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Blue Microphones shrinks their popular Yeti, and adds a new Ember

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

Blue MicrophonesFor new media, including podcasting and game streaming, one brand of microphones is nearly everywhere: Blue Microphones. From the Yeti to the Snowball, it seems that these microphones are everywhere. Since the company’s original microphone designer, Skipper Wise left to pursue other projects, the product lineup has begun to expand quickly. At this CES, the company was showing off a few of those newer products.

In addition to the popular Yeti microphone, Blue has introduced the Yeti Nano. This product made it to market at the end of 2018 and has really begun to find its market. The Nano has a similar design to the standard Yeti, but with a smaller footprint. It offers two of the four modes on the Yeti, both cardioid and omnidirectional, but sheds the stereo and bidirectional modes. The biggest difference, though, is the color palette. While the Yeti is generally known for its subdued colors, the Yeti Nano features bright red, blue, and gold as options.

Blue might be best known in the consumer space for their USB microphones, but the company got started because Skipper disliked every studio mic he had ever used and designed exactly what he wanted. Following in that almost 25-year legacy is the new Ember. This microphone is powered over XLR, meaning that it is intended for proper studio recording. It is a features a cardioid pickup, with a front-facing condenser capsule. This mic will be perfect for a full studio build out, versus the Yeti or Yeti Nano, which are really designed to enhance an existing desk with a quick and easy setup. As with the majority of studio microphones, it ships in a single color: dark grey.

The Blue Yeti Nano is available now with a suggested price of $99 but can be found for as low as $79 on Amazon. The Blue Ember is also available now for $99.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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Podcasters and musicians alike Shure are going to love these new mics

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

Shure MicrophonesOf all of the products that we love on the CES show floor, microphones are certainly near the top of the list, for obvious reasons. So we were really excited to see the new technology at Shure’s booth this year. Shure has been in the market since 1925. They specialize in wired and wireless microphones, personal monitor systems, conferencing solutions, and a host of other audiophile products. Their newest product, a part of Shure’s Motive line, is the MV88 Mic. It is a stereo microphone, which you can plug into your smartphone for convenient use. The product comes with a stand and phone attachment, allowing you to take video with your phone while getting optimal quality sound from the stereo microphone. When you plug the MV 88 into your smartphone, it automatically takes over as the default mic and the installed app pops right up on the screen and you’re ready to make adjustments and start recording. It will default to stereo mode but you can adjust the width of how wide or narrow you are trying to cover and change it to cardioid or bi-directional.

Shure created an app to go along with the MV 88, although you can use your default app or an app produced by another company, as well. You can record and edit your sound with the Shure Motive Audio App, making adjustments to both your sound and video quality. You can use this software to change both the sample rate of the audio and the audio file type.

When recording in stereo, the app lets you adjust your sound to your specifications. You can also set presets for your sound quality choices within the app. Making changes is as quick and easy as the touch of a button or slide of your finger across the touchscreen. It remembers all of the changes you have made and will already be set to your specifications the next time you use it. The MV88 kit sells for $249.00 and you can get yours now on Amazon Prime.

Shure also produces the microphone Daniele is using in the video. The KSM8 is a nickel-plated, dual-diaphragm microphone. It has a wide frequency, so it picks up your voice without struggling to find the perfect spot to stand or hold the microphone. This microphone sells for $499.00 and is also available on Amazon Prime.

You can find out more about these microphones and the entire Shure line by visiting their website.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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Sphero Specdrums: The most fun you’ll ever have tapping your fingers

Monday, March 25th, 2019

Sphero SpecdrumsDo you ever sit at your desk and tap along to the beat of a song? Is the steering wheel in your car a full-on drum set when your favorite song comes is playing? If you’re like me, you’re a world class drummer in your own head. So, for all of us who don’t quite have the time or drum set to become rock stars, Sphero has introduced Specdrums.

Specdrums are sleekly designed, Bluetooth enabled, app connected rings that detect color, combined with accelerometers that detect tapping. So you are able to play music on anything in the world around you. They are a fun new musical instrument that provides an accessible, portable, and tactile way for anyone to create music anywhere. You can play on the included color pad, or really on anything, like your shirt, a drawing or even a bowl of fruit. They are perfect for beginners who want to explore but also open-ended for advanced musicians to get creative and show their chops. Specdrums provides an outlet for whether you are practicing music using your hands without loud, expensive, and large physical instruments.

They work by sending a very quick, low latency color signal to the app on your device. The colors can be programmed in the app to have a specific sound for each color. They also have curated packs in the app for different genres of music. Each pack has a combination of loops that continue to play like drum or baseline and also some instruments like a keyboard. With all of these great features, they sound great right out of the box. And with all of the customization choices available, you’ll have your own amazing creations in no time. They offer sets with one ring for $64.99 or expand your play experience with a 2 ring set that allows you to switch it up using two hands with more versatility or to play with friends for $99.

You can get more information and grab your own set on their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Square Panda makes learning phonics easier and fun for all kids

Monday, March 25th, 2019

Square PandoSquare Panda came into being when the CEO noticed his daughter, who had dyslexia, was struggling to learn to read. Many children with and without dyslexia do not learn easily using only a pencil and paper or listening to a teacher lecture. The innovative thing about Square Panda technology is that it integrates visual, auditory, and tactile learning so that every child can grasp the skills to use phonics in reading.

In the showcased game, a child can place letters in the tray in any order. The chameleon in the game reads the letter combination to the child. If the child has formed a real word, then a picture of that thing may be displayed. The chameleon reads the letter combination, even if it does not form a real word. In this way, the child is still learning sounds and phonetics and learning the correct way to spell through experience. If a child spells several correct words in a row, they are rewarded. If a child attempts to spell words unsuccessfully several times in a row, the chameleon begins to suggest letter combinations or displays a picture and asks the child to try to spell the name of what he is seeing.

There are ten different games available to play with this hardware. The games range in age appropriateness. For instance, there is a lullaby game available for the youngest players and a more complicated bowling game for older players. The child can choose which games he or she enjoys most, and still get the benefit of learning without the tedium of a classroom setting. The interactive nature of Square Panda keeps children entertained, while they are learning.

Being the mother of a very tactile child, I can easily see the benefit of this type of technology. Classroom experiences and homework can be nerve-wracking for my child and me. Many of you know what I’m talking about. Imagine a learning experience your child could enjoy, that was capable of helping them become a better reader! Square Panda is the solution for children who have become frustrated with traditional learning experiences.

For more information, please visit their website. They have sets available for the home and the classroom, as well as replacement smart letters. Pricing for the home set starts at $69.95.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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This Irish company is bringing the smartest solution to the smarthome

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

Xunison X-BrainThe smarthome continues to get smarter with the new X-Brain from Xunison. The X-Brain can become your “brain” for all of your smarthome devices but it does not end there. There are 5 capabilities/devices included in 1 main hub so not only does the X-Brain give you easy access to all of your smarthome devices, it also comes with a built-in router, the ability to connect straight to your TV, fully included antivirus and firewall software to keep your smarthome and devices safe and parental controls for internet access and devices connected.

The CEO of Xunison, Ryan O’Donovan discusses the juicy details and specs for this new, innovative product. Once you finish the quick and easy X-Brain setup by connecting it straight to your television, you have full access to all of its capabilities through the X-Brain remote control. The router information is easily accessible through the application and allows you to be able to update your ID and passwords. There is also an option that allows you to view all of your connected smarthome devices such as other TVs, smarthome assistants, or even your smart refrigerator. From here you have full control of internet access to any device at any given time, and a list of the websites each device accesses on your network. This feature is fantastic for parental controls when you want your child to go to bed at a certain time without fear of them accessing their devices late in the night.

Security is another very important topic that Xunison has certainly taken care of. Each device comes armed with secure antivirus software and firewall that will keep your X-brain as well as every connected device safe from hackers and vulnerabilities. If there is a breach in the X-Brain, you are immediately notified of the hack and ways you can prevent this from happening again. Also note, if there is a breach in one X-Brain, all other X-Brains sold around the world are learning from each other and other attacks. They are updated every day in the background so there is no need to sit through regular updates that stop usability.

The Xunison X-Brain is expected to be launched in the first or second quarter of 2019. This product will be for sale at $229 and could be found online at the Xunison website or in person Costco, Walmart, and Best Buy.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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SquareOne is a new way to play board games in a digital world

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Wizama SquareOneIf you are anything like our team, you really enjoy board games. However, sometimes you just want something new that isn’t in your collection. That means going out to a store and buying a game, or waiting for something to be delivered. But, for many games, what you receive has a lot of similarities to other games you have: player markers (or pieces), dice, a board or playing surface. Wizama has taken the common ground between these games and made them digital, for a new type of gaming with SquareOne.

Combining a collection of markers, characters, and cards, all enhanced with near field communication (NFC) with an LCD screen and connected dice, allows gamers to experience their favorite games in a new way, as well as a whole new type of game. For the more traditional, game makers can use the screen to replicate their standard game board. Then, using the connected markers, cards, and dice, can make their gameplay even better.

The really interesting ability of SquareOne, however, is how it can create all kinds of new types of games. For example, using the exact same pieces you are already familiar with, you can play a digital version of air hockey. But, by adding in the NFC-powered cards, you can also play a game that combines the best parts of air hockey and Astroids, called Cosmo Squabble. These are the types of games that used to require something like an original Microsoft Surface (the table version, not the tablet), but now is small enough to be portable.

The SquareOne console will be available for pre-order at the end of 2019, with expected delivery in 2020. The price is expected to be a little less than $500. Right now, they are working to finalize the hardware designed and build partnerships so the console launches with a wide catalog of games. For more information about SquareOne and to follow the product’s development, check out their website.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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Wait till you see the tech in this self-service beer tap by Arrow

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

Arrow ElectronicsIn an effort to collect significant user data in a new, simple and efficient manner, Arrow Electronics combined several different technologies to create a very impressive IoT application. What is presented as a high-tech, self-service beer tap, is actually so much more. With the use of the Arduino Maker 1000 Board, an Intel Processor with Wi-Fi module, they were able to create these beer tap coolers that are coupled with temperature and flow sensors.

This beer tap is then able to provide data that not only facilitates the sale of the product but also manages optimal temperature and provides restocking data. Customers merely engage with the touchscreen and choose their beverage, which is automatically dispensed, while management is able to monitor and measure output on the dashboard. That data is then coupled video demographics that is gathered from the onboard camera. The camera watches while the customer makes their choice, then AI technology from Intel is able to determine their specific demographics. Like their sex, age range and even facial expressions. These data points provide the retailer with a significant amount of information about what types of customers are purchasing which products. This allows for a product portfolio that will appeal to a wider audience so they can target promotions and stock levels accordingly. All of this comes together in a simple display.

This beer tap does a great job of demonstrating Arrow’s capability to work from the sensor, all the way to the cloud. They took embedded sensing, coupling it with embedded computing and visual analytics. They then related that data in a retail environment on a dashboard. And the separate components that make up this technology is easily transferable into other areas of consumer data analytics. For example, the facial recognition that is being used in the beer tap can be used in any number of other consumer settings. It is able to provide real-time analysis of the moods of shoppers while compiling that data to be used for advertising, direct marketing, and product placement.

For more information on all of their products and applications, check out their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Opal Digital has a brand new way to interact with 360 videos and games

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

Opal DigitalHave you ever put on a VR headset and experienced something you wish you could share with the people around you? That’s pretty difficult when you’re fully immersed inside of an enclosed headset. There is a way to share a 360 video with a group of people, however, thanks to Opal Digital. Their very unique screens create a full 360-degree image to be enjoyed by a group instead of an individual.

One of the intents of the hardware is education. By including one of these screens in a museum or art gallery, the facility could present a new type of experience. For example, you could get an immersive view of the artist’s studio, making a stronger connection between the viewer and the artist. With the 360-degree screen, that presentation can not only be viewed by a group but could be experienced as a group.

The most obvious use for the technology, however, is entertainment. In fact, the company is working with Keith Arem, a well-known videogame insider, who has worked as talent director on titles such as Call of Duty. His expertise has led the company to consider various new entertainment experiences. What he really likes about the idea is being able to create multiplayer capabilities without isolating the players from the audience, or even from one another.

The idea is to partner with companies to sponsor installations in places where people will congregate naturally, such as movie theaters. Imagine a multiplayer game based around an upcoming film available in the lobby of your local theater. What about games in shopping malls or airports, where you’re always waiting around for someone or something to happen. These screens can make those experiences more interesting and, with partnerships, not cost the player anything.

Opal screens are available from the company with a range of prices depending on included options.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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Vuze makes creating VR and 360 videos and photos incredibly easy

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

Vuze CameraVirtual reality headsets and environments are becoming more and more popular. Nintendo has even thrown its hat back into the ring over 20 years after the first attempt at the technology. The problem is, there is not nearly as much content available for the hardware as there should be. There are some still cameras that have made their way into the market, and most phones can take a panoramic-style 360 photo. Video content, however, is still not as popular as it could, and should, be. Vuze cameras might just change that.

The VUZE+ looks a lot like a small Wi-Fi router but has 8 lenses around the outside ring. Using those lenses, the camera is able to create video content in full 360 degrees, which is perfect for virtual reality headset. It also features spatial audio, meaning that, by moving your perspective, you can change the sound that you can hear. It is almost like being there. The camera has a standard camera mount on the bottom, allowing you to set it up somewhere, maybe at a concert or conference, and record.

The VUZE XR is the smaller version of the VUZE+ and features only 2 lenses facing forward. Rather than a full 360-degree video, the XR produces a 180-degree frame. This is perfect for portability, as holding the camera in your hand will put your body as half of the frame anyway. Luckily, the camera is designed exactly for portability, with a handle and collapsible lenses.

Both cameras produce video at 5.7K, which is far above the industry standard. In addition to still photos and video, both cameras are also able to be used for live streaming through YouTube Live using a paired mobile device. The VUZE+ is available for $999 and the VUZE XR is available for $439.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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The VMAXX woofer returns to the Cerwin Vega Mobile speaker lineup

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

Cerwin Vega Mobile VMAXXWhen it comes to car audio, there are a lot of choices, and so it takes a lot to make a name for yourself. Cerwin Vega Mobile has certainly done just that, making itself the oldest car audio company in the world. Over the past few years, the company has been reaching back to its classic products and reintroducing modernized versions. In the past, we spoke with Larry Frederick about the Stroker, and this year he showed us the VMAXX woofer.

This product, which was previously produced around 15 years ago, was a popular product. In fact, for a while, it was the company’s most popular woof. Unfortunately, because of a problem with the frame, the company decided to discontinue it. Since then, loyal customers have continued to ask on social media that the company bring it back and, thanks to new materials and better manufacturing processes, the frame issue has been solved, and so the VMAXX has returned.

Rather than just bringing back the original design, however, Frederick wanted to design the speaker to be a heavier-duty, more powerful product. He focused on the things that he could easily control, like the size of the magnet, the size of the voice coil, and the amount of travel for the cone. While he recommends that people not get caught up in the trick of a big magnet and theoretical wattage, he does note that the magnet on the VMAXX is fairly large.

It is important for anyone purchasing a high-end speaker system to understand what it is they are buying. A 1000 watt speaker with only a 1-inch voice coil is never going to accomplish the advertised volumes. The same goes for other components on your system, such as the copper wire being used. The last thing you want is for your speaker or wire to get too hot and for glue or shielding to come apart.

The VMAXX woofer from Cerwin Vega Mobile will be available soon for around $249 to $279.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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