Regal Cinemas To Test New Dynamic Demand-Based Ticket Pricing.

This is an interesting concept that may mean higher ticket prices for super-hero based blockbuster movies.

Currently, movie cinemas charge the movie goer a flat price point for a movie regardless of whether the film is $100 million dollar blockbuster, a $15 million dollar independent film, a huge financial success or a financial “flop.”  Ticket prices my vary by showtime or discounts such as student or senior citizen, but these discounts are not movie specific.

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According to Bloomberg, early next year, Regal Cinemas (the nation’s second largest movie theater chain) plans to test a new dynamic demand based pricing system in select markets. The idea is to charge more for popular films and less for unpopular ones. The hope is that this will increase the total number of movie goers (i.e popcorn purchasers)

The recent trend of decreased ticket sales is an industry wide problem over the past few years. There are multiple reasons for this decline, such as the lack of original movies coming out of Hollywood and the increase in home movie services such as Amazon Prime. This demand based pricing system probably won’t be the only new model tried over the next couple years.

What remains to be determined is how Regal Cinemas, the nation’s second largest movie theater chain, will determine what constitutes a “blockbuster” vs. a “flop.” Will the pricing be based simply on the feature film’s anticipated popularity? Will they wait till after opening weekend to evaluate ticket sales and determine whether to increase or decrease prices at that time? Will they rely on Rotten Tomato scores? How about Geeky Daddy Movie Review scores?

Based on simply budget, the recent release Geostorm should have been a “blockbuster” but based on ticket sales, it was surely a “flop”.

Obviously, movie theater profitability is much more dependent on the movie goers purchasing 85 ozs of Coke and a tube of popcorn for $19 than the ticket price itself.

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“I hope I don’t have to pee during the movie.”

Industry experts are split on whether this new dynamic ticket pricing system will work or not. The main factor is going to be how many potential concession buyers Regal loses because they opt to see the more popular movies (such as Marvel or Star Wars films) at competing theaters. Less butts in the seats mean less chances to sell $8 packs of Rasinets.



An interesting study would be to analyze how much an independent movie goer spends on concessions vs. the loss of the high budget movie goer. Who spends more on snacks?

Obviously not ever Avengers: Infinity War fan is going to go elsewhere to view the movie. Factors like proximity of other theaters, overall movie going experience, theater sound quality and so on play a role in where potential customers will go to view their favorite new movies.

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But if enough blockbuster movie goers see the popular films elsewhere and only the less expensive movies at Regal, this new system could have a huge negative impact for the theater chain. Which would probably lead to even more of the annoying in theater advertising.

Side note: As of now, Regal still has no plans to partner with MoviePass, the $10 monthly subscription service for once-a-day movie going.

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Ford Technology Used For New Car Ride Simulating Baby Crib

According to Ford’s research, parents of newborns lose 44 days worth of sleep over the baby’s first year.  As a parent of a baby that had extreme Colic, I am telling you that Ford’s estimate is very conservative…

One of the most successful parenting hacks to help sooth the baby to sleep is to take baby for a car ride.  This is also one of the most dangerous hacks because it puts a number of overly fatigued drivers on the road.

In an effort to combat this danger, Ford’s Spanish design studio Espada y Santa Cruz developed Max Motor Dreams – a stationary cot that simulates a car’s sounds, motion and lighting to lull baby to sleep.

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Per Wards Auto, the parent collects the sensory elements of the ride via a smartphone app and transmits them to the cot, which combines low engine sound, a gently rocking motion and surrounding LED lights simulating passing streetlights.

While this unit is a one off pilot, Ford has said that it has received numerous inquiries about the product and is considering moving it into production.

A hack we tried when Lil’ G-Man was small, was strapping him in the car seat then placing the car seat on the running laundry dryer. It is a trick that worked for some of our friends but unfortunately failed for us because we have too efficient of a dryer.

Although we did have good success with the 4 Moms mamaRoo baby swing.  It has 5 unique motions that mimic how parents move the baby while holding him, as well as various audio settings.

Amazon.com 4moms mamaRoo Baby Swing Grey Classic Baby
4Moms mamaRoo Available on Amazon.com

Too Drunk To Find Your Way Home? There Is An App For That (In Tokyo At Least)!

I love Tokyo!  Visiting there is like travelling into the future!

Remember when I wrote about their sliced chocolate! Yum!

But one thing that takes a Ph.D to figure out their is their mass transit rail system.  There are three different lines that all use their own stations, their own pay cards and their own rails.  On top of that, many trains shut down after evening rush hour.

Now imagine trying to keep this all straight after you have been out with your pals slamming back some Asahi (my favorite Japanese Beer) or some Sake. Talk about a Kobayashi Mauru!

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Well Rocket News reports that software developer Val Labratory has developed a “Drunk Mode” for their Ekisupaato (from the Japanese word eki for“station”) railway navigation app.  Simply enter in your home station (preferably while sober) then party on!

When you have had enough (or the bartender tells you that you have) simply hit home and the app navigates you home utilizing the best railways (including their schedules and last trains of the night).

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Don’t be like this guy…

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Amazon Echo Dot Add Alexa to any room

An EKG Machine That Can Attach To Your Cell Phone!

Heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States.

It accounts for 1 in 4 fatalities, partially due to the difficulty in detecting. The main way of detecting heart disease now is by having your cardiologists order a test using a bulky EKG machine which is time consuming and expensive.

Some ex-Googlers got together and decided to do something about this.

Introducing the AliveCor Kardia.  This $99 sensor is about the width of 2 sticks of gum and can be attached to the back of your phone or simply kept in your wallet.  Hold 2 fingers on the sensor for 30 seconds and you have a medical grade EKG reading.  That’s cool!

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Image: qmed.com

But what really is the game changer is what AliveCor Kardia does with the data.  In order to prevent doctors from getting bombarded with calls from patients who think they may have gotten a bad EKG reading, AliveCor developed multi-layered algorithms and neural networks to create a fingerprint for each heart.

By placing your fingers on the pad every morning for 30 seconds for about a month(like brushing your teeth), AliveCor Kardia can create a profile for your heart.  So basically, your heart shows the same profile day after day, then one day the reading looks slightly different do to a change in how your heart’s electrical system is firing.  AliveCor Kardia will be able to detect this change and let you know to see a cardiologist.

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Source: Wired.com

Right now, AliveCor has FDA clearance identify atrial fibrillation, a common early warning of stroke. “The most common arrhythmia, the one that we need to detect, doesn’t need all 12 EKG leads,” says CEO Vic Gundotra. The size of the unit can be kept small because it is looking for specific data only.

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AliveCor Kardia available on Amazon.com

 

 

Feature Image: AliveCor.com

Doona Infant Car Seat Looks Amazing

Like any parent with an infant, I get tired of the stroller taking up most of the trunk of the car.  I currently have a Baby Jogger City Mini which I like a lot, but this Doona looks interesting…

The stroller literally folds into the car seat using no trunk space at all. This is a real innovative design!

The only concern I would have would be the overall weight of the chair.  The weight of the stroller and wheels have to go somewhere…

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Congress Passes $19.5 Billion NASA Bill, Includes Manned Mission To Mars

The bill was approved by the House of Representatives on March 7th and passed the Senate on February 17th. It does still need to be signed off by the President.

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The $19.5 Billion bill applies to NASA projects for the fiscal year of 2017. Per IFLscience, some of the highlights from the bill include support for NASA’s journey to Mars. It states that the agency should work towards the “long-term goal of human missions near or on the surface of Mars in the 2030s”. This refers to the idea that early missions to Mars could involve landing on its moon Phobos, before eventually heading to its surface.

Once President Trump appoints a NASA administrator (Robert Lightfoot is still the acting administrator), they will be asked to submit an assessment on whether or not a manned mission to Mars in 2033 is in the strategic interest of the United States.

The bill also suggest a robotic mission to Europa should continue to be supported and other programs such as the Commercial Crew Program (funding for SpaceX, Boeing and other companies).

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Buzz wants us to go!

There is no mention of any Earth science however, which President Trump has previously mentioned he wanted to strip away from NASA. I would assume this means Trump is more likely to sign the bill.

Sidenote: How awesome is Buzz Aldrin?  Not only was his name “Buzz”, he was the second human to walk on the moon, served in Congress and punched out  “we never went to the moon” conspiracy idiot Bart Sibrel, but he also went on TV wearing this shirt!

Amazon.com Get Your Ass To Mars NASa Buzz Space Travel Planetary T Shirt Clothing
T-Shirt Available on Amazon.com

 

Feature Image courtesy of spacenews.com

Scientist Discover How To ‘Upload Knowledge To Your Brain’

If you are thinking “Whoa…This sounds like the Matrix”, that is because this sounds like the Matrix!

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From the Telegraph, researchers at HRL Laboratories in California, claim to have found a way to amplify learning via electrode-embedded head caps.

To really oversimplify the process: As the brain learns new information or skills, the brain actually alters by forming new electric connections in specific areas. HRL Laboratories has found a way to map these connections and assist to re-create them in another person.

For their test, they studied the electric signals in the brain of a trained pilot and then fed the data into novice subjects as they learned to pilot an aeroplane in a realistic flight simulator.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, found that subjects who received brain stimulation via electrode-embedded head caps improved their piloting abilities and learnt the task 33 per cent better than a placebo group.

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Image: neuroelectrics.com

“Our system is one of the first of its kind. It’s a brain stimulation system,” explained Dr Matthew Phillips.

“The specific task we were looking at was piloting an aircraft, which requires a synergy of both cognitive and motor performance.

“When you learn something, your brain physically changes. Connections are made and strengthened in a process called neuro-plasticity.”

I remember watching Neo download Kung Fu in the Matrix at the theater, then heading back to the dorm to cram for my QMM Statistics exam I had the next morning, thinking how much I wished I could download that boring information.

While there is a bit of a leap that needs to be taken between what HRL has discovered and Neo dodging bullets, it is one heck of a first step!

Smartflower Solar Panel Systems Are On To Something

Smartflower has developed 3 models of all-in-one solar systems that follow the sun throughout the day. This allows for the greatest use of the their solar panel surface area for the longest time possible.

Much like a real flower, the Smartflower unfolds (or blooms) as the sun rises, rotates to follow the sun throughout the day and then folds up on its own at night to take up the least amount of space.  This, along with other proprietary technology, help Smartflower models run around 40% more efficiently than standard rooftop solar panels. It is even smart enough to fold up and retract in high winds or violent weather to avoid possible damage.

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Smartflower tracking the sun through the day

The detailed video below has more details.

The Austrian based company offers 3 different models: Smartflower POP, POP+ which stores power on grid or off, and the Smartflower POP-e which has a plug for an electric car.

Smartflower has recently set up a reseller office for the United States in Boston and begun maintenance training in Los Angeles, California.

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While solar power has come a long way in recent decades, it is still 5 to 7 times more expensive to generate electricity than coal, hydro or nuclear alternatives (mostly due to the cost of the semiconductors).  Hopefully this more efficient use of the panels that Smartflower has pioneered can help offset this increased cost.

We don’t want to leave Lil’ G-Man a world resembling a George Miller Mad Max movie…

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Although that did make for some great action scenes…

 

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HQST 100 Watt 12 Volt Polycrystalline Solar Panel

 

 

Cloud Pets Leaves Customer Information Unprotected And Easily Hacked

Cloud Pets sounds like a really great concept that was just horribly executed.

The toy itself is pretty cool.  They have a series of plush animals (bears, unicorns and such) that you can connect with through Bluetooth and their app.  You, a friend or family member could then record a message through your phone that your child would then hear by pressing the right paw of the plush toy.  Your child could then record a responding message for you to retrieve on your phone by holding down the toys left paw.

So far pretty cool right?

Well it turns out Spiral Toys, the maker of Cloud Pets, stored all these recorded messages, emails and passwords on a server unprotected by a firewall or even a password for any evil doer to see.  And an evil doer saw it.

According to security researcher Troy Hunt, over 820,000 user accounts were exposed, including 2.2 million voice recordings. But that’s not all…

Apparently the aforementioned evil doer logged on the server, deleted the data and posted a ransom note demanding to be paid in Bitcoins.  CloudPets was able to restore the data, probably from some backup server. The information is now protected.

Could things get worse?  Yep.

Spiral Toys is based out of California.  California has a law requiring companies to notify users if their online information has been compromised so they can be mindful of changes  and create new passwords.

But that is the end of the bad news right? Wrong.

Hackers also had the potential to leave new messages for the children to hear on their teddy bears, as this comedy spoof from Jimmy Kimmel makes light of.

Parents must understand that every time you give your child a toy that connects online or post pictures of your child online, the potential for someone to do something bad with that info is present. Having said that, I am guilty of both.

Feature image: CNN.com

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Will Consumers Want YouTube TV’s Slimmer Offerings?

The much anticipated launch of YouTube’s new TV service is nearly upon us and we were given more details about their offering yesterday from YouTube’s Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl.

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Image: USA Today

The nuts and bolts are as follows:

  • Service will cost$35 per month
  • The 40 Channels include ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW and some popular cable channels such as ESPN, FX, Disney, Fox News and MSNBC.
  • Shows can be recorded to your YouTube cloud and stored for up to 9 months
  • YouTube is really good at search and recommendations (knowing what we like)
  • This is a separate app from YouTube Red, but Red’s original programming will be available on YouTube TV.

So we know YouTube TV will be going after the “cord cutters” and that makes sense.  Their price point of $35 per month is roughly half of what most people pay for cable or satellite TV service.

However there are definitely some obstacles for YouTube TV to navigate through.

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Image: PC Magazine

It looks like most, if not all, Turner and Viacom properties did not make the YouTube TV cut.

Missing channels include AMC, Comedy Central, MTV, BET, TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. These omitted channels offer a lot of what the “cord cutter” age demographic watches.

AMC has The Walking Dead, cable’s highest rated show.  Comedy Central is home to The Daily Show, which resonates really well with young audiences, and MTV is always popular with young people (although I still can’t figure out why).

This could simply be a short term omission as well.  Perhaps the licensing fee negotiations resulted in a “wait and see how well this does and re-visit later” stalemate.

Also, unlike Hulu which airs network shows from ABC, NBC and FOX commercial free with their paid service ($11.99 per month), YouTube TV will have commercials with theirs for $35 per month. Although, I assume you can save the shows to your cloud and watch later to forward through the commercials.

 

What will determine how well this endeavour does is whether or not cable and satellite users are willing to give up all their peripheral channel offerings to pay 1/2 what they currently are paying.

I think YouTube TV will need to draw heavily from that market and not just from the ones whom have already cut the cord to make this work.

Feature Image: USA Today

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