Category: Innovation in Mobile

Home Computer Of The ’80s To Be Reborn As Retro Gaming Keyboard For iOS

In the U.K., the iconic 8-bit home computer of the 1980s was the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Few keyboards have surely been pounded as hard as the Spectrum’s rubberised compliment of grey rectangles.

spectrum image

Released in 1982, the 48K computer-in-a-keyboard was last produced in 1990. But if this Kickstarter campaign (from veteran Spectrum games dev Elite) hits its funding target then the ZX Spectrum will be reborn as a Bluetooth keyboard for iOS, initially, with plans to add support for Android, Windows Phone, PCs and Macs down the line.

Elite is seeking £60,000 (~$99,000) in crowdfunding to fund production of the first 1,000 units and bring the Spectrum back to life. The Bluetooth ZX Spectrum will be able to be used, not so much as a tough-to-type-on Bluetooth keyboard, but to recreate that authentic rubbery Spectrum gaming experience in conjunction with future app releases from Elite that will be available to buy from the iTunes App Store (and later from Google Play, Amazon’s App Store and Microsoft’s Windows Store).

The Bluetooth ZX Spectrum keyboard will also be backwards compatible with Elite’s existing ZX Spectrum: Elite Collection apps — which feature Spectrum gaming classics such as Jet Set Willy, Manic Miner, Cybernoid, Monty on The Run and Skool Daze (to name a few). The apps will be sold separately to the keyboard — which is being priced at £50 to early Kickstarter backers (which includes Elite app credit and delivery in the U.K.).

The Bluetooth ZX Spectrum keyboard may also work with some third party apps — so you could use it for other keyboardy functions, albeit the form factor was never designed for speedy touch-typing — but Elite notes that compatibility cannot be guaranteed.

Elite is licensing the ZX Spectrum trademark and has been granted the right to replicate the Spectrum’s form factor — and says it’s the only company that has been granted that right from the IP holder.

Nostalgia fans should direct their clicks to Elite’s Kickstarter page. The company has raised £17,000 of its £60k target so far — from more than 280 backers, and with 28 days left to run on the campaign. If successful they are aiming to ship the Bluetooth ZX Spectrum keyboard to backers next September.

Source: Tech Crunch

Author: Natasha Lomas

Tesco installs window QR codes for interactive shopping

UK grocer Tesco has set up QR and augmented reality codes in the windows of 11 of its Metro stores across the country, giving passers-by the chance to order and pay for goods on their mobile devices without entering the physical shop.

In what is turning out to be a month of technological experimentation at the UK’s largest retailer, it was announced today that the supermarket group is using new technologies to allow customers to find out more information about the products displayed in the virtual shop window.

Products featured will include Christmas gift ideas such as children’s bikes, best-selling toys and Tesco’s new homeware range. Once the code is scanned, the product comes to life using augmented reality on the customer’s smartphone, and then they can arrange to click & collect from the same store within 24 hours.  

Already this month Tesco has introduced electronic shelf labels in one of its stores and a mobile app specifically for its employees, which can be used on the company’s own hudl tablet and other smartphones and mobile devices. Last week Tesco opened a tech-focused distribution centre in Erith, which will support the business’s growing online operations.

All of this innovation comes at a time when the company is looking to establish itself as a multichannel leader, while it struggles for like-for-like sales growth in all of its global markets. In a third-quarter results announcement last Wednesday, comparable sales in the UK were down 1.5% on the same period one year before.

Introducing new ideas and innovations is viewed as an essential part of the retailer’s strategy as it looks to attract customers in a hugely competitive UK grocery market, and another example of this arrived on Saturday 7 December with the unveiling of a new high street Christmas window at its Regent Street Metro store.

A 6-foot biscuit house has taken centre stage at the Regent Street store, framed in a distinctive Christmassy Scandi style snow setting. Tesco’s finest food range is displayed, along with gifts and decorations. All product and decorations on show are available at, but the Regent Street store is not using QR code technology.

Robert Folly, store manager at Tesco Metro Regent Street, commented: “The team and I were so excited to be chosen for the first Tesco Christmas window display.

“We hope that our customers enjoy it, the biscuit house looks good enough to eat so we may have to keep an eye on keeping the windows and doors intact until the big day.”

The stores where Tesco is trialling the use of QR codes on windows are, as follows:

  • Newcastle Eldon Square
  • Bristol Broadmead
  • Canterbury
  • Gravesend
  • Harlow
  • Peterborough

Augmented reality will be in the following locations:

  • Kensington High Street, London
  • Birmingham Caxton
  • Manchester
  • Cardiff
  • Liverpool

Source: Essential Retail    Author: Ben Sillitoe

The Open Secret Of iBeacon…

..Apple Could Have 250M Potential Units In The Wild By 2014

Yesterday, Apple began a small press push on its new iBeacon technology, pushed an Apple Store app update to support them and turned the feature on in 254 U.S. based stores in an initial rollout. According to the details we know so far, some Apple stores may have as many as 20 iBeacons deployed, depending on the size.
But the size of that rollout is deceptive for a couple of reasons — and the full implications of the impact on Apple’s iPad business, the internal mapping industry and the retail market are far bigger than anyone has really copped to.
Specifically, most of the coverage of iBeacons so far has failed to recognize a very important reality of this system: every iOS device since the iPhone 4S and iPad 3rd gen is already capable of being either an iBeacon receiver or transmitter, as long as it’s properly configured.
Yes, there are separate devices like Estimote’s beacons that can use Bluetooth LE protocols to act as a beacon, and Apple is using separate, specialized iBeacon devices that look like small silver rectangles tucked under shelves in some stores.
But some of the iBeacons deployed in Apple stores are not specialized hardware at all, they’re just regular iPads or iPhones that have been configured as iBeacons. And that capability extends to any Apple device with Bluetooth Low Energy and the latest major version of iOS. Let that sink in for a minute and you’ll start to realize the forward thinking strategy Apple has been implementing over the course of the last few years.
According to estimates by Creative Strategies Analyst and Techpinions columnist Ben Bajarin, an estimated 170-190 million iOS devices are currently capable of being iBeacons — that is they have the right hardware and are running iOS 7. That number could swell to 250M if holiday sales of iPhones and iPads are strong. Bajarin notes that Apple’s anticipated China Mobile deal could put them over 200M in iPhone sales in 2014 alone.
This means that every compatible iPad currently deployed in a retail store is already capable of being configured as an iBeacon transmitter — and every iOS device with Bluetooth LE can be a reciever. And the iPad is already enormously dominant in the retail space. We spoke to Scott Paul, CEO of ArmorActive — a tablet enclosure solutions company — about their deployments of iPads and other tablets as digital signage, kiosks, information panels and more.
Some 90% of ArmorActive’s sales involve iPads, 88% of its customers are using iOS, 10% use Android, and only 2% are on Windows devices. The company has been installing iPad solutions since late 2010, when the iPad was launched. They handled the installation of iPads in Kate Spade stores that made a splash earlier this year. To date, they’ve deployed nearly 50,000 tablet kiosks in hotels, restaurants, retail and other locations. Paul says that they have seen demand for Android tablets wax and wane as ‘hot’ models like the Nexus 7 have hit the market.
read more

Author: Mathew Panzarino (TechCrunch)

Google Wallet Invades Your Physical One With A New Prepaid Debit Card

For a while there a physical Google Wallet card seemed like the stuff of rumors, and then it looked like another project lost to the ages when former Wallet chief Osama Bedier (who purportedly pushed the concept) officially resigned from his post earlier this year. Larry Page’s disapproval of the card after a buggy pre-launch demo certainly didn’t help the project’s chances either.

But here we are, months later, and Google has gone ahead with the project anyway. The folks at Droid-Life spotted the updated Google support entry first, which allows Google Wallet users to order their own physical Wallet cards – that first batch is expected to hit doorsteps in under two weeks.

Don’t expect Google to be getting into the lending and collections game (but hell, could you imagine?) – this card is a purely prepaid affair, affording its users access to the funds that are currently stored in their Google Wallets. At first glance it doesn’t seem like a game-changer considering most of the particulars will be familiar to anyone who already owns a debit card, but there are some neat Googlean touches here. According to a newly-posted article on Google’s Commerce blog, there’s a distinct lack of service fees tied to using the card, and users will get instant notifications on their phones when they’ve made a purchase (just like Simple).

So sure, if you have a Google Wallet account and it’s got a few dollars ferreted away in it, there’s really no reason not to get one. While it may be a low-risk action for you though, the card provides plenty of value to the folks in Mountain View – an earlier report from AllThingsD painted Google’s push into a more physical payment scheme as a way to gather more consumer purchasing data to help power its gigantic online advertising business.

Author: Chris Velazco (TechCrunch)

Windows Phone Now Sees 10M Transactions And 500 New Apps Daily, Has Served 3B Total Downloads

Last week Instagram and Waze came to the Windows Phone platform, bringing two applications to Microsoft’s smartphone venture that it has long lacked.

Microsoft also released a set of numbers that outline the platform’s growth, and yet modest size. Windows Phone has seen 3 billion applications downloads, a fine number for the platform, but something that pales in comparison to iOS’s more than 60 billion aggregate downloads.

The platform tallies 10 million app transactions each day, or 300 million per month. That’s up from 9 million per day in September, and 6.66 million per day in June. According to the company, 500 new Windows Phone applications are uploaded daily.

The release of Windows Phone 8 remains the crux moment for the platform, with “monthly paid app revenue” up 181% since its launch. Also in roughly the past year, app downloads have increased 290%. Windows Phone is small, but growing at healthy rates.

The above figures indicate that there is likely enough user activity for developers to warrant the platform enough attention to build for it. However, Windows Phone remains especially small in its home market, the United States, a key application revenue source for iOS and Android developers. Its lack of popularity in that country likely tempers developer enthusiasm.

Sales numbers for Windows Phone handsets are growing, often at triple digit paces on a year-over-year basis, but the platform was small enough a year ago that those figures don’t indicate rampaging growth that could rival iOS or Android on a unit volume basis anytime soon.

The company still has most of its work in front of it: Unit volume must rise in the United States, and other issues such as developer lassitude persist.

The above all sums to the simple fact that Microsoft, through expense and struggle, has managed to build a mobile platform that has achieved something close to exit velocity. It wasn’t long ago that that wasn’t true, and that Windows Phone was more the butt of jokes than something for developers to begin to get to know.

Author : Alex Wilhelm (TechCrunch)