Author's Archive

Etsy Acquires Gadget Marketplace Grand St.

Grand-st Grand St., a service once described as an Etsy for electronics, is now actually a part of Etsy, the companies confirm. The deal was announced today on Grand St.'s official blog and on Etsy's site (via Fortune) where Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson explained the two companies' overlapping vision. He says both were focused on the way "making was changing," in a time when shoppers are more interested in… Read More
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Sarah Perez

April 23rd

Gadgets

Duet Takes On Tile With A Small, Square Lost Item Finder That Also Lets You Replace The Battery

Duet-backpack Early backers of the Bluetooth-powered lost item finder called Tile, backed by $2.7 million in crowdfunding, have been patiently waiting for the device to begin shipping (which it finally is, they say). But in the meantime, a number of similar tags have stepped in to fill the void, including TrackR, StickNFind, Lapa, and others. And now here comes one more: the Duet, a small, colorful and… Read More
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Sarah Perez

April 23rd

Gadgets

Mobile

Duet Takes On Tile With A Small, Square Lost Item Finder That Also Lets You Replace The Battery

Duet-backpack Early backers of the Bluetooth-powered lost item finder called Tile, backed by $2.7 million in crowdfunding, have been patiently waiting for the device to begin shipping (which it finally is, they say). But in the meantime, a number of similar tags have stepped in to fill the void, including TrackR, StickNFind, Lapa, and others. And now here comes one more: the Duet, a small, colorful and… Read More
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Sarah Perez

April 23rd

Gadgets

Mobile

Samsung Announces A Galaxy Tab Just For Kids

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Sarah Perez

August 27th

Gadgets

Mac OS Spotted “Running” On A Jailbroken Microsoft Surface RT

large_DSC01355

Well that didn’t take long. Here’s Mac OS running (well, it’s emulated) on a Microsoft Surface. Blasphemy? Awesome? Hard to say. Now that a jailbreak tool for Microsoft’s Windows Surface RT is out in the wild, allowing users to install unsigned ARM desktop applications on these otherwise oddball devices, hackers are having a field day figuring out what apps they can get to work. The latest and greatest of these efforts? Developer Steve Troughton-Smith shows off his Microsoft Surface RT running an old build of Mac OS.

Don’t get too excited, though. The Surface is running Rhapsody, an experimental OS build that Apple demonstrated back in 1997, Geek.com reports. Troughton-Smith is using Bochs, a free, open source virtualization app to make this (magic/horror, depending on your perspective) happen.

In order for apps to run on a jailbroken Microsoft Surface RT computer, users must first run the Windows RT jailbreak tool, which takes advantage of an exploit discovered by C.L. Rokr (@clrokr). The automated tool for jailbreaking the Surface was posted on the XDA Developers forums, which also provide the installation instructions and a FAQ. The tool essentially automates the jailbreak for you, so it’s not as complex as perhaps hacking into an Android phone can be.

Like “tethered” jailbreaks on iOS devices, however, this jailbreak also has to be run each time the Surface boots – it’s not permanent. Microsoft may or may not choose to release a security patch that closes the hole in the future, the company told reporters earlier this week.

Already, a number of apps have been recompiled to run on the Surface, including TightVNC, Notepad++, IP Messenger, a Nintendo game emulator called CrystalBoy, and others. Bochs, an x86 emulator, was also one of the first on this early list.


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Sarah Perez

January 11th

Gadgets

Mac OS Spotted “Running” On A Jailbroken Microsoft Surface RT

large_DSC01355

Well that didn’t take long. Here’s Mac OS running (well, it’s emulated) on a Microsoft Surface. Blasphemy? Awesome? Hard to say. Now that a jailbreak tool for Microsoft’s Windows Surface RT is out in the wild, allowing users to install unsigned ARM desktop applications on these otherwise oddball devices, hackers are having a field day figuring out what apps they can get to work. The latest and greatest of these efforts? Developer Steve Troughton-Smith shows off his Microsoft Surface RT running an old build of Mac OS.

Don’t get too excited, though. The Surface is running Rhapsody, an experimental OS build that Apple demonstrated back in 1997, Geek.com reports. Troughton-Smith is using Bochs, a free, open source virtualization app to make this (magic/horror, depending on your perspective) happen.

In order for apps to run on a jailbroken Microsoft Surface RT computer, users must first run the Windows RT jailbreak tool, which takes advantage of an exploit discovered by C.L. Rokr (@clrokr). The automated tool for jailbreaking the Surface was posted on the XDA Developers forums, which also provide the installation instructions and a FAQ. The tool essentially automates the jailbreak for you, so it’s not as complex as perhaps hacking into an Android phone can be.

Like “tethered” jailbreaks on iOS devices, however, this jailbreak also has to be run each time the Surface boots – it’s not permanent. Microsoft may or may not choose to release a security patch that closes the hole in the future, the company told reporters earlier this week.

Already, a number of apps have been recompiled to run on the Surface, including TightVNC, Notepad++, IP Messenger, a Nintendo game emulator called CrystalBoy, and others. Bochs, an x86 emulator, was also one of the first on this early list.


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Sarah Perez

January 11th

Gadgets

Mobile Accessories Maker TYLT Partners With YC-Backed Tagstand On Trio Of NFC-Enabled Products

TUNZ-pkg-back

Tagstand, the Y Combinator-backed startup intent on taking NFC mainstream, is announcing a partnership with mobile accessories maker TYLT in advance of this year’s CES in Las Vegas. The deal involves three new products, manufactured by TYLT, which use Tagstand’s NFC technology: TUNZ, a portable Bluetooth speaker; CAPIO, a universal smartphone mount for the car; and TAGZ, which are the NFC stickers you can program and place anywhere.

The products are designed to work with Tagstand’s Android application, NFC Task Launcher, which previously was made to work with NFC tags, like those Tagstand offers in its tag store. Users configure their NFC tags to perform particular tasks when tapped – like automatically activating Bluetooth, launching their navigation app or music app on their phone, connect to Wi-Fi networks, change ringer volumes, check-in on social networks, and more. The Task Launcher app has now been downloaded over 250,000 times, according to Tagstand co-founder Kulveer Taggar.

With the new products from TYLT, however, some of those use cases are now available built into the hardware devices themselves. For example, the CAPIO phone dock can now be configured to turn on your Bluetooth connection to sync with your car, launch your favorite mapping app or start playing music just by placing the phone in the mount.

The TUNZ speaker can be tapped to start playing music, and perform other tasks, like connecting to Wi-Fi, for example. So hopefully, a better alternative to the poorly received Nexus Q? (At least it looks like a speaker, not a ball.) The speaker includes a built-in noise canceling microphone that lets you switch from music to hands-free calling, and offers up to 20 hours of battery life. You can get 30 hours if you play the volume at half status, the company claims.

Although NFC doesn’t have widespread adoption in the U.S. at this point in terms of mobile payments – the technology it is often most associated with – Tagstand has been betting big that its integration into new Android phones will pave the way for startups that take advantage of the technology in other ways. TYLT is also investing in NFC, with plans to ship at least 100,000 NFC chips in six products in 2013. (In addition to the speaker and smartphone dock, they have four others on the roadmap. Some of the products were previously announced, but Tagstand’s partnership was not.)

Taggar adds that Tagstand’s NFC Task Launcher app has now seen over 10 million actions executed, which is up from the 1 million it was reporting back in June 2012. At the time, the company had just transitioned the app from a $2 paid version to a free offering, so the drop in price (to zero), has likely helped increase adoption.

As have Samsung’s spicy and snarky marketing of its own NFC implementation, S-Beam, I might add.

The new NFC-enabled products will debut at CES, and TUNZ will be available for purchase immediately. CAPIO and TAGZ will launch next month.


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Sarah Perez

January 4th

Gadgets

Mobile

4moms Raises $20 Million For Its Gadgetized Baby Gear

4moms-origami-stroller

4moms, the small Pittsburgh-based company that’s re-imagining the baby products industry by incorporating robotics, electronics, and innovative engineering into things like strollers, infant seats and playpens, has raised $20 million from Bain Capital Ventures. The firm’s sister fund Bain Capital also has investments in Toys R’ Us (Babies R’ Us) and Gymboree, so there’s the opportunity for some knowledge-sharing and marketing opportunities here, it seems.

As for the 4moms products, in case you haven’t seen them – well, they’re pretty crazy. TechCrunch’s gadgets team has been going hands-on with these things for years, and doling out compliments like “the coolest gadget I have ever seen since the original TiVo…and it’s just a damn stroller.” Seriously, these things almost make you want to pump out babies (or more babies) just to try them out. Well, almost.

What makes the 4moms products so different? For starters, they’re not your typical baby products – they’re basically gadgets. This Origami stroller opens and closes with the tap of a button, for example.

This playpen works with one firm push.

If you don’t have kids, you may not realize exactly how impressive some of this technology is. True story: my husband and I had to google “how to set up a playpen” on our first attempt. We had to watch a YouTube video to figure it out, I’m embarrassed to admit. Another time, we forgot to set it up for the sitters (ahem, grandparents) in advance, and later found out they just let the kid stay up until 1 AM because she had nowhere she could get comfortable sleeping. Let me just tell you, the fallout from her sleep deprivation is not something I’d wish on anyone. Ever. So, yay: someone is working on building better versions of all this stuff, and making products that anyone could use.

That being said, there are some downsides to the 4moms products. The stroller is still a bit hefty, for example. But the bigger concern for some parents will be the price. These products are seriously high-end. A good chunk of the baby-making demographic can’t afford to spend nearly $900 on a stroller. But then again, maybe the grandparents owe us one?


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Sarah Perez

August 9th

Gadgets

Pintics’ Founders Create ShopInterest, A “Shopify For Pinterest”

shopinterest

The same guys who built the Pinterest analytics service Pintics spent the weekend at the AngelHack Hackathon in Palo Alto working on another Pinterest-related project. This time around, the result is ShopInterest, a DIY service that lets anyone turn their Pinterest boards into an online store. Inspired by the burgeoning social shopping trend found on sites like Fab.com, for example, ShopInterest turns your curated pin collections into web shops that include an integrated shopping cart experience. It’s “Shopify for Pinterest,” the company explains.

According to Francisco Guerrero, Pintics’ CEO, ShopInterest isn’t a “pivot” for Pintics – that other service is still doing well, he says, and is now tracking the analytics associated with 750,000 pins. Instead, the two services, Pintics and ShopInterest, are aimed at different audiences. “Our Pinterest analytics service targets large e-commerce companies,” Guerrero says, “but after we saw the large volume of sales generated via Pinterest, we decided to help regular users join in the fun and profits.”

To get started, users will just sign in, select the boards where their products are shown, add a description, price and shipping charges, and then select how they want to get paid (PayPal or Dwolla). The rest of the setup is handled by ShopInterest itself. And it doesn’t look too shabby, either – especially considering how quickly it was built. “We’re tired, we’re hungry, we haven’t slept in the last 36 hours, but we are very happy that this side project came out looking really well,” Guerrero said on Sunday.

The project, a team effort between Pintics’ co-founders Francisco Guerrero and Liang Huang, along with designer Tom Hodgins, Yisha Peng and Jianqing Sun, is not the first time a third-party has been used in an attempt to extract dollars from all the social image sharing on the site, now the third most popular social network behind Facebook and Twitter. Most notably, in February of this year, it was revealed that Pinterest itself had experimented with SkimLinks’s content monetization platform for web publishers, pulling in maybe $10,000-$20,000 per year. But word was Pinterest was less interested in the income than it was in the analytics SkimLinks provided.

But the fact that Pinterest hasn’t spawned a million other efforts like this one via ShopInterest has more to do with the fact that the service still lacks a public API. (The documentation was briefly published online – details are archived here – so we know one exists, however.) To work around this issue, the Pintics team had to get a little creative. “The RSS feed is parsable and contains the basic info we need,” Guerrero notes, referring to one of the hacks involved. But, he adds, “just like everyone else, we are waiting for the full API to be made available by Pinterest to do even more features already planned.”

Currently, ShopInterest is sitting behind a LaunchRock sign-up page, but you can see it in action in the video below.



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Photo

Sarah Perez

June 25th

Uncategorized

Pintics’ Founders Create ShopInterest, A “Shopify For Pinterest”

shopinterest

The same guys who built the Pinterest analytics service Pintics spent the weekend at the AngelHack Hackathon in Palo Alto working on another Pinterest-related project. This time around, the result is ShopInterest, a DIY service that lets anyone turn their Pinterest boards into an online store. Inspired by the burgeoning social shopping trend found on sites like Fab.com, for example, ShopInterest turns your curated pin collections into web shops that include an integrated shopping cart experience. It’s “Shopify for Pinterest,” the company explains.

According to Francisco Guerrero, Pintics’ CEO, ShopInterest isn’t a “pivot” for Pintics – that other service is still doing well, he says, and is now tracking the analytics associated with 750,000 pins. Instead, the two services, Pintics and ShopInterest, are aimed at different audiences. “Our Pinterest analytics service targets large e-commerce companies,” Guerrero says, “but after we saw the large volume of sales generated via Pinterest, we decided to help regular users join in the fun and profits.”

To get started, users will just sign in, select the boards where their products are shown, add a description, price and shipping charges, and then select how they want to get paid (PayPal or Dwolla). The rest of the setup is handled by ShopInterest itself. And it doesn’t look too shabby, either – especially considering how quickly it was built. “We’re tired, we’re hungry, we haven’t slept in the last 36 hours, but we are very happy that this side project came out looking really well,” Guerrero said on Sunday.

The project, a team effort between Pintics’ co-founders Francisco Guerrero and Liang Huang, along with designer Tom Hodgins, Yisha Peng and Jianqing Sun, is not the first time a third-party has been used in an attempt to extract dollars from all the social image sharing on the site, now the third most popular social network behind Facebook and Twitter. Most notably, in February of this year, it was revealed that Pinterest itself had experimented with SkimLinks’s content monetization platform for web publishers, pulling in maybe $10,000-$20,000 per year. But word was Pinterest was less interested in the income than it was in the analytics SkimLinks provided.

But the fact that Pinterest hasn’t spawned a million other efforts like this one via ShopInterest has more to do with the fact that the service still lacks a public API. (The documentation was briefly published online – details are archived here – so we know one exists, however.) To work around this issue, the Pintics team had to get a little creative. “The RSS feed is parsable and contains the basic info we need,” Guerrero notes, referring to one of the hacks involved. But, he adds, “just like everyone else, we are waiting for the full API to be made available by Pinterest to do even more features already planned.”

Currently, ShopInterest is sitting behind a LaunchRock sign-up page, but you can see it in action in the video below.



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Photo

Sarah Perez

June 25th

Uncategorized
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