Your Dick Pics Are About to Be All Over the Internet


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Sign by Roadhouse Relics Matt Rainwaters



A few years ago, someone broke into my email and then used it to get into all sorts of other things. Among the very many things I panicked about was: Will they see my nude pictures? Because like everyone else, I have hackable pictures of myself naked.


These are not sexual, come-hither images. There’s a photo of me wading into a freezing stream on a backpacking trip, 10,000 feet up. In one I’m naked by a glacier, getting my courage up for a plunge in the pool at its base. There are a bunch of them, from multiple trips. Goofy photos that add up to a collage of high-altitude nudies.


In the end, none got out. (Phew.) But if they had been circulated, I would have felt pretty embarrassed—and that’s irrational.


In the beginning, we are all naked and unashamed. As children we run through backyard sprinklers and into oceans unencumbered by garments. But age and society train us to hide our native forms. They train us that certain parts of our bodies are different from others and that we should hide them. Yet cultural norms are different in different places and different times. Were this the 19th century, our mere ankles would offend. Yet today in Scandinavia, we might get naked and sit in a sauna—men and women alike—without sweating it.


This is not an argument in favor of sexting; it is an argument against shame.


It’s time for the cultural norm that says nude photos are shameful or shocking to end. There are simply too many naked pictures of too many people—and they’re about to be all over our screens.


Take sexts. Sexting is great. Sharing an intimate moment when we’re not physically together with someone we love is a gift. But that gift can turn into a curse when the intimate moment becomes less intimate—when a photograph is broadcast widely in the service of revenge, belittlement, objectification, or bragging rights.


Such incidents are, rightly, described in terms of assault. They are not just gross violations of privacy and trust, they are often crimes. And the wretched little shits who perpetrate them ought to be shunned, prosecuted, and imprisoned.


Yet we should also recognize that it is only the creeps who seek to distribute those photos, or access them once distributed, who have done something shameful. There is nothing to be ashamed of in having taken a naked picture and sent it to another person who consents to it.


Don’t Look So Shocked


But this is not an argument in favor of sexting; it is an argument against shame. Fortunately, that shame may solve itself—because we are all about to get naked on the Internet. Even discounting sexts, nude images of ordinary people will soon be ubiquitous. There are just so many naked pictures of you to choose from.


There are the ones that we’re starting to see already: images from webcams and home-security cameras that are either hacked or inadvertently broadcast to the net. There are illicit ones from the doctor’s office. There are the ones from the TSA scanner. There are cameras everywhere.


Matt Haughey, founder of MetaFilter, recently got caught in this pervasive web of digital imagers. He has an Internet-­connected Dropcam pulling security duty in his house, and one day he walked past it naked. The camera captured its jaybirdly owner and uploaded it to the cloud. The Dropcam then, helpfully, sent a notification to Haughey’s email that something had moved in his home. Something naked. Haughey mused on his blog how easy it could be for someone to see his junk. He has a point.


Everything you feel, smell, and see is leaping onto the Internet, just as everything is becoming a camera. A Really Good Camera. Perhaps your naked image is already on a neighbor’s Dropcam, which happened to see in your window as you walked past without any pants on. Maybe it was caught by a Google Street View camera or in the reflection in a mirror pond as a drone zoomed over, filming in 4K. *Snap*!


The nudes are out there.


In the coming years, when you Google someone’s name, it won’t be shocking to see nude pictures interspersed among the results, no big deal: LinkedIn profile, professional society award, naked picture, Facebook Page (private), and so on. We just have to stop caring about other people’s nudity. We should quit being shocked, and we should quit being shamed, because the shame is not ours, only the genitals are. And your genitals are wonderful. You should show them to the world.



Google Looks to Break Into China With a New YouTube Channel


A Chinese flag blows in the wind in front of Google Inc.'s offices in Beijing, China, June 2, 2011.

A Chinese flag blows in the wind in front of Google Inc.’s offices in Beijing, China, June 2, 2011. Keith Bedford/Bloomberg/Getty Images



Google wants into China—one way or another.

The internet giant just launched a new Chinese-language YouTube channel to educate Chinese programmers on the ins and outs of various Google technologies, such as its Android mobile operating system and Compute Engine cloud computing service. The channel includes both new content and videos from Google’s English-language channel subtitled with Simplified Chinese captions.


The irony is that YouTube is officially blocked in China. So are the Android Play store and the Google search engine. And the company isn’t necessarily willing to play by local censorship rules. But it’s still looking for ways of bringing its services to more of China’s 1.35 billion people.


In appealing to developers, it could land a foothold in the company that could pay off in years to come. Developers versed in Google’s technologies today may turn to the tech giant in building the companies of tomorrow, and though things like the Play store and the Google search engine may remain blocked, cloud computing services like Compute Engine—which provide computing power for running websites and other software—may be another matter. Microsoft now offers its cloud computing service in China, though through a local partner.


Google has had a tumultuous relationship with the Chinese Government. From 2005 until early 2010, the company censored search results on Google China. But after an attempt to hack into the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, widely blamed on the Chinese government, Google began re-routing its Chinese search engine through its Hong Kong site, allowing users to access uncensored search results. The Chinese government quickly moved to block Google’s search engine.


More recently, China has cracked down on the use of VPNs, making it much harder for Chinese citizens to circumvent the government’s filters. In addition to censorship, these filters also help protect companies like search engine Baidu from foreign competitors like Google.


But even as the Chinese government has made life difficult for Google’s search engine, some of the company’s other technologies have life in China. Android is the most popular smart phone operating system in the country, according to the South China Morning News —though most phones are not controlled by Google—and Google recently announced that Chinese developers can now sell their apps in the Play store, letting them to make money from users in countries where the store isn’t blocked.


Meanwhile, Google’s programming language Go is extraordinarily popular among developers in China based on data crunched by programmer Herman Schaaf. It’s with these folks—at the grassroots level—that Google could eventually gain some leverage.



Twitter Says Its App Analysis Tool Is Juggling 5 Billion ‘Sessions’ a Day


Twitter says it’s now juggling about 5 billion “sessions” a day on its Answers service, the tool it released this past summer in an effort to help the world’s software developers analyze the performance of their mobile apps.


In other words, the company says, developers are using the seven-month-old service to collect app data from hundreds of millions of mobile devices out in the real world.


Answers is part of a larger suite of tools for software developers, known as Fabric, that Twitter formally unveiled at its inaugural developer conference in October. With Fabric, the company aims to help improve the performance and design of mobile apps—and perhaps integrate its own services into the larger world of computing. The suite, for instance, offers a tool for syndicating tweets through third-party apps.


“We want to empower the mobile app ecosystem for everyone,” says Brian Swift, who helps oversee the Answers tool. “We want to make these tools available for free—and make them as easy to us as possible.”


Answers is, in some ways, based on a tool called Crashlytics, which helps developers determine what’s causing their apps to crash. Twitter acquired Crashlytics in early 2013, and as Swift puts it, the company used many of the same principles in building Answers, which helps developers analyze how their apps are performing in others ways.


The aim is to help developers understand how people are using apps, how quickly these audiences are growing, and what the can be done to improve how the apps operate. Swift stresses that Answers is not just about gathering data, but learning how to respond to this information. “We’re providing you with a layer of opinion and analysis on your data,” he says, “so you can quickly take action.”


The app competes with similar tools such as Google Analytics and Flurry. But the larger aim here is for Twitter to expand its role beyond its own services and into apps across the software world. Ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once hailed “developers, developers, developers” as vitally important to the success of his company, and the same goes for other giants of the tech world, from Google to Facebook to Twitter.



Google Looks to Break Into China With a New YouTube Channel


A Chinese flag blows in the wind in front of Google Inc.'s offices in Beijing, China, June 2, 2011.

A Chinese flag blows in the wind in front of Google Inc.’s offices in Beijing, China, June 2, 2011. Keith Bedford/Bloomberg/Getty Images



Google wants into China—one way or another.

The internet giant just launched a new Chinese-language YouTube channel to educate Chinese programmers on the ins and outs of various Google technologies, such as its Android mobile operating system and Compute Engine cloud computing service. The channel includes both new content and videos from Google’s English-language channel subtitled with Simplified Chinese captions.


The irony is that YouTube is officially blocked in China. So are the Android Play store and the Google search engine. And the company isn’t necessarily willing to play by local censorship rules. But it’s still looking for ways of bringing its services to more of China’s 1.35 billion people.


In appealing to developers, it could land a foothold in the company that could pay off in years to come. Developers versed in Google’s technologies today may turn to the tech giant in building the companies of tomorrow, and though things like the Play store and the Google search engine may remain blocked, cloud computing services like Compute Engine—which provide computing power for running websites and other software—may be another matter. Microsoft now offers its cloud computing service in China, though through a local partner.


Google has had a tumultuous relationship with the Chinese Government. From 2005 until early 2010, the company censored search results on Google China. But after an attempt to hack into the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, widely blamed on the Chinese government, Google began re-routing its Chinese search engine through its Hong Kong site, allowing users to access uncensored search results. The Chinese government quickly moved to block Google’s search engine.


More recently, China has cracked down on the use of VPNs, making it much harder for Chinese citizens to circumvent the government’s filters. In addition to censorship, these filters also help protect companies like search engine Baidu from foreign competitors like Google.


But even as the Chinese government has made life difficult for Google’s search engine, some of the company’s other technologies have life in China. Android is the most popular smart phone operating system in the country, according to the South China Morning News —though most phones are not controlled by Google—and Google recently announced that Chinese developers can now sell their apps in the Play store, letting them to make money from users in countries where the store isn’t blocked.


Meanwhile, Google’s programming language Go is extraordinarily popular among developers in China based on data crunched by programmer Herman Schaaf. It’s with these folks—at the grassroots level—that Google could eventually gain some leverage.



Twitters Says Its App Analysis Tool Is Juggling 5 Billion ‘Sessions’ a Day


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Twitter says it’s now juggling about 5 billion sessions a day on its Answers service, the tool it released this past summer in an effort to help the world’s software developers analyze the performance of their mobile apps.


In other words, the company says, hundreds of million of mobile devices are now sending data to developers through the seven-month-old services.


Answers is part of a larger suite of tools for software developers, known as Fabric, that Twitter formally unveiled at its inaugural developer conference in October. With Fabric, the company aims to help improve the performance and design of mobile apps—and perhaps integrate its own services into the larger world of computing. The suite, for instance, offers a tool for syndicating tweets through third-party apps.


“We want to empower the mobile app ecosystem for everyone,” says Brian Swift, who helps oversee the Answers tool. “We want to make these tools available for free—and make them as easy to us as possible.”


Answers is, in some ways, based on a tool called Crashlytics, which helps developers determine what’s causing their apps to crash. Twitter acquired Crashlytics in early 2013, and as Swift puts it, the company used many of the same principles in building Answers, which helps developers analyze how their apps are performing in others ways.


The aim is to help developers understand how people are using apps, how quickly these audiences are growing, and what the can be done to improve how the apps operate. Swift stresses that Answers is not just about gathering data, but learning how to respond to this information. “We’re providing you with a layer of opinion and analysis on your data,” he says, “so you can quickly take action.


The app competes with similar tools such as Google Analytics and Flurry. But the larger aim here is for Twitter to expand its role beyond its own services and into apps across the software world. Ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once hailed “developers, developers, developers” as vitally important to the success of his company, and the same goes for other giants of the tech world, from Google to Facebook to Twitter.



A Toy Dinosaur Powered by IBM’s Watson Supercomputer


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CogniToy



Don Coolidge and JP Benini are bringing supercomputer smarts to the world of children’s toys.


Coolidge and Benini just launched a Kickstarter for a toy dinosaur toy driven by IBM Watson, the machine learning service based on the company’s Jeopardy-playing supercomputer.


Developed under the aegis of a company called Elemental Path and a project called CogniToys, this tiny plastic dinosaur uses speech recognition techniques to carry on conversations with kids, and according to Coolidge and Benini, it even develops a kind of smart personality based on likes and dislikes listed by each child.


The toy is another example of online machine learning pushing even further into our everyday lives. This is made possible not only by an improvement in AI techniques, but also by the ability to readily deliver these techniques across the net. The CogniToys dinosaur connects to a Watson cloud computing service via the internet. “If we had relied on doing all this with the hardware,” says Coolidge, “it would have become a really expensive toy. It would be unaffordable.”


Parents connect the toy to a home Wi-Fi network, and then they input some details about their child, including such things as age, grade level, favorite color, sport, or food. This helps the toy interact with the child, but using Watson, it can also evaluate a child’s ability and skill level on its own.


“If your kid is, say, using new vocabulary words, we can bump up the skill level on the assessments to push the child further,” Coolidge says. A child in the first grade, he says, would use the toy differently from someone in the second grade.


For Coolidge, who started developing the toy as part of Watson-centic contest sponsored by IBM, the added benefit with this internet-powered toy is that his company can continue to improve the toy after it’s in the hands of kids. “Just like app developers,” he says, “we’ll be able to respond to user feedback and make the product better.”



Microsoft Plugs Office Into Still More Rival Services


Microsoft continues to evolve into a company that plays nicely with competitors.


Today, the company announced that its Office apps for Apple iPhones and iPads now provides tools for opening and editing files stored on third-party online services from Apple and Box.com. And it unveiled a new Cloud Storage Partner Program that will let third party apps to open and edit Office files via its internet-based Office Online service.


These are small changes, but they’re part of an enormous shift for Microsoft, which has a history of working to ensure that Microsoft tools only worked with other Microsoft tools. Following the appointment of CEO Satya Nadella, the company has not only dovetailed its software third-party services, but also released software that runs on rivals operating systems, including Apple’s iOS.


Back in November, the company unveiled a partnership that lets Office apps directly save and sync files with Dropbox, and now it’s expanding this same kind of thing to other services. Meanwhile, Box, Citrix, and Salesforce are working to build apps that can edit files via Office Online.



Bacteria jump between species more easily than previously thought

A new study suggests that bacteria may be able to jump between host species far easier than was previously thought. Researchers discovered that a single genetic mutation in a strain of bacteria infectious to humans enables it jump species to also become infectious to rabbits. The discovery has major implications for how we assess the risk of bacterial diseases that can pass between humans and animals. It is well known that relatively few mutations are required to support the transmission of viruses -- such as influenza -- from one species to another. Until now it was thought that the process was likely to be far more complicated for bacteria.



Scientists at the universities of CEU Cardenal Herrera (Spain) and Glasgow and Edinburgh (UK) studied a strain of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus ST121, which is responsible for widespread epidemics of disease in the global rabbit farming industry. The team looked at the genetic make-up of ST121 to work out where the strain originated and the changes that occurred that enabled it to infect rabbits. They found that ST121 most likely evolved through a host jump from humans to rabbits around 40 years ago with a genetic mutation at a single site in the bacterial DNA code the cause for this.


The discovery transforms our understanding of the minimal genetic changes that are required for bacteria to infect different species. ST121 is found in the respiratory tract and on the skin of some people. While it is usually harmless, the bacteria can cause a variety of conditions from minor skin infections to meningitis and sepsis. In rabbits, the bacteria can cause serious skin infections.


Professors David Viana, of CEU-UCH Veterinary Faculty, and Jose Penades, of theInstitute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Glasgow, who co-led the study, said: "The ability for pathogens to switch host-species and lead to an epidemic in a new host population is of major concern to veterinary and public health professionals. Our results represent a paradigm shift in understanding of the minimal adaptions required for a bacterium to overcome species barriers and establish in new host populations."


Professor Ross Fitzgerald, from the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute, who co-led the study, said: "Domestication of animals, industrialisation of agriculture and globalisation have provided new opportunities for the transmission of bacteria between humans and animals. This latest research has important public and veterinary health implications which will require a re-examination of the future threat posed by bacterial host switching events."




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The above story is based on materials provided by AsociaciĆ³n RUVID . Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.



In Sign of Changing Software World, Pivotal Will Open Source Big Data Tools



Inside the San Francisco offices of Pivotal, a business software outfit spun off from big-name tech companies VMware and EMC. Photo: Ariel Zambelich/WIRED



Pivotal—the rather ambitious business software outfit spun off from big-name tech companies EMC and VMware—is open sourcing three of its key products, sharing the underlying software code with the world at large.


Today, the San Francisco-based company announced that in the coming year, it will open source GemFire, HAWQ, and GreenplumDB, three “big data” tools designed to help businesses analyze large amounts of digital information. “Our customers are starting to look to open source, and they’re looking to projects that have communities around them,” says Pivotal’s Sunny Madra, who oversees the company’s data work. “Customers want a say in the direction of software.”


The move is yet another sign that the world of business software is changing, moving away from proprietary software built and licensed by individual vendors like Oracle and Microsoft, towards open source tools that anyone can freely use and modify. With so many businesses now erecting their online operations atop open source software, we’re even seeing the traditional vendors change their approach.


Microsoft is open sourcing some of its key software tools. And Pivotal, with its roots in old-school software companies VMware and Greenplum, is another notable example. The company previously offered an open source cloud computing tool called Cloud Foundry as well as software based on the open source data-crunching software Hadoop, and now, it’s open sourcing the rest of its major tools.


“Pivotal is doing this in a way that a broader foundation of vendors and end using can collaborate on this software,” says Shaun Connolly, vice president of corporate strategy at open source software company Hortonworks, which plans to work in tandem with Pivotal on these tools. “The expectation this days is that software be driven through an open source model.”


Pivotal plans to open source HAWQ and GreenplumDB through the Apache Software Foundation and push the GemFire code into the community that oversees the open source database PostgreSQL. This should mean not only that the code is freely available to anyone, but that a broad community of developers—some inside Pivotal, others outside—will drive the evolution of these tools. Like many other open source software companies, Pivotal will make its money by helping businesses use the software and by selling specialized versions of the tools.


According to Madra, Pivotal’s big-data tools pulled in over $100 million in bookings from business in 2014. But he also says that businesses increasingly want to spend money on software that isn’t controlled by a single vendor, and he says that Pivotal has already built successful businesses around open source tools such as Cloud Foundry. “Open source,” Madra says, “is a trend growing bigger by the day.”



University Bans GitHub Homework (Then Changes Mind)


computer-education

Getty Images



Recently, a computer science student at the University of Illinois did some class homework and posted the answers to GitHub, the code-sharing platform widely used by open-source software developers. And the University was peeved.


Last week, using a DMCA takedown notice, the standard way to request removal of copyrighted material from the net, the University tried to force GitHub into vanishing the coursework from its service. After criticism from students, the school has rescinded the notice, but the incident goes a long way towards describing how the software world has changed in recent years.


In short, the world’s developers are moving towards a model of open collaboration. And though that works well for them, it clashes with the way the world of programming traditionally operated—as embodied by the University of Illinois.


A Noble Enough Idea


The University wanted to remove GitHub repositories that contained “course materials and solutions to assignments in three of our CS courses,” according to Professor Rob Rutenbar, the head of the school’s computer science department. The implication is that school was trying to stop cheating.


That’s a noble enough idea. But in this case, it works against the prevailing attitudes in the software world.


Across Silicon Valley and beyond, GitHub has caught on big time because it lets you track changes to your work—a version control system, in computer parlance—and it lets you do this in the open. This is a great way to promote collaboration on software projects, and naturally, the general attitudes behind the site are now filtering down the country’s university students.


The trouble is that while students often think of programming as a collaborative act, some universities still think of it as a private, proprietary thing. “The whole concept of using a DMCA takedown on the student who is openly working is broken,” says Andrew Dunn, a graduate student at Northwestern University.


Learning to Merge


Yes, the clash is a little more complicated than that. “They’re stuck with a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation,” Mike Berry, a computer science professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, says of his counterparts at the University of Illinois. “They don’t want to suppress, but at the same time its an academic integrity issue.”


But clearly, this is about more than cheating. Many students publicly complained about the situation, and in the end, Rutenbar listened.


“Once we dug into it as an organization with our students, we recognized that the DMCA take-down requests weren’t the best way for us to approach this issue,” he says. “[W]e choose our students because they’re extraordinarily bright, thoughtful, and unafraid of speaking up. And they’ve spoken up on this one.” And rightly so.


It’s important to strike a balance between teaching open collaboration, and teaching kids how to code, Rutenbar says. “We’re taking very young students who often come to us with some basic software skills, developed in a collaborative environment, and experienced in use of the internet as the library to find useful bits and pieces” he says. “Then we put them in a class where we need to carefully assess each student’s individual understanding of the material”


Better Borrowers


Twenty five years ago, when Mike Berry was a student, the idea of collaborative coding was virtually unknown. “Years ago we had nothing. So we learned by creating,” he says. “Now you don’t have to learn by creating. You can learn by merge. In some sense it becomes a little bit more of an engineering exercise.”


What that means is that today’s students need to be better borrower. Finding tools out in the open and adapting them to fit their particular problems. That’s made today’s programmers polymaths of sorts, able to tackle problems in new fields—big data, artificial intelligence, bioinformatics—that would have required years of specialization a few decades ago.


But they also have to be able to do the programming, says Berry. “The question mark is do you have the critical analysis,” he says. “Do you have the ability to discern whether the code is doing what it needs to do for your purposes; and how do you do that unless you know how to write it yourself.”


Berry and Rutenbar are now experimenting with testing students on computers that are completely disconnected from the internet. They use them to find out if their students can code on their own. And you won’t pass if you cheat your way through college using GitHub.



Neptune: An Almost-Crazy Idea for Upending the Smartphone Ecosystem




Today, with every other commercial pushing a new phone or tablet, it’s easy to forget how drastically things can change, and how quickly. The iPhone, after all, is just eight years old—and five years ago, almost no one was talking about how mobile computing was going to eat the world. And yet today, the smartphone is the center of our digital lives. Does it have to be?


Neptune, a new startup launching today, believes the era of the smartphone is headed towards an end. “The current wearables space is best summarized as a master/slave relationship,” says Simon Tian, Neptune’s boyish founder, who is all of 20 years old. In his formulation, the phone is the master, and all wearables are the slaves, simply borrowing from the power and capabilities of the phone. “The smart watch actually just proves you’re also a slave to your phone. Imagine when it’s out of sight. You freak out!” Tian says.


Neptune wants to switch the relationship. Its wrist-worn device, the Neptune Hub, runs on Android Lollipop, and packs in the capabilities and power of a smart phone, with a quad-core processor, 4G, Bluetooth, wi-fi, GPS, and NFC. It’s meant to be the center of its wearers digital life. Instead of a phone, the Hub comes paired with the Neptune Pocket, a 5″ screen that’s available anytime a more robust display and touchscreen is called for, and has an 8mp camera on the back and a 2mp camera on the front. The Pocket isn’t a phone as much as it is a screen to which the hub can stream its capabilities. (When the Hub is low on power, the Pocket also serves as a juice pack.)


The move of making the wrist-work device smart and making the pocket screen dumb might not seem like a major switch, but Tian is quick to argue that many pain-points of our digital lives simply disappear, once the slave breaks its chains. The security of your phone itself is gone, since the Hub is always on your wrist. As for the pocket screens, those are low cost, easily replaced, and sharable between users. You simply pair them with your Hub, as needed.


Moreover, the Hub is meant to serve as a new “bare minimum”: The screen is big enough that you can glance at notifications and respond to messages; it can also track fitness and place calls. Thus, rather than having a phone that always seems to suck you in, you can simply do the main things you still need a phone for, in a far less burdensome way.


Origin Story


Tian, young as he is, has been dreaming of the Hub and Pocket since November 2012. The idea first in a rush, when he was still a teenager and fantasizing about starting his own business. The benefits just seemed too obvious. If you used a hub to stream content to a pocket screen, you wouldn’t have to worry about pesky problems like continuity between devices. Hell, the pocket screen didn’t have to be particularly powerful at all.


But the technology didn’t actually exist. So instead, as an exercise, Tian resolved to ship a smart watch, just to learn the ropes of hardware production. He called it Pine, and, in January 2013, threw some half-baked renderings up on a website that he registered for. He admits that, at the time, he had no real sense of what it would take to make them real. People mocked the idea: “Apparently this runs on magic,” said one tech writer. Yet the orders came flooding in. Tian dropped out of his pre-college program, and threw himself into the arduous task of scouring Shenzhen’s factory ecosystem, finding suppliers and partners. When those were in place, he raised nearly $1 million on Kickstarter. Against all odds, the Pine shipped out to over 7,000 customers in June 2014. It wasn’t a breathtaking piece of hardware. In fact, it was mostly a smart phone strapped to your wrist. But it was the world’s first stand-alone smart watch, requiring no cellphone tethering to function. And to Tian, it was tantalizing proof that with a novel-enough idea, he could boot strap a bonafide hardware company.


This time around, Tian not only has the core technologies to make the hub concept real, he has a bonafide team around him, anchored by Pearl, the design firm perhaps best known for developing the Misfit Shine. To date, according to Pearl’s founder, Mladen Barbaric, they have already moved well past the point of knowing whether the product is feasible. They have already finishing selecting components and engineering how they’ll fit together. They have already begun the arduous radio-frequency testing process. They already have have a slew of features and additions they plan on revealing in the coming months—including accessories, features, and how you interact with Hub.


For for now, they just need to see if there’s a market for the product. Tian believes their must be. “It has become so cheap to push a message that now it’s all about your idea,” says Tian. “The gap between a startup like ours and Samsung just isn’t as big as it was.” Neptune is wagering that in between the looming shadows of Apple, Samsung, LG, and Google, there’s just enough daylight for startup to sprout.