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Shipments of connected wearables will reach 19 million by the end of the year, impressive growth from 5.9 million devices in 2013, according to Berg Insight. Smartwatches, smart glasses, fitness & activity trackers, people monitoring and safety devices will see a 54.7 percent compound annual growth rate and reach 168.2 million units in 2019.
Bluetooth will be the No. 1 connectivity option, but embedded cellular connectivity will increase, largely in part to smartwatches and people monitoring and safety products. Smart wearables are going to greatly increase as the Apple Watch hits the market in 2015, introducing new consumers to the booming market.
"This product category is now facing fierce competition from smartwatches that have activity tracking features," said Johan Svanberg, Berg Insight Senior Analyst, in a press statement. "Decreasing prices and new form factors will still enable dedicated fitness & activity trackers to reach shipments of 42 million units in 2019."
Connected technologies should have a major presence during CES 2015 next month in Las Vegas, as the Internet of Things (IoT) provides a great variety of different smart products. The wide adoption of smartphones and tablets, controlling these connected services, will make it even easier to control a slew of potential new devices.
Currently, 16 percent of online households have at least one connected home device, however, it will take some time to show connected tech is more than a gimmick. To that extend, most current spending on connected home devices and services is saved for households with "high-disposable-income," according to the Gartner research group.
"I think we will see the trend of more household/standard brands in the connected home space," said Hendrik Bartel, Gartner research director, in a Gartner statement. "This will be [a] huge step towards democratization of such services and devices. Certainly Apple HomeKit will bear the first fruits, and we should see products taking advantage of deep iOS integration at CES 2015. I am also really hoping for new innovative ways to control existing connected home devices."
Google has already teamed up with the leading telecommunications company in Australia on its Internet balloon technology, but now its teaming up with France's space agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES).
The search giant has said that it has been working with the semi-secret lab for 12 months now, in order to take Project Loon to the next level. CNES has been helping Google analyze data from its ongoing tests, as well as getting the design of its next-gen Project Loon technology into the air. Google will help CNES work on long-haul balloon flights into the stratosphere.
Google's VP in charge of the project, Mike Cassidy, said: "No single solution can solve such a big, complex problem. That's why we're working with experts from all over the world, such as CNES, to invest in new technologies like Project Loon that can use the winds to provide Internet to rural and remote areas". CNES' Toulouse Space Center director Mark Pircher admitted that when Google first approached the space agency and told them their plans, he didn't think Project Loon was that realistic.
T-Mobile users will be happy with the news that the company has just announced new Simple Choice family plan that goes live today, December 10, which offers up everyone on the plan unlimited data.
The new plan starts at $100 per month for two lines, both of which include unlimited voice and text, as well as 5GB of data tethering per line. T-Mobile also offers another plan for four people, where 10GB of data is provided (2.5GB each person) from December 10 going into 2015. If you have many people in your house that are all on various plans and use chunks of data when you're away from the confines of your Wi-Fi network, the new T-Mobile Simple Choice family plan could be your next move.
Google has announced they will make a 1Gbps internet package available in Austin, Texas, for only $70 per month. Users will pay a one-time construction fee of $300, but that fee can be waived if customers sign up for a one-year contract. The plan also includes a massive 1TB of free cloud storage with other Google services, such as Gmail, Google+ photos, and Google Drive.
There is no announced release date of the new plan, as Google is still installing the 1000 miles of fiber for their new network. Google Fiber is already available in several ares, and there are plans for more expansion as the year progresses.
One of Google's more interesting initiatives, is Project Loon; giant, helium-filled balloons that fly through the stratosphere providing Internet access to those below. Since Google has been flying Project Loon in our skies, they've learned quite a bit about running them more efficiently, and how to keep the balloons in the air for extended periods of time.
Over the last 12 or so months, Project Loon balloons have travelled over 3 million kilometers, which is the same as going around the world around 75 times. The problem is, they could only stay in the air for a certain period of time before Google needed to bring them back down to the ground to be re-deployed. Loon balloons are now capable of staying in the air for up to 10 times as long as they could last year, and stay there for around 100 days, or just over three months.
The current record Google has for Project Loon staying in the air, is 130 days, with the extended fly-time due to "hundreds of discoveries" that have helped the company prevent leaks, and assisted with automating the manufacturing process. Google has new auto-fill equipment that drops fill times to just under five minutes, as well as the ability to launch some 20 balloons a day as the company improves its "ability to launch consistently at scale".
Just when you thought your GbE, or Gigabit Ethernet connection was fast with 1Gbps, and its lame, old wires - light-based communications are now coming into play and could blow away current physical line speeds.
Harald Haas, Chair of Mobile Communications at the University of Edinburgh said that the potential for wider bandwidth and quicker response time than Wi-Fi, is with light-based communications. He said: "All the components, all the mechanisms exist already. You just have to put them together and make them work". Haas is working with researchers from many different universities, which are currently half way through an expensive $9 million project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, in the United Kingdom.
The researchers are looking into ultraparallel visible light communication, which uses "multiple colors of light to provide high-bandwidth linkages over distances of a few meters", as the Spectrum IEEE site reports. This system has the team using commercially-made red, green and blue LEDs as both emitters, and as photodiodes to detect light. Using this simple technology has speeds of 110Mbps, and when transmitting data in one direction only, they reached 155Mb/s.
Jeremy Gutsche signed up for a 30MB in-flight Internet plan when he boarded his Singapore Airlines flight, priced at $28.99. Once a user goes over the 30MB, they're charged for the data used beyond it, where Gutsche's bill ended up landing on $1171 in additional charges.
Gutsche took to his website, where he wrote: "I had an otherwise enjoyable flight but the sticker shock of being gouged $1,200 made me feel like I was deplaning from Total Bastard Airlines, that old skit from SNL where they kick you off the plane with a 'Buy BYE! If you were a family traveler or someone like my mother, that bill would certainly ruin your vacation".
Gutsche said that he visited around 155 webpages, checked his e-mail, and uploaded some PowerPoint presentations. He then estimated that his PowerPoint presentation cost around $100 to upload, adding that "I hope my team liked it". OnAir, the firm responsible for the in-flight Wi-Fi told The Wall Street Journal that the purchase process is "entirely transparent", and that "To consume several hundred megabytes during one flight takes much more than basic email viewing, for example downloading heavy attachments, cloud access and using Skype".
LinkNYC, a new "communications network" has announced its plans to turn all of New York City's existing payphones into public Wi-Fi stations, with Superman being the most disappointed with this news.
The new Wi-Fi kiosks will be taller, and narrower than the average phone booth, but will still have ads plastered all over them. These Wi-Fi stations will boast "up to gigabit speeds", doubling as charging stations for devices, which is a nice touch. The new Wi-Fi network is part of a "public-private" collaboration between LinkNYC, the Mayor's Office of Technology and Innovation, DoITT, and CityBridge. A collective of New York-based companies, such as Qualcomm, Antenna, Comark, and Transit Wireless are also involved.
Not only will the phone booths be turned into Wi-Fi hotspots, but the LinkNYC kiosks will have touch screens that will provide information about the city itself, as well as allowing for free domestic phone calls. LinkNYC has said that the network will be "the fastest and largest free municipal Wi-Fi deployment in the world" and that it will be "more than 20 times fast than the average home Internet service in NYC" including a "seamless roaming experience from Link to Link". The best bit? LinkNYC said that the free gigabit Wi-Fi across NYC will be done "at no cost to taxpayers" with all of its revenue being secured through advertising, with around $500 million being made over the next 12 or so years. The roll out begins early 2015, with up to 10,000 Links to be installed across five boroughs of the city at first.
The phrase Internet of Things (IoT) has been around for more than 15 years, and while it remains a buzzword, the industry is rapidly growing. There will be 30 billion connected "things" in 2020, with the industry valued at $3.04 trillion in 2020, according to the IDC research group - and that figure is only going to keep climbing, especially as adoption reaches outside of developed markets.
"The opportunities presented by IoT are driving widespread attention among both traditional and non-traditional ICT vendors looking to take advantage of emerging revenue opportunities," said Vernon Turner, IDC SVP of Enterprise Infrastructure, Consumer, Network, Telecom and IoT Research. "We're still in the early stages of maturation and IoT represents unparalleled opportunity in government, consumer, and enterprise environments."
Network security will remain a significant concern - and despite increased security protocols - social engineering and attacks designed to deceive users will pose problems.