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CES 2019 – Live

January 6th, 2019

CES 2019 Coverage Tech Podcast Network

Here Comes the Bus brings added peace of mind for worrying parents

February 18th, 2019

Here Comes the Bus by Synovia SolutionsEvery parent that has a child that rides the bus to school has worried about their arriving at school safely and on time. Synovia Solutions has introduced Here Comes the Bus, a platform designed for having the capability for the parent and the school district to track the bus as it delivers their children safely to their destination. It is literally a morning de-stressor for parents!

This was designed primarily for fleet management for companies to manage their drivers’ behavior, progress, and patterns. They have developed an app for the school districts all over the country to also be able to track the drivers of school buses as they transport the students to school and home again. They have 900 school districts that are involved! It offers an app for parents to also observe the same thing. Now they can watch the bus’ activity and follow it on the route. They will see if it is delayed for any reason or stopped in an unexpected place.

It is built on GPS technology. This allows communication with a satellite which in turn communicates with the software and then relays the information to the parents. This also allows employees of the school districts to know if there are any problems with the buses. School administrators can then be alerted to a late bus. Maintenance will also know if a potential problem with any bus is occurring.

In addition to being able to track the bus, parents are able to find out if their children have gotten on or off the bus. This is accomplished by using a barcode scanner as they get on or off the bus. If the students have an ID that already has a barcode, it can be used for this purpose. If not, one can be provided for them.

Here Comes the Bus is available now for school districts that are interested. For more information go to their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Onelink brings new and innovative features to your smoke alarm

February 18th, 2019

Onelink by First AlertWhen you are not at home, whether it be for the day or an extended period of time, an area of serious concern is the possibility of a fire in your home. The Onelink by First Alert is a new and innovative alert system for smoke and carbon monoxide detection.

This new model has all the features you would expect from traditional smoke detectors. As well as having a very sleek and modern look to it, a really positive feature is the fact that you no longer have to go through the hassle of trying to change a 9-volt battery every time you change your clocks. The Onelink uses a 10-year sealed battery so that it will last as long as the detector does. When it is time to replace the detector or install your first one, the process is made easy by using a standard hardwire connection.

The device also features the Alexa voice assistant. On the surface that may sound like a crazy idea but it is not. Rather than having to place an Amazon Echo in each room, you get to take advantage of a device that you are already legally required to have in there. So now you are able to control your Philips Hue light bulbs, your Nest thermostat, or any of the thousands of other Alexa-capable smart home devices from your Onelink.

The truly defining feature of the new Onelink is the integration of Wi-Fi mesh. By including this technology, once again you are taking advantage of devices you already have in your home for a new purpose: improving your WI-Fi reception. The mesh means that the alarms will communicate with each other and act as repeaters throughout your home. Now no matter where you are in your house or apartment you can have a strong and reliable internet connection.

The current model of the Onelink Safe & Sound is available now for $249. The mesh model will be available later on in the year. For more information go to their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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YubiKey adds 2FA to your online accounts without all of the hassle

February 15th, 2019

YubiKey by YubicoIf any single topic should be a focus for 2019, it should be online security. At least once per week, if not more frequently, there are reports of a platform being hacked or data being stolen. More often than not, the data that is stolen is user credentials: username, email, and password. Because we all use so many different services, it is fairly common practice to use the same password for some, many, or all services being used. Because of that, a single breach can compromise every system that you use.

These breaches have certainly brought about the importance of 2-factor authentication, more commonly referred to as 2FA. The common way of dealing with 2FA is either by receiving a number via text or through one of the authenticator apps. The good news is that there is a better way to protect your account. The YubiKey by Yubico is a physical 2FA device that secures your accounts with biometrics. Rather than having to get a text message to a phone that you have to then type into another service, all you have to do is touch the little device and you’re done.

In addition to 2FA, the YubiKey can also be used as a primary authentication method. For example, Microsoft supports the concept of a biometric login, allowing you to not have to use your email address and password at all to log in to your Office 365 account, OneDrive, or even your email. Simply touch your finger to the YubiKey and you’re logged in.

There is a range of keys available, depending on how you are planning on using it. From a standard USB-C key to a low-profile key, and even one designed for NFC, allowing you to use it with Android, there is a YubiKey to protect your accounts.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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ThirdEye brings the power of mixed reality to a lightweight headset

February 15th, 2019

ThirdEye GenThe last couple of years have brought a lot of interest back to virtual reality and augmented reality. In the AR world, while Microsoft’s HoloLens might be the best-known brand, there are a lot of companies bringing a lot of major innovation to their own AR headsets. One such company is ThirdEye, who is bringing their second generation AR headset, the X2, to market in the near future. This headset is the smallest mixed reality headset available, weighing in at only 6 ounces (as opposed to the HoloLens, which comes in at 20 ounces, or 1.28 pounds). All of this is accomplished while not being required to be tethered to a computer or any external computing device.

The weight isn’t the only feature that sets the X2 apart from its competition. One of the biggest problems with augmented reality and mixed reality hardware is the field of vision. Essentially, that means that the hardware itself block a large portion of your peripheral vision or that the viewable area of the screen is only a very small portion of the overall viewable area. The X2 has taken this problem to task and created a 42-degree field of vision. For reference, this is the equivalent of a 90″ television in your living room.

Obviously, none of this has any value if there is no software available for the platform. To address this concern, the X2 runs on Android 8, meaning that anyone who can develop applications for Android can develop for this mixed reality headset. To aid in that endeavor, ThirdEye has the VisionEye SLAM SDK, which provides the ability to track position with six degrees of freedom, allowing for high precision.

The X2 is currently not available but can be preordered with delivery planned for later in 2019. The preorder price for the hardware is $1,950.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Phyn can bring peace of mind to homeowners by detecting water leaks

February 14th, 2019

Phyn PlusOne of the biggest fears for any homeowner is a water leak. In the best case scenario, it can cost extra money every month on a water bill because of a very small leak. Worst case scenario, it can damage floors, walls, ceilings, and even foundations, meaning expensive home repairs on top of expensive plumbing repairs. Coming to the rescue of homeowners everywhere is a solution from an unlikely source.

Phyn is a smart water meter from parent company Belkin that can help identify and stop leaks before they cause any real damage. Using only a single device on the main incoming water line, Phyn is able to detect when standard water events occur, such as flushing a toilet and taking a shower. It is then able to determine when an unusual water event happens, whether it be something as small as a toilet running too long or a broken line because of pipe temperature.

Once Phyn detects a problem, it can act in a variety of different ways. The device can act entirely passively, sending a notification to your smartphone letting you know what it is that the device has discovered. From there, you can make a decision on how to proceed, either shutting off the water or looking into the problem further, yourself or with a plumber. It can also act on its own, shutting the water off entirely to prevent any further damage.

Luckily, the setup for Phyn is fairly simple, and the device even features an LED panel across the front to give feedback. During the setup process, it lets you know what state the device is in. During usage, the screen shows water flow intensity so that you can see how much water is flowing through the Phyn. Once you’ve configured Phyn, the device does all of the work itself, allowing you to no longer fear water damage at home.

Phyn is available now for $850.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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The Wireless Power Consortium is making the kitchen easier to use

February 14th, 2019

Wireless Power ConsortiumEvery year, we take the opportunity to speak with the Wireless Power Consortium to see what is happening with Qi. This year, however, we had a pleasant surprise: the standard that we have been excited about for years was finally close to ready for the market. This new standard is similar to Qi in that is delivers electricity wirelessly and through surfaces, but it has one major difference: the amount of power it can deliver.

This new standard, which has yet to be named, takes the 15 watts that Qi produces and enhances it to 2,200 watts. If that sounds like a huge upgrade, that’s because it is. The enhancement is essential, as the new technology has a totally different intention. Rather than charging phones and other small electronics, the new standard is designed to provide power for kitchen appliances, which can require a lot of power.

One of the biggest benefits of the new standard is the ability to recover counter space in your kitchen. Imagine not having to have a dedicated stovetop, and getting to have that as additional counter space. Instead, you can simply place your inductive pan somewhere on your counter, turn it on, and start to cook. When done, you can pick up the pan and place a cutting board and cut vegetables without fear. That is because there is no residual heat on the surface itself.

While this would be great in just about any kitchen, it is especially useful for people with small kitchens. If you live in a small apartment, or just have a small kitchen, you know that counter space is a premium. Being able to recover that much counter space, and to turn some or all of the surface into a multi-purpose, powered counter, the possibilities are nearly endless.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Intel shows off what the future of Wi-Fi 6 means for VR and gaming

February 13th, 2019

Intel Wi-Fi 6If there was any single technology that we absolutely rely on in our homes, it would be Wi-Fi. We all have a lot of devices that connect to our Wi-Fi networks, with laptops, tablets, and phones being the most common. But, today we’ve got so much more dependent on our in-home networks, like smart speakers, thermostats, and more.

Even with all of these changes in the way we use Wi-Fi, the biggest complication in Wi-Fi is the addition of high-use devices, such as virtual reality and augmented reality hardware. Standalone hardware like this, which gets its video feed over the network as opposed to being plugged in directly to a computer move a tremendous amount of data over the network. By using this hardware, you can stress your network to the point where other devices, including the computer pushing the video, can experience massive lag.

Fortunately, the next generation of Wi-Fi is almost here. With the reveal of this new technology, running on the 802.11ax standard, we get a much needed new naming convention. Rather than being known by their technological standard, as they always have, the new standard will be generational. The new generation will be known as Wi-Fi 6, with 802.11n becoming Wi-Fi 4 and 802.11ac becoming Wi-Fi 5. The biggest change in Wi-Fi 6 will be a huge increase in stability when stressed.

As evidence, Intel gave us a demo of their Wi-Fi 6 prototype hardware powering a complete virtual reality setup. That included the laptop that was rendering the video and the headset that was controlling it. Having gotten to experience the VR myself, I can confirm that there was never a moment of lag. The video was smooth from start to finish, and all of the controls were responsive. Based on this experience, Wi-Fi 6 is going to be a huge improvement for VR, but also for standard gaming, streaming and more.

Intel expects PCs and routers to begin shipping with Wi-Fi 6 in the first half of 2019.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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The fantastic way this French company brings IoT to retail shopping

February 13th, 2019

SES-imagotagNobody thinks a whole lot about the price tags at retail stores. Well, that is until you come across one that is priced incorrectly or is missing all together. On the flip side, it gets to be a lot when you are the store sales associate who has to keep up with changing prices. It’s a never ending battle. At least once every week, when there is a promotion, they have to switch out the sales prices with the regular ones, and then price the new sales items for the next promotion. It’s a time consuming process that usually ends up being quite imperfect.

French company, SES-imagotag, has an easy and unique solution for exactly these situations, with a lot of other nice perks built right in. And this concept, which seems so simplistic that it really doesn’t need any discussion about it, is actually quite interesting in that it has so many practical uses for both the retailer and the consumer. For starters, retailers will have a central command center where they can set and make all pricing and product adjustments automatically. For smaller retail shops, this command center would be right there in their back offices. For larger retailers, it could even be located at a nationwide headquarters. Similar to large chains who currently, say, have all of the same music playing in each store, that is controlled remotely. They would also be able to ensure that their pricing integrity is always on point. No more mistakes at the individual contributor employee level for missing a sales price or not removing one after the sales is over, creating embarrassment and pricing exceptions if a shopper finds it first.

But accurate pricing is not the only feature of these sleek little gizmos. Maybe even more importantly, they can each be customized to fit with store and product strategies. Not only can SKU numbers and product names be added, but also logos, QR Codes and NFC Chips can be included. This gives the shopper a huge advantage while deciding upon a product. Imagine being able to instantly connect to the product’s internet home page right on your smart phone to get additional information and compare prices. It gives more power for smart buying decisions without needing to search for a sales person who may or may not have all of that information that you need.

While this type of electronic product tagging system is beginning to hit the ground in France, the model that we encountered at CES 2019 is still in the prototype stage. It is getting closer to being brought to market and they hope to introduce it in U.S. markets in the near future. For more information, please visit their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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DS Services brings IoT to their clean, delicious drinking water

February 12th, 2019

DS ServicesThis year at CES 2019, our PLuGHiTz Live crew was on a mission to find unusual and impressive new IoT products. Although we had a feeling that we would find a few silly products that really had no business being internet connected. But we were quite happy when we were able to find some new and useful IoT adaptations, as well.

DS Services was one of the companies that made this list. For many years, they have prided themselves on delivering safe, great-tasting bottled water to homes and offices across the U.S. They also offer their own brewed coffee beverages and office break-room supplies. And, under the Relyant brand, they offer water filtration systems, equipment and services. Here at CES this year, they are showcasing a new technology that is being added to their reverse osmosis water filtration systems.

These new systems offer some great new features that not only provide excellent service for their customers, but also give the company and its technicians the information needed to keep everything functioning properly, at the highest efficiently possible. Provided are a multitude of data that allows each unit to communicate the parameters of the system to the customer, as well as to the technicians. It measures things like the performance of the membrane and the cold and hot water usage. This information can let them know about things like heavy runs or even compressor issues. All of which allows the company to be more proactive, which in turn can provide cost savings for the customers.

The system can also measure how many gallons are going through the system for timely filter changes. Prior to this, the industry standard has been going out to change the filter every 12 months, whether the customer has used the current one to capacity or not. These new units will instead warn the company that a new filter is needed, whether it’s been 3 months or 16, depending upon exact usage. There is also leak detection monitoring built right in. So, in many cases, they will know of a problem with your system before you do and already have a technician dispatched out to get it resolved.

These units operate by sending all data over a cellular network, so there is no concern with any tampering with your personal wireless network. Users have access to their data via a dashboard in their mobile app. DS Services is expecting to launch this new model in April 2019 and they feel it will be a real game changer in the industry. You can find out more by visiting their website here.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Keep the party going with these kickin’ speakers from Altec Lansing

February 12th, 2019

Altec LansingWhen we’re making our rounds throughout CES every year, there are a few familiar stops that we really look forward to visiting. Alec Lansing happens to be one of them. And, as always, we thoroughly enjoyed taking a tour of their latest and greatest.

Up first were the new Rock Box XL speakers. These fun, waterproof speakers are certainly ready to party. With an IP67 waterproof rating, you can just toss it in the pool and it’ll float up with great sound. And what’s really cool is that they come equipped with LED lights that not only look great as they light up the pool, but they also illuminate to the beat of the music. To top it all off, consistent with the rest of Altec Lansing’s Bluetooth speaker line, you are able to connect up to 50 other speakers in line with each other. So you’ll be able to turn your home into a true party house with connected speakers in the pool, on the deck, in the yard, house and anywhere you need the tunes to flow. Can you imagine a neighborhood block party with these babies? We sure can. You can start planning your festivities now, with the release date of these expected in the 2nd to 3rd quarter of 2019 at the amazing price of $49 each.

Another cool new product being featured this year is the Action Cam Speaker. It’s a Bluetooth speaker that has an action cam built right in. So you’ll be able to take 360-degree video while listening to your favorite playlists. Why on earth would anyone need this type of product combination? Well, it’s also waterproof, allowing it to be mounted on a kayak so you can capture all of the amazing views that you encounter while also listening to your music. It can also be great at a party to catch all of the action, or on a bicycle. The possibilities are plentiful. You can expect these out in the 3rd or 4th quarter this year at a price point of $199.99.

There are a lot of speakers in the complete line with a full range of great features. Prices start at just $29.99 and go up to $299. You’ll surely find something that you will love, so make sure to check out their website to pick out your favorites.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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