Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration – Beginning May 22, 2015

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Photo Credit: Disneyland

 

Starting May 22, 2015  “electrifying” new shows will premiere at Disneyland during a 24-hour party that inaugurates the Diamond Celebration, from 6 a.m. Friday, May 22, until 6 a.m. Saturday, May 23, 2015, local time.  Best of all that is just the start: Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration will have Disneyland Diamond Days Sweepstakes and updated attractions such as “Paint the Night” parade, “Disneyland Forever” fireworks spectacular,  “World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney” and new entertainment, dining and shopping Experiences at Disneyland.  Along with all the current fun at Disneyland, the new attractions and events will make it even more magical. I received a press release from Disneyland that had so many exciting details, I just had to share it all! Listed below is the press release and pictures to give you just a taste of Disneyland’s sparkling Diamond Celebration.

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Photo Credit: Disneyland

 

PRESS RELEASE:

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration Adds Disneyland Diamond Days Sweepstakes and Dazzling, New Nighttime Spectaculars Beginning May 22: Resort Remains Forever Young with a Glittering Parade,  Street-to-Sky Fireworks Show and a Fun-filled, New ‘World of Color,’ Featuring Neil Patrick Harris and Mickey Mouse.

 

 

ANAHEIM, Calif.  (April14, 2015) – The Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration begins Friday, May 22, 2015, celebrating 60 years of Disney magic with three new nighttime spectaculars, dazzling decor and an exciting sweepstakes that will award authentic diamonds and one-of-a-kind prizes to some lucky guests.

 

 

Nighttime will glitter as never before with three, sensational shows that expand the 60-year tradition of innovative and immersive storytelling: the brilliant, high-energy “Paint the Night”  Parade   and  “Disneyland Forever”  fireworks spectacular  at  Disneyland Park,  and the all-new“World of Color – Celebrate!  The Wonderful World of Walt Disney”  at Disney California Adventure Park. In “World of Color – Celebrate!,” Mickey Mouse and award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris will tell the story of Walt Disney and the Happiest Place on Earth with film, animation, music and spectacular fountains.

 

 

The electrifying new shows will premiere during a 24-hour party that inaugurates the Diamond Celebration, from 6 a.m. Friday, May 22, until 6 a.m. Saturday, May 23, 2015, local time.*

 

 

Disneyland Diamond Days** – an exciting sweepstakes – will award daily and weekly prizes as part of the Diamond Celebration. Weekly prizes include a one-carat, authentic diamond, custom engraved for Disney, paired with a stay in the Disneyland Dream suite; a clear, crystal Cinderella slipper, with a diamond-and-topaz pendant, and private experiences in the park such as a party in Fantasyland or a romantic cruise aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat. The available prize will vary each week. Daily prizes also will be awarded during the Diamond Celebration, and each daily prize package for that day includes an individualized tour of the parks with dining, preferred access to select attractions, and VIP viewing at some of the dazzling, new nighttime spectaculars.  Daily prize winners must be present on the Disneyland Resort premises at the time of entry and at the time of prize redemption in order to be able to enjoy these special experiences and theme park admission is not necessary to enter or win the sweepstakes.
 

 
In addition, Mickey Mouse and some of his friends will dress up for the celebration in sparkling, new Diamond Celebration costumes, and the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland and Carthay Circle Theatre in Disney California Adventure will glisten with gleaming veneer and diamond medallions. To add to the fun, Disneyland attractions undergoing regular refurbishments – Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan’s Flight and Matterhorn Bobsleds – will reopen with new magic added to the classic experiences.

 

 

 

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Photo Credit: Disneyland

 

 

 

 

Innovation Inspires Exciting Future

Walt Disney observed that Disneyland will never be complete so long as there is imagination left in the world, and since Opening Day, July 17, 1955, the Disneyland Resort tradition of innovation has continued, inspiring classic theme park attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Star Tours, Soarin’ Over California, Toy Story Midway Mania and Radiator Springs Racers. The Diamond Celebration continues this tradition with three fantastic new shows that expand the boundaries of after-dark entertainment – Disney’s signature “kiss goodnight.”

 

 

 

  • “Paint the Night” parade– When the lights go down in Disneyland, the Diamond Celebration illuminates the park with a brilliant, new parade. The luminescent parade creates a river of color flowing down Main Street, U.S.A., with an array of Disney characters and more than 1.5 million brilliant LED lights that flash and glow as Mickey Mouse uses his vivid imagination to “Paint the Night.”  With dazzling special effects, unforgettable music, energetic performances, fun surprises and spectacular floats, “Paint the Night” is more vibrant than any parade in 60 years at the Disneyland Resort.  Even the choreography glows, as parade performers light up with their props and costumes. Tinker Bell leads the procession in a magical, musical overture, closely followed by a float reminiscent of the giant bass drum that led the “Main Street Electrical Parade.” Lightning McQueen races in with his buddy Mack Truck, who makes a hefty impression at 54-feet long, covered from headlights to tail pipe in gleaming light. Anna and Elsa from “Frozen” glide through the night in a shimmering palace of ice and snow. Guests also will be delighted to see Cinderella, Rapunzel and beloved characters from tales such as “Monsters, Inc.,”  “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Toy Story,” with Mickey and his pals creating a breathtaking grand finale.

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Photo Credit: Disneyland

 

 

  • “Disneyland Forever” fireworks spectacular– The dazzling new fireworks show, “Disneyland Forever,” is a street-to-sky, immersive experience like nothing seen before at the Disneyland Resort. Guests will be surrounded by the worlds of timeless Disney tales, from the tips of their toes to the sky high above, thanks to the largest installation of projection mapping technology in a Disney park and surprising special effects. One minute they will be standing on Main Street, U.S.A., and the next they could be stampeding across Simba’s Pride Lands, dancing with King Louie from “The Jungle Book,” traveling “Under the Sea” with the Little Mermaid, flying over London with Peter Pan, dripping in honey with Pooh in a whimsical dream of heffalumps and woozles, or quivering as Queen Elsa brings a glimmering blanket of snow over Disneyland.

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Photo Credit: Disneyland

 

 

  • For the first time in Disneyland fireworks history, Nemo from the Disney●Pixar animated film “Finding Nemo,” will “just keep swimming” in the skies above Sleeping Beauty Castle, as the Matterhorn is transformed into the fiery peak of Mt. Wannahockaloogie, a special monument from that film. Two original songs enrich the show: the “Disneyland Forever” theme “Live the Magic,” and the inspiring closing song “Kiss Goodnight,” written by another Disney Legend, Richard M. Sherman, and sung by Ashley Brown, star of the Broadway production of “Mary Poppins.” The “stage” for “Disneyland Forever” fireworks will extend from the sky above to Main Street, U.S.A., “it’s a small world,” the Matterhorn and mist screens along the Rivers of America, offering guests a new experience from each location.

 

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Photo Credit: Disneyland

 

 

  • “World of Color – Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney” – Award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris will join Mickey Mouse on a magical water canvas to entertain guests in this fun-filled new presentation of the popular, nighttime “World of Color” spectacular in Disney California Adventure. Both epic and intimate in scope, “World of Color – Celebrate!” brings to life the remarkable story of Walt and The Happiest Place on Earth with animated imagery, live-action film, fountains, lasers, special effects and a stirring musical score.  Guests will take an inspirational journey through the unparalleled imagination of Walt Disney, exploring his decades-long legacy of memorable animated moments around the world and the dream of Disneyland Park. “World of Color – Celebrate!” reminds guests that, if they never give up on their dreams, anything is possible.

 

 

Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration

Photo Credit: Disneyland

 

 

 

Entertainment, Dining and Shopping Experiences Add to the Celebration

Live music has been a key component of the Disneyland Resort experience since the first performance of the Disneyland Band on July 17, 1955. During the Diamond Celebration, guests will be invited to become part of the musical magic, singing, dancing and marching along with resort performers such as the Disneyland Band, Dapper Dans, Red Car News Boys, Straw Hatters and Five & Dime. The after-dark “Mad T Party” will return to Disney California Adventure as a dazzling new “Diamond Mad T Party,” featuring sparkling new decor, interactive fun, dancing and delectable food and drink.

 

 

Restaurants and food carts in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will offer new drinks and cupcakes specially created for the Diamond Celebration. Later this summer, drinks will be available in “Made with Magic” sippers which light up to accompany the new after-dark shows. Additional “Made with Magic” merchandise items – newly designed ear hats, wands and paint brushes –  also will be available for the celebration.

 

 

More than 500 special merchandise items have been created for the Diamond Celebration, including apparel, accessories, art, collectibles, headwear, home décor, jewelry, pins, souvenirs, toys and more. They will be available at shops throughout Disneyland Resort, including Disney Showcase and Main Street Emporium in Disneyland, Elias & Co. in Disney California Adventure, World of Disney in the Downtown Disney District and more.

 

 

Additional information about the Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration will be shared in the coming months at www.Disneyland.com and www.DisneyParksBlog.com, and full official rules for Disneyland Diamond Days will be available at www.Disneyland.com/DiamondDays onMay 22, 2015.

 

 

* Hours of operation: 6 a.m. on 5/22/15 to 6 a.m. on 5/23/15, local time, subject to capacity restrictions. Only select attractions, entertainment and services will be available. Valid theme park admission required. Subject to restrictions and change without notice.

 

 

** NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S., D.C., Mexico and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are age of majority as of date of entry.  Specific prizes to be awarded in the weekly sweepstakes will be announced online atDisneyland.com/DiamondDays the preceding week.  Sponsor: Disney Memories, 500 S. Buena Vista Street, Burbank, CA 91521, U.S.A.

 

 

About the Disneyland Resort 
The Disneyland Resort features two spectacular theme parks – Disneyland (the original Disney theme park) and the reimagined Disney California Adventure Park – plus three hotels and the Downtown Disney District, comprising unique dining, entertainment and shopping experiences. The Resort’s hotels are the luxurious, 948-room Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which also features 50 two-bedroom equivalent Disney Vacation Club units; the magical, recently renovated, 975-room Disneyland Hotel – both AAA Four Diamond properties – and the 481-room Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel with its “day-at-the-beach” fun. For information on attractions and vacations at Disneyland Resort, visit Disneyland.com, call (866) 43-DISNEY or contact local travel agents.

 

 
Note: This is a press update.

 

 

 

On The Go With ZAGG Pocket Bluetooth Keyboard

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. See Giveaway details below.

 

Now that smartphones have features above and beyond making simple voice calls, they have become the top “on the go” device. From productivity, notes, creativity (photo’s, videos), communication, calenders, business documents, music and socializing and more – the smartphone is our own personal assistant that we have with us at all times. While phone touch keyboards are getting more sophisticated, typing is a challenge I could not seem to overcome. I typed short texts easily and quickly, but when it came to typing sentences or longer notes – I could not get my fingers to move fast enough…. Or I made all sorts of typing mistakes.. Or my hand felt cramped and uncomfortable. When ZAGG contacted me to create a video and giveaway about their new Pocket wireless Bluetooth keyboard, I was excited that to find a solution for my on the go typing challenges!

 

The ZAGG Pocket wireless Bluetooth keyboard an “easy, on-the-go solution for smartphone typing.” The keyboard is 85% of the size of a desktop keyboard so typing is more natural and it folds between the lines of keys to preserve comfortable key spacing.

 

Zagg Pocket Keyboard

Photo Credit: ZAGG

 

 

The keyboard folds into a 9” X 2.5” X .5” rectangle, which is a design I have not seen before in mobile keyboards.  Battery life is maintained automatically when you fold the keyboard, activated by magnets when closed. The built in stand holds smartphones and small tablets (around  7″). But I did use it for a regular iPad and it worked fine. The Pocket Keyboard connects via Bluetooth, which means it can connect to Apple, Android or Windows devices.

 

 

ZAGG Pocket Keyboard Side

Photo Credit: ZAGG

 

 

One of the best features is the battery life: the lithium polymer battery lasts up to two years of regular use* (*around one hour per day) between charges. That means I can charge it and then just store it in my purse without needing to recharge it for a long time! The convenience of the ZAGG Pocket keyboard is great for busy professionals – especially busy parents -because it means there is one less thing you need to remember to pack up each day.

 

ZAGG Pocket Keyboard

 

For example, I just recently attended a Women in Growth Marketing event in San Francisco. I barely got dinner on the table, kids situated with homework and the sitter set up for the night when I had to rush out the door to drive to San Francisco (one hour drive from my house). When I arrived and sat down, I panicked at first because I forgot my laptop and wanted to type notes. Then I remembered I had the ZAGG Pocket Keyboard; it was so light I forgot it was in my purse at all. The Pocket Keyboard along with my smartphone was all I needed to take notes during the meeting. Now I have an on the go typing solution that is always with me, so I can take notes whenever I need!

 

Below is a video where I show the ZAGG Pocket keyboard in action:

 

 

Even more exciting is that I have the opportunity to give one ZAGG Pocket Bluetooth keyboard away to one of my lucky readers. Here are the giveaway details (open from April 15 to April 20).  Because the giveaway starts on April 15 – maybe it can even be inspiration to start keeping tax notes on the go for next tax year.
 
*Note: Giveaway is closed. Winner was @SahmReviews
 
 
 
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All my opinions are my own.
 
For more information on the ZAGG Pocket keyboard check out their website, Twitter and Facebook.
 
 

 

Top April Fools Tech News Updates 2015

April “1st” is my favorite day because it just brings out the best in everyone.. News is much more colorful on this day -which is why I wanted to share some of my favorite “April 1st” tech news.

 

To start…here is a Kifi library dedicated to April Fools links. I summarized all the April Fools and regular humor links in my Kifi “everyday” humor library with a link to Guy Kawasaki Stock Photo’s that always makes me smile!
 

Guy Stock photo

Photo Credit: http://guykawasaki.com/step-aside-vince-here-comes-guystockphoto/

 

Here are some new April “1st” Tech updates:
 
Twitter increased the character limit by “1” character.. via Joel Comm.
 
Burger King has new Paleo menu.. via Cool Mom Picks
 
Instragram bans all Children’s Photo’s… via Cool Mom Tech
 
Groupon announced “Gruber” – Uber with cat drivers! ….via Groupon
 
Think Geek announced special “April 1″ products – including steam powered gaming cabinet…
 
Think Geek April Fools
 
 
You can get a text when the CDC reports a Zombie outbreak.. via IFTTT
 
IFTTT April Fools
 
 

Microsoft Announced MS-Dos Mobile!
 

 
 
Google Fiber team announced Dial-up Mode!
 

 
 
Google Maps has a fun surprise when you zoom in on an area. Look closely and then you will see a version of the map that is much better then when I check the highway for traffic and it is “RED” showing traffic has stopped.. This is a map of downtown San Francisco!
 
April Fools 2015 Google Maps
 
 

Samsung finally created a true “multi-use” smartphone called Galaxy “Blade” Edge. The Blade Edge not only has smartphone features but also can help get you ready for dinner with the “blade” features.
 

samsung blade edge

Photo Credit: Samsung


 
 

 Fresh Direct now offers a 5 day “Cheese Cleanse”...
 
 
Fresh Direct Cheese Cleanse

 

 

What was your favorite April Fools Jokes? Teachmama has suggestions to make sure parents can have April Fools Fun with these pranks.. Mashable has more April Fools fun on their post.

 

For a summary of the general April Fools and humor fun – check out my Kifi Humor Library..

 
 

 

Dolby Atmos Tech Update and Insurgent Preview!

.Please see the bottom of the post for giveaway details (GIVEAWAY CLOSED)!

 

Dolby AtmosLast Tuesday I not only had the opportunity to attend a preview of the movie “Insurgent” (released Friday March 20, 2015)  but the location was in the San Francisco office of Dolby Laboratories Inc in their theater set up for Dolby Atmos audio.

 

 

My sons and I read the Divergent book series and saw the first movie “Divergent“. Insurgent is the second this great adventure series and has also a top rate cast that includes Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller,  Octavia Spencer, Zoe Kravitz , Noami Watts and Kate Winslet.  The Divergent series is an adventure movie with a fascinating premise: there are societal divisions that classify citizens based on their aptitudes and value: Abnegation (the selfless),  Dauntless (the brave),  Erudite (the intelligent),  Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest) and also Factionless. There is also a strong female lead (Shailene Woodley) which is always great for my boys to see.

 

The cinematography captures the adventure with spellbinding graphics. But what really makes the graphics come alive is the Dolby Atmos audio technology, which is part of the audio engineering process of the movie and is played out by the speakers in each theatre. Dolby Atmos creates moving audio with an object-based listening experience. So you not only see the moving train, glass breaking and other special effects, the sound makes you “feel” like you are in the action.

 

Here is a trailer of the movie Insurgent:

 


 
 
The good news is that Dolby Atmos can be found in theaters all over the country by checking the find a movie theater section . To find other movies that have Dolby Atmos sound, check out the list at the Dolby website.

 

Here are some fun techie details about Dolby Atmos:

 

Dolby Atmos is the first audio format based on audio objects rather than channels. In Dolby Atmos, any sound—the helicopter, a blaring car horn, a yelling child—can exist as an independent audio object, free of channel restrictions. It can be placed and moved anywhere, including anywhere overhead.” 

 

 

Dolby AtmosTechnical Details: 

 

1.  Supports up to 128 simultaneous independent audio objects in a mix for rich, realistic, and breathtaking sound.

 

2.  Descriptive metadata captures all the director’s intent and provides customized playback for the cinema, home theater, and mobile device.”

 

 

 

At Dolby Laboratories in San Francisco, they have a theater (or lab as they call it) set up with Dolby Atmos. We were thrilled not only to see the movie but to be given a behind the scenes tour of the movie projection area and of the speaker setup in the Theater. The Dolby Atmos system in each theater is controlled in the projector room.

 

 

 

Dolby Atmos speakers are set up in the sides, in this Theater they were actually in the wall panels:

 

 

Dolby Atmos

 

And Dolby Atmos speakers were set up in the ceiling and around the room to provide continuous sound.

 

Dolby Atmos

 

 

To celebrate the opening of Insurgent, I am doing a giveaway starting March 22 at 6pm and ending March 27 (2015) at 6pm (GIVEAWAY CLOSED). 3 Lucky winners will each win one Insurgent giveaway pack that  includes:
 

  • A branded drawstring backpack
  • An Insurgent t-shirt (Woman’s size L)
  • An Insurgent amp charger
  • A copy of the book Insurgent

 
Insurgent Giveaway #DolbyAtmos

 

 

 

Here is details on entering the Dolby Atmos – Insurgent Prize Pack Giveaway  #dolbyatmos .
 
Note: Giveaway is over. Winner was Dina.
 
Check out more about Dolby Atmos at their Twitter handle @Dolby or Dolby Facebook page.

 

Disclosure: The movie preview was a press event put on by Dolby Laboratories, Inc. This is not a sponsored post.

 

 

 

How To: Mobile Photo Printing and MyPrintly.com Photo Crafts

I have always open about the dichotomy of being equally tech savvy and craft challenged. Even looking at the beautiful crafts on Pinterest makes me hyper ventilate..When I took the time to understand what caused my advanced state of craft issues, I realized that I just need simple steps to follow. Of course, when those steps involve technology that helps automate some steps, even better! When I was asked by MyPrintly.com (disclosure: my client) to create some videos with steps on how to use the HP Envy Printer to print from iOS and Android mobile devices, I jumped at the chance. Not only would I get the opportunity to do what I love (figuring out how to use technology) but also give myself the challenge of using the technology to do crafts..

 

Photo Crafts MyPrintly.com and Mobile Printing HP Printer

 

Well, not only did it help me start enjoying the art of crafting – but I can’t wait to create more photo crafts (I can’t believe I said that)..  

 

Below are video’s that show how to print from an iOS and Android device to an HP Printer  I used this amazing videographer and editor (my son Ben Blecherman). The videos include the steps we did to create our own version of the Photo Balloon Party Decoration craft I found on MyPrintly.com.

 

Step 1: Get Supplies:

MyPrintly.com Photo CraftsTo gather supplies I went to my local party supply store for balloons, a fun weight for the balloons (I picked a blue metallic party box style) and place card holder that I could put into the balloon weight. It does not really matter what the bottom looks like because it will be placed in the balloon weight.  I could only find heart place card holders in the wedding area of my supply shop, so I used them. Bigger party stores and online party sites may have basic place card holders that you can buy in packs of 6 or 12 at a time (to save money).  We made sure the balloon ribbons where long enough to also tape pictures onto the strings. The last supply was HP 4×6 Photo paper that we found at our local office supply store (but that can also be ordered online).

 

 

 

Step 2: Print Photos and Assemble Photo Craft:
 
I used the wireless features of my HP Envy Printer and my smartphone to send photos to the printer. Then we just placed the photos in the place card holder and taped photos the ribbons of the balloon.  Printing from my mobile phone saved time and enabled me to have more flexibility on the location of where I was printing. The video’s below show how to do the photo craft and mobile printing from an iOS or Android phone.  There is also a guest surprise appearance from our lovable Henry the Hamster.. Of course, he was the star of the show!

 

Mobile Printing with Harry the Hamster TechMamas.com

 

How To: Mobile Printing from iOS Device to HP Printer

 

 

 

How To: Mobile Printing from Android Device to HP Printer

 
 

 

What photo crafts do you want to try?

 

For more photo craft ideas check out MyPrintly.com   Here is the link to the for Photo Balloon Party Decoration craft found on MyPrintly.com.

 

Disclosure: MyPrintly sponsored the videos. Products were supplied for video production. This post is NOT sponsored, I am just sharing the crafting fun….

 

 

 

Trend Update: Are Digital Consumers Happy With Smart #Tech Devices?

What factors and usability issues need to be overcome for consumers to adopt technology?
 
 

User Experience Smart DevicesI have a simplistic attitude towards consumer technology that stems from my background in programming, database design, usability testing and technical project management: the device have a good interface and fit in the workflow of my daily life. This sounds easy but in reality has been my biggest challenge. I have experienced usability challenges on everything from smart watches that are not smart, which this BGR blog post documents very well, to smart devices, which  TechCrunch also identifies as a usability mess. As pointed out by Fast Company, Millennials are looking for personal technology to be meaningful and impactful. “This is the thing which is now scarce, because when we can easily acquire anything, the question becomes, ‘What do we do with this?’ The value now lies in the doing.”

 

With IoT (Internet of Things) being one of the top buzzwords connecting smart consumer electronics, are customers today able to fully utilize ” the ability to connect devices, systems, and services covering a variety of protocols, domains, and applications” with interfaces that are user friendly? If not, what factors and usability issues need to be overcome for consumers to adopt this technology?

 

Common Set Of Protocols?

 

 

One factor challenging personal technology adoption is the lack of a common set of protocols for new smart device infrastructure and platforms. Smart watches, for example, can communicate to apps and other connected devices such as smart phones – but via different operating systems such as iOS (Apple) and Android.

 

 

Belkin WEMO Home Automation

Photo credit: Belkin

 

Many smart systems use Bluetooth, WiFi and wireless (such as 3G, 4G) but have their own apps and connected devices. For example, Belkin WeMo Home automation has multiple home device sensors and apps including connected crock pots and coffee pots, Phillips (Hue) has a smart lighting system and Nest has smart thermostats. Examples of companies that have frameworks for communicating and controlling connected devices in the home include Control 4, and Apple with HomeKit. At CES, I learned about both the Zwave alliance, which is a wireless communication technology and Zigbee which is an wireless open standards based solution controlled by the ZigBee Alliance.

 

 

Zigbee IoT Smart Home Automation

Photo Credit: Zigbee.org

 

 

Verge reported that “Today, the A4WP and PMA have signed a preliminary agreement to each adopt the other’s technologies, effectively merging into a single wireless standard. That leaves Qi as the only other competitor.“ But the Qi Standard is being used now by many smart devices including Ikea that just announced a furniture line that utilizes Qi wireless charging. Even though Ikea earns points in my eyes by incorporating wireless charging design, the usability is a different challenge. As Wired points out, “The biggest problem is that it’s (wireless charging)  been kind of kludgy…..wireless charging is arguably less convenient at this stage than faster charging, and wireless accessories can’t match the amps or speeds of some modern wired components.”

 

Data and Diagnostics?

 

The next factor: diagnostics and data.. In an NPR article Alexis Madrigal  explained “… diagnostics are only one part of what data will do for these household objects. The other thing is that tracking data at least offers the opportunity to optimize a routine“.  Smart devices will really show their power in helping our daily lives when they can take the data they gather, diagnose to improve our situation and then make suggestions or even adjustments on the data analysis.

 

Product Design?

 

Another factor is product design.  For example, while the Apple Watch is being advertised with a 2 page spread in Vogue, a fashion expert interviewed on Fast Company said it looked like a “computer on your wrist”.  Another Fast Company article pointed out that the current reports explain that the Apple Watch could have a battery problem because the charge only lasts 2.5 hours. I tested out a smartwatch that I saw at CES 2015 that had a watch battery that lasted up to six months, but the interface did not seem user friendly. I have yet to review a smartwatch that has a good interface and battery life (but I am hopeful and will keep testing).

 

After reviewing consumer devices for years I found that very few passed my personal usability standards even though many had a great technology features. This is why I started turning down opportunities to review products where I felt I would be spending more time beta testing usability than actually taking the product for a test drive. The graveyard of failed smart devices in my office is used as props by my kids when filming homemade superhero movies.

 

The Big Secret (unveiled):

 

The big secret discussed by technology journalists every time we get together is that while we use the newest technology for our work, we have not fully implemented the newest technology in our personal lives because of problems with usability. So I wondered: Are technology journalists the only ones frustrated by consumer technology usability issues?

 

The Answer:  Consumers Reporting Problems With Smart Devices

 

The answer recently became clear to me at the opening press event of the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show where Accenture was sharing their recent research on today’s digital consumer. Their report hit the nail on the head, describing what I have been thinking for years: There is a usability problem in consumer electronics, devices and apps which is affecting consumer adoption and longevity.

 

Technology User Experience Problems

 

 

EXCERPT FROM ACCENTURE REPORT “Engaging the Digital Consumer in the New Connected World.”
 
“Most Consumers Encounter Challenges Using New Types of High Tech Devices, Accenture Survey Finds.  NEW YORK; Jan. 5, 2015 – Most consumers experience challenges using several new types of smart high tech devices, according to a new report from Accenture titled Engaging the Digital Consumer in the New Connected World.
 
Overall, 83 percent report various problems when they use new device types such as wearable fitness monitors, smart watches, smart home thermostats, in-vehicle entertainment systems, home connected surveillance cameras and security systems, and wearable health products. The biggest challenges consumers face are that the smart devices are “too complicated to use” (21 percent), “set-up did not proceed properly” (19 percent), and “did not work as advertised” (19 percent).
 
“For these new connected device categories, high tech companies need to go back to the drawing board and rethink their product development approaches to focus on the entire customer experience,” said Sami Luukkonen, managing director for Accenture’s Electronics and High Tech group. “They should make fundamental strategic changes that no longer focus on product feature differentiation but rather holistic, digital experience differentiation.”
 
Accenture’s annual consumer survey, extensively researched with responses from approximately 24,000 consumers in 24 countries covers both emerging and developing global markets. Their methodology took into account the fact that the online population starts at age 14 (sometimes younger) and demographics were  split male/female across all age groups.”
 
I had the opportunity to discuss the report with John Curran, managing director for Accenture’s Communications, Media, and Technology group. He viewed the consumer devices and the consumer Internet of Things (IOT) as a significant and central theme of CES that raises important technology adoption questions:
 

  • What are people expecting and what are companies delivering?
  • What does it takes for these new devices to be adopted and used loyally?
  • How important are in vehicle entertainment, fitness monitors, home surveillance systems, smart thermostats and smart watches to the electronics consumer?
  • What factors are most important to consumers when they are making purchase  decisions?

 

In their survey, Accenture asked users of connected consumer devices to describe their experience. The findings indicated overall ownership in the low single digits for some leading technology. Overall, these owners are early adopters, the most tech savvy of all consumers. They are also the ambassadors for mainstream product adoption, sharing their opinion with others, stating, “You need to try this”, “It is amazing” or “I have to hold off…”

 

Results from the Accenture survey demonstrate that the most important product benefit to consumers is ease of use (more than features and functionality). Consumers readily see the product’s value and potential but need help developing confidence that the product can be easily used. While the tech industry focuses on features, customers desire a seamless, easy to use set of capabilities.

 

In the survey, only 17% said they did not experience challenges in using devices. As mentioned above, this means that 83% of consumers are experiencing challenges. The encouraging news from this  Accenture survey is that even with these challenges many early adopters have future plans to buy smart devices:
 
In the next 12 months:
 

  • 12% of consumers plan to buy a wearable fitness monitor, rising to 40 percent within 5 years.
  • 12% of consumers intend to buy a smartwatch, rising to 41 percent within 5 years.
  • Other the next 5 years:
  • 41% have strong purchase interest for connected home devices including home connected surveillance cameras and security systems
  • 39% plan to purchase smart thermostats
  • 37% have interest in connected car entertainment systems
  • 35% have interest in buying home 3D printers and wearable heads-up display glasses

 
Here are some of the other findings discussed with John Curran, managing director for Accenture’s Communications, Media, and Technology group:
 

    • Even more troubling is that most of their complaints reflected on the ‘out of box” experience:  21% said the product was too complicated to use, 19% said setup did not proceed properly, 19% responded that the product did not work as advertised and 19% could not connect to internet. Right out of the box, consumers faced disappointment that jeopardized product adoption. That created a high barrier for them to promote or recommend the product to others.

 

    • With IOT (Internet of Things), the consumer’s expectation is that product, hardware, software and services will work together seamlessly across a broad intersection of devices. Companies who have been successful with one element of the solution now need to focus across multiple technology competencies. For example, it used to be good enough to produce a great TV. Now that most new TVs are connected, product manufacturers need to connect to the clouds managed by several different content providers as well as support Bluetooth connections to wireless speakers, and streaming content from various companies. Product design has become more complex in order to deliver that seamless experience desired by consumers. Companies need to go back to drawing board and create products that work in this seamless world. They need to rethink engineering, hardware, software and user interface to deliver a consumer-driven out of box experience and ongoing product usability throughout the product life cycle that encourages interaction and connection.

 

  • To do this, there are three sales factors to consider. First is “relevance”, accomplished through branding and marketing campaigns in order to create product awareness. Second is “inspiration”, resulting in the “I gotta have it” attitude. The third factor is “confidence” convincing the customer that the product is easy to use and will deliver on promises made during the sales process.

 

If 83% of early adopters are experiencing product problems then do you need to fix it? And what do you fix?  Products must work within a company’s internal parameters (product and services) as well as broader industry infrastructure (protocols, API’s, platform requirements). Companies should determine their most important qualities and out of the box experiences to “delight consumers” and what can they enhance over time.  Products should also not only work within current trends, such as wearables, but look ahead to solve complex problems (such as wearables that can save lives) and incorporate user friendly interfaces.
 
Smartwatch TechMamasI recently bought a Samsung S5 Active smartphone because it was water resistant, tough (I already dropped it multiple times and it survived) and has an accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer and heart rate monitor for fitness apps. Then I bought the connected Gear Fit to experience a smartwatch in my own busy daily schedule. While the Gear Fit was helpful to show the time and when I am getting calls and texts on my watch (except when I am driving, then it is annoying), the step and calorie tracking pedometer did not match with my other fitness apps on my phone. The fitness tracker’s step tracking features also did not work if I am riding a bike because the motion tracking is based on my wrist. I did see some exciting new smartwatches at CES 2015 that have solutions around my smartwatch issues, but then I also read that Samsung did not announce a new watch at Mobile World Congress 2015 because they are going back to the drawing board to develop the perfect “smartwatch”.
 
Maybe companies are getting the hint that product design and “re-design” with user feedback is important? What do you think?

 

 

The articles linked to in my post are curated on my Tech: User Experience Magazine on Flipboard
View my Flipboard Magazine.

 

Tips: Find Family Friendly Videos For #Kids With YouTube Kids #App

YouTube Kids LogoBecause kids have access to browsers on many devices they can roam the internet which can result in kids seeing inappropriate content. The best defense for parents is to make sure they educate their kids on internet safety and have regular safety talks -so communication between kids and their parents is key. Along with that, introducing family friendly apps can also help kids stay within the boundaries of family friendly content. I am excited to announce that YouTube has created the YouTube kids app as a step to help families provide a safer place for kids to view videos online.  While I could not attend the press event in New York, I will be meeting with YouTube to get a demo soon. Event though the ideal age for this app is only 2-8, this is a great step in the right direction for family friendly apps in general.  National Geographic Kids shared “We are so excited to be a part of the new YouTube Kids app launch with National Geographic Kids original and curated video content,” says Michelle Sullivan, VP Digital. “We want kids of all ages–and their grownups– to enjoy our playlists and spark their curiosity to go out in the world and learn more.

 

For now I wanted to share the information from the YouTube kids press release so parents can test it out for themselves:

 

The YouTube Kids app is available now on iOS and Android:

LINK FOR YOUTUBE KIDS iOS APP on the Apple Store 

LINK FOR YOUTUBE KIDS ANDROID APP on Google Play

 

 

YouTube Kids Screenshot

Photo Credit: YouTube

 

 

 

FAQ’S FROM YOUTUBE KIDS PRESS RELEASE:

Parental Controls: 
Timer: Let the app be the bad guy with a built-in timer that lets you limit kids’ screen time. The app alerts your child when the session is over, so you don’t have to. (You’re welcome. ;)
Sound settings: Sometimes you need a little peace and quiet! You have an option to turn off background music and sound effects, so your kids can keep watching while you catch a breather.
Search settings: If you’d rather limit your children to just the pre-selected videos available on the home screen, you can turn off search.
Product feedback: Our goal is to improve YouTube Kids all the time, so we’ve included a space for you to give us your feedback.
What age group is this app appropriate for?
Right now, YouTube Kids delivers enriching and entertaining, early literacy content, ideal for kids 2-8.

Which devices are supported?
Launching in Google Play and the App Store, YouTube Kids is a fun and interactive place designed for families to explore and enjoy a vast selection of videos on tablet or smartphone.  You can use YouTube Kids on your smartphone or tablet with:

  • iOS 7 or above
  • Android 4.1 or above

Can I log in to the app with my YouTube account?
No, we currently only support a logged out experience.

When will YouTube Kids be available in other countries and languages?
YouTube Kids is currently available to users in the United States, but we’re working to expand to other countries.

What kind of content is available in the app?
The app is a kid-appropriate experience built around the breadth and depth of content that kids love. With a vast selection of videos, across a variety of topics, the choices match a child’s endless curiosity and interests, offering something for every kid; find how-to build a volcano, countless train videos, sing-along versions of favorite songs, crafting projects, match tutorials, answers to questions (what if we lived on the moon?), and much more.  You’ll also find popular programming like National Geographic Kids, Sesame Street, DreamWorks Animation and Thomas & Friends, online hits like Mother Goose Club, Super Simple Songs and TuTiTu, plus kid-friendly content from filmmakers, teachers and creators all around the world.

Are you COPPA compliant?
Yes. YouTube Kids is a signed-out app experience, so it does not collect, use or disclose information connected to a Google account, including the user’s name, address, contact or other personal information.

Here is a YouTube video demo of the new YouTube Kids app:

NEW SHOWS ON YOUTUBE KIDS (from press release):

  • The Furchester Hotel is a series for 3 to 6-year-olds set in an ‘almost’ world-class hotel run by a close-knit family of cheerfully incompetent monsters. The series, which is designed to encourage creative problem-solving, introduces brand new characters and also welcomes the beloved Elmo and Cookie Monster from Sesame Street.*
  • New digital videos for Thomas & Friends features Thomas the Tank Engine™ as fans have never seen him before, having adventures off the Island of Sodor in fascinating destinations like London, Paris, and New York City, and coming to life in children’s playrooms.
  • Explore the amazing technology that surrounds our everyday lives, in this exciting new original series called uTech, presented by Reading Rainbow and YouTube. In the first episode, join host LeVar Burton as he takes a look at some of the places you may have not realized we encounter technology (from the moment we wake up to an alarm clock, until we go to bed at night and brush our teeth).
  • National Geographic Kids playlists are an exciting and educational way to explore the very best of YouTube. Hosted by kids for kids, these curated playlists on awesome animals, cool science, natural phenomenons, and more are perfect for curious kids who want to explore, laugh, and learn.
  • Two new shows from Hank and John Green, the Vlogbrothers:  SciShow Kids will tap into kids’ curiosity and answer their many “why” questions with animated explanations, live-hosted experiments and field trips. And Crash Course Kids will empower both educators and students with customized elementary school lessons, hosted by some of your favorite YouTube stars 
  • WONDER QUEST: Set in the world of Minecraft, one of the most popular kid’s video games today, and starring Joseph Garrett, better known to millions of fans as Stampylonghead, “Wonder Quest” brings audiences family-friendly adventure with an educational twist. Will Stampy accept the quest from a friendly wizard? Will Stampy and his friends save the town of Wonderberg from a fate of really bad jokes? A fun way for kids to explore, Stampy invites friends to build an online world that encourages wonder — all based on Core Curriculum and Next Generation Science Standards. 
  • A new series from Outfit7, Talking Tom and Friends will chronicle the adventures, hijinks, and inventions of Talking Tom and the gang as they shoot their own reality television show.

 

I can’t wait to try out the new YouTube kids app with my kids. How about you?

 

 

 

 

Movie Preview: 2015 Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2015 Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Slate

2015 Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Slate

 

The hardest part about preparing to write this post was watching the previews because I CAN’T WAIT until the new Disney movies come out for 2015. Disney movies are a family staple that people of all ages can enjoy together. Especially during holiday time, our family enjoys re-watching our favorite Disney movies just released and the classics. What I find interesting is that I enjoyed Disney movies as a kid, but as an adult when I watch them I see new perspectives and details. Listed below is information from the press updated on the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Coming slated for 2015. Which movies are you most excited to see?

 

Action – Adventure & Science Fiction:
 
December 18, 2015 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm)  #StarWars  #TheForceAwakens
 
I have to admit that The Force Awakens is the film my whole family keeps saying “Is it December 18, 2015 yet??? My boys have the same connection to Star Wars that I had watching the first movies come out. I love to see them role play with light sabers and of course we can’t get enough of the Star Tours ride at Disneyland. Just looking at the picture below makes me remember riding in that galaxy during the ride..
 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm) © Disney. All rights reserved.

 

Here is information from the press release on the cast: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens ( Episode VII ) cast including Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film. Star Wars: Episode VII is being directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the composer.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm) © Disney. All rights reserved.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm) © Disney. All rights reserved.

 

This is Daisey Ridley as Rey as seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser.   Or as I would like to think of as my alter ego to being a mom driving a mini van around!
 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm) © Disney. All rights reserved.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Lucasfilm) © Disney. All rights reserved.

 

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Teaser:
 

 

 

May 1, 2015 – Avengers: Age of Ultron (Marvel) #Avengers #AgeOfUltron

 

Along with Star Wars, Marvel comics have given my kids the most content for years of pretend pay. One of our favorite series is the Avengers. A new Avengers movie is coming out 2015 is called  Avengers: Age of Ultron. Beyond our love of the Avengers story line, the great cast is making this movie another of my must see for 2015.

 

 

 Marvel's Avengers: Age Of Ultron © Marvel 2015 All Rights Reserved.

Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron © Marvel 2015 All Rights Reserved.

 

Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron..L to R: Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Dr. Cho (Claudia Kim), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)..

 

 

 

 
 

July 17, 2015 – Ant–Man (Marvel)  #AntMan

 

Another Disney movie coming out in 2015 is MARVEL’S ANT-MAN – Shot on location in San Francisco, Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang AKA Ant-Man. Marvel Studio’s Ant-Man, scheduled for release in the U.S. on July 17th, 2015.
 

Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..MARVEL'S ANT-MAN  © Marvel 2014 All Rights Reserved.

Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..MARVEL’S ANT-MAN © Marvel 2014 All Rights Reserved.

 
 
 

May 22, 2015 – Tomorrowland (Walt Disney Studios) #Tomorrowland
 
Disney’s is taking the thrill and adventures of walking into Tomorrowland at Disney Parks to a new level. The movie TOMORROWLAND will feature a screenplay by “Lost” writer & co-creator Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird, story by Damon Lindelof & Brad Bird & Jeff Jensen and staring Britt Robertson as Casey will be coming out May 22, 2015. Here is more information from the Disney Movie Tomorrowland website“From Disney comes two-time Oscar® winner Brad Bird’s riveting, mystery adventure “Tomorrowland,” starring Academy Award® winner George Clooney. Bound by a shared destiny, former boy-genius Frank (Clooney), jaded by disillusionment, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity, embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space known only as “Tomorrowland.” What they must do there changes the world—and them—forever.”
 

Disney's TOMORROWLAND Casey (Britt Robertson)   ©Disney 2015

Disney’s TOMORROWLAND Casey (Britt Robertson) ©Disney 2015

 

Here is the Tomorrowland trailer.. And yes, that is is GEORGE CLOONEY’S voice.
 

 

 

FAMILY FUN:
 
Strange Magic   (Touchstone Pictures / Lucasfilm) #StrangeMagic is now released so you can go see it at the Theatres! Lucasfilm shared the plot as “Strange Magic,” a new animated film, is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion.”

 

 

Strange Magic  ©2014 Lucasfilm, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Strange Magic ©2014 Lucasfilm, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

 

The press release also shared that “Bog King (voice of Alan Cumming), Griselda (voice of Maya Rudolph) and Marianne (voice of Evan Rachel Wood) are part of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps in “Strange Magic,“… Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and Industrial Light & Magic, which created the CGI animation for 2011’s Academy Award-winning film Rango, bring to life the fanciful forest turned upside down with world-class animation and visual effects. The Strange Magic movie story is by George Lucas and directed by Gary Rydstrom (Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation, Lifted).”

 

 



 
 

 

February 20, 2015 – McFarland, USA (Walt Disney Studios) #McFarlandUSA
 
McFARLAND, USA is one of the most inspiring movies of those coming out 2015 and is also tops on my must see list. Here is background on the movie from the McFarland USA Disney Movie website:Inspired by the 1987 true story, “McFarland, USA” follows novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school. Coach White and the McFarland students have a lot to learn about each other but when White starts to realize the boys’ exceptional running ability, things begin to change…. With grit and determination, the unlikely band of runners eventually overcomes the odds to forge not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well. Along the way, Coach White realizes that his family finally found a place to call home and both he and his team achieve their own kind of American dream.

 

McFARLAND, USA ©Disney 2015 All Rights Reserved.

McFARLAND, USA ©Disney 2015 All Rights Reserved.

 

McFARLAND, USA – L to R: “Damacio Diaz (Jamie Michael Aguero), Jose Cardenas (Johnny Ortiz), Danny Diaz (Ramiro Rodriguez), Victor Puentes (Sergio Avelar), Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), David Diaz (Rafael Martinez), Thomas Valles (Carlos Pratts) and Johnny Sameniego (Hector Duran)…Ph: Ron Phillips..

 

 

 

 
 
 

March 13, 2015 – Cinderella (Walt Disney Studios) #Cinderella

 

Lily James is Cinderella in Disney’s live-action feature inspired by the classic fairy tale, CINDERELLA, which brings to life the timeless images in Disney’s 1950 animated masterpiece as fully-realized characters in a visually-dazzlling spectacle for a whole new generation.

 

CINDERELLA  2014 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

CINDERELLA 2014 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

Cinderella (Walt Disney Studios) Trailer:

 

 
 
 

April 17, 2015 – Monkey Kingdom (Disneynature) #MonkeyKingdom
 
The  Disneynature Monkey Kingdom website explains the plotline as “Life is an adventure for Maya, the clever and resourceful blonde-bobbed monkey in “Monkey Kingdom,” Disneynature’s new feature film set among ancient ruins in the storied jungles of South Asia. Maya’s world is forever changed when she welcomes her son, Kip, into her complicated extended family…When their longtime home at Castle Rock is taken over by powerful neighboring monkeys, Maya’s whole family is forced to relocate, where she uses her street smarts and ingenuity to lead them to untapped resources amidst strange new creatures and unsettling surroundings. Ultimately, they will all have to work together to reclaim Castle Rock, where Maya can hopefully realize her dreams for her son’s future.

 

Disneynature's Monkey Kingdom ©Disneynature 2015 All Rights Reserved.

Disneynature’s Monkey Kingdom ©Disneynature 2015 All Rights Reserved.

 

Disneynature’s Monkey Kingdom Trailer:
 

 

 

 
 
June 19, 2015 – Inside Out (Disney / Pixar) #InsideOut
 
Here is the storyline from the press release “Disney’s Pixar’s “Inside Out” takes us to the most extraordinary location yet – inside the mind of Riley. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. Directed by Pete Docter and produced by Jonas Rivera, “Inside Out” is in theaters June 19, 2015.

 

 ©2014 Disney?Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

©2014 Disney?Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

 
 
 
Inside Out (Disney / Pixar) Trailer:

 

 

November 25, 2015 – The Good Dinosaur (Disney / Pixar) #TheGoodDinosaur
 
Storyline from the press release: “The Good Dinosaur” asks the generations-old question: What if the asteroid that forever changed life on Earth missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct? In theaters November 25, 2015, the film is a humorous and exciting original story about Arlo, a lively Apatosaurus with a big heart. After a traumatic event unsettles Arlo’s family, he sets out on a remarkable journey, gaining an unlikely companion along the way – a human boy. “The Good Dinosaur” is an extraordinary journey of self-discovery full of thrilling adventure, hilarious characters and poignant heart. Directed by Peter Sohn (“Partly Cloudy”) and produced by Denise Ream (“Cars 2″, “The Good Dinosaur” opens in theaters Nov. 25, 2015.

 

The Good Dinosaur ©2014 Disney Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The Good Dinosaur ©2014 Disney Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

OTHER DISNEY MOVIES COMING OUT:

 

October 9, 2015 –  The Jungle Book (Walt Disney Studios) #TheJungleBook

 

Disney's The Jungle Book Conceptual Artwork ©Disney 2015 All Rights Reserved.

Disney’s The Jungle Book Conceptual Artwork ©Disney 2015 All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Unamed Spy Thriller:  I love spy thrillers and anything made by Steven Spielberg and that has Tom Hanks acting in it. So whatever this spythriller is named – I will be there to watch it when it comes out! Here are the details from the press release: ” Tom Hanks (left) stars in Steven Spielberg’s (right) Untitled Cold War spy thriller, which is the true story of James Donovan, an attorney who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on the near-impossible mission to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot.”

 

 

Unamed Spy Thriller: ©DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.

Unamed Spy Thriller: ©DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

 

What Walt Disney Studios movies are you most looking forward to watching?

 

 
Disclosure: This is a press post
 
 

 

Lenovo #CES2015 Showcase Tour

At CES 2015 this year we were excited to attend a lunch organized by Techlicious.com  and work on a sponsored project to share all of the announcements for Lenovo at CES 2015. I have been following Lenovo’s products with great interest after I saw their first Yoga Laptop come out years ago with multiple form factors ranging folded up as a tablet to a laptop with a keyboard and screen upright.  This flexibility is an important feature I look for in devices so I was excited to hear their new 2015 announcements.

 

The first announcement was that Lenovo is celebrating the milestone of 100 million ThinkPads sold.   The next announcements at the Lenovo CES 2015 showcase included the new Yoga convertibles, tablets, mobile devices and accessories. We had the opportunity for a tour that we captured on video:

To add more details of the products discussed during the Lenovo showcase tour, here are some of the key announcements from the Lenovo CES 2015 press releases:

 

 

YOGA Tablet 2 family announced in Fall 2014:

The YOGA Tablet 2 8-in has four unique modes:  Hold, Tilt, Stand and Hang, Wolfson Master Hi-Fi noise reduction, Dolby audio, long battery life of up to 15 hours and is equipped with two front facing speakers. With Windows 8.1, its 8-in FHD display and Intel® Atom™ processor, users can strike a great balance between work and play. Lenovo AnyPen Technology lets you use any ballpoint pen or graphite pencil—really any thin metal tip.   

 

Lenovo CES 2015

Photo Credit: Lenovo CES 2015

 

Lenovo YOGA 3 “features powerful up to 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 processors, stereo speakers, Waves audio and the classic YOGA two-hinge design allowing 360° flexibility with four special modes – Laptop, Stand, Tent and Tablet. Lenovo refined the hinge to now open and close more smoothly and also allow the screen to lay flat at 180°.

 

The Yoga 3 11-in model is just 15.8mm thin and 1.1kg (lightest convertible in the YOGA family). The new Yoga 3 14-in model has a backlit screen, envelope-thin design and measures 18.3mm thin or less. Lenovo includes Harmony intelligent software. Colors are Clementine Orange, Platinum Silver, new Chalk White or Ebony Black. Lenovo includes Harmony intelligent software which helps users discover and customize applications and includes automatic brightness adjustment when reading a book, enables motion control or optimizes audio settings in specific modes and recommends new apps.”

 

 

ThinkPad YOGA for businesses and pro-sumers:

“ThinkPad YOGA 12-in, 14-in and new 15-in convertibles with powerful up to 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 processors,  large storage up to 1 TB , Dolby Home Theatre v4 and new ActivePen technology in select models.  Lenovo’s SHAREit app to share files easily between devices. Lenovo’s first 3D camera in a laptop (Built-in Intel® RealSense™ 3D camera) comes optional on the 15-in model.  3D cameras are being used by businesses for more personal video conferencing and scanning small objects for 3D printing applications.

 

The YOGA 12 continues to offer a digitizer/pen option that provides an internal garage for the pen. ThinkPad is creating an innovative hardware and software pen experience, regardless of pen technology Thin and light at just 19mm thin and less than 1.5kg on the 12-in model, these stylish convertibles come in black with an attractive backlit keyboard as well as FHD touch screen display.”

 

Lenovo LaVie Z Ultraportables (Available May 2015):

The LaVie Z HZ750 13-in convertible PC (Available May 2015) is just 2.04-lbs, has powerful up to 5th Generation Intel® Core i7™ processor, Microsoft Windows 8.1, 128 GB SSD storage and 360-degree hinge pioneered by Lenovo in its original YOGA family of convertibles.  It is just 16.9mm thin, uses a specialized magnesium-lithium (Mg-Li) body construction, which is 50% lighter than aluminum (which apple used in earlier Macbook models). New IGZO LCD display (Indium Gallium Zinc oxide) provides additional weight savings.”

 

Lenovo CES 2015

Photo Credit: Lenovo CES 2015

 


The LaVie Z HZ550 13-in laptop PC is just 1.72-lbs.

 

Among the many other innovative products announced, a few more caught my eye:

 

The Lenovo Vibe X2 Pro Mobile Phone was announced with accessories such as the VIBE Band VB10 wearable. What I found interesting about the VIBE Band VB10 was that it not only has up to 7 days’ battery life, phone–finding feature, 1.43” E Ink display, alerts (phone, SMS, and social notifications), measures fitness (steps, calories, distance, and sleep time) but that it also meets IPX7 waterproofing standard.

 

Lenovo CES 2015

Photo Credit: Lenovo CES 2015

 

But one of the most unique was the compact selfie flash listed below.

 

Compact SELFIE FLASH for the VIBE X2 PRO: “Plugs directly into the VIBE X2 Pro’s audio jack, works great in low–light conditions, Delivers natural color tones, 100% shutter sync – never miss that perfect selfie and up to 100 selfies on a single charge.

 

Lenovo CES 2015

Photo Credit: Lenovo CES 2015

 

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All of my words are my own.

 

 

 

 

Panasonic Booth Tour #CES2015

My favorite Consumer Electronics Show (CES) activity is roaming the showroom floor and seeing all the new technology. This year I was excited to work on a sponsored project for Panasonic and Techlicious.com that included video coverage of the CES 2015 Panasonic Booth. I have been going to CES for years and always find time to tour the Panasonic Booth.  To get ready for CES this year we (my video Director Ben Blecherman and I) decided that we needed a new travel camera to capture pictures and video. I reviewed a selection of great cameras but was really looking for one that had a good price and was available in a bundle with accessories. We chose to buy the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000K 4K QFHD/HD  because it was one of the top rated travel cameras that not only shot great pictures but also up to 4K video. We used that camera to shoot our Panasonic CES 2015 Booth tour video. So here it is!

One of the key technology trends at CES was 4K, which is a resolution level of 3840 x 2160. Having a high resolution means more “pixels” in the display which in turn makes the image appear more clear and crisp then lower resolution displays. Panasonic had many announcements including cameras, home monitoring, kitchen technology, personal grooming, TVs, and stadium screens. But one of the most exciting was the 4K infrastructure they announced at CES this year:

 

 

 

Panasonic 4K Ecosystem CES 2015

Photo Credit: Panasonic

 

 

Other Panasonic CES 2015 announcements included new cameras, home monitoring, kitchen technology, personal grooming, TVs, and stadium screens. Listed below are more details from the Panasonic CES 2015 press releases.

 

4K TV

 

The CX850 series of VIERA Smart TVs offers high quality 4K Ultra HD images with color expressions enriched by a new phosphor technology that expands the range of colors. Incorporating Firefox OS, the TVs also make it easier for users to access quickly the content they want. The CX 850 series features the Xumo Discovery Home Screen for seamless enjoyment of various VOD services.”

 

Panasonic also showed an 8K TV at CES!

 

Panasonic has developed the world’s first* 55-Inch, 8K (7680×4320 pixels) liquid crystal display, realizing the superior reality of 8K in a 55-inch screen, the size versatile for many B2B applications. The display features high contrast ratio of 1500:1, wide viewing-angle of 178 degrees, and high frame rate of 120 Hz, using Panasonic’s unique IPS-Pro technology. The 55-inch display can show four pages of full-sized broadsheet-size newspaper in one screen, convenient for CAD work. The 8K displays are shown in two formats, wall-mounted and table-top.    * As of January 6, 2015

 

 

Blu-ray 

 

Panasonic has developed Blu-ray Disc playback technology that supports the latest technologies such as 4K and High Dynamic Range that are expected to be included in the next-generation Blu-ray Disc standard.”

 

Kitchen Tech  

 

Panasonic announced the debut of its Cyclonic Wave Microwave Oven line at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).   Panasonic’s Cyclonic-Wave technology evenly distributes microwave energy to ensure that foods are perfectly thawed and evenly heated and cooked. Panasonic Cyclonic-Wave Microwave Ovens can be installed as countertop or built-in units and features electrostatic glass touch control panels, 1250 watts of cooking power, multi-stage cooking, 20 programmable sensor cook and reheat options, and a turbo defrost mode.  The SE985S features a 16.5-inch turntable diameter and the SE785S offers a 15-inch diameter.”

 

Panasonic unveiled its 2015 Bread Maker featuring a gluten-free baking mode at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).  The Panasonic Bread Maker is part of Panasonic’s expanded line-up of healthy-lifestyle small home appliances.  Unlike standard bread maker models which offer only one rise mode, the Panasonic Bread Maker offers a short-rise feature which enables users to also bake gluten-free foods using a wide range of recipes.  The bread maker (SD-YR2500) will be available in September via panasonic.com and other retailers.  Pricing and additional availability details will be announced at a later date.

 

Adventure

 

Panasonic introduces adventure products for outdoor activities including 4K wearable cameras and ruggedized compact digital still cameras.  (One Example is) The Panasonic TS6, a rugged water-, dust- and shock-proof compact digital still camera, and water and dust resistant 4K wearable cameras that allow for hands-free shooting of 4K30p video on active scenes.

 

Imaging

 

“Panasonic introduced new styles of photography and video expressions such as the “4K photos” function that enables the user to capture a still photo from a frame of 4K video and “hybrid photography” that combines still images and moving images. LUMIX cameras including the CM1 communication camera, which is a full-fledged digital camera with high-speed mobile communication capability (LTE), as well as new mirrorless single-lens system cameras and compact cameras. Panasonic also announced that it has been named a 2015 CES Innovation Awards Honoree for the LUMIX LX100 Digital Camera. The LX100 is also capable of smooth, high quality video recording not only in Full-HD 1,920 x 1,080 60p but also in 4K (QFHD 4K: 3840×2160, at 30 fps(NTSC) in MP4).  The LX100 is available at www.shop.panasonic.com and valued channel partners. ”

 

Panasonic CES 2015

 

 

Connected Home

 

Panasonic announced a new Home Monitoring System that offers the latest in wireless communication technology and is extremely easy to install. The kits allow you to remotely activate appliances, lights and devices in your home, perform surveillance and monitor your baby or pet. Powerful and compact, the DECT-enabled hub unit connects enabled devices to a secure long range (up to 1000ft.) platform which can be placed in any room or space.  It connects in seconds to your Wi-Fi router with the push of a button enabling you to control the system from your smartphone, tablet and system handset. There is no Ethernet cable necessary; as the hub operates completely on Wi-Fi. There is also no need for a PC to set-up the Wi-Fi connection as you only need a smartphone or the system handset. Unlike other systems, there is no monthly fee as remote monitoring and control is free of charge.  Including The Baby Monitoring Kit (KX-HN6001), DIY Home Surveillance Kit (KX-HN6002) and Home Monitoring and Control Kit (KX-HN6003) The Home Monitoring System is available immediately at Panasonic.com.
Automotive Solutions

 

Panasonic’s latest in-vehicle solutions, included infotainment system SYNC 3 to be delivered to Ford Motor Company and an Internet radio service, AUPEO!.”

 

Green Mobility

 

Panasonic’s green mobility solutions using its 18650 size, cylindrical lithium-ion batteries are showcased here, with vehicles powered by them. (1) Electric vehicle – Tesla Motors’ Model X, an SUV with benefits of a minivan, is on display as an example of the partnership between the two companies.  (2)  Electric scooter – Gogoro’s SmartscooterTM makes a world debut here. The company aims to achieve a smart city transformation with its electric scooters and battery-swapping infrastructure. More information can be found in Gogoro’s press release: http://www.gogoro.com/press/2015-01-05-gogoro-smartscooter-launch/. (3) Electric assist bicycles – Panasonic’s premium electric assist bicycle “Titanium Flat Road EB is on display.”

 

Salon

 

Panasonic also showcased an interactive mirror (prototype) that can check skin conditions, virtual makeup, make-up navigation and provide skin care advice when you simply sit in front of it. Men can try on virtual beards and mustaches that suit on the facial contour. Panasonic’s shaver featured “close-fit tracing head” that gives a smooth feel after shaving; five Japan-made blades that enable fast and deep shaving; and a “skin and beard sensor” that reduces burden on the skin. Panasonic introduced hair dryers equipped with its nano-e technology that allows for smooth passing of fingers through hair by balancing the moisture of the hair. Combined with optimized grip and operability and a quick drying nozzle, the nano-e dryers make it easy and quick to dry hair by untangling wet and clustered hair without the need for the user to shake the dryer.”

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All of my words are my own.