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FeibusTech: market insight & analysis. Influencer, analyst in IoT, digital health/fitness, wearables, connected car, smart home, privacy/security. Columnist for Tech section of USA TODAY and Fortune.

FeibusTech is brought to you by TechKnowledge Strategies, which has been providing clear, critical and independent insight to technology buyers and suppliers for more than a decade.  TechKnowledge offers a mix of business acumen with a discerning grasp of technology and a savvy honed by years of hands-on experience. If you have questions, TechKnowledge has answers.

FeibusTech Blog

Voice Assist for Business is Good Business

Mike Feibus

The tussle for supremacy between Amazon and Google to create the most useful voice assistant is getting louder. But while this battle is largely taking place in home speakers and phones, another player – IBM — is carving out territory in the ear. 

At Mobile World Congress earlier this month, Big Blue showed that it is getting down to business with voice, previewing applications that help a wide swath of professionals, from family doctors to firefighters, work smarter by using voice to tap into the Watson cognitive engine.

And together with partner Bragi, the German hearables pioneer, IBM offered a glimpse into what else might be possible with Watson actually sitting right inside your ear.

Want to learn more? Read my entire column in the Tech section of USA Today HERE.

Qualcomm and 11ax: Cure for the Internet Rush Hour?

Mike Feibus

Qualcomm and 11ax: Game-Changing Breakthrough for Dense Networks

Wi-Fi network demand has changed. But Wi-Fi technology has been slow to respond.

Until now.

Wireless industry pioneer Qualcomm today announced chipsets built around 802.11ax, a completely new approach to the evolution of Wi-Fi. Read my post to learn more.

Read More

CBS Overnight America: Augmented Reality, Energy Harvesting, Alexa/Voice UI, the Tech Bubble and More

Mike Feibus

CBS Overnight America's Jon Grayson and I discuss what CES told us about what to expect in the year ahead. We talked about ODG, Vuforia and the overall augmented reality scene. We explored energy harvesting and what that portends for wearables and the Internet of Things. We chatted about Amazon's Alexa, Google's plans and what other Voice UI developments we have to look forward to. And we reviewed the latest developments in the widely-anticipated Snap IPO. Listen here - or find all my CBS Overnight America spots HERE.

Wearables Makers Want You to Want Them in 2017

Mike Feibus

by Julie McClure

LAS VEGAS --Most everyone who wants a smartwatch or fitness tracker already has one. That's not good news for wearables makers, because their appeal doesn't reach far beyond early tech adopters, professional athletes and fitness freaks.

As wearables companies converge on Las Vegas for CES 2017, they face a difficult task: how to make their products attractive to normal people. 

Wearables makers are nowstarting to make some headway in the corporate wellness segment. To succeed there – as well as to spark further growth in the consumer market – they will need to make their hardware more reliable and introduce more compelling metrics than counting steps or even basic heart rate. And most important, they will need to focus more on patient/consumer engagement.

In his latest USA Today column, Mike Feibus digs deep into the three things wearables makers need to improve. Read his entire column HERE.


Hearables: Wearables Never Sounded Better

Mike Feibus

As the wearables market begins to slow, many manufacturers are looking beyond the wrist. They are training their eyes on your ears, which they see as the site for the next big growth area in this $10 billion market.

These new products, dubbed “hearables,” add sensors and smarts to wireless headphones and earbuds. That means they can do much of what their wrist-worn brethren can, like monitor heartrate and count steps. And because of their northern exposure, they have some distinct advantages as well.

FeibusTech forecasts that hearables shipments will overtake smartwatches and wrist-worn fitness trackers by 2020. For more on that, see my LinkedIn column HERE.

Also: I've been evaluating three smart headsets. Read all about them in my latest column in the Tech section of USA TODAY.

Netgear’s Orbi Helps Ring in New Era of Home Wi-Fi Simplicity

Mike Feibus

In my recent USA TODAY column, I talked about the coming sea-change in home Wi-Fi. Consumers, I said, want to buy routers that just work. They want connectivity anywhere they go in their home. They want the network to be efficient, self-managed and secure. And they want the hardware to be brain-dead easy to set up.

Now, finally, new routers are coming available to meet this demand. And all but one are from startups or relative newcomers to the home router market. The exception: Orbi, from Netgear.

Why is Netgear heading into this new segment? And how serious is the market leader about pursuing it? Thus far, other established suppliers seem content to stand pat, offering only traditional router lineups that cater more to hard-core gamers and technophiles than to everyday consumers.

Recently, I had a chance to chat with Patrick Lo, Netgear Chairman and CEO, and David Henry, Senior Vice President for Home Networking Products, about the state of the router market, as well as their new Orbi product line. I came away convinced that they have a sense for just how big this new product direction could become. But Lo cautioned against being too optimistic before consumers have had a chance to get familiar.

“This is a completely new market,” Lo told me. “So we really don’t know yet how customers are going to react.”

Lo and Henry said they believed that the Orbi system offers advantages over the existing competitors in this new space. For example, the system costs $399 rather than $499, which is what the higher-priced pioneers cost. As well, they said Orbi is the only system available today that dedicates a separate radio for network management operations, which results in better coverage and higher data rates.

Though early systems are selling well, Lo pointed out that early offerings in this nascent category are still pretty expensive. He said to watch for Netgear to fill out the price points for the Orbi line, though he wouldn’t disclose when that would happen.

Lo did say he believes that, once Orbi is available at mainstream price points, the new segment could “blossom into a pretty sizable category.”

I couldn’t agree more.

The Sea Change in Home Networking

Mike Feibus

The home router market is entering a period of dramatic upheaval. FeibusTech believes it is a
market that is ripe for disruption, for one simple reason: there is a large and widening gap
between what most available products offer and what consumers need to keep their networks
seamlessly delivering the content and the experiences they want.

For router suppliers, they have two choices: disrupt or be disrupted.

Find out more. Read our just-published research brief on the topic HERE.

And don't miss my column on the topic in the Tech section of USA TODAY.

Managing Stress with Nervana: Worked for Me!

Mike Feibus

What does Nervana do for you? It seems like there’s a wide variety of answers to that question.

From what I’ve been reading, it sounds like my experiences are similar to a lot of new Nervana users. One difference, though: I was able to document the changes I thought I was feeling.

A few weeks before I received my Nervana, I got a wearable called Spire. About the size of the knob on the Nervana generator, Spire clips in along the belt line of your pants. It monitors your breathing, and senses whether you’re stressed, calm, focused or (d) none of the above. It’s supposed to help you be more mindful of your stress.

The weeks leading up to Nervana, Spire was telling me that about 80 percent of the time it characterized was tense, and that I was calm for most or all of the rest.

Nothing changed during the first few days after I got my Nervana, which isn’t surprising. Like many, it took me a couple of days to dial it in, choose the right size earbuds and spray the right amount of saline for a good connection. I found that I tolerated the stimulation well, and switched to formula mode after only a couple of days.

What I did notice was that, over time, I had a better handle on my stress. It’s not magic. I still get stressed. But it’s for much shorter periods. And it’s markedly easier to control. 

Spire seems to agree. About five days after I got Nervana, it started to report noticeably more calm – at the expense of tension. And about a week later, Spire reported that my calm kicked into another gear. That trend continued for another week.

And then, all of a sudden Spire began reporting a marked jump in focus, a trend that gained steam for a few weeks. At first, focus was coming at the expense of tension, while calm more or less held steady. But eventually, focus began eating away at the percent of calm as well.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve been working really hard these past few months, and it’s much better to be tackling tasks with focus than with tension. I am getting a lot done, and having a much more pleasant time of it.

Biomedicine: shocking alternative to drugs

Mike Feibus

by Julie McClure

Can researchers shock us out of our drug habit? It's an intriguing question that has been drawing more investment lately. Google and GlaxoSmithKline is one of the growing number of ventures cropping up in the exciting new frontier of biolectronic medicine. Mike Feibus recently wrote about it in his latest column in USA TODAY.

Much of the biolectronics efforts focus on vagus nerve stimulation, or VNS. It has been used for decades to treat seizures and depression. Researchers are looking at VNS to help people recover from injury and illness as well as prevent a growing list of mental and physiological maladies.

We've also just released a new FeibusTech research brief on the bioelectronics in association with Nervana, a startup that makes a wellness VNS device that uses electrical signals to stimulate the vagus nerve where it passes by the ear canal. Download Vagus Nerve Stimulation: The Secret to Nervana HERE. 

Time to Inject Style into Corporate Laptops

Mike Feibus

We know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, as the old adage goes. But we do it anyway.

It’s why we tend to replace the things others can see and associate with us – like cars and smartphones – while they’re still serving their purpose. And it’s why we wait for things like water heaters and air conditioners to die before we buy new ones.

Corporate IT organizations historically bought laptops as if they belong tucked away in the utility closet, opting for dull, nondescript machines rather than those with any hint of fun or fashion. But they can no longer afford to do that.

The computer your employees carry increasingly factors into others’ impression of them – and of the organization. As well, study after study shows the latest devices play a big role in attracting and keeping employees.

Read my full Fortune Insiders column HERE.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation: The Secret to Nervana

Mike Feibus

Vagus nerve stimulation, or VNS, has been used for decades to treat seizures and depression. Today, researchers in the exciting field of bioelectronic medicine are looking at VNS to help people recover from injury and illness as well as prevent a growing list of mental and physiological maladies.

We produced a new research brief on this promising technology in association with Nervana, a startup that makes a wellness VNS device that uses electrical signals to stimulate the vagus nerve where it passes by the ear canal.

Download Vagus Nerve Stimulation: The Secret to Nervana HERE. 

CBS Overnight America: 'Snake Oil' Takes to the Radio

Mike Feibus

I sat down with CBS Overnight America's Jon Grayson to discuss simmering tensions between healthcare and tech, Google's smartphone aspirations AirBNB's skyrocketing valuation and Amazon's ongoing efforts to help you buy stuff - from them. Enjoy!

It's Not Snake Oil - It's Science!

Mike Feibus

If there was a wearable that could alert you and your doctor if you were in danger of having a heart attack, would you want it?

I sure would. But apparently, not everyone feels the same way.

Take Dr. James Madara, CEO of the American Medical Association, for example. Last weekend, he took time to rant about how technology is overrunning healthcare in his speech at the AMA annual meeting in Chicago.

“From ineffective electronic health records (EHR), to an explosion of direct-to-consumer digital health products, to apps of mixed quality,” Madara said, according to his prepared remarks. “This is the digital snake oil of the early 21st century.”

Did he really just say that?

Read what I have to say about that in my column in USA TODAY Tech HERE.