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CES 2016: Boost for Bluetooth

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At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Cassia Networks unveiled the Cassia Hub, the world’s first Bluetooth router that can control up to 22 Bluetooth devices.

The Cassia Hub also extends the range of Bluetooth communications to 1,000 feet in open space ¾ more than 30 times the standard operating range. The hub also comes with the Cassia mobile app, which integrates and automates control of all connected Bluetooth devices both inside and outside the home. Priced at $99.99, the Cassia Hub is available for pre-orders today at www.cassianetworks.com and will begin shipping in Q1 2016.

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Originally developed for personal area network devices like wireless mice and headsets, Bluetooth technology has traditionally been passed up as a communications protocol for the connected home due to limitations such as range (30 feet) and one-to-one connectivity. Using Cassia’s new proprietary and patented technology developed by Cassia Networks founder and former Cisco engineer and Aruba executive, Felix Zhao, the Cassia Hub can not only connect up to 22 devices at once, but it can also communicate and relay messages for Bluetooth devices up to 1,000 feet away (open space) or through three interior walls. This means no longer being tethered to your Bluetooth speaker or losing a signal when you enter another room.

Until now, Bluetooth devices have been limited by range and the number of devices that can be connected together. With the invention of the Cassia Hub, Cassia Networks has removed these barriers and is making Bluetooth the ideal communication protocol and default standard for the Internet of Things (IoT).

“We developed the Cassia Hub because we noticed there wasn’t a universal standard of communication between the ever-growing pile of Internet connected devices,” said Felix Zhao, founder and CEO of Cassia Networks.  “Bluetooth, with its open platform and universal presence, was an obvious solution but inherently limited by its capabilities. We thought if we could engineer a way to break free of these limitations, Bluetooth could become a viable contender, and thus the Cassia Hub was born.”

The Cassia Hub is compatible with Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE and Classic) and does not require any modification or configuration of devices. This means previously purchased Bluetooth enabled devices such as smartphones, speakers, fitness trackers, headphones, lights, locks and countless other Bluetooth devices should readily and seamlessly connect to the Cassia Hub.  Moreover, with the Cassia Hub, users can stream music wirelessly from popular streaming services as well as local content on their phone throughout the house using Bluetooth speakers they already own, much like competing multi-room wireless speaker systems that sell for hundreds more.

The Cassia Hub also connects to the internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, which enables users to control their Bluetooth devices outside of the home. By using their internet-enabled smartphone or tablet to access the Cassia App, users will have access and control of their devices from virtually anywhere with internet access, something not possible with current Bluetooth technology.

In addition to the Cassia Hub, Cassia Networks is also unveiling several accessories available for purchase either with the hub or separately:

  • Cassia Bluetooth Speaker ($99.99): a powerful 2.1 stereo speaker that can work with your other Bluetooth speakers to play the same music in multiple rooms.
  • Bluetooth multi-color LED light ($29.99 for individual or $79.99 for 3-pack): a 16 million color light that pairs with the Cassia Hub for full light and color control with all your existing Bluetooth enabled lightbulbs.
  • Bluetooth Smart Plug ($29.99): a plug that makes it easy to automate and control consumer appliances from the Cassia Hub App directly.
  • Cassia Personal Safety Sensor ($99.99): this sensor has several features to help those in need of immediate assistance:
    • Users can simply push button to contact emergency services or pre-determined contacts when they need help
    • With built-in fall detection, an alert will be sent automatically if the user falls.
    • The sensor can also share where the user fell as long as it is paired with a smartphone or within range of the Cassia Hub

So, how does it work?  The Cassia Hub operates off two modes of communication:

  • Control Mode: The Cassia App controls all classic Bluetooth devices such as Bluetooth speakers, headsets and some Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices that are recognized by the Hub.
  • Transparent Relay Mode: Users can extend the range of BLE devices that are not recognized by the Cassia Hub where users are able to use their native apps with their BLE devices. In this mode, the Cassia Hub acts as a router and range extender for communication between native product apps on your smartphone and corresponding BLE devices.

The Cassia Hub can also connect to various devices and networks through Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz), Ethernet (10/100) and USB 2.0.

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Notre Dame, Scoop Makhathini, GoT, top week in search

From fire disaster to social media disaster, the top Google searches this week covered a wide gamut of themes.

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Paris and the whole world looked on in shock as the 856-year-old medieval Catholic cathedral crumbled into ash. The tragic infernal destruction of this tourist attraction of historical and religious significance led South Africans to generate more than 200 000 search queries for “Notre Dame Cathedral” on Monday. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire that razed the architectural icon.

In other top trending searches on Google this week, radio presenter Siyabonga Ngwekazi, AKA Scoop Makhathini, went viral when it appeared he had taken to Twitter to expose his girlfriend, Akhona Carpede, for cheating on him. Scoop has since come out to say that he was not responsible for the bitter rant and that his account was hacked. “Scoop Makhathini” generated more than 20 000 search queries on Wednesday.

Fans generated more than 20 000 search queries for “Sam Smith” on Tuesday ahead of the the British superstar’s Cape Town performance at the Grand West Casino. Smith ended up cutting his performance short that night due to vocal strain.

Local Game of Thrones superfans were beside themselves on Sunday, searching the internet high and low for the first episode of the American fantasy drama’s eighth season. “Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 1” generated more than 100 000 queries on Google Search on the weekend.

As the festivities kicked off in California with headliners such as Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande, South Africans generated more than 2 000 search queries for “Coachella” on Saturday.

South Africans generated more than 5 000 search queries for “Wendy Williams” on Friday  as it emerged that the American talk show host had filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Hunter after 21 years of marriage. Hunter has long been rumored to have been cheating on Williams, which reportedly finally led to the divorce.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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5G smartphones to hit 5M sales in 2019

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According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Early 5G smartphone models will be expensive and available in limited volumes. Samsung, LG and Huawei will be the early 5G smartphone leaders this year, followed by Apple next year.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “We forecast global 5G smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Less than 1 percent of all smartphones shipped worldwide will be 5G-enabled this year. Global 5G smartphone shipments are tiny for now, due to expensive device pricing, component bottlenecks, and restricted availability of active 5G networks.”

Ville Petteri-Ukonaho, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung will be the early 5G smartphone leader in the first half of 2019, due to initial launches across South Korea and the United States. We predict LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola and others will follow later in the year, followed by Apple iPhone with its first 5G model during the second half of 2020. The iPhone looks set to be at least a year behind Samsung in the 5G smartphone race and Apple must be careful not to fall too far behind.”

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The short-term outlook for 5G smartphones is weak, but the long-term opportunity remains huge. We forecast 1 billion 5G smartphones to ship worldwide per year by 2025. The introduction of 5G networks, by carriers like Verizon or China Mobile, opens up high-speed, ultra-low-latency services such as 8K video, streaming games, and augmented reality for business. The next big question for the mobile industry is how much extra consumers are really willing to pay, if anything, for those emerging 5G smartphones and services.”

Strategy Analytics provides a snapshot analyses for the outlook for 5G smartphone market in this Insight report: 5G Smartphones : From Zero to a Billion

Strategy Analytics provides a deep-dive into the air-interface technologies that will power phones through 2024 across 88 countries here: Global Handset Sales Forecast by 88 Countries and 19 Technologies : 2003 to 2024

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