Everything Samsung announced today at IFA 2015

A man walks at the Samsung Electronics' headquarters in Seoul January 7, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

All eyes were on Samsung at consumer electronics exhibition IFA in Berlin today, though there weren’t any high expectations for major product launches.

If you missed the event, here’s the gist of what the company did announce.

SmartThings Hub

The Internet of Things featured prominently on the agenda, with the Korean tech giant launching a new SmartThings Hub to help manage all your connected home appliances.

The $ 99 hub was developed by SmartThings, a company Samsung acquired last year, and can be used to connect things like security cameras, smart thermostats, and other smarthome gadgets.



Feeding into this, Samsung also unveiled SleepSense, a smart sleep-tracker that connects to your home appliances.

The SleepSense is a contactless sensor that’s placed under your pillow to analyze your sleep patterns, and the ultimate goal is to improve your sleep. To do so, it connects up with your TV, air conditioning, music system, and other smart home contraptions — all managed through a mobile app.

It can turn off your TV when it senses you’re asleep, or turn your coffee machine on when it reckons you’re awake in the morning.


Above: SleepSense


Samsung unveiled a new washing machine at IFA today, but it’s no ordinary spinner.

The AddWash is touted as “the world’s first washing machine that allows consumers to add laundry at any point of the wash cycle.”

Say wha’? It really is quite genius — you can add items of clothing to the main cycle mid-wash. Press a button to stop the drum, and throw in those garments you forgot without having to drain the main compartment.

This is also a connected washing machine that can pair with your Android and iOS devices, letting you monitor and manage a washing load remotely, while receiving update alerts.


Above: AddWash


Related to the Internet of Things, Samsung revealed it was working to integrate SmartThings with BMW cars, with notifications from the SmartThings Hub displayed on the car dashboard. The SmartThings app will also let BMW drivers lock / unlock their car, and view the technical status of their vehicle.

Similarly, an integration between a new Car Mode for Galaxy app and Volkswagen will let drivers take calls, control music, and more using touch or their voice. This partnership will also see the Volkswagen Car-Net e-Remote app integrate with the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch, letting drivers locate their parked car, or even turn the air-con on from their wrist.

HDMI 2.0

The new HDMI 2.0 specification, announced by HDMI Forum back in April, will be landing on Samsung’s SUHD and UHD TVs — the first on the market to support the standard.

The company said it will issue a firmware update shortly, letting viewers display a broader High Dynamic Range (HDR) from external devices. It basically means a higher level of contrast between the lights and darks to create a clearer picture.

First Ultra HD Blu-ray player

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) gave the go-ahead to license a new Ultra HD Blu-ray format last month, and at IFA today, Samsung was one of the first companies to announce an Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

No details such as price or launch date yet, but it’s expected to arrive in early 2016.

Samsung at IFA

Above: Samsung at IFA

In related news..

This wasn’t revealed at IFA, but it’s relevant anyway. Samsung and Barnes & Noble launched the latest version of their tablet / e-reader combo.

Costing $ 400, the The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 Nook is available now in Barnes & Noble stores across the U.S., and online at Nook.com.

VB’s research team is studying web-personalization… Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.


Microsoft Azure welcomes R language, with more to come

Revolution R Enterprise (RRE), a version of the R statistics language produced by a company recently acquired by Microsoft, is making its way to Microsoft Azure in a technical preview.

Speculation has abounded regarding how Microsoft would handle Revolution and its associated products, post-acquisition. One likely scenario was to offer R as a service — a cloud-hosted resource for scientific and statistical number-crunching. Now both Microsoft and Revolution are a step closer to doing exactly that.

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Instagram Revamps Direct Messaging Feature

Today Instagram has updated its iOS and Android apps with new features for its messaging feature called Instagram Direct. Instagram originally launched Instagram Direct in 2013 to privately share photos with one person or small groups. Every month, about 85 million out of Instagram’s 300 million total users use Instagram Direct to send private photos. Some of the updates includes threaded messages and the ability to send content from your feed as a Direct message. The threaded messages makes it easier for users to interact with each other because you do not have to create a new conversation every time you want to send photos or videos. There is a quick camera feature so that you can seamlessly respond with a photo or a video in a Direct Message. The size of the emoji in Instagram Direct has been enlarged to really express your thoughts without having to type regular text. And Instagram Direct now lets you name your groups and add up to 15 people to the conversation. Simplifying The Process Of Sharing A Post About 40% of the comments on Instagram are “mentions.” Mentions on Instagram happen when a user wants to share a photo with friend by tagging them with the @ symbol. This usually happens when someone sees a photo that is inspiring or funny. Instagram has now added an arrow icon next to the “like” and “comment” icons under every post. When you tap on the arrow icon, you will be able to send that post to a friend or group as a message using Instagram Direct.  After you share that content with your friends, tapping on the photo or video takes you back to the original post. Hashtag pages and location pages can also be shared with the arrow icon at the top right-hand corner. Your Privacy Will Not Change Photos and videos belonging to users that have their accounts set to private will only be visible to approved followers. Essentially, the photos and videos that you send on Instagram Direct are only visible to people that can already see them.  This is not the only recent major change Instagram added to its app. Last month, Instagram started allowing users to post photos in larger formats other than a square — including portrait and landscape orientations. The updated Instagram app with these features are within version 7.5 for iOS and Android. You may not see it yet because it appears to still be rolling out. Below is a video demo of how the new features work:

Cloud Computing

You Can Find a Lot of Good Data in Campaign Tags

You Can Find a Lot of Good Data in Campaign Tags

Marketing professionals can get so wrapped up in the next big thing that they forget the oldie-but-goodies. And campaign tags are high on the list of classic hits. Campaign tags help you understand how customers engage with your digital media. Tagging 101 The definition of campaign tags is pretty straightforward:

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Secrets To Finding An Amazing Web Host

Does a web hosting plan that not only gives you flexibility, but also saves you money sound good to you? Lots of people support themselves through websites, and web hosting is a very important factor in determining how well your website will run. Your ‘great deal’ is not a great deal if it’s not fully meeting your needs!

Look at your web hosting site to figure out what kind of websites they offer. A lot of the time, free sites offer only static pages, which means you can’t add any custom language scripts. If you need a scripting page that is dynamic, you probably need to find a pay host instead.

Compare the features which are available on each host when choosing between them. When you are analyzing the different providers, compare the different levels of service so you know you are getting the right features you require. The price advantage of one host may not be worth the savings if they lack certain features that you require.

Find more than several recommendations that appeal to you when you are choosing a host service. Looking at just one or two companies may not be enough for you to identify one that clearly stands out.

Find out each potential web host’s uptime–the percentage of time the server is up and working correctly–and avoid web hosts that have a lot of outages. Any web host which has many outages, or makes up lame excuses for their downtime, is not going to be reliable. A lot of downtime shows that they are not reliable and professional; therefore, you should steer clear of them.

Choosing a web host which is physically located in the same country as your visitors will boost the speed of your website dramatically. If your target is the UK, make sure the host provider has its data center established in the UK too.

When you choose a web hosting service, pay the company on a monthly basis rather than in large lump sums. You never know if your host might go bankrupt, or your website could close. If your business grows too big for the host or your business closes, you may lose the money you paid, unless the host states otherwise.

In order to gain the most cash-flow for your site, make sure that you research all of the hosting companies that wish to have your business to find out which would be the most profitable for you. Rates can vary with different host providers, and even though one may cost more than the other, it does not necessarily mean they are more reliable. While you will often see bandwidth increase if you pay for a higher priced host, the lower priced options might not mean any increase in downtime, which should influence your final decision.

Does the host which are you are considering offer a refund guarantee if you are not satisfied? Canceling your service should be your right if you aren’t satisfied with what you signed up for within 30 days. Many web hosts seem good but don’t live up to the hype.

Look for a web host that provides a cPanel. A cPanel makes it easy for you to add popular applications to your website with only a few clicks of the mouse. These applications are usually user friendly and typically easy to install. It also makes managing your website much quicker and easier.

Having a positive reputation is very important for any web host. There are some web hosts that have great reputations, and these are the ones that you can trust to host your site. Read online reviews to ascertain which ones are the most highly recommended. Companies that do not give much of an effort or don’t fulfill the claims they make, should be easy to spot as well.

Don’t pick your host solely on price. You have many different options to chose from. With so many factors to consider, selecting a host just on the price point may leave you wanting features that are not available. Verify that your host will give you all the tools and support you will need.

Prior to signing up for a host, thoroughly view their site. If the website is good you will see lots of features that are explained properly, which you will need to learn for your own website. Ask the hosting company if additional information and tutorials are available to those who have signed up for an account.

Be wary if a web host charges an unreasonably low price for service. A cheap one may be tempting, but they may be cheap for a particular reason. They may have a business model that is risky, or worse, could be cutting corners, leaving you and your site at risk.

The guaranteed uptime statistics that web hosting companies offer may not be as good as you think. They may offer refunds as a guarantee. However, this sum will probably not make up for all the potential business you lost due to the downtime. Choose a web host who has a good track record for uptime as opposed to offering refunds.

How will you contact your hosting provider in times of crisis? If they offer 24/7 support via email, live chat or phone, then it is likely that they have very reliable customer service. Being able to contact customer service at any time can help lower your stress and protect your business from losing customers if something goes wrong with your website.

Now you have the know-how necessary to identify a suitable web host for your site. Take the time to compare different options and learn more about each host and you will find the best providers. Use what you’ve learned to quickly and accurately choose a great web host at an affordable rate.


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The DeanBeat: As consoles age, PC gaming’s resurgence becomes more obvious

Ashes of the Singularity has incredible real-time 3D graphics.

As the global game industry makes its way toward $ 100 billion in sales, the growth is happening on all fronts. Mobile either has or will shortly become the biggest part of the market, based on various market research reports. While mobile gaming has grabbed most of the headlines, the other emerging story is that gaming on the PC is also seeing a resurgence. Some people may think that mobile is killing the PC, but what’s happening in gaming doesn’t reflect that.

One the eve of the PAX Prime gaming culture convention in Seattle, and just a week after the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, the forward progress of the PC as a gaming platform is obvious. It may seem like an old observation, but the PC is a critical part of the global gaming economy. We can talk about the changing market in terms of innovations on the PC as well as illuminating data that illustrates the rate of growth. And since gaming drives technology faster, non-gaming uses of the PC are going to benefit from this technological progress.

By the end of 2016, PC game sales are expected to reach $ 29 billion around the world, compared with $ 28 billion in sales for the console market, according to a market analysis by PwC, the big accounting company. PwC also found that games are now a bigger worldwide industry than books, home video, the movie box office, and music. The PC is the hub for esports, and in Asian markets such as China, the PC still rules.

From VentureBeat

Gaming is in its golden age, and big and small players alike are maneuvering like kings and queens in A Game of Thrones. Register now for our GamesBeat 2015 event, Oct. 12-Oct.13, where we’ll explore strategies in the new world of gaming.

As the newest consoles begin to age, the PC has once again returned to its role as the leader in innovation. This summer’s launch of Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system, with a refresh of the DirectX 12 graphics technology, has taken the base PC platform up a notch. DirectX 12 graphics enable games such as Oxide Games’ Ashes of the Singularity, which can display more than 10,000 objects on the screen in a gigantic sci-fi real-time strategy battle. Other application programming interfaces (APIs) such as AMD’s Mantle and Khronos Group’s Vulkan will also enable much better 3D graphics in future games.

Intel’s RealSense camera — which has motion sensing and gesture controls — will have new applications in games, such as making it easy for Twitch broadcasters to stream their own images and change the backgrounds in their livestreams. Monitors with 4K resolution are coming, and virtual reality systems will be most powerful on the PC. And if all goes as planned, Valve will be launching its Linux-based Steam Machines this fall as rivals to Windows-based PCs.

World of Tanks played on three 4K monitors driven by Intel's Skylake processor.

Above: World of Tanks played on three 4K monitors driven by Intel’s Skylake processor.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

At IDF, Intel showed off a demo of three 4K monitors running World of Tanks, a popular (and money-making) multiplayer shooter with tanks. The PC was running on Skylake, the code name for Intel’s newest microprocessor that will debut shortly. Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices also recently launched graphics cards that will make 4K gaming on the PC much more affordable. Intel has increased the graphics performance of its base PC platform by 100 times over the past decade, and Skylake and its upcoming Iris and Iris Pro chips will continue to move graphics performance forward.

Intel also showed off a new kind of memory, dubbed 3D XPoint, which will be 1,000 times faster than current flash memory chips. Chris Roberts, the head of Roberts Space Industries and creator of the Star Citizen universe (an immense game where you fly starships, explore, and fight, among other activities), said the Intel 3D XPoint memory technology in the upcoming Intel Optane memory chips will enable games with huge virtual landscapes and no loading screens. Normally, such huge worlds just aren’t possible, and loading screens take forever in high-end games.

“We want to have a full, seamless universe you fly around in with no loading screens,” Roberts said. “You want to seamlessly transition from space down to planets, and go in and out of big space ships, with multiple players. One of the challenges is how we deal with all that data. Having fast I/O transport is essential. That’s going to be completely revolutionary. When it’s ubiquitous, loading screens will be a thing of the past.”

And startups such as Shinra Technologies and Improbable are planning to enable supercomputing cloud solutions that will make massive game simulations possible across a wide variety of machines.

iRacing and VRX showed a n awesome racing simulator at IDF.

Above: iRacing and VRX showed an awesome racing simulator at IDF.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

All around, it’s just a good time to be making games on the PC, and there’s a lot of data in support of this trend.

The current generation consoles are expected to sell more than 200 million units by 2019, according to DFC Intelligence. But the market researcher believes that both the Microsoft Xbox One and the Nintendo Wii U will sell considerably less than the previous generation of machines from those companies.

There are an estimated 1.7 billion gamers, or about one in five people on the planet. About 1.2 billion are PC gamers. And of those, 711 million consider themselves to be active gamers and buy one game a month, according to Intel. That’s one in 10 people in the world who are active PC gamers. Valve’s Steam digital distribution service has more than 125 million active users. In the U.S., the average age of gamers is 35, and 48 percent are women. Roughly 74 percent of kids play games. And in China, which is becoming the biggest gaming market in the world, more than 70 percent of gamers play on PCs, according to Intel.

Kirk Skaugen at Intel spent a whole session talking about the rise of PC gaming.

Above: Kirk Skaugen at Intel spent a whole session talking about the rise of PC gaming.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

These active gamers refresh their PCs every two years, compared to every six years for other people. The total PC gaming hardware market is expected to grow from $ 24.7 billion in 2014 to more than $ 31.89 billion in 2018, a compound annual growth rate of 6.5 percent, according to market researcher Jon Peddie Research. Game console hardware sales, meanwhile, are expected to shrink from $ 12.5 billion in 2014 to $ 9.8 billion in 2018.

The PC’s growth is based on a broad range of hits. The PC has become popular with kids in part because of the popularity of Minecraft, which has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. Older gamers are also playing multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games such as League of Legends and Dota 2. The recent Dota 2 championships in Seattle filled a whole stadium as two teams competed in the finals for a $ 6 million prize.

Professional gaming has become a huge sport, and the spectators in that community are growing daily. The esports business now has about 134 million spectators, and it’s a $ 612 million market. Intel’s own Extreme Masters events with the ESL, one of the world’s largest esports leagues, draw players from 180 countries. Twitch, the gameplay livestreaming site acquired by Amazon last year, has more than 100 million viewers a month.

Market researcher Newzoo estimates that revenues for esports in 2015 will surpass $ 250 million. Prize money for esports tournaments has almost doubled in the first five months of 2015, compared to the same period a year ago. At the current rate, the global prize pool will grow to $ 71 million. That’s plenty of money to support the careers of people who play games for a living. And most of that action is on the PC.

And one of the biggest boons for the PC could be virtual reality. Tech advisor Digi-Capital estimates that virtual reality and augmented reality will become a $ 150 billion by 2020. VR and AR could drive upgrades of PCs, as Facebook’s Oculus VR division has acknowledged you need a fairly beefy PC to run VR properly.

“Virtual reality could be the biggest thing,” said Kirk Skaugen, head of the PC Client division at Intel, speaking at IDF.

So there. PC gaming is growing. A lot of things are driving it. And PC gaming is driving technological progress for the whole world.

Demos of the Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles at the Intel Developer Forum.

Above: Demos of the Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles at the Intel Developer Forum.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi
VB’s research team is studying web-personalization… Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.


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