The week in gadgets: Chromebook 11, Nexus 5 rumours and a virtual shop assistant

14 Oct 2013

The HP Chromebook 11

A look at gadget happenings, as HP expands its Chromebook range, rumours ramp up ahead of a Nexus 5 reveal, and an Irish company begins rolling out virtual assistants in UK retailers.

HP Chromebook 11

HP continues to expand its Chromebook range with the addition of a little sister to the colourful new Chromebook 14. The smaller, slimmer Chromebook 11 features an 11-inch IPS display with a wide viewing angle, and similar components to its big sister.

The thin notebook has been made in collaboration with Google and features its Chrome OS web-based operating system for fast online access. Consumers can opt for Wi-Fi plus 3G or 4G connectivity and up to 100GB Google Cloud Storage comes packaged with the device.

Buyers can go for either a Samsung or Intel processor and USB 2.0 or 3.0. Unlike the Chromebook 14, there’s only one colour option for the Chromebook 11 with a soft-touch paint finish in off-white only, but with a choice of colourful trims.

The Chromebook 11 reaches the US first on 16 October with prices starting from US$279.

Nexus 5 rumours

Google’s new Nexus 5 smartphone is expected to be announced at the end of this month, but leaked documents and whispers from informants have revealed details ahead of time. LG will manufacture the device, which is said to feature a 5-inch display with a resolution of 1,080 x 1,920.

Despite a larger display than the Nexus 4, the handset is said to be more compact thanks to a minimal bezel and on-screen buttons. It’s also expected to pack high specifications on performance with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor clocked at 2.3GHz, 2GB RAM, Adreno 330 GPU and the debut of Android 4.4.

There are also rumours of an 8MP OIS camera with Sony sensor, an NFC chip and wireless charging capabilities. Phone Arena also claims to have received a tip on the pricing for two separate models, each with different storage and battery capacity. A 16GB LG Nexus 5 is said to have a 2,300mAh battery, priced at US$299; while a 32GB version with a 3,000mAh battery is believed to cost US$399.

Virtual retail

Irish company VBC has begun roll-out of its virtual retail assistant Hologuide in the UK, and expects to see this technology reach Irish stores by 2014.

VBC sees Hologuide having use in a variety of industries for customer engagement and interaction with technology, but its ideal start is in retail where shop owners and managers can get in-store customer data the same way they gather online insights.

VBC Hologuide

The human-sized and human-shaped display can interact with and guide customers, while also recognises their gender, age and mood. Retailers can then export this data for analysis, or perform quick checks using the Hologuide’s customer dashboard.

“Having Hologuide in-store is like having your customers walking through your real world store with cookies enabled,” says Alan Dowling, co-founder and CEO of VBC.

Though Hologuide is high-tech, the company claims that customers won’t need to be tech-savvy to engage with it. The life-like images are achieved by capturing video in 4K, creating high-resolution images that VBC can manipulate in minute detail to create as close to life-like interaction.

The high-contrast dynamic display is viewable from a 180-degree angle and can operate for up to 20,000 hours. For retailers, Hologuide can be used as a customer service tool, to assist customers with queries or even greet them as they arrive at the store.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.