Category Archives: Technology

Shopping Comparison Apps

Joseph Pisani wrote an interesting article comparing Shopping Apps.  He goes through the features and benefits of 5 apps:  RetailMeNot; Amazon; RedLaser; Cartwheel by Target; and Flipp.

Check your app store to see what’s available for your phone.

As I noted in an earlier post, Best Buy seems to be reluctantly embracing the “showrooming” phenomenon whereby consumers go to their local stores to try out the devices they later buy online.  Best Buy seems to be recognizing that convenient locations will only help so far – they still need to compete on price.

These apps will make comparing prices much easier.  You can check advertised prices, you can check internet pricing and you can even get coupons you didn’t know were available.

Attention retailers.  Location is important.  Pricing is important.  But you better make sure you’re efficient at running your business so you can stay in business.


Xbox One and Home Automation

Since May, we’ve been seeing stories about the Xbox One.  I’m not a console gamer so I’m not going to spend much (read that any) time talking about the games, the resolution, or the disk drives for those of you having hardware issues.   xboxone-300x215

The part of this story that interests me most is how the Xbox One is vying for a central role in your home.  With the built-in Kinect sensor the Xbox can recognize you when you enter the room and load your preferences.

And then there’s the voice control.  Tell the Xbox to turn on the television, to go to a specific channel, to search for channels in a specific area and there you are.  Want to search the web while you’re watching TV, no problem; split the screen and browse to your heart’s content.  Need to call a friend to arrange a meeting, or highlight a touchdown, you can connect with Skype.  Oh yeah, there’s supposed to be a lot of games available too.

This article from GeekWire goes over a number of commands and has a nice video showing the system in operation as well as a few times when the voice control wasn’t quite synching.  We’re assured that with the machine learning built into the Xbox, the voice control will improve over time.

Back to home automation, some of you will have seen an earlier post when I discussed the August Smart Lock.  With August, you use your smart phone to control who has access to your house.  What else will you be able to control by an app on your phone?  Turn on home security or climate control with the push of a button?

Or, in the Xbox scenario, what are you going to control by a spoken command?  How long will it be before the Microsoft folks also bring the Windows Phone into play to control the house while you’re out?

How are you going to vote, with your voice or your phone?






August Smart Lock

I saw an article the other day about August Smart Lock securing financing through a venture capital firm. August lock

The lock is a fascinating story.  Installing August, you will replace the inside of your current deadbolt with the August.  So, your key will always work – you just won’t need it.

You grant, or rescind, access to your home through an app on your smart phone. No more giving keys out, no more needing to be home to let in a contractor, you just grant them access on your home.  With the “smart” part of the smart phone, you know when they arrive and you know when they leave.

You can find out more about August through their website or their Facebook page. Here’s a video that tells more of the story.

The funding they received from Maveron allows them to finish work on their lock with release planned for Spring, 2014.  This is their first entre to the home automation industry but in a Jestson’s or Star Trek frame of mind you can only imagine where it could go.  Will they tie everything to the smart phone?  Will they move to a true digital signature like a fingerprint?  Or DNA?

Paper, meet Pencil

You know, I love to marvel at new technology.  Where is it taking us?  What can you do today that was impossible just a short while in the past?  I just saw something that I would never have believed possible.  Believe it or not, a company has created Paper and Pencil.

Actually, FiftyThree created Paper in 2012 as an app to help open up your creative juices on the iPad.  It gives you an easy palette to sketch, write, draw, outline and color.  It’s certainly had some success, being recognized as the Apple App of the year for 2012. Pencil

Now, they’ve followed up with Pencil.  A stylus for the iPad, Pencil is designed to give you better precision when you use Paper to sketch, write, well you get the idea.  And, what Pencil would be complete without an eraser, so it has one of those too.

What’s next, Scissors to crop images?