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01/10/2014

Tomorrowland's Forecast: The 10 Hottest Tech Announcements at CES 2014 - VIDEO

Icar

This is a recurring column related to all things tomorrow - from emerging tech and culture trends to breakthroughs in artificial intelligence to new entertainment and inventions that are helping change the way we experience and understand the world around us. In short, it's a glimpse into what the future might hold for humanity as we try and answer the ever-present question: What happens next?

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 4.30.59 PMIt’s the start of a new year, which means tech companies and industry professionals embarked on their annual mecca to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, the world’s biggest electronics and technology trade show.  The event, which is sadly closed to the public, offers companies and tech enthusiasts a glimpse into what the future holds for the entertainment, computer, and automotive industries

This week, over 3000 exhibitors have been vying for the media’s spotlight on the more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space provided for CES this year – the largest show floor in its history.

To help highlight the cream of the crop, here are the 10 hottest CES tech announcements (in no particular order)

Continue reading "Tomorrowland's Forecast: The 10 Hottest Tech Announcements at CES 2014" AFTER THE JUMP...

Self-driving cars get safer

Audi

Mass marketed self-driving cars are still a ways away, but industry experts are already preparing for the worst…in the best way possible.

Concerns about how self-driving cars will safely respond to emergency situations on the road or in the car itself have, in the past, put a big question mark over when the technology will be available on a wider scale. At this year’s CES, however, automotive companies were showing off solutions to worst-case scenarios that may present themselves while a car is self-driving. 

Audi_2Audi, for example, demonstrated a new car that alerts the driver if they have fallen asleep at the wheel. The Verge reports that the car uses a series of cameras to make sure the driver is awake: if the driver closes his eyes for 10 seconds or more, a loud buzzer rings through the cabin to get his attention. If that doesn’t work, the car automatically stops itself, turns on its emergency signal, and puts in a call to 911. Car makers are insistent, for liability’s sake, that the driver stay awake and have final say over the control of the vehicle, even with self-driving cars.

Also at CES, BMW researchers have programmed a car to self-navigate in non-optimal driving conditions such as water-slicked curves in roadways. They hope to expand their technology in the future to be able to handle other adverse road conditions such as icy roads, high wind speeds, and more.

 

But don’t expect self-driving cars on the market until the systems can handle all road and driver situations, both good and bad. Early estimates point to that happening sometime around 2020.

 

Drone toys

Parrot

2014 looks to be the year that drones finally step into the spotlight, especially with the U.S. government set to begin testing the unmanned aircrafts above 6 states in preparation for widespread, commercial usage by 2015. Hoping to jumpstart the public’s interest in the technology’s entertainment potential is Parrot, the company behind the newly announced MiniDrone and Jumping Sumo. Both use sophisticated accelerometers, gyroscopes, and cameras for stability and promise precision controls with the use of a smartphone or tablet app.

Check out a fantastic video of the two little robots in action below:

 

Both are in pre-production and while pricing hasn’t been determined, industry estimates put the two below a $300 price tag. 

 

The TVs of Tomorrow

While many of us still haven’t jumped on the 3D TV bandwagon that began a few years ago, the industry is already moving on to even bigger innovations for the future of television experience. User-controlled curved screens and Ultra High Definition displays were on brilliant display at CES this year, as the video below shows. 

As mentioned, the technology is still prohibitively expensive (with some high end models in the $100,000 ballpark range) But as the technology catches on over the coming years, the price will become more reasonable. Expect these TV prices to begin their steady decline by the end of 2014.

 

Sony's got its head in the cloud   

Kaz harai

In other television news, Sony announced the company’s plans for a cloud-based TV service that will provide live television, video on demand, and even DVR across all Sony gadgets. 

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 3.06.31 PMSaid CEO Kaz Hirai::

"We're really just trying to bring a new experience of TV viewing -- that combines live TV but make it seamless so that you're also accessing other streamed content as well."

And for gamers, Sony also announced PlayStation Now, a service that will bring streaming PlayStation games to TVs, consoles, and phones. 

 

High-tech, high-class smartwatches

2014 already promises to be a watershed year for wearables and CES showed off a host of new technology and design upgrades for the nascent smartwatch market. 

The Pebble smartwatch, which had its big coming-out party at last year’s CES, is set to get a high-end sibling by the end of 2014. The Pebble Steel uses higher-end materials, a classic watch design, and a new tricolor LED screen all for $249. 

 

With a dual-hinge strap design that “flows” around your wrist, MetaWatch’s new premium Meta smartwatch (pictured below) is yet another option for those looking for a more aesthetically pleasing device. 

Meta

The Meta, like most other smart watch options, connects with Apple’s iPhone. Pricing has not been announced, but current generation Meta watches retail between $130 and $180. 

 

Toyota flexes its innovation

Cars were all the craze at CES this year, with some even saying the event had turned into more of a car show than a tech show. Toyota proved this by showing off some impressive car concepts that look to revolutionize both the fueling and portability aspects of driving.  

Toyota hydrogen carToyota’s hydrogen fuel cell-powered FCV prototype made its first U.S. appearance at CES this year. The car promises a 310-mile range between hydrogen refuels, with no minimal wait time for battery recharge. The FCV will initially debut in California hopefully sometime next year with a price tag currently estimated between $50,000 and $100,000.

And while it may never make it to production here in the U.S., the company did show off its zippy new i-Road concept car.  The motorcycle-car hybrid looks simultaneously fun and terrifying to drive and will soon begin trial markets in Japan and France.

   

 

Virtual Reality 2.0

Crystal cove

One of the more exciting tech trends on the horizon is the launch of virtual reality headsets. I’ve previously highlighted some of the reaction videos of people both young and old reacting to the surreal experience of virtual reality devices like the Oculus Rift. As a piece of first generation technology, however, these devices have yet to unlock the true potential of augmented reality.

Fortunately, the next step towards seamless VR showed up at CES this year in the form of a high-resolution, motion-tracking prototype called Crystal Cove. The new addition to the Oculus line adds improved resolution and positional tracking to the experience. And while motion sickness still remains an issue with the tech, there’s no denying that this is a big step forward.

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 3.48.10 PMOther companies at CES demonstrated their desire to providing an immersive, full-body experience for virtual reality. PrioVR came to CES to show off their controller suits, which use motion-capture technology to enable your body to be the video game controller itself. The Verge reports that on February 14th the company will launch a Kickstarter to begin selling its devices to customers, in both half- and full-body versions. The half suit, which covers the upper body, will sell for around $270; the full-body suit will sell for "less than $400," the company says.

 

Portable 3D Printers

Matterform

Like the computur before it, 3D printing technology that used to take up the space of an entire room has now shrunk to portable sizes. Engadget reports on the Matterform: a crowdfunded, $579 desktop 3D scanner that's also its own carrying case. 

Also cool is the fact that the rotating bed also raises and lowers, so you get more angles for a fuller picture of the object being scanned. And then there's the fact that the whole thing folds up into a rugged case with a handle, for those ever-important 3D-scanning house calls. 

And with Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am even stopping by CES to brag about the future of 3D printing, including the rise of the 3D printer market in my "Top 5 Tech Predictions for 2014" now seems appropriate.

 

The cutest little camera ever

C3

Speaking of portability, Polaroid has expanded their line of hi-definition mountable action cameras witht the C³, an adorable square-shapped camera that is both waterproof and equipped with a wide-angle lens. 

[image via Devin Coldewey / NBC News]

 

Wearable robotic exoskeletons

Ekso bionics

Ekso Bionics' new exoskeleton gives those confined to wheelchairs the amazing opportunity to stand and walk. The Verge reports that over 2,000 people with varying degrees of lower-body paralysis across the US have suited up in the Ekso and taken a collective 4 million steps, according to the company. 

Check out a video of the wearable robot below:

 

 

Bonus: Michael Bay's on-stage meltdown.

In case you missed it. 

 

 News tips? Comments/Suggestions? Tweet me @kylergee.

Posted Jan. 10,2014 at 6:52 PM EST by in Future Tech | Permalink | Comments (15)


Maryland Will Recognize Same-Sex Marriages Performed in Utah

Maryland's Attorney General Douglas Gansler says the state will recognize same-sex marriages performed in Utah before the Supreme Court stay on a lower court ruling striking down the state's ban, the WaPo reports:

GanslerThe Human Rights Campaign has been seeking assurances that the marriages in Utah would be recognized in states such as Maryland, where gay nuptials are allowed.

“If any of them were to move to Maryland, we would recognize those marriages as being valid,” Gansler said in an interview Friday afternoon.

In a letter to Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, Gansler, who is running for governor, said “we are witnessing a historic change in how the American people regard same-sex marriage.”

“Maryland has been on the forefront of this change since 2010, when I issued my opinion concluding that same-sex marriages that are valid in the state in which they were performed would be recognized as valid here in Maryland,” Gansler wrote.

Gansler's announcement comes on the heels of Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement earlier today that the federal government would recognize the Utah marriages.

Posted Jan. 10,2014 at 6:23 PM EST by in Gay Marriage, Maryland, News, Utah | Permalink | Comments (11)


Towleroad Guide to the Tube #1493

JARED LETO: Talks about his Golden Globes nod with Ellen.

THIS WEEK: In unnecessary censorship.

CONFESSING THINGS TO PEOPLE: Mid-conversation.

MORE FROZEN NIAGARA: Anyone for a slushie?

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.

Posted Jan. 10,2014 at 5:30 PM EST by in News, Towleroad Guide to the Tube | Permalink | Comments (0)


News: Carrie Diaries, Matt Bomer, Missouri, Italy, B. Scott

RoadHundreds expected to rally for LGBT rights in Boise, Idaho.

LaboeufRoadShia LaBeouf says he's "retiring all public life" following string of plagiarism incidents.

RoadColorado bill would recognize gay marriage — in taxes only: "Steadman will introduce a bill this week aimed at allowing same-sex couples a way around that, saying that his proposal merely ensures that Colorado state tax law uses the filing status listed on taxpayers' federal tax returns, regardless of whether the state recognizes the marriages of same-sex couples."

RoadNiagara Falls is nearly frozen.

RoadLawsuit challenges Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's order that the state accept jointly filed tax returns from gay couples married elsewhere: "Nixon said the directive applies to tax filing status and doesn't authorize same-sex marriage. The Missouri Constitution states only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in the state. The lawsuit asks Nixon's order be declared unconstitutional. It was filed by officials from the Missouri Baptist Convention Christian Life Commission and the Missouri Family Policy Council."

RoadMiley Cyrus mopes for Marc Jacobs.

RoadJustin Bieber viciously egged his neighbor's house.

RoadMore shots of Matt Bomer's new buzz cut.

OitnbRoadOrange is the New Elle.

RoadEuroset chief urges staff to shove a bone up competitors' asses.

RoadThe Carrie Diaries to address the early days of the AIDS epidemic: "It felt to me that once Walt was finally becoming comfortable with his sexuality and was falling in love and having a real relationship, it was the right time to address the AIDS epidemic and how terrifying that would be for one of our own characters who is intimately connected to the story."

RoadLong Island man arrested for robbing men he met on Adam4Adam: "Police say that Marquise J. Utsey, 22, of Roosevelt met the victims on the site and would set up meeting with them. On Sunday, December 29, 2013, at 10:20 P.M. Nassau County police say that Utsey got into the vehicle of a 23-year-old man and demanded cash after threatening the victim with a gun. The victim handed over his money and phone before Utsey ran away. The victim did not see a gun."

RoadKellan Lutz flashes his undies.

RoadMillionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger doesn't believe bisexual men exist.

NugentRoadRev. Robert Nugent, a priest who spent more than 30 years counseling gay and lesbian Catholics, died on January 1 at 76: "Before his censure — in a ruling written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI six years later — Father Nugent had walked a fine line between obedience to church doctrine and what he said was a calling to minister to a group at the margins of orthodox Catholic faith."

RoadLeaked emails support B. Scott's discrimination claims against BET: "A series of emails and memos reportedly sent between executives at BET appear to lend weight to transgender media personality B. Scott's allegations that the network discriminated against him when he was removed from a planned hosting spot for the network's annual awards preshow last June because he was dressed too femininely."

RoadItalian police arrest suspect over death of gay rights activist: "The body of Daniele Fulli, 28, was found on the bank of Rome’s River Tiber on Tuesday. He had suffered injuries to the groin and at the back of his neck. One doctor suggested it could have been gunshot wounds. Mr Fulli was reported missing on Sunday 5 January and was said to have been suffering from depression."

Posted Jan. 10,2014 at 4:00 PM EST by | Permalink | Comments (12)


'Propaganda: A Festival Celebrating Russian Voices' Targets Anti-Gay Laws with Culture In NYC

Propaganda

Propaganda: A Festival Celebrating Russian Voices hopes to put pressure on that nation's anti-gay propaganda laws by hearing from leaders in various fields about the impact they have had. In particular, the festival's website notes that the series of staged readings and panel discussions, which will take place January 18th and 19th at Cooper Union in New York City, will focus on sports, performance, and Olympic and LGBT history in relation to the propaganda laws. With the 2014 Olympics in Sochi quickly approaching, these sorts of discussions are all the more important, particularly if the events of Propaganda can gain a large, engaged audience.

GessenThe festival has an intriguing and exciting line-up, detailed on its website:

On January 18th at 3pm in Cooper Union’s Rose Auditorium, Propaganda: A Festival Celebrating Russian Voices will feature the first ever presentation of Daria Wilke’s acclaimed 2013 LGBT Young Adult Novel The Jester’s Cap, in a new theatrical adaptation. On January 18th at 7pm, the first English translation of celebrated playwright Oleg Mikhailov’s drama Pelmeny, as well as a reading of Vladimir Nabakov’s seminal work on sport, Breitenstrater-Paolino, will be presentedBoth readings will be followed by panel discussions.

On January 19th at 5pm in Cooper Union’s Great HallTess Berry-Hart’s acclaimed docu-drama SOCHI 2014 will be presented for the first time in the US, and read simultaneously in cities around the globe. Following the reading, at 6:30pm, Masha Gessen (pictured), journalist and NY Times International Opinion contributor, will make her first public appearance since expatriating from Russia, speaking in a panel discussion (moderated by Towleroad's Ari Ezra Waldman). The online theater journal HowlRound will air a live stream of this panel on HowlRound TV, as well as publish a series of articles by and about Propaganda’s artists and participants in the week leading up to the festival.

All proceeds from Propaganda will benefit the Spectrum Human Rights Alliance. Spectrum is a leading international organization devoted to human rights advancement on behalf of people who experience discrimination or abuse on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression in Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and former Soviet Union Countries.

Individual readings/panels have ticket prices of $20, an All-Access Pass can be purchased for $50, and varying levels of increased support/recognition are also available for higher prices.

Posted Jan. 10,2014 at 3:30 PM EST by in Activism, Gay Rights, New York, News, Russia, Sochi Olympics | Permalink | Comments (6)


Chris Kluwe: Tim Tebow and I are Being Shut Out of the NFL for Similar Reasons — VIDEO

Kluwe

Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe joined Keith Olbermann last night to talk about his claims that he was released from the Vikings because of his gay activism. Kluwe told Olbermann that the NFL doesn't want players speaking out on anything.

"If head coaches had their way, it would be, players wake up, they think about football, they go practice, they go to sleep, and they dream about football. And that would be all that there is."

Kluwe suggested that evangelical Christian lightning rod Tim Tebow is being shut out for the same reasons:

"As much as we are polar opposites on the things we stand for, Tebow is the exact same way...There are backup quarterbacks in the NFL right now that Tebow is certainly better than — he could fill a role with a team. But because he brings this other stuff with him, just like I bring my other stuff with me, teams look at it like, 'Well, we don’t want it. We don’t want players speaking out. We don’t want players doing anything other than football.'"

Kluwe also explains the timeline in which he was shut down by the organization for speaking out about marriage equality.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Posted Jan. 10,2014 at 3:00 PM EST by in Chris Kluwe, Football (American), Keith Olbermann, News, Sports | Permalink | Comments (21)



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