Planet Labs’ mini-satellites take flight toward the International Space Station


Orbital Antares rocket

photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Summary : The “flock” of Doves will be released late this month or in February at the earliest, when they will begin sending back high-quality images of the Earth.

The Antares rocket that launched today to journey to the International Space Station contained 2,780 pounds of cargo, including food, spare parts and even a colony of ants for a science experiment. It also held the future of Earth imaging: 28 “Dove” satellites the size of shoe boxes that will help San Francisco startup Planet Labs. build a constantly-updating view of our world.

Planet Labs Dove satellites

The “flock,” as Planet Labs calls it, is the largest group of satellites ever deployed. They will send back images of the Earth down to the three to five meter scale, which is close enough to “count trees, but not see people,” co-founder Robbie Schingler told me in July. The images can be bought for a fee to track things like agricultural yield, a cargo ship’s progress across the ocean or even how much deforestation occurs in a country each year.

The satellites will sit on the ISS for the month of January before being deployed. They are expected to begin sending images to Planet Labs headquarters as early as February. They are funded in part by the $52 million in Series B funding the company received last month.

Planet Labs founders Chris Boshuizen, Will Marshall and Robbie Schingler in their SoMA office. Photo by Signe Brewster.

Planet Labs founders Chris Boshuizen, Will Marshall and Robbie Schingler in their SoMA office. Photo by Signe Brewster.

The Antares rocket is operated by Orbital Sciences Corp., one of two private space companies NASA has tasked with carrying supplies to the ISS. This is the first of eight cargo missions that will carry on through 2016. The rocket that launched today is expected to dock at the ISS Sunday.

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Vine update for iOS brings exposure and focus locking


Vine for iOS 7

Vine’s six-second videos may not allow much room for artistic expression, but the company is happy to provide a little more control. It just updated its iOS app to enable exposure and focus locking; you now just have to tap and hold on a subject to prevent any surprise changes in brightness or sharpness while you’re recording. There aren’t any corresponding updates to Vine for Android or Windows Phone, but we wouldn’t be surprised if those arrive in the near future.

SOURCE: App Store

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Leap Motion brings its 3D gesture controller to Japan through new SoftBank partnership



Leap Motion is branching out into new markets today. The smart 3D gesture control hardware and software company has formed a partnership with BB Softservice Corp., a SoftBank group company. This deal will see Leap Motion’s Controller distributed exclusively through BB Softservice and gives Leap Motion an incredible opportunity in one of its key markets.

Specifically, SoftService BB will distribute to its authorized network of retailers and online resellers throughout Japan and provide translated materials. For this occasion, Leap Motion said that it has created a special Japanese localized version of its software that will “initially” be sold through Amazon Japan. Additional retailers will be added in 2014.

It turns out that Japan generates the third most Web sales of the Leap Motion Controller along with the number of downloads of its SDK. But unfortunately, until today, the physical Controller wasn’t available in Japanese stores. But while BB

Besides having a retail store to house its product, the partnership gives Leap Motion an opportunity to leverage BB Softservice’s accessibility in bringing Leap Motion’s technology into the enterprise. Beyond this, Leap Motion is hoping that the agreement will see it build better relationships with OEMs in the country across PC, mobile, and gaming market segments.

If you’re not familiar with Leap Motion, it’s a new way to interact with your computer using in-air movements of your hands and fingers (think Minority Report).  The controller is a small USB device that you plug into a computer and there are apps you can install to fully utilize the technology.

In December, company CEO Michael Buckwald said that Leap Motion will bebringing its technology to tablets and smartphones probably around Q3 or Q4 of 2014. It already has a deal with HP where the controller is embedded into the Envy 17 notebook.

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New Gmail Feature Allows Anyone On Google+ To Email You & Vice Versa, But Opt Out Is Provided

by  (@sarahintampa)

Google is today making a change to Gmail that will further bake in Google+ to its webmail product in a way that’s actually somewhat practical, though also potentially invasive. Going forward, you’ll now be able to directly email your Google+ contacts from Gmail, even if you don’t know their email address. And by default, anyone on Google+ will be able to email you as well, thanks to this new option, if you don’t adjust your settings.

This feature appears as you begin typing your contact’s name in the “To” field of an email message. Matching contacts display first at the top of the list of suggestions provided by Gmail’s autocomplete, while your Google+ connections appear below.


Because of the privacy implications of this feature — and the possibility of overwhelming the inboxes of more public figures — Google has at least put controls in place that allow you to specify who can send you emails.

You can choose from “No one” to continue on as normally, or open things up a bit wider by choosing from “Circles,” “Extended Circles,” or even “Anyone on Google+.” And of course, because Google+ is now the default platform for YouTube commenting, and required for things like setting up a new Gmail account, the “Anyone on Google+” option is much larger today than in earlier years. Many people are technically “on Google+,” even if they aren’t active on the Google+ destination site itself.


In addition, Google explains that not only are you able to specify who can send you emails, your email address isn’t visible to a Google+ connection until you send that person an email, nor is their email visible to you, unless they send you an email.

The feature also takes advantage of Gmail’s previously introduced tabbed interface, which breaks the Gmail inbox into sections like “Primary,” “Social,” Promotions,” and more. Going forward, emails from those in your Google+ Circles will appear in the “Primary” section, while those you don’t have in your Circles will be filtered over to the “Social” tab instead. Those users will only be able to start a conversation with you if you respond to them or add them to your Google+ Circles – something you can do right from the email header (which fortunately offers a visible “Report Spam or Abuse” link, as well).


This new feature is an expansion on the Google+ integrations the company first introduced back in late 2011 which originally brought Google+ to the Gmail inbox and Contacts section. The addition allowed users to automatically update their address book with a contact’s most recent information, making Google+ a more practical service than before. Also at the time, Google added a widget to the Gmail sidebar for viewing a contact’s most recent Google+ post, allowing you to add them to your Google+ Circles.

Like before, the newer integrations are practical and useful when you need them as a sender, but could be disruptive to you as a recipient of emails — much like email itself, if you think about it. For those who still use the “Priority Inbox” interface instead of tabs, the additional emails could become cumbersome. But Google is making the setting available to users before the feature launches, so they’ll be able to at least adjust their settings before a deluge occurs. (Unless, of course, they get so much email that they miss the note from Google.)

Google says the new feature is rolling out over the next couple of days to everyone who uses Gmail and Google+. Users will be alerted by way of a link to the setting when the feature is available to them.

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Sunrise’s beautiful calendar goes big on iPad, adds background updates

By Josh Lowensohn

sunrise for ipad

Popular social calendar app Sunrise is now available for iPads as part of a free update that went out today. Now a universal app, Sunrise has a new week view, along with background updates to keep whatever’s on your schedule up to date. The new week view is actually just three days on the similarly updated iPhone version, something that shows all your events by the hour. iPad users get a fuller view of the entire month or seven-day week. Sunrise also changed its logo from a flat calendar view to a red-orange sun coming up.


The update is the biggest for Sunrise since the company launched version 2.0 back in October, adopting a flat design to match Apple’s iOS 7. As we’ve written about before, the app is more useful than many other calendar tools, letting you send texts and e-mails right from any event while grabbing all sorts of data from services like LinkedIn, Google Calendar, and Facebook.

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The past, present and future of crowdfunding



If you’ve been following digital trends over the past few years, you’ll probably be aware of the hockey stick-growth of crowdfunding as a ‘thing’. It’s everywhere.

From smartwaches and ad campaigns, to mobile phones and Google Glass apps, seemingly every industry has taken to the Web’s myriad of crowdfunding portals to garner the necessary funds to help take ideas out of minds and into production.

Launched in 2009, Kickstarter is perhaps the most well-known crowdfunding platform and yesterday it revealed some interesting numbers. In 2013, campaign organizers raised $480 million from 3 million people, which works out at roughly $1.3 million each day. Or $913 every minute. Moreover, 800,000 backers pledged money for at least two projects, while roughly 81,000 supported more than 10. And 19,911 projects reached their funding target.

Compared to 2012, when 2.3 million people pledged a total of $320 million to see 18,109 projects through to funding on Kickstarter, then it’s clear that crowdfunding isn’t going away any time soon. And why should it?

Given the recent surge in projects funded through the likes of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, here we take a look at the past, present and future of crowdfunding.

The past

Not surprisingly, crowdfunding as a concept wasn’t born out of the Internet age – the Web just made things a whole lot easier. The idea that multiple people could club together to see an idea through to fruition is actually, well, not thatinnovative.

Way back in 1713, poet Alexander Pope took advance subscriptions to translate Homer’s Iliad from Greek into English – it was a seven year project that saw a single volume produced each year.

Also, when France built the Statue of Liberty for the US back in the 19th century, she was shipped across the Atlantic in pieces to be assembled Stateside – however the US struggled to raise the required $250,000 to build a granite plinth to house her. With a number of potential funding conduits exhausted, publisher Joseph Pulitzer launched a fundraising campaign in his newspaper, The New York World, which ultimately raised enough cash from a staggering 160,000 donors to cover the remaining $100,000 needed to erect the statue.

Pedestal The past, present and future of crowdfunding

History is littered with similar escapades, but with the advent of the Internet era, things have opened up greatly.

‘Electronic watering holes’

Fast forward to 1997, and British rock band Marillion disappointed its US fan-base when it announced it would have to can a planned tour after its American record label went bankrupt and ultimately dissolved. Marillionites, as the band’s fans are affectionately known, took to the fledgling communication network known as the World Wide Web to spread the word and garner donations from fans everywhere.

Chicago Tribune report at the time read:

“Marillion’s on-line followers, known as Freaks (they take their name from the lyrics of one of the band’s songs), tout themselves as computer-savvy music fanatics who discuss the group on the Internet’s World Wide Web ( and Newsgroup message boards (alt.bands.marillion). It was at these electronic watering holes where Jeff Pelletier, an optical engineer in Bedford, Mass., conceived the fundraiser to bring Marillion to the States.

Pelletier credits the ‘instant communication’ of e-mail and on-line forums with the fund’s success. When he proposed his plan to his fellow Freaks, the response was overwhelming.”

Around $60,000 was raised in the end and, in addition to letting thousands of Marillion fans see their favorite band in the flesh, it demonstrated the latent power of the Internet. This thing wasn’t just for geeks, it was a powerful beast that could unite people for shared goals.

Indeed, just two years later, a filmmaker used the Web to fund a movie calledForeign Correspondents. Some three weeks into filming, writer and Director Mark Tapio Kines had spent $40,000 of his savings, and was in debt with no money to cover resources.

“I thought the only possible chance to get money fast was to see if I could get the word out about the film,” explained Kines in a Chicago Tribune article at the time.

And so he created a website for his film, eventually going on to raise $500,000. Granted, most of the funds ended up coming from friends, family and film industry investors, but around a quarter emanated from those who learned about the movie on the Web.

“I was surprised that so many people were so eager to help a complete stranger,” explained Kines. “But I worked incredibly hard to make sure people would trust me to see that I did in fact have a finished product. I would send them the script. I would send them the rough cut. I would do everything I could to let them know that they weren’t putting their faith in the wrong person.”

The rise of crowdfunding

In the years that followed, a number of dedicated platforms sprouted up to try and harness this new-found power. ArtistShare was one of the earliest on the scene, offering to let fans fund production costs for albums sold online, with artists receiving a larger slice of the pie than they otherwise might on a traditional contract.

Check out this BBC report from 2004:

More than a decade on from launch, ArtistShare is still going strong, andrecently penned a deal with iconic jazz label Blue Note, to create a lower-risk hybrid division called Blue Note/ArtistShare.

Many others have followed since then, including Sellaband and Pledgie, while more donation-based portals such as JustGiving and GiveForward adopt a similar model in terms of making it easy for multiple people to give money to single causes.

Today, you can take your pick from many, many crowdfunding platforms including GoFundMeRocketHubAppsplitFundlyUnboundPubSlush,Indiegogo and Kickstarter. Though most of these don’t offer anything in the way of equity, other sites have arrived on the scene to cater for this, includingMicroventuresCircleUpCrowdCube and Seedrs.

It’s probably also worth noting the rise in peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms such as Funding CircleZopa and Lending Club, as well as microfinancing tools such as Kiva. Though many of these are fundamentally based on the same principles as the aforementioned crowdfunding platforms, the goals are ultimately different. Crowdfunding is often used to fund creative projects, with backers gaining nothing in return but a warm sense of self-satisfaction and early access to the goods. Though as we’ll see in a bit, the lines are starting to blur.

The present

So here we are in 2014, and crowdfunding is an acceptable, viable and increasingly popular means of getting an idea off the ground.

The Pebble E-Paper watch is among the most high-profile crowdfunding projects in recent times, topping $10 million in pledges. Meanwhile, Star Citizen has claimed to have raised more than $30 million from crowdfunding through its own site AND Kickstarter, to (hopefully) see the Windows game eventually make it to market.

The thing with crowdfunding is, there are no real restrictions on what you can seek funds for. If you hit on something that really resonates, then it can be an effective means of getting cash without giving equity.

Last week, we reported on a campaign to crowdfund Israel’s first single malt whisky. The folks at Milk & Honey launched on Indiegogo back in October to raise liquidity to the tune of $65,000. By the close of the campaign, that goal had been smashed, with almost $75,000 in the coffers.

And, in what can only be described as a sign of the times, American animatorBill Plympton took to Kickstarter a year ago in a quest to fund a new animated feature film called Cheatin‘. Plympton’s perhaps best known for his 1987 animated short called Your Face, and his illustrations and cartoons have been published in The New York Times, Vogue, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and Penthouse.

Meanwhile, Ubuntu attempted to raise $32m to build a new smartphone through Indiegogo last year, and although it ended in failure, it still managed to secure north of $11m in the process, which is quite a considerable sum.

Elsewhere, Songkick launched Detour last year, a crowdfunding platform forfans to persuade their favorite bands and artists to play in a location near them, though it remains London-only for now. Interestingly, however, Detour isn’tjust being used by fans. Some independent London promoters have also used Detour to kickstart concert campaigns, as it means far lower risk – it’s like a market research tool to establish demand.

Detour3 730x402 The past, present and future of crowdfunding

Market validation

This is an interesting point to pick up on. In an interview with Indiegogo’s Danae Ringelmann last year, she revealed that in the wake of the first Indiegogo-funded Oscar-winning film, her firm had also inked a deal with Forest Whitaker’s production company – a partnership that isn’t so much about funding his films, as it is a de-risking tool.

“He (Forest Whitaker) wants to make sure all the films he’s investing in integrate crowdfunding, because of the market validation and marketing benefits,” she said. “A lot of people think crowdfunding is just an alternative form of financing – and it totally is – but that’s the tip of the iceberg. We’re becoming the world’s incubation platform, because we’re creating an ecosystem and a mechanism where social projects, businesses, (and) creative ideas rise to the top algorithmically and automatically, rather than subjectively and manually.”

In other words, crowdfunding is a great way of showing that an idea or project has legs – if the public are putting up money to support something, then this data can be shown to bigger (traditional) financiers, be it a bank or Hollywood production company, and used as leverage to garner more funds.

“I see a world where every non-profit that’s applying for a grant from a foundation, what’s going to go into their grant application is all their crowdfunding success,” continues Ringelmann. “There will be a world where venture capitalists won’t even look at potential deals unless those businesses have validated their product through crowdfunding.”

When the global masses put their money into a project, this means they’re really on to something. It’s a little like market research, and gets the big guns interested.

Back in September, we interviewed Adam Leipzig, former Senior Vice President at Walt Disney Studios, former President of National Geographic Films, and current CEO of Entertainment Media Partners. We asked for his views on how the movie industry is responding to the rise in crowdfunding.

“Studios are responding to it in a minor way,” he said. “They are throwing a lot of money at social media campaigns, and they’re looking closely at crowdfunding. There have recently been some crowdfunded movies, such as the Veronica Mars movie, that actually are studio films. The crowdfunding isn’t so much about providing money, it’s about market validation and proof of the audience.”

This ties neatly in with what Indiegogo’s Ringelmann says, but over and above all this Leipzig says the longer-term ‘word-of-mouth’ effect is just as potent.

“These people (the backers) will become the ambassadors, and evangelists, for that movie when it comes out,” he says. “I believe that crowdfunding is 40% about the money, and 60% about connecting with your audience, building your audience and creating those evangelists and ambassadors for when the project is ready for launch.”

Though Leipzig reckons crowdfunding has a big future in the entertainment industry, he says it will be more powerful for non-studio, independent movies. And funders will be able to share actual movie profits – something that traditionally wasn’t really possible through open crowdfunding platforms.

The future

461196119 730x322 The past, present and future of crowdfunding

Way back in April 2012, President Obama signed the JOBS Act into law,signalling a new era for fundraising in startups. Finally coming into effect on September 23 last year, the bill is designed to lessen the regulatory burden on small companies looking to raise money, and allows them to have more investors before being forced to go public. Importantly, the bill also caters for public crowdfunding to some degree, insofar as it opens the gate for equity-based crowd investing.

But first, Title II of the JOBS Act has drawn much attention, based around the rule-changes that govern private (equity) offerings. In the past, a Regulation D, Rule 506 offering was exempt from SEC registration AS LONG as it wasn’t publicized, and the buyers were qualified institutions or “accredited” investors with income over a set minimum threshold. Title II called for the SEC to allow the marketing of these offerings, provided the buyers were still accredited.

Le Grand Courtage, a French sparkling wine company, is currently raising capital on CircleUp under these new rules, meaning they can now openly solicit investors and use tools such as social media to market this. While CircleUp was always an equity-based crowdfunding platform, the fact that this can all be discussed publicly could have interesting ramifications in the future.

Screenshot 22 730x365 The past, present and future of crowdfunding

But why would Le Grand Courtage choosing this means to raise funds, rather than an existing crowdfunding platform and not give away equity?

“Consumer companies of this size are often too small to attract loans from banks, or are growing too rapidly for a loan to make sense,” says Ryan Caldbeck, CEO of CircleUp. “On Kickstarter, the average raise is typically $10,000. For companies like those on CircleUp, they need much more than just $10,000, and equity is often the solution.”

While we’ve shown that the likes of Kickstarter are capable of attracting multi-million dollar funding campaigns, it’s not typical. The promise of equity draws in the high-rollers, and is perhaps best suited for later-stage companies rather than those looking to merely get off the ground. “The companies set their own valuation – typically giving up 10-30% of the business for around $1 million,” adds Caldbeck.

While equity-based crowdfunding clearly has a big role to play in the future of, well, funding, will we really start seeing the big consumer-centric platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer equity? Don’t hold your breath. At theWired 2013 event in London back in October, Yancey Strickler, Kickstarter co-founder, addressed that very question.

“It was wild to hear folk in the Senate and Congress talking about Kickstarter a lot – my mum was excited about that,” said Strickler, when asked about the passing of the JOBS Act. “But we’re not going to do anything with that, we’re not going to change Kickstarter, we’re not going to turn it into a way for people to make money.”

But wouldn’t that be a shrewd direction to head, both in terms of tempting more backers and growing the Kickstarter platform? “I think that spoils exactly what’s special about it (Kickstarter),” he continued. “Ideas are funded out of love, not that idea of financial self-interest. I’m sure there will be ways in which it will be successful (equity-based crowd investing), but the heart and soul of what we do couldn’t be further from that.”

So that sounds like a big no from Kickstarter. But what about Indiegogo…will we be seeing equity-based campaigns any time soon? We asked founder Danae Ringelmann.

“The potential for equity crowdfunding is very exciting, and Indiegogo has been strongly in favor of it since we pioneered perks-based crowdfunding in 2008,” she says. “In 2010, we participated in running our own crowdfunding campaignto change crowdfunding law in this direction. Equity crowdfunding is a key step on our mission toward democratizing finance by allowing people not only to fund, but to invest in what matters to them.”

So, is that a yes or no?

“We certainly expect that equity crowdfunding has the chance to be a major part of our business, but we have a robust and rapidly-growing perks-based business at Indiegogo without equity already,” she continues. “Since one of the biggest reasons people turn to Indiegogo is to raise non-dilutive capital, we expect such range of needs to remain wide in a post-equity crowdfunding world.”

So, Indiegogo is non-committal at the moment, but certainly seems open to the prospect. When, or if, that does happen remains to be seen. In terms of the existing perks Ringelmann discusses, this can’t of course include money, property or any such asset. But it may include things like advanced sales of goods, discounts, coupons and gift certificates.

At any rate, even if the Kickstarters and Indiegogos of the world did want to open things up to equity, there’s still the final passing of Title III of the JOBS Act to contend with, which relates specifically to public securities crowd investing – it has been approved, but the finer intricacies have yet to be ironed out. When it’s finalized, companies will be able to raise up to $1m within twelve months, directly from Joe Public, through a crowdfunding platform. But there will be annual investment caps in placed based on income/wealth of the individuals.

“We envision a world where funding is democratized and passionate people around the world are empowered to bring their dreams to life with the help of like-minded individuals,” says Ringelmann. “The pending change in regulations to allow equity crowdfunding will certainly expand opportunities for people within the United States. We have been consistently taking feedback from our customers and the general public about how we can improve Indiegogo, as it relates to investing and other forms of fundraising, and we will continue to optimize and modify the product accordingly.”

Need for niche

Screenshot 21 730x350 The past, present and future of crowdfunding

We’re also seeing niche crowdfunding platforms come to the fore, with the likes of Pubslush relaunching a little more than a year ago with a focus on book publishing, targeting emerging authors. But why the need for niche when someone could just as easily launch a campaign on Kickstarter?

“I think that we’ll see a need for more niche platforms in the next few years,” says company VP Amanda Barbara. “Why? Because I think it’s important to identify who your audience is, and know you’re going to a platform that specializes in attracting that specific audience. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are both amazing platforms, and they’re obviously doing something right. But I really do find that the struggles with these types of platforms will always be that they have so many projects going on at one time, that some will be overlooked.”

The need for niche is subtly taking Pubslush away from its bigger brethren. On the one hand, Pubslush in its most basic form is very much the ‘Kickstarter for authors’, but on the other hand it’s looking to make it easier to raise money too.

“It’s not like other crowdfunding sites, where if you don’t raise, say, $10,000 you can’t go-ahead,” continues Barbara. “A lot of the authors using Pubslush are using it as a supplement – they’re ready to go ahead with their book, they’re trying  to mitigate some of their own risk, gain some momentum.”

And what about equity, will Pubslush be using the new JOBS Act regulations? “I do not see Pubslush offering equity right away,” says Barbara. “Equity crowdfunding for books would be a bit harder – unless a book were to become a best-seller, there would be equity potential. I believe the equity potential is in the movie rights for successful books.”

However this all pans out in the months and years to come, it’s clear judging by the sheer number of platforms – general and niche – and the amount of money people are putting up to support good ideas, that crowdfunding is here to stay and has a big future.

The one word we keep hearing in relation to crowdfunding is ‘democratization’. Banks and government-led schemes have long-been the source of finances for budding entrepreneurs in the past, but with billions of people connected to the Web through PCs, mobiles and tablets, the sands are shifting.

Feature Image Credit – Shutterstock | Image Credit 1 – NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

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Wearable tech is coming, but it might not suit you

by Yannick LeJacq, NBC News

Clockwise from top left: Google Glass, Sony Head Mounted Display, various fitness trackers, Zepp sensor, Sony Smartband and Core and Samsung Galaxy Ge...

Clockwise from top left: Google Glass, Sony Head Mounted Display, various fitness trackers, Zepp sensor, Sony Smartband and Core and Samsung Galaxy Gear

The next generation of personal tech won’t fit in a pocket, enthusiasts say. It may eliminate pockets entirely.

The rapidly growing field of wearable tech encompasses everything from smartphone-connected, vibrating underwear to futuristic headgear with built-in cameras and floating micro displays. And while it may sound outlandish now, so did the iPhone, once upon a time.

“For most of my career, computing has been something you hold in your hand, maybe have in your pocket or that sits on your desk,” said Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, the world’s biggest computer chip maker. “That idea is about to be transformed.”

There are “smart socks” that promise to help step up the running game of health-aware tech aficionados. Shirts, wrist-bands and waist-braces monitor the wearer’s physical activity or sitting posture to guide him or her toward healthier behavior. Glasses-like headsets and smartwatches boast many of the same features as smartphones. And as if that’s not enough, there are wearable behavior trackers for toddlers and the family’s pet dog alike.

At the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Krzanich delivered the opening keynote this week, the inescapable buzz from tech companies, investors, and the most eager of early adopters was that gadgets people mix in with their everyday wardrobe are sure to be the next big thing.

Intel-designed wearable gadgets launched at CES include fitness-tracking earbuds and an always-on headset-slash-personal assistant that shares the name of Iron Man’s fictional Artificial Intelligence helper, “Jarvis.” Krzanich also announced Intel’s “Make It Wearable” challenge, a year-long global competition with $1.3 million in prizes.

With the sheer amount of wired gear offered by both major companies such as Samsung and LG as well as independent startups, the enthusiasm for a Jetsons future can be contagious. The question now is whether that will translate from Silicon Valley to people who don’t want to spill coffee on their biometric pants.

Wearable tech could be a multi-billion dollar market

That’s not to say that the market for wearable technology isn’t expanding. While the product that has received the most chatter, Google Glass, still isn’t widely available after being revealed in April 2012, consumer trackers are weighing in with bullish predictions. Credit Suisse valued the wearable tech market at around $3 to $5 billion in May, predicting that number could grow to somewhere between $30 and $50 billion in the next three to five years. IHS Electronics and Media valued the current market at $10 billion in September, meanwhile.

But Shane Walker, an analyst at IHS, emphasized that these numbers only really mean something depending on where you look.

“You can develop a kind of skewed perspective if you get lost in the world of analysts, entrepreneurs, and early adopters,” Walker told NBC News.

That hasn’t stopped tech companies of all shapes and sizes from flocking to this year’s convention with a plethora of wearable gadgets, however. Major tech companies like Intel, Qualcomm, Sony, and Samsung all brought smartwatches to the show. As and for personal fitness-focused wristbands, they’ve been so popular at this year’s convention that even Razer — a company best known for making high-end PC gaming equipment — brought one to show off.

“Folks spend around $1 trillion a year globally on consumer electronics,” Walker said. “When you take a fraction of that compared to a trillion, we’re still just scratching the surface of that market. But people have to become more accustomed to it, there has to be a lot more value built into a device before they decide to buy it.”

The boss is calling from his eyeglass cam

Bill Bartow, vice president of global product management at the workforce management software company Kronos, agrees with Walker that the short-term applications of wearable technology won’t see their biggest hits in the consumer space. Instead, they’ll catch on at work.

“There’s a really big opportunity for wearables to have a faster adoption in the workplace than in the consumer world,” Bartow told NBC News. There already are wearable tech applications for many jobs, he said, and it’s easier to get people to start wearing something when you pay them to and can demonstrate a clear return on investment for making employees do so.

Don Norman, co-founder of the Norman-Nielsen Group and author of the legendary book “The Design of Everyday Things,” told NBC News that modern day tech developers are therefore facing the same challenge that watch and glasses-makers have wrestled with for centuries: making devices that are not only useful and functional, but attractive enough that you’re comfortable wearing it both intimately and in public. And while there are certain gadgets like Pebble’s new sleek metal smartwatch or Google’s near-future headset that are attractive in their own right, this is really just the beginning of a transition from design to fashion.

“This is just one of a stage in the evolution of products,” Norman said. “It really has to be well accepted enough, reliable enough, that eventually it becomes a symbol of who you are!”

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