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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.

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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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Altec Lansing makes listening to your music in style a breeze

Sunday, February 3rd, 2019

Altec LansingWhile a lot of audio companies are producing headphones that sound good, very few combine great audio with the ability to express your style. Altec Lansing, however, produces products with just that combination. Whatever your style and plan of use, Altec Lansing has a headphone for you.

Likely the most unique product in the line is the Glow Run earbuds. These earbuds are designed for use when running and feature an illuminated wire. Obviously, one purpose for the illumination is for fun and style, as the earbuds come in a variety of colors. However, there is a safety feature included, since running outside at night gets a lot safer when you have a light on your body. It’s pretty common for runners to carry a light on their waist, but with the Glow Run, you’ve got it all in your earbuds. The Glow Runs will retail for $49.

Another popular product in headphones this year is True Wireless, and Altec Lansing has enhanced their EVO line of earbuds to feature several models. The standard EVO model runs $59 and features 5 hours of playtime and 3 additional charges through the case. The EVO+ model runs $99 and adds Qi charging to the case and an additional full charge and comes with a Qi charging pad. The EVO Sport runs $119 and extends the playtime of the earbuds to 6 hours and offers 5 full charges in the case. The EVO ANC runs $149 and adds active noise cancelation to the mix, which is perfect when you’re in a position with a lot of background noise, such as on an airplane.

In addition, there is the more standard line of headphones, all of which feature Altec Lansing’s great sound quality and variety of colors, styles, and materials to make the headphone experience your own. You can see their full lineup on their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Cleer has a wide range of speaker and headphone options for everyone

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Cleer AudioThe show floor at CES has certainly gotten crowded with quality audio products. As more companies up their game in sound quality, the individual products have to differentiate themselves in new and interesting ways. One of the companies that exemplifies that need is Cleer, who has a whole line of products that certainly stand out from the crowd.

The most distinctive product in their lineup is the Mirage, an Alexa-powered smart speaker. What really sets this speaker apart is that it features a flexible AMOLED screen that wraps around the cylindrical body. On the screen, you can play all sorts of content, including music videos, as demonstrated in the video. In addition to the Alexa control, you can also interact with it using the ring around the top. The bottom of the speaker features an ambient light source, making it a multifunctional device. This speaker is so unique that it was a CES 2019 Innovation Award Honoree.

Not to be left alone, the Mirage has a sibling: Connect, another speaker featuring a screen. Unlike the Mirage, however, the Connect has a traditional screen across its front. Connect’s screen is adjustable, meaning that you can put it on your bedside table, or any other surface, and adjust the angle of the screen depending on what you are doing and where in the room you are. It also has a camera, so you could use it for video conferencing, making it a good accessory for your office, as well.

Adding to Cleer’s speaker lineup is the Halo, a unique little pair of speakers designed to be worn around the neck. While they may look like headphones, they are definitely intended to have the option to share your music with the people around you. The speakers have magnets on the inside, allowing you to snap them together for easy storage and transportation.

Some of the products featured in the video are available now, while others will be made available throughout the year.

Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.

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Exciting Ways to Free You Up with WPC

Monday, February 26th, 2018

Wireless Power ConsortiumFor the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), the last 12 months have been big. Not only has Apple joined the consortium, but they have launched their first devices featuring Qi. Having seen the potential with the last big player going all-in, everyone wants a piece of the pie. In the last 17 weeks, their membership has increased by almost 70%. After Apple announced that their devices were to be Qi-certified, it solidified the standard that everyone fell in line with.

Having said this, as it goes, with great power comes great responsibility. There is now a focus on certification and education to the public as to why certification is important. For the consumer, it’s all about safety. For the retailer, it means selling a quality product and for the manufacturer it is about legitimacy. In the three weeks leading up to CES, over 100 new products had been sent for certification.

In addition to Qi, the WPC has been working on two additional standards. The first standard supports up to 200 watts and is designed to power laptops, drones, televisions and other larger devices. The second and larger standard is 2400 watts and can be used in the kitchen for cooking purposes, whether it be blenders or frying pans, all without producing the heat of a stove. These standards are really designed to make the working surfaces in your home and office multi-purposed by freeing up the limited use of conventional spaces.

Having these opportunities at your disposal is an exciting look into the future of what you can expect to make your life easier and less congested. For more information check out their website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.
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