Google Glass Gets a New Direction

google glasses

Google Inc. is halting individual sales of its wearable Glass and borrowing a page from Apple Inc. ’s playbook by developing the next generation of the controversial device out of the limelight that hurt the first version.

Glass is moving from the Google X research lab to be a standalone unit. Glass chief Ivy Ross will report to Tony Fadell, the chief executive of smart-home device maker Nest Labs who will oversee Glass and provide strategy guidance to Ms. Ross.

The changes usher in a new strategy for Glass in which it will shun large, public tests of prototypes in favor of the same approach used by Apple and Nest, which develop consumer gadgets in secret and release them as fully finished products.

Google released Glass in 2013 to people who applied to test the Internet-connected eyewear through its Explorer program.

It sold the device to the public in mid-2014, but sales were small amid complaints about privacy, technical shortcomings and a lack of obvious uses.

Google is ending the Explorer program and individuals won’t be able to buy the gadget after Jan. 19. Google will sell it to companies and developers for work applications.

A new version of the device will be available sometime this year, Google said. The next device won’t be sold to early testers. Instead, the company plans to release a final version only when Ms. Ross and Mr. Fadell think it is ready.

“There’s no reason to throw it out there again,” said Ms. Ross, a former marketing executive recruited to help Glass win wider acceptance. “Now it’s time to hunker down.”

The updated gadget will be cheaper and have longer battery life, improved sound quality and a better display,

Ms. Ross said. Google plans to tackle the social stigma problem by pairing the device with more familiar types of eyewear, she added.

The more secretive approach differs from Google’s usual pattern. As a mainly software company, Google likes to release early versions of its products to a test group, collect their feedback and then quickly update to fix problems. That’s how it rolled out Gmail in 2004.

But that launch-and-iterate approach backfired with Glass, one of the few consumer-hardware devices the company designed and built in-house. The gadget proved more difficult to update than software code running a service like Gmail.

Glass is part of a broader push by Google to expand from its software roots into physical devices that are connected to the Internet. But the company is still grappling with the best way to design and build hardware.

Since Mr. Fadell, an inventor known as the godfather of the iPod, joined Google, the company has been trying to spread Nest’s design approach to other projects. Mr. Fadell’s oversight of Glass is a sign of his growing influence at Google.

Not all Google hardware projects are adopting the same strategy. Google Wednesday said it would begin a public test of its Ara “modular” smartphone in Puerto Rico later this year.

For Ara, Google is using a test because it’s trying to build a marketplace for outside hardware developers to make modules that will perform specific functions of the phone, said Regina Dugan, head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, which runs Ara. That would be hard without real users, she said.

More people have to be involved to build a new platform like Ara, “so it has to be more open,” Dr. Dugan said. “The risks are greater, but the rewards are too.”

Glass was troubled from its earliest days. The gadget suffered from short battery life, poor sound quality and distorted images under certain conditions.

Releasing the device widely, and charging $1,500, raised expectations and prompted users to consider Glass a finished product, rather than a prototype, said David Lerman, CEO of GuidiGo, which designs guided tours using Glass.

Glass users prompted a privacy backlash by recording video indiscriminately. The device was banned from some bars and movie theaters; users were sometimes called “Glassholes.”

Canon Connect Station is a 1TB media hub for offloading content from cameras

Canon Connect Station

If there’s one thing casual photographers are guilty of, it’s leaving their images on a memory card. Sure, memory card capacities are so large that you may never have to offload them, but they end up becoming digital graveyards for your photos and videos. Canon has created a new device, called the Connect Station, that’s designed to put all that content on the big screen, and share it. The company debuted the new product category at the 2015 International CES Show.

First previewed at Photokina in 2014 (codenamed Cross Media Station), the Connect Station CS100 ($300, available in April 2015) is essentially a network-attached storage (NAS) device, a 1TB portable hard drive connected to a home network that lets you archive, display, and share images and videos taken with a digital camera and camcorder.

The idea for such a product isn’t new, as there are other similar media storage and sharing drives available (in fact, Canon had a prototype of it five years ago, although that early version used different technologies). But the CS100, with near-field communication (NFC) and Wi-Fi built in, was designed to help Canon camera and camcorder owners get content off their media cards and give them a viewing experience they can enjoy.

The CS100 is a standalone product that doesn’t require a computer to function, although it does need to be connected to a TV in order to view content and menus; it supports Full HD displays via HDMI. To add content, you can transfer photos and videos wirelessly from Wi-Fi-enabled Canon cameras and camcorders (NFC helps to facilitate the pairing and download processes quickly); directly off an SD or Compact Flash card through the built-in card reader; or from a compatible camera or flash drive through the USB port. Although it uses the 802.11n Wi-Fi protocol, it’s much faster to insert a memory card.

The CS100’s onscreen display has an Apple TV-like menu system that you navigate through with the included remote control. As it is storing content, the CS100 automatically organizes photos and videos, and weeds out duplicates. What’s unique about the CS100 is it supports unprocessed RAW images from Canon’s advanced compacts and DSLRs, in addition to JPEG, MP4, MOV, and AVCHD file formats.

If the CS100 is connected to the Internet (Wi-Fi only), you can upload and download content to and from the device from smartphones, tablets, or computers (via a Web browser). You can also share content with other authorized CS100s via Canon’s Image Gateway online service. Image Gateway also lets you share content from a CS100 to social networking sites Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Dropbox, as well as through email. Wi-Fi can also be used to connect to certain Canon Pixma and Selphy printers to print images.
Canon Connect Station 1

The 1TB might seem like a lot, but content like images and videos – especially RAW ones – can take up space in no time. The hard drive, however, isn’t expandable, nor will there be higher capacity versions at launch. However, you can back up the content to another hard drive via USB, to make room.

The CS100 aims to please those looking for an easy solution to save and share content from their Canon cameras, like grandparents. But, at $300, it’s priced a bit high. And unlike media-centric devices like Apple TV, features are limited and there are no additional functionalities like Netflix streaming.

An alternative would be to get a device like Western Digital’s $100 WD TV and pair that with an affordable external hard drive you can expand later, but that product lacks support for RAW files and it doesn’t automatically organize your content.

Why Your Business Needs One of the New Breed of Internet Marketing Masters

Internet Marketing Masters

Businesses using online marketing to increase brand footprint will agree when I say it’s not easy keeping up with its rapid evolution. While there is no doubt Internet marketing is a great way to generate brand awareness, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep pace with the changes happening in this domain. New skill sets have to be learned and at times existing knowledge has to be thrown out of the window.

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