Posts tagged race

In Arm Race With Apple, Pebble Opens Up A Smart New Front

The Pebble Time, the smartwatch startup’s third-generation device, has raised $12 million in preorders on Kickstarter since its debut last week. Get ready to watch that number tick up higher.

On Tuesday at Mobile World Congress, Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky announced a new version of Pebble Time, the Pebble Time Steel. Like the previous Pebble Steel, the Time Steel is a higher-end version of the smartwatch, and it’s available for preorder for $250. 

See also: Meet The New Pebble Time—Though Getting One Will Take … Time

The 40,000 people who preordered the Pebble Time for $159 or $179 can upgrade and keep their May delivery date. Migicovsky teased that the audience at Wearable World Congress, where Migicovsky will sit with me for an on-stage conversation on May 19, will likely be wearing Pebble Times if they got their preorders in.

The Pebble Time will support both old and new apps.

Wrist-To-Wrist With Apple

It’s in Pebble’s best interest to lock in those orders, because the Apple Watch is coming in April. Migicovsky has an answer for that. Pebble already lets developers build apps for its smartwatches. Now it’s going to let others build hardware for Pebbles, too.

What kind of accessory can you put on a smartwatch? Well, Pebble already sells straps. For the Pebble Time and Time Steel, you can now build what Migicovsky calls a “smartstrap.”

The smartstraps attach to the Pebble’s charging port, exchanging both data and power, which Migicovsky says is a first. One kind of smartstrap could be a battery that extends a Pebble’s working life. Another smartstrap type might be a heart-rate sensor that draws power from the Pebble’s battery instead. A GPS sensor could turn a Pebble smartwatch into a fitness tracker that can monitor runs without tethering to a phone—something the Apple Watch won’t be able to do at launch.

See Also: Hear From Pebble’s Eric Migicovsky At Wearable World Congress

“When you start adding sensors, it makes the phone bigger,” Migicovsky told me. “You don’t need that GPS all day, you only need it for particular situations.”

Migicovsky argues that it will be far easier to create a smartstrap than a standalone device or an all-in-one smartwatch with more built-in features: “The sensor doesn’t need a battery, doesn’t need a charger, doesn’t need a microcontroller.”

Smartstraps will be easy to hack on, he promises.

“We’ll have a few things you have to sign,” Migicovsky said. “If you’re a hacker and want to create hardware that works with it, go for it. I bet someone’s going to make an Arduino smart strap.”

Smartstraps could turn Pebble Time smartwatches into GPS sportwatches, fitness trackers, or anything else hardware manufacturers can dream up.

A Wired-In Platform

In the past, Migicovsky has talked about Pebble’s smartwatches acting as a hub for other connected devices, bypassing smartphones. But that vision relied on the very newest Bluetooth technology, which isn’t seeing widespread adoption in the marketplace yet.

Migicovsky said Pebble “hasn’t set a date yet” for Bluetooth connectivity, but “it’s on the roadmap.” For now, smartstraps are the way to build on Pebble hardware.

Pebble is also taking care of the 26,000 developers it has signed up to build apps for its watches. The Pebble Time will run older apps, for those who don’t care to update for the Time’s new color screen. And in June or July, Pebble plans to release a software update for its older watches that will let them run the same software as the Time. 

“We can’t say we’ll support the old hardware forever,” said Migicovsky. But the company is trying very hard to treat developers well. “That’s all that really matters: developers and users,” he said.

It will be interesting to see how many preorders Pebble draws for the Pebble Time Steel. It’s now $1.3 million short of the current record for a Kickstarter campaign. And it will also be crucial to see how swiftly developers and hardware makers create new apps and smartstraps.

If Pebble succeeds in competing with Apple, it won’t be by building something sleeker or more powerful. It will win by being more open.

Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky is speaking at Wearable World Congress on May 19. Order your tickets now and get $100 off the early-bird price by using the code READWRITE

Product and promo images courtesy of Pebble; all other photos by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite

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Getting Fit Is A Race Against Time

ReadWriteBody is an ongoing series where ReadWrite covers networked fitness and the quantified self. This week, it is presented by Fitbit.

Take more steps! Work out more! Get more sleep!

That’s the cascade of haranguing advice you get when you start tackling your health. There are plenty of trackers and apps that will measure your activity and give you reports. None of them seem to acknowledge the hard limits of the clock.

So how do you move the needle on fitness while acknowledging all of your obligations at work and home? I’ve tried a lot of different tactics, from using a treadmill desk to tracking steps. My conclusion: The changes that last are the ones you fit into your existing schedule. For me, that’s doing phone calls in the morning while walking to work, or upping the intensity of my workouts rather than trying to get into the gym more frequently.

Maybe you can take that phone call while taking a walk.

There is a role for software and hardware here: A step counter, whether it’s a wristband or an app that uses your smartphone’s GPS, can verify that you’ve actually moved more from one day to the next. More advanced wearable devices will actually read your heart rate, which is a better proxy for effort, and there are even more advanced sensors on the way.

I recently got a chance to test the Fitbit Charge, a new fitness tracker out now, and with Fitbit’s help, made a video about my experiences in squeezing more fitness into the average day. Please share your own strategies in the comments.

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The Basis Peak Puts Intel In The Arm Race

In a gritty intersection on Folsom Street, the famous thoroughfare of San Francisco’s SoMa district, the past and future of wearables face off. 

On the south side, there’s Mr. S Leather, which has offered a certain genre of hardware to its clientele for decades. Across the way, in a sun-dappled loft, there’s a new outpost of Intel. Since they became employees of the giant chipmaker in March, the hardware and software engineers of Basis Science have been working on a new fitness-tracking smartwatch. 

If Mr. S’s wares make people’s heart race, then Basis wants its gear to be on hand to record every beat. On Tuesday, Intel is announcing the Basis Peak, a device it will start selling in November for $199, in matte-black and brushed-aluminum styles. Amazon, Best Buy, and REI will stock the device.

Intel’s Basis Peak fitness tracker and smartwatch.

A Fitness Tracker With Heart

Like Basis’s original B1 band, the Peak will capture users’ heart rate all day. That’s a key differentiator from simple fitness trackers like the Jawbone Up and Fitbit. 

So what’s new? The Peak will—how to put this delicately?—actually do the job right. There are a host of improvements in the Peak, from the charger design to the setup process to the wristbands, but the most important is in its core heart-rate function. 

The problem with the B1’s optical heart-rate technology, Basis CEO Jef Holove acknowledged in a recent interview, is that it got heart rate right for most of the day, but it failed to capture the swings in heart rate that people achieve during vigorous exercise.

If you look at the backside of the B1 and the Peak, you notice a glaring difference: Basis has dramatically boosted the power of the LEDs that light up your skin to read minute variations in your blood vessels that indicate your pulse. That power boost allows the Peak—as the name suggests—to better capture variations in heart rate. (Basis’s sensors also detect perspiration and body temperature.)

At the same time, the Peak still uses all-day heart-rate data to assess your overall health, including factors like sleep quality. (There’s some controversy among scientists over Basis’s claims about sleep tracking via heart rate.)

“We still value 24/7 tracking,” Holove told me. “It turns out you can do both.”

And a little more, too: Basis says a future software update will let the Peak, which has a touchscreen, display notifications from a paired smartphone. That will put it in competition with the likes of the Pebble, smartwatches running Android Wear, and the forthcoming Apple Watch. The Peak’s price and capabilities put it in the middle of the pack—more expensive than a Pebble, cheaper than a Moto 360 or Apple’s heart-rate-tracking smartwatch.

But health measurement will remain the crucial differentiator for the Basis Peak. Its jacked-up heart-rate capabilities will make it more appealing to runners and cyclists, who are more likely to spend $199 on a piece of gear that tracks their heart rate.

The challenge for Basis and Intel will be to market the Peak to the rest of us.

“Our job is to make heart rate relevant to people who don’t have a clue about heart rate,” said Holove. “People who are intrinsically motivated, the thing they love about devices like us is how much data we give them. It’s like sports tuning. But the vast, vast majority aren’t that. They’re extrinsically motivated.”

What that means is that most people need some kind of push to pursue healthy habits. Basis’s companion mobile apps for iOS and Android will provide that, giving users a sense of “virtual progress,” Holove said, until they can see visible improvements in their health from pursuing new habits like exercise.

From the brief look I got at the Peak, Basis under Intel has made more than just virtual progress. The device is a substantial improvement over the B1, which I found deficient in both performance and design. But it’s entering a far more crowded market. If the Peak on Holove’s wrist is measuring an increase in his heart rate today, he’s got good reason.

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SEO Agency Supports Local Charity in Dragon Boat Race – Econsultancy (press release) (blog)

SEO Agency Supports Local Charity in Dragon Boat Race
Econsultancy (press release) (blog)
SEO agency Hallam Internet supported Loughborough based charity Rainbows Childrens' Hospice this weekend by participating in a Dragon Boat Race at Nottingham's Riverside Festival. The event, organised in support of the Loughborough charity, saw 50 …

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7 Ways Content Marketing is Like a Relay Race

Just as you wouldn’t typically up and run any type of race without some training, the same preparation is required to execute effective content marketing. Here are seven content marketing takeaways learned from running a relay race.

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The Race For A Better Bitcoin Is On—But It May Still Miss The Point

The race to build a better Bitcoin is well underway, as libertarian entrepreneurs vie to create new cryptocurrencies with greater anonymity protection that would make transactions even less traceable.

Too bad that won’t do much to address Bitcoin’s real problems.

Bitcoin has had a tumultuous six months, ever since the digital cryptocurrency started blowing up in a speculative frenzy last November. It’s blown off a lot of steam since then, and Bitcoin trading volume dropped substantially since its peak—not the greatest sign for the much heralded currency of the future, even if it has rebounded a bit in the past month.

Bitcoin Barriers

Even though Bitcoin continues to take steps toward mainstream acceptability—Dish Network recently became the largest company to accept bitcoin payments, and Apple has apparently lifted its earlier restrictions on Bitcoin apps—it remains beset with challenges.

Among these would be the incompetence of several Bitcoin focused organizations. Butterfly Labs, which failed to deliver $1 million in missing mining rig orders. Mt. Gox, which infamously “misplaced” users’ money and caused a major financial crisis. And let’s not forget the Bitcoin Foundation itself, which elected a Disney child star with little business credibility as its new director, and faced a wave of resignations

They would also include an exploitable glitch in the software called transaction malleability. A flaw that means that it’s possible to alter the details of a transaction to make it appear as if one occurred when it really did not, the Bitcoin Foundation is working on it, albeit slowly—they’ve known about the issue since 2011 and there’s no resolution yet.

Responsible Bitcoin companies have patched this on a case-by-case basis, but the question is whether they should even have to, or if the Bitcoin Foundation should be working on a universal patch.

For whatever reason, however, members of the better-Bitcoin brigade are much more interested these days in ensuring untraceable digital transactions than in dealing with any of the currency’s other problems. It’s not terribly surprising, given that anonymity issues are largely technological rather than social or managerial. Yet it’s exactly that kind of technological obsession that has made Bitcoin such a crapshoot for ordinary users.

The Dawn Of Darkcoin

Bitcoin is pseudonymous. Darkcoin promises total anonymity. 

According to Wired, there’s been a clear rise in favor toward cryptocurrencies that put a premium on anonymity. Darkcoin, for example, has jumped in value since May, to almost $8.98 from just 75 cents a coin. It now holds the fourth highest market capitalization among cryptocurrencies, after Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Nxt. (Bitcoin, of course, remains the leader by a landslide.)

Darkcoin is unique because it promises more anonymity than other currencies, something the pseudonymous Bitcoin has never promised. According to Evan Duffield, the software developer who launched Darkcoin this January, that’s a sore spot for a lot of people.  

“A large community believes that the way Bitcoin’s blockchain is designed is a problem,” Duffield told Wired. “Darkcoin has this anonymity aspect to it, which is attractive to a lot of people.” 

Darkcoin has the highest profile of the new anonycoins, although several other altcoins have risen to the challenge of creating a totally anonymous currency. Anoncoin and Zerocoin are two others that, using different approaches to the same problem, are attempting total cryptographic anonymity. 

For its part, Darkcoin ensures theoretical anonymity with a feature called Darksend—in which any user’s transaction is combined with the transactions of two other users. Unlike Bitcoin, which records every user’s transactions on a public and widely shared cryptographic “blockchain,” Darkcoin transactions are more shadowy. 

While there are many legitimate reasons to desire an anonymous currency, it’d be naive not to consider the possibility of illicit use. And that’s something Bitcoin users have worked fervently to distance themselves from.

The Quest For A Better Bitcoin

Jerry Brito, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and director of its Technology Policy Program, wrote about the changed Bitcoin environment at a recent conference, where hobbyists had given way to professionals: “Fewer ideologues and more [venture capitalists] roamed the show floor, the hallway talk was more of regulatory compliance and business models than cryptoanarchy.”

Where have all the Bitcoin idealogues gone? At the time of this writing, they’ve got more than 300 other cryptocurrencies to put their faith in.

In an uncertain digital world where fears of NSA spying and federal seizures abound, it appears that many are going toward more anonymous currencies, causing the Darkcoin boom. 

A lot of people are embracing anonymity and the problems it would solve. But it’s financial uncertainty, not pseudonymity, that is Bitcoin’s biggest weakness. To build a better Bitcoin, this is not the problem developers should be looking to solve.

Photo by

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Microsoft Is Also Reportedly Piling Into The Smartwatch Race

When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said his company would forget past blunders—like missing the boat on smartphones—and focus on the future, he wasn’t kidding. The Surface maker is planning on entering the rapidly growing smartwatch market with its very own wristworn contender, Forbes reports.

According to sources “with knowledge of the company’s plans,” the device will be festooned with sensors and will incorporate technology and expertise from Microsoft’s Kinect motion-detecting controller, specifically in optical engineering, to continuously track heart rate. The gadget will supposedly feature a color display oriented on the underside of the wrist, presumably for privacy protection, with an overall appearance similar to Samsung’s Gear Fit.

Unlike Samsung’s device, however, Microsoft’s version will work with Androids, iPhones and Windows Phones when it debuts, possibly this summer.

Image collage by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

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Ready, Set, Race! Anticipating the Great Urban Race in Boston – Huffington Post

Ready, Set, Race! Anticipating the Great Urban Race in Boston
Huffington Post
When I turned 21, the first thing I did wasn't buying my first legal drink, putting on my poker face at a casino, or showing off my dance moves at a club. Instead, my older brother and I applied to be on the Amazing Race, a reality TV show in which

and more »

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20(14) Publisher Stories: Total Race revs up their success using Google AdSense

Time sure does fly – we’ve now reached the end of our ‘20(14) publisher stories’ blog series. Thanks for following the series and for sharing your own stories. Read on to meet this week’s featured publisher and check back soon for more publisher stories.

Total Race was created by five friends and racing enthusiasts. Covering Formula 1, stock car racing and IndyCar, the site receives 135,000 monthly visitors  and employs a team of 15 editors and reporters.

Total Race partners, Ivan and Erick, were already familiar with Google AdSense and using it as a monetization solution for their other web projects. The decision to also choose it for was an easy one says Erick and today “AdSense earnings represent around 70% of our total advertising income”.

(Don’t forget to enable english captions using the Captions button under the YouTube video)

The team also partnered with DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) Small Business to manage their advertising and save them time. Erick is pleased with this decision stating “the process from start to finish is very fast and easy to use. I’d highly recommend this tool for publishers seeking more detail and control of their advertising campaigns”.

According to Erick, these products have been fundamental in the growth of the site. With the structure they bring, he’s ready to focus further on taking his passion for racing to an even wider audience.

Watch the Total Race story.

Posted by Barbara Sarti – Inside AdSense Team
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