Friday, 20 May 2016 07:02

Sense Monitors Your Power Usage

If you're wondering why your electric bill is so high, the Sense home energy monitor is just what you're looking for.  Install it in your electric panel, download the app, establish a WiFi connection, and Sense will detect the appliances connected to your power line and monitor their power usage.  Using current sensors on your circuit breakers, a 1 GHz ARM processor monitors the power line and "multidomain device signature detection algorithms" in the cloud distinguish one appliance from another.  That means that Sense doesn't rely on smart appliances for its data.  The gathered metrics are sent to the phone app giving you the time of day, duration, and the amount of power consumed for each appliance.

Currently the Sense app is available for the iPhone with an Android version promised for August 2016.  Web and computer interfaces and Sense Solar, a version for solar panels, are currently being developed for future release.


Thursday, 19 May 2016 07:09

Google Home Personal Assistant Unveiled

Google Home is Google's answer to Amazon's Echo voice actuated assistant.  Like the Echo, it's a small plug-in speaker with multiple far-field microphones that pick voice commands from anywhere in the room.  You can have Google Home turn on the lights, set a timer, schedule an event, answer questions,  stream music, or control other compatible devices.  It  uses Google's Cast standard so you can have it can stream music to Home units in other rooms or talk to the Chromecast unit plugged into your TV to play video clips.  A customizable case will let you choose colors and materials to suit your décor.

Google Home won't be available until later this year, but Google announced it at their I/O conference yesterday to give  developers, and those considering purchasing a competitor's product, a heads up.


Wednesday, 18 May 2016 13:24

Smart Earpiece Translates

real time translator ear waverly labs 4Communicating with someone speaking a foreign language requires that you understand the language, a skill many of us never acquire.  But all is not lost.  The Pilot system from Waverly Labs is a smart earpiece that is able to translate a foreign tongue in real-time.  What's more, an accompanying app lets you switch between languages allowing you to break the multi-language barrier.  The device works offline and overseas as well giving you the ability to travel abroad where you're likely to find it most useful.   When it launches in September, it will be available in three colors and comes with a companion earpiece for wireless music streaming.  You can sign up now for an Early Bird discount of 50% on the Waverly Labs website.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016 10:32

Wemo, Meet Nest

WeMo, the home automation platform from Belkin, now can interact with the Nest Lab's Nest Thermostat.  Using the latest WeMo app, your WeMo controlled lights and devices can turn off or on with Nest's knowledge of you when you leave and return home.  It's no longer necessary to switch between WeMo and Nest apps either as you can use the WeMo app to control the Nest's target temperature.  Interaction with Nest is supported on the  WeMo Switch, WeMo Insight Switch, WeMo Light Switch, and WeMo maker. 

Sunday, 15 May 2016 07:59

Create A Personal Cloud

Cloud storage is a common way of sharing your files among the computers and devices you own, but if your storage needs are great, you'll wind up paying for the privilege.  Lima let's you bypass the middleman and easily set up and manage your own cloud at home.  The device plugs into your router and an external USB hard drive of your choice to form a VPN using TLS military grade encryption.  Your cloud data is stored entirely on your hard drive, so your file capacity is determined by the size of your hard drive and not by the limitations of a third party server.  The Lima device can automatically transcode large media files, optimizing them for the size of the device, to ensure the best playback experience.  Going to be somwheare without internet access? No problem you can designate which files you want to be available off-line.  Communication between devices is peer-to-peer and only meta-data is exchanged for synchronization.

The Lima software runs Windows 7 and greater (desktop only),  Windows 10, OSX Yosemite and El Capitan, IOS 8 and 9, and Android 4.X and later.


You're probably familiar with those dash buttons from Amazon that make it easier to order items like detergents, paper towels, and Doritos with a single click.  Now Amazon has released a programmable version so you can create your own IoT functionality.  The simple WiFi device connects to AWS IoT, AWS Lambda, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon SNS, and many other Amazon Web Services without writing device-specific code.   You program the logic behind the button in the cloud to configure button clicks to count or track items, call or alert someone, start or stop something, order services, or even provide feedback. 

To get started you'll need the button and an Amazon AWS account.  You provision the button with your AWS IoT certificate and private key.  When you click the button it connects and publishes a message.  You configure the AWS IoT Rules Engine to decode single-click, double-click, or long-press events and route them to any AWS service. Alternatively, you can create a custom action using node.js, python, or Java in an AWS Lambda function to connect to third party services such as Facebook, Twilio, or Slack.   

Amazon suggests using button as a remote control for Netflix, a switch for your Philips Hue light bulb, a check-in/check-out device for Airbnb guests, or a way to order your favorite pizza for delivery as example applications. 

The buttons are currently unavailable, but Amazon can send you an email once they become available again.

Friday, 13 May 2016 09:17

Action Cam Can Stream Direct

Using built-in LTE connectivity, this action cam from LG can stream directly to sites such as YouTube Live without the aid of a smartphone.  It also offers remote access via 3G and LTE that enables it to be used for home monitoring or as a dash cam for your car. 

The LG Action CAMLTE is protected from dust, sand, and can be immersed in up to three feet of water for up to 30 minutes.   An optional waterproof case, to be available this fall, extends the cam's usefulness to water sports like scuba diving and surfing.  If you want to use the cam on a helmet or bike, or in your car, you'll also have to purchase the optional mount.  Built in GPS, accelerometer, and gyroscope provide location and position information to go along with your footage.

The cam becomes available in South Korea in June, with a launch in North America and Europe to follow.  Price and full specs won't be available until the launch, but here are the key specs:

  • Camera: 1/2.3-inch 12.3MP / 1.55 x 1.55㎛pixels
  • Connectivity: LTE / 3G / Wi-Fi 802.11 b, g, n / USB Type-C 2.0 / Bluetooth 4.1
  • Video Recording: UHD 30fps / FHD 60fps / HD 120fps
  • Video Live Streaming: HD 30fps
  • Memory: 2GB RAM / 4GB ROM (OS only) / microSD (up to 2TB)
  • Size: 35 x 35 x 77.9mm
  • Weight: 95g
  • Battery: 1,400mAh
  • Others: IP67 / GPS / Accelerometer / Gyroscope
  • Color: Light Gray
Thursday, 12 May 2016 09:03

Light Your Camp - Charge Your Gear

No more fumbling in the dark when you're out camping.  Just pick up your mobile device and turn on the lights with this connected lantern from BioLite.  The BioLite BaseLantern is a flatpack lantern that doubles as a miniature smart grid that can light group settings and charge your phone and other devices.  The lantern features a rechargeable 7800 mAh li-on battery that provides burn time of up to 54 hours or provide power to other devices via two USB ports.  Two custom ports on the lantern can power the company's SiteLites to light group settings.  The BaseLantern also is available with a more hefty 12000 mAh battery for extended use scenarios.

Bluetooth LE connects the lantern to an app on your IOS or Android device.  The app allows you not only to turn the lights on and off, but to dim and adjust the warmth (color temperature) of the light,  In fact, if you prefer, you can change the color of the light to any color of your choosing.  The app also controls any attached SiteLites, can activate a proximity mode that turns on the light automatically when someone approaches, and provides power usage analytics.

The BaseLantern is expected to be available October 2016


Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks.  The TRNTBL from VNYL not only communicates with your speakers, headphones, and other devices via Bluetooth and AirPlay, but connects the tracks you spin to your friends and social media.  It does this identifying what you're playing and building a playlist which it shares with Spotify and which you can share with your friends.  Your friends can tune in on Spotify and stream what you're playing in realtime or stream the playlist from the beginning.

The TRNTBL is from the folks at VNYL, the $39 per month vinyl subscription service, and will be available this summer.  You can pre-order it now for $351 and pocket the savings from the regular retail price of $420 once it ships.


Tuesday, 02 June 2015 15:06

Sync 3 System Launches This Summer

SYNC® 3 – Ford’s all-new communications and entertainment system debuts this summer on 2016 Escape and Fiesta models.  The system features conversational voice recognition, and  a smartphone-like touch screen interface with its easier-to-understand graphical interface.  Other new features include seamless integration of AppLink for a simple way to control smartphone apps, Siri Eyes-Free capability for Apple iPhone, software updates via Wi-Fi, and enhanced 911 Assist® for subscription-free emergency calling in the event of a significant accident.

AppLink allows customers to connect their smartphone to their vehicle and control compatible apps using voice commands or buttons on the vehicle display screen.  AppLink automatically discovers smartphone apps including Spotify, Pandora, Glympse, NPR One and iHeart Auto (iHeartRadio’s automotive app), and displays each app’s unique graphics and branding. Music and news apps are automatically displayed along with other media sources – just like AM/FM or SiriusXM.


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