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HolidayBuyer's Guide

CNET's Next Big Thing from CES 2014

Julie Larson-Green of Microsoft discusses new tech

Sonny Vu, CEO of Misfit Wearables

From table to tablet

Jim Buczkowski of Ford Research and Innovation

Mike Bell, VP and GM of new devices group at Intel

Passive monitoring - security risk?

Bell: It's about standards

Buczkowski: It's about user choice

How do you get people excited about hardware and services?

Vu: We have only begun to discover what's possible

Audience member: Can wearables monitor our diet?

Audience member: What about bandwidth sharing?

Brian Cooley and Tim Stevens host CNET's Next Big Thing at CES 2014.
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Julie Larson-Green, executive VP of Microsoft's devices and studios, discusses how hardware and software services are coming together. Microsoft's first interactions of voice and gesture...was an idea way before its time. At the time they didn't have proper processors or connectivity, but it was fun to think through how it was evolving over time.
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Vu says that when Misfit was talking about its new company, there was ambient sensing, and then they looked at wearables, a way of having tech with you all the time.

That was the lowest hanging fruit on the tree. In a world with so many sensors, we have ability to gather so much data. It's mostly because of smartphones, Vu says.

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Larson talks about design: She begins with a talk about Microsoft's Surface table, and how that evolved into the Surface tablet.
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Jim Buczkowski, director of electrical and electronics systems at Ford's Research and Innovation Center, says Ford is about creating great experiences. The first thing you're supposed to focus on is driving, so dealing with driver distraction is important, and then giving them the ability to focus on the road. So the challenge is finding the right kind of human/machine interface.
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Mike Bell points out that to realize this concept of distributed sensing, we can't have islands of data....we have to have interactivity. Otherwise consumers will have devices that don't interact. So the idea is to have devices that are better together.
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Brian Cooley wonders, with all these sensors and data, what about privacy? Isn't it weird if a cough medicine feeds you an ad if you are GETTING sick, not just when you are sick?
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Bell: There's a camp that says all devices should be personal. But the data set itself, even if devices are on the same network, there needs to be standards for device discovery and data discovery. There are some services on the market that are good at device and protocol discovery. We have to be better at defining what that data looks like.
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Buczkowski says it's about adding value for consumers. If they choose not to share their data, that's their choice. Let them add value and share it if they want to.
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Stevens asks, in a market where people are excited about hardware, how do you get people excited about services that extend their existing hardware?
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Vu: I can't even remember when I couldn't make phone call from my car, or send email on the go. But it was only 15 years ago. I'm interested in what other similar killer use cases will be; which ones will be uncovered over the next few years.
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Larson: Figuring out the food you eat is hard. Knowing what portions you eat, how many calories, that's a hard problem.
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Another audience question: With all the apps out there, bandwidth is getting hard to come by, there's dead spots. Have you thought about bandwidth sharing? How can you guys figure out some kind of topology that helps share available bandwidth? So those that need it get it, and those that don't can give it up?

Bell: I'd argue that current market for data plans assume you don't do that. The pricing models are based on people not using some of the data they pay for. The carriers wouldn't be happy about it, he says.

Caption by / Photo by Josh Miller/CNET