Oculus’s New Technology Enables Lower-Spec PCs to Be Rift-Ready

Oculus's New Technology Enables Lower-Spec PCs to Be Rift-ReadyOculus’s New Technology Enables Lower-Spec PCs to Be Rift-Ready
Asynchronous Spacewarp extrapolates frames when PC performance drops
Nvidia GeForce 960 and Intel Core i3-6100 enough to run Oculus Rift
Cheapest Oculus Ready PC costs just $499
Oculus is introducing a new frame-extrapolation technique called Asynchronous Spacewarp (ASW) that has brought down the minimum PC requirements needed to run its Rift hardware. According to the Facebook-owned VR outfit, ASW “almost halves the CPU/GPU time required to produce nearly the same output from the same content”.

This means that users can now enjoy Oculus Rift on lesser hardware requirements than before – you now need an Nvidia GeForce 960 or higher, plus Intel Core i3-6100 / AMD FX4350 or greater. That’s a step down from the earlier minimum system specs: Nvidia GeForce 970, and Intel i5-4590. You can’t run that on Windows 7 SP1 though, as the new ASW technique only works on Windows 8 or higher.

“[ASW] will be enabled across all ranges of hardware and systems that support the feature, and activated for all applications,” Oculus said in a blog post.

To go with the announcement, the company also launched a new Oculus Ready PC at its Oculus Event on Sunday. The new CyberPowerPC is equipped with Radeon RX 470 and AMD FX 4350, and costs just $499 (Rs. 33,500). By comparison, when Oculus Rift launched in March this year, Oculus Ready PCs started at $949 (Rs. 63,500).
Oculus said ASW is meant to complement the existing Asynchronous Timewarp (ATW) feature, which tracks the user’s head rotation. ASW, meanwhile, covers “character movement, camera movement, Touch controller movement, and the player’s own positional movement”.

Put in simpler terms, while ATW is great for images at a distance, ASW is really good for objects rendered up close. ASW’s extrapolation technique lets VR experiences run “at up to half rate”, Oculus said.
A videograb from the new Oculus First Contact
Photo Credit: Oculus
Oculus also announced two new features – Oculus Avatars and Oculus First Contact.

Starting December 6, you can design your own avatar by choosing a face, hairstyle, eyewear, clothing and texture effects. Oculus said that avatars would soon be available on the Gear VR platform as well.

Oculus First Contact is meant as an initiation experience meant to get Rift users acquainted with Oculus Touch controllers – shipping December 6 as well – featuring an “’80s sci-fi throwback” robot. In it, you can fire toy guns or even 3D print holographic butterflies.

Tags: Oculus, Oculus Avatars, Oculus First Contact, Asynchronous Spacewarp, Oculus Rift, Facebook, Oculus Ready, CyberPowerPC


Wix Unveils New Innovation: Websites That Design Themselves Using AI

wix adi embargo 2

You’ve heard of artificial intelligence — AI — the machine-learning process that can drive cars, answer questions and beat humans at chess? According to an announcement released today from website builder Wix, you can now add web design to that list.

Wix has developed the world’s first website-building platform that uses artificial intelligence — what Wix refers to as “Artificial Design Intelligence” (ADI) — to create a site automatically for you, right in front of your eyes.

“Wix ADI is specifically designed to eliminate the most significant challenges of building a website — time, design and content creation,” the announcement says.

Given that small business owners typically have little time to develop a site themselves or adequate budget to afford a web designer to do it for them, the new Wix feature may come as welcome news.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Nir Zohar, Wix president and COO, told Small Business Trends in a telephone interview that, “Two of the key things business owners struggle with are the site’s design and content. They ask questions, such as, ‘How do I build the right content for my site?’, ‘What’s the right layout?’, or ‘What pages do I need?’”

Zohar said that, for ten years, Wix has used technology to solve web design problems, and Artificial Design Intelligence is no different.

“Our team worked hard for two years to create the first-ever artificial design intelligence,” he said. “We drew on our vast knowledge base of how people build websites, which informed the development of ADI.”

How Wix Artificial Design Intelligence Works

Wix combined data from the experiences of more than 86 million users to create algorithms that ensure each site’s design will be, in its words, “stunning” and “complete.”

Wix Artificial Design Intelligence starts by asking the user five questions:

  • What will the website be used for?
  • Do you need any special features or capabilities? (an online store, appointment booking capability or a blog.)
  • What is the name of your business?
  • Where is the business located?
  • What design style do you want?

“You answer those five questions, press a button and Wix automatically creates the site for you within minutes,” Zohar said. “Each is custom-made, designed as if by a pro and absolutely unique. There are billions of different options, so your site will not look anything like the next guy’s.”

Once the user answers the questions, Artificial Design Intelligence produces what Wix calls “structures” consisting of text, images, site and page titles — all the building blocks needed to make a finished site. Then, it then goes through a filtering process to remove things that wouldn’t make sense to a human and, after that, chooses color schemes and design styles from which the user can select.

It then puts together sections and compiles pages, to complete the site. Users can make changes, edits and additions, to further customize the design. This site, JessKellyTrainer.com, was created using ADI.

jess kelly training wix artificial design intelligence

Also, instead of Wix ADI developing the site for the user, it can show the person how to do it, step-by-step, the announcement says.

Wix Artificial Design Intelligence Features

Each Wix ADI-designed website is unique. The Wix algorithm selects from billions of combinations to create a one-of-a-kind site, exclusive to the user. Also, because ADI uses artificial intelligence, it learns as it goes, customizing the site based on what it knows about the user’s needs and business category.

ADI gathers content from across the web. Rather than relying on the user to gather content — which is often where the website design process bogs down — ADI takes care of it, drawing from sources all across the web, including social channels. Users can choose to add the content, or not.

Users can customize their sites. As mentioned above, once ADI completes the site design, users can change themes, edit text, add photos and more. Wix offers an extensive image library from which users can select.

ADI emphasizes aesthetic appeal. Wix wants each site to have a “stunning” (there’s that word again) design that changes based on the business’s needs, and it depends on ADI to make that happen.


Although professional web designers may take exception, Wix Artificial Design Intelligence may be the answer to many a small business owner’s needs due to its ability to self-design a site that, according to the company, is aesthetically pleasing and content rich.

When you think about it, that’s all the qualities a website needs to be useful in helping a business meet its sales and marketing goals.

Wix is rolling ADI out gradually and it will be available to all its customers within a few months, says the announcement.

More in: Breaking News


New Sephora Chatbot Aids Customers in Finding the Right Beauty Products

Sephora's Virtual Artist app is giving customers a chance to see how makeup and other cosmetics will look on them with the help of a chatbot.

Trying a new lipstick or make up on your face is so yesterday! A new chatbot from Sephora Virtual Artist powered by Modiface will let you see every imaginable color combination without ever touching your face.

This type of collaboration for product discovery using Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a first for a large retailer. With this new application, Sephora can connect and interact with its customers in a new way. From now on, Sephora customers can virtually try-on actual lipsticks, glosses, shadows, mascara and foundation products on their own photograph, without setting foot in a store.

The Modiface patented technology has been integrated with Sephora Virtual Artist to analyze a picture taken by a camera or smartphone. After it analyzes the image, the chatbot can find relevant products based on the user’s selection.

Modiface is a technology based on automatic face analysis research that started at Stanford University in 1999. Today it is used by dermatologists, dentists, hairstylists, make-up artists, nail salons and consumers to see how they will look without actually undergoing any procedure or style change.

A Look at How Sephora’s Virtual Artist App Works

The Mirror device is its augmented-reality technology that shows makeup, hair, skin, and anti-aging changes in LIVE 3D.

The use of AI and chatbots is not reserved for large retailers like Sephora. Small businesses can use this technology to engage with their customers for a more personalized experience.

Huge corporations aren’t the only businsses that benefit from using chatbots. There are numerous ways a small business can benefit from using chatbots. You can deploy your own chatbots to boost your small business strategy and add to your overall marketing mix. The bots you create can be used as a consumer resource, streamline sales, influence buying decisions, answer customer queries, boost social media engagement, and simplify payment.

You can try the Sephora Virtual Artist right here.


Amazon Launches New Kindle Oasis, Most Expensive To Date

amazon kindle oasis0

Each new iteration of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader brings with it new innovations and price points that make these devices a great value. However, this time around, Amazon might have jacked up the price a bit too much for the Kindle Oasis.

Early reviews of the Kindle Oasis have been great, with virtually everyone agreeing on the functional improvements Amazon has made for this reader. But they also agree the $289.99 price tag is high, compared to the Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Voyage, which come in at $80, $120, and $200 respectively.

What the Amazon Oasis Gives You for $290

The Kindle Oasis is 30 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than previous Kindles.  When portable gadgets lose size, it generally means the battery suffers, and this is the case with Oasis. However, Amazon has overcome this challenge with a frame and cover that doubles as a rechargeable battery. According to the company, you can expect a battery life of eight weeks with 30 minutes of daily reading or months on standby. If you don’t use the case, you can get more than 2 weeks of battery life.

The Kindle Oasis weighs in at only 4.6 ounces or 131 grams with a new 6-inch Paperwhite display. It has 60 percent more LEDs for better reading under all light conditions. It is made from chemically reinforced glass that is much stronger, but still maintains the same 300 ppi resolution and similar contrast of the Paperwhite and Voyage Kindles.

The brains and battery for the Oasis are housed on the right side of the device with a tapered design that doubles as grip (If you are a lefty, don’t worry, a built in accelerometer automatically changes the content when you hold it on your left hand).  This makes one handed operation of the Kindle much easier, letting you use your thumb to access the front bezel to turn pages.

amazon kindle oasis

Kindle Oasis Specs

  • Display: Amazon’s 6″ Paperwhite display technology with E Ink Carta and built-in light, 300 ppi, optimized font technology, 16-level gray scale.
  • Size: 5.6″ x 4.8″ x 0.13-0.33″ (143 mm x 122 mm x 3.4-8.5 mm)
  • Cover: 5.7” x 4.9” x 0.07-0.18” (144 mm x 125 mm x 1.9-4.6 mm)
  • Weight Wi-Fi: 4.6 oz (131 g); Wi-Fi + 3G: 4.7 oz (133 g); Cover: 3.8 oz (107 g)
  • On-Device Storage: 4 GB; holds thousands of books.
  • Cloud Storage: Free cloud storage for all Amazon content.
  • Charge Time: Fully charges in less than 3 hours from a computer via USB cable.
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity: Supports 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n standard with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication or Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS).
  • Content Formats Supported: Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.

Kindles are E-readers, and besides the connectivity they offer to download books, there is little else you can use the device for in business. But you can receive documents on it using WiFi or free 3G connectivity.

Unlike other mobile devices, e-readers and tablets have longer lives. This means the well-made Kindle readers of the past are still being used, and it will take real innovation for owners of these devices to buy another one. While the Kindle Oasis has some noteworthy improvements, it may not be enough for older Kindle owners to ditch their perfectly working readers for this version. When you add the higher price tag to the equation, it may be a deal breaker.

You can preorder the Kindle Oasis now, with shipping scheduled to start on April 27th.

Images: Amazon


New Business Ideas: Wacky Gizmos

Jelly Click

Jelly Click

Talk about gadgets, and everybody is after the same things: the latest, the fastest, most powerful, most advanced, etc.

Yet makers of gizmos and gadgets are looking into fresh ways to make geeky consumers get excited about their products. They are increasingly incorporating unusual, wacky and maybe even fun ideas into their gadgets.

Let’s have a look at some interesting ideas:

  • The Jelly Click inflatable mouse (pictured above) is a godsend for travelers who have to pack tons of gadgetry into their luggage and gadget bags. Save yourself that extra bit of space for your beloved iPod by flattening the Jelly Click before stuffing it into your bag. Just remember to inflate it up for use later.
  • Fancy an USB-powered massage while at work? The USB Far Infra-Red Pad is powered from a spare USB port, and it claims to emit infrared light onto your arms, back or biceps to remove the weariness and leave you revitalized after a long day at the computer desk. Compact and lightweight, you can get it from US$21.99.
  • Another USB-inspired idea, the USB calculator mouse might prove useful for all you business executives who are always poring over spreadsheets and crunching numbers. It’s a useful device for laptop users especially who don’t have a user-friendly keypad. Priced at £14.95, this integrated calculator mouse shows you the results of your calculations instantly without having to run additional apps to crunch your numbers.
  • The next idea is somewhat ridiculous, but Hello Kitty’s fans could be interested in it. The USB Kitty is a watch-cat for your computer. It comes with two infrared sensors to help alert any intruders by shaking its head and producing many different sounds. Helpful perhaps in warning people to leave your PC alone when you’re away for a bathroom  break.

What other unusual gadget ideas can you think of or have seen lately? Share them with us!

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This New Business Ideas Report is compiled specially for Small Business Trends from the editors of CoolBusinessIdeas.com.


New Business Ideas: More Than Shoes

FiveFingersIt’s hard to imagine entrepreneurs achieving mass market success with shoes. After all, shoes are everyday items and not very exciting as the latest gadgets.

Despite this, entrepreneurs around the world have come up with winning shoes ideas that have captured the attention of today’s consumers. You’ve probably seen countless people wearing the colorful Crocs shoes in your city. Here are more interesting footwear ideas to pique your curiosity.

  • Designed for physical exercise, the Kangoo Jumps rebound exercise shoesare loaded with springs so that you can jump higher than on your own two feet. You need not worry about adverse side-effects as the shoes reduce impact by 80% so they’re really easy on your joints, hips and spine.
  • The FiveFingers shoes (pictured above) target outdoor sports fans who prefer to go barefoot during their activities. These glove-like shoes permit you to safely enjoy your various physical activities such as running while retaining the sensation and effectiveness of being barefoot.
  • Get rid of smelly feet with Italy’s Geox shoes, created by Italian entrepreneur Mario Polegato. Fitted with a patented membrane, these Geox shoes are designed to leave toes cool and eliminate the bad smell because the soles are specially made to allow feet to “breathe” elegantly.
  • Walkers are standing up and taking note of Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) trainers. Based on the erect barefoot stride of Africa’s Masai tribe, the chunky-soled shoes create a rocking motion that improves posture and balance. Professional sportsmen apparently use MBT trainers to speed up regeneration, optimise their running style, and for speed and power training.

Have you seen any creative and innovative footwear ideas lately in your country?

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This New Business Ideas Report is compiled specially for Small Business Trends from the editors of CoolBusinessIdeas.com.


30 Cool New Products from Amazon Launchpad

Check out these 30 new hot crowdfunded products getting a lot more visibility on the Amazon startups marketplace, Launchpad

If you happen to be browsing on Amazon’s site and you’ve wondered how many items are available from the online mega retailer, click right here. As of this posting, there were 366,874,689 items being offered for sale, which is quite daunting if you’re looking to introduce a new product and compete with the hundreds of millions out there. Granted there are many departments, but even a simple search for watches turns up more than two million items.

In order to give startups a leg up when breaking into this vast online marketplace, Amazon introduced Launchpad last year.

Crowdfunding sites like such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo and accelerators like Y Combinator have partnered with Amazon to identify products with the greatest potential and placed them into the Launchpad product listing.

Unlike other listings, Launchpad products get in-house advertising, a widget on Amazon’s storefront landing page, and a more user friendly format for potential buyers. The creators of the products also get videos and a larger space to describe their items in detail allowing them the potential for a greater personal connection with customers.

To give a better idea of the kinds of products the platform accepts, here are 30 items available on Launchpad with a bit about each.

Amazon Startups Products You Can Buy on Launchpad

Withings Aura Smart Sleep System

The Aura sleep-tracking system monitors and improves your sleep quality by waking you up at the best time in your sleep cycle with dedicated light and music programs. The device works with Spotify and over 10,000 web radio stations. After you set it up under the mattress, you can track your sleep on your smartphone (though only on iOS devices so far).

Amazon Startups Product - Withings Aura Smart Sleep System

The product follows a trend in sleep and other personal fitness and health tracking products. The system is available for $299.95.

ICE Portable Wireless Floating Bluetooth Speaker

Like something out of science fiction, this floating Bluetooth speaker orb spins above a magnetic base in the air with 10mm of ground clearance. And its creators say it is capable of reproducing music at very high volumes without distortion.

Amazon Startups Product - ICE Portable Wireless Floating Bluetooth Speaker

The novelty factor alone is a great selling point, but this product also highlights the connectivity theme in so many tech products with its use of near field communication (NFC) and a cost of just $149.99.

Bluesmart One – Smart Luggage

Unlike the Modobag, which you can ride, the Bluesmart One must still be pulled. But the carry-on connects wirelessly to your smartphone so you can keep track of your luggage, and check to be sure it’s locked and underweight all from your mobile devie. And it has a charging dock, with two USB ports that has up to six charging cycles for your phone.

Amazon Startups Product - Bluesmart One - Smart Luggage

The compact design, the connectivity, charging option and 3G + GPS tracking makes this suitcase an attractive item for the business and weekend travelers at $439.99.

Nucleus Anywhere Intercom

Nucleus uses the functionality of Alexa and a wide-angle HD camera to allow video chats throughout your home. It lets users see the entire room and everyone in it so the whole family can participate.

Amazon Startups Product - Nucleus Anywhere Intercom

By adding Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service, this product no doubt improved its chances for being accepted. Additionally, it is portable, very functional and goes beyond chatting because of the Alexa integration. And again the product is available for just $242.

GOLF TAGS Real-Time Golf Tracking and Game Analysis System

This product brings the trending technology of metrics to the game of golf. Golf Tags tracks club distances, shot dispersion, greens in regulation, course strategy putting and performs scoring analysis. You can check the stats on Android Wear, Pebble, Samsung Gear and Magellan Echo as well as other phones and other smartwatches.

Amazon Startups Product - GOLF TAGS Real-Time Golf Tracking and Game Analysis System

Golf is not for everyone, but the people that play it are extremely passionate and they are known for spending on tools to improve their game. This product requires no batteries to replace or recharging and provides the engagement needed to improve a player’s game all for a cost of just $99.99.

Remocam RMCU-1508 Smart Home Security Camera

Using what the company calls patent-pending infrared Smart Home technology, the product monitors with HD live streaming, records with a motion sensor and uses a Smart Home feature to control your electronic devices.

Amazon Startups Product - Remocam RMCU-1508 Smart Home Security Camera

Security is in huge demand, whether in the physical or digital world. And the Remocam uses its Smart Home technology to monitor your home day or night at a cost of just $199.

Modular Robotics MOSS Zombonitron 1600 Kit

The product represents modular robotics at its best. Each MOSS block is a different part of a robot, and what you get depends on the combination of blocks you put together. The kit is powered by a rechargeable LiPo battery and an extended battery block, along with motors, light and proximity sensors.

The product could potentially appeal to parents, kids, tinkerers, technology buffs and others. So adding it to Launchpad was probably a no brainer because of its broad potential customer base. The price of $199.95 also likely made it a logical inclusion.

Boosted Dual+ 2000W Electric Skateboard

Until very recently, the skateboard has pretty much been powered by the rider. But Boosted has 2,000 watts of power to help skateboarders coast effortlessly along. And that’s not all. According to the company, the new skateboard has the world’s only dual-drive system, meaning riders can accelerate up any hill and brake to a complete stop on the way back down. It has a maximum speed of 22 mph with a range of 7 Miles.

Amazon Startups Product - Boosted Dual+ 2000W Electric Skateboard

Skateboarders have always been passionate about their sport, and many are eager to try new innovations. This product was obviously a good choice for Launchpad. Even at $1,499, it has already sold out on Amazon and the company site. (Don’t you wish this had been your product?)

 gLink Garage Door Remote

Garage door openers are meant to add convenience, but too often they are just one more piece of tech to fret over. gLink turns your iOS and Android phone into a remote without having to worry about battery, power cord  or other maintenance. Each unit supports up to 10 permanent users with AES128, bidirectional authentication and dynamic password.

Amazon Startups Product - gLink Garage Door Remote

The price, convenience — at $44.99– and functionality gLink provides makes it an ideal product for Launchpad. Again, the potential customer base is huge.

CreoPop Cordless 3D Printing Pen

Finally 3D printing is in the mainstream. CreoPop is extending the popularity of this technology to a cordless, handheld device that lets your draw with filaments to create 3D objects.

Amazon Startups Product - CreoPop Cordless 3D Printing Pen

The selling point of CreoPop is proprietary photopolymers that cure under LED lights instead of PLA melted plastic. This means it is cool to the touch when finished. And, at $84, it represents an affordable way to get into 3D printing.


The Torch helmet has two very large surfaces of light that wrap around to the sides for greater visibility. It can run for up to 6 hours on steady beam setting or 36 hours on flash. The lens has an explosion proof 9h hardness tempered glass and oleo phobic coating to prevent oil stains and fingerprints from smudging it.

Amazon Startups Product - TORCH APPAREL T2 Bike Helmet

With more people riding bikes, the helmet appeals to both fitness and safety. And at $149.99 it will be hard to resist.

Brushee PocketSized Toothbrush 1 Pack

What about a throwaway toothbrush, pre-pasted, with floss and pick, and already FDA-Approved to boot. A cheap and convenient product, customers will likely be unable to resist these for their car, gym bag, travel bag and elsewhere at a cost of just $3.49 per pack.

Amazon Startups Product - Brushee PocketSized Toothbrush 1 Pack

Oral hygiene is never a hard sell, so Brushee has that going for it. The reviews for this product are not bad, with most people liking it, and a lot of suggestions that should make the next generation even better. 

Kinsa Smart Thermometer

This smart thermometer is FDA-cleared, doesn’t need batteries and works with iOS and Android devices. All you have to do is plug Kinsa into your smartphone and you get accurate readings in seconds. It creates profiles for everyone in the family, time stamps the temperature, tracks health history and offers real-time guidance on what steps to take.

Amazon Startups Product - Kinsa Smart Thermometer

An invaluable tool for parents, or anyone else for that matter, the device is reasonably priced at $19.99, and the fact that it doesn’t need batteries makes it highly practical.

QardioArm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

This is a clinically validated monitor that meets both US and European Standards. It measures systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels and heart rate with irregular heartbeat detection. The device works wirelessly with the free Qardio App allowing you to upload, store and share data on iOS, Android and Kindle devices.

Amazon Startups Product - QardioArm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

There’s a trend toward being more proactive with healthcare, and the QardiArm provides the hardware and software to make that possible. The technology is easy, accurate and useful at a cost of just $84.35.

EcoWasher Pro Detergent Free Laundry System

The EcoWasher Pro cleans your dirty laundry without detergents. An oxidation process turns cold water into a powerful cleaning agent that even gets rid of bacteria and germs detergents and hot water miss. Not to mention, you will no longer have to use chemicals that have caused a wide range of reactions on toddlers and others to wash your clothes.

Amazon Startups Product - EcoWasher Pro Detergent Free Laundry System

An environmentally friendly product for something we all do, the laundry, the $230.76 price tag might give customers pause. But when you take into account how much detergents cost, the onetime price definitely seems worth many of the benefits it provides.

Ride Scoozy Electric Bike

The Scoozy is a 350 watt direct drive electric bike that gives you 20-40 miles per charge with a cruising speed of 20 mph.

Amazon Startups Product - Ride Scoozy Electric Bik

For people who work and shop close to home and want to contribute to improving the environment, this is a great product — even at $1,399. Not having to deal with traffic, parking and gas are also great selling points.

Soylent Ready to Drink Food, 12 Pack of 14 oz. Bottles

Sometimes you are so busy you forget to eat. That is where Soylent comes in with a 100 percent vegan replacement meal you can drink. You can use it as a base for a smoothie. The carbs come from beets, protein from soy, and healthy fats from renewable algae sources.

Amazon Startups Product - Soylent Ready to Drink Food, 12 Pack of 14 oz. Bottles

The market is full of protein bars and shakes with questionable ingredients. Soylent is a better alternative when you want a quick and healthy replacement meal, for vegans and carnivores alike — and the $32.30 cost for a 12 pack makes it seem cost effective too.

Rocketbook Notebook

Here’s the world’s first smart, microwave-to-erase-and-reuse notebook. That alone should be enough to get most people’s attention. The Pilot FriXion pens are essential for the best outcome when it comes to erasing what you write with your microwave. If you want to share your notes, you can use the app with your iOS or Android device to send your notes to Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud, OneNote and more.

Amazon Startups Product - Rocketbook Notebook

Rocketbook has a novelty factor along with being practical. However, with tablets and phablets essentially doing the same thing without the need for a “nuking” and a $27 price tag, it remains to be seen how the product will do with customers.

Automatic: Connected Car Adapter

Automatic, a connected car adapter, decodes the check engine light, gets a live insurance agent in case of an accident, promotes good driving habits, monitors speed, coaches teen drivers and is compatible with Amazon Echo.

Amazon Startups Product - Automatic: Connected Car Adapter

Going to the mechanic to find out what that check engine light means can be costly. And the adapter, at $79.99, is likely to also get the attention of a lot of DIY’ers and weekend mechanics.

Osmo Coding Set

Osmo Coding introduces your child to code early so he or she can learn a very practical language in our technological world at an early age. But the product also improves problem solving and logic skills, which have applications beyond computers.

Amazon Startups Product - Osmo Coding Set

Being multi-lingual is more important than ever, and coding is becoming a very useful language to learn. At $49.95, this is a timely educational tool likely to appeal to many.

Canary All-in-One Home Security Device

Canary provides real-time video stream of your home with 1080p HD camera, automatic night vision, 90+ dB siren, motion-activated recording, auto-arm/disarm, and instant access to local authorities, all for $174.43. It also monitors the air quality, temperature and humidity all connected to the internet and available on your iOS or Android device.

With connectivity a prevailing theme with many Launchpad products, the Canary adds even more functionality for monitoring your environment.

RIF6 Cube 2-inch Mobile Projector

The Cube is a 2-inch portable mobile projector with 20,000 Hour LED light and 120-inch display. It works with phones, laptops, tablets and gaming consoles and costs $245.49.

With remote work and collaboration now part of almost all organizations, the Cube has potential beyond entertainment.

Dacuda PocketScan

Tagged as the world’s smallest wireless scanner for your smart phone, tablet, PC or MAC, PocketScan was conceived of after one too many trips to the library by the creator.

Amazon Startups Product - Dacuda PocketScan

Just like the Cube, this device has great potential in today’s workforce and is reasonably priced at just $149.

Petnet SmartFeeder iPhone

If you leave a big bowl of food out for your pet, your furry friend will more than likely eat all of it. The Petnet SmartFeeder and app provide remote and scheduled feedings, manage portions, notifications and food delivery for the feeder.

Amazon Startups Product - Petnet SmartFeeder iPhone

Obesity is as much of a crisis for pets as it is for people, and the SmartFeeder can help combat this problem though at $314.98 certainly not without cost The fact that you can control it remotely ensures your pet gets the right amount of food all the time.

Revolights Eclipse Bicycle Lighting System ($199)

The popularity of biking has inspired many innovations. The Revolights system puts lights on the biggest thing on the bike (beside the rider), the wheel. The light is visible from 360 Degrees, and a smart rear brake light blinks when you are slowing down.

Men’s Journal Magazine voted it, “The Best Bike Lighting System in the World,” and if you see the video, it makes a great case for the product. According to the National Bicycle Dealers Association there were 17.4 million bikes sold in 2015, so there is a big market for Revolights which seems priced right at just $199.

GlocalMe G2 Global Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot

GlocalMe is the world’s first 4G global mobile WiFi hotspot with support in more than 108 countries. It has 4G/3G speeds with cloud SIM technology that doesn’t require a local SIM card.

Amazon Startups Product - GlocalMe G2 Global Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot

The tool might not be for everyone, but at just $159 for power users it is a great backup when you can’t find the right connection. The built-in 6000 mAh power bank also charges your smartphone.

ActiveDesk Electric Adjustable Height Standing Desk

ActiveDesk is a DIY frame for an adjustable standing desk with automatic smart memory keypad. The DIY kit, priced at $499, only includes the frame without a top, memory pad and height motors.

The full version of this desk is used by people at Google, Uber, Quora, HubSpot and AppSumo. The company has a strong customer base, but the DIY version might be a great way to add to it.

Aquaovo Alter Ego Personal Water Filter

Alter Ego has a proven technology that has been used for more than 10 years. The bottle filters up to 750 liters or 198 gallons of water by getting rid of urban contaminants such as chlorine and arsenic, as well as 99.9 percent of Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

Amazon Startups Product - Aquaovo Alter Ego Personal Water Filter

Since it is aimed at a somewhat niche market, the $194.97 price may be too much for some. 

CUFF Lisa Smart Necklace

The CUFF Lisa necklace is a beacon that lets you create a community of people you want to alert in case of an emergency.

Amazon Startups Product - CUFF Lisa Smart Necklace

This is a great safety product anyone can use, but especially seniors and individuals that may have dementia or related disorders such as Alzheimer’s. The $46.98 price tag should be reasonable given its important use.

Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone

Unlike cheap drones you find listed elsewhere, the Autel X-Star is a premium drone priced at $899 with a 4K Ultra HD video camera capable of live view up to 1.2 miles away and a flight time of up to 25 minutes.

Amazon Startups Product - Autel Robotics X-Star Premium Drone

The drone market is saturated, and it will take exceptional features to get the attention of consumers. The X-Star has noteworthy specs, but it will face great competition from the likes of DJI Phantom.

URB-E Black Label Electric Folding Scooter

With a 20 mile range and a top speed of 15mph, the URB-E scooter also charges your smartphone. At $1,699, it is 100 percent built in America with quality materials, including carbon fiber and American aircraft-grade 6061 aluminum.

Amazon Startups Product - URB-E Black Label Electric Folding Scooter

The company says it is the world’s most compact, foldable electric vehicle. The sooter created by an award winning industrial designer and a former lead engineer at Porsche. For people that want quality and are willing to pay for it, this might be the scooter for them.

If you have the next great item and you want to sell it on Launchpad, you have to register as an Amazon vendor and provide details about the product. The company then determines if there is demand for it based on an initial order shipped to Amazon’s fulfilment centers. If you are approved, you will pay a five percent incremental referral fee in addition to the regular referral fee Amazon charges for sold items.

Images: Amazon.com


First Phones Under the New Microsoft Lumia Brand Arrive

microsoft lumia 535

The first two phones under the new Microsoft Lumia have arrived — Microsoft Lumia 535 and Lumia 535 Dual SIM.

Microsoft recently announced that it was replacing the former Nokia Lumia brand with its own Microsoft Lumia beginning with the company’s next Lumia phone release.

The name change follows Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services division — the phone and tablet part of the Finnish company’s business.That acquisition was announced in late 2013.

The devices come out this month and will be available in bright green, bright orange, white, dark grey, cyan and black.

But perhaps more important are the price and features:

    • Both phones will run Windows 8.1
    • Both will integrate apps for Skype, Office, OneDrive, OneNote, and Cortana — Microsoft digital online assistant
    • Both will feature a wide angle 5 megapixel front facing camera
    • Both will feature a large (960 x 540) 5-inch qHD display
    • Both will run on a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and have 1GB of RAM, the Verge reports.

In fact the only real difference between the two devices is the addition of a second SIM card so personal and word data can be kept separate, an increasing trend these days.

Microsoft had been playing things close to the vest with its latest devices under the Microsoft Lumia brand.

Just prior to the release, the company teased consumers with a partial photo and the briefest information about the upcoming release date on its Nokia Conversations website.

The company was also promoting the hashtag #MoreLumia on social media to encourage chatter on the new smartphones.

Finally, the company released a video promoting the new smartphone but it reveals even less about the new devices. Get a glimpse below:

Cost of the new phones is expected to be between $130 and $137. And the devices are expected to be out sometime this month.

Microsoft has already re-branded many of the existing Nokia apps and is in the process of re-branding global and local Nokia websites and social channels.

Image: Microsoft

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Nokia to Introduce a New Lumia Windows Phone With a Metal Case

lumia 925 windows phone

Nokia will release a new Lumia 925 Windows phone in June.  This phone will have a metal case and upgrades to its camera technology.

The Lumia 925 features the same software and technical specifications as its predecessor from Nokia, the Lumia 720. The most notable changes are how the phone looks and feels, and the quality of image it produces. The Verge.com’s Tom Warren writes that the Lumia 925 is made from aluminum on a polycarbonate base rather than the traditional  polycarbonate case common among Nokia phones.

The addition of aluminum on the frame and on the sides makes it lightweight.  But metal also makes this Windows Phone sturdy — an advantage if employees will use a phone outdoors or in rugged conditions.

Nokia has been focused lately on upgrading its photo and video capture capabilities (Nokia recently invested in a camera technologies company).   The Lumia 925 makes improvements on the previous model of Windows phone from the company.  An 8.7-megapixel camera accentuated by two LED flash lights adorns the rear of the phone. The camera is mounted inside a small hump on the rear of the phone.

At the time of the 925 release, Nokia announced an update to all Lumia phones, with the addition of Nokia Smart Camera. This camera software captures up to ten images at one time of a moving subject.

The camera upgrades should be welcome news to small business personnel who use smartphone images in their operations or post frequently to social networks. Nokia claims that its low-light images are betterthan similar ones taken using an iPhone 5.

Windows 8 An Advantage for Business Users

The Lumia 925 is a Windows 8 based smartphone. Warren calls this a weakness, but that depends on how you plan to use a phone.  Business owners may find the Windows 8 phone system to be an advantage.  The applications and overall look/feel will be familiar to those who use Windows 8 on their desktops. The IT department can provide enterprise-wide support.  And there’s integration with desktop Windows.

“We keep innovating,” Jo Harlow, executive vice president of Nokia Smart Devices, said in a statement announcing the details of the Lumia 925. “We’re advancing experiences on the Nokia Lumia portfolio whether that means great new benefits for an existing Lumia owner, or bringing new showcase devices like the Nokia Lumia 925.”

The Lumia 925 Windows phone will be introduced in the U.S. through T-Mobile. A retail cost has not yet been established.

Lumia 925 Photo via Nokia


Blizzard Announces New Overwatch Character Sombra at BlizzCon 2016

Blizzard Announces New Overwatch Character Sombra at BlizzCon 2016Blizzard Announces New Overwatch Character Sombra at BlizzCon 2016
Sombra will be playable via Blizzard’s Public Test Realm (PTR) next week
The PTR will also have the new Arcade Mode for Overwatch
A new map, Ecopoint: Antarctica will be present too
At BlizzCon 2016, Blizzard finally announced the latest character to grace its hero-themed shooter, Overwatch.

According to the official Overwatch website, Sombra is a hacker with a base of operations located in Dorado, Mexico. She is affiliated with Talon and formerly Los Muertos – two of the game’s factions.

(Also see: Blizzard and Google DeepMind to Use StarCraft II for AI Research)

Overwatch Sombra ability list:
Machine Pistol: fully-automatic machine pistol fires in a short-range spread.
Hack: can hack enemies to temporarily stop them from using their abilities, or hacks first aid kits to make them useless to her opponents.
Thermoptic Camo: can become invisible for a short period of time, during which her speed is boosted considerably. Attacking, using offensive abilities, or taking damage disables her camouflage.
Translocator: tosses out a translocator beacon. She can instantly return to the beacon’s location while it is active (including when it’s in mid-flight).
EMP: Discharges electromagnetic energy in a wide radius, destroying enemy barriers and shields and hacking all opponents caught in the blast.
(Also see: The Original Diablo Will Be Playable in Diablo 3)
Sombra is the second new character added to Overwatch this year. The first being Ana – a sniper with healing abilities.
Blizzard hasn’t announced when Sombra would be available for all but has mentioned she will be playable as a part of its Public Test Realm (PTR) next week. PTR is a service to test patches before release to the general populace. Along with Sombra, the PTR will have a new arctic map, Ecopoint: Antarctica, which is designed around 1v1 and 3v3 play as a part of a new mode known as Arcade.

For what it’s worth, we found Overwatch to be one of the year’s best games. There are various heroes to choose from, near perfect gameplay, and the promise of extended support and free content, most of which Blizzard has made good on so far.

Tags: Sombra, BlizzCon, Blizzard, Overwatch, BlizzCon 2016, Xbox One, PS4, PC Games, PC Gaming, Sombra ability list, Overwatch Sombra ability list, Overwatch Arcade Mode, Ecopoint Antarctica, PTR, Public Test Realm