47 posts categorized "Tech News"

May 27, 2010

Robots That Do Dishes - Soon To Be A REALITY!

Get me one... get me one....GET ME ONE..  

Those were the first words out my mouth after watching the videos and reading the stories about the Robot Graduation that happened yesterday in Silicon Valley. I understand that it will be some time before the Robots are ready for consumers, but I can wait!

OVERVIEW from the SFGate article in the Technology Chronicles section: "Touted as the first graduation party of its kind, Willow Garage in Menlo Park gave a big sendoff Wednesday evening to 11 robots worth more than $4 million.  The program is part of Willow Garage's effort to "get robots out of factories and into the real world," said Steve Cousins, president and CEO of Willow Garage. By "real world," Cousins means homes or other environments where personal robotics can assist in everyday life, such as folding laundry or helping seniors lift heavy objects."

The article also mentioned that the PR2s will be shipped off to mostly academic institutions around the world and that the robots come pre-installed with Willow Garage's free and open-source software platform, ROS.

VIDEO: Here is a video of the Robot Graduation

Here is a link to a video from Spectrum Mag that has interviews with some of the engineers - who explained the most important use of all for these robots "helping in the kitchen" (seriously - there is a big need for that).

Spectrum Mag's YouTube Channel:

I hope to be learning more about these robots, dreaming about them for many uses around my house and fascinated by the technology that runs behind the scenes. I even imagine that my three boys would have no problem listening to a robot ask them to clean their rooms, that is until they figure out how to re-program it to clean for them.

October 05, 2009

FTC Guidelines Are Out: FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials

Following CNN has helped me stay on top of news, and this morning it was from KuhnCNN - Eric Kuhn's tweet about FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials  that let me know they came out this morning.

Update 3pm pst: Eric Kuhn also posted on the CNN Political Ticker website about the FTC guidelines. There are numerous other articles popping up including on the New York Times (which mentions fellow blogger Linsey Krolik). 

Here is a link to the press release on the FTC website: FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials . Here is a link to the PDF Text of the Federal Register Notice for FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials.

For background here are some posts written when it was first announced the guidelines would be coming. I wrote a post on TechMamas.com about blogger relations to marketers: It's Not About The Review, It's About The Relationship & Relevance . Eric Kuhn wrote a post on the CNN blog titled "'Mommy bloggers' vow to avoid ethical conflicts". Susan Getgood from Marketing Roadmaps posted before the guidelines came out, with good points on what bloggers should do and Linsey Krolik shared her thoughts on social media law and mommy bloggers liability on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog. There have also been multiple other articles, including this one in the New York Times.

The hot question of today is: What do the FTC Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials  mean for bloggers? As I read the legal jargon of the guidelines the first people I turned to are the gals from BlogWithIntegrity.com. We are all still reading the guidelines and am sure there will be many posts. Here are some of what I think are the key items in the PDF Text of the Federal Register Notice for FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials (understanding that I am still reading through them myself).

I am going to insert parts of the guidelines to help identify key points (assuming that I can publish those parts under the fair use guidelines - but if not - happy to take it down). It is important to read the full PDF Text of the Federal Register Notice for FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials to understand the "whole" picture:

The clips below are excerpts from the PDF Text of the Federal Register Notice for FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials


"the other commenter noted that the Guides should not “inadvertently regulate everyday word-of-mouth communications among actual consumers regardless of whether such communications take place in person, via e-mail or in new mediums such as blogs or social networking Web sites.”

"This commenter stated that even if consumers participate in advertising sampling programs, their online comments about a particular product should not be considered commercial speech and these consumers should not be deemed “endorsers” when they are free to say whatever they want about the product (or not say anything at all) without the advertiser having any control over their statements."

Whether a speaker is considered "sponsored"?

..."if the speaker was essentially “sponsored” by the advertiser....circumstances that will determine the answer to this question are extremely varied and cannot be fully enumerated here, but would include: whether the speaker is compensated by the advertiser or its agent; whether the product or service in question was provided for free by the advertiser; the terms of any agreement; the length of the relationship; the previous receipt of products or services from the same or similar advertisers, or the likelihood of future receipt of such products or services; and the value of the items or services received. An advertiser’s lack of control over the specific statement made via these new forms of consumer-generated media would not automatically disqualify that statement from being deemed an “endorsement” within the meaning of the Guides. Again, the issue is whether the consumer-generated statement can be considered “sponsored."

Whether the speaker is considered to be providing an "endorsement"?

"The comments correctly point out that the recent development of a variety of consumer generated media poses new questions about how to distinguish between communications that are considered “endorsements” within the meaning of the Guides and those that are not."

"The Commission does not believe that all uses of new consumer-generated media to discuss product attributes or consumer experiences should be deemed “endorsements” within the meaning of the Guides. Rather, in analyzing statements made via these new media, the fundamental question is whether, viewed objectively, the relationship between the advertiser and the speaker is such that the speaker’s statement can be considered “sponsored” by the advertiser and therefore an “advertising message.” In other words, in disseminating positive statements about a product or service, is the speaker: (1) acting solely independently, in which case there is no endorsement, or (2) acting on behalf of the advertiser or its agent, such that the speaker’s statement is an “endorsement” that is part of an overall marketing campaign?"

”Thus, a consumer who purchases a product with his or her own money and praises it on a
personal blog or on an electronic message board will not be deemed to be providing an

"In contrast, postings by a blogger who is paid to speak about an advertiser’s product will be covered by the Guides, regardless of whether the blogger is paid directly by the marketer itself or by a third party on behalf of the marketer."

"For example, a blogger could receive merchandise from a marketer with a request to review it, but with no compensation paid other than the value of the product itself. In

this situation, whether or not any positive statement the blogger posts would be deemed an “endorsement” within the meaning of the Guides would depend on, among other things, the value of that product, and on whether the blogger routinely receives such requests. If that blogger frequently receives products from manufacturers because he or she is known to have wide readership within a particular demographic group that is the manufacturers’ target market, the blogger’s statements are likely to be deemed to be “endorsements,” as are postings by participants in network marketing programs. Similarly, consumers who join word of mouth marketing programs that periodically provide them products to review publicly (as opposed to simply giving feedback to the advertiser) will also likely be viewed as giving sponsored messages."


I will just keep on disclosing. As I have more time to read through the document, I will add my own thoughts...

Disclosure: This is not a paid post, that is unless the FTC starts paying bloggers - which they would never of course. This is a reaction I had to turning on my computer this morning and seeing the chatter all over Twitter about the FTC guidelines and trying to understand them myself. Hope I disclosed that correctly.

March 19, 2009

BBC Covers the "Mums Who Tech" SXSW Session

UPDATE: Here is the post on the BBC News - Technology page "The rising power of geek mums".

A fun surprise after the "Moms Who Tech" SXSW09 session was when Peter Price from the BBC walked up and said they wanted some interviews. I also gave him my co-leader Shireen Mitchell's information, she was delayed by a late plane but would be coming in later that afternoon. I was glad to see the BBC covering the Moms Who Tech topic and would be interested to hear from moms in England on how they use technology. Or as they say "mums".

I lived in Maidenhead, England for six months while working for Syntex (now Roche) as a systems project manager in 1994 - before I was married. I was sent to England to design the application security for the SAP system that was being installed. I really enjoyed living in England, especially going to London. I even somehow figured out the strategy for driving through roundabouts (at first it was quite scary).  While there I spent time watching and listening to the BBC and became a fan. I enjoyed many of their radio shows but one of my favorite T.V. shows was "Absoulutely Fabulous", now also in the US.

CLICK HERE to listen to the 3/17/09 SXSW Digital Planet interview interview with me (Beth Blecherman) and a few of the attendee's. If you are one of the attendee's that was interviewed, please comment with your thoughts (you did great!). The Moms Who Tech interview is during minutes 15-20. Gareth Mitchell is the presenter and Michelle Martin & Peter Price produced the show.

Here are some links to BBC Technology offerings:

February 24, 2009

Ford's "Sync" Voice-Activated Calling and MyKey™ Auto Parental Controls

To provide some background for my interest in auto technologies : My husband and I need to replace our 10 year old wagon with a new car. We are looking at the Ford Hybrids, other Hybrids and dreaming of buying an electric car. So this makes me even more interested to learn about the new auto technologies available to help us in our decision process.


While at CES, I had the chance to have a demo of the Ford and Microsoft partnership created "Sync" that provides voice-activated, hands-free calling. Here is a link over to the Ford website with more details :

"Sync is a voice-activated, hands-free, in-car communications and entertainment system that fully integrates your Bluetooth®-enabled mobile phone and digital music player".

It will be offered on Ford, Lincoln and Mercury cars , but can not be purchased after market:

"Sync will debut in fall 2007* on twelve 2008-model Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models: Edge, Explorer, Five Hundred, Focus, Freestyle, Fusion, Milan, MKX, MKZ, Montego, Mountaineer and Sport-Trac. Additional Sync-equipped vehicles will be rolled out as quickly as possible.".

The demo at CES was seamless, you get in the car with your cellphone - turn on the car - and Sync takes over all the functionality from your cellphone to provide a voice activated hand free experience. Functionality includes voice dialing from the phone's address book, navigation, weather and finding local businesses like restaurants all from a small screen located on the dashboard. To use Sync, the drive needs to have a cellphone in the car, that acts as the host to the technology. The IEEE Spectrum tech talk blog shared their opinion on some of the challenges, but I think this is a step in the right direction for integration of this type of functionality in cars instead of having to install separate gadgets or attach something like a hand sized GPS (that can be stolen) to a dashboard.

Here is the video demonstration of Ford Sync:

MyKey™ :

Watching the video is best way to understand how MyKey™ works.

Here are the details from the Ford Website on MyKey™ :

"a new technology that allows parents to limit the vehicle’s top speed and audio volume – next year as standard equipment on the 2010 Ford Focus and many other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models.

MyKey, another affordable innovation from the company that introduced SYNC™, also encourages safety-belt usage, provides earlier low-fuel warnings and can be programmed to sound chimes at 45, 55 and 65 miles per hour".

I joined a conference call for the DigiKnows Episode #1 An Insider’s Look at Ford MyKey™ to learn more about that technology. Here is the video from the live UStream discussion:

The UStream live discussion covered questions like "Would kids want big brother watching"? The answer was that if the kids are given the privilege of driving - that they would be ok with having auto limits set. Other good questions were on monitoring/reports - and the response is that the designers thought it was to big brother-ish so that is not currently available. Knowing that my 10 year old has already figured out how to de-install programs and tried to "de-install" the internet filtering controls on our computer - I would like to see some type of monitoring available.  I know that teens will not be happy about the volume controls, but there is plenty of information about how listening to loud music for a period of time can lead to hearing loss. That may be an "uncool" message but it is a valid issue.

Here are some of the links for more information:

Continue reading "Ford's "Sync" Voice-Activated Calling and MyKey™ Auto Parental Controls" »

February 06, 2009

Wired Post on TED Conference: MIT Students Go Tech With Sixth Sense

The post on Wired titled "TED: MIT Students Turn Internet Into a Sixth Human Sense -- Video" caught my eye not only because it sounded interesting - but it was MIT students at TED! Here is what they developed via the Wired post:

"Students at the MIT Media Lab have developed a wearable computing system that turns any surface into an interactive display screen. The wearer can summon virtual gadgets and internet data at will, then dispel them like smoke when they're done.

Pattie Maes of the lab's Fluid Interfaces group said the research is aimed at creating a new digital "sixth sense" for humans."

I already getting excited about touch screens, but "wearable computing" just sends me over the top. Instead of printing my sons homework, could he load it to his wearable computer jacket to display to his class? Or instead of booting up a computer or watching a small screen, could I project a movie on the back on my jacket while my kids and I are waiting in line at the grocery store? Forget about a sheet in the back yard and an expensive project, movie night can be anywhere anytime?

Maybe I am getting carried away, but it is an exciting development. Here is the video:

Past the fact that a wearable computing system has so many amazing applications, it was a bunch of students that developed it. As a mom of one (an maybe more) geeks to be - this is very inspiring. One of my sons is an out of the box thinking that creates the most amazing things. The other day he hooked wireless iPod speakers up with a boombox and then to a computer to make a home theatre extraordinaire (the YouTube videos come to life).

TED is one of the most dynamic and interesting conferences because it is brings together people from technology, entertainment and design. The MIT Lab designs technology for people to create a better future. Just a quick look at the MIT Lab website and I saw an article from Feb. 3rd that discussed a Chameleon Guitar that mixes wood and old fashioned electronics.

This is a tribute to TED for highlighting the MIT students, to the MIT students for their discoveries and for moms all around the world with young out of the box thinker kids to tell them to keep dreaming and creating, someday you may end up speaking at TED...

January 29, 2009

ReadWriteWeb - 8 Moblie Technologies in 2009, 2010

I was reading my TechMeme and saw this post by Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb (one of my techie favorites): 8 Mobile Technologies to Watch in 2009, 2010. The post really brings up the most relevant mobile technologies.

I have a full list of my own after returning from CES which I will post with soon. For now, here are a few of my top moblie picks.

Netbook, Netbook, Netbook: Above and beyond a smartphone, I think the netbook will revolutionize moblie computing. A netbook is not made to be the main computer, but is made to cover all moblie computing needs (web surfing, watching videos, email, online social networking, storing documents and media files). I am in the process of reviewing netbooks, and made a "netbook" category just for it - because it has had such an impact on me (I can finally have moblie computing, with a reasonable keyboard and a light/small enough computer that I can put it in my handbag).

I do like having my computer at home for the heavy duty work, and having my netbook for moblie. I even use email to sync, but am looking into online storage/syncing.

Wireless Home: I am adding some quick details about this area but will discuss this more in future posts. There are so many technologies available that allow you to have "wireless" mobile control of household functions such as lights/heat, access to home computers, ability to schedule shows to be recorded and even turn on music before you walk into the door. Computers and printers can be shared across rooms. Music players can be in one room and wirelessly accessed in others. The family schedule can be moved from a piece of paper on the fridge to a screen on the kitchen wall.

More to come, but for now here is a link to the NextGen home website that I did not get a chance to see at CES, but will be looking into: NextGen Home Experience.

More to come after school pick-up (I have my priorities!).

Wireless Car: Cars will be able to tap into your cell phone and give you handsfree access to not only phone calls, but directions and more. Or you can use your cell phone as a navigation system by putting it into a car holder. Bluetooth, which was mentioned in the ReadWriteWeb post is also my top tech. trend pick - which has revolutionized the term "handsfree" with bluetooth headsets and more! The new Bluetooth specifications mentioned in the ReadWriteWeb article will allow faster transfer speeds.

January 23, 2009

Will Google Ocean Be Added To Google Earth?

GoogleEarth_Image(2) Today I had fun playing with Google Earth, a free application that has beautiful 3D images of the world. To use Google Earth, just download the application from the main page - then type in a location and your off. You can see clear images of locations around the world and even email the map (which I did to create this .jpg). Google Earth is a great tool to get kids excited about geography, and also for some web humor. I should have used it to map out my trip to Disneyland before I left...

I just read in CNET that Al Gore is speaking at a Google Event with Google Execs and a special speaker: Sylvia Earle, explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society and the founder of the Deep Search Foundation.  CNET also posted about Google diving into 3D mapping of Oceans, something which I can't wait to see.

Continue reading "Will Google Ocean Be Added To Google Earth?" »

CES 09: Hands On with the * Soon to be Released * Dell Mini 10 Netbook

I was sitting at the CES Dell press meeting typing up a post on the Dell Mini "9" when I decided to take a look at their other netbook offerings. On display, they also had the Dell Mini 12". When I asked if there were any other size netbooks, they offered me a chance to view the soon to be released Dell 10"Inspiron Mini Netbook. I was excited to get a hands on with the Dell Mini 10. I saw that  Engadget and Laptog Mag also posted with hands on details on the Dell Inspiron Mini 10.  

Listed below are some of the details about the *soon to be released* Dell Mini 10 (Inspiron) Netbook.


Here are some preliminary specs that were discussed at CES, but final details will be released soon. I am trying to wait patiently, because this netbook is perfect for mobile computing and more:

Continue reading "CES 09: Hands On with the * Soon to be Released * Dell Mini 10 Netbook" »

January 22, 2009

Video: Teen Uses i-LIMB Prosthetic Arm

Engadget covered this (what they call but I totally agree) really cool i-LIMB prosthetic arm. Click here to read the Engadget post . Here is the video:

Great to see that technology is being put to good and important use to advance prosthetics.

January 18, 2009

YouTube & Video: Search of the Future

I just read a NYT article about kids using YouTube as "their" search engine of choice. My 10 year old always searches YouTube and prefers video sites. Out of the mouth of babes, I see the future of search. And it's all about video!

NYT Article: At First, Funny Videos. Now, a Reference Tool.

Here is a listing of video search sites:



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