Geek Chic: Dressing Up a Smartwatch – Horween Leather Bands from Popov Leather

Just because we use geek gear like smartwatches, doesn’t mean we can’t dress them up a bit. I’m a big fan of products that help our gadgets blend into our individual style and fashion. The folks at Popov Leather in Canada helped us out with some hand stitched Horween leather watch bands to dress up our wearable gizmos. Let’s take a look!

More info on Popov Leather products.

It Can Wait Expands Message From Texting to Smartphone Use

I’m a big fan of the It Can Wait campaign, which works to reduce the number of traffic injuries and fatalities by educating people on the dangers of distracted driving.

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One key problem with their messaging however, has been the focus on “texting while driving”. As we now live most of our lives out of our phones. For many of us, the phrase “distracted driving” has been far more important, as there seems to be little functional difference in preoccupying a driver with a text over a Tweet, Facebook message, IM, email, or any other notification and interaction.

Happily It Can Wait is now moving their conversation to smartphone use of any kind. It’s a vitally important conversation for folks to have, as we move towards a world with more data enabled services, and we’re still a ways off from self-driving cars being the norm…

You can hit the video and press release below, or head to ItCanWait.com for more info and studies on distracted driving.

Continue reading “It Can Wait Expands Message From Texting to Smartphone Use”

IKEA Unveils New Line of Furniture With Built In Wireless Charging for Phones

More phones are arriving with wireless charging built in. Nokia pioneered the tech in the Lumia line, Samsung has made specialty back plates and built it into the GS6, and several Nexus phones have incorporated the technology.

Even with growing support from phone manufacturers, it’s still largely regarded as a “geeky” tech, and utilizing it means buying a special charging pad. IKEA is looking to make the adoption of wireless charging easier with a surprisingly comprehensive live up of products.

IKEA Wireless charging Qi lamp

IKEA Wireless charging Qi drill kitLamps, desks, end and bedside tables, stand alone pads, they’re even providing a kit to help consumers drill holes in existing furniture to build in their own charging pads. This is not a company dipping a toe into the tech market, they’re betting big on being first to market.

Each product will feature a small circle with a + sign on it. Plop your phone down on that and it’ll start charging. No more fuzing with charge cables.

Based on the Qi standard, this line of products should be compatible with most of the phones that have wireless charging built in, and for iPhones and Galaxy S phones that lack wireless charging, IKEA will have cases available that will add the charging coils.

IKEA Wireless charging Qi desk

You can see the whole line up via the IKEA press release, and the collection should be available later this Spring.

Apple, Fashion, and Perceived Exclusivity – Keeping Desire High for iProducts

I recorded a video earlier this week in response to Apple’s MacBook and Apple Watch announcements, where I washed my hands of the tech angst many of us gadget geeks face when discussing Cupertino. Many of us who are now the most critical of the company, were at one time the most passionate advocates of the brand. I myself was an Apple product specialist for a company that sold systems and maintenance contracts to Department of Energy research facilities. The general thesis of my video focused on the realization and acceptance of the fact that Apple is not (and some would argue hasn’t been for some time) a tech company, but is now a full-fledged fashion and lifestyle brand.

Apple Watch stainless steel premium smartwatch iosScanning through Apple’s site and ads, we see a company showcasing design in much the same way that a jewelry website would show off luxury, premium offerings. Sure, there’s a tab you can click on to get a full listing of hardware specs, but it’s neatly tucked to the side, while large banners talk about “Reinventing the Laptop”, or how Apple Watch is their “Most Personal Device” yet. Marketing intangibles, statements designed to make you feel good, appeal to you emotionally, but which aren’t quantifiable or verifiable.

macbook gold new apple laptop OSX USB C netbookWhile Apple has often been accused of recycling their designs, the tick-tock update schedule of the iPhone is a perfect example, the company has learned an incredibly important strategy from the retail arena. While iProducts rarely change much from year to year, the subtle design changes keep brand awareness high amongst the demographics of folks with money to burn.

When moving from the Black iPhone 5, to the “Space Grey” iPhone 5S for example, this was a clear visual signal that you had spent money recently to acquire the new phone, instead of slumming it with an old phone. A Silver MacBook likely wont stand out much in a coffee shop when surrounded by MacBook Airs, but a Gold MacBook gives up a ready signal that you are on the pulse. It just wouldn’t do to be seen with last season’s Apple gear. We can count on the next MacBook to be a modest iteration improvement to the internal technology, but we’ll likely focus more on a new design accent or a new color option. Continue reading “Apple, Fashion, and Perceived Exclusivity – Keeping Desire High for iProducts”

Review: BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer – Police Grade Results – Stay Safe While Drinking

The BACtrack Mobile is an interesting addition to our line up of health and safety accessories. Like a fitness tracker, it gives detailed reports on your blood alcohol level, and it pairs with your phone for easy to read results while tracking your drinking over time. I took the BACtrack out for a night on the town, and here are my experiences using it!

Shop the BACtrack Mobile on Amazon.
More info on BACtrack products.

Long-term Review: Kyocera Brigadier – The Best Android Phone of the Year?

Kyocera went BEAST MODE in building the Brigadier, and they’re only the second company to use Sapphire Crystal for their display. After using the Brigadier for a couple months, let’s chat about the experience of using this rugged little brick…

Shop the Kyocera Brigadier on Amazon.

One Terrible Day Without a Smartwatch…

qualcomm toq activity tracker update smartwatch

It wasn’t something that I planned to do. In fact the problem was I didn’t plan as much as I should have before a shoot, and I left my house in a scattered flurry. Arriving at the studio after an hour on the 405, I checked my phone to see an assault of tweets, G+ messages, Youtube comments, emails, and a new survey for the Google Opinion Rewards app.

Why hadn’t my amazing wearable data device alerted me to all of this digital activity? Because I had carelessly left it on its charging dock at home.

It was an opportunity to see if smartwatches really did provide a benefit beyond just being cool techy gadgety things. For the last couple months, between a Pebble, a Toq, a Martian, and a Gear 2, there really haven’t been any days where I haven’t been wearing something on my wrist. Like my favorite traditional timepieces, I often wondered if they were more of a fashion statement than actual productivity devices. Continue reading “One Terrible Day Without a Smartwatch…”