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Day: January 9, 2019

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Chamberlain Group acquires Lockitron and Tend for its myQ smart garage hub

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Chamberlain Group, which owns several security and access brands including the myQ smart garage hub, has added two new companies to its portfolio: connected door lock maker Lockitron and wi-fi home security camera startup Tend.

In a press statement, Chamberlain Group CEO JoAnna Sohovich said Tend and Lockitron’s produts will be integrated into myQ. “We know families enter and exit their homes through their garage doors multiple times a day. Our myQ technology allows homeowners to monitor and control access from their smartphone,” she said. “Adding video, connected locks, and enhanced artificial intelligence to our access solutions will provide even further peace of mind as homeowners connect to their homes and loved ones.”

(Blogger Dave Zatz first spotted signs of the deal two weeks ago, including updates to Lockitron’s privacy policy).

Lockitron was one of the first smart lock brands, shipping its first connected lock in 2010. Its flagship product is the Bolt, a smart lock that is accessed by smartphone. The Bolt launched in 2015 and was the first smart locks available for under $100. The Chamberlain Group will integrate Lockitron’s technology into myQ so users can control their garage and residential doors with one app.

In an email to TechCrunch, Cameron Robertson, who co-founded Lockitron with Paul Gerhardt, said they began looking for potential buyers in order to have the resources to scale up and meet retail and e-commerce demand. Chamberlain Group was the best fit because it will support existing Lockitron users, and Lockitron’s technology can also be integrated into other products besides myQ. The transaction was an asset sale of the Lockitron product line from its parent company Apigy. Robertson and Gerhardt are now advising Chamberlain on a part-time basis, as well as working on new projects not related to Apigy, which Robertson says will eventually be wound down.

Tend’s video and functionality, including facial recognition, will also be integrated into myQ, so users can add a Tend camera and see video of their garage doors opening and closing through myQ’s app. The company was launched in 2008 and its co-founder and CEO Herman Yau will continue on as Tend general manager, leading its video and AI platform as part of Chamberlain Group.

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Hands-on with Ledger’s Bluetooth crypto hardware wallet

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French startup Ledger unveiled a new hardware wallet at CES this week. While the device isn’t going to ship until March, the company let me play with a prototype version of the device. The Ledger Nano X feels just like using the Nano S, but on mobile.

When the company’s previous hardware wallet first came out, that was before the cryptocurrency boom, before Ledger raised $75 million. And the user experience wasn’t great.

You had to install multiple Chrome apps to manage multiple cryptocurrencies, switch between each app when you wanted to access your balance and manage your crypto assets. But things got much better when the company released Ledger Live on macOS, Windows and Linux.

With this new app, you could finally view your portfolio balance and manage multiple crypto assets from the same desktop app. The logical next step was mobile. And you have to get a new hardware wallet for that.

The Ledger Nano X looks more or less like the Ledger Nano S, but slightly bigger. It’s shaped like a USB key and it has a tiny screen to confirm transactions on the device. There’s a tiny 100 mAh battery in it and a slightly bigger screen. Battery should last a couple of months when you’re not using the wallet, and around 8 hours of active use. The microUSB port has been replaced by a USB-C port. The buttons are now on each side of the screen instead of on the side of the device.

After you pair the device with your phone, you can control everything from your iOS or Android phone. You can install apps on the Ledger Nano X, access your wallets and send cryptocurrencies. On iOS, you can lock the app using a password and optionally Face ID or Touch ID.

When you need to validate a transaction on your Ledger Nano X, your phone will pair with your Ledger device over Bluetooth. You can then view transaction information on your Ledger device and approve the transaction on the device itself.

What makes Ledger so secure is that your private keys never leave your Ledger device. Transactions are signed directly on the device. Your private keys are never sent over Bluetooth and your cryptocurrencies remain safe even if your smartphone is compromised.

Ledger now uses an ST33 secure element, which is slightly more secure than the previous version ST31. Now, there’s only a single chip and it is connected directly to the screen and buttons, which reduces the risk of having someone compromise the information on your screen.

The screen is now twice as tall, which lets you view full public addresses without a scrolling view. You can now install up to 100 different cryptocurrency apps. You can still plug the device to a computer and use the desktop app as well. And the device costs €120 ($138).

Disclosure: I own small amounts of various cryptocurrencies.

CES 2019 coverage - TechCrunch

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This extra-large handheld Nintendo works (and feels) like the real thing

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Comments are closed This extra-large handheld Nintendo works (and feels) like the real thing Comments are closed

Handheld retro gaming machines come and go, but few go so simply and effectively to the point as My Arcade’s Retro Champ. You stick in your NES cartridge, hit the power button and, assuming you blew on it beforehand, it powers up. This one sets itself apart with a big ol’ screen, Famicom compatibility and a whopping 35-hour battery life.

I played with the Retro Champ at CES, where they had one under lock and key — it’s not the production version, but that’s coming in the Spring. But it works just like you’d expect, and I was pleased to find it responsive, comfortable and pleasantly ridiculous. It’s really quite big, but not nearly as heavy as it looks.

The 7-inch screen is bright and the color looked good; it was responsive and the device felt well-balanced. The controls are where you’d expect, with big scoops in the back of the case to help you grip it. NES cartridges go in the top (and stick out as you see) and Famicom cartridges tuck in the bottom.

There’s a stand so you can prop it up and use wireless controllers with it (not included; they’re trying to keep the price low), and you can also plug it straight into your TV via HDMI, which basically makes this thing a spare NES home console. (I’m waiting to hear back on the screen and output resolutions and some other technical details.)

Lastly (and hilariously), there’s a hidden cleaning kit with space for a few Q-tips and a small bottle of solvent, for getting those really grimed-up games working.

My questions went to the usual pain points for scrupulous retro-loving gamers like myself:

Yes, it’s a 16:9 screen, and of course NES games were 4:3. So yes, you’ll be able to change that.

And no, it’s not just loading the ROM data into an emulator. This is the common way of doing it, and it produces artifacts and incompatibility with some games, not to mention control lag and other issues. Things have gotten better, but it’s definitely corner-cutting.

I chatted with Amir David, the creative director and one of the developers of the device. Though he couldn’t get into the technical details (patents pending), he said that they had developed their own chip that runs the game the same way an actual NES would.

So any cartridge that works on the NES, including homebrew and hacked games, will load right up no problem. That means you can also use a cartridge with an SD card loader, like an Everdrive, for those hard-to-get and hacked titles.

Some features are up in the air, for instance save states. It’s possible, but because this is in effect just a small Nintendo and not a virtual one, it’s also tricky. We’ll see.

I was also curious why there were four round buttons instead of the traditional NES D-pad. David said they were still waiting on feedback from players about which worked best; for an actual controller, the original D-pad might be good, but perhaps not for the handheld style. So they’re considering a few configurations; likewise the buttons on the right — they could get some tweaking before release.

The device goes for $80, which seems fair to me. If you want absolute fidelity for a home console, you can spend five to 10 times that amount, while for handhelds there are cheaper and smaller devices out there, most of which use emulators. They’re aiming for enthusiasts who want an easy but uncompromised way of playing their cartridges — lots of us have consoles sitting in boxes, but it’s a pain to get them set up. The Retro Champ could be one of the easiest ways to get back in the game. It ships in June.

CES 2019 coverage - TechCrunch

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