CES 2012: Never Lose Your Keys Again With Cobra Tag G5

It’s CES time in Las Vegas, so you know there are going to be some really great and innovative products hitting the marketplace soon!  One of those products is the Cobra Tag G5.  This is a combination of GPS/Bluetooth physical tags and an iPhone app that assists people who find themselves frequently misplacing important items.

Cobra Tags use “smart blue tooth” technology to assist users in finding their precious (and tagged items).  Whether its your keys, wallet, phone or purse, Cobra Tags can help you find your items quickly and easily.  Once you tag your specific items, the Cobra Tag G5 iPhone app will either make a sound to notify you if you’ve left without something, or it will notify you via text or email, should you have trouble hearing your phone.  These notifications include a Google Map view of where your item is.  The tags are the size of a tradition key fob, which may not be comfortable in your pocket, but would easily fit in a purse, backpack or briefcase.

The Cobra Tag G5 will begin shipping in Q2 for $59.95.  Are any of our Rox readers interested? Please let us know if you try this technology, as we would love to share your experiences with our other readers.

For more information, watch the Cobra Tag G5 Video or check out a great article here: http://mashable.com/2012/01/09/cobra-lost-items/

Taking Solar Energy Underground

Wouldn’t it be great if you could be part of the green energy movement without having to install those large, expensive solar panels on your roof? Well, soon you can.  According to ABC Science, the newest way to harness sunlight and convert it into electricity is done with a fiber-optic wiring that is barely wider than a human hair.  The wires are coated with zinc oxide and connected to a photovoltaic cell.  Light is able to be absorbed at the tip of the wire, where it then zips down the length and back, letting the zinc oxide convert it into electricity along the way.   Since all these wires need is their tops to be exposed to the sun, they could be installed on a roof, underneath a house, or even inside of its walls.

Although the researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are not completely happy with the 3.3% conversion rate, they believe they will be able to get that number to 8% really soon.

For more information on this innovative technology, go to: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2009/11/10/2738182.htm

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Social Media and Cell Phones, Santa’s New Helpers

According to Deloitte’s 24th Annual Holiday Survey of retail spending and trends, social media and mobile phones are emerging as key influencers this holiday season.  The survey states that 17% or one out of five consumers are planning to use social media to help them find gifts this holiday season.  Sixty percent of these consumers are counting on social media to provide them discounts, coupons and sale information, while 53% of these consumers are using the networks to research gift ideas.

The mobile phone is also going to be a helpful tool for people this holiday season as 19% of consumers will count on their phone to assist with their holiday shopping, including 55% who need help locating a store, 45% who are researching prices, 40% finding out product information and 32% searching for discounts and coupons.  The study also believes that a staggering 25% of consumers are expected to make a holiday purchase via their phone.

The Internet and the information that it can provide is another way that people will be shopping this year.  Thirty-nine percent of consumers read customer-generated reviews of stores and or products online and 25% say they will purchase a product based on online recommendations.  In fact, more than a third of people say that online consumer reviews are more influential in their purchasing decision than advertising is.

In order for a company to have a successful holiday season, it wouldn’t hurt to test out the online waters.  There is no cost to set up a facebook and twitter page and when you reach out to your consumers directly, it is more likely that the word-of-mouth advertising (which is becoming more and more important) will be more positive and if it isn’t you have more control to minimize the not-so-positive responses and reach out to the consumer and change their opinion.

For more information from Deloitte’s Annual Holiday Survey, go to: www.deloitte.com/us/2009HolidaySurvey.

TV and Web Converge This Holiday Season

Millions of ordinary tv viewers are about to start using the Internet from their living room, via Web-on-your-TV.  Large TV manufacturers including Sony, Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Vizio are all about to launch their new generation of sets that easily integrate Web content with traditional TV news and entertainment.  Some of these Web TV’s (Sony and Samsung) do cost about $200-$300 more than their non-web connective counterparts.  Research shows that in 2014 there should be 45 million of these Web-on-your-TV sets in North America (69% of all TV sales).

The key to marketing these new sets is to allow consumers to relate to them as televisions, not computers.  Although it will force consumers to start looking at more than just the picture and sound quality, but also the strength of the set’s processor, amount of memory and specific software installed.

This new technology is not only going to affect the television manufacturing market, but also the cable industry.  Cable operators will have to start offering TV/Internet service quickly before subscribers go to Internet devices like Apple TV, Roku, Tivo and the Xbox.

For more about the Web-on-your-TV sets as well as the race to be the first cable operator to offer services for these new sets, go to: http://www.usatoday.com/test/test4/money/2012-12-21-1Awebtv13_CV_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

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New Services Help Small Businesses Get Videos Online

Video is going to be integrated into most websites in the near future.  With a consumer market that is huge and growing (11 billion videos were shown in September) businesses small and large are going to be integrating online videos into their website.  Smaller businesses have been limited to using YouTube and Vimeo to upload videos to their websites.  The drawback is that these sites are more geared toward consumers who want to share funny videos or family clips.

A new wave of services are helping businesses get their work online.  Fliqz and VideoBloom, are two services that are catering to the small and mid-size business market.  Although they are not free like YouTube, they do give your company more control for a small fee.

Here is how the video networks work:

•Upload your videos to the sites, sorensonmedia.com, fliqz.com or videobloom.com, where they are hosted.

•Tweak the video player to include your company name.

•Grab a code to place the video on your site or blog.

•Share the video privately with clients for approvals.

•Get access to data about how many views the video has pulled in.

•Pay a monthly fee. Sorenson and Fliqz start at $99 monthly.

Now that YouTube has started to run ads on top of videos, these new services assure that your consumers are paying attention to your message and your message only.  For more information, go to: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/2009-11-11-smallbizvideo11_ST_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

Real Time Web Emerging Trends

Real-time web has been garnering a lot of hype lately.  So how do you cut through all the pointless noise, and concentrate on the actual potential of real time web?  Check out Mashable.com’s 4 emerging real time web trends they believe you should pay attention to:

1. Real Time Collaboration – With the new Google Wave platform, live Facebook and Twitter feeds, companies are able to become more efficient in knowing what their customers want and being able to make real-time changes.  A business prototype of Google Wave, SAP’s Gravity, will only enhance the way businesses reach out to and address consumer needs.

2. Real Time Analytics – Although there is not enough critical mass of real-time data available in most areas yet, there will come a time when shopping information, individual health information, movie and show reviews and other data will be available to everyone at any time.  Waze is a new crowdsourced mobile map and traffic information service that had some success in Israel and is now trying to make its mark on the US.  This real-time information app has the ability to analyze the data it receives in real-time, exposing traffic patterns, accidents and speed traps.

3. Real Time Search – The possibilities for real time search are endless.  With Microsoft and Google working hard to constantly update and create what is available to the public via real time streams, there  is no end in sight to what people will be able to find online.  It is also a golden opportunity for advertisers to capitalize on more event-driven ad dollars, i.e. the World Cup and Superbowl, because of all the live Tweets, Facebook updates and messages going back and forth about the event.

4. Real Time Ecommerce – Real Time Ecommerce is not here yet, but it is coming.  A German company, Apnoti, indexes real time pricing for consumers in the US and Germany, helping consumers find the best deals by pointing out the dramatic price fluctuations.  Though elementary to what is possible, the ability for consumers to have real time pricing will be a competitive advantage for the grocer and perishible foods industry.

For more on these emerging real time trends, go to: http://mashable.com/2009/10/29/real-time-web-trends/

Google Wave

Google Wave

Waze

Waze

Real Time Social Search

Real Time Social Search

Apnoti - Emerging Real Time Ecommerce

Apnoti - Emerging Real Time Ecommerce

Google Launches Music Search Service

Google has partnered with web services Lala and MySpace’s iLike to provide users with an easier way to find, sample and buy songs on the Internet.  Users will now be able to sample a song via a pop-up box that will play at least 30 seconds of the song, with some songs played in their entirety, which will then offer links to buy the song.  The MySpace iLike player will also include links to watch the music video and obtain concert details if the artist is or is going on tour.

Google is also partnering with Pandora, iMeem and Rhapsody to incorporate links to help users discover music related to their searches (similar to how Pandora operates).  Users will navigate away from the Google results directly onto the artists’ page on the corresponding service, allowing them to buy songs directly from each site.

Google’s licensing Gracenotes’ lyrics database will also allow users to search songs by their lyrics.  Prior to the service’s launch yesterday (October 28th), searching song lyrics would result in links to other lyrics services, but now the first result in the search will be the song with all the new features, including streaming and purchasing.

Google did not partner directly with any record labels for the Lala and iLike programs.  Google’s YouTube entity is separately partnering with Vivendi’s Universal Music Group and Sony Music to create a music video service call Vevo.

The music industry is ecstatic with this move by Google and I think music lovers will be equally thrilled with the new features that the Google music service provides.  For more information, go to: http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/news/digital/e3ib2e664ce05ad759cad6f1ef79a9363cb

Dropbox – Free Online Storage Service

Dropbox is a new and simple to use online storage service that allows you to access your files from any Web-connected computer.  Dropbox automatically syncs your files between several PCs and it offers two free gigabytes of storage to all users.

The application can be downloaded from GetDropbox.com.  Once installed, a Dropbox folder will appear where you can save any files you want to sync and share.  Dropbox is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux and there is also a new iPhone app that allows you to access files from your phone, as well as a web interface that lets you pull your files up from any device with Internet access.

Dropbox is great because is makes shifting from PC to PC a seamless experience by allowing you to sync passwords between your devices (KeePass), start BitTorrent downloads on one PC from another one, and even run portable versions of apps, like VLC or Firefox.

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Internet Users Take a Break With ‘Freedom’

We have become a culture where the Internet is at the tips of our fingers at most times during the day.  Between work computers, home laptops and smartphones, it is not uncommon for people to become fearful of going “offline.”  A new application called Freedom, blocks users access to the Internet for up to eight hours at a time.  The only way users are allowed to bypass the system, once you have plugged in the number of minutes of freedom you want, is to reboot your computer, which most of the time is annoying and quite the process.

The program is currently only available for Macs but it downloaded more than 4,000 times a month.  The creator of Freedom believes the application helps free people from the distractions of the Internet so they can concentrate of coding, writing or creating.

For more information on this application, go to: http://www.switched.com/2009/10/27/freedom-web-blocker-takes-you-off-the-grid-for-the-evening/ or http://macfreedom.com/

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New Website – Best Practices For A More Green California

Green Cities California is a collaboration of 10 cities and counties in California that are acknowledged as sustainability leaders, including Berkeley, Los Angeles, Marin County, Pasadena, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Barbara and Santa Monica.  The group launched their new website, www.greencitiescalifornia.org, today which is designed to serve as a resource for other communities who are looking to become more green.  The website was designed and funded by The Full Circle Fund, 11th Hour Project and Blackstone Ranch Institute.

The site addresses the seven key areas of sustainability (as identified by the United Nations Urban Environmental Accord) as: energy, waste reduction, urban design, urban nature, transportation, environmental health and water.  The site then provides template documents from previous policymakers who have already made progress with the specific green issue, as well as links to different sites that can serve as models.  Access to the site and downloads of the material are all free.

For more information about the Green Cities California group, as well as some of their past initiatives, go to: http://www.reuters.com/article/gwmBuildings/idUS52727597920091021