p27_Layout 1 - Kuwait Times

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p27_Layout 1 - Kuwait Times
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 7, 2015
technology
Smart gadgets take center stage at CES
LAS VEGAS: Imagine a world in which your garage
door opens automatically as you pull into the driveway.
The living room lights and heater turn on - perhaps the
oven starts warming up, too.
In the so-called “smart home,” cars, appliances and
other devices all have sensors and Internet connectivity
to think and act for themselves, and make your life easier. We’re not there just yet, but we’re getting closer.
The smart-home concept is known in tech circles as
the Internet of Things. Current iterations primarily
include our ability to control gadgets such as lights and
security alarms or view data remotely through a smartphone app. At the International CES gadget show in Las
Vegas this week, manufacturers will promote more
devices and functionality. Some gadgets will be able to
talk directly with one another, not just to an app. The
four-day show opens to the public Tuesday.
That garage door? Mercedes-Benz would like people to imagine their luxury car of the future pulling in
all by itself, without a driver behind the wheel, to bring
its passengers home.
The carmaker unveiled the sleek concept car that it
is calling F 015 Monday night when it turned a stage
inside The Cosmopolitan on the Strip in Las Vegas into
a scene usually reserved for annual car shows, attracting a swell of people on stage afterward wanting a
closer look.
The car’s futuristic look belies some historic inspiration in its design. Dieter Zetsche, head of MercedesBenz, said the wheels were pushed to the outer edges
much like a horse carriage, giving ample room inside
for seating rather than wheel wells - in this case four
modern swivel chairs that can face each other. And
much like those horse carriages, the passengers inside
the car of the future can chat, read a newspaper, or
even take a nap while their car would ferry them
home.
“Mankind has been dreaming of autonomous cars
since the 1950s,” Zeetsche said. He said his company
has been working to make it a reality, albeit still a concept and not in production yet, since the 1990s. “It’s
basically a revolution,” he said of the car.
The Internet of Things could mean big business for
gadget makers. The Consumer Electronics Association
projects U.S. sales of smart energy and security systems alone will total $574 million this year, a 23 per-
cent increase from 2014. Although that pales by comparison to the $18 billion spent on TVs and displays,
growth has been swift.
In terms of people smartening up their homes in
earnest, though, it will probably be another two years
before devices are cheap and widespread enough for
the typical consumer, says Eduardo Pinheiro, CEO of
Muzzley, which makes a hub that allows devices to talk
to each other.
For now, the smart home is more about possibilities
than practice. Many companies exhibiting at CES are
laying the foundation for what a smart-home system
will eventually do, hoping to entice consumers to start
thinking about upgrading to smart gadgets. It’s not
always an easy sell.
Consider wearable devices that track fitness and
other activities. In many cases, the novelty wears off
quickly, and devices end up in drawers. But what if a
wearable device that tracks sleep could tell the coffeemaker to start brewing as soon as you awoke?
When the coffee’s done, what if the sprinklers on the
front lawn automatically turned off so you didn’t get
wet walking out the front door to work?
“It’s these great benefits that we need to explain,”
says BK Yoon, Samsung’s CEO and chief of consumer
electronics. “We can’t just talk about the Internet of
Things because it’s so impersonal like a bedtime story
for robots. We have to show what’s in it for them.”
That includes freeing people from chores to spend
more time with family, pursue more hobbies and, in
his case, spend “quality time on the putting green,” he
says.
Some examples: Lucis Technologies will soon ship a
smart-lighting device called NuBryte that can learn
your behavior, such as what time you tend to come
home. Sensors can turn on the night light if you wake
up to use the bathroom but switch on brighter lights
during the day. A coffeemaker from Smarter will soon
use data from fitness trackers such as Fitbit.
If you had a bad night of sleep, the coffeemaker will
know to make the java stronger that morning. Other
products focus on better notifications: a battery for a
smoke detector to alert you on your phone when the
alarm goes off, or a bracelet that vibrates when the
baby cries in its crib. (Moms rejoice: the bracelet is
even smart enough to alternate which parent it alerts
LAS VEGAS: A man demonstrates the eGeeTouch Smart Luggage Lock by Digi-Pas at CES Unveiled, a
media preview event for CES International. The device allows you to unlock luggage with a smart tag or
mobile device. — AP
automatically.
to get up.)
Meanwhile, a smart-home hub called DigitalStrom
“It’s got to be something people are seeing it can
do and want it to do,” says Chris Penrose, AT&T’s senior plans to take cues from Nest. If Nest is trying to cool
vice president for the Internet of Things. “It’s got to down the house, for instance, DigitalStrom will lower
automated window shades to block out sunlight.
make their lives better and be incredibly easy to use.”
These are the building blocks for an eventual auto“True consumer value will come when devices work
in concert with one another and in many cases across mated home. Once those building blocks are in place,
manufacturers,” adds Brett Dibkey, a Whirlpool Corp. services can better predict what you want. For examvice president. “The home adapts to the way con- ple, Netflix is already good about recommending
movies to watch based on your preferences, but it
sumers live rather than the other way around.”
At CES, Whirlpool will showcase dryers that can run might suggest something different if it could read data
at a slower, energy-saving cycle if you aren’t home and from a wearable device or camera and tell that you’re
thus aren’t in a rush. The dryer integrates with Google with friends, or stressed out, says Shawn Dubravac,
Inc.’s Nest smart thermostat, which has sensors to fig- senior director of research with the Consumer
ure out that no one’s home and then lowers the heat Electronics Association. — AP
Meet the new Nokia 215,
Microsoft’s most affordable
Internet-ready phone
DUBAI: Microsoft Devices Group on
Monday announced the Nokia 215, its
most affordable Internet-ready phone.
The Nokia 215 is designed to connect
and introduce first-time mobile phone
buyers to the Internet and new digital
experiences. Available in both Single
SIM and Dual SIM models, the Nokia
215 will expand the reach of Microsoft
services at more affordable prices.
At only $29, the Nokia 215 will allow
more people to access popular Web
content and digital services, and
enable them to do the following:
• Enjoy online experiences via Opera
Mini browser, Bing search, MSN
Weather, Twitter and Facebook.
• Stay in touch with friends and family using Facebook and Messenger
with instant notifications.
• Connect in new ways with SLAM,
which enables content to be shared
between devices and callers making
hands-free calls using Bluetooth 3.0
and Bluetooth audio support for headsets.
• Delight in the fresh design,
durable quality and outstanding battery life - all the features entry-level
mobile phone owners have come to
trust and love.
• Enter the mobile-first world with
all the everyday essentials, including
these:
• Built-in torchlight
• Up to 20 hours of talk time
• Outstanding battery life (up to 29
days of standby time for the Single SIM
variant and up to 21 days for the Dual
SIM)
• MP3 playback of up to 50 hours
• FM radio playback of up to 45
hours
• VGA camera
“With our ultra-affordable mobile
phones and digital services, we see an
inspiring opportunity to connect the
next billion people to the Internet for
the first time,” said Jon French, Vice
President Middle East, Microsoft
Mobile Devices. “The Nokia 215 is perfect for people looking for their first
mobile device, or those wanting to
upgrade to enjoy affordable digital
and social media ser vices, like
Facebook and Messenger.”
The Nokia 215 and Nokia 215 Dual
SIM come in Bright Green, Black and
White, and will roll out first in select
markets in the Middle East, Africa, Asia
and Europe in Q1 2015. The Nokia 215
is expected to be available for an estimated retail price of $29• before taxes
and subsidies.
Device
Nokia 215 and Nokia 215 Dual SIM
Operating system
Nokia Series 30+
Display
2.4-inch QVGA
Battery
BL-5C, 1100 mAh
Talk time and standby time
Talk time: up to 20 hours
Standby time: up to 29 days (Single
SIM), 21 days (Dual SIM)
Camera
VGA camera
Connectivity
900/1800 MHz, Micro USB, 3.5mm AV
connector, Bluetooth 3.0 with SLAM
and HSP/HFP profile
Memory
Up to 32GB microSD supported
Dimensions and weight
116mm x 50mm x 12.9mm. 78.7 grams
LAS VEGAS: Roger Lynch, far right, CEO of Sling TV, demonstrates Sling TV, a live television streaming service, at the Dish Network’s news conference at the International CES. — AP
TV makers design for streaming
video to stay relevant
LAS VEGAS: Does anyone just watch T V
anymore? The dramatic shift toward online
and mobile viewing is driving television set
makers to design as much for streaming
video as for watching broadcast or cable
channels. Traditional TV is far from dead,
but these days viewers care less about
watching shows live and even prefer saving
certain series to watch all at once in an
evening or weekend of binge-watching.
Broadcast networks and hundreds of cable
channels share viewer attention with thousands of online services, including amateurs
creating their own series on YouTube.
Already, Netflix has outbid traditional
channels for hits such as “House of Cards.”
And Dish this week announced it will sell
online access to a bundle of channels
including live sports network ESPN for just
$20 a month. Online video will account for a
third of all video viewing in 2020, up from
about 10 percent in 2013, predicts The
Diffusion Group, a research firm that specializes in Internet video.
So how to keep the television set, that
focal point of the American living room for
decades, relevant? Design for online video.
At the International CES gadget show
this week in Las Vegas, TV makers unveiled
new models with 4K resolution, or four
times the clarity offered by today’s high definition TVs. They are pushing the features
even though not a single TV channel is yet
available in 4K. But Internet services such as
Netflix, Amazon and M-Go are starting to
offer 4K video.
Sony on Monday promised to create
more 4K content to watch on those sets.
Four popular shows from its entertainment
division - “The Goldbergs,” “The Blacklist,”
“Masters of Sex” and “The Night Shift” - will
soon be available in 4K and it’s working
with partners including Netflix and YouTube
to deliver more 4K streaming video. “It’s
going to be the first format primarily driven
by streaming,” says Jim Funk, a senior vice
president at Roku Inc., which makes streaming TV devices.
Beyond 4K, Sharp developed an engineering trick to make its high-end set look
even sharper. Samsung added a nanocrystal
semiconductor layer to make colors purer
and the screen brighter. LG is pushing
organic LED screens with richer colors and
pure black - the kind typically limited to
smaller displays such as phones because of
price.
And Internet connectivity is becoming
standard in sets, the way all TVs are color
now. LG and Samsung also have ways to
easily switch video between TV and mobile
devices, so that if you’re watching a movie
on a phone, you can continue it on your TV
as soon as you get home.
The Consumer Electronics Association
expects TV sales to increase 2 percent to
251 million units this year. The average
screen size is projected to be 40 inches, up
from 31 inches in 2007. CEA predicts more
than 23 million of the units will be 4K TVs
this year, about 2.5 times the shipments in
2014. That’s even with the explosion of
viewing on tablets and smartphones.
People tend to use phones and tablets
while traveling or for shorter video, says Tim
Alessi, head of new product development
for home entertainment at LG Electronics
USA. For a full-length movie, viewers want
to replicate the theater in the home. That’s
only done through a big TV set.
“When I want a full home-entertainment
experience, especially with my family and
friends, the TV is still the best way to do
that,” agrees Tim Baxter, president and chief
operating officer of Samsung Electronics
America.
And just as TV makers are hopping on
the online train, so are content providers.
Traditional channels are becoming available
without the need for a cable or satellite
subscription. Satellite T V provider Dish
Network Corp. is the latest, offering its Sling
TV package of channels, including ESPN and
CNN, for delivery entirely over the Internet.
The availability of ESPN addresses a
major reason people still keep their TV service - live sports. Sony also has an Internet
television service expected to debut by the
end of March - PlayStation Vue - and HBO
and Showtime plan to debut Internet-only
subscription offerings this year. The packages are aimed at the millions of so-called
cord-cutters or “cord-nevers” that find cable
and satellite bundles too pricey and don’t
subscribe to either, turning instead to Hulu,
Google’s YouTube and Amazon.
Lesley H. Stahl, 31, is one potential customer of an Internet-only offering. She and
her husband never considered cable when
they bought a new house in Sunnyvale,
California, figuring they had been mostly
watching video online anyway. But Stahl
says she would be cautious about subscribing to new channels, as she’s used to just
waiting until Hulu or Amazon gets the
show. She said costs for individual subscriptions add up, and there’s only so much time
to watch.
“ There’s not any one T V show I’m so
addicted to that I’m going to pay extra,” she
says. “At a certain point, we’re just spending
a whole lot of money.” These Internet offerings alone won’t accelerate cancellations of
cable or satellite services, says Joel Espelien,
senior analyst for The Diffusion Group. But
they might get more people to downgrade
to lower tiers, he says, and use the savings
to buy specific channels or services of interest. Or a brand-new 4K TV? — AP

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