Hercules Holder: A simple solution to a pestering problem

HERCULESHOLDER_BIZWhile I am at CTIA this week, I am seeing a lot of simple solutions to pestering problems. One of them is how we use our cellular phones in the car.

If you are like me, then you put your smartphone in the cup-holder of your car, because this is really the only place it can go. For some reason, only newer models of cars are addressing the fact that some people use their phone in the car as a GPS device.

The Hercules Holder is the first product that I have seen that addresses this issue head-on. It was designed by a man who was on a road trip and realized the dilemma that I mentioned in the above paragraph, and how the phone never seems to measure up. This man had a brainstorm and bought a Nerf football in an attempt to cut out the shape that you see in the image, a shape that could hold the smartphone in portrait or landscape mode and work as a stand or in a cup-holder.

He went through several Nerf football failures before he came up with the design that you see here. I’m sure that you are looking at this and wondering where this has been all your smartphone life. Believe me, so was I.

You can see more about it here, but it doesn’t look like I have a price point. Please give this a definite look. Pretty soon you’ll be clapping your hands like Eddie Murphy from The Nutty Professor and cheering “Awww! Hercules! Hercules!”

Gevey Box presents the Umbrella case for the iPhone 5

umbrella-460x360There is a huge market for creating smartphone cases that will stand the pressure of life. Companies like Otterbox seem to make cases that stand up to the “big four” of snow, shock, water, and dust.

I saw a company at CTIA known as GeveyBox, and they have an iPhone 5 case that is appropriately named The Umbrella. It protects against the aforementioned “big four”, and I will have to say that the man at their booth was very excited about it.

I don’t really have much information about this. I’m not even certain what that cord is in the image. I believe that the Umbrella is entering into a market that is pretty crowded, but the price is nice at about $59.99. You can pre-order it here.

Clear-coat’s Aurora gives a smartphone a futuristic gold-chrome look

clearcoat_001-01-01I have seen Clear-coat for years, and they are very good and taking iPod, iPads, and other mobile devices and making them all the colors of the rainbow. They are also good at providing clear protective coatings as well. Of course, a lot of businesses do that, but nothing that I have seen compares to the Aurora.

The Aurora caught my eye at CTIA as I saw it on a rotating display, showing off its colors like a peacock. This isn’t really visible in the image, but the color of the Aurora is different depending on what angle you are viewing it at. This “world’s first color-shifting skin” allows a kind of gold chrome finish that make it a smartphone Richie Rich would be proud to own. What really makes this interesting is that even though it makes the smartphone look like a gold brick, you can still access the main screen.

I really think that the Aurora is poised to change the way smartphones look. Too bad it is only available for the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5. You can get the kit on the Clear-coat site now for $34.99, with free U.S. Shipping.

Zipwhip makes a landline text-able

zipwhip-splashTexting is one of those things that really took over, didn’t it? Before we knew it, people were texting on dumbphones more than they were talking.

However, most businesses still have a landline, which means that texting is not an option. However, a Seattle-based company known as Zipwhip has changed all that with a service that allows cell phone users to text landline-based businesses.

If a landline has this service, then this landline can be texted, but the phone on the other end will never ring. Instead, these text messages will appear on an existing computer or mobile device, and the business does not have to set up any special equipment. The business can then send a return text from their computer/mobile device.

Zipwhip, who pioneered this concept of “cloud-texting” announced yesterday that it can equip existing toll-free numbers to send and receive text messages. Honestly, I applaud Zipwhip’s forward thinking as they are taking texting off the phone and putting it onto platforms where it is really needed.

The service costs about $19.95 on an existing landline, and for businesses like restaurants and hairdressers, Zipwhip can make a real difference.

Artificial Solutions Indigo is not your average personal assistant

IndigoLast night at CTIA Showstoppers, I had a chance to encounter Indigo from Artificial Solutions, a personal assistant application. I found that all you needed to do is speak into it, and it would answer you. I never thought I would see a day when this vocal recognition would be ho-hum tech. I’m sure that you are probably thinking the same thing: Siri and Google Voice do that.

Indigo takes it a step further. If you ask Indigo who wrote The Great Gatsby, it will give you the answer of F. Scott Fitzgerald. That’s not a big deal, but you can ask a follow-up question of when did he die. Indigo actually knows that you are referring to F. Scott Fitzgerald when you say “he”.

In short, Indigo does not work on a question-by-question basis. Here is another winner feature: you can “carry on this conversation” on multiple devices. So if you ask the first question in the last paragraph on your phone, you can just as easily ask the second question on your tablet, PC, or other compatible device.

While I am on the subject of compatibility, let me say that Indigo is only available on Android and Windows, not on iOS yet. I believe that it is free for those associated platforms, and it can do all the things like update Facebook status and tweeting.

I am quite pleased with what Artificial Solutions as put out for smartphone users, and I think it is a sample of how vocal recognition and personal assistant programs will be easier and be able to do more.

TIP Solutions presents CallSnap App

hero5I think we are in an age where we don’t accept a busy signal any more. Most of us have voicemails set up, but imagine an age where you call someone up, and you see the reason why he or she is not answering the phone.

This age is now. Last night at CTIA Showstoppers, I discovered an app known as CallSnap which works like this:

1) You receive a call from someone, but you are too busy to answer it. Why you are too busy is up to you. Perhaps you are at a party, or you just don’t want your awesome moment to be interrupted by a phone call. As soon as you see a call on your phone’s screen, you will see a CallSnap button that you can slide to activate.

2) From there, you can snap a picture of your current surroundings. Once you have approved of the pic, you can then send the picture in a text message to the caller. You can also send a picture from your Gallery.

3) The caller then receives the picture and it sees exactly why he or she is unable to reach you.

All this happens so quickly, that it is unnecessary for a caller to leave a voicemail (but still can). You can see an example of what a caller will see after the jump.

Continue reading

The CAT B15 Smartphone, or Catphone

b15-slide-frontbackI know you are looking at the headline and thinking…seriously, Catphone? I suppose that if Catwoman had a phone like Batman, that would be the appropriate name.

The B15 smartphone is made by CAT. I’m sure that logo in the illustration probably looks familiar to you as you have no doubt seen it on construction vehicles. I suppose that the Catphone is a mobile device designed for those who would operate said machinery.

The Catphone is designed to take a lot of damage. It can easily survive a 6-foot drop. I asked the spokesperson to prove it last night at CTIA Showstoppers. Without hesitation, he dropped it, and the phone was just fine. Not only can it take the hit, but it can take the drip. It is water-resistant (up to 1 meter for 30 minutes), and you can even use the screen with a wet finger. I saw a demonstration of that as well.

As for what is on the inside, it has Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) with a Dual Core 1GHz processor. It has a 5 Megapixel rear-facing camera and VGA front-facing camera. It only has 3G, but it has GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.

In short, the Catphone has pretty much everything that a regular smartphone has, but you don’t have to buy a specially-made Otterbox cover for it. That could be bad news for that particular accessory maker, and I think it is very interesting that CAT and Bullitt Mobile have created this wonder that could easily be the next standard of smartphones.

P2i explains that one day, your phone will be waterproof

DunkableSome of you know that I am very interested in anything that can make a phone water-repellent. At CES, I was very pleased with Liquipel, and I couldn’t help but wonder why in the world cellular phone companies don’t have water-resistant coatings from the very start.

I found out from other tech minds (who I hope are non-cynical) that most carriers are glad when people drop their phones in the toilet. You heard me right. Because then they have to pay for a new phone, which fills their pockets to overflowing. Unfortunately, a lot of people have been switching carriers, as they need to get a new phone anyway.

In other words, it is bad for business for cell phone manufacturers not to have a water-resistant coating like the one from P2i. I met P2i at Showstoppers at CTIA last night, and I was aghast to see a Samsung Galaxy S4 at the bottom of a bucket. Of course, it had P2i’s coating on it, and the representative told me that if cell phone companies were to take it upon themselves, all smartphones could have this feature. Check out some more alarming facts about cell phones and water damage after the jump.

Continue reading

We are at CTIA Wireless all week!

CTIA 2013-580-75Right now, I am waiting at an airport terminal for a flight that will take me to Vegas. Now, why am I heading to Sin City? There is another conference there, of course! You don’t think I’m going to gamble and…do other things, do you?

Anyway, CTIA is a big mobile convention that happens twice a year, in the Spring and Fall. I have a lot of meetings set up with some big companies, and some that I have never heard of. I intend to go from booth to booth and attempt to get more input than Johnny 5 from Short Circuit, and report my findings back to you. A lot of companies will be putting their best foot forward as well as their products, and we at The Geek Church want to make certain that we cover the latest and the greatest.

Tonight is a big party known as Showstoppers, and I look forward to a little food, fun, and maybe some relaxation when I can get it. Stay alert all this week for updates.