Google Acquires Nest Labs for $3.2B

Nest Labs, the manufacturer of the popular internet-connected Nest thermostat, has been acquired by Google for $3.2 Billion in cash. Google Ventures already was an investor in Nest, so the acquisition wasn’t too surprising. What does that mean for all of us? Google will be in millions more of our homes now. I suspect that this will catapult the Internet of Things, which has already been Android heavy, as demonstrated at CES last week. Nest had been rumored to be in talks with Apple, as the device is very much Apple-esque in design – simple and aesthetic. The real value behind the purchase is in it’s founder, Tony Fadell. He was behind Apple’s iPod and the early iPhone. If Google’s lucky, he will stick around and have his hand in the design of the rest of Google’s hardware suite.

Apps to Help Children with Math

I’ve recently been trying to download some helpful Math apps for my 7 year old. She’s in 2nd grade now and there’s now a lot of emphasis being put on them knowing their addition and subtraction math facts—and knowing them fast. If you’re like me, drilling those flash cards every night can get tedious. It’s not enjoyable for the kid or the parent. I mean, this is why we buy our children iPods and iPads at an insanely young age, right? Look at all the help there is out there. And it’s a lot more fun!

Here is a rundown on what I consider to be the best Math apps out there for kids. Keep in mind that I was looking specifically for my 2nd grader so some of these may or may not be appropriate for children younger or older than that.

Math Bingo ($1)
This is really probably my favorite one. Bingo is just fun any way you cut it, but an added bonus is that once you win a game of Bingo you’re taken to another part of the app where you can choose from 3 other games: Bingo Bug Bungee, Math Stack, and Math Fling. Aside from Bingo Bug Bungee, even these are educational and help strengthen math skills. In my opinion, it’s well worth the one dollar cost.

 

Flash to Pass (free or $.99 without ads)
Personally, the ads don’t bother me on this app so I went with the free one. While this app is really simple with the only task being able to give the answer on flash cards, what drew me to it is the fact that it’s timed. In my daughter’s class they are given 1 minute to answer a certain amount of problems, so it’s a perfect way for her to practice at home.

 

Mathmateer ($.99)
I have to admit that I haven’t had the chance to have my daughter test this one out, but I will go ahead and tell you that I’ve had loads of fun with this app already! There’s SO much to do in this app, which I guess could be a good or a bad thing. I can’t decide if this would most likely keep my daughter’s attention or frustrate her. However, I do think it will depend on the kid. I can totally see my son enjoying this when he gets a little older. Not only do you get the basic math facts, but once you answer a certain number of facts and earn “money” to be able to build your rocket, you’re then taken on a mission where other math topics are covered such as odd and even numbers, money, shapes, telling time and fractions.

 

Math Puppy (free or $3.99 for full version)
I’ll go ahead and tell you that to get the full effect of this app, you need to order the full version. The free version only includes subtraction.
This app will draw the attention from your kid from the get-go. The colors are bright and you get to choose a cute little puppy as your avatar. What more could you ask for? While you get to choose from Bingo, Math Challenge and Math Calculator, my daughter, for the most part, just uses the Math Challenge (the calculator is just that –a calculator).

 

Tic Tac Math ($2)
Who doesn’t love a good game of Tic Tac Toe? While it’s simple (it’s your basic tic-tac-toe game paired with the skill of math flash cards), sometimes having an app without all the bells and whistles is the way to go. There’s also a scratch pad for working out answers, if needed.

 

Have any others that you’ve found? Let us know!

CES 2014 – Coolest Gadgets and Services

Here are some of the coolest gadgets and services we expect to be announced at CES 2014:

4K Streaming
Netflix will start to offer 4K programming. This should speed up the growth of sales for the 4K TV market. YouTube will also be showing off new 4K streaming for videos using their own codec compression which saves bandwidth.

 
 
NFC
We didn’t expect to feature a point and shoot camera this year, but the NFC-based mechanism for Samsung’s Galaxy Camera 2 and NX30 will allow you to share with you photos by tapping devices together. Maybe it will be cool to have a P&S again?

 
 
Big Curved TVs
LG will have a curved 105-inch Ultra HD TV. The LG 105UB9 will have a more cinematic aspect ratio (21:9) and will boast a resolution of nearly 5K. When you’re not watching cinematic movies, the extra space on the sides can be used to display other information, such as guides and settings without blocking the content you’re watching. Don’t plan to put them all over your house just yet, though, because prices are expected to be nearly $100,000 per set.

 
 
Internet of Things
Several new gadgets will demonstrate practical uses for the Internet of Things. One of the coolest ones is the Babolat Play Pure Drive tennis racket. This racket is loaded with sensors embedded in the handle that record topspin, player’s stroke speed, and more. This data is then sent via Bluetooth to a smartphone app. It could change the way players train for tennis (and you can see possible the implications for other sports in the future). To show the wide range of applications for the Internet of Things, Belkin is introducing the CrockPot WeMo Slow Cooker. Yes, a crockpot that allows you to login on your mobile device and adjust temperatures and cook times.

 
 
Wearables
There are expected to be 75-100 new wearable devices this year at CES and about 20% of those should be some type of fitness or health monitoring bracelet or anklet. Garmin’s Vivofit will be touting its long battery life. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear is expected to get a lot of attention because it is the first watch with a digital keyboard so you can not only read your messages, you can also reply without getting out your phone. The other interesting trend in wearables that are fashion-focused. This includes jewelry and other fashion-accessories that you would wear even it wasn’t “connected”. This is where we can see wearables shifting from early adopters to the masses.