British Airways’ ‘Happiness Blanket’ Changes Color With Flyers’ Moods

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The brainwave analyzing headband and blanket communicate via Bluetooth.

British Airways, the airline that pioneered the flat-bed seats in the 1990s, has taken the business of in-flight sleep to its next (logical? absurd?) level: The airline has developed a blanket to analyze the “meditative state” of premium cabin fliers. The wool “happiness blanket” is embedded with tiny fiber-optic LEDs that change color based on brainwaves transmitted via Bluetooth from a band worn on a passenger’s head. Blue signifies calm, peace and relaxation, and is seen most often when the person is sleeping deeply. The blanket displays crimson when the passenger feels stressed or anxious.

The high-tech blanket isn’t for direct customer use at this point, but dozens of volunteers will try the blanket on trans-Atlantic flights. BA plans to analyze the data from the blankets to make an already good in-flight experience even better. The color patterns may inform changes to in-flight services from, for example, the timing of meals, the menu and the movie options.

The airline’s ultimate goal is to further distinguish its cabin service and amenities in an era when everyone else has added flat beds and posh linens. “The hard product can always be copied and emulated,” says Alan Eley, a BA executive based in New York. The blanket is aimed at helping improve the squishier factors that nonetheless affect a passenger’s opinion of the flight and propensity to return. Sleep is a critical component, which is one reason most premium airlines have migrated their dinner service from airplanes to airport lounges — many passengers are eager for shut-eye as soon as they board.

“People are traveling longer and longer distances, and the ability to get good rest is more important,” says Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst with Atmosphere Research Group in San Francisco. “To be successful, you have to be rested and alert, and what the airlines have found is, people will pay for it.”

In service of rest, British Airways has proven it’s willing to experiment. It’s already launched a paean to boredom on many long-haul flights: footage of a seven-hour train trip through Norway. The relaxation effect is similar to how many people enjoy videos of a burning fireplace log or goldfish or how millions of airline passengers like watching the moving position maps during flight. The video was an online hit in Scandinavia. “There’s a hypnotic, calming and entertaining quality to Slow TV that is perfect for in-flight entertainment,” Richard D’Cruze, BA’s on-board entertainment manager, told Bloomberg News last week.

It’s still unclear how much change the blanket will bring about on BA flights. We do have some predictions: Alcoholic spirits, restful sleep and funny films are likely to correlate to more blue than red. Missed connections, heavy turbulence and a gaseous seat mate are likely to yield crimson.

This article originally published at Businessweek
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/06/30/british-airways-happiness-blanket/

Apple to Livestream iPad Mini Launch — For Mac and iOS Users

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In a surprise reversal of a longstanding policy on livestreaming, Apple has announced it will let you watch Tuesday’s iPad Mini launch event from San Jose — so long as you already have an Apple device with an Apple browser to watch it on.

“Live streaming video requires Safari 4 or later on Mac OS X v10.6 or later; Safari on iOS 4.2 or later,” reads the livestream page that just went up on Apple.com.

Translation: you’ll need a Mac, an iPhone, an iPad or an Apple TV.

SEE ALSO Apple’s Big Launch Event: What to Expect

You can also watch on an Apple TV — so long as it’s a second- or third-generation device, upgraded to version 5.0.2 or later.

The livestream will start at 10am Pacific time, exactly the moment CEO Tim Cook is expected to step out on stage at the California Theatre in San Jose and begin the event that unveils Apple’s first new product line since 2010.

In the past, Apple has preferred to post a video of its launch events hours after the fact, usually by the end of that day. It has cracked down on any invited guests streaming the event themselves (which often occurs in front of a larger audience, such as its annual developers’ conference.)

Will you be watching live? Should Apple make the stream available to non-Apple device users? Give us your take in the comments.

More from Apple’s iPad Mini event:

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/10/23/apple-livestream-launch/

Apple iWatch Launch Date Could Be Pushed Back

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One of the many iWatch concept photos making the rounds online.

While it was originally rumored that the Apple iWatch could get an early fall launch date, a new report indicates it likely won’t enter the market until November.

According to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has been a reliable source for predicting Apple product plans in the past, the iWatch is believed to debut later than expected, due to complications related to both the new hardware and software.

“We have pushed back our estimated time of iWatch mass production from late-September to mid-/ late-November. We also lower our forecast of iWatch 2014 shipments by 40% to 3 million units,” said Kuo, according to AppleInsider.

Kuo told Apple Insider that the iWatch is presenting new difficulties for Apple, and consequently, believes production and distribution for the smartwatch will be deeper into the fall, like November.

The device is expected to come with a flexible AMOLED display with sapphire cover glass, marking the first time the company has integrated that type of display into a consumer product. Complications related to “operation circuitry” (and shrinking it down to smartwatch size), as well as making it a fully waterproof device and redesigning iOS to fit on a smaller screen, are big indicators that we might not see the iWatch for another few months.

BONUS: 10 Fan-Made Apple Product Concepts We Wish Were Real

Roku to be built into more TVs in 2015 — including 4K TVs

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Image: Christina Ascani/Mashable

The Roku streaming player will be built into even more TV sets in 2015, the company announced at CES 2015.

Last year, Roku announced a partnership with TV makers HiSense and TCL to integrate its content device directly into an HDTV.

This year, the company is increasing its number of TV partners and will also be working on a prototype 4K Roku TV product.

Roku has sold more than 10 million of its streaming players in the U.S. alone. Much of its growth has been organic, driven by word-of-mouth, as well as increased interest in original programming from services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

Still, the company sees plenty of room for expansion. A recent Nielsen survey showed that 88% of U.S. households don’t have a streaming player and 89% don’t have a smart TV. Roku sees itself uniquely positioned to offer an affordable, highly usable smart TV experience.

To that end, the company is expanding its partnership with TCL to increase the number of Roku TV devices. Right now TCL has four Roku TV models; that will expand to 12 models this spring. Screen sizes will start at 32 inches.

Roku has also signed a partnership with Insignia, Best Buy’s house brand. This spring, Insignia TVs will be available with built-in Roku TV features. These will be sold in Best Buy stores and at BestBuy.com.

In Q3 2015, Roku will also be coming to Haier TV sets. The Haier Roku TV 4 Series smart LED TVs will be available in sizes ranging from 32-inches to 65-inches.

Although any TV can technically become a Roku TV, thanks to the Roku Streaming Stick, the advantage of having the technology built in is that the interface can be accessed from one remote, without forcing the user to switch inputs.

Roku tells us it has worked hard on making sure its interface is optimized for the big screen experience. The company sees its broad content selection — which includes Netflix, Google Play, HBO Go, Amazon, Hulu and thousands of other services — as something that sets it apart from the pack.

4K Roku TV reference designs in the works

Roku is also working with TCL on a 4K reference model, bringing ultra-HD 4K content to its platform for the first time.

The company is optimizing the Roku OS for 4K compatibility, and working with manufacturers on the right kind of hardware needed to support its platform. The maker (in this case, TCL) can then design the TV as it wants; the Roku platform will power it.

Roku has already confirmed that Netflix in 4K will be supported on its platform. We pressed them for 4K support from other vendors — such as Amazon or M-Go — but the company said it had nothing else to announce at this time.

There is no price or release date for a 4K Roku TV. But given Roku’s focus on the low-cost sector, a 4K Roku TV could be one of the first truly affordable and content-rich 4K devices on the market.

10 Sleek Cases for Your Nokia Lumia 920

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Logitech Harmony Touch Is the Ultimate Remote Control

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Logitech’s newest universal remote control, the Harmony Touch, might just be the company’s most hassle-free remote yet.

The $250 remote can control up to 15 devices — including video game consoles, set-top boxes and media centers — and its innovative touch screen makes it easy to swipe through various activity macros, device functions and even programming data.

Mashable received a review unit from Logitech earlier this week and I’ve spent the last few days putting it through its paces in my living room and bedroom.

A Much Needed Update

The Logitech Harmony Touch is the company’s first major addition to the Harmony line in over three years. The company has used that time to not only rethink the design of the remote control, but to rethink the way users can interact with the controls.

I have been a Harmony owner since 2003 — a year before the company was purchased by Logitech. Because I’m something of a gadget fiend, the ability to program macros into my remote control is crucial to my overall A/V setup.

The Harmony Touch is a replacement for the Harmony One universal remote, which was originally released in 2008. The Harmony 900, a successor to the One, was released a year later with the addition of RF controls.

Aside from a few lower-end remotes, Logitech hasn’t made any updates to its Harmony line since the 900 was released in August, 2009. My own Harmony One is nearly three years old. To say this was a welcome release is an understatement.

One note for power users: The Harmony Touch is an IR-only remote, meaning that those who have devices hidden away or in cabinets will need to use IR blasters to maintain control.

That’s a bummer, but Logitech told us they will continue selling the 900 and 1100 (another RF remote). In the future, Logitech said it would evaluate bringing out an RF capable unit with a design similar to the Harmony Touch.

The device has a 2.4-inch QVGA capacitive touchscreen and its colors are vivid and clear. The screen is significantly faster and more responsive than those on the Harmony One/900.

Like its predecessors, the Harmony Touch comes with a lithium-ion rechargeable battery. You no longer lay the device flat into the charging cradle, instead it charges vertically, like a cordless telephone.

As with previous models, you can control up to 15 devices with the remote.

A New Look and Feel

Comparing the Harmony Touch against the Harmony One/900, its new streamlined design a welcome sight.

The touchscreen is now more centered on the device, rather than at the top. This is an ergonomic improvement, because so many custom functions require the screen, and moving the screen lower makes it more thumb-accessible.

The number pad was excised from the body of the remote — instead, it’s an option within the various device settings. This too is an improvement, because it frees up room that allows the device to fit better in the hand.

In our tests, the touch number pad was every bit as responsive as the old buttons on the Harmony One.

Taking cues from the Harmony 900, the Harmony Touch now has the four color buttons used on Blu-ray remotes. For the first time, a Harmony remote now has a dedicated DVR button. No more programming “Menu” or “Guide” to have that function!!

The device is lightweight, but it feels solidly built. The back of the device is nicely contoured and is texturized to feel great in the hand. You won’t worry about dropping the remote.

Getting Set-up

Setting up the Harmony Touch is a streamlined process. The first thing you need to do is locate the model numbers for each device you want to control. Logitech has a database of more than 220,000 different devices, so chances are, your device is already on the list.

Then, plug in the remote to a Mac or PC with the included USB cable, and go to MyHarmony.com and download the device driver for your computer.

Once installed, you’ll be given the choice of signing into an existing MyHarmony account or signing up for a new account.

For Harmony One users, Logitech has made it easy to migrate your existing settings, devices and macros to the new device. Just follow the steps in this YouTube video and you’ll be set.

I tested this with my existing setup and it worked as expected. I also ran through the setup procedure as if I were setting up a new device.

Logitech’s software has improved over the years, but can still sometimes be tedious to use. Fortunately, once you’ve entered your devices into the system, you can manage inputs and the location of button functions on the remote itself.

The MyHarmony software guides users through creating various activities. These are macros that will run a set of functions when activated. To watch TV in my bedroom, I was able to let the remote know that I want volume controlled by my TV (not the cable box) and channels controlled by the cable box.

Likewise, to watch a movie, it knew to only control volume from the TV and use the Blu-ray player for everything else.

After creating your actions, the software will update and sync to the remote itself. Then, you can unplug from USB and use the remote with your TV.

Using the Device

Because I have been a Harmony user for over nine years, it’s hard for me to judge the remote from the perspective of a new user.

As an existing user, however, the remote is a joy to use. The rearrangement of the buttons makes a lot of sense and key controls are always available to the thumb.

On the Favorites screen, there is quick access to the number pad. This makes it fast and easy to input numbers.

Logitech says the battery is good for about 3 days and takes two hours to charge. My unit shipped with half a charge and I never depleted the battery in spite of extensive use.

Everything worked the same — or better — than my previous Harmony remotes.

New Features

Aside from the new touchscreen with gesture support, one of the biggest new features is the ability to set up favorite channels right on the device itself. In the Logitech software, you can add your Zip code and choose your TV provider (works with cable, satellite and antenna).

From that point, you can add favorite channels that are based on icons rather than a numbered grid. The icons match the channel logos and can be customized.

On the remote itself, you can even customize the order of the icons, iOS-style.

Speaking of icons, you can now customize the icons for different activities too. In addition to a lot of built-in options, you also upload your own. That means for Apple TV, I can use an Apple icon, rather than something more generic.

The remote also now integrates with the Logitech TV Cam HD. You can make, receive, mute and control the zoom of your Skype HD camera all from the remote.

A Worthy Update

It took four years, but the Harmony Touch is a worthy successor to the brand.

For existing Harmony One owners who have an aging remote control, this is a terrific upgrade in every sense of the word. For Harmony 900 users, the situation is more complicated, thanks to the lack of RF support.

If you rely on the RF control, the Harmony Touch might not meet your needs — but if you can make do with IR blasters or visible sensors, this is a great device.

For those new to the universal remote space, the Harmony Touch is as good as it gets — Crestron and other high-end home automation solutions aside.

At $250, this type of remote isn’t for everyone, but if you have lots of devices and want to better control how they work together, it’s a great investment.

What do you think of the Harmony Touch? Let us know in the comments.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/10/03/logitech-harmony-touch-review/

Headphones for Cats? They Cost $1,000

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We’re not pulling your leg: Headphones for cats exist. But the fully-functional gadgets will set you back $1,000 if you really want a pair for your pet.

Designed for electro-house music maker Deadmau5’s cat, Professor Meowingtons pHD, the Meowingtons headphones hit the market this week in limited supply.

Electronics company Sol Republic’s made only 10 but may produce more based on demand. The proceeds will go toward the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“They also have a mic and remote, but I don’t envision many cats using that functionality.”

But could humans use this gadget, too?

“You could, but they probably won’t fit unless you have a really tiny head,” Sol Republic CMO Seth Combs tells Mashable. “We believe if music sounds better, it feels better and that our headphones will help improve the lives of cats.”

Digital artist Joshua Davis styled the headphones after Sol Republic’s Tracks on-ear headphones. They’re infused them with tech found in the Amps in-ear headphones.

“We had to change the housing to accommodate the unique shape of cat ears and to reduce output for sensitivity,” Combs says. “They also have a mic and remote, but I don’t envision many cats using that functionality.”

The debut of the Meowingtons headphones came with a spiffy infomercial-style ad (watch below) from the comedic video creators at Rooster.

“We wanted to create something that would be relevant to Deadmau5’s audience but not alienate the general public,” says Rooster’s creative director Gavin McInnes.

BONUS: 15 Unforgettable Cat Memes [MEOW]

Versatile Lifestyle Headphones Solve Common Audiophile Dilemmas

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Hot Tub Exercise Bike May Be the Gym Workout of the Future

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How often are you lounging in a hot tub and wish an exercise bike would appear in the middle? It’s one of those things you never think about, but makes you wonder how something so quirky and brilliant hasn’t been dreamed up before.

The new FitWet Jet Bike combines a hot tub-like vestibule with a standard exercise bike. When pedaling within the unit, the Jet Bike promises the benefits of a spinning workout alongside the benefits of working out in water, such as helping blood flow, working muscles with resistance greater than air and cutting down on cellulite. Spending 30 minutes on the Jet Bike is equivalent to two hours on a standard one.

Although the concept may seem bizarre, the promotional video (featured below) sells you. Do you want to be healthy? Yes. Do you like hot tubs? Of course! Plus, it’s easy to buy into how this would be so much more fun that riding a standard stationary bike in a gym.

Not to mention the device self-cleans itself after each use to get rid of the water and keep it sanitary. But the bad news if that the Jet Bikes aren’t yet available in the U.S.

“We are selling them to gyms in Las Vegas and hoping to expand to Texas, but right now, it’s only in Europe,” a company spokesperson told Mashable. “We hope to open our first spa-like facility in Miami soon.”

Each Jet Bike costs $18,000, so it would be a costly investment for gyms looking to add one to its equipment lineup.

Would you be interested in using the FitWet Jet Bike? Could this be the next big thing in working out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

FitWet Jet Bike

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/10/11/hot-tub-exercise-bike/

MeMini Is a Wearable Camera That Captures Moments After They Happen

Video can capture priceless moments — but not if you miss the shot.

meMINI is a wearable Wi-Fi-enabled camera with recall, which helps users save film-worthy moments in high-definition video after they’ve already come and gone.

Looping footage is captured every five seconds to five minutes. To permanently store the last recorded moment, users can press the recall button to transfer a file to cloud-based storage or the camera’s internal memory. The meMINI can loop video for three continuous hours on a full charge.

What’s more, users can attach the camera to their clothing via its magnetic back plates; this allows them to easily take it on the go.

An app compatible with iOS and Android can control the camera, the footage and how video is stored. It also lets users share moments they’ve recorded via email, social media or with the meMINI community.

meMINI co-developers Ben Bodley and Sam Lee are raising money for the device on Kickstarter. At press time, the device has already surpassed its original funding goal of $50,000.

“Technology changes—our memories should last forever,” the camera’s Kickstarter video explains. “Imagine if there was a device that captured our favorite moments that would otherwise be lost.”

Image: meMINI

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/01/16/memini-wearable-camera/