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AspectSolar Brings the Power, in Several Different Form Factors

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

When it comes to solar power, there are a lot of options for you to choose from. However, if you’re looking for a company that makes a broad range of products to fit your varying needs, then you may want to give AspectSolar a bit more attention.

AspectSolar had several interesting things to show off at the International CES. First, the company’s turnkey solution and entry to solar is the DuoFlex 2. It’s a 13-watt panel that is flexible and made with monocrystalline silicone. What that means is that if one panel breaks, the unit will keep working, only at less power. The unique design of the DuoFlex 2 is what makes it special. Several zippers and loops allow you to configure the device however you want. And for $179, you can pick up a DuoFlex 2 and a 10,000 MaH battery today.

The other product that has me excited is the Power Rack. Its batteries are not the standard lithium-polymer and instead use LiPO4, making the unit weigh almost 40% lighter than its competitors, under 60 pounds. The batteries, of which there are five, are all 300 watt-hours, pushing a total output of 1000 watts in order to replicate the most natural A/C output possible. You can also pair it with two slave units to be up to 4,500 watt-hours total. The Power Rack will launch later this year at $2,500.

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Vysk Makes Your Smartphone a Secure Phone

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

As expected, one of the tech trends this year revolves around the topic of security. Be it computers, the Internet and of course, our personal cell phones. In line with that, Vysk, a smartphone security company, is on a mission to make sure that everyone can have access to privacy. A smartphone case paired with an app makes this all possible.

Vysk introduced three different levels at CES. The entry-level option gives users private text messaging, private photos and a shutter for their camera, all within the case. The next level gives consumers all of those features, along with 120 percent extra battery life, to give you that extra juice you need. The final selection, the QS1, stands to be the world’s most secure form of voice communication. Sliding a switch sends you into privacy mode so that someone cannot listen in on conversations, like in a private business meeting.

What’s really unique about Vysk’s encrypted photo gallery is its combination of three codes. The first code opens up one gallery, the second another, and then the third initiates a self-destruct process, destroying the contents of your photo gallery. A last resort indeed, but definitely a good option to keep in your back pocket.

Interview by Nicholas DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the Tech Podcast Network.

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Qualcomm Flies Into Robotics with New Snapdragon Processor

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

QualcommQualcomm has been involved with robotics quite a lot over the past few years. A key reason the company set up their own mini-booth in the South Hall at CES was to show off how the Snapdragon processor is the perfect SoC for the robotics space. On display and demonstration was the Snapdragon Cargo – a robot that could fly, drive, pick up objects and see the world in 3D.

The processor is small enough yet still packs a huge punch, all while being extremely lightweight, which is important for robots, especially flying ones. We saw some interesting technologies specifically demonstrated by Qualcomm. One of them was depth-from-stereo, taking stereo cameras and creating a depth map, allowing the robot to see its world. It also knows where it is in 3D space. Based on these maps it draws, it can fly autonomously without crashing into objects. This is perfect for the drones that have been popular as of late. The range can essentially be as long as you wish, all based off of how far apart you space the cameras.

Another demonstration included a robot that could pick up toys and sort them into appropriate bins, all by looking at the color, shape and density of the toy. The bins could be placed anywhere in the room and the robot was able to find them without problem.

More information can be found at Qualcomm’s Robotics website.

Interview by Nicholas DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the Tech Podcast Network.

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From laptops and Lumia to Surface and Xbox, get it at the Microsoft Store.
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Can I WeMo That? Yes, I Can

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

WeMoHome automation is a growing and popular category of tech, but the problem still persists that most of the products out right now are fragmented, in that they don’t speak to each other or to one universal system. There are only a handful of solutions doing that, and we can now add WeMo to that list.

WeMo is a home automation system under the Belkin umbrella. With over 25 products under its belt already, ranging from switches to lighting to sensors and coffee makers, you can absolutely WeMo anything. The difference with WeMo is that you don’t need an overly-expensive kit to get started. You can simply begin with the devices that you want and grow from there.

Beyond the simple light switch turning on and off, WeMo is scalable so that if you want your electricity, temperature and even water being monitored and controlled by WeMo, it can all be achieved, giving you a fully smart home.

All of the products live in the same WeMo app. By partnering with top manufacturers in several categories, WeMo can make the smart features for the product, while companies like Osram Sylvania can continue to make the best lights, which is what they’re good at. It doesn’t stop there, as appliances like coffee makers, crock pots, heaters and air purifiers can now all be smart with the help of WeMo.

Unlike most systems, WeMo uses if this then that (IFTTT) technology, which it will be rolling out to almost all of its devices throughout the year. Using IFTTT, WeMo’s Insight Switch allows you to monitor energy usage, which can be activated based on different events, like it being too hot outside.

Lastly, WeMo Water is a device that installs easily under your kitchen sink without any professionals required. It monitors your water usage from one single point in your home, including all your sinks, toilets and even sprinklers. WeMo Water can also detect leaks, which is especially useful while a user might be away from their house and not have the ability to get home right away. Home automation is not only convenient, but it keeps you safe.

Interview by Nicholas DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the Tech Podcast Network.

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From laptops and Lumia to Surface and Xbox, get it at the Microsoft Store.
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Beam Adds a Real Human Touch to an Otherwise Robotic Interaction

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

BeamPlsIf you want a unique and totally different interview, you have one right here. Nick stands with a Beam, a product by Suitable Tech that brings real human interaction to a robot. Beams are controlled by pilots, which are simply people who control the Beam. Standing at about five feet tall, a full, crystal-clear display sits on top of the Beam, along with 360-degree cameras (even one at the bottom of the Beam) and two microphones, allowing the pilot to see and hear everything going on at the Beam’s location.

Beam is easy to use. Simply grab a laptop and connect to your Beam via WiFi, then all you have to do is control the device with your arrow keys. The Beam also has many uses. If you simply want to not be tired while roaming the show floor at CES, the Beam is perfect for you. Or, if you’re needing to always monitor activity at your grandmother’s house, the Beam can move around with her as she goes about her daily routine. While some may be okay with having Facetime or Skype on their phones, the mobility and personality of a Beam is what makes it so special.

Battery life on a Beam is about eight to ten hours, and comes with a docking station that it moves into to charge. While charging, the Beam is fully functional and communications can still take place. A hefty price tag of $19,995 will get you a Beam+ and allow you to teleport wherever you decide to ship it to.

Interview by Nicholas DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the Tech Podcast Network.

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From laptops and Lumia to Surface and Xbox, get it at the Microsoft Store.
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Stern Pinball Reinvents the Internals of the Pinball Machine

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Stern logoPinball is as American as apple pie and baseball cards. Sure, it might have originated in England, but there’s nothing like visiting an old school arcade and seeing a classic Stern Pinball machine sitting in the corner, waiting for you to put a quarter in. Since 1986, Stern Pinball has been constantly coming out with new and exciting tables and at CES this year, the goal was to show off the latest innovations in pinball games.

In the past, pinball machines could be a diaster to fix. If something went wrong, and you weren’t an expert, that machine was never going to get fixed. The old systems had a motherboard, and a bunch of wiring that ran through the entire game. The units were extremely heavy and plus, there was always this old, dusty LCD display that never really “popped” into today’s world.

Now, with Stern’s new technology, the machines feature a bus system, eliminating the giant wiring harnesses. There’s also all LED lights, a much lighter power supply and it’s now easier to maintain. Moreover, you can have a multi-colored LED display to really brighten a room, making the machine more noticeable. New machines even come equipped with WiFi, allowing multiple machines to sync up and communicate with one another for a more multiplayer experience. As you can see, with Stern’s new innovations to an old classic, pinball is back with a new facelift and is ready to win over the minds and heart of the next generation of gamers.

Interview by Nicholas DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the Tech Podcast Network.

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From laptops and Lumia to Surface and Xbox, get it at the Microsoft Store.
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Kiband Helps Keep Your Child Close to You

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

kibandA trip through Eureka Park at any CES is always bound to lead to new and exciting products and individuals who are passionate about those products. That’s the exact case with Kiband, a company that formed around a direct necessity and problem that impacted its CEO.

Kiband started with its CEO that lost his child at a 4th of July event for about 15-20 minutes. After trying leash solutions and other methods that really didn’t work out for him, he created his own company to try a change up the market.

The key with Kiband is prevention and less of informing you of when your child actually gets lost. Using the parent’s phone, the Kiband sets up a local geofence around the smartphone, and as the child approaches the perimeter set by the parent, the Kiband will first vibrate. If they then venture outside of the proximity, the device will then use an audible tone to alert the parent.

The distance is totally customizable by the parent and allows them to give the child as much leeway as they deem safe. The Kiband is also easy to set up, as it instantly connects to the phone and the app is made for those who are less tech savvy.

Still in research and development, the kids who have tested the device have really taken a liking to it and didn’t want to remove it because it looked cool and was minimally invasive. Pricing will be around $100 to $120, with pre-orders available through an Indiegogo campaign, and delivery estimated to be in the summer.

Interview by Nicholas DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the Tech Podcast Network.

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From laptops and Lumia to Surface and Xbox, get it at the Microsoft Store.
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Meccano Introduces Your Favorite Robotic Pal, the Meccanoid

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

MeccanoMecanoidRobots are something we all know and love, regardless of age or experience with technology. They’re just one of those things that you want to play with and learn more about. Luckily, Meccano is looking to make all of that possible by introducing a robotic friend that can be fully programmed to do a variety of things through a multitude of input methods.

For those familiar with the Erector Sets of the past, you may have already been familiar with Meccano, just under a different name. But now, Meccano will be bringing its name, along with its flagship product the Meccanoid, to stores across the world, beginning in August of 2015.

The Meccanoid stands four feet tall and comes in a simple-to-build kit. Once built, you can use different ways to tell the companion what to do. The easiest is the “mirror” method, where you press the record button on the robot and move its limbs around. Upon pressing the play button, the robot will do what you made it do, along with playing back any audio it recorded along the way. You can also program it via a smartphone that you connect to the Meccanoid via Bluetooth, or with a computer connected with USB. There’s even the possibility of hooking up a Kinect or similar device, and having the robot follow your every move using tracking, which is really cool.

The Meccanoid can be built into a bunch of different forms, from a normal robot friend to an automated trash retriever, to anything else you can think of. With the ability to fully code the bot, the combinations of forms and functions are practically endless.

Meccano also won the Last Gadget Standing event at CES 2015 with its Meccanoid product.

Interview by Nicholas DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the Tech Podcast Network.

Sponsored by:
From laptops and Lumia to Surface and Xbox, get it at the Microsoft Store.
Welcome to the Eureka! Factory, where great programs, projects, events and creative spaces and places happen!
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Zolt Proves That Great Things Come in Small Packages

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

ZoltIt’s no secret: Everyone, at least once in their life has forgotten a charger or brought the wrong one on a business trip or vacation. What if there was one charger that you could bring that could handle 2 devices and a laptop? And what if the charger automatically knew what voltage and wattage to deliver to the devices? Meet Zolt.

The world’s smallest laptop charger was a 2015 International CES Innovation Award Honoree. Zolt’s ability to charger a laptop and two other devices at the same time is what makes it so unique and truly a product that stands out from the pack.

Zolt comes with a 6-foot proprietary cable that’s the same color as the charger, which comes in an assortment of flavors. It also features the a bunch of different laptop tips that charge almost every device on the market today. Your Lenovo laptop, Apple iPad and any micro-USB device are all on the list of the hundreds of devices in total that can work with Zolt.

Weighing in at only 3 ounces, and available for a special pre-order price of $79, or $99 when launched, Zolt looks to makes its debut sometime in Spring 2015.

Interview by Nicholas DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the Tech Podcast Network.

Sponsored by:
From laptops and Lumia to Surface and Xbox, get it at the Microsoft Store.
Welcome to the Eureka! Factory, where great programs, projects, events and creative spaces and places happen!
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Shortcut Labs Announces the Flic, a Programmable Button to Simplify Your Life

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

ShortcutLabsFlicLots of talk surrounded the Shortcut Labs booth at Eureka Park this year at CES. The company had taken to Indiegogo to launch a new product, Flic, that is set to make life easier with the literal touch of a button.

This Bluetooth-enabled, programmable button has three different ways to press it, and each of those can be programmed for a specific task using the Flic app. Whether you want to select a certain playlist on Spotify, navigate to a destination on your GPS app or create your own command, all of that can be done with Flic.

A 6-pack was going for $99 on Indiegogo during CES, and Shortcut Labs managed to blow past their goal reaching over $700,000 in funding, 801% of their goal. That’s a truly impressive feat for something so unique, and it’s simplicity is what wins over consumers.

Interview by Nicholas DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the Tech Podcast Network.

Sponsored by:
From laptops and Lumia to Surface and Xbox, get it at the Microsoft Store.
Welcome to the Eureka! Factory, where great programs, projects, events and creative spaces and places happen!
Follow F5 Live: Refreshing Technology on Twitter: PLuGHiTzLive; Facebook: F5 Live; Google+: PLuGHiTz Live