As with many other Kickstarter hardware projects, Lifx light bulbs have hit a few snags. The bulbs were originally scheduled to ship in March 2013, but the latest predictions have them set to release either this month or next to the first Kickstarter backers.
I for one am excited to hear reviews of these smart lightbulbs being used in the home. It looks like the product will ship with a limited set of features compared to those mentioned in the Kickstarter pitch, so it will be interesting to see how well the initial features work, and how quickly the subsequent features will be rolled out.
Lifx is at the front of a wave of smart devices, being a lightbulb that can be controlled wirelessly from a mobile phone. For more detail on the Lifx project and smart lightbulbs, check out my article on the Lifx Lightbulb.
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Taxi commissions in many major cities are feeling the pressure from a new wave of ride sharing mobile apps that are disrupting the industry. These commissions have maintained monopolies over car services in many cities, and haven't innovated as fast as a number of startups that are trying to enter the space.
Lyft, Sidecar and Uber are all companies that have faced regulatory obstacles placed by threatened incumbent industries, particularly in large, taxi-heavy cities like New York and Chicago. Despite the snags, it seems like these companies are slowly making progress, and this continued effort is undoubtedly being driven by the intense public demand. Ride sharing apps have allowed customers to use technology to fractionally own a car, or make some extra money from an existing car. I go into greater detail about this set of technologies that are disrupting the transport industry in: Ride Sharing Technology
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The large VC firm Andreessen Horowitz evidently thinks there is big potential in the field of 3D printing. The company recently led a $30 million round of funding, allowing Shapeways to continue its growth in the US. Shapeways currently has a 3D printing factory on the east coast, but still relies on a number of partners to provide its full range of printing options. This round may be used to bring those services in house, and develop a manufacturing presence on the west coast, a smart move considering the tech focus of places like Silicon Valley.
If you are unfamiliar with Shapeways, it is a company that could allow you to dip your toes into the world of 3D printing, by offering an on-demand 3D printing service. The company also empowers designers by creating a marketplace for people to sell their 3D printed wares. I give a full profile of this company in: Startup Profile: Shapeways
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Airbnb, the popular peer-to-peer accommodation hub is piloting a program that really is an unprecedented step forward in identity on the Internet. 25% of its U.S. user base will be required to verify their identity using a government issued photo ID in order to keep using the site. As someone who has used Airbnb and had nothing but good experiences, I still think this is a great step forward.
However, will other users feel the same way? This is a big gamble for Airbnb, but the payoff could be that Airbnb becomes one of the foremost sources for verified identities on the web. Pretty weighty stuff! I discuss these issues in further detail in my article: The Airbnb Verified ID.
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WhatsApp continues its incredible rise to prominence by topping the iTunes charts for paid iPhone apps at the end of April. Recent research has shown that WhatsApp has become the most popular mobile messaging service (excluding SMS) in a number of countries, surpassing Facebook Messenger in many cases.
If you aren't familiar with WhatsApp, it is a cross-platform mobile messaging platform that has grown very quickly, and generated a lot of acquisition rumors from big players like Google, and Facebook. Find out more about them at Startup Profile: WhatsApp
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San Francisco based Jawbone recently announced their acquisition of fitness device maker BodyMedia for the sum of $100 million. This acquisition is latest in a line of fitness related acquisitions for the company best known for its Bluetooth headsets.
What does this mean for Jawbone and the rest of the fitness device industry? Jawbone appears to be betting big on the proliferation of fitness tech, which is a viewpoint I happen to agree with. I explore the meaning of this move further in: Jawbone and BodyMedia.
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New York based website Birchbox recently announced that they would be collaborating with actress Salma Hayek on an upcoming subscription mailing. The service is looking to leverage some star power, and given its popularity, it now has the clout to do so.
Birchbox is at the front of a wave of tech startups that are offering a new retail model: pay a subscription fee to receive regular mailings of new, curated items. Essentially this is a "product discovery" service. I look into this new e-commerce model in: Subscription Commerce.
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I recently read about a new product in which an entire Linux distro along with media center software has been bundled onto a USB dongle that will be sold for $80. The project is only in its early stages with an Indiegogo page, so I can't really comment on how well it works, but it seems like an interesting idea. I'm not really surprised by these efforts considering I wrote about Raspberry Pi as a media center not too long ago, it appears lightweight media centers are becoming all the rage.
All of these miniature media centers are possible due to Linux distros that are specialized for media center use. If you have some spare computer parts lying around, you might be able to save some serious money compared to a commercial media center product. Check out: The Linux Media Center.
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It's been a long time in the making, but the team behind the Pebble smart watch has announced that the last of the initial order of black Pebble watches is ready to ship, making a total of over 50,000 units shipped to date.
The company is working on refining their manufacturing process for other colors, but if you were part of the initial backers of Pebble, and ordered the default black model, you should receive your watch soon if not already.
Pebble is a company that met with huge success in marketing a smart watch on Kickstarter, and really propelled the concept of a smart watch to the forefront of many tech enthusiasts. If you'd like to understand a little more about the smart watch phenomenon, check out: What are Smart Watches?
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3D printing has all kind of cool sci-fi implications, but it looks like it also has some legitimate earning potential.
At least, this is the verdict of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, who recently led a $30 million round of financing for Shapeways, a startup looking to become the premier online marketplace for 3D printed items.
Just browsing the Shapeways site, which is already live, should give you an idea of the variety of objects that are now being produced by 3D printing, but if you'd like a more detailed look at the possibilities, I explore the promise of 3D printing in my article: 3D Printed Objects.
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