CES

OrCam’s MyMe uses facial recognition to remember everyone you meet

Posted by | CES, CES 2019, Gadgets, OrCam, OrCam MyMe | No Comments

Meet the OrCam MyMe, a tiny device that you clip on your T-shirt to help you remember faces. The OrCam MyMe features a small smartphone-like camera and a proprietary facial-recognition algorithm so that you can associate names with faces. It can be a useful device at business conferences, or to learn more about how you spend a typical day.

This isn’t OrCam’s first device. The company has been selling the MyEye for a few years. It’s a wearable device for visually impaired people that you clip to your glasses. Thanks to its camera and speaker, you can point your finger at some text and get some audio version of the text near your ear. It can also tell you if there’s somebody familiar in front of you.

OrCam is expanding beyond this market with a mass-market product. It features the same technological foundation, but with a different use case. OrCam’s secret sauce is that it can handle face recognition and optical character recognition on a tiny device with a small battery — images are not processed in the cloud.

It’s also important to note that the OrCam MyMe doesn’t record video or audio. When the device detects a face, it creates a signature and tries to match it with existing signatures. While it’s not a spy camera, it still feels a bit awkward when you realize there’s a camera pointed at you.

When there’s someone in front of you, the device sends a notification to your phone and smartwatch. You can then enter the name of this person on your phone so that the next notification shows the name of the person with whom you’re talking.

If somebody gives you a business card, you can also hold it in front of you. The device then automatically matches the face with the information on the business card.

After that, you can tag people in different categories. For instance, you can create a tag for family members, another one for colleagues and another one for friends.

The app shows you insightful graphs representing your work-life balance over the past few weeks and months. If you want to quantify everything in your life, this could be an effective way of knowing that you should spend more time with your family, for instance.

While the device isn’t available just yet, the company already sold hundreds of early units on Kickstarter. Eventually, OrCam wants to create a community of enthusiasts and figure out new use cases.

I saw the device at CES last week and it’s much smaller than you’d think based on photos. You don’t notice it unless you’re looking for the device. It’s not as intrusive as Google Glass for instance. You can optionally use a magnet if the clip doesn’t work with what you’re wearing.

OrCam expects to ship the MyMe in January 2020 for $399. It’s an impressive little device, but the company also faces one challenge — I’m not sure everyone feels comfortable about always-on facial recognition just yet.

CES 2019 coverage - TechCrunch

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Hands-on with Ledger’s Bluetooth crypto hardware wallet

Posted by | CES, CES 2019, Europe, Gadgets, Ledger, Ledger Nano X, Ledger Wallet, Startups | No Comments

French startup Ledger unveiled a new hardware wallet at CES this week. While the device isn’t going to ship until March, the company let me play with a prototype version of the device. The Ledger Nano X feels just like using the Nano S, but on mobile.

When the company’s previous hardware wallet first came out, that was before the cryptocurrency boom, before Ledger raised $75 million. And the user experience wasn’t great.

You had to install multiple Chrome apps to manage multiple cryptocurrencies, switch between each app when you wanted to access your balance and manage your crypto assets. But things got much better when the company released Ledger Live on macOS, Windows and Linux.

With this new app, you could finally view your portfolio balance and manage multiple crypto assets from the same desktop app. The logical next step was mobile. And you have to get a new hardware wallet for that.

The Ledger Nano X looks more or less like the Ledger Nano S, but slightly bigger. It’s shaped like a USB key and it has a tiny screen to confirm transactions on the device. There’s a tiny 100 mAh battery in it and a slightly bigger screen. The battery should last a couple of months when you’re not using the wallet, and around 8 hours of active use. The microUSB port has been replaced by a USB-C port. The buttons are now on each side of the screen instead of on the side of the device.

After you pair the device with your phone, you can control everything from your iOS or Android phone. You can install apps on the Ledger Nano X, access your wallets and send cryptocurrencies. On iOS, you can lock the app using a password and optionally Face ID or Touch ID.

When you need to validate a transaction on your Ledger Nano X, your phone will pair with your Ledger device over Bluetooth. You can then view transaction information on your Ledger device and approve the transaction on the device itself.

What makes Ledger so secure is that your private keys never leave your Ledger device. Transactions are signed directly on the device. Your private keys are never sent over Bluetooth and your cryptocurrencies remain safe even if your smartphone is compromised.

Ledger now uses an ST33 secure element, which is slightly more secure than the previous version ST31. Now, there’s only a single chip, connected directly to the screen and buttons, which reduces the risk of having someone compromise the information on your screen.

The screen is now twice as tall, which lets you view full public addresses without a scrolling view. You can now install up to 100 different cryptocurrency apps. You can still plug the device into a computer and use the desktop app, as well. The device costs €120 ($138).

Disclosure: I own small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

CES 2019 coverage - TechCrunch

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Don’t expect a new Nvidia Shield Tablet anytime soon

Posted by | CES, CES 2016, Jensen Huang, Mobile, nvidia, nvidia shield tablet, Shield Tablet | No Comments

The Shield TV, Nvidia’s Android TV streaming box, is still getting regular updates, but the Shield Tablet, which launched in 2014, was last refreshed in 2015 and officially discontinued last year, wasn’t quite the same success. As Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said during a small press gathering at CES in Las Vegas today, the company doesn’t have any plans to resurrect it.

“Shield TV is still unquestionably the best Android TV in the world,” he said. “We have updated the software now over 30 times. People are blown away by how much we continue to enhance it.” And more (unspecified) enhancements are coming, he said.

On the mobile side, though, the days of the Shield Tablet are very much over, especially now that the Nintendo Switch, which uses Nvidia’s Tegra chips, has really captured that market.

“We are really committed to [Shield TV], but on mobile devices, we don’t think it’s necessary,” Huang said. “We would only build things not to gain market share. Nvidia is not a ‘take somebody else’s market share company.’ I think that’s really angry. It’s an angry way to run a business. Creating new markets, expanding the horizon, creating things that the world doesn’t have, that’s a loving way to build a business.”

He added that this is the way to inspire employees, too. Just copying competitors and maybe selling a product cheaper, though, does nothing to motivate employees and is not what Nvidia is interested in.

Of course, Huang left the door open to a future tablet if it made sense — though he clearly doesn’t think it does today. He’d only do so, “if the world needs it. But at the moment, I just don’t see it. I think Nintendo did such a great job.”


Bonus: The outspoken Huang also used his time with the assembled journalists to voice his opinion of AMD’s new Radeon VII graphics cards, which were announced earlier today. “Wow. Underwhelming, huh? I was kind of like saying ‘what?’ Because the performance is lousy and there’s nothing new. There’s no raytracing, no artificial intelligence. It’s a 7nm chip with HBM memory that barely keeps up with a 2080 and when we turn on DLSS, we’ll crush it. When we turn on raytracing, we’ll crush it. And it’s not even available yet.”

CES 2019 coverage - TechCrunch

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The world’s first foldable phone is real

Posted by | CES, CES 2019, flexpai, Gadgets, Royole | No Comments

People have been talking about foldable smartphones for years, but it’s finally happening. Chinese company Royole was showing off the FlexPai at CES in Las Vegas, and we got to play with it for a few minutes.

It’s hard to say if it’s a phone or a tablet as you can basically use it as a phone and a small tablet. Arguably, the tablet form factor is the most usable one. It’s a 7.8-inch device that runs Android.

When you fold the AMOLED display, there’s still a small gap between the two halves of the screen. But it’s also much smaller than the unfolded version. It’s a bulky phone, but it’s still much easier to store in a purse compared to a tablet.

You can already buy a developer version of the device if you live in the U.S. for around $1,300. It runs Android with a bunch of custom software features. If you fold the device, all your content moves to one part of the screen. It’s not a fluid experience, but it works.

It’s impressive to see that Royole managed to beat Samsung and other manufacturers to the market with this technology. Now, let’s see if Royole will sell its own devices, partner with other manufacturers or both. We have a video of the device coming up later this week.

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See you in Vegas next week!

Posted by | CES, CES 2019, donkey kong, events, Gadgets, Nintendo, pitch-off, shenzhen, Software, TC | No Comments

It’s on like Donkey Kong! We’ll be seeing you next week, on January 9, 2019 at 6:00 PM, where we’ll mingle and run a full TC pitch-off with a bunch of great hardware companies. I’ve added 40 extra tickets, so hurry!

The event will be held at Work In Progress, 317 South 6th Street. Special thanks to those amazing folks who opened their doors to us during one of the busiest weeks in LV.

I’ve contacted the companies that will be pitching. If anyone drops out, I’ll choose some more, so there is still a chance to pitch.

See you soon!

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Lexip’s joystick-mouse combo is a strange but promising hybrid

Posted by | CES, CES 2018, Gadgets, hardware, lexip, Mice, mouse, review, Reviews, TC | No Comments

 While at CES I try to avoid getting bogged down by dozens of random gadgets, and this time I mostly succeeded — but the mouse reviewer in me was intrigued by Lexip’s new gaming mouse that’s also a sort of floating joystick. It’s a strange but cool idea, and although the learning curve is high, I can see some hardcore gamers and productivity fiends getting a lot of use… Read More

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Ziro’s robotics kit for kids now works with Alexa

Posted by | CES, CES 2018, Gadgets, Startups, TC, ZeroUI, ziro | No Comments

 Ziro is a nifty programmable robotics kit for kids that had a successful Indiegogo campaign last year. And the company behind it, ZeroUI, is still adding new features. By default, Ziro kits come with a smart glove to control your robots. You can use the mobile app to configure gestures based on hand movements. Ziro now also works with Alexa. Read More

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The BecDot is a toy that helps teach vision-impaired kids to read braille

Posted by | accessibility, blind, Blindness, Braille, CES, CES 2018, deaf, deafness, disability, Gadgets, hardware, not impossible, TC | No Comments

 Learning braille is a skill that, like most, is best learned at an early age by those who need it. But toddlers with vision impairment often have few or no options to do so, leaving them behind their peers academically and socially. BecDot is a toy created by the parents facing that challenge that teaches kids braille in a fun, simple way, and is both robust and affordable. Read More

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The secret to avoiding CES cynicism is never really going

Posted by | CES, CES 2018, Gadgets, hardware, Opinion, Startups, TC | No Comments

 I’ve been going to CES for almost ten years now, and it amazes me that really, nothing has changed. The same people are saying the same things on the same stages, selling the same people the same junk with… well, slightly different numbers attached. But this year I had a great time and found some amazing companies — because I avoided at all costs actually stepping foot on… Read More

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Cherry’s new low-profile switches may help bring mechanical keyboards to more laptops

Posted by | CES, CES 2018, cherry, cherry mx keyboards, Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX switches, Gadgets, hardware, MX red switches, TC | No Comments

 You may not think much about the switches that sit underneath the keycaps of your keyboard, but there are many enthusiasts who really, really care. The trend is clearly going toward slim keyboards — and that’s not lost on Cherry. At CES this week, the company introduced a new line of keyboard switches that may just be small enough to bring mechanical keyboards to more laptops. Read More

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