Vivofit 2_CNET photo

Weekly tech news roundup for January 9

Garmin’s new Vivofit 2 could be the best-looking fitness tracker yet
At the Consumer Electronics Show Garmin introduced the Vivofit 2. It’s pretty much exactly like the previous model, but it does now have an option for an audible “move” alerts and a stopwatch function. But what’s really making news is the bands they’re offering – some are watch-like and they’ve also added some patterned bands too (designed by Jonathan Adler, if you know of his work). The new Vivofit will sell for $130 and band prices will vary, but reportedly they’ll start at about $50.

Swarovski-Shine-Thumb-2But Shine is also competing for the best-looking wearable prize
Not wanting to be left out of the game is Misfit. They unveiled a new crystal Shine at CES. Thanks to a partnership with Swarovski, they’ve created some very sparkly and very not-fitness-tracker looking pieces. In addition to bracelets, they’re introducing some necklaces too. The classic crystal face Shine will set you back $169 and the solar-powered violet one will cost you $249.

Nest adds 15 new “works with Nest” partners
If you own a Nest theromostat, your home could now be even smarter. Nest announced this week that it has 15 new partnerships for its “Works with Nest” program. For example, if you buy an August Smart Lock and lock all your doors, Nest will automatically switch to “away” to save you some money. Also working with Nest right now are: Phillips Hue bulbs, LG’s networked appliances, the Lutron and Insteon third-party apps, Unikey/Kevo smart lock, Automatic driving assistant, Ooma Telo and Withings Aura sleep system. Coming before July are: Beep Dial, Big Ass Fans (who released a new fan called the Haiku at CES), Chargepoint home EV charging stations, Whirlpool appliances, and Zuli smart.

Sharp introduces an 8K TV
If 4K wasn’t enough, Sharp announced it’ll be rolling out a virtual Ultra HD 8K television in 2015. Technically it’s not exactly 8K—each pixel has an extra subpixel (so four subpixels rather than the usual three) which that adds up to 42 million more pixels than a typical 4K set. Sharp has come up with a way to use the pixels and extra subpixels to display what is effectively 8K resolution (only without actually multiplying the number of pixels in a 4K TV by four times). There isn’t any pricing information yet, but you can bet it’s not going to be cheap. Of course, no matter what the price, the question for me is whether people can even appreciate that kind of resolution given the limitations of the eye. And, let’s not forget that there isn’t much, if any, 8K content out there.

Keurig Cold—coming this fall
The gauntlet has been thrown in the war for make-at-home fizzy beverages (so look out, SodaStream). Keurig announced an exclusive deal with the Dr. Pepper Snapple group to offer their beverages in their upcoming Keurig Cold machine. Time will tell if owners will be able to make Crush or Canada Dry products at home using their pods….but it sure wouldn’t be surprising. Since Keurig already has an agreement in place with Coca-Cola, they’re got their deck pretty stacked. Only Pepsi is working with SodaStream as far as I can tell.

StandStandLow-tech standing desk winning hearts at CES
As seen on Kickstarter, the rather low-tech StandStand is ready for prime time and getting some buzz from its appearance at CES. With more and more research saying it’s bad to sit at your computer all day, a standing desk could be an answer but they can be expensive. StandStand looks to be an elegant and inexpensive solution – a three-piece wood stand for your laptop so you can turn any desk into a standing one. It folds flat, weighs less than 2 pounds (thus very portable), and is actually surprisingly attractive and stable (and takes less than 22 seconds to assemble [see below]). Check if out if you’re in the market or simply want to give standing all day a try without investing too much money.
 

Samsung promises open smart home platform
Samsung announced that by 2017, ninety percent of what it makes will be Internet-enabled (the rest following by 2020). This is huge news in and of itself, but it gets better—they said their platform will be open, allowing developers and other manufacturers the chance to develop interconnectivity with their products. This move really could make “The Internet of Things” a reality in a way we haven’t seen before as Samsung ships so many electronics every year—Businessweek says 665 million in 2014 alone.

What’s even better than more effective antibiotics? A new way to find them.
With the rise of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” scientists have been searching for new way to treat patients. This week researchers announced they’d found a new soil-based antibiotic that could be the breakthrough scientists and doctors have been hoping for. It’s called teixobactin and it was discovered amongst 10,000 soil bacteria. This is amazing news, but what’s almost more notable is the tool and technique the researchers invented to find and grow these kinds of bacteria which are difficult or impossible to grow in the lab (and do so en masse!).

A VERY simplified explanation is as follows: the researchers used a small plate-like device that had hundreds of small chambers/indentations on it. They dropped a cell from a different soil bacteria in each chamber and put the plate back in the dirt so the bacteria could grow naturally in its usual environment. Once a colony of bacteria grew in each chamber, the researchers dropped the entire plate upside down (essentially) into a petri dish containing staph. The researchers looked to see which chambers/bacteria on the plate killed the staph–because that meant the bacteria was releasing some kind of potential antibiotic. Maybe it’s just me, but I think this is super cool. The Wall Street Journal has more detail if you’re a nerd like me :-).

Nike: Back to the Future II self-tightening laces coming in 2015
At a Long Beach, Calif. Conference on Monday, a Nike designer named Tinker Hatfield admitted they are making Marty McFly’s powerlace Nikes from the movie. He said they’d be here sometime in 2015, but Hatfield also said that they’d come in 2014 so we’ll see if he makes his new deadline.

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Unroll.me—unsubscribe from emails with one click
This service popped up on my Facebook feed multiple times this week—yours too? If you sign up (by putting your email address), it promises to show you a list of all your subscription emails in one place so you can unsubscribe in one place. Unroll.me is free, but I believe that after unsubscribing to a few lists through them you have to tweet or post about it in order to continue (hence my FB feed, probably). Has anyone tried this yet? I’d be curious to know if it really works (and if there are any additional costs for using it). Of course, if you’re in Gmail it’s already pretty easy—all you have to do is click on the “unsubscribe” link that’s the very top of an email. Gmail will then remove you from that mailing list.
 
 

About Missy Kellor

Missy works on the Corporate Communications team and reports stories to TDS employees and customers. This is right up her alley because she’s an extrovert and also a big fan of research (really, she’ll look up just about anything that strikes her interest). Missy is a native of Madison, Wis. with an undergraduate in Anthropology and a master’s degree in Life Sciences Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her interest in the Internet as a mass media shaped her work towards a PhD in Journalism and Mass Communications. She’s also worked as an editorial assistant, copywriter, and production artist. In her off hours, Missy is a crafter, Pinterest addict, reader, wife, and mom of two kids. You can find Missy on G+ and on Twitter.
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