Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Main Street Power Partners With AlsoEnergy On New California Solar Project

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 09:29 AM PDT

alsoenergylogo

Main Street Power, a national solar financier, is partnering with AlsoEnergy for a nearly three megawatt distributed generation solar project in California. AlsoEnergy, an energy monitoring and financial management software solutions provider, will provide the energy monitoring software for the project, which will be spread throughout the state of California.

AlsoEngery’s Web-based PowerTrack performance monitoring and financial tracking software and its PowerLobby kiosk display systems will be used by Main Street Power for the project, set to be operational by year-end.

Systems will be located at 35 sites across the state, including the San Diego Unified Schools, the University of California at Davis and Contra Costa County.

Main Street Power will also partner with locally based solar installation firms and will own and operate the installed systems.



Live Streaming Video Platform IntercastNetwork Brings Real-Time Feedback To Online Broadcasters

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 09:20 AM PDT

IntercastNework

IntercastNetwork is a rich-media interactive platform that allows brands to connect to audiences using a combination of live-streaming video, real-time polling, live chat, Q&A, payment processing and more. The resulting platform works well for live broadcasters, who can track audience engagement levels and feedback during in real-time, and adjust their message accordingly.

Unlike LiveStream, Justin.tv or UStream, for example, IntercastNetwork lets broadcasters and publishers push live video feeds, including those from outside sources, directly to their own website’s homepage, where branding, features and other platform components can be more directly controlled.

IntercastNetwork grew out of Brand Knew, a full-scale digital agency with offices in Los Angeles and New York. Explains Co-founder Zachary Suchin, he and fellow Co-founder Jason Schutzbank refer to themselves as “a developmental venture equity firm” because, on occasion, they invest development and other services in exchange for equity in the venture.

Recently, Brand Knew was approached by a long-time ad veteran about building out a “QVC for the Internet.” But it was Jason who realized that the application for the technology could extend far beyond online shopping.

With the platform, publishers can push live video to viewers in a number of ways using the technology, including on Facebook tabs, microsites, mobile, or to homepages, through banners or expandables, for example. Alongside the main video window, real-time polling, chat, and other applications run to further engage the audience. With all these technologies combined, the broadcaster has something closer to a “real” conversation with viewers. They’re talking “with” their viewers, not “at” them.

For obvious reasons, this platform is ideal for politicians who give live speeches online. Candidates can immediately adjust their talking points on the fly based on the feedback they receive from the real-time analytics on the service’s backend. In addition, the platform includes a payment processing mechanism, which politicians can use to solicit campaign funds on the fly.

The company has a long list of interested companies, brands, politicians and others. We got a peek at the “in talks with” list here at TechCrunch Disrupt’s Startup Alley, and it definitely included some recognizable names in terms of global brands and well-known politicians. We can publicly confirm that NBC Universal will be using the service. And with election season just around the corner, know this: you’ll see IntercastNetwork in action very soon, somewhere big.

IntercastNetwork has received $1.25 million from undisclosed angels.


Intercast is a rich-media interactive platform that allows brands to bring an experience to a wide, but highly targeted audience. The platform can push content onto any website at a set time, utilizing live-streaming or pre-recorded video, real-time polling, live chat, Q&A, and a one-click-buy option to increase user interaction. Broadcaster experience provides virtual focus groups during which brands can use the data to alter their broadcasts in real-time in order to most efficiently convey messages to a targeted...

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Meteocontrol North America And Princeton Solar Solutions Form Partnership

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 09:18 AM PDT

Merk4

Meteocontrol North America, a global provider of solar performance monitoring software and hardware, bankable energy yield reports, technical due diligence and operations management services for photovoltaic installations, has partnered with Princeton Solar Solutions (PSS), a top N.J.-based solar provider.

PSS provides services including project development, cost analysis, design/build consultation and more, for private, government and utility grade systems.

As a result of the partnership, meteocontrol’s software called “Virtual Control Room” will be used to gain better insight into PSS’s projects. This multi-screen Web application will handle operations management and performance monitoring for the installed systems. In addition, meteocontrol’s WEB’log will be used to provide real-time data and alerts to monitoring teams, who can quickly react to problems and take proactive measures to optimize solar production.

The PV (photovoltaic) plant engineers will be able to use the new software to access operational data and control solar performance using either their computers or mobile devices from anywhere they have a Internet connection.

PV systems produce energy for 25 years or more, which is why performance monitoring tools are so critical. The U.S. is the world's fastest-growing solar market, with an increasing demand for systems such as these.

Meteocontrol currently monitors more than 3.3 GW across 22,000 PV systems. PSS, meanwhile, is responsible for the design, procurement, construction and/or monitoring of 239 MW of large-scale solar PV systems.



Klout Adds Topic Pages To Give Users More Context Around A Subject And Its Influencers

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 08:48 AM PDT

klout-1

Klout, a startup that measures influence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Foursquare, Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr and others, is expanding its product lineup today with the availability of topic pages.

Klout, which just hit 100 million Klout scores, aims to provide more context about a specific topic. On the topic page, Klout shows the top influencers in a given topic, regardless of their overall Klout score. Pages showcase content that recently influenced others, as well as top +K recipients (+K is a measurement tool Klout offers users to vote for peers' influence in topics). Klout compares this to the ‘people’s choice award.’ Klout says that it plans to add analytics, trends, and more to topic pages.

For example, my Topic Page for Venture Capital includes Mark Suster, Josh Kopelman and David Hornik as top influencers. Top +K recipients include Fred Wilson. Around each piece of content shared, you can see who influenced and shared that content.

Topic pages can be accessed by clicking through any topic link on the site, such as from someone's topic page. Top influencers on a topic are determined based on interactions and engagement from other topical influencers on content. As founder Joe Fernandez tells me, this helps turn Klout into more of a discovery platform, as opposed to just checking your own (or another’s) score.

For now, topic pages are open to users who opted into the Topic page preview perk last month, says Klout. The startup plans to let more people into the topic pages preview in the coming weeks.

For background, Klout evaluates users’ behavior with complex ranking algorithms and semantic analysis of content to measure the influence of individuals on social networks. On Twitter, Klout's influence score is based on a user's ability to drive action through Tweets, Retweets and more. On Facebook, Klout will examine how conversations and content generate interest and engagement, via likes, comments, and more, from the network's hundreds of millions of users.


Company: Klout
Website: klout.com
Funding: $10M

Klout measures influence across the social web. Klout allows users to track the impact of their opinions, links and recommendations across your social graph. Data is collected about the content users create, how people interact with that content and the size and composition of their networks. Klout identifies influencers and provides tools for influencers to monitor their influence.

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ThingLink Adds Rich Media Tags To Online Images

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 08:40 AM PDT

ThingLink logo

TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Alley participant ThingLink is a Helsinki, Finland and U.S.-based startup that lets you add rich media tags to online images. These tags appear as small dots when you hover your cursor over the image, and can link out to a number of services, including Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, EventBrite, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, Flickr, SoundCloud, Spotify, Wikipedia and many others. You can also choose to tag the images with just text or standard URLs, too.

These enhanced, interactive images can then be hosted online, on a website or blog, for example. Already, the format is proving popular with music labels, several of which are using ThingLink images on artists’ sites.

(Note: above image is for illustrative purposes only, not a  live ThingLink image.)

The startup was launched back in June of this year, but was showing off its concept in TechCrunch Disrupt’s Startup Alley this week. When I dropped by the booth, folks from a major movie studio were giving the startup a serious look. It’s not surprising. ThingLink’s sign promotes its high CTR’s (click-through rates) as a key selling point. CMO Neil Vineberg tells me that averages can be anywhere from 1.5% to 20%. In some campaigns, CTR’s were even as high as 50+%. Given that banner ads hover around 0.05% these days, says Vineberg, (or sometimes even worse, we should note), even the low-end of ThingLink’s scale would catch marketers’ eyes.

As noted above, ThingLink has already proved popular with content promoters, including several indie record labels, most recently, TopSpin.  Explained TopSpin CEO Ian Rogers, "photos are a big source of traffic for artists, so it makes sense to attach links to artist offers and let those images travel the web." (ThingLink has a deal in the works with another big company in music industry, but we can’t get into specifics at this time.)

Some the artists on ThingLink also use the image hotspots to allow users play music directly from the photo itself. To play a track, it’s as simple as clicking the dot then clicking the play button that shows up in the small pop-up overlay.

The hotspots on ThingLink images can be associated with affiliate accounts, when viable, such as Amazon’s affiliate program, for example. And on the back-end, a real-time analytics engine tracks image and tag-specific views, hovers and clicks, helping promoters evaluate the successfulness of their campaigns. Images are embeddable and shareable (via Facebook, Twitter, email, direct link), and the tag editor is simple to use, too.

Music labels aren’t the only companies interested in the technology. ThingLink has a showcase of examples for commerce, fashion, design, education and social connection. And the U.K.-based news outlet The Guardian uses ThingLink, as you can see here.

Thinglink has received around 2 million Euros in early-stage funding from European investors Inventure and Lifeline Ventures, as well as TEKES, the Finland Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. Several former Nokia engineers have also found a new home at the startup, we hear.


Company: Thinglink
Website: thinglink.com

Thinglink is a product identification tool that makes it easy to add clickable tags to any image on the web and share the tagged images on social networks. Any publisher or brand can distribute tagged images to bloggers and other publishers and still receive traffic back to the original image source.

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YouTube Video Hints At New T-Mobile myTouch Phones By LG

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 08:25 AM PDT

lg_mytouch-Q

It used to be that T-Mobile’s myTouch line consisted exclusively of HTC devices, but a video uploaded to T-Mobile’s official YouTube account has revealed that the myTouch club may have some new members.

Before being marked as private, the tutorial video briefly showed off two heretofore unseen LG smartphones, named simply the myTouch and the myTouch Q. A similar pair of LG phones was spotted in a leaked T-Mobile roadmap from a few months back, meaning that this could be the first glimpse of the rumored LG Maxx and Maxx Q.

The LG myTouch line bears a striking resemblance to LG’s Optimus Sol, which as TmoNews points out has a 3.8″ AMOLED display. The screen size seems consistent, as does the strangely low placement of the three Android softkeys, but it’s too early to tell if the LG myTouch is just a simple rebrand. The Maxx Q was also reported to sport a four-row QWERTY keyboard, which for right now seems like the only major difference between the two units.

Given the number of other myTouch entries in T-Mobile’s lineup, the branding choice here seems a bit puzzling. To call LG’s device simply the “myTouch” almost seems to imply that it’s more of a myTouch than all of HTC’s devices. It wouldn’t surprise me if T-Mobile made the video private to fix certain inconsistencies in the title and description. Still, if the original roadmap is to be believed, then we’ll only have to wait until November to find out the real deal.

[via AndroidGuys]



Fanzila Upgrades Facebook Pages, With Apps For Blogs, Forums, Contests And More

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 08:18 AM PDT

Fanzilla Logo High-rez

Fanzila is a new startup that lets brands upgrade Facebook pages with blogs, forums, competitions and more. The company announced this week that it raised $1 million in Series A funding in round led by Blumberg Capital, who joins previous investors, Dr. Yossi Vardi, Shiomo Nechama and the Haaretz Newspaper Group. The announcement was timed perfectly to coincidence with Fanzila’s spot in the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Alley, which is where we ran into them.

Currently, Fanzila has 20 brands using the service for their Facebook Pages, including MTV Networks, Viacom, JWT, Y&R and other agencies.

All the features that can be added onto the Facebook Pages are dubbed “apps,” and brands can choose which ones they want to use on their site’s page. The end result are pages that are more fully featured mini-sites which engage a brands’ fans and customers where they typically hang out: Facebook.

In addition to the aforementioned apps for blogging, forums, contests, etc., Fanzila pages can also include a video portal, wiki site, photo galleries, Twitter feeds and more. On the back-end, advanced analytics provide Fanzila’s users with business intelligence on their fans’ engagement and interactions. The system identifies and tracks relevant fans activities on Fanzila apps and the Facebook page (e.g., likes, comments, churn, fans leaders, etc.)

Previously, Fanzila would set up the Facebook Pages for the companies paying for its service, but it’s just now launching a self-serve platform that brings the same tools and customizations to brands and businesses of any size. There’s a free version of the service that includes Fanzila branding, two premium versions (one with and one without the analytics) and an Enterprise version.

Not surprisingly, the Fanzila “homepage” itself, is available a Facebook Page, demonstrating the service in action. On Monday, the company is launching a new standalone website, it says.


Company: Fanzila
Website: fanzila.com
Launch Date: September 15, 2011

Fanzila applications enable brands and companies to maximize the value of their Facebook fan communities by offering them customizable blogs, forums, videos, competitions, wiki’s, and more. Each application can be presented across multiple platforms and is updated simultaneously on Facebook pages, websites and the mobile. Fanzila applications are managed by a powerful analytics and marketing platform. This platform tracks fan page growth, identifies fan activities and interests, and uses this data to generate opportunities for your business.

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Video: Panasonic’s EVOLTA Mini-Robot To Start At The Hawaii Ironman Triathalon

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 08:15 AM PDT

evolta 1

Panasonic sure knows how to promote their EVOLTA brand of rechargeable batteries: first, a cute mini robot powered by the batteries hoisted itself up a 500 meter-cliff at Grand Canyon, then an EVOLTA robot took on the Le Mans 24 circuit in France, before traveling 500KM from Tokyo to Kyoto last year.

And now Panasonic announced [JP] plans to let the little guy start at the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii on October 24 (the company is to launch a line of improved EVOLTA batteries next month). In other words, the robot is supposed to swim 2.4 miles, ride a bike for 112 miles before running a marathon (26.2 miles) – all powered by EVOLTA batteries.

Panasonic says they will use one special robot for each of the challenges (see below) and that they will recharge the batteries on the way (the whole race stretches 140 miles, after all).

Panasonic expects the EVOLTA robots to complete the Ironman in about a week’s time. We’ll keep you posted.

Here’s a video showing the swimming model (running, cycling):

Via Kaden Watch [JP]



Follow-up: New Electric Car TEEWave AR1 Up And Close (Video)

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 07:51 AM PDT

Picture 4

When we showed you the so-called TEEWave AR1 last week, reactions were mixed, with some readers calling the latest electric car from Japan “pretty”, while others said it’s plain “ugly”. But now news site DigInfo TV has gone and shot a video of the vehicle, which not only shows the car in more detail but also provides more insight on its development and features.

To recap, the two-seat sports car (made by Japanese chemicals company Toray) uses carbon fiber reinforced plastic in several key parts (the frame, for example), which results in a weight of just 846kg (including the battery). The TEEWave AR1 reaches a top speed of 147km/h and offers a travel range of 185km.

Here’s the video (in English):



AmazonLocal Brings Daily Deals To A Kindle Near You

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 07:36 AM PDT

AmazonLocal on Kindleyoga

It may have started with a quiet rollout, but a recent announcement shows that it’s AmazonLocal‘s time to get loud. According to Amazon, their Groupon-esque deals service will start displaying bargains on their Special Offer-oriented Kindles when a new software update goes live in coming weeks.

AmazonLocal, which came about due to Amazon’s partnership with LivingSocial, is currently live in 44 markets across 15 states — not bad for a service that’s only been live for a few months. Kindle owners will be able to take advantage of offers in New York City, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Chicago, just to name a few.

The Special Offers Kindle will be able to detect the user’s location, and display any nearby deals for that day. Users will be able to purchase those available deals directly from the Kindle without having to whip out their credit card, as the payment will be likely be processed from whatever card Amazon already has on file. Once all that is taken care of, users can mosey on up to the counter, flash their Kindle, and enjoy their savings.

It’s a logical move by Amazon, but it’s brilliant nonetheless. By releasing the Kindle with Special Offers, Amazon has already managed to target a presumably well-read audience who have made it known that they enjoy a bargain. In shoehorning AmazonLocal onto those Kindles, Amazon can get deals out to people who may be more likely to bite the bullet than others.



Populis Acquires Germany’s Largest Blog Network – mokono – For $11.4 Million

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 07:04 AM PDT

mokono

Online vertical media publisher Populis, which we’ve likened to Europe’s Demand Media or Associated Content in the past, this morning announced that it has acquired Berlin-based mokono, Germany’s largest blog network and and social media advertising specialist.

Populis (formerly GoAdv) paid 8.2 million euros (roughly $11.4 million) for the company, adding 14 million unique monthly users to its network of websites as well as 700,000 registered blogs and writers to its portfolio of media brands, including Blog.co.uk and Blog.de.



Kleiner-Backed Vlix Is An Instagram For Video; Adds Filters, Effects And More To Mobile Video

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 07:00 AM PDT

vlix

Mobile video app Vlix is launching a new version of its Instagram-like mobile video sharing iOS app with text-in-video options to video effects, filters, effects and more. The app is currently available in the App Store for free.

Basically, Vlix allows users to post short video (a max of 1 minute) on the fly, but add cool effects, text, edit the content and more. Via the app, you can capture a video and then add artistic filters, and effects like reverse, slow-mo, brighten, and color boost. You can also add customizable text that appears at the start and end of video, and share videos to a private group or to email, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

New features to the app, which originally debuted in April, is the ability to enter the app and browse through featured videos by other Vlix members without having to register as well as the ability to save videos to the iPhone’s camera roll. Additionally Vlix allows you to create a pre-roll short video to run before all of your posted videos.

When you are ready to post a video from Vlix (after using the company’s dead simple editing tool), you render the video (which takes second using Vlix’s proprietary technology), and post. Fellow users within the apps (you can follow other users) can comment and like your video, and you can see how many views it has received.

In many ways, the ease of adding effects to video as well as editing makes the app similar to an Instagram for video. The Vlix folks also have experience with online video. They operate One True Media, a simple video slideshow creation site that sees over 6 million users posting over 10,000 videos a day and over 5,000 videos a day posted to YouTube and Facebook. The company’s other startup SpotMixer allows businesses to create videos for online, TV and mobile.

Vlix has raised $16 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins, and DAG Ventures.


Company: Vlix
Website:

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Nintendo Will Not Make Smartphone Games, Says President Iwata

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 06:53 AM PDT

Satoru Iwata

While I would be absolutely thrilled to indulge my Pokemon addiction on my smartphone (officially, anyway), Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has gone and shot down my dreams. According to a post-press conference interview with Nikkei, Iwata has categorically denied that Nintendo will create games for platforms other than their own.

In his own words:

“This is absolutely not under consideration. If we did this, Nintendo would cease to be Nintendo. Having a hardware development team in-house is a major strength. It’s the duty of management to make use of those strengths.”

Though Iwata does admit that creating a division to churn out smartphone games would lead to some short-term gains, he states that his job is about maintaining Nintendo’s position down the line. It’s a fair point to make — Nintendo has spent decades cultivating some of the most beloved gaming brands in the world, and to start releasing iOS and Android spin-offs that don’t live up to the standard could jeopardize those years of effort.

Even so, one can’t help wonder if Iwata is being a tad short-sighted. The company’s latest handheld effort has been a bit of a flop, with the company even tacitly admitting faults in the 3DS’s design by rolling out a heinous new cradle for it. Nintendo took a risk on 3D, and to date, it simply hasn’t been working out for them. Would Nintendo really be risking that much if they went the smartphone route? It could be a secondary focus for them: get a talented group of people to make, for example, the best mobile version of Zelda they can and push it out right before Skyward Sword hits. Deliver a solid enough experience, and fans will eat both games up.

Of course, it’s easy for me to say all this from the outside. Iwata (and Nintendo by proxy) would be the ones to deal with the aftermath, and for them, it just may not seem worth it yet.



Netflix Releases Revised Subscriber Estimate, Stock Takes A Nosedive

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 06:26 AM PDT

netflix (1)

Netflix is crashing and burning in pre-trading as the company just released a statement to shareholders that cut forecasted subscribers by 1 million users. This comes after Netflix started rolling out new plans that effectively jacked prices up 60% for the most popular plan. As of this post’s writing, Netflix is down 15% [update below] and falling, almost erasing the company’s stellar 19% growth over the last year.

The new estimate puts the company’s DVD-only subscriber count at 2.2 million, down from the previous projection of 3 million. Estimates for Netflix’s streaming subscriber base have been lowered as well: the user count is pegged at 9.8 million rather than the old estimate of 10 million. Even with the lower subscriber count, Netflix isn’t revising its Q3 financial outlook, which it expects to still be on target despite losing 1 million subs.


Netflix stated they expected losses after rolling out the new plans, but they clearly didn’t expect this type of backlash. However, as stated in the letter [PDF], while they highly regard their customer’s opinions, the company still feels they made the right decision separating their streaming and DVD businesses. This allows the now-separate divisions to focus on their part of the business without having to deal with the other: for example, global streaming services are no longer tied to domestic DVD business and so on.

Change is hard and Netflix’s stellar success in going from start-up to superstar is commendable. But now that they’re at the top, if you will, the big kid on the playground, its history will be written with how it proceeds from here. No doubt a short-term goal is to recover the recent lost subscribers while increasing its DVD and streaming offering. As a bored Netflix subscriber myself, content is king and, well, the streaming library isn’t getting any bigger.

Update: This post was written before the market opened. Netflix ended up starting today at $177, down 14.9% from yesterday’s closing price of $208.


Company: Netflix
Website: netflix.com
Launch Date: September 15, 1997
IPO: NASDAQ:NFLX

With more than 23.3 million members in the United States and Canada, Netflix, Inc. is the world's leading Internet subscription service for enjoying movies and TV shows. For $7.99 a month, Netflix members in the U.S. can instantly watch unlimited movies and TV episodes streaming right to their TVs and computers and can receive unlimited DVDs delivered quickly to their homes. In Canada, streaming unlimited movies and TV shows from Netflix is available for $7.99 a month. There are...

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Raise Your Hand If You’re Still Using Google+

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 06:10 AM PDT

plus

When Google+ launched a few months ago, I got in relatively quickly and liked what I saw. I believed the social network would make a great challenger to the likes of Facebook and Twitter, mainly because of Google’s enormous existing audience (I still do, provided the company plays its cards right).

It’s now been a while since I’ve last visited or posted anything on Google+, but I figured that was just me.

Turns out I might not be the only one after all, 89n now says, based on some quick-and-dirty internal ManageFlitter data research.

According to its data, the average number of public – i.e. not private – Google+ posts per day has decreased from 0.68 per day between 19 July 2011 and 19 August 2011 to 0.40 public posts per day between 19 August 2011 and 14 September 2011.

This represents a decrease of 41 percent, which could lead one to believe the early adopters are quietly turning their backs on Google+. (Someone inform Scoble!)

Note that this perceived behavior occurs despite the recent roll-out of enhanced Google +1 button functionality, a Twitter-like ‘suggested user’ list and verified profiles.

89n says 7,280 people have linked their Google+ accounts to Twitter using its ManageFlitter service to date. The company says it checks these accounts for new public posts every 10 minutes.

Now, 89n isn’t exactly a research firm, and they offer little insight into their methodology for gathering and interpreting the data. I asked them to clarify, but in the meantime, how many of you have tried Google+ early on and find themselves not returning to post as much as in the beginning?

Update: yes, I know the data doesn’t cover private posting, which for all I know is up significantly. Nobody’s saying Google+ is dead, I’m simply asking if you find it to be true that public posting is declining, which 89n’s data suggests. Relax a little


Product: Google+
Website: plus.google.com
Company Google

A Google project headed by Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz, Google+ is designed to be the social extension of Google. Its features focus on making online sharing easy for users. “Circles,” think social circles, akin to Facebook’s lists “Sandbar,” a user-unifying toolbar “Sparks,” a search engine for sharing content between users “Huddle,” a group messaging app that allows users to share with certain “Circles” “Hangouts,” group video chatting designed to allow up to 10 users video chat at once Each Google+ user can replace his...

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Dyson Turns Up The Heat, Releases The Dyson Hot AM04 Air Multiplier

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 05:07 AM PDT

dyson am04

No common household product is safe from a Dyson disruption. This time around the company is taking on the household space heater and just announced an air multiplier fitted with a ceramic heating element. The result is a heater that not only looks freakin’ awesome but also one that draws in surrounding air and recirculates it without the traditional choppy air effect or spinning blades. A handy remote allows for operation from afar and a temperature gauge allows you to precisely dial in the desired temperature.

Heating is optional. The AM04 also possesses all the goods as Dyson’s traditional Air Multipliers, which gives owners a valid excuse to keep this functional conversation piece in their room year round. Just like the other models, the fanless design allows for easy cleaning and safe operation but Dyson included a tip-over sensor that automagically cuts the power if the 5 lbs heater is tipped over.

The new AM04 is available for $399 in either iron/blue or white/silver. The company just announced the models so local retailers might not have them in stock, but you can be sure these heaters will eventually occupy prime retail locations well before the holiday spending season kicks off.

So what’s next for Dyson? The company already reinvented vacuums, hand dryers, household fans and now with this announcement, heaters. I hope toasters are next. I love toasters.



Unigo.com Raises $1.6 Million From McGraw-Hill Education

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 05:02 AM PDT

unigo

Exclusive - Unigo.com, a website that provides information for finding, getting in and paying for college, has raised its first round of institutional funding. The startup has raised $1.6 million in financing, led by The McGraw-Hill Companies. Unigo says it will use the capital to expand to include graduate schools and accredited universities outside the United States, and broaden its reach through alliances with publishers.

The Unigo.com network is powered by college counselors and a community of enrolled college students, acting as an online resource of information to get in and finance college.

Unigo.com hosts more than 200,000 multimedia reviews by students on 6,500 campuses across the country, free of charge. Game mechanics incentivize counselors and students to compete as they contribute more, leading to a 400 percent increase in content over the past year, according to the fledgling company.

US News & World Report has recently selected Unigo to provide student reviews for its rankings and directories, including its college rankings.

Unigo boasts an impressive advisory board, including people like Fotolog and Sixdegrees.com founder Adam Seifer, TiVo president and CEO Tom Rogers and Bob Chase, former President of the National Education Association.


Company: Unigo
Website: unigo.com
Launch Date: September 15, 2011
Funding: $1.6M

Powered by a network of the nation's top college counselors and a vibrant community of enrolled college students, Unigo is the Web's largest resource of information to find, get in and pay for college. Families use Unigo for admissions advice and access to more than 200,000 multimedia reviews by students on 6,500 campuses across the country, for free. The reviews on Unigo are included in US News & World Report's college directory and rankings. Founded in 2008, Unigo is...

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Website: mcgraw-hill.com
Launch Date: September 15, 1888

The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. provides information services and products to the education, financial services, and business information markets worldwide. It operates in three segments: McGraw-Hill Education, Financial Services, and Information & Media. The McGraw-Hill Education segment consists of School Education Group, which provides teaching and learning materials for pre-kindergarten through secondary school, as well as assessment and reporting services; and Higher Education, Professional, and International Group that offers textbooks and other resources to the college and university, professional, international,...

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Canon Updates Classic PowerShot Cameras, Announces The S100 & SX40 HS

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 04:57 AM PDT

canon-powershot-cameras

Canon took the wire this morning to announce two new significant point & shoot cameras. The PowerShot S100 replaces the much-loved S95 while the PowerShot SX40 HS becomes the company’s latest mega zoom shooter. Both hit at respectable price points and bring impressive new features including the DiGiC 5 processor that promises better low capture, improved color accuracy and even less digital noise — you know, overall better performance than the previous version.


The S100 has big, but if you will, physically small, shoes to fill. This little shooter may look like any ol’ pocket type, but it actually packs an impressive feature set and will hopefully follow the same trail to photographic stardom as its predecessor, the S95. You see, the S95 is almost universially loved for its impressive low light ability and great f2.0 lens. However, battery life is poor and the video capture is limited to 720p. The S100 should solve both of those issues.

A CMOS sensor rests ehind a f2.0 lens that’s slightly wider and longer than used in the S95. Gone is the CCD chip used in the previous model, but this new sensor allows for 1080p video capture and an ISO of 6400, twice that of the S95. The camera also features the new DiGiC 5 processor that among the aforementioned abilities allows for an impressive burst mode dubbed Highspeed Burst HQ that captures 8 frames at full resolution at a rate of 9.6 photos per second. This burst mode, also featured on the SX40 below, is Canon’s first full resolution mode as previous incarnations dropped the resolution down to 2MP.

The S100 is housed in an even smaller casing than the already-pocket friendly S95 despite retaining the multi-function lens ring, 3-inch rear LCD panel and the new integrated GPS chip. Expect the S100 sometime in early November for $429.


Ths SX40 HS replaces the aging SX30 IS. It hits at the same $429 price point as the old version but packs the same 12.1 MP sensor and DiGiC processor used in the S100. This allows for 1080p recording and high speed burst capture, but through the eyes of the same 35x IS lens used in the SX30 IS. This massive 150.5mm, f2.7 lens requires an equally as massive camera housing and it seems as if Canon also employed the old housing as well. But still, the new sensor powered by the new image processor, likely makes the SX40 a worthy successor.


Company: Canon
Website: canon.com
Launch Date: September 15, 2011

Canon Inc. is a multinational corporation that specialises in the manufacture of imaging and optical products, including cameras, photocopiers, steppers and computer printers. Its headquarters are located in Ōta, Tokyo, Japan.

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SaveUp Raises $2 Million For Stealth Rewards Program

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 04:43 AM PDT

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San Francisco startup SaveUp has raised $2 million in early-stage funding from BlueRun Ventures and True Ventures.

The company has developed a rewards program for personal savings, but has yet to launch its service in public beta (you can sign up for an invite).

In a press release, SaveUp says it intends to rewards Americans for saving money and paying down their debts rather than focus on driving consumer spending like traditional rewards programs.

The startup aims to incorporate rewards and game experiences into every-day financial activities and partner with major consumer brands.

BlueRun’s Jonathan Ebinger joins SaveUp’s board of directors, with True Ventures’ Christiaan Vorkink joining as a board observer.

SaveUp was founded by CEO Priya Haji, who also cofounded World of Good (acquired by eBay last year) and CTO Sammy Shreibati, who was previously at PrepMe.


Company: SaveUp
Website:
Funding: $2M

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Sharp Discontinues 2 Of 3 Galapagos Tablet Models, Only The 7-Inch Version Lives On

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 03:57 AM PDT

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About a year ago, Sharp decided to enter the rapidly growing tablet market with the terribly named Galapagos, two Android devices sized at 5.5 and 10.8 inches that went on sale in Japan last December. The company then launched a 7-inch version on the Japanese market last month and announced that model will hit the US “this year”.

But sales must have been really bad for the initial models, the 5.5- and the 10.8-inch versions, as Sharp Japan today announced [JP] it will stop taking orders for the Galapagos in those sizes from September 30. The company said, however, that it will continue to offer the 7-inch version in Japan (where it costs US$587).

Just like in the rest of the world, the iPad is the tablet to beat in Japan: Tokyo-based market research firm BCN estimates that the Apple device commanded 64.8% of the Japanese market for tablets in July.



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