you can't see how crowded it is in this pic....

Niche Tech at CES 2012

you can't see how crowded it is in this pic....

Innovations at CES Unveiled 2012

A mere 3 hours after my plane landed, I squeezed into 2012’s CES Unveiled Exhibition : the show before the Show, as it were. In fact, the word ‘squeezed’ might be too understated; the place was utterly rammed with jetlagged journos hungry for good food and good stories.

A chap got his wristwatch caught in my rucksack! Cue awkward but funny unentangling

The CES Unveiled Zoo

This year’s theme focused more on household tech rather than ‘bling’ toys.  A cleverly designed flat plug which gives wall outlets USB charging facility prompted me to wonder why it wasn’t done before. Another retailer a few metres away had a slightly different, cleverly designed flat plug which did the same thing.

If the Unveiled show was the precursor to CES 2012 proper, then niche-tech i.e. ‘doing one thing well’ looks to be next on our consumer tech lust list. Take Qooq, for example – a recipe-centric tablet. (More info on Qooq from Cnet)

actually, the spicy ahi tuna sushi was lovely.

Qooq Recipe Tablet with plates

It plays movies and music, like a lot of the other tablets on the market. But its makers have stuffed the tablet full of High Definition video of ‘gourmet chefs cooking stuff’, and made it more rugged, i.e. ‘kitchen-friendly’. $399 gets you around 3,000 chef-demonstrated recipes, sitting atop a Linux-based OS. The tablet’s been around since 2009, and already sold over 15,000 units in its native France. Further recipes can be streamed from the internet (for a subscription, of course).

Bodymedia's FIT kit.

Heart-rate monitors, pedometers and other body-sensing kit has been around for a while. For a TV feature a few years back   for the BBC, I wore a then-new device from Bodymedia that measured calorie burn-rate. At the time, I had to download my device manually every few days. But the 2012 reboot uses the owner’s smartphone to update results in real time on the web. And, like the designer USB wall plug, competitors aren’t far behind, with another company showing a similar device.

Zensorium's Tinke

Another sensor, Tinke, comes from Zensorium – plugged into an iPhone, it takes your pulse and measures oxygen saturation and respiration levels. Fitness console games have proved there is a market in this area – and the makers are keen to ‘upsell’ the lifestyle aspect of tech like this. Of course it tracks your progress, and gives you the option to compare your score with other users.

Bikn's Tag

Treehouse Labs, a wireless sensor company, showed Bikn (pronounced ‘Beacon’).  Remember those old keyrings you had to whistle to find? The modern version uses an app and custom-made iPhone case to trace tagged precious items to within 30 metres or so – a  small but significant move toward the inevitable ‘Internet of Things’ that everyone keeps talking about.

What do I think these devices have in common?

Most of these devices focus on just one thing, and base it on something else’s power. The USB Charger uses existing wall sockets, the cooking tablet plugs into the net, the body-sensing and tagging devices tap into the processing power of a smartphone. Each product stands a chance of being successful in the market place because it fulfils a specific need that our ‘do everything’ smartphones can’t quite manage yet. Specialist add-on gadgetry is emerging.

Click Bits!

2 minutes of fame :-)

Pilot show Click Bits - Episode 2!

(RSS/Can’t see the link? here you go: http://bit.ly/clickbits002 )

This is what I’ve been up to the last month, as well as doing quite a bit for bbc click recently… including working with the marvellous Maggie Philbin on our futurology piece. She’s done such a brilliant post here about our visit to Kingswood Warren that I don’t need to add anything…

OK, I will add that we both turned up on the ShiftRunStop podcast last week.

Here are some behind-the-scenes pics of the birthing of ClickBits.

My bag with script in - and an impressive amount of useless stuff

– yes I did eat that twirl. And I didn’t bother taking pics of the usual tv stuff including filming pieces to camera, script wrangling and finding pictures to fit. Unless you want me to next time?

Also the madness of only having a finite amount of time to do an infinite amount of work is the sort of thing is familiar to techies everywhere. Editors, I’m thinking of YOU when I type this.

tape of episode 1 ! yes, tape! Click on this if you want to see episode 1, but episode 2 is better 🙂 Click on the top pic for that.

The grown-up edit suite was double booked for our first episode, but it didn’t stop us – we squeezed into a small office and crowded around a desk and computer meant for 1 person.  Final Cut Pro, in case you were wondering. And yes, we ate a LOT of choccy in  a room so cramped all our knees were touching.

on its way into the BBC system?

This was our 2nd attempt to ingest 3 mins of video into the BBC, we were thwarted by technology many times! It’s always worse when a BIG machine borks – I always (illogically, irrationally and incorrectly) expect computers with 4 screens to be, I don’t know, cleverer.

Ingest point

Humans 3, Machines 2

Finally, the wondrous Zoe (who is producing this with me and is the illustrious @zsk on twitter) came across this hidden terminal and executed some kind of Harry Potter spell that meant the machines had to obey her – and they did.

As I’m off to CES Las Vegas 2010 next week, Zoe and I will be attempting to make the 3rd Click bits episode a few thousand miles apart… we’ll be using yousendit and psychic powers to make that work, but if anyone can do it, it will be the 2 most stubborn people at the Beeb – us!

Working Lunch TNG

Yes, for some reason, I’m going to be allowed back into BBC2‘s Working Lunch studio this Tuesday, despite the proliferation of awful puns the last time I was on screen.

This time I’ll be talking to Declan about CES, the consumer electronics show, and the technology that was shown during the exhibition.  I’ve just finished editing some footage including Windows 7 screenshots which hopefully will be displayed in the background of shot.

 

Windows 7 taskbar

Windows 7 taskbar

SlingMedia Release Sling Catcher

…Last week I found myself perched up on the roof of myhotel in Bloomsbury, London, to hear about a new launch from the people who brought us the Slingbox – the device which allows you to watch your own telly from anywhere in the world with decent internet access.

So here’s the video from that freezing cold day, thank goodness I got to go inside.

Listen out for the incredibly tenacious police chase that’s all over the audio, not even Logic 8 could get rid of that triumph of law enforcement.

RSS Readers / Can’t see the link? click here

And do click here for more info on SlingCatcher.

That evening I went to the Harvest Twestival, and I’ll be editing up a video about Social Networking soon which incorporates some footage from this event.    Thanks to Ben Matthews and Bright One for allowing access for the interviews!

Nero 9 Suite and Move It Launch

Yes, we’re AVIn’ it large here at Geek Chic – lots of video for tech lovers! The second one is of Nero’s launch of their fabulous Move It software, alongside a release of Nero 9.  In fact, instead of just being known for burning software, Nero are moving into something they call “Liquid Media”, which is a rather nice way of describing the way we use video, photos and music in the digital age. 

Let’s face it, we’re not fussy where we consume media these days, be it on different platforms such as mobile phones and iPod-type devices, or just plain and simple online streaming like iPlayer on our laptops.  It’s a quick and dirty world, media-wise.  Content is king, it matters less how we ingest it, as long as we manage to input copious amounts of glorious gluttonous entertainment into our heaving brains, day and night, it’s never enough, and it never will be.

But I digress (as usual).

So here is Patrick Peeters, Nero General Manager, EMEA, telling us what it’s all about:

If you want to know more about the Nero Software, pop here to Nero’s site

The software looks promising, and anyone who has ever tried to encode from one device to another will appreciate the simplicity afforded by a rather nicely skinned “drag and drop”-style  video format swapper.   I have my fingers crossed that they will create templates that are optimised for the Archos players, which will hopefully be added to their already generous selection of codecs.

Back into the editing dungeon now for a few more vids, and a lot more tea.

Virgin Gadget Spy Episode 2 Now Released!

Gadget Spy Episode 2!
Gadget Spy Episode 2!

Yes, after all that hard work, we’ve done it, it’s been edited, and this is Episode 2 of Gadget Spy

 
Gadgets featured are:
 
 
And if you’re wondering what the Bunny Rabbit was at the beginning of the video, it’s the Nabaztag Internet Bunny  which will tell you what the weather’s like and pull stockmarket and news data from the internet. 
 
…and for those of you who read my blog, here is a secret for you – hear the background music?  That’s mine, that is !! 
 
 
 

Virgin Gadget Spy Filming PhotoBlog

Watching the footage back

Filming Gadget Spy II

Yesterday was spent at Virgin Towers filming the second Gadget Spy – this was all done in a bit of a hurry,Virgin are keen to get this up and live on the web by next week – Eeeeek!

So we collected together an array of gadgets (and had some help from www.firebox.com – thankyou!) and hopefully got enough material together for our 3-minute webcast.

The gadgets include a few of the things I’ve been impressed enough to blog about or take flickr pics of, including the Cisco/Linksys Router , the Archos TV+ and the Jawbone noise-cancelling headset.

This was an incredibly fun day, it was tiring but very rewarding, as we’ve been working flat out since last week getting everything together for the magic day of filming.

10mins after arriving

We're in the studio area and setting up - within about 10 minutes, most floor space is covered with tech. There is a general need for tea. We've also realised that it's going to be boiling in here.

Phil checks everything is OK

Phil from Virgin checks the gadgets - we have to work out which order to put them in right at the start of the show, so we can get the camera to pan across at the beginning and match our working script.

Guitar Rockstar sample

We like to have a few quirky, bonkers products in "Gadget Spy" - last time it was the Bubble Wrap Keychain. This time it's the Guitar Rockstar.

firebox.com sent over some stuff - thanks!

Thanks to http://www.firebox.com, who provided us with a few gadget loans for the pilot, and kindly let us borrow a few more for episode 2. Everything is boxed back up and sent back to Firebox HQ, so they'll lend us stuff again!

Archos, Pinnacle, Linksys samples

More tech ready for filming: you can see the top of the Pinnacle PVT Video Transfer, the Linksys Router, and the Archos TV+ as well as a few bits poking out of the case.

Dan checks the footage

Dan, camera operator, checks the footage. Anyone doing any filming knows to check as soon as you do the first take, just to make sure video is actually recorded.

LJ Rich sitting in

Here I am, "sitting in" - we're testing the shot before filming properly, we need to make sure the lighting works for the camera, and I've put a mark on the desk so I always sit in the same place!

LJ's suitcase - Kit 'n' Heels

My suitcase: Kit 'n' Heels, har har. This case got really battered when I took it to China and Dubai, and it's held a lot of tech in its time. On the way to and from Virgin Towers it's bulging with strange and wonderful stuff.

LJ Rich, looking short (!) take 1...

Behind the camera, filming the intro! We steam through the voiceover, the outro and each gadget, doing a couple of takes for each one - the basic rule is when you do a "good one", you do one more for safety. Normally, I'm pretty good at this, because I'm used to live TV and one chance to say something. However, by the end of the day, saying "Port Cool Fan Laptop Stand" took me about 6 tries. We got it all in the can though, and the next thing is editing it up for release - Working date : 10th September 2008

What follows is a quick look at what went on in the day.  If you want to see the Flickr Gallery, please feel free to click here.  I’m really looking forward to seeing the final cut, hope you like the pics!