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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

Will Your Doc Ever Prescribe a Fitbit?

Mike Feibus

Validic co-founder and CEO Drew Schiller is in a great position to answer that question, because his company is the go-to liaison between electronic medical records and data flowing from wearables and other connected devices. In this latest FTInsights video interview, Drew shares his thoughts on the state of wearables in health and wellness, and the future for connected devices in the clinical workflow.

How Healthy Are You, Really?

Mike Feibus

Good question! You have a fitness band. So you know how many steps you take each day. But you're not much closer to answering the critical question, how healthy are you, really?

VO2max is a valuable metric for evaluating fitness and health. Unfortunately, it’s been a very difficult metric to gather, requiring extensive lab tests. That's changing now, thanks in no small part to wearables metrics pioneer Firstbeat. The V02max metric is now available on Firstbeat-equipped wearables like the vivosmart 3 from Garmin, the Huawei Band 2 Pro and the Jabra Elite Sport hearables. That, in turn, is empowering wearables vendors to give us some good old-fashioned fitness assessment and advice.

In our latest FT Insight video interview, we speak with Aki Pulkinnen, who heads up Firstbeat’s consumer business, about the importance of VO2max, what it means for this new band of wearables – and for your health.

Can Navy ships be hacked?

Mike Feibus

ShipPortal_Cropped.jpg

Two fatal crashes in Asian waters by US Navy ships in as many months has some people wondering if the vessels' on-board systems were hacked. What are the chances? What would a hack like that entail? Talk radio host Jon Grayson asks the questions. Mike Feibus has the answers. Listen on SoundCloud HERE, or click below.

Galaxy Note: Cure for the Aches and Pains of Packrat-itis

Mike Feibus

What a difference a day makes.

I went into the “Road Warrior Challenge” that Samsung Business  sponsored with a few pre-set expectations. I knew at the outset, for example, that I’d lightened my load with the new Galaxy Book. By swapping out my old tablet, laptop and their respective power supplies – the latter an old-style “brick” – for Samsung’s brand-new 2-in-1 notebook, I shed more than two pounds from my overstuffed, chiropractor-friendly backpack.

I also knew that I’d be pulling out the sleek, stylish Galaxy Book with pride, because I’d used it enough back in AZ to know it’s an attention getter. And that’s even before I would wow folks by unlocking the notebook with the fingerprint scanner on my Galaxy S8+ smartphone (more on that later)!

And I knew that the Galaxy Book had plenty of giddyap from the built-in 7th-generation Core i5 from Intel. I knew I had all the storage I needed. (I don’t just carry the world on my shoulders courtesy my backpack. I’m also a digital packrat. So I added a 256GB SD card to double the on-board 256GB SD storage capacity. Plenty of room – even for me!)

I got hooked on the accompanying pen before I arrived in NYC for the Challenge. A quick click and my notepad is open and ready for me to write. Very convenient!

Finally, I knew that battery life on the Galaxy Book was good, and charging was quick. So I felt confident I could coast through the daylong Road Warrior Challenge without worrying about whether the Galaxy Book would also make it through.

Indeed, after using the Galaxy Book for a couple weeks at home, I didn’t think there was anything left the Road Warrior Challenge could teach me. But I was wrong. Thanks to the Challenge, I found the Galaxy Book liberating in ways I didn’t expect.

For example, Samsung Flow – the app that enables the cool unlocking-the-notebook-with-your-phone trick – has more than that to offer road warriors like me. Once you use Flow to sign into the Galaxy Book, it automatically checks to see if the notebook has a Wi-Fi connection. If it doesn’t, then it offers up the Galaxy S8 as a mobile hotspot.

I didn’t fully appreciate this feature before the Road Warrior Challenge. Because up until yesterday, I was just roving between my home broadband network and public hot spots at my local haunts. So I was never pining for connectivity. Like I was on the Staten Island Ferry. And in Battery Park. And on the High Line. And even at Samsung 837.

If you’ve never used a notebook with built-in cellular connectivity, then I guarantee you don’t appreciate how liberating it is to hit the internet running every time you open your laptop. Because you don’t appreciate what a hassle it is to open your laptop and enable your smartphone’s hotspot before you can start surfing until you no longer have to do that.

It’s a real game-changer. And Flow’s one-click connectivity is near-cellular quality. Like, really near. It will spoil you. Unless, of course, you’ve already had built-in cellular in a laptop.

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Here’s a second, more subtle benefit I’m now hip to, courtesy the Road Warrior Challenge. The power supply is not a brick. It’s a modified USB charger that’s only slightly larger than the one you’re probably using right now to replenish your smartphone. I knew it was going to lighten my load.

But I didn’t know it would fast-charge my Samsung smartphone as well as my Galaxy Book. Which means I can quick-charge both devices, keeping them powered all day, by carrying with me just one USB charger and one cable.

Think about that for a second. That should really enable me to just leave behind my backbreaking pack in the hotel room. Right?

I don’t know. I mean, what if I lost an earbud fitting on the road, and needed a spare? Or if I got something caught in my teeth and needed floss? Or if I tore something and needed duct tape to hold it together?

Yes, I’m serious!

So OK, maybe I’m not ready just yet to ditch my scale-tipping pack. But after the Road Warrior Challenge, at least I’m now able to leave it behind. Sometimes.

That might sound like a baby step. But it's a big step for me. Thanks, Samsung!

Find out more about the Samsung Road Warrior Challenge. Check out #AskMikeF and @SamsungBizUSA on Twitter.

 

 

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Medical-Grade Wearables Coming Soon

Mike Feibus

Many clinicians believe that there are wearables, and then there are clinical devices. And never the twain shall meet.

Until now. Biotricity and CardiacSense are two startups with wearable technology that's now going through the FDA approval process for use in healthcare.

Watch my video to learn more about it. For more, check out my interviews with executives from both Biotricity and CardiacSense. They're both available to view on my YouTube channel.

Mesh Network 2.0: Q&A with Qualcomm's Rahul Patel

Mike Feibus

The new category of whole-home Wi-Fi, or mesh networks, has really shaken up the router market. That’s because it delivers everything consumers want: a network that is easy to set up, effortless to secure and maintain and blankets the home with great coverage to all of the family’s growing collection of devices.

What could be better than that?

Plenty, actually. Qualcomm is now unveiling what I call Mesh Network 2.0, the next generation of whole-home Wi-Fi. The wireless pioneer is improving on existing capabilities and adding new features, including:

  • Integrated voice assist, to give hardware vendors the ability to easily extend intelligent speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Microsoft Cortana,
  • IoT radios, to enable devices on the Wi-Fi network to interact directly with thermostats, security systems and other smart home devices, and
  • Powerline, to help extend wireless networks in homes with walls that block radio waves.

Qualcomm is also making its distributed Self-Organizing Network (SON) technology available for license to internet service providers, so they can add mesh networking to their home gateways.

On the eve of this announcement, I caught up with Rahul Patel, Senior Vice president and General Manager of Qualcomm’s Connectivity business unit. We took a few moments to take stock in how far the industry has come, as well as what lies ahead.

Question: What Qualcomm has done with home Wi-Fi is really commendable, because the market had gotten so out of touch with what consumers needed. Still, it was a risky move to switch gears at a time when the industry was so obsessed with higher peak bandwidth numbers. What gave you the confidence you could be successful?

Answer: Because, as you said, the market had gotten so out of touch. What we’re delivering is so much better suited for what’s happening on home networks today that it was only a matter of time before it became successful.

Still, we are pleasantly surprised, but not shocked, by how fast mesh network systems have come on. And how much consumers were willing to pay to solve their home Wi-Fi problems. It just goes to show you that if you solve real-world problems – rather than just deliver technology – people see the value.

Question: And OEMs are on board now?

Answer: Oh yes, definitely. Sales are growing, new designs continue to be announced. ASPs are rising. And we expect they’re seeing other benefits, too. Support calls and returns are coming down, and that contributes directly to the bottom line.

You know, it’s interesting. The lower support calls has really gotten the attention of the carriers. Many consumers just use the Wi-Fi that’s built into the gateway they get from the cable company or the phone company. Anytime a customer calls them up to solve a Wi-Fi problem, it cuts into their profits.

Question: So that’s why you are offering the carrier-grade SON features for license?

Answer: That’s right. That will really give the carriers a lot of flexibility to offer mesh network bundles – and get to market sooner with their existing hardware designs.

Question: It’s interesting that you’re also announcing integrated voice assist capabilities. Typically, people think of voice assist as something you connect to the network, not something that comes with the network.

Answer: It’s both. The more places in the home you can communicate with your assistant, the more valuable the assistant becomes. So maybe your Echo is in the kitchen. Now, if the router is in the living room, then you can ask Alexa a question there too. And maybe hear the answer through the home theater system.

If you have a mesh node in the bedroom, then it means you can ask Alexa to, say, add shaving cream to the shopping list. Or turn down the thermostat.

Question: That’s another big piece of this announcement, yes?

Answer: Oh yes. Lots of IoT hardware communicates over wireless networks that are completely separate from Wi-Fi. So that’s why we’re adding Bluetooth, 802.15.4 and our own CSRmesh to the home networking platform. That way, you don’t need to worry about buying separate hubs for things like lighting and security. Just connect them right up to the network.

And then you can control them with an app. Or with your voice assistant.

And if you asked your voice assistant to put shaving cream on the shopping list, then it could use the Bluetooth speaker you have in the bedroom to respond.

Question: All of this really does add a whole new layer of interoperability to the home network. When will we start to see Mesh Network 2.0 products, Rahul?

Answer: Watch for them this year!

Mesh Network 2.0: Qualcomm Unveils What's Next in Home W-Fi

Mike Feibus

This week, Qualcomm is unveiling the second-generation platform for whole-home Wi-Fi, or mesh networks. These popular new networks have taken the consumer router market by storm. Hear about how the wireless pioneer is improving the best thing to happen to Wi-Fi since the hotspot. (Produced in association with Qualcomm.)

Whole-Home Network 2.0: The Sea-Change Continues

Mike Feibus

By offering simple setup, hands-off manageability and high-speed connectivity to all the family's devices, no matter where they are in the home, whole-home network systems have quickly become the darlings of the consumer Wi-Fi market.

And these are just the first-generation systems. The industry continues to innovate. Read our latest research brief, Whole-Home Network 2.0: The Sea-Change Continues, to learn about more of what's in store for this hot new segment in the home router market..

What Consumers Look for in a Home Router

Mike Feibus

Nearly six in 10 US router owners have at least one outstanding issue with their network, according to a recent survey. They want a new router that delivers faster speeds to all their devices everywhere in the home.

But the survey also revealed that, despite ongoing problems and performance desires, consumers most commonly wait to upgrade until their current router breaks or doesn't function properly.

Why not? The survey suggests that a deeply dissatisfying shopping experience may be to blame. Nearly two thirds of owners - 64 percent - report challenges with the buying process. For non-owners who intend to buy, the figure is even higher, at 85 percent.

Clearly, then, there is the potential for great reward for router suppliers that deliver the home networking experience consumers desire.

FeibusTech's new eBook, What Consumers Want: Breaking Down the Sea-Change in Wireless Home Networking, reports on the consumer survey and offers valuable insights into how to design, market and sell platforms that resonate with buyers. It is a must-read for OEMs, internet service providers, retailers and anyone else who wants to succeed in wireless home networking.

FT Insights: The Future of Hearables

Mike Feibus

The latest hearables are now available from Bragi, including a fully customizeable version tailored by hearing-aid supplier Starkey for better comfort and sound quality. Plus, they won't fall out. Also: OS upgrade brings new features to the original Dash as well.

    There's lots more! Check out my FT Insights interviews withBragi CEO Nikolaj Hviid and Starkey CMO Chris McCormick on my YouTube Channel.

    First 'Artificial Pancreas' Comes to Market

    Mike Feibus

    Credit: Medtronic

    Credit: Medtronic

    The first so-called artificial pancreas systems – wearable devices that take charge of the crucial process of measuring glucose and delivering insulin –  are now beginning to come to market.

    That’s welcome news for the nation’s 30 million diabetics, who stand not only to get some relief from the seemingly incessant stream of lancets, test strips and syringes, but also to stay healthier. That’s because an artificial pancreas can keep the disease on a tighter leash than they can, by testing more frequently and delivering more precise insulin doses.

    That’s not only important for patients, but could ease strains on the nation's healthcare system.

    Read my entire column in the Tech section of USA Today HERE.

    DeX: Samsung Kicks Off New Product Category at Unpacked

    Mike Feibus

    The Galaxy S8/S8+ and the new Gear 360 VR camera grabbed most of the headlines from Samsung's hour-long Unpacked reveal at Lincoln Center last week. So you may have missed the very last announcement: the unveiling of DeX, a cradle that gives you the ability to use the new smartphones just like a PC.

    DeX pairs the phone with a keyboard, mouse and display. Once the phone is docked, it transforms into a desktop computer, with all the usual apps in windows that you can manipulate with the familiar mouse and keyboard commands we all know and love. And oh by the way, DeX also charges the phone.

    Sounds cool. But should you buy it? Find out.  Watch my latest video HERE:

    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.