The Backed Pack: Smartphone flash cubes, a smart pan & an iPhone photo storage device

lume cube

Each week, our friends at Backerjack bring us updates on some of the most successful gadget crowdfunding campaigns.

Lume Cube

Lume Cubes provide the kind of light that’s hard to find when using a smartphone camera. Each cube is 1.5” and provides up to 1,500 lumens. With a strong magnet on the back and powerful suction cup, each cube can be mounted at least somewhere for the perfect shot. Or use the tripod it comes with to stand it up. Boasting two hours of battery life and no recycle in between flashes, Lume Cube can easily be used for continuous use.

Best of all, though, is the fact that these cubes sync up via Bluetooth to any iPhone or Android with its accompanying app. The app allows up to five Lume Cubes to be used at once. It also allows for dimming and either sporadic flash for photo taking or a continual flash for videos. Last, but not least, each cube is encased in waterproof silicone making it durable for wherever a photograph may need to be taken.

Backers have delighted in this product, flooding Kickstarter to fund it. With the support of over 1,600 backers, Lume Cube has reached and exceeded its goal.



Pantelligent brings the smart home movement into the kitchen, allowing you to cook smarter. This Bluetooth-enabled pan monitors the temperature of its surface and sends the data to an accompanying smartphone app. It tracks heat to make sure that the food won’t burn or sit there cold. The app also comes equipped with recipes for salmon, steak, chicken, scallops and much more. For added convenience, the recipes can be read out loud so you’re not stuck hunched over instructions. In addition, the recipe will indicate when the cut of meat needs to be flipped over. Pantelligent also allows for new recipes to be put in, so that it can be used for everyone’s food preferences.

At almost twice its goal, Pantelligent has been backed by hundreds of backers with time left to spare. This product is excellent for novice cooks and makes cooking so much easier in a way that’s never been done before.



Piconizer recognizes that the new iPhone is taking the photography world by storm and wants to help by preserving old pictures while making room for new ones. This storage device is compatible with all iPhone 5 and 6 models. Simply insert into the lightning connector and the accompanying app will open up. This allows users to select photos from their phone that they want on the device. Once uploaded, these photos can be deleted from the phone freeing up storage space so that no photos get thrown out for the sake of extra GBs. Piconizer also features a microUSB port so that photos can easily be uploaded onto any computer or laptop.

With almost 500 backers and $65,000 raised, Piconizer is a winner on Kickstarter. Camera usage is almost exclusive to smartphones and the iPhone in particular, leading many backers to lean on this convenient tool for their photo storage needs.

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Dylan’s Desk: Four trends to watch in the coming year

Happy New Year, dear readers.

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It’s the traditional time for journalists to take a look at the past year, extend the trendlines forward, and make some predictions about how the coming year will play out.

Unfortunately, journalists’ track record on that score is not so great.

For instance, three years ago, I predicted five gadgets would dominate headlines in 2013: the Lytro camera, the Kindle Fire 2, the Tesla Model S, Nokia’s Lumia phone, and Apple’s iTV television set. Of those five, only one did really well — the Tesla — while the Kindle Fire took its sweet time about becoming a big deal, really taking off only in 2014. Lytro is all but out of business, Nokia sold itself to Microsoft after failing to take the world by storm, and Apple’s long-awaited television still doesn’t even exist.

In my defense, I’ll say this: All five were really cool ideas. But sometimes “cool” isn’t enough to make a product a stunning market success, or even a reality.

I also predicted, way back in 2000, that by 2010 we’d have glasses with heads-up displays capable of identifying people’s faces for us. I had no idea it would be Google bringing us that futuristic vision, of course, and I was off by a few years, as it turns out. Still — not bad, eh?

So with that mixed record in mind, I’m making these cautious predictions about what trends to watch in 2015. All four of these are pretty solid bets, I believe. Still, take my words with a grain of salt.

And I’ll see you in 2016.

Apple Watch

Apple has said that it would release its wearable device in early 2015.

When it comes out, the Apple Watch will be a significant test of the market’s appetite for smart watches. Its specifications put it miles ahead of any other wearable currently on the market, including as it does both fitness-monitoring features (including heart rate sensors) and smartphone-extending features (like wrist interfaces to popular apps, text messaging, phone calling, and so forth). But even more significantly, it includes support for Apple Pay, which promises to let people pay for stuff they’re buying at a store just by tapping their wrist against an NFC reader next to the cash register.

The Apple Watch has a couple of big strikes against it: At $350, it’s expensive; and it requires an iPhone 5S or later to work. As we saw in 2014, the iPhone has a shrinking share of the smartphone market, and that limits the potential audience for the watch by a lot.

My prediction: The Apple Watch will sell well, but not stunningly, in 2014. It won’t make a major difference to Apple’s revenues. But it will spur a lot more competition from other makers of wearables, particularly fitness bands and smart watches. And if Apple releases a second version, it’ll be sleeker, better-designed, and more successful in the market in 2016.

Virtual reality

Facebook turned virtual reality into a big thing this year by acquiring VR headset maker Oculus for $2 billion. Google responded with a $500 million investment of its own into VR company Magic Leap. Even Apple may be eyeing the VR market. Samsung has its own phablet-based VR system called Gear VR, and the Oculus development kit works with Samsung’s hardware.

None of these products are shipping in volume yet. The Samsung device is geared toward developers and early adopters (and is sold out of most outlets), while Oculus has been shipping developer-only kits for awhile. The demos are impressive, but we’re still at the stage where manufacturers are honing the experience and developers are busy creating content. In other words, early days.

I expect a lot to happen in virtual reality in 2015. Both Samsung’s and Facebook’s headset products should be more widely available in the coming year. While they’re going to find almost all of their initial usage by gamers, there are rich possibilities beyond video games. VR-based social media interactions (3D avatar, anyone?) are undoubtedly a big part of why Facebook was interested in Oculus. And there are possibilities for futuristic Minority Report-style interfaces implemented through VR goggles instead of big, expensive displays.

Still, growth will be slow, largely because of the expense of these devices, the fact that it will take time to develop much VR-optimized content, and the fact that you look really dorky when wearing a VR headset.

My prediction: Everyone will be talking about VR in 2015, but it won’t find major market traction until 2016 or later.


The definition of a “startup” has expanded to realms not seen since 2000. Uber and Xiaomi, the latest beneficiaries of venture capitalists’ largesse, have valuations of $41 billion and $46 billion, respectively, according to the Wall Street Journal’s chart of billion-dollar startups. To date they’ve raised $2.8 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively.

With valuations like that, there’s only one realistic exit that will generate acceptable returns for these companies’ investors, and that’s an initial public offering. Both companies are well-positioned for an IPO, and in both cases the IPOs are likely to push their valuations into the $100 billion range, at least temporarily, satisfying investors and adding to the companies’ war chests.

The next tier of companies in the billion-dollar club is slightly more complicated. Dropbox, Airbnb, and Snapchat are all valued at about $10 billion. The first two are IPO candidates in 2015, but Snapchat remains essentially revenue-free. Unless the public markets have started to succumb to the same kind of madness they spiraled into in the late 1990s, that means Snapchat’s probably not a good IPO candidate in 2015. Groupon ($GRPN) and Zynga ($ZNGA) have both gone public in the past few years despite sketchy revenues, and both have been heavily punished by the stock market. So if Snapchat does try to IPO, everyone will be watching it closely for signs of irrational exuberance.

My prediction: Uber and Xiaomi IPOs will contribute to talk of a bubble, but don’t worry — the actual bubble is elsewhere.

Big data

Big data tools like Hadoop have finally hit the mainstream, as the IT world undergoes a once-in-a-decade architectural shift, this time moving toward clustered servers and distributed computing, storage, and network resources. But it’s the applications of big data that VentureBeat will be watching most closely, as data analysis tools enable companies to understand their markets and customers better than before, conduct ever-more-targeted marketing campaigns, and make more informed decisions than ever.

VentureBeat has a particular focus on marketing tech thanks to our new research arm, VB Insight. We’ll also be talking about these technologies at many of our upcoming events, starting with our Mobile Summit in February. But this isn’t just a VentureBeat thing: We’re focusing on marketing tech because it’s an expanding industry, with thousands of companies competing for attention, lots of confusion, and lots of complexity — yet it’s one where making the right technology choices can have a huge impact on your company’s top (or bottom) line.

My prediction: Consolidation will hit marketing tech, starting with ad tech companies, in 2015. But the overall market will continue to grow as many companies look for ways to target their customers more effectively and efficiently.

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[财经]专家称亚航客机坠海前完整 可能失速后栽入大海(01/01 02:39)


  客机可能发生空气动力失速栽入大海 已经打捞出7具遗体


[体育]国足超长训练告别2014 新年开始调整临战状态(01/01 06:02)


The Pirate Bay is down — but that’s not helping PC game sales

Green Man Gaming's homepage during the holidays.

One of the Internet’s biggest sites for pirated content is offline, but that doesn’t have people who illegally download games opening their wallets.

Green Man Gaming, a large PC-game distributor, has seen no real increase in sales that it can attribute to the closure of The Pirate Bay. On Dec. 9, police in Stockholm raided and took down the data center that was hosting the popular BitTorrent website where people could get pirated copies of huge recent releases like Dragon Age: Inquisition or perennial favorites like Minecraft. With a resource like The Pirate Bay unavailable, you might think that maybe people would turn to purchasing their games. But that’s not the case.

“At Green Man Gaming, the commercial impact has been negligible,” Green Man Gaming chief executive officer Paul Sulyok told GamesBeat.

This doesn’t surprise Sulyok. Piracy is an issue that has long plagued gaming — and PC gaming in particular. Sites like Green Man Gaming, GOG, and Steam have carved markets out for themselves by serving the type of person who wouldn’t pirate in the first place.

“Our customers, by the very nature of their interaction with us, are willing to pay for the pleasure of a game,” said Sulyok.

We asked Valve to comment on this story, but the company has not yet replied to our request. EA, which runs the Origin PC-gaming service, declined to comment because it is in a mandatory quiet period in the lead up to its quarterly results.

While Green Man Gaming isn’t really reaping any financial rewards from The Pirate Bay’s downtime, Sulyok still sees the police action as a good thing for the industry.

“It’s encouraging to see that publisher’s intellectual property is a little more secure with the elimination of The Pirate Bay,” he said.

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Space Station astronauts to soar past New Year’s 16 times

NASA's Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts will wish the world 16 different New Year's celebrations today.

When you’re hurtling through space at 17,100 miles an hour, you can be forgiven for not having time for a lengthy New Year’s celebration at midnight. So why not do it over and over and over again?

That’s what the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) will be doing. In a video posted today, NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts wished those of us stuck in single time zones here on Earth a Happy New Year, saying they would be celebrating by flying over 16 separate midnight celebrations of the transition from 2014 into 2015.

“We figure that we be over midnight somewhere over the Earth 16 times throughout this day,” Wilmore, the commander of the current ISS expedition, said in the video. “So we plan to celebrate NY 16 times with our comrades, our people down on Earth that are doing it at that very moment.”

The two do not explain why they’re only passing over midnight 16 times, given that there are 24 — or 25, according to some — time zones on Earth.

Unfortunately, the video does not show the astronauts popping a bottle of Champagne. It would be something to see all that bubbly in zero-gravity. Although one wonders if the cork might cause irreparable harm to the ISS’ delicate instruments.

What to Think, Ep. 35: Everything you need to know about CES 2015

what to think logo

CES 2015

The CES 2013 prototype of True Player Gear's VR headset. What will be hot in consumer electronics and computing in 2015? Read VB’s full coverage of International CES 2015 to find out.

Gary Shapiro is the chief executive of the Consumer Electronics Association, which hosts the annual electronics extravaganza in Las Vegas called International CES.

With CES starting next week, GamesBeat lead writer Dean Takahashi and I check in with Shapiro to learn about some of the highlights of the show — and what the electronics industry has in store for 2015, from new tablets, phones, and TVs to 3D printers, drones, and even tech that can help save the world.

Shapiro says it will be the biggest CES ever, with the most attendees, the most exhibitors, and the most square footage of exhibit space. One of the areas we’re most intrigued by is Eureka Park, the show’s startup zone, which will feature 375 smaller companies, up from 220 last year.

Shapiro authored the New York Times bestsellers “Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses” (Harper Collins, 2013) and “The Comeback: How Innovation will Restore the American Dream” (Beaufort, 2011). So we also took the opportunity to ask him about the state of the tech economy in the U.S., and how he feels things will look in 2015.

We’ll have a lot more stories from CES in the next few days: don’t miss our complete coverage of CES 2015.

Plus, we discuss 3 of the most popular VentureBeat stories from 2014:

All this and more is in our latest weekly episode. Check it out!

You can find this latest edition of What to Think on iTunes.

In addition, you can listen to us on Stitcher or get the What to Think RSS feed for the podcast player of your choice.

Enjoy the show!

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Reddit’s 2014 stats: Pageviews grow 27% to 71B, unique visitors not disclosed

Reddit Alien

Reddit today announced that in 2014 it served an impressive 71.25 billion pageviews in over 8,000 active subreddits. The company also shared that it saw 54.9 million posts and submissions, received 535 million comments, and enjoyed over 5.74 billion total votes during the year.

Using 2013’s figures, we can see that pageviews were up from 56 billion pageviews, a 27 percent increase year-over-year. Posts and comments were also up from 40.9 million and 404 million, increases of 34 percent and 32 percent, respectively.

Curiously, Reddit did not disclose the number of unique visitors it saw in 2014. Last year, that figure was 731 million and the year before that, 400 million. Maybe the growth has slowed — given the jump in pageviews, however, it would be odd if unique visitors fell in 2014, though it’s certainly a possibility. Either way, Reddit didn’t like the number, so it didn’t share it.

Reddit did, however, share one figure that saw a drop: votes. In 2013, the total number of votes was 6.7 billion, meaning the site saw a decrease of 14 percent year-over-year.

Here is the full list of released stats for 2014:

This year, Reddit also didn’t share the top 10 posts of 2014 by pageviews, which is always an excellent list worth perusing, even if you don’t spend time on the site. Instead, we got an infographic.

That said, the company did underline two excellent end of year threads: What are the best subreddits that you discovered in 2014? and What’s the TL;DR for 2014? (you can find more via the search function). In fact, as you might expect with Reddit, there’s a subreddit just for this: /r/bestof2014.

All these stats show us that Reddit is still growing, though possibly not as quickly as before. That’s impressive, given the sheer size of a site that rightfully calls itself “the frontpage of the internet.”

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