At the All Things D mobile conference, the major players say mostly nothing at all, and innovation emerged from a few surprising places, namely Plantronics (with Voyager Pro UC), RealNetworks (Unifi) and Jawbone (Thoughts).

Fritz Nelson, Vice President, Editorial Director InformationWeek Business Technology Network

December 9, 2010

3 Min Read

Surprising Innovation From Surprising Players

Surprisingly, traditional audio companies delivered the innovation at All Things D. Plantronics demonstrated a nifty BlueTooth head set called the Voyager Pro UC. It has sensors, and knows when it's on your ear and will route the call to the headset when you put it on. Its mobile presence capability will send a "busy" message to Skype or Microsoft Communicator when it knows you're on a mobile call; it also works with VoIP calls. And when you're listening to a podcast and remove the headset, it will pause the podcast.

Plantronics Bluetooth Voyager Pro UC

Plantronics Bluetooth Voyager Pro UC

(click image for larger view)
Plantronics Bluetooth Voyager Pro UC

Voyager Pro UC includes "whisper alerts." This is for when you rudely carry on an in-person conversation with your headset on; but in this case, perhaps you're waiting for an important message, so it whispers an e-mail sender address and subject line into the earpiece for those contacts you directly specify. The company will be demonstrating these more widely at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January. (What's next? Whispered Tweets and Facebook Status updates?)

Jawbone Thoughts

Jawbone Thoughts

(click image for larger view)
Jawbone Thoughts

Jawbone also demonstrated a new product, called Thoughts, available for the iPhone starting December 9. It's a little bit like audio instant messaging: dictate a voice memo and send it to people in your network, including groups. It can work within the Thoughts application, or even with recipients not using Thoughts. It will work with or without a headset, but the company says it is integrated with Jawbone's devices. You can watch a demo here.

Finally, RealNetworks demonstrated Unifi (it will also showcase this new technology at CES next month). Unifi is one of the most elegant personal cloud services I've seen. It backs up, syncs and manages all your media (music, photos, videos and documents) across all your devices (PCs, Macs, Android and iPhone in the first quarter of 2011, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 in the second quarter).

It does this by cataloging everything, but it doesn't automatically pull it all up to the cloud -- until you need it, say, on another device. You can even queue data for cloud upload at a later time. Essentially from any device you can browse all of of the data on all supported devices without really knowing (or having to care) what device it's on or if it's in the cloud.

RealNetworks said that its "librarian" feature will work in the background, polling for updates every five minutes; and in the future, it will even do things like transcoding media types. Pricing is based on storage use; there will be a free, limited-use version as well.

Fritz Nelson is the editorial director for InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.

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About the Author(s)

Fritz Nelson

Vice President, Editorial Director InformationWeek Business Technology Network

Fritz Nelson is a former senior VP and editorial director of the InformationWeek Business Technology Network.

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