Posted By Simon Montford on Nov 30, 2014
The word 'drone' has very negative connotations due to their continued use by the military to carry out reconnaissance and air strikes but it's important to remember that many technologies that we take for granted today were also developed by the military. One of many examples is GPS (Global Positions System) that was originally developed as a reliable way to guide missiles to their intended target.
Guest Post By Harry Fielder on Nov 27, 2014
As a web developer and general tech enthusiast, I felt it was about time I dipped my toe into the exciting and rapidly growing area of the ‘Internet of Things’. I am a relative newbie to hardware hacking, so my aim is not to offer a deep dive review, but instead simply alleviate any concerns you may have about rolling up your sleeves and giving the Spark Core a go.
Posted By Simon Montford on Nov 28, 2014
Okay it may look like something out of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory but the "WunderBar" is the easiest way to start developing apps for the Internet of Things. The German startup behind this well-connected device, that looks like a chocolate bar, is Relayr. The startup was able to put itss into production after a successful crowdfunding campaign earlier this year.
There are well over a hundred fitness trackers on the market that monitor activity based on movement, and in some cases heartbeat. The problem is that keeping track of exercise, and its effect on the body, is a very complex process. As a gimmick, fitness trackers work just fine, but to be genuinely valuable, particularly to medical professionals, accuracy needs to be improved. Perhaps this is why over 50% of consumers in the States have ditched their trackers, myself included.
The Bit By Bit (B3) is a device the size of a mini-tablet that is aimed at kids as well as adults to help them design simple web enabled things like toy phones, internet-based music players, time-lapse cameras or even drones.
It appears that adding an e-acute to the name of a smartwatch and designing it to look like a conventional watch is becoming all the rage. If you are in the market for a new smartwatch that has a little je ne sais quoi we recommend, in addition to checking out the Withings Activité, you also take a peek at the Névo.
DotLab are developing Open DoVision which aims to become a plug-and-play open-source virtual reality headset that will be available to purchase in Jan 2015 for as little as $85 (£54). The VR headset will be easy to connect via USB and VGA, HDMI and A/V.
Posted By Simon Montford on Nov 25, 2014
"The Cube" by London-based Emoshape has created an Artificially Intelligent (AI) 'emotionally aware' home console called Emospark that appears to 'read' human emotion in order to make the human operator feel better. Did anyone see that rather depressing movie 'Her' (check out the movie trailer on Youtube)?
Kovert has integrated cutting edge micro-electronics into designer jewellery in order to enable fashion-conscious wearers to receive subtle vibration alerts from their smartphones. To avoid constant interruptions, it is possible to predefine vibration alerts so that only relevant texts, emails, calls or whatsapp notifications trigger the smart jewellery.
With the popularity of AirBnB and other home rental websites, this product makes a lot of sense. The Lock-Bot enables home owners to place their house keys into a secure capsule that can either be wall-mounted via a bracket or attached to a rail or door handle via a reinforced cable.
Finnish organisation Beddit, based in Helsinki, has developed a sleep tracker which can be strapped to a mattress. It can sense breathing and heart rate, and claims to be far more accurate than most wearable sleep monitors.
Posted By Simon Montford on Nov 23, 2014
Cleveland-based startup Everykey, has developed a wristband that aims to manage passwords. The wearable device uses Bluetooth LE technology to unlock smartphones, computers and websites. If the Everykey is lost or stolen, the wristband can be immediately disabled via the app.
Posted By Simon Montford on Nov 21, 2014
Oh my those Finns have been busy! After smashing their campaign goal of $380,000 Jolla, founded by ex-Nokia employees, has since raised in excess of $1m on Indiegogo with another 19 days to go! The previously released Sailfish-powered smartphone received good reviews, although the OS still needs a lot of work.
Posted By Simon Montford on Nov 21, 2014
If you're a serious watch collector or aficionado of quality timepieces, chances are you would have been turned off by the design of the first batch of smart watches. This is because most look rather geeky and many are constructed with low-cost materials.
The Maid smart oven has a touch screen and comes with an inbuilt chef. The "Maid Assist" contains thousands of pre-programmed recipes, however owners can upload their own if they wish. The virtual sous chef uses voice commands to guide you through each step of the preparation process, including cooking time and temperature.
The Scandinavians have always had a flare for good design. Just look at their passports for goodness sake - they're gorgeous! Two of the most noteworthy are Norway and Finland. We think there is a good chance that Finland could become a global hub for IOT startups. This is because since Nokia quit being a mobile OEM (leading to wide-scale redundancies), quite a few talented individuals have decided to move into the IOT space to design connected devices.
The STAR by SenseGiz is not only a fitness tracker but it also enhances smartphone functionality - it does this via gesture control. This is particularly useful when your phone is not easily accessible. For example, you can increase or decrease the volume, or answer/reject calls while out running with a simple clap or swipe motion. It also offers notifications, sleep monitoring and workout reminders.
Posted By Simon Montford on Nov 19, 2014
The Flic is a "hot button" that can perform all manner of tasks, limited only by the user's imagination. The company's rather entertaining Indiegogo video provides many examples of how the hot button could be used. The Scandinavians are well known for taking a no-frills, no-nonsense approach to product design. Perhaps this is why the Flic is so elegant and simple to use - the team are from Sweden (another example of a wonderfully elegant connected device, in this case from Finland, is Thingsee by Haltian).
LittleBits launched its cloudBit device earlier this year. It allows users to control electrical devices around their home remotely and receive notifications via the LittleBits smartphone app. For example, you can remotely control heaters or air conditioning units or receive a notification whenever the doorbell is pressed.
Last year (2013) Google announced Project Loon, the brainchild of Google’s secret lab (GoogleX) that works on “moonshot projects". According to Google, (see video below) two out of three people (that's 5-6bn) on the planet don’t have Internet access.
Google's aim is to built a network of solar powered balloons that are carried 20kms up by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial aircraft. Populations below will be able to access the Internet at 3G speeds or faster. Testing is going on in New Zealand and Australia.
Well it all sounds too good to be true! According to the Sonic Decanter's creator, this device can turn water into wine! Actually no, that really would be too good to be true! In fact, it claims to turn the flavour of ordinary table wine into something that tastes far superior by emulating the ageing process.
If you use propane to heat your home there is nothing worse than suddenly realising you've run out of gas mid-winter. If you live in a remote location or on a houseboat, as I did, replacement tanks can take several days to arrive, which is a huge pain if you depend on propane for heating and cooking! Also, if you're out of gas your pipes could freeze, causing flood damage or worse - your houseboat to sink!
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