With our sights always set on your business objectives, at Omni Media Group we employ design, online marketing and technology to produce positive results. We'll do more than build a website or online marketing program. We create a web presence for you that will communicate directly with your audience in a way that will engage their attention at a price you can afford.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

JIBO: The World's First Family Robot

Jibo is stout with a big round glassy face and turns to greet you when you walk in the door. When I met this little device, it was sitting on a table inside a hotel room in midtown, looking like a sleekly designed minimalist version of R2-D2. For the price of a tablet, Jibo will be your personal secretary. 

Once linked to your various email and phone accounts, Jibo can relay texts and phone calls to you. Today the Jibo team is accepting pre-preorders and launching a round of crowdsourced funding so it can bring Jibo to market in 2015. Sure there are a variety of apps that will alert you with a ping, but Jibo will actually talk to you. “Excuse me, Ann,” Jibo says in a demo video. Then he waits for Ann to respond before delivering a reminder that a friend is coming to pick her up 
in half an hour


As you can see in the video, Jibo also provides next-level video chatting. Equipped with touch and audio sensors, Jibo’s face turns to the person who’s talking, making conversation feel like it’s happening in-person. Jibo also takes pictures and has a reading app, so you can upload books to Jibo’s library and he’ll do an interactive reading with cartoon images of characters and events and character-appropriate voices.

Jibo is a Cynthia Breazeal project. Breazeal directs the Personal Robots group at MIT’s Media Lab and developed the emotional robot Kismet. She’s worked on humanoids and other robots, but her real interests lay in robots that can communicate like we do, and she’s brought together a pretty amazing team to bring her vision to life.

Todd Pack, who has brought several robots at iRobot to market, is Jibo’s Chief Robot Architect; Roberto Piericcini, the team’s Director Advanced Conversational Technologies, has worked at IBM T. J. Watson Research Labs; Andy Atkins, VP of Engineering, has worked for both Android and Apple and developed a streaming platform for Netflix; and Chief Cloud Architect Rich Sadowsky hails from Symantec, which suggests that the company is making security of its cloud services a priority. Also Jonathan Ross, who’s designing Jibo’s software, has developed toys and games at Disney and company Zynga.

Breazeal says that Jibo differs from other attempts at personal assistance, like Siri, because it draws from multiple sources of sensory data. “Siri’s input is voice only, so if voice fails how can it help? Jibo is not trying to recognize everything that you say. Jibo’s not positioned to be that kind of entity,” she says.

What Jibo is positioned for is to become a hub for a variety of applications. For now, Jibo is just a vehicle for communication — a beefed up tablet with a voice like Teddie Ruxpin. But its potential is huge. Jibo’s operating system is cloud-based and Breazeal is very interested in getting developers to create applications for Jibo’s linux-based OS. For instance, an application could turn the lights on when Jibo “sees” you walk in the door. It’s not hard to see that Jibo could easily fit into the smart home market, if appliances are made compatible with its network.

Jibo is being dubbed the “World’s First Family Robot” by his creators, but from prior reporting we know there are other emotibots on the market like Softbank’s Pepper, which is also coming to markets in 2015. What Jibo offers is an approachable new device, like a tablet, but with a lot more functionality and (potentially) personality.

The goal of this funding campaign is to reach $100,000. Contributors will be able to get a Jibo for $499. Developers interested in creating new applications for the Jibo Network can snag a Jibo for $599.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

GoPro’s I.P.O. Prices at Top of Range Leading a Wave of Newly Public Companies Updated

Since its founding in 2004, GoPro has become the biggest name in action videos, its tiny cameras attached to hundreds of surfboards, sports bikes and skydiving helmets.

That immense popularity drew investors to its initial public offering, as the camera maker priced at the top of its expected range on Wednesday, as the market for new stock offerings has experienced a resurgence.

At $24 a share, GoPro will be valued at about $3 billion when it begins trading on the Nasdaq stock market under the ticker “GPRO.”

Though the most prominent by far, GoPro is only one of nearly 20 companies looking to make their market debuts this week, a pace unseen since the height of the dot-com boom in 2000. New issuers and investors have flocked back to I.P.O.s after a halt in the spring, when concerns about overvalued technology and health care start-ups gyrated the stock markets.

Now, investors are again tempted by the growth potential of new stock sales. GoPro’s offering, for example, was 18 times oversubscribed, according to a person briefed on the matter.

“Investors figure that they’re going to make money,” said Kathleen Smith, a principal at Renaissance Capital, a research and investment advisory firm.

An exchange-traded fund maintained by Renaissance to track new I.P.O.s is up 6.7 percent over the past month, more than double the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.

But since the market hiccups of the spring, investors have begun pushing back on pricing, according to Ms. Smith, with many stock sales now pricing below the midpoint of their expected price ranges. That suggests that buyers have become more disciplined in what they are willing to pay.

Still, companies like GoPro that make money remain in favor. The camera maker is certainly profitable — and growing. Sales nearly doubled last year, to $985.7 million, while net income almost doubled, to $60.6 million.

“Investors are looking at GoPro’s price as a multiple of earnings,” Ms. Smith said. “It’s nice that there are earnings.”

Created by the entrepreneur Nicholas Woodman after he wanted a camera that could record his surfing exploits, GoPro is one of only a handful of technology companies to price an I.P.O. after the spring hiatus. But the decade-old start-up hardly resembles high-tech purveyors like Zendesk, a customer-support provider.

GoPro’s main offering is its line of Hero cameras, rugged and waterproof in a way that traditional and smartphone cameras are not. So attractive are those devices that the company claims to have been the biggest seller of camcorders in the country last year, commanding 45 percent of all dollars spent in the category.

But the start-up has aspirations to become more than a photography specialist. It has pushed into media, promoting content on YouTube, Microsoft’s XBox game consoles and other channels. And it sponsors top athletes like the surfer Kelly Slater and the snowboarder Shaun White — who naturally record their exploits on GoPro cameras.

“We believe that the growing adoption of our capture devices and the engaging content they enable, position GoPro to become an exciting new media company,” the start-up wrote in its prospectus.

That transformation could help the company avoid the fate of other camera makers like Flip Video, which shut down two years after being acquired by Cisco.

Earning money from those media arrangements will take time, however. GoPro said in its prospectus that it did not expect material revenue from the new ventures this year.

The past success of GoPro has already made Mr. Woodman a billionaire. He raised about $86.4 million through the I.P.O., and his remaining holdings are now worth more than $1.2 billion. And he will retain control of the company, owning about 47.7 percent of the voting rights.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What is Reponsive Web Design…?

Almost every new client these days wants a mobile version of their website. It’s practically essential after all: one design for the BlackBerry, another for the iPhone, the iPad, netbook, Kindle — and all screen resolutions must be compatible, too. In the next five years, we’ll likely need to design for a number of additional inventions. When will the madness stop? It won’t, of course. In the field of Web design and development, we’re quickly getting to the point of being unable to keep up with the endless new resolutions and devices. For many websites, creating a website version for each resolution and new device would be impossible, or at least impractical. Should we just suffer the consequences of losing visitors from one device, for the benefit of gaining visitors from another? Or is there another option?  

Responsive Web design is the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. The practice consists of a mix of flexible grids and layouts, images and an intelligent use of CSS media queries. As the user switches from their laptop to iPad, the website should automatically switch to accommodate for resolution, image size and scripting abilities. In other words, the website should have the technology to automatically respond to the user’s preferences. This would eliminate the need for a different design and development phase for each new gadget on the market.

“Recently, an emergent discipline called “responsive architecture” has begun asking how physical spaces can respond to the presence of people passing through them. Through a combination of embedded robotics and tensile materials, architects are experimenting with art installations and wall structures that bend, flex, and expand as crowds approach them. Motion sensors can be paired with climate control systems to adjust a room’s temperature and ambient lighting as it fills with people. Companies have already produced “smart glass technology” that can automatically become opaque when a room’s occupants reach a certain density threshold, giving them an additional layer of privacy.”
Transplant this discipline onto Web design, and we have a similar yet whole new idea. Why should we create a custom Web design for each group of users; after all, architects don’t design a building for each group size and type that passes through it? Like responsive architecture, Web design should automatically adjust. It shouldn’t require countless custom-made solutions for each new category of users.
Obviously, we can’t use motion sensors and robotics to accomplish this the way a building would. Responsive Web design requires a more abstract way of thinking. However, some ideas are already being practiced: fluid layouts, media queries and scripts that can reformat Web pages and mark-up effortlessly (or automatically).
Saying that, responsive Web design is not only about adjustable screen resolutions and automatically resizable images, but rather about a whole new way of thinking about design.