection to your home or office network. If you’re experiencing audio sync or video quality issues, then you will likely need to check your network connection and make any necessary adjustments.

Download Skype

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10 apps to tune-up you PC for the best gaming experience

There are two major steps to create your perfect gaming experience. First of all you have to buy a PC with a suitable hardware configuration to meet all the necessary requirements. In case of gaming, this rig can cost you thousands of dollars, but you won’t get the best results if you don’t install and use the right applications that will improve you system.

So the second step to take is to configure your PC by installing all the necessary software that will maintain and improve the performances of your computer. So here are ten apps to choose from:

Your video card is the most important tool while playing, so you should keep it up to date by installing the latest drivers. Many users have asked why is it so necessary to always track and install tha latest versions. In general every new version brings improvements and fixes bugs, but the major reason is that each new version comes with an updated games library that includes all the necessary tweaks for the latest major titles. The good part here is that there are only two major types of video cards, the ones with NVIDIA (download NVIDIA Forceware Driver) chip and the ones with ATI chip (download AMD ATI Catalyst Drivers).

Installing and uninstalling games can cause your system to become clumsy. Caches get full, drives get fragmented, registries get littered with orphaned entries. The only solution is to install and use any type of tune-up utility. I recommend Tune Up Utilities 2011 or Windows Winset. Both are all-in-one system utilities to optimize, clean up, maintain and speed up your computer.

 

Besides the tune-up utilities, you need also a harddisk manager that can perform all kinds of tasks to maintain, repair and even partition your local HDD. An ALL-IN-ONE partition solution and disk management for 32 bit and 64 bit systems would be EASEUS Partition Master 9. With the free edition of Partition Master 9 you can safely merge different partitions without data loss on the same physical disk. It comes also with the ability to wipe data on unallocated space. This option is very useful when you want to get rid of sensitive data.

Your gaming experience should also be secure. Playing all kinds of online games demands some trusty antiviruses and firewalls. I recommend AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition, avast! Antivirus Free or Avira AntiVir Personal Edition, all three with good results and light hardware requirements. Some of them have even a game mode through which, the application reduces its processes when running a game.

 

Installing and running your games from their discs will cause your optical unity and even the disc to wear. So why not copy them on your local disk and run them from there. This can be easily done by using the Virtual Clone Drive that can emulate and run ISO’s of your games with ease. The application is small, simple in functionality and easy to use. Another alternative is the popular Daemon Tools Lite that can emulate also MDF’s and cue-bin files.

Every hard-core gamer uses the Fraps application. Fraps is a universal Windows application that can perform several tasks while playing. It can show how many Frames Per Second (FPS) you are getting from your game, can take a screenshot with the push of a key, and can capture audio and video up to 2560×1600 with custom frame rates from 1 to 120 frames per second!. Fraps can be used with games using DirectX or OpenGL graphic technology.

Let’s say that you have captured a video sequence with the help of Fraps. How can you edit it and upload it on your beloved social network? Install and use Camtasia Studio from Techsmith. It is more than a simple screen recorder. It is more of a virtual studio that can generate sophisticated, effective screencasts faster, easier, and with more consistency than other similar products.  Camtasia Studio 7 comes with the 32-bit and 64-bit TSCC codec which can export your recording files to a wider range of 3rd party applications, and keep the high-quality look you love.

You may believe me or not, but some games require additional video codecs to be installed. Otherwise the users won’t be able to watch the cinematic videos. The best solution that works in most cases is to install the DivX Plus Codec Pack. The Pack includes everything you need to play DivX or MKV files in third-party applications. In case you own a DXVA capable graphics card, with DivX you can smoothly play high definition videos on it, which means no more blocky videos or dropped frames.

Online games demand a voice communication tool in order give orders to your team or control a raid. With TeamSpeak 3 all these can become reality. TeamSpeak is a VOIP application suitable for voice communication via the Internet. TeamSpeak is created on a platform that offers a client-server architecture where client and server software is clearly separated. This means that the server product runs as a dedicated server, rather than peer-to-peer. In this way the TeamSpeak server software is literally capable of handling thousands of simultaneous clients or users.

If you consider that your rig is ready to enter into the gaming universe, maybe you want to become a member of a community that shares the same passion and plays the same games as you. Welcome to Garena, sign up and join millions of gamers around the world and play your favourite titles together with them. And it’s all free! Garena features also an online service and provides direct support for games like League of Legends or Heroes of Newerth.

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TeamSpeak 3 has been released

Extremely popular around the MMO gamers, TeamSpeak is a VOIP application suitable for voice communication via the Internet. TeamSpeak is created on a platform that offers a client-server architecture where client and server software is clearly separated. This means that the server product runs as a dedicated server, rather than peer-to-peer. In this way the TeamSpeak server software is literally capable of handling thousands of simultaneous clients or users, which results in an Internet-based teleconferencing solution that works for a repertory of different applications such as an alternative to conference calls, cutting long distance telephone costs, or just as a method of personal communication with friends and family.

TeamSpeak 3 is a complete rewrite in C++ and continues the legacy of the original TeamSpeak communication system previously offered in TeamSpeak Classic (1.5) and TeamSpeak 2. Therefore the voice quality has been significantly improved through new codecs, advanced noise reduction and echo cancelation. Also the latency has been significantly lowered compared to TeamSpeak 2 and other voice communication software solutions. Besides the obvious improvements, TeamSpeak 3 comes with a fully integrated 3D sound support which allows spatial placement of sound effects and audio streams. This creates the illusion of a sound source being placed anywhere in three dimensional space, including behind, to the left of, to the right of, above, or below the listener. No special hardware is needed. Simply use your headset or 5.1/7.1 speakers to enjoy spatial sound.

With TeamSpeak 3 you can now connect to multiple voice servers at once. This can be controlled by using “tabs” similar to what is found in most web browsers. In this way you can  administer or participate in multiple TeamSpeak 3 Servers from a single interface. In addition, support for multiple audio devices and outputs over simultaneously connected servers is also available. Preferred servers are now stored as bookmarks, similar to your favorite web browser. TeamSpeak 3 was designed with cutting edge hardware in mind. Thus, it will have full support for the latest G-keys from Logitech in addition to other currently unannounced hardware manufacturers.

Another intersting new addition is the Friends/Foes list. When a friend or foe is added, the TeamSpeak 3 Client remembers your friend or foe’s unique identity regardless of whether they change their display/nickname, and regardless of what server you’re connected to. TeamSpeak 3 allows you to assign a custom nickname to your friends and can play a custom sound event when your friends come online. TeamSpeak 3 also tracks your friends/foes “last seen” date and allows you to permanently mute/ignore your foes.

In order to complete your social experience, Teamspeak 3 features file transfers.  Depending on your permissions, you can recursively upload or download files on a per-channel basis or into a common folder tree. All files are stored directly on the TeamSpeak 3 Server. Users no longer need to worry about how to setup FTP or mess with complicated firewall issues or other file sharing solutions. TeamSpeak 3 makes this automatically.

download TeamSpeak 3 for Windows | download TeamSpeak 3 for Mac

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