Saturday, September 29, 2007

BEAM Bot Says Send Your Loved Ones A Bouquet of Robots

The BEAM Bot Club is offering a gift service that will provide the recipient with a new DIY BEAM Bot, once a month, for four months. The robots are part of the Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, Mechanics (BEAM) range and are composed of basic analog circuits. The subscription cost $170 and includes solar and battery powered critters, among others.

Article Link (Engadget)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Donna Karan, Sephora to sell in Stardoll Web world

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Young girls waiting to grow into full-time
fashionistas will get a chance to experiment with couture as designer
Donna Karan and cosmetics chain Sephora open shop in the virtual
play-dress world of Stardoll.

Donna Karan's DKNY label and
Sephora, both owned by French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, will
begin on Wednesday to offer virtual clothing and makeup to Stardoll
members in specially designated online stores.

Stardoll's rapidly
growing Web site has a large audience of teen girls who create Internet
personas of themselves and spend hours dressing them up in fantasy
costumes and socializing.

For Stardoll, however, the entry of two global brands could mark the
start of a new advertising business on the site, which has grown to 6
million unique monthly visitors since being created in 2004. Until now,
members could choose from eight fictional clothing labels created by
the company's in-house designers.

Stardoll is also in talks with advertisers beyond the fashion and
cosmetics industries who are also keen on reaching a concentrated
audience of preteen and teenage girls.

"Our business model is
selling virtual items for real money ... we have 26 different exchange
rates," Miksche said. But if the site's virtual stores take off,
creating links to real clothing purchases may not be far behind, he

While DKNY fashions are pricier in real life, dressing up
an Internet alter-ego also costs real money. Members pay $1 in U.S.
currency for 10 "star dollars" to spend on the site, and a virtual DKNY
outfit of cargo pants, sequined tank top and pair of booties would cost
31 star dollars.

Stardoll is backed by venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures.

Article Link

Optimal Group pays US$65M for Robo toymaker WowWee of Hong Kong

MONTREAL - Optimal Group Inc. (NASDAQ:OPMR) is getting into toymaking,
paying US$65 million in cash and stock for WowWee Ltd., a privately
held Hong Kong developer of robot toys.

Optimal Group - which began as a developer of retail self-checkout
systems and in 2004 sold that operation to enter online payment
processing, a businesses it is now considering selling - said Thursday
it will pay US$55 million in cash for WowWee, with the other $10
million in shares.

Optimal Group, headquartered in Montreal and listed on the U.S. Nasdaq
market, said WowWee had 2006 revenue of US$117 million, down from $131
million in 2005, with $5 million in earnings before interest, taxes,
depreciation and amortization, down from $27.5 million.

Its products include Robosapien, Roboraptor, Roboreptile, Robopet
and Robopanda, as well as a recently introduced the radio-controlled
Flytech Dragonfly.

Optimal Group said WowWee's management will remain in place.

WowWee, with 65 per cent of its sales in North America, "has
demonstrated the ability to be at the forefront of consumer trends with
emphasis placed on evolving consumer preferences for technology-based
electronic products," Optimal Group stated.

The company also disclosed that it "has from time to time received
expressions of interest from certain third parties interested in
acquiring the payments business and has allowed limited investigation
and review to be conducted."

The payments business stopped processing transactions from the
United States after the U.S. Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act
was passed last Oct. 13. Optimal Group has "streamlined" the business
and "has provided an initial response to a voluntary request for
information" from the U.S. Attorney's office in New York.

Optimal Group added that it "will continue to actively explore strategic acquisition opportunities.

Article Link

Optimal Group snaps up WowWee for $65 million

It looks like WowWee's
growing robot army will soon have a new boss to answer to, as
Montreal-based Optimal Group announced today that it's agreed to
purchase the robot "toy" maker for $65 million. According to The
Canadian Press, Optimal says WowWee's management will remain as it is,
and there's no word of any other changes to the company. From the looks
of it, Optimal isn't an entirely obvious fit for WowWee, with it
beginning as a developer of retail self-checkout systems in 2004 before
shifting its focus to online payment processing, a business it's now
apparently considering selling. Under this new deal, Optimal will fork
over $55 million in cash, plus $10 million in shares for WowWee, which
has reportedly seen its earnings drop to just $5 million in 2006, down
from $27.5 mil in 2005.

Article Link

Nickelodeon unveils an array of tween-centric devices

DigitalLife is all about the tweens
today, and Nickelodeon isn't about to be left out in the cold -- the
venerable network has paired up with Imation to release an array of
brightly-colored gear for the budding young geek. In addition to a line
of pretty-decent DAPs, it's a pretty broad array of stuff you'd be
mortified to own if you're not 7, including Dora / Diego and
SpongeBob-branded cameras in resolutions from VGA to 3.0 megapixels, a
Dora the Explorer portable CD player, a SpongeBob 15-inch LCD TV and
progressive-scan DVD player, and a whack-SpongeBob-to-snooze alarm
clock. The best of the bunch appears to be the $100 7-inch picture
frame, however, which has a pretty decent-looking screen. Check it all
out -- along with some hands-on shots -- in the gallery.

Hasbro serves up toys galore, aims for tweens

Gateway and Linksys
aren't the only firms using Digital Life to showcase new wares, as
Hasbro is making the most of its opportunity by inviting fun-lovin'
tweens over to its booth to play with a number of new holiday
must-haves. Aside from the familiar Power Tour guitar and NET JET
game, the company is also showing off its Littlest Pet Shop VIPs
(virtual interactive pets), which will launch next month for $14.99
apiece, and a few new critters in the Furreal Friends family, one of
which is pictured above. Additionally, Tiger Electronics is introducing
its October-bound I-Dog
Amp'd ($34.99), which will "tap its paw to the tune, bob its head to
the beat, swish its ears and wag its tail to the rhythm of your
favorite songs." Lastly, the I-List Music Party game sounds like the
perfect way to entertain guests at your next sleepover, and should be
available soon to test your knowledge of music for $19.99. Click on
through for a few more pics.

Article Link (Engadget)

WowWee's radio-controlled Barry B. Benson flying Bee

What do you get when you cross the FlyTech Dragonfly with Jerry Seinfeld? Well, if you're WowWee and Dreamworks you get a radio-controlled Barry B. Benson, star of the upcoming Bee Movie
animated release. 6x AA batteries provide enough juice to propel the
$50 critter "close to 18 miles an hour." Unfortunately, it will likely
possess a range of just 30-feet like its Dragonfly cuz when it lands in
Article Link (Engadget)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Kam Kam Mobile Alert detects GSM calls, wags tail

We've seen this type of toy before,
but never in such a plush and cute form factor. The Kam Kam Mobile
Alert -- that's the cat version -- and Don Don Mobile Alert detect the
GSM radio on your handset from up to five feet away when a call or
message comes in. Instead of blinking or spinning, Kitty or Rover
will wag its tail for 15 seconds to let you know if your ringer happens
to be silent. The desktop critter has a handy spot to plonk your
handset in when in use, but sadly doesn't offer a charger option. The
holiday season is approaching and this would likely make a cute gift,
and at $30 a pop, it shouldn't break the bank.
Article Link (Engadget)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Facebook Funders Launch Facebook Fund for App Developers

The Founders Fund
and Accel Partners have created a $10 million fund for Facebook
applications called FBFund, Mark Zuckerberg just announced at the
TechCrunch40 conference in San Francisco. The funding will be given out
in grants of $25,000 to $250,000.

Rather than equity, the two firms will have a right of first refusal
if the companies end up surviving long enough to raise a venture round.
Facebook is not putting up any of the cash, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg and
Vice President of Product Marketing and Operations Chamath Palihapitiya
will be evaluating applicants, along with Peter Thiel of the Founders
Fund and Jim Breyer of Accel, and investors Rajeev Motwani, Josh
Kopelman, and Reid Hoffman.