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Bitcoin Hits Yet Another Record In Value

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Digital currency bitcoin blew past yet another record high this week, surging above $2,400, as demand for crypto-assets soared with the creation of new tokens to raise funding for start-ups using blockchain technology.

Blockchain, the underlying technology behind bitcoin, is a financial ledger maintained by a network of computers that can track the movement of any asset without the need for a central regulator.

Bitcoin hit a record of $2,409 BTC=BTSP on the BitStamp platform and was last up 4.3 percent at $2,363. So far this year, the price of bitcoin has more than doubled.

A key reason for bitcoin’s dominance in the nefarious online underworld, say technologists and cybercrime experts, is its size – the total value of all bitcoins in circulation is more than twice that of the nearest of hundreds of rivals.

Also, a big part of bitcoin’s recent surge is the increase in demand for other digital currencies being sold in so-called “initial coin offerings”, or ICOs. Under ICOs, blockchain start-ups sell their tokens directly to the public to raise capital without any regulatory oversight.

“Bitcoin up 100 percent in under 2 months. Shanghai down almost 10 percent same timeframe, compared to most global stocks up. Probably not a coincidence!”, Jeffrey Gundlach, chief executive at DoubleLine Capital tweeted on Tuesday.

Strong demand for bitcoins in Japan has also fueled the rise of the virtual currency that can be moved like money around the world quickly and anonymously without the need for a central authority.

Lenovo Return To Profit, Despite Losses In Mobile Business

May 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

China’s Lenovo Group Ltd, the world’s largest personal computer (PC) manufacturer, has returned to profitability, but said rising component prices may put pressure on its bottom line this year as supply shortages extend to batteries.

Profit reached $535 million in the year to March on revenue that fell 4 percent, just missing analyst estimates. The news sent Lenovo shares up as much as 6 percent in Hong Kong trade.

The result comes as Lenovo navigates a PC market that has shrunk markedly since the advent of tablet computers. According to researcher Gartner, global PC shipments fell for the 10th consecutive quarter in January-March, dipping below 63 million units for the first time since 2007.

Lenovo’s annual shipments fell 1 percent versus a market decline of 3 percent, with its share rising 0.4 percentage point to a record 21.4 percent. Revenue in its PC and smart devices unit – which makes up 70 percent of the total – fell 2 percent.

The company blamed the declines on transition in its smartphone and data center businesses, as well as on a difficult macro environment and component supply constraints.

Memory shortage is likely to continue this year, particularly solid-state drives (SSD), pushing up parts costs, said Corporate President and Chief Executive Officer Gianfranco Lanci at an earnings briefing.

“We are starting to see shortage in batteries,” Lanci added. “That is mainly because of cars consuming many more batteries than before.”

Lanci said it could take a year for battery suppliers to catch up with demand and for prices to normalize, having risen by a single digit percent so far this year.

Lenovo’s mobile business, which accounts for 18 percent of revenue, booked a loss which widened somewhat to $566 million, though the firm said it was enjoying strong growth in Latin America and Western Europe.

Microsoft To Acquire Cyber Security Firm Hexadite

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Microsoft has made a deal to purchase cyber security firm Hexadite for $100 million, according to Israeli financial news website Calcalist.

Hexadite, headquartered in Boston with its research and development center in Israel, provides technology to automate responses to cyber attacks that it says increases productivity and reduces costs for businesses.

Microsoft officials declined to comment. Officials at Hexadite could not immediately be reach for comment.

Investors in Hexadite include Hewlett Packard Ventures, and venture capital firms TenEleven and YL Ventures.

Microsoft said in January it plans to continue to invest more than $1 billion annually on cyber security research and development in the coming years. Israel has already benefited from that investment.

Is The MP3 Codec Finished?

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The MP3 digital audio coding format has now been officially confirmed as dead by its inventors.

The Fraunhofer Institute officially terminated its licensing program for certain MP3-related patents, in a move widely interpreted by tech experts as MP3’s “official death warrant”.

It is all symbolic, you can still use MP3 files if you want to, but the removal of support for the format signals an official shift in the industry.

Basically there are better quality formats that offer more efficient compression and more functionality are now the standard. With cheaper and faster hard-drives you also have more space for less compressed higher quality music.

The Fraunhofer Institute said in a statement said that although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, MP3 is still very popular amongst consumers.

“However, most of the latest media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs, such as the AAC [Advanced Audio Coding] family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to MP3.”

Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, which is a division of a German research institution that contributed to the development of MP3 in the late 1980s, helped create AAC.
It said AAC was now the “de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones”.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Update Now Allows Mac Users To Install Windows 10 Creators Version

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Apple has updated macOS Sierra to version 10.12.5 with more than three dozen security patches, and a change that allows users install Microsoft’s latest version of Windows 10 on their Macs.

Sierra 10.12.5 “adds support for media-free installation of Windows 10 Creators Update using Boot Camp,” the update’s brief release notes read. Creators Update was the name Microsoft assigned to Windows 10 1703, the upgrade issued last month.

Boot Camp, which is baked into macOS, lets Mac owners run Windows on their machines. A Windows license is required. Boot Camp, while not virtualization software like VMware’s Fusion or Parallels International’s Parallels Desktop, serves the same purpose: Running Windows applications, including custom or mission-critical corporate software, on a Mac personal computer.

Previously, Mac users were forced onto a circuitous road to put Windows 10 Creators Update into Boot Camp. According to a Microsoft support document published before the upgrade was released, Mac owners first had to install an .iso of 2016’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update, aka 1607, to Boot Camp. Once 1607 was in place, they could then upgrade Windows 10 to 1703 from within Boot Camp.

Monday’s macOS update voids that workaround: Mac owners may instead directly install a disk image — in .iso format — of Windows 10 1703 into Boot Camp.

Sierra 10.12.5 also patched 37 vulnerabilities in macOS. Apple also released security updates for Sierra’s two predecessors, 2015’s macOS El Capitan and 2014’s macOS Yosemite.

Is Nintendo’s Zelda Going Mobile?

May 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

Zelda will be the next Nintendo IP to get the mobile treatment, according to sources speaking to The Wall Street Journal, with the new title expected to follow the Animal Crossing later this year.

The WSJ’s sources indicated that Animal Crossing is expected to launch in the second half of calendar 2017, with The Legend of Zelda to follow. However, the sources said that the order of the releases could still change, with Zelda arriving first.

With games based on Fire Emblem and Super Mario Bros. already released and Animal Crossing on the way, a version of Zelda was arguably inevitable. However, the success of Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch has bolstered public interest in the IP; in its recent financial results, Nintendo said that Breath of the Wild had sold 2.76 million units on Switch by March 31, despite the console only selling 2.74 million units.

One crucial detail that remains unclear is how the Zelda mobile game will be sold. Nintendo has talked openly about its reluctance to implement a traditional free-to-play model with its iconic franchises, opting for a free-to-try approach with Super Mario Run that ultimately carried a $10 in-app purchase to unlock the full game.

However, in March this year Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said the company was disappointed with the revenue earned from Super Mario Run. Fire Emblem Heroes uses a more typical version of the free-to-play model, but a Nintendo representative described it as “an outlier.”

“We honestly prefer the Super Mario Run model,” the company said. Whether that holds true for Zelda on mobile remains to be seen.

Nintendo and DeNA, which is involved with the game’s development, both resisted the WSJ’s request for comment.

Courtesy-Fud

Google Unveil Cloud IoT Core Services For Businesses

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Google has launched a cloud platform service to help organizations collect vital data from billions of Internet of Things devices.

The service, Google Cloud IoT Core, is designed to help enterprises, including utilities and transportation agencies, securely connect globally distributed devices to the Google Cloud Platform. There, the data can be centrally managed and integrated with Google’s data analytics services, said Indranil Chakraborty, cloud product manager at Google.

One customer who has been testing the new service for two months is Energyworx, a company of 40 workers that has used Google cloud services since 2014. Energyworx provides data analytics to utilities to help them plan better and improve performance.

The new Cloud IoT Core has been deployed by Energyworx to get real-time data readings from thousands of solar inverters and electric vehicle charging ports that have been deployed in California and other locales, said Edwin Poot, founder and visionary for Energyworx, in an interview. He said he expects to expand the test of Cloud IoT Core to include collection of data from millions of smart utility meters used to measure water and gas in coming years.

Cloud IoT Core provides a communications bridge between Google analytics and devices in the field, Poot said. Many of the devices, including solar invertors, rely on distinct or arcane data protocols that Google services can translate without manual intervention. (A solar inverter converts the variable direct current of a solar panel into a utility frequency alternating current that can be fed into the commercial electric grid.)

With the service, utilities can send control commands to meters, turning them on off, he said.

Energyworx only pays Google for the IoT devices it uses to receive data, Poot said, which should keep costs low. Overall, Poot said Google cloud services have cost a 10th what Energyworx was paying to Amazon Web Services, which it used prior to 2014.

“We’re seeing the power of cloud will grow fast and this [Google IoT] approach will be scalable,” Poot said. “We don’t install anything and don’t maintain anything. We just program it and use it and don’t worry about anything else.”

Samsung On The Hunt For Acquisitions

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to continue their hunt for acquisition opportunities, a company executive said on Monday, as the firm seeks to build software and services to further differentiate its products.

“We are going to be bullish on finding companies that fit our strategy,” Peter Koo, a senior vice president for Samsung’s mobile division, said during an investor event in Hong Kong. He did not elaborate on specific targets or technologies that Samsung is looking to acquire.

The world’s top maker of memory chips, smartphones and televisions has grown more aggressive in acquiring companies in recent years, breaking from its past preference to rely on its own talent and use its cash for capital expenditures amid intensifying competition from the likes of Apple Inc and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

In addition to buying firms such as Viv Labs and LoopPay, deals that bolstered Samsung’s existing efforts for artificial intelligence and mobile payments services, Samsung is also spending money to break into new businesses.

The firm completed an $8 billion acquisition of Harman International Industries early this year, its biggest ever deal, in an attempt to speed up its entry into the automotive components industry and develop a new growth engine.

Koo said Samsung’s aim with software and services is to primarily make its products more attractive to consumers, and that the firm will look for partnerships as well as acquisitions to bolster its offerings.

Angry Birds Movie To Get A Sequel, Says Rovio Entertainment

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Finnish mobile games and animation studio Rovio Entertainment approved plans to proceed with a sequel to its Angry Birds movie, it said on Monday, aiming for release in September 2019.

The Angry Birds Movie 2 will be produced with Columbia Pictures and distributed by Sony Pictures, Rovio said.

The first Angry Birds movie, released last year, earned about $350 million at the box office and gave a boost to Rovio’s game sales, helping the company to swing to an annual profit after years of falling earnings, job cuts and divestments.

Rovio said the new movie will be directed by Thurop Van Orman, the creator of animated TV series “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack”.

The original Angry Birds game — in which smartphone players use a slingshot to attack pigs who steal the birds’ eggs — became a phenomenon in 2009, but the franchise faltered in the following years amid tough competition.

Alongside the movie plan, Rovio is looking to reduce its dependence on Angry Birds — earlier this month it launched “Battle Bay”, the firm’s first multiplayer game which does not carry the Angry Birds name.

Will HTC Ever Return To Profitability

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

HTC, the original equipment manufacturer that designs its own mobile devices and Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, has announced net losses of $66.12 million for the first quarter of 2017. The company’s latest financials are the latest in a series – it’s had eight consecutive losses over the past two years.

Like many smartphone and VR headset manufacturing companies, HTC had hoped that 2017 would turn out to be a much better year than 2016. The Taiwanese company’s earnings report for Q1 2017 gives mixed results this quarter. Revenues were $NT14.5 billion ($480.2 million), which is down 33 percent from the NT$22.2 billion ($720.7 million) it posted in Q4 2016. However, losses of NT$2 billion ($66.2 million) aren’t as bad as the NT$3.09 billion ($102.4 million) it posted the previous quarter, or about 55 percent. These are also up from NT$2.61 billion ($86.5 million) in the previous year.

HTC plans to streamline operations, reduce operating losses

In Q1 2017, HTC says it continued to realign its organizational structure to help reduce overhead expenses by nearly 20 percent. This is similar to what Sprint has been doing since October 2015, when it announced a $2.5 billion cost cutting plan to streamline company operations. HTC’s gross margins climbed to 16.3 percent versus 10.45 percent in Q4 2016, and 9.36 percent year-over-year.

The company worked to lower its operating costs to $NT12.2 billion ($403 million) from NT$13.4 billion ($444.9 million) a year earlier. Given that the company has not turned a profit in over a year, the plan is to continue lowering operating costs to reduce its operating losses. HTC launched two smartphones in the first quarter – the HTC U Ultra and the HTC U Play – but only the first device is available in the US. Then there was a report in February stating the company plans to exit the entry-level smartphone business in 2017 as it begins to focus on “high-margin” and “high-profit” devices. The company has been notorious for announcing products at its own events that aren’t necessarily in line with usual CES and MWC unveils from manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Huawei, Motorola and others. While this strategy can work well in some circumstances, it only works when people are made aware of the announcements.

Opinion: HTC U 11, Pixel shipments may return profitability for second half of 2017

The company now wants to introduce an additional four to five high margin smartphone devices over the course of the next year, starting with the long-awaited HTC U 11 that will be announced on May 16th. The device’s flagship feature, Sense Touch, is a new concept that allows using the side frame as an input method. However, it is unclear whether the HTC U 11 will be available in the second or third quarter, and whether it will be available internationally.

Within six weeks of the HTC U Ultra’s release in the US, the company slashed its price from $749 down to $599 after reviewing outlets had a hard time recommending the device over similar Android Nougat counterparts. This move did not speak well of the device’s sales, though it has been able to make some profit from Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL sales since their October debut from much higher consumer demand. Google managed to sell an estimated 552,000 units before the end of 2016, and FierceWireless reported those devices accounting for 9.5 percent of smartphone sales at Verizon in January.

Google is not expected to announce refreshed Pixel devices until later this fall, but those sales will certainly aide HTC’s path to becoming a premium-focused smartphone brand and hopefully reduce its operating losses.

Courtesy-Fud

First Of Its Kind Digital Control Tower Coming To London Airport

May 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Within two years, air traffic controllers in London won’t see your plane through a window but will guide it down from screens 70 miles away as the airport becomes one of the first in a major capital to use a digital control tower.

Staff will monitor planes with the help of high-tech 360-degree cameras and sensors fitted to a newly constructed tower, with data and a panoramic views all feeding through to the national air traffic control center in the southern town of Swanwick.

The airport, which is undergoing a 350 million pound ($455 million) expansion, is located near the Canary Wharf financial center in east London and used by over 4.5 million passengers mainly for business travel between Europe’s major centers.

But from 2019, controllers will be based over 110 km away where the airport says an array of digital tools will improve their awareness of situations and efficiency, allowing for quick decision-making.

“A pioneering new digital air traffic control system will enhance safety and improve resilience, setting a new standard for the global aviation industry to follow,” London City Airport Chief Executive Declan Collier said.

“This cutting edge proven technology future-proofs London City Airport’s air traffic control for the next 30 years and beyond,” he said.

The current control tower is reaching the end of its operational lifespan, he said, with the new technology already in use at Sweden’s smaller Ornskoldsvik and Sundsvall airports.

Controllers will be equipped with a range of tools including a close-up view of aeroplane movements along the 1.5-km runway and cameras which can zoom in up to 30 times for close inspection.

Pictures from the airfield and data will be sent through independent and secure fiber networks to the operations room in Swanwick, the airport said.

The technology is supplied by Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions, a partnership between LFV, the Swedish air navigation service provider, and military defense and civil security firm Saab.

The airport, bought last year by a consortium including Canadian pension funds, is due to expand as part of a development program which will see an extra two million people flying to and from it every year by 2025 and an additional 30,000 annual flights.

Construction of the 50-metre digital tower will begin later this year and is due to be completed in 2018, followed by a year of testing and training before it becomes fully operational.

Companies Look To Kidnap Insurance Policies To Cover Ransomware Attacks

May 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Companies lacking cyber insurance are beginning to rely on policies covering kidnap, ransom and extortion in the world’s political hotspots to recoup losses caused by ransomware viruses such as “WannaCry”, insurers say.

Cyber insurance can be expensive to buy and is not widely used outside the United States, with one insurer previously describing the cost as $100,000 for $10 million in data breach insurance.

Some companies do not even consider it because they do not think they are targets.

The kidnap policies, known as K&R coverage, are typically used by multinational companies looking to protect their staff in areas where violence related to oil and mining operations is common, such as parts of Africa and Latin America.

Companies could also tap them to cover losses following the WannaCry attack, which used malicious software, known as ransomware, to lock up more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries, and demand payments to free them up.

Pay-outs on K&R for ransomware attacks may be lower and the policies less suitable than those offered by traditional cyber insurance, insurers say.

“There will be some creative forensic lawyers who will be looking at policies,” said Patrick Gage, chief underwriting officer at CNA Hardy, a specialist commercial insurer, in London.

He added, however, that given that K&R policies are geared towards a threat to lives, “our absolute preference is that people buy specific cover, rather than relying on insurance coverage that is not specific”.

American International Group Inc, Hiscox Ltd and the Travelers Companies Inc have been receiving ransomware claims from some customers with K&R policies as ransomware attacks become more common, the companies said.

The insurers declined to comment on total claims, citing confidentiality and client security concerns.

“We are seeing claims (over the past 18 months) but not a huge uptick,” a Hiscox spokeswoman said. “These are within expectations and entirely manageable.”

She declined to say whether the firm had seen any such claims from the WannaCry attacks though Tom Harvey, an expert in cyber risk management at catastrophe modeling firm RMS, said “insurers with kidnap and ransom books will want to look closely at their policy wordings to see whether they are exposed.”

A sharp rise in ransomware attacks in the past 18 months has driven companies to use K&R policies to cover some of their damages if they do not have direct cyber coverage or cannot meet initial cyber policy deductible costs, insurers said.

Symantec Corp, a cyber security firm based in Mountain View in California, observed over 460,000 ransomware attempts in 2016, up 36 percent from 2015, the company said. The average payment demand ballooned from $294 to $1,077, a 266 percent increase.

But as the threat mounts, K&R insurers are at risk from steeper claims than they had anticipated. They are responding by making changes to their policies, which were not designed around ransomware, insurance brokers said.

Google Buys Virtual Reality Firm Owlchemy Labs

May 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Known for its award-winning Job Simulator title, Austin, Texas-based Owlchemy Labs is one of the top VR studios in the business, and now it belongs to Google. In separate blog posts, both Google and Owlchemy Labs announced the deal without disclosing purchase price or other specifics of the acquisition.

Owlchemy Labs said, “We set out on a journey over six years ago to build the kinds of games we wanted to see exist. Over those years, we learned that Owlchemy, at its core, cares deeply about a few key things: building quality multi-platform games, solving tough problems with a small but absurdly talented team, sharing our learnings with the community, and Austin’s famous tacos. Now, as we look to the future with Google by our side, we couldn’t be happier. Our plan to build awesome things will continue forward stronger than ever.

“This means Owlchemy will continue building high quality VR content for platforms like the HTC Vive, Oculus Touch, and PlayStation VR. This means continuing to focus on hand interactions and high quality user experiences, like with Job Simulator. This means continuing our mission to build VR for everyone, and doing all of this as the same silly Owlchemy Labs you know and love. We are continuing to do all of this with even more support and focus on building awesome stuff. It’s incredibly exciting that Google and Owlchemy are so well aligned on our goals and vision for the future of VR…

“We’re insanely excited to join the Google family and we cannot freaking wait to show you what we’re concocting next at Owlchemy Labs. The future of VR is extremely bright, so we’re donning our lab goggles just in case.”

For its part, Google commented, “Today, we’re thrilled to welcome Owlchemy Labs to Google. They’ve created award-winning games like Job Simulator and Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality which have really thoughtful interactive experiences that are responsive, intuitive, and feel natural. They’ve helped set a high bar for what engagement can be like in virtual worlds, and do it all with a great sense of humor!

“Together, we’ll be working to create engaging, immersive games and developing new interaction models across many different platforms to continue bringing the best VR experiences to life. There is so much more to build and learn, so stay tuned!”

Google’s big push in VR thus far is with the Daydream mobile platform. There’s no doubt the company can benefit from the expertise of folks like Owlchemy Labs. Let’s hope that Owlchemy’s creative freedom isn’t dampened at all by being absorbed by a behemoth like Google. GamesIndustry.biz recently chatted with Owlchemy boss Alex Schwartz all about the VR/AR space and where it’s headed.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Is Intel Worried About McAfee

May 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel is fuming that MGT Capital Investments went ahead with the announcement of the “John McAfee Privacy Phone” when it previously said that it did not plan to launch products and services under the McAfee mark.

For those who came in late MGT Capital Investments is owned by John McAfee who sold the trademark and which ended up in the claws of Intel. Intel, which once claimed to own the letter i, is now insisting that McAfee can’t use his name on products.

The federal court had earlier refused John McAfee and MGT Capital a preliminary injunction until the resolution of the dispute on Intel’s transfer of marks and related assets containing the word McAfee as part of the spin-out.

MGT announced last month a privacy phone that will be “as hack proof as humanly possible,” with features such as a bank of switches on the back cover that will allow the user to physically disconnect the battery, the antennas for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and geolocation, the camera and microphone, and would also not allow the phone to connect to a Stingray or any other IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) catcher device.

McAfee wants his phone in the shops by August and has referred to the phone largely as the Privacy Phone.

But in a sentence lower down in the statement on its website it refers to “the John McAfee privacy phone,” which appears to have raised Intel’s concerns about the naming of the phone. John McAfee also referred to “The John McAfee Privacy Phone, by MGT,” in a tweet last month.

Lawyers for Intel and McAfee have also objected to MGT asking for the depositions of McAfee’s CEO, Christopher Young, and Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, “even though Plaintiffs can point to no relevant, unique information that these chief executives possess.”

The companies have moaned that MGT and John McAfee have not produced required documents for discovery and asked for a conference in connection with a motion for a protective order to prevent the “harassing depositions” of the chief executives and another motion to compel MGT and John McAfee to “complete their document production and provide substantive responses to interrogatories about their name change and planned products and services.”

John McAfee has said he had entered in 1991 into an agreement with McAfee Associates, a predecessor to McAfee Inc., to transfer certain assets to it in exchange for stock and a promissory note.

But the security expert has told the court that at no point in the agreement had he assigned the rights to his personal name through an assignment of trademark or otherwise, or agreed to restrict his right to do business using his own name. Like most things involving John McAfee this will run and run and give great copy.

Courtesy-Fud

Businesses Warming Up To Smartwatches

May 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Smartwatches are gaining ground in more business settings.

In the latest example of a trial, Samsung Galaxy S3 smartwatches are helping janitors do timely cleanups of restrooms at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Another successful four-month Samsung smartwatch trial last fall gave restaurant servers alerts when customers arrived or needed service.

The smartwatches run an app called TaskWatch made by Samsung partner Hipaax. In the airport example, janitors are notified when and where a restroom needs to be cleaned and restocked. Bluetooth sensors at the restroom doorways count the number of users. When 150 customers have passed through a restroom, a notification is sent to the janitorial team.

An employee who is part of janitorial team can click the smartwatch to accept the cleaning task and will get reward points for being the first to do so. Six employees are testing the smartwatches in a trial that began last October.

The TaskWatch app has provided real-time insights about restroom visits, which can vary greatly based on flight arrivals and departures. As such, the app is an improvement over old-fashioned paper work schedules, said Brian Cobb, vice president of customer relations at the airport, in an email. “Housekeeping staff get a break from the routine and are prepared to be more nimble,” he said.

At first, the airport trial used Wi-Fi connections to the smartwatches, which provided only intermittent connections. The airport switched to cellular connectivity to the Gear S3 watches which led to greater maintenance team satisfaction, Cobb said. Assuming continued success with the trial, Cobb said the TaskWatch app and smartwatches will roll out in 2018. The airport could even use the smartwatches for concierge services and emergency communications.

In the restaurant trial, waiters, managers and other staff using smartwatches were able to turn over tables to new customers four minutes faster than before, leading to more tables served and a 7% increase in average daily revenue, said John Gerbus, multi-franchise owner for Buffalo Wings and Rings. The trial took place at one Cincinnati Buffalo Wings location over four months, ending last October.

The TaskWatch app at the restaurant notified servers when guests were seated, and if no waiter arrived after a certain time, a manager could be notified. Alerts were created for when a table was ready to be cleaned and other tasks, such as a digital notification when a manager had visited a table to greet guests.

Servers got higher tips during the course of trial, an indication of its success, said Julie Godfrey, Samsung manager of retail solutions for wearable technology.

In both examples, the use of a smartwatch is seen as advantageous over a smartphone or tablet, mainly because it kept workers hands free, said Godfrey and Bharat Saini, CTO and founder of Hipaax, the app developer. Saini said the app will be sold as a service to enterprises with a monthly fee per user, although the final cost has not been announced. Each Samsung smartwatch costs about $300.

Jitesh Ubrani, an analyst at IDC, said the Samsung restaurant trial is somewhat similar to what Apple has done with the Apple Watch and Resy, a reservation system, in a trial at a New York restaurant.

However, Ubrani said the airport restroom trial is taking smartwatches a little further by adding a kind of game experience for janitors to compete to clean a restroom first, providing them an incentive and promoting usage.

“More interesting to me is the use of sensors in the restrooms,” Ubrani added. “I’m glad to see Samsung is using the watch as part of a larger wireless ecosystem.”

“Samsung is also doing a great job at device manageability and security with the use of their Knox platform” in connection with the smartwatch trials, Ubrani added.

Samsung believes enterprises of all types will want to digitally record routine tasks like the time taken to serve a customer to improve overall performance. Having that data recorded automatically with an easy-to-use wearable will help smartwatch adoption in the enterprise.

Samsung also provides geo-fencing capabilities to the watches, meaning that if a worker walks off the job with the smartwatch it can be set to quit functioning entirely. Also, other smartwatch apps can be disabled so that workers focus on the Taskwatch app exclusively.

While smartwatches took a while to catch on, there is promise for enterprise usage. “In conversations with CIOs, I’ve seen interest in smartwatches accelerate a little bit,” Saini said. “People in business are getting excited about the potential with access to real-time analytics.”

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