Sunday, January 10, 2016

John McAfee on his new startup and why he should be president


Perhaps the only way John McAfee could surprise us again is by doing something as pedestrian as joining another tech company. These days, he's more known for his love of guns and drugs, not to mention fleeing Belize after getting involved in a murder case. McAfee has since settled in Lexington, Tennessee, and he's diving back into the tech world with his incubator Future Tense Central.

He's also serving as the chief evangelist for the security startup Everykey, which has created a tiny dongle that can unlock just about anything in your home. We had the opportunity to chat with McAfee at the Everykey booth during CES about the startup, as well as his presidential run. The result was one of the strangest conversations I've had at a tech show.

McAfee claims Everykey is more secure than passwords, since you don't have to remember anything. You just need to have the Everykey dongle near your computer, car, or house door to unlock them with "military grade" AES 128-bit encryption. When you walk away, the devices lock back down. It's not the first authentication dongle I've seen, but it's one of the first to work wirelessly and with things outside of computers.

Still, even McAfee admits Everykey has an obvious security flaw: If someone steals your key, they'll immediately have access to everything you've integrated with it. While he says Everykey is working on that issue, fixing it will likely involve some sort of biometric authentication, which means the company needs to completely rethink its hardware. You can still remotely disable the dongle if you notice it's stolen, but that's not helpful if someone manages to swipe it secretly. Until Everykey gets this issue fixed, it's actually less secure than just relying on typical passwords and keys.

McAfee also announced yesterday that he's shifting his presidential run over to the Libertarian party, while still maintaining his focus on cybersecurity from his initial campaign. "We're facing a cyberwar," he said. "Our power grid in America is 50 years old, it's aging. The technology, the computers that are running and rationing electricity across the country are completely open and vulnerable to a 13-year-old who wants to hack from anywhere int he world. Technology I think is the biggest problem in the American government. We lack decades behind the Chinese and Russians in weaponized software."

And to be sure, McAfee was quick to point out that having offensive cyber capabilities is an important deterrent against would-be cyberattacker. "We have to have weaponized software," he said. "We have to have the capability to say, 'Look, if you press a button, we'll press a button.'"


Say hello to Panasonic's invisible TV


Often one of the biggest eyesores in an otherwise impeccable living room is the large black expanse of a TV. Panasonic could have a solution for that, however, in the form of transparent displays. The company showed off the tech at CES 2016 in a mock living room, where the screen could shift between "transparent mode," where you could see the shelving behind it, and "screen mode," where you can see the screen. And because the display is on a railing, you can move it up and down the shelf for even greater customizability.

What's even cooler though, is how you can control it. You can use a remote control of course, but Panasonic wants these displays to operate via motion gestures (think waving your hands in front of it a la Minority Report) or voice commands. Right now, the transparent displays tend to be a little dark so it needs under-shelf lighting in order to really work, but this is still in the prototype stage. Check out our video above to see all the other things the transparent display can do.


Sunday, January 03, 2016

LG's 2016 TVs include its first production 8K set


Forget all the hype about 4K at CES last year -- this year's trend is 8K. LG has revealed some of the first details about its 2016 TV lineup, and the highlight is its first production-grade 8K model, the UH9800. The Korean tech giant isn't saying much about what this 98-inch monster will offer or when it ships, but it's safe to say that this won't be an impulse purchase when Sharp's 8K screen costs about $130,000.

Don't worry if you're unwilling to take out a mortgage just to upgrade, as there are plenty of upgraded 4K TVs in the mix. The UH8500 (55 to 75 inches) and UH9500 (55 to 86 inches) series both tout Color Prime Plus, which mixes both filters and LCD phosphors to reach about 90 percent of the Digital Cinema Initiative's expanded color range. Both these and the lower-end UH7700 (49 to 65 inches) also pack greater High Dynamic Range support, a "True Black" panel that cuts glare and improves contrast and a Contrast Maximizer option that... well, does what it says. The UH9500 is your pick if you're design-conscious, since it has an extremely slim (0.22-inch) body that manages to cram in a relatively powerful Harman/Kardon audio system.

All of LG's newer sets should pack the easier-to-use webOS 3.0 for their interface. It's not yet known how much you'll pay for the 4K models, but it won't be surprising if there's at least one within your budget given rapidly falling prices. The real question is what Samsung, Sony and others have to offer. LG gets points for announcing early, but you may well see strong alternatives (even among 8K sets) before long.

Source: LG Newsroom


Friday, January 01, 2016

THE MOBILE CHECKOUT REPORT: How retailers and tech giants are pushing consumers to do more of their spending on smartphones


mobile desktop time v dollarsBI Intelligence

As millennials and younger consumers become larger parts of the key spending demographic, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are quickly becoming consumers' primary computing device. But for retailers, that poses a key challenge: Users are spending considerable time shopping on mobile, but making relatively few purchases. 

As a result, social networks, payment processors and card networks, and retailers themselves, are all developing solutions that make it easier for users who shop on mobile to begin to buy on mobile, and then channeling funds into products that incentivize users to do so.

By presenting options like on-site buy buttons, single-click checkout, financing services, and unified offline-to-online commerce experiences, various brands are beginning to convert desktop shoppers to mobile. But mobile wallets are beginning to take hold, and if they can successfully combine multiple features that ease barriers to mobile purchasing into one payment platform, they could hold the ticket to retailer success in increasing mobile purchases. 

In a new report from BI Intelligence, we predict how e-commerce will change and m-commerce will grow, explain why users are shopping, but not buying, on mobile devices, look at how stakeholders are looking to attract these users, and showing how products like mobile wallets could be game-changing in terms of mobile retail. 

Here are some key takeaways from the report: 

  • E-commerce and m-commerce are on the rise. In 2014, mobile comprised 11.6% of the US' $303 billion in e-commerce sales. BI Intelligence forecasts that by 2020, mobile will account for 45% of the $632 billion in total e-commerce sales. 
  • Users are spending the majority of their commerce-related browsing time in browsers rather than apps. In order to increase m-commerce conversion rates, retailers should be focused on browser-based solutions, which attract a wider audience than the loyal shoppers who download apps. 
  • If they move into the browser, mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Android Pay could drive an increase in m-commerce. That's because they provide a more streamlined experience to users than any of the other proposed solutions. However, it'll be hard for them to catch on fully if they remain focused solely on apps and in-store payments. 

In full, the report:

  • Forecasts the rising percentage of mobile commerce amidst an expanding e-commerce landscape.
  • Provides data showing why users are spending most of their time on mobile devices, but most of their dollars on PC.
  • Explains the barriers to mobile buying from a consumer-facing perspective.
  • Explores how stakeholders are trying to solve these problems and increase mobile purchasing.
  • Describes the role that mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Android Pay could play in increasing mobile purchasing in both the browser and the app.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store.» Purchase & Download 
  2. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. » Learn More Now



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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The great bitcoin gold rush may already be over


A Bitcoin sign can be seen on display at a bar in central Sydney, Australia, September 29, 2015.  REUTERS/David Gray/FilesThomson Reuters

Bitcoin companies may have already hit their peak.

Venture fundraising in the bitcoin-related space has fallen sharply from the first quarter high, with big banks on Wall Street now looking to develop technology in-house rather than putting money to work in the space. 

"Unfortunately, many banks and institutions have focused on the creation of their own blockchains instead of innovating on the bitcoin blockchain," Michael Sonnenshein, director of sales and business development at Grayscale Investments, told Business Insider. 

One of the high-profile startups running into difficulty raising new capital is Blythe Masters' blockchain startup, according to a report in the New York Times. 

Digital Asset Holdings, a blockchain company providing distributed ledger and settlement services, has struggled to raise new funds, even after appointing Masters earlier this year. 

Digital Asset Holdings and Masters reportedly suffered after giving "better terms" to Masters' former employer, JPMorgan, than it is currently offering other banks like Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, according to The New York Times report.

One of the difficulties facing Digital Asset, the Times reports, is that the bitcoin and blockchain industry has been flooded with numerous startups directly competing with each other. Then there are projects like R3,which is looking to develop common standards and use cases for blockchain and now has 42 banks signed up. 

Digital Asset Holdings declined to comment when contacted by Business Insider. 

Since hitting a recent peak in the beginning of 2015, investing in the bitcoin and blockchain space has experienced a drop-off in investor interest, according to data maintained and published by CB Insights

cbinsightsThomson Reuters

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