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Weekend Technology Roundup

Hey Zaarly community. For those of you who didn’t have a chance to catch recent headlines, here’s a roundup of some of the more exciting technology stories of the week:

According to the Los Angeles Times, Barnes and Noble will be announcing their new eReader on May 24, although the makers didn’t include what the new device would be called, cost, or look like. This will be an update to the two eReaders Barnes & Noble have already released, the Nook and the Nook color, which are competing with Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Reader.

Next, for all you car aficionados, Jaguar announced it is working with F1 Williams to develop C-X75, a $1.1 million dollar hybrid SUPERCAR. Imagine blowing passed a Prius in one of those babies.

According to Wired, Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar’s brand director said:

“The C-X75 received an incredible reception as a concept car. We’ve been building on that momentum and there is a clear business case for this exclusive halo model. No other vehicle will better signify Jaguar’s renewed confidence and excellence in technological innovation than this.”

Worried about the side effects of old age and the those endless days you spent tanning by the pool? Well, a new technology developed by the Fraunhofer Institute may help take some of the edge off. According to CNET, researchers in Germany have developed a sleek, flat microscope capable of imaging suspicious areas of skin for skin cancer.

The design uses multiple tiny optical sensors to scan and stitch together a bigger, clearer image of affected areas. According to Fraunhofer’s website:

Each slice is roughly 300 x 300 µm² in size and fits seamlessly alongside the neighboring slice; a computer program then assembles these to generate the overall picture. The difference between this technology and a scanner microscope: all of the image slices are recorded simultaneously.

The imaging system consists of three glass plates with the tiny lenses applied to them, both on top and beneath. These three glass plates are then stacked on top of one another. Each channel also contains two achromatic lenses, so the light passes through a total of eight lenses.

The company says it will take another couple of years before it reaches the market, and eventually, will be mass produced and available to everyone for relatively cheap.

Ever played Angry Birds? Think you’re pretty good? Well guess what, you actually suck at it compared to the robot OptoFidelity developed that can nail 3 stars on every level, no problem. Check out the video above to have your mind blown.

Lastly, Groupon and Live Nation announced that they will be partnering together to launch a new online ticketing deals channel, called GrouponLive.

GrouponLive, which will launch “in time for the summer concert season,” the companies said in a statement, will utilize Groupon’s local reach to market event tickets sold through Live Nation. This sounds like a match made in heaven for these two companies. To get details, those interested can sign up for the service at grouponlive.com.

With the Zaarly launch just around the corner, it looks like 2011 is already shaping up to be a very exciting year in tech.


There’s Always Something To Do On A Friday Night

It was one of those weeks. You know, a week where the phone wouldn’t stop ringing, your least favorite customer came in three times, and your boss just wouldn’t quit breathing down your neck. But at least it’s over; you finally made it to Friday. 

You’re supposed to go out on the town and blow off some steam with your buddies, but you get a text from Dave and find out your plans fell through. It’s already 8:00 PM. You begin staring blankly at your Facebook hoping for something to happen. 

Well, as usual, nothing happens except for a few pointless status updates and profile picture changes. 10:00 PM rolls around. You turn off the TV and decide to go to sleep, thinking about how you wasted another Friday night. 

Listen, I have good news. This never has to be you again. There are plenty of online avenues to help you make your night a memorable one — you just have to take the time to look.

First, try Yelp and see what’s in your area, especially if you already have some ideas as to what you’re looking for. You can search by area code and filter through various categories, such as: food, coffee, dinner, spa, night life etc. You can even filter through businesses and events that are accessible by metro, or within walking distance from your apartment. Best of all, each listing contains a 5-point rating system from real-life visitors so you can make sure you’ll be getting your money’s worth.

Eventful has one of the most comprehensive selections to fulfill your local entertainment appetite — find out what’s happening in your area with ease. They list everything from movies, concerts, and sports to family fun and nightlife. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can even demand an event to come directly to your city.

If you’re looking for a good deal, be sure to check Groupon on the reg. Every day there are new “group coupons” available for the best stuff to do, see and eat. Grab some of your friends, save money and share great experiences. It’s like the Costco of event planning.

Another site, Goby, operates like a search engine focused on giving you fun things to do with your free time. Simply fill in what you’d like to do, where’d you’d like to do it, and when. You’re a few clicks away from creating this weekend’s adventure.

A similar website, A Day’s Outing, offers their services with a simple tagline: “get out and go.” Find fairs, events for family and children, parks, gardens, theatre, museums, antiques, farms and more. A Day’s Outing will help find events near you, whether you’re starting from home or on the road.

And with the addition of Zaarly, your options are pretty much unlimited. Pretend you wanted to go to a concert, basketball game, or movie but the tickets were completely sold out. No need to worry anymore. Post on Zaarly: “I’m willing to pay (X) amount of money for tickets to (Y)”. You  choose your price and people near you make it happen.

You never have to waste another Friday night again.

It’s all about location, location, location-based apps

Proximity is key in 2011. GPS-aware mobile devices are becoming more common, enabling location-based mobile services that take advantage of geographical position to become broadly adopted.

Mobile local social applications leveraging peer-to-peer location-based technologies provide information, entertainment and even fun for a growing user base.

Location is relevant in almost any equation, which means applications, web sites, and services will push to integrate even more location functionality. Location is already becoming ubiquitous, being built into most of our favorite applications. When we use Yelp’s mobile app, we can find nearby restaurants. If we share our location with Flixster on our mobile devices, the app shows us movies and theaters within a certain radius. A Google search returns local place results based on IP address.

Early tech adopters began using location-based games in 2009 as services like Foursquare and Gowalla took SXSW by storm. Friends shared their locations with each other, and users competed to become mayors of venues. Businesses jumped on the bandwagon, exploring opportunities to offer rewards to frequent customers. SCVNGR linked its location-based game platform to chain restaurant Buffalo Wild Wings, offering customers interactive challenges to win prizes.

Location-based apps help businesses reach consumers in the neighborhood so to speak. Creative companies have offered timed and targeted special offers to the customers best-suited to respond. Location-based marketing campaigns offer valuable insights for business owners.

Daily deal apps like Groupon and LivingSocial have helped consumers save money by leveraging the collective power of groups of people near each other who want the same thing. By encouraging sharing with friends and partnering with hot new restaurants and services, Groupon has made coupon clipping chic again in 2011.

Not to be denied after Groupon declined its $6 billion acquisition offer, Google recently announced its own entry into the daily deal market: Google Offers. Even though it is late to the game, Google Offers is well positioned to eclipse the top two established, well-funded players in the space.

Expanding your network is easier than ever in 2011. Services like Whrrl connect real-world groups around specific passions or interests. The app offers societies for gourmands, bicycle enthusiasts, parents — just about anything you can imagine. Users make recommendations to one another, and they earn points when other members take their suggestions.

In the future, Yobongo will enable you to take location-based networking a step further by creating real-time chatrooms with people near you. We will be able to find common interests and connect with new people much more easily.

Zaarly takes location-based purchasing to a new level by creating a hyper-local marketplace of buyers and sellers. With Zaarly people who want things and people who want to provide services are brought together in an unprecedented way, with the focus on the buyer’s needs. Buyers post what they want and how much they’re willing to pay and sellers can log in to Zaarly view the needs and prices of tasks around them. Sellers bid for the tasks, and the buyer chooses the best one, with Zaarly connecting the two via an anonymous Twilio-powered phone number.

As we posted yesterday, smart phones are becoming ubiquitous. Location-based services are empowering users to connect with new friends, support local businesses, try new restaurants, and save money like never before. Who knew you needed a cell phone app to find out that your neighbor shared your interest in kickball? You just found a new teammate for next season. That’s so 2011.

How New Moms Use Technology

Being a new mom can be scary. Having a baby in 2011 is totally different than it was in 1976. Should you create a Twitter handle for your unborn child? How many Facebook ‘likes’ will your new baby pics get? Is there an app to help you keep all of your immunization schedules and physician appointments organized? Should you create an online scrapbook? Can you use Google calendars to schedule baby play dates? Will Barbie dolls be replaced by holograms?

Okay maybe the Barbie hologram is a stretch for now, but technology has dramatically changed the way parents raise their children. Take new mom Marcie Inzer for example. Marcie blogs everyday. “It’s a great way to connect with others and hear what other moms are going through,” Inzer said.

Whether you’re taking six weeks off work, or staying home full time with your child, the Internet provides a whole new outlet for connecting with other moms. So you don’t have to feel like you’re on an island. They may not make an instruction manual for kids. But with blogs and forums online, you can post a question, connect with moms near you having similar issues and find immediate answers to your questions.


Scrap the scrap book  

Remember growing up when your parents had to take photos to get developed, and then put each picture in the pages of a scrapbook. Four years later the scrapbook would get lost, then you could never find the pic you wanted. If only there was a Google search bar for real life. Now with blogs and social media sites, you can keep your entire scrapbook online electronically. Easy, fast, and searchable. Keep pics and milestones organized and quickly share everything with friends and family with a few mouse clicks.

“My blog is the closest thing my baby will have to a traditional baby book,” new mom Marcie said. “I hope that my daughter will be able to go through the blog when she’s older and read about how much we love her and the fun things we do together.”

Amazing. Kids that grew up in the 70s and 80s don’t have that luxury. My baby book is lost in the abyss of my parents attic somewhere. And my siblings and I rely on our aging grandparents for stories about our childhood. Marcie’s daughter won’t have that problem. Everything will be online.


Save time and stay connected  

Having a new baby can monopolize your schedule. You won’t be sleeping a solid eight hours for the next several years. Scheduling happy hours with your girlfriends takes a lot more planning. Shopping trips at the mall are probably few and far between. But technology in 2011 makes all of that easier.

“I use the Internet for basic email, Facebook, online shopping, couponing, and finding fun activities to do in the area,” Marcie said.

New moms like Marcie use email and Facebook to stay connected to friends and family, even when getting out of the house can be hard sometimes. And she stays away from frumpy mom jeans by keeping up with the latest fashions online.

Just about every second of your day as a new mom will be accounted for. Technology can help you stay organized and make the most of your time. Manage your calendar online with Google calendars, so your husband and other family members can quickly check reminders from anywhere.

Groupon can help you quickly find the best deals in your area. RSS feeds and Twitter can aggregate your custom news feeds so you quickly and easily see what’s most important and relevant to you. High speed Internet has enabled services like Hulu and streaming Netflix to provide you with in-demandTV shows and movies on your schedule. And electronic to-do lists have enabled people to manage their lives online.


There’s an app for that 

Smart phones have empowered new moms to manage their lives on the go. Apps like Remember the Milk can keep your grocery lists prioritized and make shopping simpler. Instagram enables quick and easy photo sharing. Foursquare can help you keep up on your friends location and see all the fun they’re having without you. As your child grows up, game apps like Angry Birds can keep them occupied and sitting still long enough for a haircut. Dragon dictation app will let you translate spoken word to text, in case your hands are full but you want to make a note.

New app Zaarly can help you with a wide range of parenting needs. Zaarly enables you to outsource the actives you don’t want to do, or need help doing.

New to the area and looking for a sitter you can trust? Zaarly it. You would pay top dollar for a reliable sitter so you and your husband can have one night to yourselves without worrying. Want to find a gently used stroller rather than buying a new one? Zaarly it. A set of parents in your neighborhood with teenage kids would be happy to sell you their good-as-new stroller at a price much lower than what you’d pay at Toys R Us.

Too tired to clean your house? Zaarly it. Trying to find the impossible-to-get hot new toy this Christmas season? Zaarly it. Zaarly is the crutch your mom wishes she had when you were growing up.


Plan for the future

Being a mom in 2011 is exciting. Technological advances are providing new outlets to stay connected, save money, improve efficiency and be a better overall parent.

You can manage your child’s finances, enroll them in actives and programs to future their education, and stay in touch with them as they grow up and leave the house. And who knows, you might even help yourself in the process.

“Blogging just started out for me as an outlet or hobby because I enjoy creative writing, but recently I was hired by a local business that focuses on baby/mom products to blog for them as well. I am so excited to contribute to my family income by using technology and doing what I enjoy!” Marcie said.

Marcie used technology to improve her parenting skills, and turned the blog into a professional opportunity that she can do from home with her baby. Technologic.