Oakley Release MP3 sunglasses

Oakley Thump MP3 sunglassesOakley sunglasses wearers may soon be able to see music as digital music eyewear is launched. Back in July rumours were circulating that Oakley would produce the new glasses but it wasn’t until September that details emerged online. 

The Oakley Thump is the world’s first digital music eyewear. The wireless device has optics forged with an integrated, state-of-the-art digital audio engine. The new addition in technology means that people are able to listen to music virtually anywhere. A High Speed USB connection allows music to be transferred quickly and easily. The integrated speakers sit by the ears of the person wearing the glasses and they can be adjusted in three directions to balance music with outside noise.

The company are selling glasses in seven colours with polarized tinted lenses. The new digital music eyewear delivers over 60 tracks or about 4 hours of music directly without cables or wires and looks set to be a popular trend. The official specs: USB 2.0, 128MB/256MB of storage. The glasses are lighter than an empty CD case and weigh only 50 grams.

The glasses vary in price with the 128 MB model costing  $395 (£276, €324) and the 256 MB range with polarized lenses cost $495  (£276, €406).

Oakley Thump

TouchTunes patent links gaming machines to jukeboxes

This week TouchTunes, a provider of digital-downloading jukeboxes across the United States, announced that the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued another patent (# 6,775,744 ) in its favour.

The new technology patent covers a “Communication device and method between an audiovisual information playback system and an electronic game machine”.  Unable to reach representatives of TouchTunes, we have scanned the patent to try to get an understanding of the patents relevance and have come up with –

  • transferring payment from the video games machine to the jukebox
  • selecting the music on the juke box from the games machine
  • transferring the points won in the video game to be used as credits on the Jukebox
  • transferring information from the games machine, through the jukebox at the premises to the remote server

The company already has a portfolio in excess of 16 patents granted in both the US and Europe. It has continuously filed for intellectual property (IP) protection in areas relegated to their business model and products.

Speaking about the new patent John Perrachon, President & CEO of TouchTunes’ commented; “TouchTunes has been working diligently to develop world-class music-on-demand products and has developed interesting technical innovations it felt needed to be protected. These patents recognize the unique proprietary intellectual software and hardware inventions developed and implemented for its music-on-demand products.”

Developing technology since 1993, the company is a pioneer in digitally downloading music for music-on-demand systems and applications.

Dan McAllister, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for TouchTunes said; “This addition continues to demonstrate our commitment to distribution in the coin-op market.”

TouchTunes has signed agreements with key industry players including Sony, EMI, BMG, Universal, Warner and their music subsidiaries. They have also signed agreements with various independent labels including Jive, Beggars Banquet and Epitaph Records.

US Patent 6,755,744



Games for the Health

When thinking of ways to improve health and fitness many people reconsider their eating habits or spending more time in the gym as opposed to playing computer games.

Healthcare experts are currently teaming up to contemplate games technology across different healthcare fields. Yesterday saw the start of the First Annual Games for Health Conference 2004 in Madison, Wisconsin, which has been studiously blogged by Ian Bogost, an academic game researcher, games designer and educational publisher.

The first ever gathering of game developers, researchers, and healthcare experts are discussing applications of games and how it can aid health and fitness.

The event was developed by the Serious Games Initiative, the Academic Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Co-Lab at the University of Wisconsin System in Madison, and the Federation of American Scientists’ Learning Federation Project.

According to industry experts interactive games and emerging game technologies could improve consumer health education, and professional clinical practice, including disease and injury prevention, service delivery, and professional education and training.

Yesterday James Rosser of the Beth Israel Medical Center, highlighted the need to surround new students with interactive, fun environments to learn, whilst Debra Lieberman of UC Santa Barbara demonstrated how games produce health outcomes. She spoke about enhancing Self-Concepts where a main character in a game could have a condition such a diabetes and asthma to promote a role model, or a signature character.

The conference comes prior to the release of a new software title, Yourself!Fitness, which will hit the PC and Xbox in a couple of weeks. While it is intended as a virtual personal fitness trainer for women, thousands of gamers could stand to benefit. The product combines tailor made, interactive and goal-oriented gaming experiences focused on health and fitness. By tracking the gamers heart rate and effort, the digital trainer Maya is able to alter the course and difficulty of a workout as it progresses to match the gamers personal needs for the day.

The new exercise regime will be far from boring, as unlike a Body Combat session at the local gym, no two workouts will be the same. Each day, Maya builds an individual routine based on the users progress and commitment level. Coaching includes Yoga, Pilates, Cardio Fitness, Strength Training, Flexibility Exercises and Targeted Weight Loss routines. Avoiding the smell of sweat and visions of sticks on treadmills, users are able to workout on an island or in an Alpine Retreat. 

Ian Bogost coverage

XM Radio Launching Music Online

The Washington, D.C.-based satellite radio operator’s new service – XM Radio Online – will launch early next month and will be free from commercials. The latest announcement comes just 24 hours after Internet portal Yahoo!’s cash acquisition of online jukebox provider MusicMatch for $160 million (~€132m, ~£89.5m).

XM is yet another company to compete in the increasingly competitive digital music market place, against the likes of Apple Computer, RealNetworks and Napster.  Earlier this month Microsoft launched MSN Music. EBay and Virgin have also announced plans to open online music stores.
It has been trial and error for XM in the fast paced music world. Last year, the company introduced its XM PC Receiver, which connects to the majority of home computers and tunes in broadcasts from XM’s two satellites and over 100 stations. It was scrapped as it could be used with third-party software to download music from its radio stations onto home computers.

As part of the launch, eligible Dell customers who purchase Dell Inspiron notebooks and Dimension desktop computers will receive a special 30-day trial offer for the new online music service. “We are very excited to be making our commercial-free music line-up available on the Internet through XM Radio Online,” explained Hugh Panero, President & CEO of XM Satellite Radio.

It will be a waiting game for XM Radio as they monitor the success of their one-month trial. XM will normally charge $7.99 (~€6.58, ~£4.47) per month for unlimited listening and offer a discount rate of $3.99 (~€3.28, ~£2.23) to subscribers of its existing radio services.

XM Radio

US FCC: High Speed Internet and television

Yesterday, Michael Powell, U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman said that technology and telecommunications companies are working on ways to develop pipe television shows to consumers’ homes via high-speed Internet lines.

Telephone companies like SBC Communications, are competing against competition from cable television companies that offer their customers a comprehensive package of products, including phone and Internet service.

Stateside it would appear that the majority of major phone companies have an initiative underway to provide broadband-delivered Internet protocol (IP) television. However, at present, it is unclear as to whether there would be any regulatory obligations that would apply to television via the Internet. 

According to Powell, TiVo Inc., famous for its digital television recorders, was joining up with online DVD renter Netflix Inc. to provide films to the home by high-speed Internet, or broadband lines (see our coverage).

This week, in another indication that television via the Internet was gaining momentum, the largest U.S. local telephone company, Verizon Communications, appointed Terry Denson, formerly of Insight Communications to manage entertainment content and marketing.

The company has already begun an ambitious fibre-to-the premises (FTTP -) programme to deliver broadband services over optical fibre directly to homes and businesses. It expects to pass 1 million homes by the end of 2004 and an additional 2 million homes next year.

Qwest Communications International already operates a small IP television service in Arizona, and the other three large local telephone companies are actively planning to compete. As part of their voice and Internet packages the other four carriers already resell satellite television services from DirecTV and EchoStar Communications


Yahoo to Purchase MusicMatch for $160m Cash

Yahoo! will soon be dancing to a new tune as it purchases online jukebox provider Musicmatch, in a cash in hand deal costing US$160 million.

Rather than build their own service, Yahoo has decided to buy an online music provider in an attempt to broaden the Internet’s appeal with the growing number of people who purchase songs from the Internet.

Digital music is becoming increasingly popular. According to Jupiter Research, sales from online music subscriptions and downloading is expected to rise from an estimated US$271 million in 2004 to US$1.7 billion in 2009.

Sunnyvale-based Yahoo! expects its music audience to climb from about 12.9 million people to 23.9 million after the acquisition is completed by the end of the year.

The all-cash acquisition, announced on Tuesday, gives Yahoo! the chance to compete in the increasingly competitive digital music market place, against the likes of Apple Computer, RealNetworks and Napster. Microsoft launched its own online music store, MSN Music, earlier this month. EBay and Virgin have also announced plans to open online music stores.

San Diego-based Musicmatch will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Yahoo! upon completion of the acquisition. They will provide the Yahoo! with two new features: an online music store selling individual songs for 99 cents each and a software program that helps manage digital music on computer desktops.

The purchase will give Yahoo! a strong position in the digital music business, in both ad-supported media, such as radio and music videos, and on-demand distribution, with subscriptions and downloads.

“This acquisition is one of several product innovations and new initiatives in which Yahoo! will invest to build our music portfolio this year and in the future,” said Terry Semel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Yahoo! Inc

The decision is welcome by its investors. In Tuesday’s trading shares in Yahoo! increased from $1.33 to US$33.20 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.


The Real End

RealNetworks has ended its three-week “Freedom of Choice” online music promotion. According to the Seattle-based company over 3 million songs were purchased during the sale.

The company, which provides software and services for sending and receiving audio and visual content over the Internet, will maintain the promotional prices of 49c for the top 10 songs. The promotional price saw tunes being sold at half the price on Apple Computer’s leading iTunes Music Store. At present ITunes sells around 4 million songs weekly and over 16 million songs monthly. Rolling Stone magazine will help compile the top 10 list of songs along with the most popular songs played weekly on the Rhapsody subscription service and the top downloads at the RealPlayer® Music Stop.

According to Rob Glaser, CEO and founder of RealNetworks; “We are the only place consumers can buy music and enjoy it on any popular portable device, we offer the best price on the Top Ten, and we provide the most compelling subscription music service, Rhapsody.”

The remainder of the catalogue will revert to the company’s standard price of 99 cents a song and $9.99 for an album.

Real claim that their market share doubled over the period, from 10% to 20%. Apple responded by saying that this was unlikely as iTunes Music Store had sold more tracks than usual over the same period.

The main challenge for RealNetworks is keeping customers as the prices revert back to their former price. Apart from Apple, other competitors  for RealNetworks include Napster, MusicMatch, Wal-Mart  and Microsoft. RealNetworks shares fell 4 per cent this week in Thursday trading. Meanwhile Apple Computer shares fell 2 per cent to just under $35.64.

Google Goes For US$2.7 billion (€2.26 billion) IPO

It’s been rumoured for a long time, but Google are finally heading for an IPO – so that means everyone finally get a chance to look at their finances.

Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston will act as joint book-running managers for the proposed offering.

Google generated US$961.9 million (€804.4 million) in revenue in 2003, reporting a net profit of US$106.5 million (€89 million) – and the company has been profitable since 2001. Google has already reported sales of US$389.6 million (€325.8 million) in the first quarter of this year – up 118% on this time last year.

This only goes to show that there definitely is money in search-based advertising.

Google said in the letter announcing the filing: “It is important to us to have a fair process for our IPO that is inclusive of both small and large investors. It is also crucial that we achieve a good outcome for Google and its current shareholders,” the co-founders wrote. “Our goal is to have a share price that reflects a fair market valuation of Google and that moves rationally based on changes in our business and the stock market.”

Google are currently trialling their comparison shopping service, Froogle which will bring them further into competition with Yahoo! who recently acquired Kelkoo in Europe to expand into the growing arena of comparing prices across internet shops.

Google reports the IPO

About Us

Convergence has been discussed for decades. Finally it looks like becoming a reality as companies large and small put considerable effort into developing equipment for Digital Lifestyles. There are many different approaches to hardware and network distribution — the route forward is far from clear. The impact goes well beyond the box in the lounge; it will affect production, funding and broadcast.We cover the leading thinkers and practitioners to discuss the current position, possible future outcomes and their impact on the consumer, the music business and the TV industry.