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The Google Nest brand encompasses all of the old Nest products and Google’s smart speakers, smart displays, Wi-Fi and Chromecast products.
CNET Smart Home

Facebook is working on full-body virtual reality avatars that look and move just like real people, in hopes of making the technology feel even more engaging and immersive.

CNN.com – RSS Channel – App Tech Section

The New York State attorney general has opened an investigation into Facebook’s unauthorized collection of 1.5 million users’ email contacts.

CNN.com – RSS Channel – App Tech Section

Thick plumes of smoke rose over a SpaceX facility in Florida during a test fire of a Crew Dragon spacecraft on Saturday. If the issue was serious, it could derail plans to fly astronauts aboard the capsule later this year.

CNN.com – RSS Channel – App Tech Section

Lyft raced to keep up with the burgeoning e-bike and e-scooter market. Now, it finds its roughly 3,000 e-bikes grounded as the two-wheelers face safety questions over their design and upkeep.

CNN.com – RSS Channel – App Tech Section

Smart sports technology can give instant feedback about performance, such as this attachment from Zepp that fits onto a bat.
Smart sports technology can give instant feedback about performance, such as this attachment from Zepp that fits onto a bat.

  • Sensors are being put into basketballs, soccer balls, baseball bats and tennis rackets
  • They make it possible for casual players to get pro-level feedback on performance
  • A connected racket can tell you how hard you hit the ball and where it landed on the racket

(CNN) — After losing a particularly intense game of tennis, you drop your racket and storm off the court. Instead of fuming and reaching for a water bottle, you grab your smartphone to see what went wrong.

There’s a new crop of tools to calculate the speed of a pitch, the strength of a putt, the arch of a basketball toss and the quality of a serve. They aren’t for professional ballplayers or touring golfers. These pro-level gadgets are coming for casual sports, from pickup games to Little League.

The technology that makes it possible is a combination of small, increasingly affordable sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes. Smartphones are packed with them, and they’ve helped create the booming fitness tracker industry.

They’ve already changed running and biking, with apps such as Strava and wearables such as Fitbit. Now they’re being placed inside existing sports equipment — tennis rackets, running shoes, basketballs and golf clubs.

Babolat has been making tennis rackets for 20 years. In 2013, it released its first connected racket, the $ 399 Play Pure Drive. Hidden inside the hollow handle of a completely normal looking racket is a trio of sensors that track movements and vibrations. The racket can detect exactly where a ball hits the strings, how much spin the player gives it and how hard it was hit.

Those stats are fed to a colorful smartphone app that displays the information as easy to digest diagrams. The app can also track the length of a game and count the total number of shots, hits and misses.

Similar tools and companion mobile apps are coming out for almost every popular sport.

The 94Fifty basketball looks and feels like a standard-issue ball. Inside, sensors measure the arc of each shot, backspin and the speed and intensity of a player’s dribble. Adidas makes the miCoach Smart Ball, a soccer ball that collects information on each kick. Many of these products are meant for individual practice sessions, not for team games.

Not all sensors need to be built into pricey custom equipment. Zepp makes $ 150 attachments that fit onto the bottom of baseball bats and golf clubs to create a 3-D visual of each swing in the mobile app.

Even smartphone cameras are getting in on the action. Pro athletes have relied on cameras as a training tool for years. Now casual players can do some of the same tricks with the phones, including slow-motion replay.

Velocity by Athla is an app that can turn an iPhone into a speed radar detector. Created by Mike Gillam, a former ER doctor, the $ 7 app calculates the speed of a ball flying through the air using just the camera. Currently, it’s designed to work for baseball, tennis, soccer and cricket.

One challenge these companies face is turning the raw data into actionable, easy-to-understand information. On its own, knowing the speed of a free throw isn’t going to help you make it in the basket. The various apps try to give suggestions on techniques. But they also show how you measure up with other players, even ones halfway around the world.

Performance isn’t just measured in scores versus a single opponent or against past practice sessions, but against everyone who uploads their stats to these apps. The apps double as small social networks of other players, turning real-life matches into long-distance competitions. Sure, you won that pickup game of one-on-one, but perhaps your dribble strength was in the bottom 15% for your age group.

With these sensors showing up in sports equipment and phones turning into pocket coaches, every aspect of performance could eventually be tracked, counted and measured. For nonpros and kids, will all that quantifying suck the fun out of playing sports?

Jean-Marc Zimmerman, CIO of Babolat, said he thinks it’s a natural part of playing any game.

“Today, anybody who’s practicing a sport is usually interested in making progress. We’re in a competitive world; everyone is interested in getting better,” Zimmerman said. “We think it will be more fun to play tennis with the technology than it was before.”

CNN.com – Technology

A doctor wearing Google Glass treats a patient. Google is working with companies on bringing the wearable into workplaces to improve productivity.
A doctor wearing Google Glass treats a patient. Google is working with companies on bringing the wearable into workplaces to improve productivity.

  • Companies are experimenting with Google Glass in the workplace
  • The wearables can help train employees and loop in far away experts for customer service
  • Glass still has challenges to tackle before it is commonplace in the workplace

(CNN) — A nervous new doctor performing a procedure for the first time puts on a pair of Google Glass and scrubs in. From the moment she makes her first incision, a live video feed of the operation is streamed from her glasses to a surgeon outside the operating room who gives live feedback over earbuds.

Training medical professionals is just one of the many workplace uses Google Glass is experimenting with. Earlier this year, Google launched its Glass at Work certification program, in which it collaborates with businesses interested in using Glass to improve productivity and save money. Ten companies have signed on so far.

Google’s head-mounted computer is almost two years old, but the product is still officially in beta. Glass was originally marketed only as a consumer device, but it has had difficulty finding a niche in the consumer market, where it struggled with privacy, etiquette and safety issues.

But then some of Glass’ early adopters put the wearable to work, using the device to make their jobs more efficient.

Some of the most exciting potential for wearables is in the health industry, where workers need to keep their hands sterile. The small screen mounted on Glass can be used to display checklists or vital signs. Smart glasses can also let specialists consult on cases far from their hospital. This type of telemedicine has been around for years, but high costs and regulation have made widespread adoption difficult.

“Having the units like Glass or any sort of wearable first-person display that comes in at less than $ 1,500 really opens things up,” said Dr. Warren Wiechmann, who heads up the Glass tests at the University of California at Irvine.

UC Irvine is partnering with app developer Pristine, a Google Glass partner, to experiment with Glass in a number of case studies. In addition to using it as training wheels for medical students, the school is putting Glass on surgeons so they can broadcast operations live to students. Patient actors will wear Glass while medical students learn how to do a basic exam. Later, the students are shown the video to see themselves though a patient’s eyes, with the idea of improving bedside manner, empathy and listening skills.

Google is being slow and deliberate with the business partners it certifies. It vets each company to see if its specific use case solves a problem in the real world, and gives them access to technical experts.

For now, the company is focusing on workers who need to use their hands for their jobs, everyone from nurses and surgeons to mechanics, utility workers and chefs. Google says 80% of the global workforce does physical work every day.

“These are people who can’t reach into their pocket to pull out a cell phone, they can’t type on a laptop,” said Chris O’Neill, head of business for Google Glass. “They have every need to access information, every need to use tech to make their jobs that much more safe and productive.”

When an expensive printer breaks down, an expert is typically sent to make repairs in person. In another Google Glass test case, HP is experimenting with keeping the experts at home. Instead, a customer puts on a pair of Glass and the repair person walks them through the necessary fixes remotely.

Wearables in the workplace are still in the very early stages. Google and other similar companies are primarily focused on test cases and proving that there is a tangible benefit to the technology. Before smart glasses go mainstream, there are also a number of issues that need to be addressed, including getting old industries up to date with new technology, bringing fast Internet coverage to industrial work locations, and improving device battery life.

And of course, privacy concerns won’t disappear once a wearable is worn to work instead of to a bar. Employees might have concerns about being monitored and tracked on the job with wearables.

Google has the time and resources to tackle these issues as they come up. Down the line, wearables like Glass could be commonplace on oil rigs, in the exam room, up telephone towers and even in fast food restaurants.

Taco Bell is considering using Glass to train new employees on the proper cheese-to-bean ratios. Yum Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell and KFC, has worked with Google Glass app developer Interapt on test cases to see if Glass can cut down on the time it takes to train new employees. Glass uses location information and a specific training app to walk them through the steps for preparing food in real time.

“They’re not just reading a book about making tacos, they’re actually doing it.” said Interapt CEO Ankur Gopal.

CNN.com – Technology