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Bitcoin Digital Currency Now Accepted By PointsHound and Las Vegas Casinos

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The bitcoin continues to establish itself in the travel industry, with online booking site PointsHound and two Las Vegas casinos joining the growing list of companies utilizing the cryptocurrency this week.

PointsHound, a website which helps travelers book vacations and earn points for their various loyalty programs, will now let users earn their rewards in bitcoins. For example, rather than boosting their AAdvantage points by 3,400 miles, PointsHound users can opt for 0.1093 bitcoins instead when purchasing a night at over 150,000 hotels worldwide. (Those numbers come from booking a $1,124, one-night stay at the T+L World's Best Award winner Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora.)

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Staying in Touch on Business Trips

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Staying in touch with your loved ones while on a business trip can be tough.

You want to maximize your limited time away, so you get up early, schedule meetings all day, then have a business dinner followed by cocktails. By the time you’re done and get back to your hotel room, your family might be long asleep and you’ve missed a chance to connect.

And that doesn’t even factor in long flights, time zone changes, and cell phone dead zones.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

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New Eye Tracking Technology May Soon Replace Border Patrol in Airports

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Biometrics have been hot at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, with everything from brain wave monitoring headbands that train you to de-stress to mobile wallet alternatives activated by touch. But the one innovation that’s caught our eye will literally catch yours, too, when you see it deployed in airports and airlines in the not-so-distant future. Eye trackers zoom in on your visual movement, letting you control things literally by looking around—imagine selecting options on your TV by simply affixing your gaze to them, and you’ve got the right idea.

EyeTech, the leader in eye tracking technology, is bringing them to the travel world in partnership with in-flight entertainment company Thales and the University of Arizona.

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Tech Travel Trends You'll See in 2014: Remote Viewing

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Tech experts are swarming Las Vegas this week for Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014, and T+L is on the ground to bring you the latest travel trends of the year. Here, a peek at some of the hottest tools so far.

Remote viewing: A slew of new tools will help you stay on top of your shows while you’re on the road. (If I’d been aware, I’d be watching the Downton Abbey premiere here in Vegas.) The frontrunners you need to know:

Dish Network
Just yesterday, the satellite provider one-upped their streaming capabilities so that now you can transfer any recorded shows to your mobile devices before you leave for a trip and watch them offline—no Wi-Fi needed.

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Tech Travel Trends You'll See in 2014: Ultra HD

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The digital cognoscenti have officially descended on Las Vegas for Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014, and though the event’s barely started, there’s already much to report. Here, a look at the tech trends that’ll shape the way you travel—delivered straight from the conference floor.

Ultra-HD: That beautiful HD-TV you bought on Black Friday? It’s so last year’s news. 2014 will be the year of Ultra-HD, also known as 4K, and it’s making its way onto your portable screens, too. Also trending: flexible, curved screens, for cinematic-quality viewing even on a compact device.

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Tech Travel Trends You'll See in 2014: Wearable Everything

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Las Vegas is buzzing this week for Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014, and T+L is here to provide you with the latest from the conference floor. Read on for a look at the tech trends that will change the way you travel this year.

Wearble Everything: Google Glass may have dominated the blogosphere in 2013, but this year, we’ll be seeing a wider array of smart wearables that will take you from the beach to the slopes. A few of our favorites:

Smart goggles
Liquid Image is one-upping mounted action cameras, like the popular Go Pro, by embedding an HD camera straight into your ski goggles. Thanks to built-in connectivity, you can also live stream your footage.

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JetBlue’s Super Fast Wi-Fi Arrives at Last… For Free!

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Finally, the day that travel-obsessives have been waiting for is here: JetBlue’s new in-flight Wi-Fi, the product of endless chatter for months on end, is finally making its debut. This morning, a beta version of Fly-Fi (Simply Surf, as they’re calling it) was made available on three inaugural flights, indicating a slow launch for the carrier.

Morgan Johnston, JetBlue’s manager of corporate communication, says the airline will be bringing connectivity to five planes by end of year, and 140 more throughout 2014. But compensating for the slow roll out is super-fast service, thanks to a unique high-speed satellite that’s unrivalled among other airlines. An extra perk? Simply Surf will be free for the first six months, with an intention to make complimentary service available on an ongoing basis.

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Instagram Direct Launches For Private Sharing

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Today, at a rare NYC-based launch event, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom announced a new feature called Instagram Direct. Like your private inbox on Twitter or Facebook, it’s a new way to share privately—either with one individual or a group of up to 15 friends. Simply select who you want to share your photo with, and each person’s avatar shows up in a bubble underneath your caption—first grayed out, then in color with a green check mark once they’ve seen your message.

The new feature (available today on mobile) comes in response to the tendency of self-curating—not wanting to overwhelm your feed with every single shot of your Roman holiday, for instance—and the need to share those extra images with the people who really do want to see them. (Named groups, such as “Family” or “Foodie Friends” will follow in the 2.0 version of Direct, making it easier to share that ump-teenth baguette and cheese shot in Paris without annoying your best carb-avoiding gal pal.) So why have the launch in New York? Said Systrom: “Instagram isn’t just about Silicon Valley. Instagram is all about sharing moments all around the world.” We couldn't have put it better ourselves.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of Maria Pedone

T+L Tech Pop-Up Store Opens in Chicago

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In our Decemeber issue, Travel + Leisure spun out a list of the top tech gadgets in 2013. Now, we’re giving our fans in Chicago a chance to test drive and buy a selection of winners, from Wi-Fi equipped cameras to super-slick laptops at the T+L Hot Spot Tech Pop-Up. Hosted by the Thompson Chicago, the shop will run this weekend, Friday, December 12th through Sunday, December 15th, in conjunction with ShopLatitude.com, where you’ll be able to make all your purchases. Gevalia coffee will fuel the holiday shopping with their tasting station, as guests listen to the likes of T+L News Editor, Amy Farley and Style Director, Mimi Lombardo during live editor chats.

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Skyscanner Launches Soccer Flight Finder for 2014 World Cup

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Skyscanner already helps travelers compare flight prices for the best deals, but they’ll be focusing on the sports-crazed in 2014. Just as soccer fans around the globe are gearing up for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Skyscanner has launched their Soccer Flight Finder. The search engine compares outbound flights from each of the 32 participating countries to Brazil, as well as internal flights so that fans can follow their team directly to the field. Simply select which of the eight groups your team is placed in, and Skyscanner lets you search for free across web and mobile devices, in 30 different languages. Hotel and car rental comparisons let spectators further plan their visit to Latin America's largest country—all the more reason to stand and cheer (or shout) during the high-energy tournament.

Maria PedoneMaria Pedone is on the digital team at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.

Photo credit: Skyscanner

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