Proof will track your blood alcohol content with a wristband

Proof will track your blood alcohol content with a wristband

Checking your blood alcohol content with a breathalyzer while out with some friends might just be a party trick — but if you really wanted to know it to figure out whether or not you should have another drink, it might be awkward to pull one out.

So that’s why Evan Strenk started Milo Sensors, a company built around wearable sensors that detects various chemicals in your body based on perspiration from your skin. The company is starting off with Proof, a small band that can gauge your blood alcohol content and send the information to an app where you can subtly see where you are in the night and whether you should order that next beer. Milo Sensors showed the product off at CES in Eureka Park this year.

“There’s a breathalyzer out there but no one uses it because they’re awkward,” Strenk said. “The use case there is you put our sensor on, at 6 p.m., you set your alarms for yourself, and everything’s paired with an app. [When I check my phone] you don’t even know if I’m messaging someone or checking my BAC. And because it’s continuous tracing, you can set alarms for yourself, like hitting .08 percent. I want to be alerted, maybe if I’m driving home, and you can connect with safety buddies, friends and family at undesirable levels.”

The goal is to continuously track a user’s blood alcohol level, instead of waiting for a single moment to ping the phone with an alarm. By doing that, users can get a sense of how fast they are ramping up and know whether or not to slow down. The band transmits the information to the app, which quickly shows a chart of how high their BAC is.

While users can detect their BAC for now, the technology translates into detecting other things like caffeine as well, Strenk said. “The skin ends up being a superhighway of molecules,” with the technology being applicable to a different variety of use cases,” he said. For now, gauging BAC made sense — and, also, the co-founders of the company decided on it over a few pitchers of beer. It could have been an earring, or started off with detecting lactic acid, but after the round they settled on BAC and a band.

The owner slots a cartridge into the band around 6 p.m. before they are planning to go out. The cartridge is disposable, which will cost a few dollars, Strenk said. “The analogy is, you put a raw piece of meat on the counter, over a few hours it turns brown. Similarly you open a cartridge, it oxidizes. It goes beyond step counting, it goes beyond heart rate, it’s reading bio-analytic through your skin.”

There’s always a risk that another large wearable company like Fitbit could figure out how to integrate something like this into their products. Though the whole using a disposable cartridge part may put a hamper on things, Strenk said the main advantage Milo Sensors has is that it’s been doing research for more than two years.

Milo Sensors submitted the first prototype to the NIH last year, which compared the results against breathalyzers and blood samples and awarded the company a cash prize, Strenk said. The company was more or less in stealth until launching at CES this year. The band will come out sometime this year, though Strenk wouldn’t specify, and will cost somewhere between $100 and $150.


Source: Tech Crunch

Misfit goes full-on smartwatch with the Vapor

Misfit goes full-on smartwatch with the Vapor

Misfit seemed destined to get here, soon or later. Between getting swallowed up by Fossil and the recent introduction of the Phase hybrid watch, the company has been spending the last couple of years dipping its toes in the waters of more advanced wearables, finally going all in with the Vapor.

The Vapor is a reasonably fairly slick affair, built with a focus on minimalism more akin to its own past devices than the trend forward big and bulky we’ve seen on products like Samsung’s Gear line and Misfit’s own Fossil labelmates, Michael Kors. It’s also surprisingly full-featured, given the company’s traditionally passive approach to hardware design – not to mention its decidedly ethereal name.

The 44mm Vapor features a 1.39-inch AMOLED display that clocks in at 326 ppi. The display is fully touch, but much of the interaction with the product happens outside of the center of the display, interacting with menus by dragging finger around the edge — akin to Samsung’s twisting bezel. The model we had a look at was still early stages, but the menu system seemed fairly intuitive and Misfit’s gone a ways toward adding nice touches like transition animations.

The company won’t reveal specifics on the software being run here, but from the looks of it, Misfit/Fossil seem to have developed something in-house specifically for this device.

There’s a heart rate monitor on the back of the watch and inside you get an accelerometer, altimeter, GPS, microphone and 4GB of storage for music, which can be played through a connected pair of Bluetooth headphones. The company’s also promising two full days of life on a charge, accomplished via a magnetic charging case.

The watch is water resistant up to 50 meters and works with a range of interchangeable straps. The case itself is available in both black and gold. All in all, it’s a pretty solid range of features given its $199 asking price. The Vapor is set to go on sale by year’s end.


Source: Tech Crunch

Wireless Week’s Top 5 Predictions for 2017

Wireless Week’s Top 5 Predictions for 2017

We asked the experts, and pulled together our picks from their top predictions for 2017. Here’s the low-down on what’s ahead in terms of progress on the IoT, cloudification and the move toward NFV/SDN, initial applications of 5G, the age of unlicensed spectrum, and the end of pure-play wireless. Don’t miss it!

Full text below:

We know crossing the threshold into a new year (and a new administration!) can be a little nerve wracking. So, we decided to break out the crystal ball and share a preview that will help you prepare for what’s might be coming.

Back in December, we sent out a call for submissions to companies on all sides of the telecom industry to ask what they thought the biggest trends in the coming year would be. Their answers spanned a massive range of topics, but in reviewing them we honed in on a few key commonalities and tried to include unique details from every angle possible.

So instead of taking our word for it, you’re hearing from the best and brightest minds in telecom.

Welcome to Wireless Week’s Top5 Predictions for 2017.

5. IoT Goes Mainstream

Ok, we got SO. MANY. IoT predictions – it’s hard to know where to start, but here it goes.

Oracle predicted 2017 will be the year the IoT goes mainstream and Smart City implementations finally start to yield a real impact on the citizen experience. The company believes advancements in mobile, sensor, and IoT technology will change the way we interact with the world around us, streamlining everything from parking to your trip to the DMV. Behind the scenes, Oracle said network management, billing, predictive analytics, machine learning, border control, and advanced security technology will all need to work in harmony to make this a reality. ExteNet CTO Tormod Larsen seconded this notion, noting the first implementations will come as municipalities finally dig in and build the network infrastructure needed to support intelligent elements.

Ericsson Head of Research Michael Bjorn noted the way consumers think about the connection between the IoT and smartphones is also likely to change in 2017. Rather than just being expected to function as a remote control, Bjorn said Ericsson’s data indicated users will soon expect smartphones and connected devices to learn what we do and perform activities for us automatically.

But what will the IoT run on?

Senet’s VP of Business Development Will Yapp said 2017 will be the year of low-power wide area network deployments that will fill the gap left between high-cost, high-function cellular and low-cost, localized Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Yapp specifically pointed to LPWANs based on the LoRa standard as the option of choice, but Nokia North America CTO Mike Murphy had a different opinion, suggesting the network-wide launch of cellular IoT solutions like Cat-M and NB-IoT may constrain the growth of other technologies like Lora and Sigfox.

Taoglas pointed out the growing demands of the IoT will drive the need for more antennas. Specifically, the company predicted LTE cellular systems will soon require two antennas instead of one, and GNSS antennas will need to have wider bandwidth to receive Beidou, Glonass, and other upcoming satellites.

4. Head in the Clouds

Our respondents also had a lot to say about the Cloud, software defined networking and network function virtualization, particular as they relate to one another.

Netcracker Technology believes silos will disappear as wireless operators embrace fully horizontal clouds. That means new operational models and more flexible and on-demand service creation and delivery, but also challenges to monitor, manage, and assure network and service performance under a whole new model. The company noted as-a-service models are expected to become more prominent to facilitate faster, more efficient deployments and greater scale with reduced upfront costs.

GigaSpaces CTO Nati Shalom forecasted another major game changer in 2017 will be the addition of capabilities like healing, scaling, and monitoring to cloud native virtualized network functions, paving the road to self-management. You can expect cloud native VNFs will become available to be stitched together like micro services – some virtual, others physical on a variety of infrastructure – he said.

Simple virtualization will eventually give way to cloudification, Exact Ventures predicted. Why? According to the company, the real power of virtualization is when it is combined with cloud technologies to enable very efficient network utilization and elasticity through stateless, microservices and deep analysis of network and customer data though AI and machine learning techniques.

3. So Long Legacy Networks, Hello Initial Applications of 5G

You had to know 5G would be on this list, and lo and behold, here it is.

Nokia’s Mike Murphy again said 2017 will be the year the –ish hits the fan and 5G finally becomes a reality. This will happen with the deployment of trial systems – cough Verizon cough – and more concrete forecasts on the cost of end-to-end solutions as the technology takes shape toward the end of the year. Murphy also noted legacy technologies like PSTN, bare metal cable solutions, CDMA, WiMax, and GSM are due to meet their maker in 2017, and virtualization will further the transition to 5G.

But ExteNet’s Tormod Larsen thinks things will go even further, with 5G deployments quickly moving beyond fixed wireless applications. According to Larsen, 5G deployments will likely focus on a micro network approach as opposed to the traditional nationwide approach used for 3G and 4G. The premise, he said, is around the concept of “networks-within-networks,” where several of these micro networks will co-exist with each other to optimize the user experience.

As part of the race to 5G, Viavi Solutions predicts gigabit deployments will take off. Based on current trends, the company predicted gigabit deployments will see 25-35 percent growth from both wireless and wireline providers combined. While 85 percent of currently known gigabit deployments are based on fiber, Viavi said the proportion of wireless services will ramp up quickly in the coming years as more LTE-A networks come online and experimental 5G networks are rolled out.

And a side note here: Federated Wireless believes MNOs will fully embrace shared infrastructure in 2017. The company said coverage and capacity challenge for serving large venues and congested areas will continue to grow, driving a need for more economical small cell solutions. To meet this need, MNOs will gravitate toward a shared infrastructure model — neutral host — in 2017. This will enable cost-efficient access to the increased network capacity needed to solve these challenges for all operators, according to Federated Wireless.

2. Age of Unlicensed Spectrum

We heard a lot about spectrum in 2016 – particularly after the FCC took action to open up nearly 11 GHz of high-frequency spectrum for 5G. But Federated Wireless also predicted the 3.5 GHz band will be the first global 5G band. The company noted Europe and other regions have begun to explore use of the 3.5 GHz band for 5G, and the U.S. will start 3.5 GHz band deployments in 2017. Federated Wireless said the mid-band spectrum, which has been approved for a shared spectrum model, is uniquely suited to meet all the hot technology trends that will be part of 5G.

ExteNet’s Tormod Larsen also believes CBRS and unlicensed spectrum will take off in 2017. Why? He said CBRS and unlicensed spectrum opens many doors for those with limited, unusable, or unavailable spectrum. According to Larsen, the business model works, the ecosystem is in place and ExteNet envisions that the efforts of the MulteFire and CBRS alliances will come to fruition in 2017, starting with specific indoor facilities.

1. Not Just a Wireless Company

Home stretch here, folks.

Syntonic predicted 2017 will usher in a new era of alliances between content companies and mobile carriers. In particular, Syntonic believes the industry will witness the accelerated alliance between content companies and mobile carriers including a merger between Verizon and Comcast, approval for AT&T’s tie up with Time Warner, and other carrier-content company mergers and alliances in Europe.

According to the company, consumers have made their content needs abundantly clear and the onus is now on mobile carriers to accommodate this new consumer expectation. In 2017, Syntonic expects more unions will occur as Verizon formally merges with Comcast, extending the NBC Universal assets onto mobile. The mergers will continue across the Atlantic with major European carriers like Vodafone, O2, and Orange acquiring popular content companies in their respective markets. This will lead to the launch of more OTT content services to bring programming to mobile consumers, according to Syntonic.

Similarly, Netcracker believes wireless-only operators will vanish, as media makes multiplay mandatory. The company said things have been moving in this direction for a while, with triple-play offerings becoming more ubiquitous and quad-play bundles emerging not just as competitive differentiators, but necessities for survival. Media is a critical pillar of multiplay, Netcracker said, and is a major element in AT&T’s planned merger with Time Warner. As media giants like Facebook, Comcast and Google target wireless offerings, Netcracker thinks consolidation will erase the wireless-only designation.

Source: Wireless Week

Big smartphones were the big winners this holiday season

Big smartphones were the big winners this holiday season

Big, tablet-sized smartphones — or “phablets” — are continuing to eat into the medium-sized smartphone market, proving there’s huge demand for larger-screen phones. According to the mobile analytics firm Flurry, phablets (with screens measuring between 5 and 6.9 inches) like the iPhone Plus saw the biggest increase in activations during the week between December 19 and December 25.

That jump likely came at the expense of medium-sized phones (3.5- to 4.9-inch phones), like the regular iPhone, which continued to see its market share decrease over the past three years. All other devices mostly remained flat year-over-year.

Medium-sized smartphones still saw the most activations during the week leading up to the holidays. But as Flurry points out, phablets may end up becoming the “dominant form factor” very soon.



Source: Business Insider

Hyundai’s connected cars now work with Google Assistant

Hyundai’s connected cars now work with Google Assistant

The AI helper can “find a great steakhouse” and send directions to your car.

Hyundai is giving you another way to shout orders at its connected Blue Link cars shortly after it revealed an Amazon Alexa partnership. The company is teaming with Google, letting you give commands to Sante Fe, Sonata or other compatible models via its voice-controlled Assistant. Using a Google Home device, you’ll be able to say “OK Google, start my Sante Fe and set the temperature to 72 degrees,” or “ask Blue Link to lock my car,” to give just a couple examples.

Voice-controlled devices like Alexa make a certain amount of sense with connected cars, letting you do certain actions a bit quicker than using a smartphone app. Automakers like Ford, BMW and Hyundai all released “skills” for Echo devices, and Google’s Assistant works in a similar way. With Google’s search functions and AI assistant working together, you can simply tell it to find a “great steakhouse,” and it’ll find one and send directions to your vehicle.

It’s more of an add-on feature rather than full integration, but we might see more comprehensive in-car features coming at CES Google. The company recently revealed Android-based infotainment devices with Fiat Chrysler (FCA), and we’re expecting a raft of similar announcements during CES. Interestingly, FCA’s system uses Android Nougat and not the Android Auto branding, so hopefully Google will further clarify its plans.

Source: Engadget

Interest rates, struggling TV to put pressure on Canada’s telecoms in 2017: analyst

Interest rates, struggling TV to put pressure on Canada’s telecoms in 2017: analyst

Interest rate volatility and challenges in the television sector are expected to put pressure on Canada’s telecom stocks in 2017, according to an annual outlook report from Desjardins Capital Markets analysts.

Since telecom stocks have a strong inverse relationship with interest rates, president-elect Donald Trump’s nod to inflationary policies could hurt telecoms that have enjoyed a low interest rate environment for years, Desjardins analyst Maher Yaghi and associate Jerome Dubreuil forecast for next year.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is forecasting three rate hikes next year, but global central banks are generally expected to keep rates low, indicating that telecoms will still attract dividend-seeking investors, they wrote. The analysts expect revenue and EBITDA growth of 2.6 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively.

“We believe the industry’s steady and predictable growth continues to be highly prized by investors looking to hedge the more volatile parts of their portfolio,” the report stated.

Given the slightly higher risk in its calculations, Desjardins lowered the price targets for Bell ($64.50 from $67.50), Rogers ($57.50 from $61) and Telus ($49 from $50). It did, however, upgrade Bell’s rating to buy from hold given the new valuation. Ratings for Rogers and Telus remained stable at hold and buy, respectively.

But growth in the wireless and Internet segments may be subdued by increasing challenges in the TV sector, Desjardins predicted, pointing to online video streaming, the waning appeal of sports channels and changes in viewer behaviour.

Over-the-top streaming services such as Netflix have enhanced their offerings by letting consumers download shows to watch offline later and Amazon Prime Video launched in Canada this month, giving consumers another option.

“The possible launch of a live TV service delivered over the Internet by YouTube would be another headwind for TV service providers, as an increased number of channels offering access to live content at a low price could hamper both (average revenue per user) and subscriber metrics,” they wrote.

On top of that, sports channels – the desire to watch live games is generally viewed as one of the main reasons people keep their TV subscriptions – may not be as sticky as they once were.

Desjardins noted that a recent Forbes report estimated ESPN lost 4 per cent of its subscribers this year, an acceleration of the 3 per cent subscriber loss Disney reported between 2014 and 2015.

The latest CRTC reports show that major sports network subscribers declined by 1.5 per cent over the same period, though the analysts noted that telecom trends in Canada typically lag behind the U.S. by one to two years.

Regardless, the analysts are adopting a more bearish stance on TV given CRTC data that shows the number of hours of television watched has declined 3 per cent since 2009-2010. The most notable declines came from the 12-17 and 18-34 age categories, which analysts said could indicate the industry’s long-term prospects.

On the plus side, analysts expect major players will continue to grow their average revenue per user when it comes to the wireless market.

Shaw’s Freedom Mobile still doesn’t have the handsets or network quality to compete with the incumbents in B.C., Alberta or Ontario, Desjardins wrote, which should reduce the competitive pressure from a fourth player until 2018.


Source: Financial Post

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