Monthly Archives: August 2013

Scoop: Google acquired WIMM Labs to bolster its own smartwatch plans

And the watch wars begin, spawning the accessory to the phone – halo effect?

Gigaom

Watch out, Samsung: Google (s GOOG) has some smartwatch development projects of its own, and it quietly snapped up Los Altos, Calif.-based WIMM Labs last year to kickstart these efforts. WIMM Labs not only gives Google the talent and technology to build a smartwatch, but actually an Android-based app platform tailored for consumers’ wrists.

WIMM Labs was incubated around five years ago by Pillar Ventures, the investment company of former Rambus (S RMBS) President Dave Morring, who subsequently became WIMM’s CEO. The company first developed an Android-based developer platform for wearable displays, and then followed up in late 2011 with its own, developer-centric smartwatch dubbed the WIMM One.

An exclusive, confidential relationship

But about a year ago, WIMM Labs suddenly went dark. The company deleted its Twitter accounts, stopped sales of the WIMM One, and published the following message on its website:

“During the summer of 2012, WIMM…

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Sphero 2.0 Is Twice As Fast, Agile, And Awesome

Next generation of playing with your balls is here. I’ll be at the Apple store end of the month.

TechCrunch

[tc_5min code=”517895849″]

Get ready for the next generation of playing with your balls.

Sphero, the robotic ball out of Orbotix that can be controlled with just a smartphone, has now grown up a bit, with the company launching Sphero 2.0 today.

Sphero 2.0 is twice as fast, rolling at a clip of about seven feet per second, and it’s three times as brightly lit as the first generation ball. According to co-founder Chief Software Architect, Adam Wilson, the second-gen robot isn’t just faster and stronger, it’s actually smarter.

Sphero 2.0 is now equipped with a different user interface, letting you “level up” as you get more and more control over the ball. When you start, you’ll be at a somewhat limited speed. The more you level up by completing challenges (such as driving for a whole minute without hitting anything), the faster your Sphero will roll, and the more…

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YC-Backed Buttercoin Uses Bitcoin To Attack The $500B-A-Year Remittances Economy

TechCrunch

With Bitcoin’s promise of frictionless transactions, particularly across international borders, it’s inevitable that a team would use the math-based currency to attack the global remittances market.

The World Bank estimates that migrants will send about $515 billion to relatives in developing countries by 2015, which is about 10 times the size of the U.S.’s budget for foreign aid.

The old stand-bys like Western Union can charge around 10 percent for transactions in the market, an amount that Buttercoin co-founders Cedric Dahl and Bennett Hoffman find obscene.

But Bitcoin, which is a pure math-based currency that allows for anonymous and irreversible transactions without the need for a third-party facilitator like a bank, promises transactions at a substantially lower cost.

Buttercoin plans to open in India within the next three months and then to operate in six countries in nine months’ time. Their model is to open a local Bitcoin exchange in…

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