tech innovation

GE and Quirky's Sly Wink: 1 Robot Butler, 7 Smart Home Products

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 13, 2014 04:04 PM

This year, Quirky—a NYC-based startup that develops crowdsourced inventions—partnered with GE, and then spun out a whole new company called Wink as an umbrella for smart home apps, hubs, and control panels. Now, Wink has debuted seven flagship products that will define the brand, and launched a clever ad campaign (and faux campaign) to boot.

Founded in 2009, Quirky has joined major players including Google's Nest in jockeying for space in the connected home market. When the Quirky and GE partnership launched, the company was even better able to broadcast its central question to consumers: “What products would you make smarter?”

Now, as its anthem video puts it, "The smart home comes home." Continue reading...

brand challenges

Occupy Clorox: Company Pull-Out Leads to Venezuela Mess

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 13, 2014 02:36 PM

Clorox has been manufacturing and selling its products in Venezuela since 1990, when it introduced Pine-Sol to the nation. But now, just before its 25th anniversary, things have gone so sour that the cleanser company abruptly pulled out of the market—and is now protesting the government's decision to restart its operations.

In late September, the Clorox Company shut down its Venezuelan business by closing its plants and firing workers after “it could not get access to foreign exchange to pay for supplies and could not raise the price of its products because of Venezuela government restrictions,” according to the Latin American Herald Tribune

"This is a very difficult situation for our company," Clorox Chairman and CEO Don Knauss stated in a press release. The Venezuelan government did not take kindly to the move, however, and voted to take over the business and restart operations. Both sides are now gearing up for a legal battle.Continue reading...

tech innovation

IBM Watson Brings Big Brain to DNA-Based Health App for Consumers

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 13, 2014 01:28 PM

IBM expects the bioinformatics market will grow to $12.86 billion by 2020, and its super-computer Watson is the brand's ambassador-at-large, set to secure its place—and future—in banking, education, insurance, retail and healthcare, the focus of Big Blue's big news today. 

Watson, which is being actively commercialized by IBM as a B2B offering for others' apps and software, is at the heart of a major announcement that could mean the end of the annual doctor's visit.

A joint effort by IBM and Pathway Genomics will combine Pathway's personal DNA sequencing and biometric data with Watson's human language analysis and research capabilities to track and diagnose your health, and deliver it all through an app that should be available to consumers in mid-2015. Continue reading...

health matters

A League of Your Own: Kobo Founder's Health App Syncs Wearable Tech Data

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 13, 2014 11:23 AM

When U.S.-based Borders Books introduced the Kobo e-reader back in 2010, it was seen as a potential “Kindle Killer.” Borders, alas, folded the following year, but Kobo kept quietly rolling along.

Now the man who created Kobo, Michael Serbinis, is introducing a new product that he hopes will excite consumers and the medical community alike: A healthcare app and personal wellness portal called League. Having raised $4 million Canadian in seed money, League is preparing to launch early next year, according to a press release.

League can be accessed via a website and iOS and Android mobile apps, which will monitor information provided by wearable technology devices, such as FitBit's tracking of steps taken, all controlled by the user and open, if desired, to healthcare providers too. Continue reading...

brand news

Brand News: Buffett Buys Duracell, DreamWorks on the Block and more

Posted by Dale Buss on November 13, 2014 09:19 AM


P&G sells Duracell brand to Warren Buffett for $4.7B in shares ahead of today's analysts' meeting.

Hasbro reportedly in talks to buy DreamWorks Animation.

Honda expands air bag recall as Takata receives subpoena from U.S. grand jury.

Sony launches web TV service.

Walmart posts rare rise in U.S. sales. Continue reading...

tech innovation

Viva Viv: Son of Siri Aims to Connect Everyone With Everything

Posted by Mark Dwyer on November 12, 2014 05:41 PM

Engineers are developing self-learning aritificial intelligence that will not only answer virtually any question, but will also run through your to-do list and take care of all of your tasks, from the simple to the complex. Think of it as Siri—with superpowers. 

In fact, comparisons to Siri are warranted, as the co-founders at Viv Labs had a hand in developing Siri.

Now their Viv "global brain" is going brain-to-brain with Apple's voice recognition digital assistant, as well as Google Now, Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon's Echo, Facebook's speech recognition technology and myriad other AI efforts, all pursuing the dream of a platform that not only meets but anticipates our needs, and truly delivers on Siri’s promise.

But the startup’s ambition doesn’t end there.Continue reading...


Macy's, Neiman Marcus Woo Holiday Shoppers With Mobile Visual Search

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 12, 2014 05:05 PM

Visual search is becoming increasingly popular, thanks to image-driven socializing via Pinterest and Instagram. Now U.S. shoppers are being invited this holiday season to use their smartphones to eye before they buy.

For retailers, mobile visual search apps make sense: they build a bridge between photo sharing on social and the point of purchase, particularly impulse purchases. By using images captured on a mobile device, image recognition technology can link the virtual and physical worlds by immediately directing consumers to the purchasing platform of their choice.

“The software mimics the way the human eye interprets images that we see every day,” said Iain McCready, CEO of Cortexica, a UK visual search firm with offices in the U.S., who helped update Macy's app for visual search.

“By searching for products based on color, texture and pattern, as well as shape, the software leverages sophisticated algorithms that make it the most accurate system on the market today.” Continue reading...

tech style

eBay Brings Digital Chic, Bespoke Big Data to Rebecca Minkoff's New Stores

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 12, 2014 03:06 PM

eBay is partnering with tech-savvy fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff to bring immersive digital technology to the designer's foray into brick-and-mortar stores.

The first of four high-tech boutiques will open on Saturday in New York's Soho area, followed by a San Francisco store (in the Pacific Heights neighborhood) that will open shortly thereafter and stores in Los Angeles (on Melrose Avenue) and Tokyo next year.

While the stores are permanent, eBay has signed on for a one-year (minimum) partnership to bring its e-commerce prowess to Minkoff's first stores, powering touch screen interactive displays and digital fitting rooms designed with her customers—omnichannel-savvy, sophisticated and fashion-forward shoppers—in mind.Continue reading...

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