Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Gresso Develops A $30,000 iPhone Mod For Those With More Money Than Taste

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 09:40 AM PDT

Maybe the ol’ trustfund just kicked in. Maybe you’ve decided you too own a chunk of Facebook, and actually managed to get them to settle. Whatever the case, you’re sitting on a fat pile of cash and are feelin’ gaudy, good taste be damned.

The self-declared luxury phone designers at Gresso, previously mentioned for cramming six ugly clocks into the back of the iPhone (for $6000) and wrapping an iPhone 4 in 200-year old wood (for $5000), are back with another one. This time, they’re looking to get $30,000 for their wares.

This morning, the company disclosed some details regarding a product they’re calling Lady Blanche, pictured above. As you can see, it’s essentially the same design as the aforementioned ugly clock one, with three of the ugly clocks replaced with… little pearl pockets full of diamonds.

The Lady Blanche actually comes in two rich flavors: one with 0.01 carat white diamonds (the $30,000 model), and another with Swarovski crystals in their place (which goes for $7000, instead. Bargaaaain!). The entirety of the back is made of diamond-coated mineral glass, which should keep your flying car’s keys from scratching it be it that they end up in the same pocket.

I kid, but only because I sure as hell can’t afford it. They only have to sell a few for this to work — and chances are, there are just enough oil tycoons out there to make it happen. If I had millions to burn and I’d done my fair share of humanitarian work, you know I’d be rocking this from the great heights of my hybrid mansion-blimp. It doesn’t seem to be up on their site just yet, but PocketLink says it should be available sometime this year.

Shout out ChipChick for the second image, shown below:



Twitter Drives 4x as Much Traffic as You Think. Here’s Why …

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 09:27 AM PDT

Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Mark Suster (@msuster), a 2x entrepreneur, now VC at GRP Partners. Read more about Suster at his Startup BlogBothSidesoftheTable.

Most web publishers measure where there traffic is coming from using an analytics package such as Google Analytics, Omniture or Core Metrics.

These were good packages in the pre social media world at helping figure out who was driving your traffic.

Today they’re wrong. Terribly wrong. And figuring out who is referring your traffic is a very important part of determining how you allocate your marketing budgets. It is almost certain that Twitter is driving much more of your referrals than you think.

Possibly up to 4x as much.

Jonathan Strauss is the gentleman who did all the number crunching and has written an excellent post on why this is.

I’ve been a user of awe.sm (his product) before I invested in his company (disclosure) so the understatement of Twitter as a referral source is a problem I’ve known about for a long time. Let me give you the simple explanation.

Take a look at the Google Analytics log for BothSidesofTheTable.com for yesterday. I had 8,502 visitors yesterday of which 1,669 are listed as “direct.” Direct traffic are people who typed in my URL directly. They weren’t “referred” by anybody.

But look at the second line. This says “direct – bothsid.es / bothsid.es – twitter” and shows 1,423 referrals. Line 5 says twitter.com / bothsid.es – twitter” for 712 referrals and line 9 shows twitter.com for 170 people.

What does that mean?

awe.sm tracks all of my social media sharing behavior. What awe.sm does is it allows publishers to be able to track each individual share behavior to a level of granularity that no other campaign tracking tool I’m aware of allows.

In ordinary tracking line 2 would have shown up as “direct” traffic and I would have assumed that I was getting a lot more direct traffic than I really was. I would have assumed I was 36% direct and just 10% via Twitter when the reality is that I’m 20% direct and 27% via Twitter.

In fact, the actual Twitter referrals are generally up to 4x as much as people think is happening. And the same is almost certainly the same for most publishers in terms of understating referrals.

This is a problem because publishers might then under invest in Twitter campaigns relative to others because they don’t get “last mile attribution” right.

This happens with other marketing campaigns, too. Often you hear a radio ad, see a TV ad or read an article in a magazine and you type the results into Google to find out more details about the product or service. The problem is that marketers assume that Google drove the traffic. They did not. So you ramp down your TV or print campaigns and suddenly your search volume goes down.

Doh!

Last mile attribution is very important to understand marketing ROI. For the above problem the best company I know of is called Convertro. I’m not an investor in the company. But Jeff Zwelling is one of the most informed people on last-mile attribution with whom I’ve spoken.

And in social media the problem is even worse than I described. Twitter is an amazing generator of social hooks to websites. Some of that comes from Twitter.com or other Twitter clients. But since many other websites pull in Twitter data, including links, you don’t always know who is referring the traffic to you.

Case in point: LinkedIn. Many Tweets are now being sent to LinkedIn and then the publisher assumes that the source of the referral is LinkedIn. In some ways it is because that’s where your user engaged the content. But get rid of the Tweet and you get rid of the referral traffic in the same way as I described the loss when you cancel your TV commercial.

So when I see MG Siegler announce that LinkedIn is sending more traffic to TechCrunch than Twitter – I’m not so sure. I understand why he would think that – Google Analytics tells him so. But I’ll bet a hefty amount of LinkedIn clicks were originated on Twitter. And I’ll bet a whole lot of TechCrunch “direct” traffic is from Twitter.

With proper social media attribution you need to generate a unique URL for EACH share behavior. So if you click on a “Tweet this” button on a website to send an article to your friends, that link needs to be individual to you and to that exact share instance. By making the URL link unique to its point of generation you can then track it better as it spreads to other sites

And importantly when anybody else then shares the link to this site it maps out a “parent / child” link relationship. So if the original Tweet was on Twitter and then somebody builds a “Tweet this” from a product like LinkedIn, you can still tell that the original source of the the story was Twitter. Call it, “last mile social media attribution” and when you’re a brand spending money on products & marketing you need to know this.

By doing this awe.sm gets more precision in tracking performance. It allows us to track time of day as well as do things like track which copy converts better if you want to a/b test Tweet copy.

They also cookie users so that we can better track who it was that drove viral adoption of campaigns. It could be that one influential person send a Tweet but he doesn’t have a lot of followers. If Ashton Kutcher follows that person and suddenly shares if with his 7 million followers it would start to snowball.

So there you have it. The story is never quite as simple as the data might lead you to believe. It’s why sophisticated marketing tracking programs are important. And it’s not just me as an investor saying it. Customers like GroupOn, Zynga, Gilt Groupe and TopSpin Media are using Awe.sm.

And some others who have asked us not to say so because they don’t want to alert their competition ;-)

Image courtesy of Fotolia.



Getyoo Raises A €600,000 Seed Round For Interactive NFC Solutions

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 09:26 AM PDT

Exclusive - What is the deal with all these small Belgian startups suddenly developing severe international ambitions? Yesterday it was Wondergraphs, today it’s Getyoo, a provider of NFC interactive solutions for the events and meetings industry.

The fledgling company has raised €600,000 (which is roughly $850,000) from Eric Bigeard, ex-CEO of Lyreco, a European leader in the B2B distribution of office supplies with current sales surpassing 2 billion euros.

Getyoo believes the event industry will change radically thanks to the possibility of near-field communication (NFC), technology that enables simplified transactions such as data exchange (a digital business card a list of contacts, photos, applications, money, virtual items and so on).

Getyou co-founder and CEO Alexis Tinel tells me its first product, a small physical device called the Clickey that can be compared with the Poken, is currently distributed throughout Europe, and that the company has now launched a brand new NFC interactive card that allows people at events – think business conferences and summits but also live music concerts and whatnot – to interact with social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Another European startup called Cardcloud is also doing interesting things in this space.



Coming Soon: Tinychat’s 12-Way Group Video Chat App For Facebook

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 08:15 AM PDT

Soon Facebook will be expanding its Chat product with video calling functionality, powered by Skype. It won’t support group video calling, though, at least not at first, and we haven’t heard anything about support on mobile phones so far.

Next week, Tinychat will submit a group video chat application that will work on both iOS devices and desktop browsers, and supports video chat sessions of up to 12 people at the same time.

The promotion video below shows what the app will look like, but it’s the fact that it support video calls from the desktop as well as iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices that sets it apart from similar applications from fring and Tango (and Google+ Hangouts).

I’m not a big fan of group video calling myself, but I realize that lots of people engage in that kind of activity on regular basis around the world. All you need to do it from your iOS (and soon Android) devices or your desktop via Tinychat is to have a Facebook account, which, you know, more than 750 million people do. In short, I think this app will be a hit.

I talked to Tinychat co-founder CEO Dan Blake, and he told me that the Tinychat web service is handling over 25 million visits a month, with close to 100,000 new users signing up on a daily basis. Already, Blake says, Tinychat processes more than a billion minutes of video calls per month, and revenue is starting to flow in.

The company recently raised $1.5 million in funding from Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, angel investorNaval Ravikant and A-Grade, the investment vehicle of Madonna manager Guy Oseary, actor Ashton Kutcher and billionaire Ron Burkle.

We’ll update when the app goes live.



Firespotter Labs Launches Nosh: A Food-Centric Instagram That’ll Tell You What To Order

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 08:00 AM PDT

The cofounder of Google Voice is back for more. And he’s hungry.

Back in May we reported on Firespotter Labs, a new incubator started by GrandCentral cofounder and CEO Craig Walker (GrandCentral was acquired by Google in 2007 and relaunched as Google Voice in 2009). Walker left the Google Voice team in late 2010, did a stint as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Google Ventures, and laid the kindling for Firespotter — which included closing a $3 million funding round led by Google Ventures.

And now, just a few months after it closed that funding, Firespotter is launching its first application: an application called Nosh, which makes it easy to share snapshots of the food you’re eating with your friends (it does some more useful things too, so read on). It’s equal parts Instagram, Yelp, and Foursquare, with a few unique dashes of its own. The app has just gone live for both iPhone and Android — and there’s also a slick web version too.

The basic premise behind Nosh is that people like to share what they’re eating with their friends (just look at your Instagram or Twitter feeds). And they also like to know what they should eat when they’re at a restaurant. Nosh makes it easy to do both.

When you first launch the app, you’ll be prompted to connect with your Facebook and Twitter logins, so that you can quickly build up a list of friends who are also Nosh’ing. From there, you’ll have a few options. The most important one is the ‘Nosh’ — the service’s equivalent of a check-in. The idea is that you go to a restaurant, take a photo of what you ordered, and leave a quick review and/or remark about it. The app includes the standard ‘nearby venue’ listing, to help making finding the restaurant a snappy process.

Another important feature is the Feed. This is a lot like what you’d find in Instagram, Path, and other photo sharing apps: tap it, and you’ll see a stream of photos your friends have recently taken of their own meals, along with their own reviews and comments about their meal.

But Nosh isn’t just setting out to help you share and view photos of food — it’s actually useful. The company currently has a team in India ingesting thousands of  menus from restaurants across the United States (they’re using some technology built in-house to do this quickly, so it isn’t just manual entry). The idea is that when you go to check into a venue, you’ll also be able to see which meals a restaurant offers — and they’ll include reviews left by other Nosh’ers. In other words, it’s sort of like a Yelp for individual dishes, as opposed to the restaurant itself.

I’ve been trying the app out for a couple of days (though I don’t have many friends on it yet, obviously) and it’s well done. It looks good and is generally polished  — and once there are more meal reviews, it could be genuinely useful. My only major gripe: at this point you can’t snap photos of things you’ve cooked at home (all photos are currently associated with a venue), but this feature will be added in the next version. In the mean time, you can create a new venue called ‘Home’ if you really want to.

Most of the things Nosh is doing aren’t exactly novel (Foodspotting also revolves around taking snapshots of dishes at restaurants). But it’s bundling them up nicely — and the fact that it actually has some utility (figuring out what to order at a restaurant) as opposed to just being a fun diversion could keep users coming back to the app, which is always the biggest hurdle as these services get off the ground.

And while he’s excited about Nosh, Walker says that Firespotter has more in the pipeline — he hopes that once the team is running at full speed, they’ll be shipping three or four new products a year.




Esther Dyson Notes Google+ Has “The Advantage Of Following Facebook” (TCTV)

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 07:32 AM PDT

Esther Dyson is the consummate early adopter. So I asked her recently what she thinks of Google+. In the video clip above, she gives her verdict. “They have the advantage of following Facebook,” she says.

By that she means that Google could look at what is wrong with Facebook and try to improve upon it. One of the main problems of Facebook, according to Dyson, is that you have an “undifferentiated mess of friends.” Google+ tries to solve this problem by getting you to put different groups of friends into different Circles.

Google+ is also asymmetrical. “It’s not two-way,” Dyson explains. You can put people in a Circle, but they won’t know if they are in the “Ignore These People” Circle or “People I Want To Stalk” Circle. “The defaults matter a lot,” says Dyson.

I point out that this could be confusing for many people. “You think it’s bad to have something that’s new?” she asks me. “Facebook is way ahead,” she points out. The trick for Google with Google+ is to “try to differentiate it without marginalizing it.”

Check out another part of this interview in which Dyson tells me her views on the future of the space industry.



App Review: Nuance Dragon Go iOS App

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 07:06 AM PDT

Short Version: The Dragon Go app from Nuance basically takes your average voice search and gives you seven relevant paths to choose from. With Nuance’s natural language processing technology, Dragon Go can understand what it is you’re trying to get out of the search, instead of just throwing a string of words at Google and saying a little prayer. Based on your search, Dragon Go chooses the best possible sites to match your request, complete with social network integration. I found the UI snappy and smooth, and no matter how hard I tried, I was unable to trick the voice detection. Overall, I give it a solid A.

Features:

  • Voice search with relevant results
  • Social network integration
  • Price: Free

Pros:

  • Extremely accurate voice detection
  • Fresh, smooth UI
  • Ability to launch native apps

Cons:

  • Google is default engine
  • We want to see more supported sites
  • Unnecessary tutorial upon launch: the app is self-explanatory
  • Long Version:
    Nuance has come out with the third in its Dragon series of applications, and each time the experience gets better and better. The latest app, Dragon Go, takes Nuance's voice recognition software to the next level, and adds a way of understanding not just the words spoken, but the intention behind the voice query, through a system called natural language processing. Once the query is digested, Dragon Go spits out results across seven different relevant paths, whether it be YouTube, Ticketmaster, Milo, Yelp!, etc. Wikipedia and Google are always displayed, no matter the search type.

    So for example, if I search for "reservations at Del Frisco's," the first tab that will come up will be OpenTable, along with tabs from Yelp!, MenuPages, Google, and Wikipedia. If I search for Dallas Mavericks, I'll get hit with ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, and other relevant tabs. When I search for Dallas Mavericks tickets, I'll see Ticketmaster pop up first, then StubHub, Google results, etc. If you're shopping for a new pair of Vans shoes, the fact that you mentioned a product name indicates to the app that you're shopping, and will serve up eBay, Amazon, and Milo. The same is true of news queries. If I search for "presidential candidates 2012 – New York Times," the prominent page will be the Times, but the alternate tabs will also show USA Today, CNN, and other news sites' coverage of the presidential candidates.

    Another cool features is that it can launch native applications. A lot of what we search for can be better served through an app. For example, if I want directions from my current location to Penn Station, the best way to get that information is through Google Maps, and Dragon Go knows that. In fact, it won't just launch the Maps app, it'll drop the pins and all you have left to do is press Start. It'll also launch the media player if I say "My Humps by Black Eyed Peas." I can go a step further and say "Black Eyed Peas on Pandora," and Dragon Go hooks me up with a Black Eyed Peas channel on Pandora.

    Overall, the Dragon Go app is a pretty impressive little search engine, but I believe it'll be best for queries with a clear destination in mind. This isn't your average "surfing" search, where you just throw out queries based on curiosity. That's not to say that you can't ask some random questions to Dragon Go and get the results you're looking for, but I wouldn't see that as a primary use of this app. Rather, I see Dragon Go becoming a sort of planning application. Since it features social media integration and sharing through Facebook, Twitter, email, and SMS, you could basically search for movie showtimes, tickets, reservations on the fly, and blast out your plans to friends within seconds. In short, Dragon Go reduces clicks, and that's exactly what we want out of search.

    I found the actual voice detection itself to be incredibly accurate, even when I tried to throw it off with a few non-English words like Le Pain Quotidien. The interface is easy to use and pretty smooth: relevant tabs are on a carousel up top, and the share tab slides up from the bottom without blocking the page you're sharing. I also enjoyed the fact that Dragon Go includes Twitter search results within most of your searches, so you can see what people are saying about The Green Hornet, or Lady Gaga's latest outfit.

    I did get a bit frustrated a couple times when my search results defaulted to Google. It mostly happened when I asked questions, rather than giving a direct command. For example, when I asked questions like “How do you cook rice?” or “Where do babies come from?,” Google was my prominent page. This is where I feel like Yahoo! Answers or other forum sites should come into play. Obviously, that takes some contract-signing on the parts of the suits at both those sites and Nuance, but it would be nice to be served maybe the top site on Google’s results page for those queries, instead of just Google. The whole point is to speed up the process, so the better Nuance gets at taking my question and bringing back an answer, the happier we’ll be. Oddly enough, the search for “how to make a baby” brought back results on a map, which is incredibly curious to me.

    Either way, the app definitely gets the job done, and I’d say that this is Nuance’s best Dragon app yet. The Dragon Go app is available now as a free download in the Apple App Store for the iPhone, iPod touch, and the iPad.



Hulu Plus Adds Streaming Support For Four More Android Devices

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 06:38 AM PDT

If you’re one of the Internet’s many denizens still shedding an oh-so-first-world-problem tear over Netflix’s business strategy overhaul pricing changes, you’re probably still looking for somewhere else to spend your two lattes worth of monthly fees in exchange for countless hours of entertainment. Hulu Plus, perhaps?

If you’re an Android user, chances are pretty decent that Hulu Plus just got a lot more useful for you; this morning, Hulu is announcing streaming support for four of the most popular Android devices around.

The new devices getting Hulu Plus this morning:

  • Sprint Evo 4G
  • T-Mobile G2
  • T-Mobile myTouch 4G
  • Verizon Thunderbolt

This update brings the Hulu’s Android stable up to 10 devices, with the Nexus One, Nexus S, HTC Inspire 4G, Motorola Droid II, Motorola Droid X, and the Motorola Atrix having been supported from the get go. The lack of support for certain popular handsets — namely, the Evo 4G and the super-trendy Thunderbolt — surprised the heck out of us at launch, so this is a welcome update.

Of course, Hulu Plus isn’t really much of a substitute for Netflix. Sure, you might be able to watch Family Guy or The Daily Show (depending on what sort of mood Viacom is in), but only on Netflix can you find such gems as White Chicks or Alive! Is Michael Jackson Really Dead?.



Spotify Now On Sonos

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 06:31 AM PDT

Not to flog a spotted horse, Spotify is now available on your Sonos devices. To add the service to your devices follow these instructions.

Similar to Rdio, Spotify for Sonos allows you to create queues based on Spotify content and play playlists you’ve created on your desktop. Songs play in 320kbps streams.



Here’s Spotify! The Music Streaming Service Officially Lands In The US

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 05:45 AM PDT

The wait is finally over! Spotify, Euroland’s prized music service, just launched here in the States. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as the company sent over pre-announcements yesterday. But here it is, complete with offline modes, mobile listening, exclusive content and, yes, even a limited, but still free user mode.

As expected, there are three levels of service including the free service plan that’s clearly designed to whet your appetite. $5 a month gets users unlimited, ad-free listening hours on the PC where the $10 plan adds in the mobile service, exclusive content and offline modes. But don’t feel like you need to hand over your credit card right away. There’s an ad-supported but free service to get you started.

Spotify previously stated that they weren’t going to launch in the US without this free service; it’s that important. Free accounts are limited to only 10 hours a month and feature advertisements. Plus free accounts are invite only right now, which seem sort of hard to come by. More on that later.

But the rest of the service is ready to go! Simply select either the $5 or $10 plan, fill in the payment info and you’ll be streaming music in no time.



Don’t Have A Free Spotify Invite? Use Your Klout Perks

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 05:44 AM PDT

Music service Spotify has finally arrived in the U.S. In case you haven’t heard, Spotify has made its free version invite-only, but you can access the music service now if you shell out $4.99-$9.99. If you don’t want to pay for Spotify, and don’t have an invite in your inbox, don’t worry. There’s always Klout Perks.

Klout, the startup that measures influence on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, has a limited number of free Spotify account invitations to pass out via its Klout Perks. Klout Perks are exclusive offers or experiences, given as a result of your Klout.

Klout CEO Joe Fernandez says that Klout has partnered with Spotify to offer free invites to those Klout users who have hight scores in topics relevant to music/entertainment. We don’t know the exact number of invites, but Fernandez says Klout is working with Spotify to scale the invitations further. Apparently, if your friends end up downloading Spotify, your account might even be upgraded to Spotify Premium.

This isn’t the first cool offer from Klout Perks. The initiative has offered free tickets on Virgin America, a laptop from Hewlett Packard and a weekend in a Audi A8. For Klout, it’s a way to engage brands with the platform, and connect to users.

You can see if your Klout qualifies for your free invitation here.

UPDATE: Many of your may have noticed that Klout is having difficult processing the massive amount of requests for invites. It appears the site is down temporarily.



Sony Wading Back Into The E-Reader Fray With New Readers

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 05:41 AM PDT

Sony has never had much luck with its e-readers. While they are, in many ways, superior to the Kindle and Nook but they’ve never taken off because of perceived inadequacies in book store access.

Bloomberg has a bit of news, however, that should cheer Sony stalwarts. According to a Sony spokesperson, the new devices “will probably be offered with hardware and software improvements in August.” These units should arrive before the S1 and S2 we demoed yesterday.

The field is big enough to hold multiple players in the ebook game and, although Nook and Kindle excel at aftermarket content sales, I could perceive a time when Sony’s offerings are aimed more at the student and academic while the Kindle is for folks who just want to read popular titles.

Sadly, without a dedicated bookstore with a real brand behind it, Sony will probably always end up playing third fiddle to the other two ebook juggernauts.

via Best-Ereaders



Apica Raises $2 Million To Expand To The U.S. And Make Your Web And Mobile Apps Speedier

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 05:15 AM PDT

It seems that it’s a big day for Swedish businesses expanding into American markets. First, vaunted music service Spotify announced it will be (at great long last) launching this morning in the U.S.

And now, with albeit significantly less fanfare, Apica, the load-testing and performance-monitoring solution for cloud and mobile apps, announced that it has closed a $2 million series B round. Less glamorous than rock music, but fundmental to web and mobile operating procedures, to be sure.

The round was led by Swedish venture firm Industrifonden, with participation from ALMI Invest and existing investor, KTH Chalmers Capital. The startup raised $1.3 million back in August of 2010, and has raised approximately $4.4 million to date.

Each of the participating investors are Swedish firms that are duly excited about Apica’s expansion into the U.S. market, as the startup will use the round to finish its move into its new U.S. headquarters in Palo Alto. That being said, Apica will have some competition from Silicon Valley-based SOASTA, which has raised $20.7 million for its cloud-based testing solutions, as well as from Keynote Systems, a veteran of the mobile and web apps performance monitoring space.

But, the Swedish company has had some success in Europe, already having attracted 250 customers including eBay Sweden, Thomas Cook EU, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Apica is also, according to its team, in the midst of closing a deal with Newsday and recently forged strategic partnerships with Rackspace and RightScale.

The startup also hopes that its newly unveiled product, Apica Watch, a cloud service that uses Selenium (a portable software testing framework for web apps), to enable users to easily measure and analyze web pages, including stylesheet, images, videos and third party calls, will make it appealing to businesses looking to optimize and test their cloud apps pre-deployment.

While businesses understand the importance of web and cloud performance testing, it can be difficult for small businesses to navigate through the specifics of cloud functionality, avoiding redundancy and ensuring performance scalability, and to verify that your web app is taking full advantage of the nuances of load balancing, server caching, and all that good stuff.

Apica brings the ability to load test a company’s system to mimic high traffic and system overloading from anywhere in the world, without having to run these tests in their own infrastructure. According to Apica CEO Sven Hammar, Apica’s cloud performance testing solutions have run some of the largest load tests conducted on cloud infrastructure, which the startup makes easily available to every size business and enterprise.

For more, visit Apica at home.



Netflix Now Streaming To North American Nintendo 3DSs

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 05:15 AM PDT

Consider this a friendly reminding that Netflix is now available for download on your 3DS. The application is free and part of a new update that also brings several new games to the Nintendo eShop including four classic Game & Watch titles.

Nintendo first announced Netflix on the 3DS back in May and shouldn’t have caught anyone off guard. Netflix on a Gameboy isn’t all that surprising. Netflix strides to release apps for every available platform and Nintendo wants to position the 3DS as more than just a game system. The marriage was blessed from the start.

The app is available right now from the eShop. 3DS systems must have the June 6th update installed and, of course, Netflix requires a subscription, which is something of much discussion around here lately.



Breath Bird: New Twitter Client Lets Handicapped Users Tweet With Their Breath

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 04:49 AM PDT

A Japanese company called TechFirm [JP] has just a released a very special (and free) Twitter client for the iPad in the App Store [iTunes, bilingual English and Japanese]: “Breath Bird” lets people who can’t use their fingers and have problems speaking post to Twitter by breathing into the iPad’s mic.

The way it works is that when you fire up the app, your timeline appears on the left hand side of the screen (it refreshes automatically to keep things simple).

On the right, an on-screen keyboard with all characters from a-z split into five rows appears (see below). Breath Bird starts highlighting each row, one after the other, from top to bottom. If the row in which the character you’d like to “type” is highlighted, breathe into the mic to make the app highlight all characters in that row one after the other, from left to right.

Once the character in question is highlighted, breathe again and it appears in the tweet bubble on top of the screen – repeat to create entire words and sentences that can be posted to Twitter in the same way.

I tried Breath Bird out: the process is cumbersome at first, but the app actually works pretty well (surely even better with an external mic), and more importantly, it’s probably a godsend for the target group.



Drchrono Raises Funding To Bring Medical Records To The iPad

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 04:29 AM PDT

Drchrono, a company that brings electronic health records to the iPad, has raised $675,000 in seed fundig from General Catalyst, Charles River Ventures, 500 Startups, Gmail creator and FriendFeed cofounder Paul Buchheit, Google's Principal Engineer Matt Cutts, and the Start Fund.

Y Combinator-backed drchrono simplifies the professional lives of doctors and medical professionals by bringing electronic health records and much more to the iPad. The free iPad app allows doctors to schedule patient appointments, dictate notes via audio, take pictures, write prescriptions and send them to pharmacies, enable reminders, take clinical notes, access lab results, and input electronic health records.

The electronic medical records element is key because the Obama administration is currently offering strong incentives for doctors to start moving their health records online. Drchrono will help doctors start, finish and manage this process.

And drchrono is more than just a simple iPad app. Doctors can upgrade to more storage for records, and complete medical billing. The billing component is another win for doctors, who spend hundreds of dollars each month for medical billing processing. Drchrono’s system integrates with all U.S. insurance companies, even the insurance agents that only use paper billing.

Since launching in February, drchrono has accumulated a physician user base of over 5000 users. Co-founder Daniel Kivatinos says that this growth has been purely organic, and that doctors have simple found the app in the App Store.

There’s no doubt that drchrono is entering the online medical space in an interesting time. As medical records move online, doctors are increasingly bringing laptops into the exam room to take notes, write prescriptions and more. But laptops can be cumbersome, and the iPad has emerged as a popular device for medical professionals.

But not every initiative to bring medical records online has worked. For example, Google recently shuttered its online health platform Google Health. Kivatinos says that he believes that Google Health didn’t bring much innovation to the space beyond aggregation of information. Because drchrono includes distinct features like speech to text audio dictation functionality and integrations with insurance companies, the app provides value to doctors.

I have several medical professionals in my family and I can attest to the fact that paper records are in the past. At the very least, drchrono gives doctors an online repository for all of the information, like notes, prescriptions, dictations, images and other data. But I believe we are going to see more and more doctors turning to the iPad and other tablet devices for use in the exam room and operating room. Drchrono is in a great position if both of these trends scale significantly in the next few years.



VHT Acquires Dwellicious, A Social Bookmarking Service For Real Estate

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 03:53 AM PDT

It’s not enough for pioneering social bookmarking site Delicious to get acquired (twice). No, VHT just had to go ahead and buy Dwellicious, an oddly named service that enables people to bookmark, tag and organize real estate properties online in the same vein.

The acquisition, terms of which were not disclosed, makes a lot of sense. VHT provides technology and services for marketing real estate online, and will integrate Dwellicious into its ImageWorks online marketing platform to provide brokerage clients with a tool for communicating with home buyers.

Dwellicious uses social bookmarking to help home buyers share their favorite properties on Facebook, Twitter or other social media services. Buyers can organize, monitor and compare listings, make notes, add tags, and share and discuss properties with friends, family and real estate professionals.

VHT ImageWorks is used by more than 100,000 real estate professionals across the United States.



MIRAI SANZO: Japan Gets Android-Based Smart Home Robot

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 03:38 AM PDT

Sanyo Homes has announced [JP] the MIRAI SANZO for the Japanese market yesterday, a cute, Android-powered “communication robot”. The little guy (22cm diameter) is part of an integrated smart home that Sanyo markets to “families of the future” in Japan (unfortunately, the company doesn’t reveal what version of Android it’s using for MIRAI SANZO).

The robot comes with a touchscreen, touch sensors (to activate/deactivate it), voice recognition, Wi-Fi and can glow in 7 different colors to express its current “emotion”. Its owner can say “Switch on air-conditioning in the living room”, for example, and the robot will make sure exactly that happens instantly.

MIRAI SANZO can also switch on and off floor heating, automatically fill your bath tub with hot water, send out an email to your cell phone when the fire alarm is triggered, etc. etc.

Sanyo Homes will start selling MIRAI SANZO in Japan tomorrow.



The E-Note Is An Ultra-Simple Note-taking Tablet

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 03:35 AM PDT

The vision of an endless, always-on tablet that is designed for simple note-taking has always haunted me. Call it a Celestial Trapper Keeper, if you will. To be able to write on a screen and then press a button to erase the notes would be a dream and this $52 device does just that: you can write on the LCD screen with the included stylus and it just shows up, like on regular note paper. Then you press a button and poof. The pad lasts for 50,000 iterations and the battery can remain charged for five years. In short, it’s the world’s most high-tech whiteboard.

But do you see the fatal flaw? The thing that burns before my eyes like a great grey god of technological progress? This thing can’t record what you’ve written and play it back. You can’t even download pages. It’s enough to break a man’s heart.

I’m sure that functionality is coming soon and if you want to set this up as a quick to-do and grocery list storage system, you’re probably good to go. However, I still wait for the day when these tablets replace the reams and reams of paper kids go through each school year.

UPDATE – Looks like these guys will have a storage-capable version this year. And, mea culpa, this can be had for $40 at Brookstone.

Product Page



What Cloud? Nimble Grabs $25 Million For Storage And Backup Boxes

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 03:14 AM PDT

The cloud is the future, we’ve all heard it said. Ballmer’s all in, Jobs said it’s all in the cloud, and Schmidt made it the centerpiece of Google’s strategy in 2010. But we’ve also seen the danger of cloud outages, thanks to Amazon. So, in true rebel form, in spite the dazzling prospects of the cloud, Nimble Storage is quietly offering an alternative — and investors are buying in.

Today, Nimble Storage, the developer of converged storage and backup solutions, announced that it has closed a $25 million series D round, adding to the $16 million series C it closed in November of last year. The round was led by Artis Capital Management, with contribution from existing investors, Accel Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Sequoia Capital. The infusion of capital will be employed to expand into international markets, support existing growth, and is expected to bring the company to profitability.

Founded by former Data Domain and NetApp executives Varun Mehta and Umesh Maheshwari, Nimble Storage has been selling its data storage and backup appliances like hot cakes, primarily because it is offering enterprise storage to small and medium sized enterprises that may not be able to afford IT teams — and those who don’t want to deal with a giant mess of servers. Nimble’s suite of four appliances combine storage, backup and disaster-recovery into a single solution, with each box offering different levels of raw storage capacity (up to 24 terabytes), flash capacity and connectivity speed.

Nimble’s solutions offer flash-accelerated primary storage performance, instant backup and restores, application-integrated data protection, and offsite disaster recovery — all from a single iSCI system — effectively lowering equipment costs and streamlining storage management.

And what’s more? In March, Nimble Storage was named to The Wall Street Journal’s list of “The Next Big Thing”, so you know it has to be good. $41 million raised in the last 7 months doesn’t hurt either, even though that’s exactly how much Color raised. Look out!

For more on Nimble Storage’s backup and storage solutions, click here.



iPhone Camera + Classical Guitar = Wild Rolling Shutter Effects

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 03:13 AM PDT

This guitarist was messing around with his nylon string guitar and decided to drop his iPhone inside it to record the strings from the other side. As he played, he noticed that the strings seemed to vibrate in patterns that approximately resembled the waveforms for various notes and sounds – whole notes seemed to square off while harmonics rolled in a soft, hilly pattern. While, as many will point out, this is not a true representation of a string’s motion, it is nonetheless quite nice to look at.

The effect is caused by the iPhone’s rolling shutter image acquisition system and, in reality, the entire string is vibrating back and forth. However, with a little ingenuity, the guitarist has created a haunting way to represent a short snippet of Tears in Heaven along with a few other excellent musical renditions.

If you’re curious, here’s how guitar strings really vibrate.


via reddit



Daily Crunch: Electronic Growth

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 03:00 AM PDT

WordWatch Raises $1.4 Million, Helps Companies Maximize Their AdWords Campaigns

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 02:53 AM PDT

Exclusive - WordWatch, which provides automated pay-per-click keyword bidding solutions to small businesses, has raised $1.4 million in Series A financing in a round led by Prague‐based Credo Ventures.

The startup, which boasts offices in Silicon Valley, Poland and The Netherlands, will use the funds to boost marketing and sales efforts in the US and Europe, and to expand its algorithm operations.

WordWatch basically enables companies to more effectively monitor and optimize their Google AdWords campaigns, which often involve thousands of keywords, by automating the PPC bidding process.

The company’s bidding engine is powered by proprietary algorithms that automatically find the best bid prices for clicks and conversions 24/7, the underlying idea being that business owners should be able to “set and forget” and focus on other things once their AdWords campaigns start.

WordWatch is free to try, with subscriptions starting at $24 per month.



USB-Powered Necktie Clip Cooler

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 02:46 AM PDT

This is a bit silly, but OK. Tokyo-based accessory maker Thanko has developed a very special gadget that’s supposed to help you fight the summer heat: a necktie clip [JP] that’s attached to a mini fan, which is powered via USB.

The clip weighs 28g. You can cool off yourself by either connecting the device directly to a USB port of a computer (when you’re sitting at your desk) or by plugging it into a battery unit (see below).

Thanko is selling the USB necktie clip cooler in their Japanese online store for $35 (battery unit included). If you’re interested but live outside Japan, wait for the Japan Trend Shop to (maybe) list it – alternatively you can browse their store for other unique cooling gadgets.



MyFlickbooks: DIY Flickbooks Right From Your iPhone

Posted: 14 Jul 2011 12:45 AM PDT

MyFlickbooks is a Swiss company dedicated to converting 15 second videos shot on your iOS device into “high-quality” paper flickbooks. For about $20 you can have you flickbook sent anywhere in the world. While I find my money would be better spent on things like beer and gas, if you are truly a flickbook lover (as so many of us are these days) you may find this to your liking.

If you don’t have an iOS device you can just pop over to the actual website and upload a video file from almost any source. It is then processed by MyFlickbook’s Swiss flickbook elves, printed on rich, corinthian paper, and bound into a wee little book that you may then flip at your leisure. Why you would want to do this is beyond the scope of this argument, but MyFlickbook would like to encourage you to consider it as a low-cost, low-effort gift for a loved one who may not be worth the expense or effort of a real present.

You can download the app here.

Like so many digital-to-print plays on the iPhone (Postagram and Lifecards come to mind), I think the central problem with these apps is the disconnect between shooting the video and then buying the artifact. Just as we always walk by the Build-A-Bear-Workshop thinking “Now there’s somewhere I should take the kids,” the same goes for making a little flickbook: the impetus is there, but we all need that push.

The shooting interface is fairly clean and well-organized but I’d worry that unless your mission was to produce a flickbook for a very important event (a goodbye wave from friends, your wife giving birth, your first trash can fire) you’d probably just take some video and call it a day. Buying a flickbook is one extra, difficult step, especially one that costs 20 smackers. Heck, for $3.99 you can buy a small photo book through iPhoto and painstakingly build your own flickbook. Not the same thing, to be sure, but perhaps MyFlickbook is aiming a bit too high?

But there is hope. As Bill Cosby would say, “This is the flick flick for the books of the flickbooks for flickbook fans” or, to put it more concisely, “Behold, the pale rider! Flickbook fans arise from your slumber and accept your birthright for MyFlickbook is nigh!”



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