Top Story: What We’re Most Excited About at CES 2013
Smart Houses – With the rapid adoption of smartphones and other “smart” things, the next natural progression appears to be a smarter house (not that Disney Smart House you are thinking of). While this isn’t the first time major brands have tried to release appliances with more technology integrated within them, this may be the year adoption finally takes off because of the proliferation of technology into our pockets, cars and businesses.
Products like the Belkin WeGo let you use motion to turn most household appliances on and off. Philips has created “wireless lighting” that allows you to control your homes lights from your phone, including setting dimness level and other neat tricks. But my favorite (and most useful) may be Whirlpool and LG announcing washers, dryers and refrigerators that can text you when to change filters, laundry is done and more.
My guess is that the first few iterations of these products will be way too expensive (think early Blu-Ray), but before long the prices will be dropping and many of these products will become standard in many households.
Under the Radar: NHL Players Engage with Fans on Twitter During Lockout; NHL Organization Not So Much
While we live and breathe social media here at 451, there are still many people who don’t quite get its value or how it applies in the real world. In fact, the NHL was likely one organization that didn’t “get it.” But now that the lockout is coming to a close and decisions are being made, we have a feeling the NHL might be realizing just why social media matters.
There’s an old saying in social media (well, we suppose “old” is all relative…) that says just because you aren’t on the platforms, doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about you. So, you may as well be there at least to conduct damage control. And while NHL players, announcers, and fans were having serious discussions about the lockout and negotiations on social media, the NHL organization was nowhere to be found. And it was extremely obvious that their voice was missing.
According to the director of the Master of Communications Management program at McMaster in Hamilton to The Canadian Press, “They completely missed the boat on the idea that fans were talking about this all the time, in their spare time, Facebooking, tweeting, adding comments on news stories online.” While the NHL was tweeting from their account, they were focused on almost anything but the lockout, aside from a tweet with a link to an article about a meeting that was held. Instead, they spent their time posting mainly about games other leagues were participating in. They also didn’t respond to anyone or say anything to make fans think much progress was being made in negotiations. The same goes for the NHL team accounts. Instead, fans relied on the Twitter updates from NHL players who, while generally careful, weren’t afraid to air their frustrations about the lockout and who attempted to keep fans interested during the downtime.
While, of course, it’s understandable the NHL can’t reveal insider details of the negotiations taking place, it would have been nice to let fans know the organization appreciates them being patient and that they hope to resolve things soon. Perhaps they need to put a more thorough strategy in place for the next time something like this happens? We mean a strategy other than “Ignore the problem and carry on.” At least they didn’t let their Twitter account go completely silent during the lockout; we have to give them credit for that!
Tool of the Week: Trakdot
Like most people who are jet-setting, my biggest fear is not having complications with the air-craft but rather the risk of losing my checked luggage. My entire travel routine revolves around this anxiety. I have to make sure I score a window seat so that I can see the airline workers transfer the luggage from the airport onto the plane. I scan each electric cart stacked to the top with suitcases to see if I can locate my bag. If I don’t see the bag I literally race to the baggage claim as soon as the plane lands and stand right near the opening. Not only am I worried that my bag didn’t make it on the flight, perhaps fell out of the airplane, but I also worry that someone might steal my bag or mistake it for one of their own (Talk about paranoia). Well, Trakdot is here to save the day!
Trakdot is a pint-sized device that links to your cellphone and provides updates on your bag’s location. Simply pack the device in your luggage and receive an SMS message or email right to your phone when you land. Not to mention if you have an Android or iOS device, you can use Trakdot’s free app to give you specific information about your bag’s location, like when it is approaching the baggage carousel.
The Trakdot uses its own GlobaTrac-owned slice of GSM spectrum. The company claims that the device abides by FAA regulations —the device goes into sleep mode once it reaches a certain altitude, and turns back on once it’s back in a cellular range. This device runs solely on a pair of AA batteries. Trakdot is said to be available for purchase at the end of March. The unit costs $50, with a $9 one-time activation fee, and then a $13 annual service fee. It seems the travel gods have answered our prayers with this one!
Around the Hub: Boston-based Zipcar Sold for $500 Million
It was announced last week that Boston business darling and city-dweller savior Zipcar is being purchased by rental car firm Avis Budget group. Zipcar, founded in 2000, will go for $500 million in cash, +49% above the company’s stock price at the end of 2012.
The purchase comes in part as a response to the launch of competitive car-sharing services by both Hertz and Enterprise. Avis the sees move as “complementary to traditional car rental” and an opportunity to expand Zipcars offerings and scalability to Zipsters. But we have to wonder – is this just another innovative Boston company biting the dust? Or, a necessity – Zipcar was profitable for the first time in 2012, perhaps they need the Avis pat on the back. Either way, as long as long as Chilly and Shari are around to takes us on quick trips to Ikea, we’ll be satisfied.