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BenjiLock is here to secure your stuff with the convenience of biometrics

Monday, March 25th, 2019

BenjiLockOne of the things our team loves the most about CES is getting to see companies start out in Eureka Park, the show’s startup section, and end up having a major presence on the show floor. The best example of that transformation is definitely BenjiLock. When we first encountered Robbie Cabral in 2017, he had a small booth in Eureka Park with a large, nonfunctioning prototype. The idea was sound, but the technology wasn’t there just yet.

The following 12 months were big for BenjiLock, with a successful appearance on Shark Tank and a big investment from Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary. Following O’Leary’s investment, the company got the attention of Hampton Products, makers of the Brinks Home Security line of products. For sure, Hampton is a company that knows security products and brought BenjiLock into the fold, with a large presence at CES 2018.

Since then, another year of growth. In 2019, not only did Robbie have working products to show off, he announced the availability of the locks. These biometric padlocks offer both fingerprint scanning, as well as traditional key unlocking. The key is perfect in the event the battery dies, or you need to give someone else access to the device temporarily.

In addition to the standard padlock, Robbie has announced a new, smaller model, with a very specific purpose: travel. The smaller BenjiLock is designed as a luggage lock and is TSA-compatible. That means that you can use it on your suitcase when going through the airport, but you don’t have to worry about the lock being cut off if security needs to access your bag.

The standard BenjiLock padlock is available now from ACE Hardware, Home Depot, Lowes, and more. The new TSA-compatible BenjiLock padlock will be available in the near future.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Danalock offers flexible access along with superior home security

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Danalock V3The Internet of Things (IoT) is the concept that makes the smart home possible, but Z-Wave is the technology that makes it work together. What it means is, no matter what company you buy your products from, if it is part of the Z-Wave Alliance, you know that they will be compatible with one another.

One member of the Z-Wave Alliance is Danalock, a Danish company that produces door locks that is compatible with Z-Wave technology. Danalock has been in this business for ten years, producing quality home security equipment. They pride themselves on keeping your home safe, even when you are away and with flexible access control. Their exciting new product is a wireless digital keypad that is compatible with their V3 system, which is an automatic lock that can detect your arrival and unlock for you. The new keypad offers wireless versatility and an added way to access the home and can be purchased for only $69 and integrated into your V3 technology, or an entirely new system can be purchased for $149.

There are several advantages to having a wireless keypad. First of all, since there are no wires attached, the keypad can be placed anywhere along the outside of your door, not just on the deadbolt. In this way, you can make your home entrance more aesthetically pleasing. This feature can also increase safety, as the keypad does not have to be in an obvious location. It is not necessary to download an app to work with the keypad, as it functions independently, along with your Z-Wave technology. You need only enter your PIN to gain entrance. Now if you expect guests or maintenance workers in your home, you no longer need to ask them to download an app to be able to unlock your door. Just give them their own PIN, and use your outdoor camera monitor to see that only the correct people are trying to enter your home. No one whom you are expecting ends up stuck outside the door, unable to get inside. It truly offers more flexibility all around.

Danalock is offering the best in technology, making it easier, more convenient, and more aesthetic to secure your home, along with Z-Wave. Information on Danalock products and the products themselves are available on their website. You can get the Danalock V3 and the Danapad V3 now.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Wait till you see the tech in this self-service beer tap by Arrow

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

Arrow ElectronicsIn an effort to collect significant user data in a new, simple and efficient manner, Arrow Electronics combined several different technologies to create a very impressive IoT application. What is presented as a high-tech, self-service beer tap, is actually so much more. With the use of the Arduino Maker 1000 Board, an Intel Processor with Wi-Fi module, they were able to create these beer tap coolers that are coupled with temperature and flow sensors.

This beer tap is then able to provide data that not only facilitates the sale of the product but also manages optimal temperature and provides restocking data. Customers merely engage with the touchscreen and choose their beverage, which is automatically dispensed, while management is able to monitor and measure output on the dashboard. That data is then coupled video demographics that is gathered from the onboard camera. The camera watches while the customer makes their choice, then AI technology from Intel is able to determine their specific demographics. Like their sex, age range and even facial expressions. These data points provide the retailer with a significant amount of information about what types of customers are purchasing which products. This allows for a product portfolio that will appeal to a wider audience so they can target promotions and stock levels accordingly. All of this comes together in a simple display.

This beer tap does a great job of demonstrating Arrow’s capability to work from the sensor, all the way to the cloud. They took embedded sensing, coupling it with embedded computing and visual analytics. They then related that data in a retail environment on a dashboard. And the separate components that make up this technology is easily transferable into other areas of consumer data analytics. For example, the facial recognition that is being used in the beer tap can be used in any number of other consumer settings. It is able to provide real-time analysis of the moods of shoppers while compiling that data to be used for advertising, direct marketing, and product placement.

For more information on all of their products and applications, check out their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Humanscale makes the laptop better with the M/Connect docking station

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

Humanscale M/ConnectMany of us use a laptop for both portable and stationary computing. When we’re at a desk, we tend to want more than a laptop offers naturally. For example, you may want extra monitors, or maybe just a larger screen. You may want a better keyboard, and almost certainly want a real mouse. All of that makes a laptop docking station appealing, but there is a problem with docks: all of the cables on the desk running in and out of the dock. Humanscale has a simple yet elegant solution to the problem with the M/Connect docking station.

While a traditional docking station sits on top of the desk and has all of your standard cables plugged into it, like HDMI, keyboard, mouse, printer, etc., the M/Connect is different. It actually mounts around the edge of the desk and uses a split design. This setup allows for the bottom piece to feature all of the permanent cables, meaning that they are hidden beneath the desk. The top piece features ports for your more transient hardware, like flash drives, portable hard drives, and biometric sensors. Now you have the convenience of a laptop dock without the clutter of cables taking up a large portion of your desk space.

In addition to the clever split design, the M/Connect is designed to be paired with one of the company’s monitor stands. In fact, it can be used with any of the company’s monitor arms, whether it be designed for a single screen or a full 6 screen array. The post of the monitor arm runs through the center of the M/Connect, keeping the dock snugly in place and adding extra stability to the arm’s connection. It is a win-win situation.

The M/Connect is available now in a variety of configurations.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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Plott takes the frustration out of hanging pictures on the wall

Saturday, March 9th, 2019

PLOTT Cubit tapemeasureIf you’re anything like me, you absolutely hate trying to hang things on a wall. It seems like it is nearly impossible for me to get everything to line up. One item is always a little lower than the others, or there is a larger gap between two of the items than the rest. A number of augmented reality apps have come out to help you design what it should look like in a perfect world, but that never helps me get it right in reality. The Plott Cubit is the perfect device to help bring the idea to reality.

The device looks very similar to a standard tape measure, which is an appropriate design. It is designed to take your augmented reality room decoration design and help you get all of the measurements right on your wall. This is accomplished by pairing the Cubit with your smartphone and its accompanying app. First, you map out your wall, using the camera, marking the corners. Then, you photograph the items that you are trying to hang, enter their measurements, and the hanging point is on the item. Then, you place the items on your virtual walls, testing the layout using AR in the room.

Once your wall is all set up, you take the Cubit itself to the wall in question and let it guide you to the right spot. Arrows on the screen will point you in the correct direction, and when you find the spot for a nail it will beep. At that point, just mark the spot on the wall and move on to the next spot. The Cubit is accurate within 3 millimeters, which is far closer than I have ever gotten using traditional measurements.

The Plott Cubit will be available soon from big-box retailers and online.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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VOLO Beauty has a cordless hairdryer that reduces damage to your hair

Saturday, March 9th, 2019

VOLO Beauty infrared hairdryerFor some types of hair or hairstyles, the only way to get your hair dry correctly is with a hairdryer. Unfortunately, hairdryers produce a lot of direct heat and can do a lot of damage to your hair. It can also be difficult to accomplish because most dryers have surprisingly short cords. VOLO Beauty has a new product designed to help people deal with both of these products. Since last year, the product has gone from a working prototype to being fully-functional and available for pre-order.

The VOLO Go Cordless Hairdryer is, by the suggestion of its name, a cordless dryer. Using a lithium-ion battery, this new dryer can be used without being tethered to the wall, allowing you to use it while you get ready for your day. To make this possible, however, the company could not use traditional heating. That is because a standard hairdryer uses about 1600 watts of power when in use. In fact, they require special power adapters when you travel with them internationally.

Instead of traditional heating, the VOLO Go uses infrared heating. There are a few benefits in infrared, with one being a significant reduction in the amount of power required. Reducing power usage allows for a smaller battery, also meaning less weight. But, more importantly, infrared can dry your hair without all of the damage caused by traditional heating. That is because it doesn’t apply all of the heat to the outside but instead works from the inside out.

In addition to the Go, VOLO has also released a towel, designed especially for hair. Whether or not you plan to use a dryer, towel drying is an important step in helping prevent damage. The VOLO Hero is a microfiber cloth, which we all know makes for easier and quicker drying. It features a strap in the middle, which allows you to easily tie it on top of your head, so you can continue your routine while your hair dries.

The VOLO Hero is available now for purchase for $39, and the VOLO Go is available for pre-order for $27 with a retail price of $399.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Onelink brings new and innovative features to your smoke alarm

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

Thursday, 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

Thursday, 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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The fantastic way this French company brings IoT to retail shopping

Wednesday, 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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