The Consumer Eyes Blog
January 23, 2015
Sometimes it just takes a few tries for an idea to stick. Augmented reality, for example, was a big buzzword a few years ago; apps like Layar and Google Goggles were must-downloads, Google Glass was on the horizon, and it looked as though we'd all soon be living in a hybrid of reality and the internet.
Well, we can't really call that initial wave of interest a bust - AR did catch on in some industrial fields, for example - but it didn't exactly catch fire, either. But now, with virtual reality the current techie darling, Microsoft may have found a new angle for AR. Their HoloLens headset looks a little like an Oculus Rift, but with one key difference: you can still see out. Using technology originally designed for the Kinect, the HoloLens merges stereoscopic 3D graphics with the world you see in front of you, resulting in some truly impressive experiences that merge the immersive nature of VR with the context-awareness of AR.
HoloLens kits won't be out in the wild until at least this Spring, but if we had to pick one headset right now, the HoloLens looks like an exciting example of convergence in the wearable world.
Image via Wired
January 8, 2015
In the world of countertop drinks appliances, there are two clear leaders: in one corner, we have Sodastream, the undisputed champ of home soda making. In the other, Keurig, which has beaten back all other challengers to its proprietary-coffee-pod-system crown. So far, the two have grown their share in their respective markets without clashing.
But this could soon change, with word that Keurig is developing its own pod-based soda machine, codenamed Geyser. Coca Cola, a part-owner of Keurig, will be licensing pods for the device, and the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group is reportedly on board as well, giving Keurig a wide range of well-known brands to pull from.
Will Sodastream make deals with the Keurig team's rivals? Will consumers find enough reason to make soda in a machine, instead of opening a can from the fridge? Which machine will provide better carbonation? This is one showdown we'll be watching closely.
December 12, 2014
Double rainbow, KFC Double Down, Double Double Animal Style… America loves all things double at the moment.
And so of course, it only makes sense that we’d prove a robust market for the double yolked egg. In addition to being slightly larger eggs – as you’d expect – that double yolk is also great for Paleo enthusiasts, who seek out cholesterol. Apparently the Pennsylvania Dutch have been on this trend for years. Just be prepared to shell out some extra dough – only about 1 out of every 1000 eggs laid has a double yolk.
Oh, how the tables have turned on you, egg white omelettes!
December 4, 2014
Considering how powerful a modern smartphone can be, it seems remarkable that most of us treat them as disposable; after a year or two, we're itching to trade up to the newest model, even if it's just for incremental gains in performance. But what if we could keep the parts of the phone that haven't been improved by the latest iteration, and just buy the parts that have?
Lately we've seen a couple innovative concepts that try to break the smartphone down to its constituent pieces - Circular Devices' Puzzlephone concept puts the phone's "Heart" (battery) and "Brain" (camera and processor) into separate components that can be mixed and matched with different "Spines" (screen and motherboard). It may seem far fetched, but it's not nearly as complex as Google's Ara concept, in which seemingly every component of the phone can be swapped out. It looks pretty cool, too - check out the video below for an in-depth look.
With the introduction of the original iPhone, smartphones became the quintessential gadget - a digital swiss army knife that replaced a dozen other devices with a single slab of glass. It sounded like a great idea at the time, but maybe consumers are ready to acknowledge that these technologies don't advance at a consistent pace - cameras and processors are significantly improved with each iteration, while batteries, for example, have changed comparatively very little. When we get tired of - or start feeling guilty about - throwing out the whole thing and starting over every couple years, the answer might be to start treating our smartphones less like monoliths and more like the collection of separate tools and components that they are.
November 21, 2014
Anyone can tell you that flying drones - and we should clarify here that we mean the four-rotor, commercial variety, not the military planes - are experiencing a moment of enormous public fascination. We've seen the gorgeous aerial videos, the inevitable local-news scare stories, and plenty of wacky drone-based ideas from a variety of companies. Amazon's package-delivery drone idea, though seriously far-fetched, continues to draw attention, and just this week TGI Friday's revealed a mistletoe-toting drone that can swoop in to inspire impromptu affection between guests.
It would appear that drones will inevitably become a part of our lives, as their technology improves and their prices drop. And yet, they also appear to be approaching a hurdle that's tripped up a few other sure-thing technologies recently. As cool as they might be, what do we actually need them for? For the moment, there's just one killer app: video. The batteries in most commercial drones aren't powerful enough to lift much more than a GoPro, after all, and they don't last longer than a quick sightseeing jaunt. This could change, but slowly-evolving battery tech has remained a persistent problem for manufacturers.
In the last few years, we've seen some legitimately exciting technologies appear in dramatic fashion, capture the public imagination, and stumble when it comes to broad acceptance. It wasn't long ago that Google Glass was inspiring Simpsons episodes and new pieces of privacy legislation, but after a very quiet year the vultures have begun circling. And alternative fuel cars continue to be an area of interest, but a field that included dozens of brands in the 2000s has narrowed down to just Tesla, and even its success with the Model S leaves it as a niche manufacturer.
It's a strange quirk of our era that anyone with some cash to burn can essentially live in the future - max out your credit card today and you could have a computer on your face, an electric (and partially self-driving!) car in your driveway, and a flying robot following you around. But most of us just don't have a sufficiently compelling reason to take the leap, and we continue on as we always have. When it comes to drones, the question remains - why?