Low Cost Eye Trackers to Change the Industry in a Big Way

Until now, low cost eye trackers were only available if you pieced together a DIY system from off-the-shelf parts and combined it with open source software. Earlier this month, however, Denmark-based startup Eye Tribe announced an eye tracking hardware accessory and SDK for $99.

Eye Tribe’s initial strategy is to target developers by getting the SDK in the hands of programmers who can begin developing eye tracking apps for Windows tablets and PCs (with Android and iOS versions to follow in 2014). The second phase of their strategy is to partner with large consumer electronics manufacturers for direct hardware integration.

This is just the catalyst the eye tracking industry has been waiting for. Long gone will be the days of $10,000 eye tracking systems only available to large corporations or researchers with significant grant dollars. As prices drop for eye tracking hardware and software, it will become more accessible to a wide range of users. Increased availability and interest in eye tracking will ignite a flurry of activity among the developer community as a new breed of apps enhanced by eye tracking emerges.

This will not only increase awareness of eye tracking among the general population, but will also increase demand for eye tracking technology in a host of consumer electronics, from phones and tablets to wearables like Google Glass and other head mounted displays.

Eye Tribe’s strategy

Eye Tribe’s strategy is certainly set to disrupt giants like Tobii and SMI whose eye trackers sell for thousands of dollars. It will be interesting to see how established companies adjust their strategies to adapt to the rapidly evolving competitive environment in the eye tracking industry. It will also be exciting to see what applications the developer community comes up with in response to more easily accessible eye tracking technology. If you could get access to an eye tracker for $99, would you buy it, and what would you do with it?…

Critical Mass in the Music World…

Critical mass is the smallest amount of fissile material that can sustain a nuclear chain reaction, in the case of weapons grade Uranium about 52 kg. In other words, with 100 pounds of U325 you can’t blow your nose, but with 130 pounds you’ve got an atomic bomb; that’s critical mass!

The term applies to the radio industry as a number where things suddenly become interesting. If Radical has less than a million registered users we are not taken seriously, over a million and suddenly we’re on everybody’s radar. In the case of Radical Users, critical mass is one million.

Today we opened Radical Indie (Radical.FM’s sister service for unsigned artists) for bands to begin uploading their music. INdie has all the benefits of Radical.FM with none of the limitations that the major labels impose on FM., but Radical Indie is dependent on artists and bands uploading their own songs. There is a critical mass to Indie as well – how many songs do we need before we allow users around the world to listen to this new service?

Radical Indie is the first of its kind so no one knows. We do know that as soon as it sound s good we will let you listen – for free – and that is a thrilling thought. But we have little control over when we do so, as every song on Indie must be voluntarily uploaded by the rights holders’ themselves.

Radical Indie could replace the aging MySpace and become the ‘go to’ place for Indie Artists and their fans. They certainly deserve better than what they have now. Radical Indie is unique. It provides a great listening and discovery experience for regular users. For bands, it becomes a platform where they can have their music streamed worldwide, totally free of charge. Artists will be able to host RadCasts of their own to fans, and fans will be able to RadCast their new musical discoveries to their friends.

We need HELP

We need you to use your favorite social media service to tell your musician friends and your favorite bands that they need to upload their music to Radical Indie so we can launch the service. Details of Radical and benefits for Indie musicians are discussed further in an interview here.

Critical Mass ushered in The Atomic Age, but music is a medium of peace. Sixty-six years after the bomb fell over Hiroshima, Radical Indie – unencumbered by politics or big business – stands poised to help unite Japan with the US, The East with The West, and the Haves with the Have Not’s, through the world-wide sharing of music.

WIth your help, Radical Indie will soon have a critical mass of songs uploaded and then we will take it public. Meantime keep enjoying Radical.FM, we’ll let you know when Indie goes live. And thanks!

PS: Your Radical.FM account will automatically give you full access to Radical Indie when we are live.…

Ticketmaster Gives Contactless Tickets a Bad Name (Pt. 1)

Successful, market leading corporations – especially those that cater to the tech-obsessed youth culture – must not just stay on top of the latest technology trends, they must try and keep a step ahead.

Don’t they?

When a major corporation decides to bring new technology to a highly visible, trendy, consumer market, it takes exhaustive research and astute strategic planning.

Doesn’t it?

Not if you use the leading, nearly-monopolistic U.S. concert promotion company as a benchmark.

What in the world would prompt a company to pass off an already dated, soon-to-be-abandoned technology, as a new innovation? How many executives did it take to make this decision?

Ticketmaster is far and away the market leader in ticket distribution for live events, including sports, theater and other productions. After merging with Live Nation, America’s leading concert producer, they dominate ticket distribution for concerts, especially the big arena shows like Springsteen, U2 and Black Eyed Peas.

Their influence over the marketplace is not always used for good purposes, as a recent ticket-diversion scandal proved. Congressional hearings were held.

Now Ticketmaster is about to unveil a lame, cumbersome, inconvenient procedure that gives a bad name to “paperless ticketing.” As RFID technology, especially in its near field (NFC) format, has moved paperless ticketing squarely into the 21sr Century, Ticketmaster is firmly planting itself in the last millennium.

In their system, ticket buyers receive no ticket at all, paper or electronic. They are simply required to bring the credit card which paid for the tickets to the show, along with photo ID. Swiping your credit card gets you into the show. This description is from an article in the Washington Post last week. Neither Ticketmaster nor Live Nation returned our calls.

If you buy four tickets for friends, better make plans to meet before the show because only the credit card used will get you in. If someone is caught in traffic, either she does not get into the show or you must miss the start of the show until she arrives.

That’s “technology?”

For that you will have to keep your eye on Veritix, a relative upstart launched in 2006. Though they, too, are hampered by current stadium and theater capabilities, CEO Sam Gerace has the company planning for the NFC and RFID future.

Banking on mag strips

As Paul Farhi’s article points out about the Ticketmaster plan, “the inability to pass along a seat creates what’s become known in the industry as the ‘grandma’ problem. Since a paperless ticket buyer has to show up at the door . . . It’s almost impossible for a grandma living (across) the country to buy a paperless ticket as a gift.” Worse, “if the person who bought the tickets on the group’s behalf fails to show for some reason,” nobody gets in.

Live music is by far my favorite leisure pastime. I’ve probably seen more than a thousand shows of every kind and can assure you this idiotic scheme will cause mayhem. Veritix has solved the non-transference issue, which I’ll cover next week in this two-part overview of ticketing technologies. Maybe someone will forward it to Ticketmaster.

First of all, the mag-strip’s days are numbered.

For at least a decade, Visa and MasterCard have been trying to break down the cultural barrier in the U.S. against using chipped credit cards. Smart cards are the primary credit cards now issued in Europe and increasingly in Asia. They are far more secure than the ancient magnetic strip on most American credit cards – those same cards which account for millions of stolen identities each year.

Finally the credit card issuers are making inroads into U.S. adoption of smart cards. Just check the contactless card readers already in place in every single McDonald’s, CVS and 7-11 in the country.

In April, Apple also put in their bid for this market. They applied for an electronic ticket patent, according to Near Field Communications World.

By distributing through iTunes, buyers not only get their ticket, but “an enhanced entertainment service,” according to editor Sarah Clark. “For instance (they could) automatically receive a live recording of the concert . . . and benefit from special offers on refreshments and merchandise on sale at the venue.”

We have been writing for years about tickets moving onto your wireless phone and elsewhere via NFC technology. That is already happening. Next week we will include a round-up of some of the successful and growing use of paperless ticketing that is actually convenient for the user, instead of just for the issuer of tickets.

# # #…

Changing Spectrums of In-Home Wireless

For many years tech-evangelists promised the arrival of the “smart home” – the automated home with devices that talk to each other, with appliances and central home systems controlled from a home dashboard or over the internet.

Except for a few hobbyists and early innovators, most homes today are still stupid.

Why aren’t our homes as smart as our cars?

Inside almost every home you will find some flavor of wireless used for connecting devices. Cordless phones use DECT and related technologies; CDMA and GSM for cell phones; and Wi-Fi for voice and high-speed data applications.

Infrared (IR) is another network in most homes – usually utilized to connect entertainment centers to portable remote controls. Used in about 98% of remote controls, IR has been around for decades. IR is cheap, works and is relatively reliable.

However, Infrared is now being phased out by RF-based technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RFID and ZigBee RF4CE. By using radio frequencies it is no longer necessary to aim and shoot a remote control device at the equipment it is controlling. Unlike IR, wireless radio transmits through walls and furniture. This enables homeowners to hide their “ugly” set-top boxes and controllers behind closed doors.

IR is also not very compatible with new screen technologies. A Plasma DTV inverter can interfere with IR signals. The backlighting on many LCDs can interfere with the TV’s IR receiver.

Interactive wireless

Besides, you need interactivity for a truly smart home, don’t you? By offering interactivity, additional capabilities can be offered. This includes interactive TV shopping as well as access to temperature and energy use monitoring throughout the home.

In addition, by using an interactive screen, the homeowner can monitor health status, lock and unlock doors and windows, and by using a security camera at the front door, see who is ringing their doorbell. Is it a delivery person, is it their mother in law, or is it an unwanted solicitor? A small captured image can be wirelessly sent from a small camera over the door to the display on the remote.

New low power LAN for the home

Unlike Local Area networks like Wi-Fi and DECT, and the cellular wireless networks which are targeted at big bandwidth, power hungry applications such as video, music, gaming and voice, ZigBee RF4CE is a Local Area Network (LAN) that is aimed at low power, battery operated applications such as home automation, environmental controls, security and health monitoring, etc.

The ZigBee RF4CE (IEEE 802.15.4) network is similar in range (150-250 feet) and topology to DECT and Wi-Fi. A typical system would consist of one base station with fixed and mobile applications throughout the home that would wirelessly talk to it, and an internet connection to the set top box.

In addition to RF4CE, there are some who are looking at Bluetooth as another possible replacement for IR. Bluetooth has been around for over ten years and is ideally suited for point-to-point links, which means that the devices can be used in pairs, such as a headset with a phone or a mouse with a PC. In theory, Bluetooth can link up to 7 devices, but the result is not very efficient since only two of those seven devices can communicate to each other at the same time.

The Peripheral Area Network

Unlike LAN technologies like RF4CE and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth is a PAN, a Peripheral Area Network. If you have a Bluetooth phone headset, and travel 15 ft. away from the phone, the quality of the connection starts to crackle up. With a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse, you start noticing lost characters or jerky motions when you move more than 5 meters from your computer,.

Consumers who want to operate their large screen TV or prefer to hide set-top box out of sight (behind the screen or in the cupboard), will be disappointed in a PAN technology like Bluetooth which loses its reliable connection over a distance.

There was a time that Bluetooth was recommended for wireless Internet (as a LAN technology). It did not have the reliable range and therefore never made it as a LAN.

ZigBee RF4CE is designed for low power and consumes a fraction of the power of traditional Wi-Fi. A remote control can operate on a single coin cell battery for more than 10 years.

This is a big advantage compared to the power hungry Bluetooth, which requires a docking station to keep the internal batteries charged or weekly battery replacements. RF4CE is also much more power efficient than IR, consuming just 25% of the power used by IR solutions.

The Bluetooth industry is working on a Bluetooth LE (low energy) specification, which is in line with the needs for low power sensor applications and could become a candidate for RF remote controls. As Bluetooth is found in many home devices, Bluetooth remotes could be easily linked to Bluetooth headsets, phones, PC, etc. Unfortunately, traditional Bluetooth and Bluetooth LE do not interoperate.…