New Bluetooth Basketball Analyzes Your Shooting, Dribbling Skills

It’s called “madness” for a reason — the college basketball frenzy in March is enough to convince many that if they only had a better handle on the ball, or a higher arc, they, too could have made it to the Final Four.

InfoMotion Basketball

Now there’s a basketball for that.

An Ohio-based company called InfoMotion has created a high-tech, Bluetooth-equipped basketball that senses the player’s motions with the ball and, after analyzing the data, shares it wirelessly to a compatible iOS or Android smartphone app.

InfoMotion has kicked off a Kickstarter campaign today to raise money for the production of the ball.

Mike Crowley, InfoMotion’s CEO, says the app doesn’t just spit out data; it’s supposed to offer advanced diagnostics to help players improve their games. “Five years ago, when we started the company, we knew consumers needed data. But the next evolution, beyond just activity tracking, is, how do I get better?”

The sensors in the ball can measure the direction of the ball’s spin and how quick your release is after catching the ball. In terms of ball handling, the Bluetooth ball knows the efficiency of your left hand versus your right hand, and how hard you dribble with each — in a sense, how confident you are with the ball.

Using this data, the app will recognize patterns and offer suggestions to shoot with a higher arc, or use your legs, or change the trajectory of the ball.

While the ball can sense when it has hit backboard, rim or net, InfoMotion’s “hit-or-miss” technology is still in development, so right now the app won’t tell you how many shots you’ve made — only how many you’ve taken.

The app also has a multiplayer mode, in which you and up to three other friends can take turns shooting 10 shots at a time and compete. InfoMotion’s goal is to create a kind of virtual playground, in which ballplayers around the world can compare scores within the app.

InfoMotion_Basketball App

The sensor-laden basketball is made of indoor/outdoor synthetic leather, courtesy of Spalding. Despite the fact that the ball comes packed with an eight-hour battery, Crowley says it meets regulation weight and size. It’s Qi-compatible, so it can be charged wirelessly, and comes with a charging sleeve.

If you can already feel the synthetic leather pimples under your fingertips, here’s the part where you might get a little, um, deflated: InfoMotion doesn’t expect the ball to ship until the third quarter of this year. And it will retail for a whopping $295. That almost makes these basketball sneakers look reasonable (not really).

To be fair, this new offering is much cheaper than InfoMotion’s first high-tech basketball, which launched in 2011 and ranged in price from $2,500 to $5,000. That ball was aimed mainly at high-level coaches and players.

But $295 is still a lot for a synthetic-leather basketball. Here’s a little free advice, kids: High-tech or not, just get out there and shoot — a lot!

Software Developer Hiring Engine Gild Lands $8 Million Series A

gild_RGB-Large-feature

In the U.S. Declaration of Independence, it’s taken as “self evident” that “all men are created equal.” Today we would use a more inclusive phrase like “men and women,” or a gender-neutral word like “people.”

While it may be true for the purposes of the law, politics and human rights, it’s sadly not true of programmers. Some are more skilled than others, while those others may specialize in things that make them peculiarly suited to a particular job.

The problem comes when it’s time to evaluate a person for a specific job. On paper they may claim to have certain skills, but when the rubber meets the road, can they really carry off the job at hand? Wouldn’t it be great if you could vet someone not by word of mouth, but by evaluating the code they’ve written in the past?

That’s the idea behind Gild, which I first wrote about over the summer when it was just getting out of the starting blocks.

Today Gild will announce that it has landed an $8 million series A round of venture capital funding led by Steve Anderson of Baseline Ventures. Prior investors in Gild’s seed round also participated. They include SAP Ventures, Globespan Capital Partners and investor Mark Kvamme, best known for his early stake in LinkedIn.

Gild has created a cloud-based service that tracks the code that developers share publicly on services like GitHub and Google Code. It monitors how often that person’s code is accepted for open source projects, and how often other developers borrow from their code or “fork” it, which is a sign that other developers like what they see.

The result is that the programmers with the prestigious academic degrees may or may not be the ones you’re looking for, but it’s hard to know for sure until you’ve seen the code they’ve published. Software development becomes more of a meritocracy.

“Everyone is under pressure to find the best people,” Desai told me. “Those companies that hire based on pedigree and people from the best schools, we know that’s not working any more. They’re missing out on a lot of talented people.”

The company has been growing fast, and has seen its overall user base grow by 900 percent. Its customers include Box, Red Hat , Rackspace, Zynga and Square.

Gild has also been on a hiring tear: Jill Erickson, a former senior VP at advertising agency TMP Worldwide, joined as chief revenue officer in November. In December, Vivienne Ming, a Carnegie Mellon PhD and former research fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Mind, Brain and Computation, joined as chief data scientist.

Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern

If there ever was a time when you wanted to play the role of a deity, then perhaps now would be a good one – with the 19.99 Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern in tow, of course. The Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern works as its name suggests, coming in a lightweight form factor that is highly portable, and of all things, is also waterproof. It will feature a few functions rolled into a single device, such as a task light, flash light and diffused lantern, making it highly desirable to own whenever you are all out on your own.

The Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern will be powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery which can also be juiced up via its super-efficient solar panels. It is said that even any incandescent light is good enough to charge it up, although the sun’s natural rays will work best. Ideal for campers and hard-core hikers, the Luci Lantern also doubles up as an alibi just in case someone accuses you of being not environmentally friendly in the rest of your lifestyle choices. Thanks to the ‘Buy One, Give One’ program, if you decide to pick up a Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern, the good people over at MPowerd have pledged to do the same, sending one to someone else in a developing country.

North Paw Directional Anklet Kit

If you have ever attended any motivational courses, surely you would have come across a session where you are told to find out just where your True North is, which could be a principle or ambition to keep you on track all the time, even when the situation around you starts to go all out of whack. Well, a compass also works just fine if looking for the magnetic north is your cup of tea, although it does go haywire in the presence of a magnet. Having said that, here is another fun way of discovering north in your life, via the rather ostentatious $159.99 North Paw Directional Anklet Kit.

Yes sir, the North Paw Directional Anklet Kit is an anklet that relies on a compass module to know North is, and will also boast of pager vibrators so that your brain will be informed at all times (or rather, at your beck and call) just where magnetic north is. If you hate soldering, then the North Paw Directional Anklet Kit is not for you, since it is part DIY, requiring you to piece it all together. The North Paw Directional Anklet Kit can be described as a mini science fair project condensed into a unique kit.

You could have spent $16,000 on potentially fake Google Glasses, but eBay is no fun

Google Glass

You may not win Google’s contest that allows you the privilege of giving the company $1,500 for an early model of its wearable computing device, Glass, but that doesn’t mean you can’t own one, maybe. If you’re the risky sort who also happens to be rich — or at least irresponsibly spends large wads of cash — you can try your hand at bidding on a Glass over on eBay. However, the unit doesn’t exist just yet, or at least not in the seller’s hands.

In the auction’s item description, the seller says he or she has been selected as a Glass early adopter, and will be receiving a Glass at a launch event. Basically, it’s a pre-order auction, which isn’t uncommon — especially in the world of game console launches when the consoles have a limited availability. However, those auctions usually come with some sort of proof, like a picture of the pre-order receipt, whereas this Glass auction only comes with the hope of not being screwed over.

Google Glass auction

As the early Glass will cost $1,500, the seller began the auction at that price, and six days later the bid is sitting at around $16,000.

The lack of any actual proof isn’t the only thing that makes the auction suspicious, but Google’s contest to be selected as an early adopter is not over yet, and the company said it would let people know if they won sometime around the middle of March. That said, it’s possible that Google let a lucky winner know early, but is finding out worth $16,000? Just wait until the device hits retail, and record videos using your phone instead of your glasses until then.

Unfortunately eBay, as they usually do, pulled the listing a few minutes ago. So we’ll never know if this was a real pair of Google glasses that had escapes the clutches of Google’s product managers or if it was just someone trying to rip off a naive technology lover.

Microsoft resurrects Minesweeper to benchmark IE10

IE10 Minesweeper

Lately, Microsoft has had a bit of a nostalgia thing going when it comes to Internet Explorer. The company’s latest throwback is a new addition to the IE Test Drive site, a benchmark built around the classic Minesweeper game that’s been entertaining and frustrating Windows users for years.

This time around, however, Microsoft has ditched the muted grays and opted for a more… let’s call it “eye catching”… color scheme. The icing on the cake is the animated search lights that spin around the background. The whole presentation is a gaudy display of Internet Explorer 10′s hardware acceleration muscle and improved standards support. You can play a round of Minesweeper in your browser, of course, but the real purpose here is to show off IE10. Choose Island or Checker from the benchmark drop down and Minesweeper springs into action to solve itself. A word of warning to those who have yet to master the puzzler: the benchmark clears the board every single time without tripping a single mine.

Minesweeper benchmark times

So how does IE10 compare to the competition? It’s better, of course. Just because you’re offering up a benchmark built using standard code doesn’t mean you won’t cater to your own browsers’s strengths. On my test system, IE10 beat all other browsers handily. Firefox came close on the Island test, finishing in 7.9 seconds to IE10′s 3.9. Chrome lagged way behind and clocked in at 12 seconds, and it couldn’t even properly display the search light animation.

What’s really important here isn’t which browser performs best. It’s the fact that Microsoft now offers a web-based version of Minesweeper that runs in any standards-compliant browser. As long as you don’t mind the purple hues, it’s worth adding to your time waster bookmarks.

Apple holds annual shareholder meeting, Tim Cook talks competition, stock price, new product categories

Apple holds annual shareholder meeting

Apple’s annual shareholder’s meeting was held this morning at the company’s Cupertino headquarters. These meeting are to allow shareholders to ask questions of Apple’s leadership, as well as hold elections for the board of directors. According to CNBC, the entire board was reelected, Apple’s accounting firm was approved, and a proposal to establish a Human Rights board committee was defeated. Additionally, Bloomberg reports that Tim Cook received 99.1% investor approval as CEO.

Following the formal company business, the meeting was opened up to a Q&A. Questioned about Apple’s new headquarters, Cook said that Apple was planning on moving into that building at some point in 2016. This is due to a delays caused by some redesigns of some aspects of the new campus, as reported in November.

Cook also took questions about the competition, the stock price, and future products. Cook said that while market share is important, the actions that Apple could take to gain market share quickly would ultimately be bad for Apple. Reuters says that Cook is aware that shareholders are disappointed by the current stock price, and that focus should be on the long term, and revenue and profits following. On new products, Cook said that Apple is exploring “new categories,” but did not elaborate on what those might be.

Source: CNBC, Bloomberg, Reuters, Reuters

Best iPhone app to help budget your money

Best iPhone app to help budget your money

There are lots of apps out there to help you take control of your financial life and budgeting apps for iPhone are no exception. While expense and bill tracking apps can give you your financial position at a glance, they don’t do much to help you save money or deter you from spending money you can’t afford to. That’s where budgeting apps come in handy.

Mint.com not only shows you brief summaries of all your accounts and cash flows but lets you set up budgets for yourself complete with alerts and custom categories. If you need a little help staying on track, Mint.com can provide it.

Mint.com allows you to add bank accounts and credit card accounts which will begin filtering in transactions related to your balances and transactions. This will filter into the cash flow section and show you how much you’ve spent compared to what you’ve earned.

The main feature of Mint.com that really sets is apart from standard expense tracking apps is the ability to budget your money where needed. Under the budgets section you can set a master budget for the month as well as break it down by category. You can set budgets for anything you’d like so if you want a gas and transportation budget that’s separate from an eating out budget, you can easily do so. You’ll see a nicely laid out menu that shows each budget and a horizontal graph representation of how much you have left. The bar is green as long as you’re still within that budget for the month. If you exceed the budget, the bar will turn red, therefore drawing attention to itself easily.

Mint.com will set up some generic budget accounts for you but you can add, edit, or delete them as wanted along with creating your own custom budget categories. You can also add transactions directly from the budget screen, or any screen in the app for that matter. Just tap the create new icon in the lower right hand corner of Mint.com and you can add a transaction manually. This is nice for times when you pay with cash instead of your bank card or credit cards. Since those are automatically pulled in if you have them linked, there’s no need to manually add them.

A lot of budget apps that are available in the App Store require you to manually enter information which can be clunky and time consuming. Since Mint.com pulls from all major credit card and bank providers, there’s almost nothing left to do except to create budgets and add the occasional cash transaction. You can easily see your budgets at a glance and Mint.com will notify you if you exceed a budget for the month so you can try and stay on track or cut expenses elsewhere. You can also log in to your Mint.com account on the web for even more useful tools and data comparisons.

If saving money and having tighter control of your finances is a goal, Mint.com can definitely help you get there.

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Sony’s PlayStation 4 Games Will Be Available To Download

Sony’s president of Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, has been confirming a lot of details about the new PlayStation 4. Details like the fact that existing PSN games can’t be transferred to the PS4, PS3 controllers won’t be compatible with the new console, and that the machine will function offline. Now we learn more.

ps4 details

Sony Xperia Tablet Z To Launch Globally In Quarter 2

Yesterday we heard that the new Sony Xperia Tablet Z would launch in the UK in quarter 2, and now Sony has announced that their new Android tablet will launch globally in quarter 2.

Sony have yet to give a specific date in quarter 2 for the launch of the Xperia Tablet Z, so we guess it will be available some time from April onwards, they also announced that they have started rolling out the Xperia Z smartphone worldwide.

Sony Xperia Tablet Z