The Ultrabook Has Arrived! (The #UltrabookDads Videos)

I think you’ll agree that computers are now a part of just about every family’s lifestyle (not to mention our business lives…). It has been fascinating to watch the rapid evolution of computers over the years.  Remember the first computer you bought for your home?  Chances are it was a huge desktop PC with a large CPU, and awkwardly heavy CRT display.  Today that early PC is a digital dinosaur, and, arguably, the idea of a big CPU for a “desktop” PC is perhaps on its way to extinction as well.

Lap It Up…

When laptop PC’s first hit the market we were enamored by their portability, but we wanted them to have the same power and capabilities as our workhorse desktops… and soon they were just as fast and capable, with powerful, yet power friendly microprocessors, great graphic and media capabilities, sharp, wide screens, and hard drives with the same capacity as their desk-trodden counterparts.  Indeed the laptop could be a primary PC, but you might not want to carry it with you everywhere (if you value your shoulder).  For many, that big, bulky (but capable) laptop became our main PC, spending more time on our desks than our laps.

Casting (out) the Net(book)

Recognizing the consumer’s desire for “smaller and lighter,” notebooks evolved from the laptop, and then the netbook evolved from the notebook pc.  Small, light and inexpensive, the netbook was one step forward in portability, but two steps backward in power and function.  The shrunken keyboards could be a challenge, along with the small screens and general lack of “oomph” when it comes to speed and pure processing prowess.  A netbook has its place in a pinch, but it is unlikely to ever become a “main” computer.

Enter The Ultrabook!

The desire for small, light, powerful and portable is now being addressed by the many Ultrabooks hitting the market, driven by an Intel reference design.  As I mentioned in an earlier post in which I unboxed the Asus Zenbook UX31E, Ultrabooks are thin, sleek and light.  Most weigh less than 3 pounds, and the Asus Zenbook that Intel sent me is 9mm thick in the back, sloping down to 3mm in the front.  It is an eye-catching brushed aluminum package… and with “instant on” and solid battery life it is a computer you truly can (and will want to) take with you everywhere.  It is a full featured portable computer that fits into any lifestyle and a laptop that is just as comfortable on your lap on the couch as it is on your desk.  The Asus Zenbook is an impressive example of the Ultrabook category and at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) there are expected to be some exciting Ultrabook announcements from a number of manufacturers. (Stay tuned – I’ll be at CES and look forward to telling you more about the Ultrabooks, gadgets and other geek goodies on display in Las Vegas).

The Ultrabook Dads Geek Out On Video

When Intel sent @HighTechDad and I the Asus Zenbooks to review, we wanted to do something a little different.  Any reviewer can tell you the specs of a device.  We wanted to have some fun and give you a good perspective on the Asus Ultrabook at the same time. While we each made our own video, they are actually closely tied together and I hope you’ll take the time to watch them both for the full UltrabookDads treatment.  And please, let us know what you think!

 

Can’t see the video? Click this link: http://youtu.be/GqM3l3n-B3I

 

And here is the companion video from @HighTechDad:

Can’t see the video? Click this link: http://youtu.be/AhP6XdglaVs

Michael and I have enjoyed using and talking about the Ultrabook and having the chance to be “UltrabookDads.”  We held a Google Hangout and a fun live Twitter Chat, and one lucky Twittizen, @BadMofo33, was the random winner of an Ultrabook Intel provided as a giveaway.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this inside look inside Ultrabooks, sponsored by Intel.  Which Ultrabook features are most appealing to you?

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads  and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Disclosure:  In accordance with the FTC Guidelines and WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration and/or am being otherwise compensated by Intel in preparing to create this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. My opinions about Intel, Asus, and Ultrabooks are entirely my own and not those of Intel, Asus or any other party.

A Chance For You To Be An Ultrabook Dad (or Mom)

In the holiday spirit of giving, this is a quick update to my post about Ultrabooks.  I mentioned that my Cast of Dads cohort, Michael Sheehan (@HighTechDad) and I would be presenting a chance for one of you to get an Ultrabook, courtesy of Intel, the driving force behind the Ultrabook platform.   Here are the details:

You can read the the Official Rules, which you should, but here is a summary of the giveaway –

  • Begins December 21, 2011 at 12:00:01 a.m. U.S. Pacific Time (“PST”)
  • Ends December 23, 2011 at 11:59:59 p.m U.S. Pacific Time (“PST”)
  • U.S. Residents Only
  • 18 years and older
  • Must have a non-private Twitter account
  • You must send a Tweet with the hashtag (#) – “#UltrabookDads”
  • Read the rest of the Official Rules

So it’s simple.  Between now and Friday at Midnight PST, just send a Tweet with the hashtag #UltrabookDads and you’ll be part of a random drawing for the Ultrabook.

Now, while all you need to have in your tweet is the #UltrabookDads hashtag, we might as well make it interesting for the folks who will see your tweet, so feel free to add some thoughts about what you find exciting or appealing about the concept of an Ultrabook – a thin, light, highly portable and equally powerful laptop with instant on, long battery life, and some serious sex appeal in the looks department.  How would an Ultrabook impact your computing lifestyle?

To share some of our new-found insights and information about Ultrabooks Michael and I will host a couple of informal online get-togethers, which we promise to be ultra fun and put a geek dad spin on some great new technology.  (For a taste of our style  just check out the Cast of Dads podcast.)

We will be doing both a Hangout on Google+ and a live Twitter Chat.   These are just for fun and information.  You don’t have to participate in either to be eligible for the giveaway, but if you want to get our first impressions of the Asus Zenbook Ultrabook we have been playing with, the hangout and chat will be a great opportunity.

Here is the schedule for the Hangout and Twitter Chat:

Google+ Hangout: Thursday, December 22 at 10pm EST / 7pm PST
Twitter Chat: Friday December 23 at 10pm EST / 7pm PST

We’ll be talking Ultrabooks, etc. for about an hour each night and we hope you can stop by!  In any event, feel free to follow me (@sass) or Michael (@HighTechDad) for updates and don’t forget to send a tweet with #UltrabookDads before Midnight Friday if you want a chance to get your own Ultrabook!

Happy Holidays!

UPDATE:  The winner of the Ultrabook Giveaway was @BadMofo33.  Congrats!

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes!and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads  and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Disclosure:  In accordance with the FTC Guidelines and WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration and/or am being otherwise compensated by Intel in preparing to create this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. My opinions about Intel, Asus, and Ultrabooks are entirely my own and not those of Intel, Asus or any other party.

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Zen and the Art of Ultrabooks

(Note: this is a sponsored post, but the words and opinions are all mine.)

It is fitting that Asus calls their new Ultrabook line “Zenbooks.”  Just one look and you can see that it is a device that exudes a sense of calm and balance, purity and power.   An early entrant in the Intel Ultrabook category, the Zenbook is thin and sleek, capable and fast.  It is the Ying and Yang of portable computing: thin and light enough to take with you everywhere, yet powerful and feature rich enough to function as a primary computer.  Actually, that is the essence of the Intel Ultrabook spec – to pack a full-featured computer in an elegantly thin package, supported by long battery life, best-in-class security, and the convenience of “instant on” (giving the boot to lengthy boot times), all at a reasonable price point.

Intel Inside

As long-time Dadomatic readers know, I have been an Intel Advisor and have written here about interesting technology and insights I have gleaned from attending various events and having the opportunity to peek inside Intel.  Now I am looking forward to bringing you more information about the ultra slick new category of Ultrabooks that Intel is the driving force behind.  Intel has provided me with an ASUS Zenbook, as well as an opportunity for one of you to get an Ultrabook through a Twitter give-away.  I am working hand in hand (or Ultrabook to Ultrabook) with one of my Intel Advisor and Cast of Dads cohorts, Michael Sheehan (also known as HighTechDad.)  If you want to learn more about Ultrabooks (and have a chance to get your hands on one) please follow me (@sass) and Michael (@hightechdad) on Twitter, and keep an eye out for our tweets with the hashtag #UltrabookDads.  Michael and I will also be collaborating on some fun video reviews of the Ultrabook, so please stay tuned.

The Wow Factor

As the geek dad in my family, my kids are always waiting to see what new computing gadget or gizmo I will be bringing home.  It has been fascinating to watch over the years as the “wow factor” of gadgets has shifted to the point where the design, look and feel of a device is almost as important as its function and capabilities.  It wasn’t too long ago when all we cared about was what a computer could do. Now, as we bring our computers with us to meetings, family gatherings, parks, coffee shops and airports, we also care about how our computers look and feel. That’s the world our kids are growing up in.  For them, what their computers look and feel like will be just as important as the “kicks” they wear.  When I look at the Ultrabook as compared to the first laptop I ever had, the advancements, inside and out, are mind boggling.  I can only imagine what ultra amazing computers my kids have to look forward to.  With style, design and performance in mind, Ultrabooks definitely win on the wow factor, and seem to deliver on the promise of taking portable computing into the future.

What’s Next?

I look forward to spending some time with the Asus Zenbook Ultrabook and then sharing my thoughts with you.  Meanwhile, here are a few shots from my “unboxing” of the Asus Zenbook:

Can’t see the video? Click HERE.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 20).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads  and Wunderkind! podcasts.

Disclosure:  In accordance with the FTC Guidelines and WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration and/or am being otherwise compensated by Intel in preparing to create this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. My opinions about Intel, Asus, and Ultrabooks are entirely my own and not those of Intel, Asus or any other party.

Photo Credit: © Robert Spriggs – Fotolia.com

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Our Children’s World Is Magical

(This post was inspired by my recent trip to Intel’s Santa Clara Headquarters for their annual “Upgrade Your Life” Experience…)

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic…”

- Arthur C. Clarke

Of all the wonderful words that Clarke wrote, few have been as powerful and prescient as his frequently cited statement above. He was right.  More than right, he has defined the world we live in today, and more importantly, the world our children will carry forward. It is truly a magical world.

The Magic

In our lifetimes we have seen technology advance well beyond “sufficient,” to provide us with tools and capabilities that are so indistinguishable from magic we already take them for granted. You wouldn’t think twice about standing on a street in NY and speaking to your friend while they are on a boat off the coast of France…yet that is magic.  We take for granted that we can sit on the couch with a laptop or tablet and watch a movie sent to the device without wires or discs… yet that is magic.  Having near instant access to the answer to nearly any question imaginable, from a mobile device you carry in your pocket… is magic. Getting off a plane at crowded airport and getting a notification that a friend you haven’t seen in person in years is also in the same terminal building, so you get to hang out together for ten awesome minutes… is magic.  I could go on and on.

The Magicians

Unlike the magic of wizards and sorcerers, the magic of technology cannot simply be invoked with incantations and chants of “abracadabra.”  The magic of technology is created by a different type of magician – the engineers, scientists, visionaries and entrepreneurs who can not only envision the magic but who can also figure out ways to build it.  Today’s magic comes from people and companies who have leveraged brainpower, innovation and imagination to make the impossible possible.  Chief among these modern day magicians is Intel. As an Intel Advisor I’ve had the privilege of taking a peek inside Intel and meeting many of the brains behind the magic and the wizards behind the curtains of innovations that have changed our lives and will change the lives of our children.

It’s The Process, Not Just The Processor

What makes technology become magic is what it empowers us to do.  As amazing as it is to acknowledge the advancements and engineering prowess it has taken to facilitate the evolution of the microprocessor (following Moore’s Law and decreasing in size while increasing in power and efficiency by silicon leaps and bounds), the true amazement is not in the chips, but rather in what the chips enable us to do.  Intel employs scientists, researchers, anthropologists, sociologists, even futurists, to study human behavior to better understand where the true power of the microprocessor can be put to work. In one day on the Intel campus for the Upgrade Your Life event we saw firsthand how technology is changing healthcare, education and the care of our environment.  We saw how technology is facilitating independent living for a rapidly growing population of seniors.  Magical things like placing sensors in chairs to wirelessly alert the wife of an Alzheimer’s patient when her husband, known to wander off, gets up from his favorite chair, so she can come home from next door and make sure he is ok.  By using technology to place shift and skill shift aspects of healthcare, many of the services provided today by institutions can potentially be moved to the home, which for many could diminish the need for a nursing home.  The possibilities are endless, and the advancements are desperately needed as cost effective, and more importantly – effective healthcare is critical for an aging population.  We live longer, and the magic of technology may enable us to live better too.

Unleashing Human Potential

The talented artist Hugh MacLeod was hired by Intel to create some of his inspiring cartoons at the CES Show in January and he leveraged the phrase “The processor is an expression of human potential,” which succinctly and sincerely captures the essence of the magic of technology.  While I don’t mean for this to come off as just a puff piece for Intel, I do mean to use Intel as an example of one of the many companies that really are creating magic that will likely benefit our children in ways we can only begin to imagine.  Think of the world you lived in when you were the age your children are today.  How many of the things your children now take for granted would have seemed like magic to you back then?  I grew up in a world before there was a computer on every desk (and now in every pocket.)  My kids know no other world.  What is magic to me, is ordinary to them.

I can’t wait to see the advancements that my kids won’t be able to distinguish from magic!  Can you?

 

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

Disclosure: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf.  Intel covered my travel, accommodations and expenses for my trip to Santa Clara for the Upgrade Your Life event.

Photo Credit: © ioannis kounadeas – Fotolia.com

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Getting An Upgrade From Intel


Chips anyone?

As part of the “Intel Advisors” program, my fellow Cast of Dads co-host Michael Sheehan (@hightechdad) and I were the lone males at the recent “Upgrade Your Life” experience at Intel‘s Santa Clara headquarters.  Surrounded by a bevy of talented women entrepreneurs and bloggers we were treated to an inspiring peek inside Intel and in particular, a deeper look at some ways technology is impacting our environment, our health and our education — in essence, how technology is impacting our lives and the lives of our families. I attended this event last year as well, where, among other things, I was introduced to the Intel Reader, a fascinating product to help the visually impaired.  There was a lot of great information and learning at this year’s event as well and I look forward to sharing more details here.  Meanwhile there is a good overview at the Intel Inside Scoop blog, and below is a short video recap Michael and I recorded in the lobby.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 23, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

Disclosure: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf.  Intel covered my travel, accommodations and expenses for my trip to Santa Clara for the Upgrade Your Life event.

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Showing Our Junk (And a Father’s Day REWARD!)

We’re baaack!  It’s been a few weeks, but the Cast of Dads got back in front of our respective microphones, phones and headsets to deliver a new, fun-filled episode.  With political private parts in the headlines, bathroom humor abounds and we make our fair share of “weiner” jokes.  Brad goes so far as to reveal that he, too, has posted pictures of his junk on the interwebs.  OMG!

Because this weekend is Father’s Day we also reveal a special give-away thanks to our friends at Intel.  Be sure to check out how you can get a chance for a Dell Duo convertible netbook.

You can LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS Episode 42 by CLICKING HERE.

Topics discussed in this episode include:

Give-Away Details: We’ve got a brand new Dell Inspiron Duo to give away to one lucky Dad. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment to this post that answers the question “The most rewarding thing about being a fathers is?”

We’ll draw a winner at random from the comments posted. You have until the end of the day on June 19th, Father’s Day to get your answer in. Good luck!!!

If you have been enjoying the Cast of Dads podcast, please tell your friends about the show and have them subscribe to either our direct feed or via iTunes. Also, please leave us a review in iTunes!

Cast of Dads is a group of podcasting and blogging dads who gather to gab about fatherhood. The cast of dads includes C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff, Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, who collectively represent 13 kids from the youngest of babies to full grown adults. Each of them brings a unique perspective to being a father.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 21 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

DISCLOSURE: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to advise and attend events on their behalf.

 

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Discussing Dadgets: The Cast of Dads At CES 2011

Three of us Cast of Dads (CC, Michael and myself) were in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and we got together upstairs in the Intel booth to record both a video and audio special episode of the Cast of Dads podcast.  We invited Dave Delaney of Griffin Technology to join us as our first ever guest Dad, and we had a lot of fun talking gadgets and dadgets in the corner of a very busy Intel CES meeting room.  In the show you’ll see us playing with an unusual netbook/tablet from Dell, and stay tuned to future Cast of Dads shows for news on how you may be able to get your hands on one courtesy of Intel & Dell.  Links to listen to the audio version of this show, as well as links to some of the things we talk about, appear below the video.  Enjoy!

You can LISTEN TO THE CAST OF DAD AT CES 2011 show HERE.

Some of the things we mention in the show:

And much, much more…

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

DISCLOSURES: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf, including the 2011 CES show. I make mention of the  Sony NEX-5 Camera (affiliate link), which I received as a sample from Sony that I am not expected to return.

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Bringing Toys To Life at CES 2011: Intel Labs OASIS

Central Hall Panorama @CES 2011 (c) 2011 Jeffrey W. Sass - Taken with Sony NEX-5

???I am back from the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) with sore feet, weary eyes and more than a few gigabytes of images and videos of some cool (and unusual) technology and gadgets.  I look forward to sharing a lot of that content with you here on Dad-O-Matic, and will try to focus on the stuff that you will most likely be able to benefit from or be interested in as parents.

Back To The Future

One of the things that makes the annual pilgrimage to CES exciting is the opportunity to look into the crystal ball and see a bit of the future, as many companies display prototypes and experimental products that are not available today, but may be introduced at some time in the not so distant future.  These are the things that often spark “WOW” moments and geekasmic pangs of “I want one!”  They also often spark the imagination, as you can really see how fast advances in consumer oriented computing and technology are moving us toward a tech enhanced lifestyle that was once only imagined in Science Fiction.  I have no doubt that our kids and grand-kids will be taking for granted the kind of technology infused world we gawked at in movies like BLADE RUNNER, THE FIFTH ELEMENT, MINORITY REPORT and many others.

Sponsors Of Tomorrow

While known best for its microprocessor chips, because of the deep impact those chips have on our lives by being inside and powering so many products we use and will use, Intel considers itself the “Sponsors Of Tomorrow” (and they were also the sponsor of my trip to CES this year).   The company invests heavily in Research and Development and one of the technologies that impressed and awed me the most was on display at the Intel CES booth.  It was a demonstration of the OASIS Perceptive Home project from Intel Labs.

Bringing Toys (and other objects) To Life

Leveraging the massive processing power of the latest microchips, along with 3D Image detection, micro projection, and a host of other technologies, the OASIS project (OASIS stands for Object Aware Situated Interactive System) creates an instant interactive augmented reality experience around common household items.  In the video below I took of the CES booth demo, you can see the OASIS system turning simple LEGO toys on a table top into fully animated, interactive play environments.   A small overhead unit that combines “Kinect-like” cameras, as well as color projectors and speakers, the OASIS can “recognize” objects and then react based on pre-determined logic and rules.  The imagined applications of this technology are endless, from finding recipes or building a shopping list by simply placing items on the kitchen counter, to creating custom interactive play surfaces based on the specific toys your child may be playing with, and as many other uses as a creative mind can imagine.

Playing With Fire The Safe Way

In the video below you will see how OASIS can make a LEGO dragon breathe animated fire… but not to worry, all it takes is a LEGO fire truck to come to the rescue and hose down the dragon caused damage.  I can remember breaking my back crawling around the floor to pick up the pieces of toy railroad tracks, strewn about after my sons would “play.”  If I only had an OASIS back then, my aspiring young Engineers could have created their own virtual railroad system by simply dragging their fingers along the dining room table.  Watch the video below and you will see what I mean.

What do you think? Can you imagine uses for Intel’s OASIS technology in your home? How would you like to see this technology “productized” for your use?  Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, and I look forward to sharing more cool stuff and “Dadgets” from CES in upcoming posts.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

DISCLOSURES: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf, including the 2011 CES show. I was also given a camera by Sony to use to take photographs at CES.

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CES Bound: Gadgets, Dadgets, and A Remote Control Give Away!

International CESThere is no doubt that gadgets have truly gone mainstream.  Look around your home and what do you see?  Smartphones, Tablets, E-book readers, Computers, Game Consoles.  Gadgets galore.  Never before have kids grown up in households that so avidly consume consumer electronics.  Even two year old toddlers are playing with “toys” with processors inside.  Instead of finger painting, they are intuitively fingering capacitive touch screens and learning to read by tapping rather than turning pages.  I am a dad who loves gadgets, so you won’t hear me complain as more and more tech toys (for kids of ALL ages) invade our homes.  When I was part of the Sony DigiDad project I called the cool gadgets dads play with “Dadgets!”  More recently I am honored to have been selected as an “Intel Advisor,” giving me the opportunity to take a closer look at innovative lifestyle tech products such as the Intel Reader.

A SMORGASBORD FOR GADGET LOVERS

For a very long time, one of my favorite conventions to attend has been the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and I have been fortunate to be able to attend for business purposes throughout my career.  This year, in addition to monitoring all the activity in the mobile world in my role at Myxer, I am also attending CES on behalf of Intel and the Intel Advisors, and will have a chance to look more closely at how technology and consumer electronics are impacting our family lives.  I hope to share a lot of what I learn about interesting gadgets and “Dadgets” with you here on Dad-O-Matic while I am at the show, and after I return.  From home electronics to automating our automobiles with apps, the latest and greatest in innovative products and concepts will be on display at CES and I’ll do my best to give you a taste of the technologies and trends I encounter.

TAKING CONTROL WITH TECHNOLOGY & GADGETS

As parents there are many ways we can use technology to take control of our lives and make things at home more funHarmony® One Advanced Universal Remote and convenient.  From remote controlled cameras and baby monitors, to remote controls for the entertainment system in the family room… From robot floor cleaners to wireless streaming music… there are countess ways we incorporate gadgets into our daily home lives, hopefully in ways that make things easier and more fun for all.  One gadget that has won the prestigious “BEST OF INNOVATIONS” award at past CES shows is the Harmony One universal remote from Logitech and I am happy to say I have a brand new Harmony One touchscreen universal remote to give away to a Dad-O-Matic reader! I own a Harmony Remote I bought a couple of years ago and it is a great way to take control of multiple devices, from TV’s to DVD players and sound systems, with a single remote. The best feature is perhaps the setup of the remote. Instead of looking up and entering complicated manufacturer codes, the Harmony series of remotes features a very simple guided online setup.  You just connect the remote to your computer and enter the brand and model of all the equipment you want to control and the software does the rest, configuring your Harmony One perfectly.  The rechargeable Harmony One is one of Logitech’s top of the line remotes, featuring both conveniently placed buttons and a customizable touch screen.  Thanks to the friendly folks at Logitech, I have one Harmony One to give away.  All you need to do is leave a comment on this post between now and the end of the day on January 10th, ideally telling us how you use gadgets to gain more control in your home. One of your comments will be randomly selected to receive the Harmony One.  Good luck!

If there are specific gadgets (or Dadgets) you want me to look out for at CES this year, you can mention that in the comments as well!

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 19).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.??

DISCLOSURES: I am part of the “Intel Advisor” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf, including the 2011 CES show.  The Harmony One universal remote being offered in this post was provided as a courtesy by Logitech’s PR team.

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Get Your Hands On A Digital Reader That Says It All: The Intel Reader

(Note: If you and/or anyone in your family is dyslexic or suffers from any vision impairment, please read on for a chance to test an Intel Reader in your home for one month…  Disclaimer: Product links below are Amazon Affiliate links.  I am part of the “Intel Insider” program and am compensated and/or receive other value from Intel to attend events on their behalf. I was not asked to write this post, but I came up with the idea of doing so because I thought it would be of interest and value to the Dadomatic community. I hope you agree.)

The concept of digital readers or so-called “e-Readers” has certainly hit the mainstream, with the likes of Amazon and Barnes & Noble seemingly engaged in pricing wars for their respective Kindle and  Nook devices as well as many other parties entering the e-ink fray, from Sony to Samsung and other lesser known consumer electronics players.  Add to that the iPad and other Tablets and there are no shortage of “electronic reader” devices to choose from.  The Intel Reader, however, is an entirely different type of electronic reader, designed not to be read like a book, but rather to read aloud to you.  Developed by Intel’s Digital Health Group, the Intel Reader was conceived as a powerful, portable device to aid children and adults with Dyslexia and other vision impairments.  Unlike traditional eBook Readers and other digital reading devices for the blind, the Intel Reader does not need to connect with a digital library and download or install content to be read.  Instead, Intel has cleverly created a “point and shoot” reading device, with an integrated scanning camera that quickly, easily and accurately captures any printed words – from the pages of a book, to the labels on a package, to your daily pile of snail mail -  and then reads it aloud to you, while displaying the text for you to follow along.

“Frustration Is The Mother Of Invention”

I was first introduced to the Intel Reader at the “Upgrade Your Life” event I attended at Intel’s Portland Campus in early June.  The device was introduced to us by Ben Foss, Intel’s Director of Access Technology and I have since had the chance to speak further with Ben to get a more complete history of the Intel Reader.  It turns out that there is a very personal story behind the Reader, inspired by Ben’s own experience and frustrations growing up with Dyslexia.  Reading was such a challenge for Ben that he made his way through Stanford Law School by scanning his reading assignments and faxing them to his Mom so she could call him and read them to him over the phone.  The frustration of relying on recordings, slow and limited text to speech conversions, and the kindness of others to read to him, Ben was convinced there had to be a better way and began to experiment with taking pictures of text and using optical character recognition (OCR) software to convert the images to text readable by text to speech programs.

Technology For Independent Living

Recognizing that the same powerful processors that drive portable computers would also have the processing chops to facilitate fast text to speech conversion and other features in a small, portable, battery powered device, Ben approached Intel Health to seek funding to develop a prototype of his concept, stressing the wide range of children and adults whose lives could be dramatically improved by such a reading device.  One of the missions of Intel Digital Health is to find ways for technology to be used to enable people with chronic illnesses to enjoy a more independent lifestyle, and clearly the Intel Reader concept fit the bill.  Ben received funding and the work began.

Good Behavior

One of the things I’ve learned through spending some time with Intel executives is that the company makes product decisions based on a great deal of research on human behavior and ethnograhics.  In creating the current version of the Intel Reader, prototypes were tested with over 400 people, and the observations made had a direct impact on the design, features and functions of the device.  For example, the camera on the Intel Reader is on the bottom, not on the back as one would typically expect on a handheld picture taking device.  The placement of the camera was a result of researchers observing how people were actually using the Intel Reader and recognizing that if a book was open on a table, it was much easier to photograph the pages with the camera on the bottom edge of the device.  Having played with the Reader I can attest to the fact that it is very easy and intuitive to just hold your arms straight out over the book and snap the picture, thanks to the bottom placement of the camera.

Point, Shoot, Listen

I was sent an Intel Reader to play with, and now that I have had the chance to put it through its paces I am going to share the hands on experience with one of you.  The Reader is very easy to use.  As noted there is a camera on the bottom.  Hold your arms out over the pages of the book and snap.  Simple on-screen menus (all of which speak their commands aloud) let you easily manage and play back the documents you have “scanned” by photographing.  You can set the type and speed of the playback voice, and zoom in on the on-screen fonts to enlarge them to seemingly unlimited sizes.  The Intel Reader even lets you make an MP3 file of the reading of any document you have scanned, so you can listen on a PC, phone, iPod, or any other MP3 capable media device.  This is a great feature, that makes the output of the Intel Reader easy to use in places and circumstances where you may not want or be able to bring along the Intel Reader itself.  In fact, you can listen to this blog post, read by the Intel Reader, here.  For scanning larger documents or lots of pages, Intel makes a Portable Capture Station, that holds the Reader above a book, so you can easily snap to scan, turn the page, snap to scan, etc. capturing a large number of pages in one session.  The Portable Capture Station cleverly folds into a self-contained case so you can easily bring it along to work or school or anywhere else you may want to capture content for your Intel Reader.

Success Stories

The best way to truly understand the value of a device like the Intel Reader is to see firsthand how it can have a positive impact on a person’s daily lifestyle. As Ben Foss says, the impact is greatest when the Reader enables people to once again enjoy doing something they love.  Ben has no shortage of great stories about Intel Reader users, from the Dad with Macular degeneration who uses the Reader to be able to see the check when he takes his kids out to dinner, enabling him to once again proudly “pick up the tab” as he used to do… to the kid who was finally able to read the instructions for the game “RISK” only to learn that his buddies had been “cheating” all along in their regular games.  Here is a video of how one woman used the Intel Reader to return to cooking her favorite recipe.  The Intel Reader is not technically a medical device, and thus may not be covered under medical insurance, however, depending on the user’s situation, it may be tax deductible or something that can be purchased on one’s behalf by their school or employer.  If interested in more detail in that regard, please consult with a qualified professional.  To give you an idea of cost, the list price for the Intel Reader is approximately $1,500 and the cost of the optional Portable Capture Station is approximately $399.

Your Turn

Intel has let Dadomatic borrow an Intel Reader to let one of you use it for one month and see firsthand how a digital Reader that speaks to you can make life a little easier.  If you are interested in having the chance to test drive the Intel Reader, please leave a comment below and let me know why you would like to try out the Intel Reader.  One commenter will be selected to be sent an Intel Reader on loan for one month.  To participate I ask  that you agree to share your experience with me so I can include your views in a follow up post here.  Sound like a plan?

Below is a good video demonstration of the Intel Reader.  I look forward to your thoughts on this innovative electronic reader.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 22, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

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Cast of Dads #22: From Intel to In Tents

Dealing with the crazy schedules of five busy dads, this week we recorded Cast of Dads on a Monday, and it felt like the show had a different vibe from our normal Sunday morning chats.  That said, like always we geek out over a wide range of topics, from “Intel Inside” to pitching tents outside, to what dads really want for Father’s Day.  Enjoy!

Topics discussed in this episode include:

You can LISTEN TO CAST OF DADS EPISODE 22 HERE.

If you have been enjoying the Cast of Dads podcast please tell your friends about the show and have them subscribe to either our direct feed or via iTunes.  Also, please leave us a review in iTunes!

Cast of Dads is a group of podcasting and blogging dads who gather to gab about fatherhood. The cast of dads includes C.C. Chapman, Jeffrey Sass, Max Kalehoff, Michael Sheehan, and Brad Powell, who collectively represent 13 kids from the youngest of babies to full grown adults. Each of them brings a unique perspective to being a father.Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.?

Getting the Intel on Intel at the “Upgrade Your Life” Event

Pass the dip, please...

As so called “daddy bloggers” for Dadomatic we sometimes get invited to attend events that may lead to information and content that will be of interest to you, our readers. A few months ago, for example, Christopher Johnston was flown to New York to attend an advance screening of the family movie “Secrets of the Mountain.” Today I am being flown to Portland Oregon to attend an all day event tomorrow at the Intel Hillsboro Campus called, “Upgrade Your Life.” I will be joining a number of other invited bloggers and digital “influencers” including:

As you can see, there are only two “guys” in this gang and I am glad to be joining one of my “Cast of Dads” cohorts, Michael Sheehan (aka “HighTechDad“) to help represent the Dadosphere.  Until recently, many events like this seemed to be geared toward women exclusively and it is thanks to YOU, readers of Dadomatic, as well as the growing popularity of other dad and fatherhood blogs such as Digital Dads, DadLabs, and many others, that Dads are being included more and more when family and parenting is being considered.  Kudos to the Intel team for opening up this event to geek parents of all genders!  Speaking of geeks, the agenda for the event includes a wide range of presentations and round-table discussions and I look forward to learning more and sharing what I learn with you.  I wonder if they will be serving “chips” at lunch???

Intel Inside… Everything

Following the “Upgrade Your Life” theme, based on the agenda it looks like we will be looking at how technology impacts:

  • The Workplace
  • Healthcare
  • Entertainment
  • Education
  • The Environment
  • The Future

These are all topics we have tackled in one form or another here at Dadomatic, and it should be interesting to see how one of the world’s leading tech companies is approaching them.  We should have access to a number of Intel Executives during the day, so if there are any specific questions you might have for Intel please leave them in the comments and I will do my best to get you some answers while I am “Inside Intel.”

DISCLOSURE: In accordance to the FTC Guidelines and WOMMA Code of Ethics, I am disclosing that Intel Corporation has covered my travel, accommodations and costs related to my visit to their Oregon-based offices.

Jeff Sass is the proud dad of ZEO (Zach, 21, Ethan, 20 and Olivia, 18).  He is also a seasoned entertainment and technology exec and active social media enthusiast.  You can see more of Jeff’s writing at Sassholes! and Social Networking Rehab and you can listen to Jeff on the Cast of Dads podcast.

Photo Credit: © Starks – Fotolia.com

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