All posts in “economy”

Cryptocurrency ad bans are a step in the right direction

Google just banned cryptocurrency and ICO ads, a move that follows Facebook’s decision to do the same. The language is stark: You are no longer allowed to advertise “Cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice).”

This is good news.

In the Wild West of crypto things can head in one of two ways. First, the industry can ignore rationality and decorum and pump and dump ICOs all day long until the SEC, the FBI and European authorities shut down every single one. Or, if the industry takes the slow and steady route, builds self-regulatory bodies and avoids scammy pump-and-dump tactics, then perhaps the industry can grow into maturity.

Currently the methods for token sale marketing are ridiculous. Most recently I spotted a token advertisement that featured a scantily clad young lady in a compromising position — all in an effort to see financial instruments. Further, “crypto geniuses” like James Altucher have polluted all of our feeds for the past few months with strange claims and spurious product offerings. Enough is enough.

The sad part is that cryptocurrencies have to become boring before they can work. I always go back to the early days of Linux. There were flame wars, screeds and practitioners of dark FUD. No one could agree if KDE or Gnome was a better desktop environment and woe were you if you picked the wrong one. The world was full of angry, aggressive and passionate people.

Fast-forward a few decades and now those same people are typing softly in cubicles making millions of dollars. Their early zeal, while seemingly silly, paid off. And now Linux is completely boring, a tool programmers use to spin up and down servers in a heartbeat.

Cryptocurrency has to head in this same direction.

Until it is hidden, until it is unclear where the blockchain stops and the rest of the world starts, and until we rid ourselves of the get-rich-quickers and the outright scams, the industry will not rise to the rank it deserves. Fools and their money are soon parted. Google and Facebook are right to do something to protect them.

Philips releases outdoor connected Hue lighting

Philips Hue products are going outside. Available for purchase this summer in the U.S., the lighting company has a range of new outdoor lighting products extending the world of Internet of Things to the great outdoors.

These products mark an important change for the Internet of Things world. As WiFi range and consumer demand increases, products such as these will become more available. Soon, consumers will expect to talk to products outdoors as they would indoors. I do. Last summer, I retrofitted an Echo Dot for outdoor use and connected it to a small amp that powers some outdoor speakers. It made weeding the garden a lot more enjoyable.

Like their indoor counterparts, these Hue products are a tad on the pricey side but offer a range of features not available on traditional lighting products. Once connected to a standard Philips Hue hub, the lights can be controlled through the Hue app or a voice assistant.

The new line includes a standard, weather-resistant bulb for $29.99, wall mounted lights starting at $49 and several color changing models, too. The spotlight Philips Hue Lily costs $270 and comes with three lights, while the Calla is $129 and is designed to illuminate pathways — both have access to 16 million different colors.

Bose is carving out $50 million for startups using its new audio-focused AR tech

The high-end audio technology company Bose is getting into the augmented reality game with a new product and a $50 million fund devoted to startups that will develop services for its new platform.

While most of the industry is focused on a visually augmented experience, Bose is most concerned with the intersection of sound and vision.

The Bose AR prototype, which was unveiled at South by Southwest in Austin this year, will use visual information captured by the glasses and add contextually relevant audio information to its wearer.

Bose’s AR kit is a “wafer-thin” acoustics package that the company hopes can be added to headphones, eyewear, helmets and other wearables to give a new spin on reality “augmentation.” The company said the new technology can be controlled with voice commands, head gestures and simple touch gestures.

The new product is a clever spin on augmented reality and a product that plays into Bose’s strength. “It places audio in your surroundings, not digital images, so you can focus on the amazing world around you — rather than a tiny display,” said John Gordon, vice president of the Consumer Electronics Division at Bose, in a statement. “It knows which way you’re facing, and can instantly connect that place and time with endless possibilities for travel, learning, music and more. And it can be added to products and apps we already use and love, removing some of the big obstacles that have kept AR on the sidelines.”

The first prototype glasses are Bluetooth compatible for calls or to integrate with Siri or Google Assistant. A new technology developed for the glasses ensures that the audio is audible only to the listener wearing the glasses, and the acoustic packages fit inside the arms of the glasses.

Sensors in the glasses track the orientation of a listener and integrate with an iOS or Android device to track location and motion, which is sent to the AR-enabled application in the wearables.

The company is already working with ASICS Studio, Strava, TripAdvisor, TuneIn and Yelp on collaborations that will provide content for the wearables, while MIT’s Media Lab and the NYU Future Reality Lab are also playing around with prototypes.

But Bose wants entrepreneurs and programmers to develop their own applications. They’ve created a $50 million fund to finance companies that would like to work with the new audio technology and is providing an SDK and updated glasses later this summer.

Bose has invested in a number of companies already — unrelated to its new augmented reality platform — that are all based on novel wearable technologies.

The platform includes investments like Embr Labs, a wearable for regulating body temperature; Qleek, a company that embeds augmented reality experiences onto custom designed wooden blocks; and Vesper, a MEMS-powered microphones.

Wyoming works to make some crypto tokens exempt from regulation

Wyoming, a wide-open state with plenty of free wind power, is continuing to be a surprising leader in cryptocurrency legislation. To wit: their recent passing of H.B. No. 0070, a bill that allows the sale of “open Blockchain tokens” to be exempt from regulation and money sending legislation.

These tokens are very specific in their use and would more commonly be called “utility tokens:” essentially tokens used in the consumption of various services. They are very different from so-called equity tokens which are sold on the promise (or implied promise) of investor gain.

The tokens must fulfill one or all of these criteria:

(I) The developer or seller of the token reasonably believed that it sold the token to the initial buyer for a consumptive
(II) The token has a consumptive purpose that is available at the time of sale and can be used at or near the time of sale for
use for a consumptive purpose;
(III) If the token does not have a consumptive purpose available at the time of sale, the initial buyer of the token is prevented from reselling the token until the token is available for use for a
consumptive purpose; or
(IV) The developer or seller takes other reasonable precautions to prevent buyers from purchasing the token as a financial

Wyoming has already exempted cryptocurrencies from the Wyoming Money Transmitter Act, a fact can be exploited to allow for sandboxing of blockchain-based money transfer services.

This move is important for a few reasons. First, it shows Wyoming, like Vancouver, is forward-thinking in using its talents and resources to allow freer reign for cryptocurrency companies. Inviting a few dozen crypto startups to Cheyenne would up the tax rolls considerably. Further, it shows Wyoming’s willingness to be a test bed for future regulation, for good or ill. Like Colorado and California, Wyoming is experimenting with the future in hopes of improving the present.

Sonos One’s Alexa support comes to Canada

Sonos One users in Canada can now join their peers south of the border in yelling requests at their connected speakers – a free update issued today enables Amazon Alexa on the Sonos One. The One launched with Alexa support in the U.S., but while the speaker has been available to Canadian buyers since late last year, Alexa voice commands are new with the update.

That means Canadians will be able to do tremendously Canadian things like ask for updates from The Weather Network, get flight info from Air Canada, listen to news reports from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and more. I know what all of these things mean because I am, in fact, Canadian myself.

Canadians also have relatively few options when it comes to premium smart speakers on the market: The Apple HomePod and the Google Home Max have yet to launch in country. Still, an Alexa-enabled Sonos One should be all that most Canadians need – in fact, I recently called the Sonos One the best option out there all around in a smart speaker, and that remains true.