May 28, 2015

Sonim’s rugged LTE phones get public-safety trials at Super Bowl, World Ski Championships

Sonim XP7 handset

Sonim XP7 handset

The new XP7 ruggedized LTE smartphone from Sonim Technologies will get some on-the-scene testing by public safety professionals at both the Super Bowl as well as the upcoming World Ski Championships in Vail, Colo., according to Sonim, a San Mateo, Calif.-based maker of ruggedized devices.

Expected to be publicly announced Friday, the news that Sonim’s newest ruggedized LTE handset will be tested by firefighters from the Phoenix Fire Department during their Super Bowl deployments is significant for those concerned with public-safety operations around large public venues, since it offers a new way for industry-standard applications to be shared in a potentially “extreme” environment. With support for both standard wireless-carrier LTE networks as well as the emerging “FirstNet” public safety LTE frequency, the Sonim XP7 also offers one potential path toward the long-desired goal of having communication devices that can allow different first-responder agencies to communicate with each other, or to more simply share information from different devices, applications or networks.

While the Phoenix test deployment of XP7 handsets will use AT&T LTE airwaves, a similar test process scheduled to take place in Vail and Beaver Creek at the Feb. 2-15 FIS World Ski Championships will use a demonstration version of the Band Class 14 LTE public safety broadband network, according to a release from FirstNet Colorado.

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 3.15.18 PMThe Vail demonstration will make use of a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) that was built for the town of Vail by neutral host provider Crown Castle, as well as the Sonim phones, among other devices and services.

While it has the first-glance look of a regular smartphone, the Sonim XP7 has a host of ruggedized features including long battery life, an extra-loud speaker, protection against drops and weather, a touchscreen accessible with gloves, and a screen viewable in bright sunlight. In a recent interview with Sonim CEO Bob Plaschke, MSR got to see and hold Plashcke’s XP7, a bulky device that certainly feels like it could stand up to extreme weather and rough handling. In addition to its obvious target market of first responders and other extreme-condition businesses, the XP7 is also being targeted at extreme athletes and outdoor-lifestyle customers, who should be able to purchase the device from major U.S. wireless carriers later this year.

In Phoenix, the Sonim phone will be compared to consumer-grade smartphones in a test using a custom-built firehouse alert app, according to Sonim. The Phoenix firefighters will also test the XP7′s ability to act as a Wi-Fi hotspot, and will also test its compatibility and interoperability with other mobile devices.

Friday Grab Bag: Super Bowl prop bets, anyone?

Sure you have purchased a square or two in the office pool and made a friendly wager on the outcome of the game, but that is scratching the surface. Did you know you can bet on how long the National Anthem will be or if the singer will wear gloves? Will the game go overtime?

A look at which are good and bad can be found in a number of places but I liked the ones published in SportsOnEarth and one that was in Football Outsiders as they give some context to what you should and should not do.

Is the Super Bowl a boon on the local economy?
Every year we see a number of time-honored myths rolled out about the Super Bowl. Top day for avocado consumption. No. Top day for spousal abuse. No. That it is a financial boon to the host city/area. Maybe no as well.

A piece in the New York Times points out that since past predictions of prosperity by the NFL were destroyed once the methodology was public the same might be true now. The current estimate, between $550 million and $600 was determined in secret, they will not say who did it or how they arrived at that number. However advertisers are flooding the host city so that they can be seen prior to the event so maybe they know something they are just not telling us.

Winter Olympics broadcast schedule
In case you actually can watch the games from the comfort of your sofa or a cozy corner pub here is a complete viewers’ guide to the events, when they will be broadcast. It should be noted by figure skating fans that the first events take place prior to the opening ceremony.

For a breakdown on what will be interesting as well as the challenges that the broadcaster NBC could face look over to Sports Illustrated and a piece by Richard Deitsch. Will the network let possible bad news from the surrounding area taint its broadcasts?

Why no respect for American soccer players?
With the World Cup now looming on the sports horizon ESPNFC did a piece on why it seems that European based leagues do not value American players and why increasingly that feeling is being reciprocated.

The nice thing about the piece is that it does not jump to a conclusion but points out how different development systems, short earning window and other factors all play in the decisions that players make in where they want to play.

Another black eye for Sochi?
The upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia has received a series of bad news with intolerance, corruption and potential terrorism issues rising to the forefront. Now a recent piece from ABC shows that there could be another piece of bad news on the horizon.

They are saying that one of the key figures in helping Russia win the games over Austria and South Korea was a man named Gafur Rakhimov. The trouble with Rakhimov is that he is considered by U.S. authorities to be one of the top four or five people in the heroin trade and is under indictment in Uzbekistan.

NBC continues to ratchet up digital access to Winter Olympics

sochi2

We reported earlier on NBC’s plans to provide online coverage of all 15 sports during the upcoming Winter Olympics that start Feb. 6 but the network has announced additional features that will likely thrill many online viewers.

So on top of the already announced 1,000 hours of coverage that the network will be live streaming also comes a host of digital-only programming that it will also make available to verified cable, satellite and telco customers.

While NBC has live-streamed Olympic events in the past this is a new feature that the network has never tried before. There will be three main features of the new programming. The program, which will generally stream from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. ET will be available as an exclusive video channel on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra app.

It will focus on the most popular events of the day, and not as a general news service, more on that later. It will be showing events live such as the ice hockey games and various skiing events. There is also a dedicated Twitter handle for fans that enjoy following it from that angle: @NBC_GoldZone.

The second piece of on-line programming is called Olympic Ice. As you can imagine it will cover all of the Olympic Ice Skating events and news, but as a review broadcast. The 30-minute program will also be available on both NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra app and will start broadcasting each evening at 5:30 p.m. ET on most days, from Feb. 7-21.

The final program is a general news effort entitled Olympic News Desk Updates that plans to stream update cover the course of each day as well as provide breaking news and highlights after each event.

I believe that the additional streaming programs, as well as the previously announced programming, will be met as a very welcome addition to this and hopefully future Olympic broadcasts. One of the joys of an event, even when you are not present, is to see it as it occurs, or to catch news and analysis of the event after it has just concluded. Most will want to watch events that they enjoy at home on big screen tvs even after they know the final score anyway, I suspect.

If you are wondering how to get verified to watch on-line it is very simple

In order to get verified simply:
1. Go to NBCOlympics.com/LiveExtra
2. Click the “Verify Now” button
3. Select your cable, satellite or telco provider
4. Enter the username and password that corresponds with your account
5. Upon verification of your subscription to an Olympics-eligible package, you will be signed in throughout the Games on that device.
It would make sense to do so early since NBC expects that it will have the most devices verified to view the Sochi Olympics for any sporting event ever, most likely dwarfing the 9.9 million devices that were verified for the recent London Olympic Games. You can verify for multiple devices, but must go through the process for each device.

Timeout Tuesday: GoPro Signs ‘Kelly F*cking Slater’ — Many More Hours of Video Consumption Ahead

Over the last year or so, we’ve noticed that when we’re out skiing it’s not uncommon to see more and more people with the little boxy GoPro camera mounted on their helmets. But news from last week of GoPro signing 11-time surfing champion Kelly Slater to its team of athletes speaks to a bigger agenda for the cool-cam company: Hell, it’s already on its way to becoming a new media powerhouse of its own.

You want social, user-contributed content? GoPro’s got that in spades, using user-submitted videos in its national broadcast commercials. Those home-spun efforts trail the professional athlete/professional production videos GoPro puts out on its own, usually with some cool new music to boot. The company also gives away a bunch of GoPro gear every day. Is this the new way to sports media or what? I mean, I like SportsCenter as much as the next guy, but I could lose hours watching stuff like this:

And a million and a half people so far have watched the GoPro video of Holly Beck diving alongside a whale shark, and probably not just because she’s wearing a bikini while doing so:

Oh yeah and GoPro also earlier this year signed snowboarder Shaun White to its team of cool athletes. This isn’t something that’s going to happen, it’s already here. Call Slater a late jumper on the bandwagon. But we’re looking forward to wasting plenty of time watching him on the waves.

Neva-The Talking Ski Poles may be coming to Your Slopes

There is another interesting item over at Kickstarter that is seeking funding and I think one of the things that the project highlights is how increasingly easy it is becoming to network everything, even items that you might not have considered such as ski poles.

A company out of Salt Lake City called SlopeScience is touting Neva, which it calls the evolution of the ski pole by adding wireless communications capabilities to so that it can talk with your smartphone and relate information to you while you are skiing, and just as important, so you do not have to remove your gloves.
Seeking to raise $100,000 it has so far gathered 80 backers and raised $12,218 towards its goal. In case you have forgotten if you do not reach your goal you get nothing and the funding round ends June 6.

The poles will feature the ability to display when a call is coming in and a simply swipe can ignore or answer the call, Text messages can also be displayed. It leverages SlopeScience’s capabilities and can show your slope angle and aspect when used with a Google Earth plug-in. The company hopes that future versions will have text to speech capabilities as well.

The basic device includes a low powered Bluetooth adapter for communications with the smartphone, and is capable of talking with both Android and iPhones. There is a 0.96” OLED display that is capable of being read in bright sunlight. The rechargeable battery is good for three days on a single charge.

I have a semi humorous vision of the completely connected athlete of the future. Say that they are a skier. Smartphone securely packed away in a pocket with no need to get it out. They have goggles that provide a clear image of the terrain and can connect to the phone and listen to music.

Then they have on their Pebble watch so that they can connect to the phone, view the menu at the snack bar and see what their friends are texting from the beginning slops. I do believe that with all of the emerging options it will be interesting to see which technologies and products pan out and which ones do not. There is no doubt in my mind that used properly some of these products will certainly enhance the outdoor experience.

Recon and Partners Show off Heads Up Display Technology at TELUS

If you are lucky enough to be at the TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival 2012 being held this weekend in Whistler, B.C. you can get a first look at goggles that do now most of what Google is seeking to do with its Project Glass effort, courtesy of Recon Instruments.

We have written about Recon before, and even mentioned them yesterday in a piece on Oakley creating projection glasses, and the company appears to have a lap on the competition in the area of developing sports glasses that have display and interconnect capabilities.

Now the company is giving a sneak preview of some unreleased products that will not be available to the general public until next ski season, but if you have the chance we recommend taking a look, either at the festival if you are one of the lucky few, or at a local ski shop for current versions of the technology.

The reason for the enthusiasm is that it increasingly appears that this type of technology may be heading towards the mainstream, and as often is the case, it is niche markets that will lead the way. Do you want to find out if glasses that provide a range of features from music to navigation will affect your concentration? Well here is your chance to find out. It is one thing to have a connected item such as a watch but another world when the item is glasses, or in this case goggles.

Back to Recon; they will be showing the unreleased Recon ready Scott NAV-R 2 Goggle that is designed to fit the Recon GPS Micro Optics Display, the MOD and MOD Live. The MOD products incorporate Recon’s Heads Up Display (HUD) technology. MOD Live can provide a variety of sets of feedback data such as jump analytics and speed as well as connect to a smartphone for calls and music playlists.

So head on over and take a gander, or you can always wander over to the company’s site and examine the technology there instead, you could be ahead of the wave of the future.