No Foul! Wireless Charging Hotspots Coming to Madison Square Garden

iPhone with Duracell Powermat wireless charging sleeve next to wireless charging hotspot.

Duracell Powermat to install wireless charging hotspots in restaurants, bars and luxury boxes in the “World’s Most Famous Arena.”

If you remember the Patrick Ewing-era New York Knicks, you know they were tough enough to take a hard charge now and then for the team. In a few weeks you’ll be able to get a charge yourself–wirelessly and without the pain—courtesy of Duracell Powermat.

Duracell Powermat booth at the 2012 CES.

The company announced at last week’s 2012 CES in Las Vegas that it has been tapped by Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association and the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League, to install wireless charging hotspots around the Manhattan arena.

If you have a iPhone or other smartphone or mobile device and you outfit it with a wireless charging sleeve, which will be sold at the Garden as well as at major electronics stores, you’ll be able to give your device a charge while it sits in front of you as you dine or drink or gently air your opinion about the officiating of the game below.

Mockup of Garden suite with wireless charging hotspot at 2102 CES in Las Vegas.

The Duracell Powermat wireless charging sleeves as well as those already available from companies such as Energizer adhere to a wireless charging standard named “Qi,” developed by the Wireless Power Consortium, which showed off a wealth of Qi-compatible devices at the 2012 CES. This means that any Qi-compatible sleeve will work with the hotspots at the Garden–not just those made by Duracell Powermat.

Wireless Power Consortium shows off Qi-compatible devices at 2012 CES.

An upcoming Duracell Powermat smartphone app will not only tell you how much power is left in your device, but it will also direct you to the nearest wireless charging hotspot.

If you use the app while you’re sitting in the Garden, you can use your phone’s camera to scan the arena and, through the magic of “augmented reality,” the app will generate pointers in the image to show you where the hotspots are.

Duracell Powermat smartphone app previewed at the 2012 CES in Las Vegas.

The new inductive charging stations will appear first in the Event Level Suites, which were added as part of the first phase of a three-phase renovation of the Garden last year. Eventually they will pop up in the Garden’s Madison Suites, the Delta Sky360 Club and in the 1879 Club presented by J.P. Morgan.

Entertainer Jay-Z is the new spokesman for the new Duracell Powermat wireless charging initiative at the Garden, which is a little bit ironic since he is a part owner of the nearby rival New Jersey Nets—soon to be the even closer Brooklyn Nets. Duracell Powermat LLC is a joint venture of Procter & Gamble, parent company of Duracell, and Powermat.

Text and photos Copyright 2012, Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features

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Plantronics Launches GameCom 780 Surround Sound Stereo USB Gaming Headset at CES 2012

Headset offers Dolby 7.1 surround sound, 40mm drivers, a noise-canceling microphone and a volume control right on the headset.

The Plantronics GameCom 780 Surround Sound Stereo USB Gaming Headset which launched at the 2012 CES aims to please gamers who want to hear as much of the thunder, rock and roll of their gaming experience without the weight of a hefty headset.

The $80 GameCom 780 has Dolby 7.1 surround sound support as well as 40mm drivers which enhance bass and provide for an immersive experience hardcore gaming experience, according to Plantronics. The swing-away noise-canceling microphone minimizes extraneous sounds while maximizing the ability to trash talk clearly with online foes.

Plantronics GameCom 780 Surround Sound Stereo USB Gaming Headset

When tested, the GameCom 780 felt very light for its size yet delivered ample bass and clear sound. Gunshots reverberated and whistled clearly while the crackle of a fire rose and fell as the virtual player approached and moved away. The ear pads did an admirable job of muting the noise from the cacophonous 2012 CES show floor.

The speakers swivel, allowing the unit to store flat so that it can slip into a briefcase. The volume, Dolby and mute controls are on the left speaker and the unit has a 6.5-foot, heavy-duty USB cord. The headset has a 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response range while the microphone has a 100Hz to 8kHz frequency response range.

While users with PCs or laptops with top-shelf audio cards might opt for a headset with standard audio plugs such as the $50 Plantronics GameCom 380, the GameCom 780 is aimed at those who want a simple connection which still provides superior audio, said a Plantronics representative. He also noted that the headset is also aimed for use with Internet telephony and videoconferencing services such as Skype.

The unit is on sale now at Best Buy and will be on sale at Amazon and the Plantronics website.

Text and video Copyright 2012, Robert S. Anthony, Stadium Circle Features
Photo courtesy of Plantronics

A 2011 CES Miracle: Silence in the Press Room

Silence in the press room on Press Day at CES? Never thought I’d see the day.

Indeed that’s almost what happened at the main press room at the Las Vegas Convention Center Wednesday afternoon even as thousands of journalists poured into town for the media preview day before the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show opened to the public today.

The reason? Most journalists were a few miles away at the Venetian Las Vegas Casino, Hotel & Resort, where most of the larger press events were held. When it came time to write their stories and blogs and upload their photos and videos, most journalists ventured to the much smaller and much-less-equipped CES press room at the Venetian.

The result? The area around the Venetian press room resembled a natural disaster assistance center. The sight of dozens of tired, deadline-pressured, alcohol-lubricated journalists strewn in the hallways around the packed press room gave the area the aura of a flophouse which ran out of beds before the stream of incoming clientele did.

Those sharp enough to catch a shuttle bus to the much larger and better-laid-out CES press room at the Las Vegas Convention Center found seats, serenity and plenty of available computers and laptop desk space–all of which will be nonexistent starting today.

But on Wednesday you could have heard a whispered PIN number drop as journalists quietly, politely and efficiently got their work done without stress, four-letter words or fist shaking. Utterly amazing.

So how do you keep track of the announcements coming out of the show? If you have a Twitter account, all you need to do is search for a term like “#CES,” “#CES2011” or any similar variation and you’ll get an instant snapshot of what’s being announced at this moment. Follow me on Twitter at: @newyorkbob.

Keep an eye right here for some special reports from CES as well.

Video and text Copyright 2011. Stadium Circle Features

CES 2011: OnStar – Now Almost Anyone Can Have It

OnStar announced a new product at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Tuesday that non-GM-vehicle owners have been clamoring for for ages: A kit that allows you to add the OnStar satellite information and security service to almost any car on the road.

Where do you find such a device? Just look into your rearview mirror … and then replace it … with OnStar’s $299 addOn replacement rearview mirror. The addOn includes the familiar OnStar blue button and provides access to OnStar’s satellite-borne services such as turn-by-turn navigation, stolen car tracking, hands-free calling and automatic crash response. Service plans will run from $18.95 a month to $199 a year. The new unit will be available at Best Buy later this year. Until now, OnStar was only available as a preinstalled option in GM cars.

At a press conference at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, OnStar President Chris Preuss showed off the new addOn unit to hundreds of journalists two days before the official opening of the convention floor on Jan. 6.

According to OnStar’s press release, the addOn is “certified to work on 99 percent of the top 20 selling non-GM vehicles over the last 10 years, or approximately 55 million cars and trucks.”

More CES coverage coming. Stay tuned.

Text and video Copyright 2011 Stadium Circle Features
Photos courtesy of OnStar

CEA Wires Washington’s Historic Eastern Market

Take a small slice from the gigantic International Consumer Electronics Show, bring it to Washington, D.C., invite the press and members of Congress and what do you get? CES on the Hill, a surprisingly interesting and busy event held at Washington’s historic Eastern Market Tuesday.
Not only did the Consumer Electronics Association bring dozens of high- and low-ranking Capitol Hill officials to the Eastern Market, it also left something behind: $8,500 worth of Ethernet jacks and cabling.
During a brief interview, Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CEA, noted that when rescheduling the event from the Russell Senate Office Building to the Eastern Market for space and other reasons, the CEA discovered that the Eastern Market’s North Hall had wireless Internet connectivity, but no Ethernet jacks for exhibitors who needed them for security or bandwidth reasons.
The CEA, he said, decided to correct the problem itself: It donated $8,500 to the District of Columbia to install the needed hardware, which will now be available to future renters of the site.
On Tuesday the crowded hall was filled with gadgets and technology demonstrations from familiar CES exhibitors such as Samsung, Microsoft, XStreamHD, Kodak, Audiovox, Qualcomm, and Panasonic.
For example, Samsung showed off its new Restore, a handset built with 84 percent recyclable materials. To no one’s surprise, the phone does not include a paper manual (it’s available online) and what little packaging it has is 100 percent recyclable and made from 70 percent recycled material.
The unit has a standard phone keypad as well as a slide-out QWERTY keypad. Also included is a two-megapixel digital camera and camcorder, a microSD slot for removable memory cards with capacities up to 32 gigabytes, stereo Bluetooth support and an MP3 music player. Also bundled with the 4.3-ounce phone is Sprint Navigation for turn-by-turn driving directions. The handset will be available from Sprint in the summer.
Text and photos Copyright 2010 Stadium Circle Features

CES 2010: Parrot’s AR.Drone Quadricopter Creates Buzz by Buzzing the Media

One of the stranger sights at last week’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was a flying toy “quadricopter” which created quite a buzz by buzzing over the heads of wide-mouthed journalists at CES Unveiled, the first big press event of the week.

The AR.Drone, a four-engined flying toy built by Parrot, a company better known for its wireless speakers and other Bluetooth-enabled devices, is outfitted with two wireless cameras and can be controlled with an iPhone or IPod Touch. It comes with two “augmented reality” (that’s what the “A.R.” stands for) video games which let you use the video feed from the cameras as part of a semi-real-life video game.

You can read my story on the A.R.Drone and watch my short video at PCWorld.

Tempting Tech for Tough Times

Wallets are thinning and so are the head counts at major corporations, but there are still some nifty products out there that make us want to spend the little we have or at least dream about it. Take the LG-GD910 Watch Phone (above) from LG Electronics. It’s a gadget Dick Tracy could be proud of.

Text Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features
Images courtesy of LG Electronics