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10
Sep

After Math: Perfidy!


It was a big week for companies doing shady dealings. The Red Sox got popped stealing signs from the Yankees, Equifax is currently bungling perhaps the largest personal data leak in US history, and Facebook — despite months of denials — turns out actually did take ad money from Russian interests during the 2016 campaign. Numbers, because how else will you excitedly count down the days until Zuckerberg is hauled in before a Senate Intelligence hearing to testify?

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10
Sep

The best smart pill dispenser (so far)


By Kit Dillon

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best homewares. When readers choose to buy The Sweethome’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After researching 22 pill dispensers and testing six, we think the GMS Med-e-lert Automatic Pill Dispenser is the best and simplest programmable pill dispenser available. It’s easy to load and about as simple to program as a VCR clock, and it has 28 trays with six possible schedules. It’s also lockable, so if necessary you can make sure that the person taking the medicine has access only to the prescribed dose.

Who should get one

Simple pillboxes allow anyone to quickly organize their prescriptions, but adding a little digital technology to these boxes makes them even more useful. A so-called “smart” pill dispenser may audibly or visually alert a patient that they need to take their prescriptions. The dispenser can be tamperproof or lockable to avoid overdosing. More intricate designs incorporate SMS technology to alert the caregiver as to whether a prescription dose has or has not been taken in a certain window of time.

How we picked and tested

Photo: Caleigh Waldman

Oddly, we found few meaningful reviews for these kinds of devices, despite the fact that much of this country’s aging population will require some kind of multiple-medication management. Without the guidance of reviews, we scoured Amazon and geriatric-care websites to see what was popular and available, and we pulled together a list of 22 devices for possible consideration.

We then spoke with a number of experts to determine what criteria makes for a good smart pill dispenser:

  • Ease of use, including loading, programming, and dispensing
  • Ability to remotely monitor interactions with the device
  • Capacity, both in doses per day and pill volume per dose
  • Simple and loud alerts for the recipient
  • Extra features, such as locking or tamperproof cases and Internet connectivity
  • A reasonable price or monthly subscription cost

We then tried to test these devices as if we had purchased them ourselves for a complex prescription regimen. We wanted to see how far we could get programming a schedule without relying on instructions, to get a feel for how intuitive each device was. Instead of drugs, we filled each device with Skittles and stuck to strict candy doses throughout the day: red in the morning, yellow in the afternoon, purple and green at night.

Our pick: GMS Med-e-lert Automatic Pill Dispenser

Photo: Caleigh Waldman

The GMS Med-e-lert Automatic Pill Dispenser is a standard automated disc pill dispenser made up of 28 individual trays, each of which holds up to 18 aspirin-size pills. A lid covers the entire device, with one open slot for delivery. As the device turns along its schedule, it moves a tray prefilled with medicine into the delivery slot and triggers a flashing light and alarm. The alarm sounds for 30 minutes or until you dispense the medications by turning the device over. The Med-e-lert is lockable, and it works with either a solid or transparent faceplate. It also comes with six swappable schedule discs, allowing you to set up to six doses per day, and a one-year warranty.

The Med-e-lert is easy to fill in one sitting. The cover lifts to reveal all 28 trays arranged in a circle, which means you can load all your pills at once. After testing these devices for a few weeks, we can’t stress enough how important this one feature is: Nothing is worse than having to open up 90 individual tabs while also sorting out your medicine (in our case, Skittles).

Though we’ve noticed complaints about the Med-e-lert’s waterproofing and unintuitive interface, we don’t think these are dealbreakers for most people. The large Med-e-lert dispenser is also not portable; it’s made for someone who takes their medication at home.

If the Med-e-lert isn’t available, the LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser is a good alternative. It’s currently a little more expensive, but other than the branding, it’s an identical device.

Runner-up: MedCenter System Monthly Pill Organizer

Photo: Caleigh Waldman

Fundamentally, the MedCenter System Monthly Pill Organizer is an organizer for generic plastic pillboxes similar to what you might find at a CVS pharmacy. That’s both a blessing and a curse. It’s utterly simple to use, but it requires more actions for daily management than our main pick. We wouldn’t recommend this model for any care situation where the patient easily becomes confused or forgetful.

The MedCenter System is made up of 31 boxes, each of which has four labeled chambers: Morning, Noon, Evening, and Night. On either side of these boxes, the number of the day is printed, once in red and once in green. At the beginning of the month, you fill all the boxes with pills and stand them with the green number facing up. It’s not fun to load the trays, but if you find yourself needing to manage an arduous prescription schedule, this is an effective and easy-to-manage option. As you go through each day, you flip each box over to mark it as empty.

The included talking alarm clock that tells you when to medicate is the simplest clock to program that we tested. We found it intuitive to work with right out of the box, and about as complicated as any clock you might find on a bedside table.

Best subscription service: MedMinder Maya

Photo: Caleigh Waldman

The Internet-connected MedMinder Maya was made to help caregivers who need a way to remotely or intermittently manage a loved one’s medicines. The Maya comes with a built-in SIM card that connects the device to MedMinder’s website; this connectivity allows the caregiver to remotely manage the Maya’s schedule and monitor whether they’ve removed the pills in the correct dosage. You have no need to connect the device to any existing infrastructure in the patient’s home—all the Maya needs to work is a power outlet.

The Maya is built to look like a common pillbox with a removable cover that gives access to every slot. Once each tray is loaded with medication and the patient’s schedule is set, the Maya lights up the appropriate compartment while also prompting the patient with an auditory cue similar to that of an office intercom—and, if you like, optional phone calls, text messages, and emails. The machine logs all tray activity, which a family member may check at any time, or the machine can summarize the activity and send it as a weekly email report.

MedMinder also offers a mail-order medication service, which centralizes your prescriptions at a single pharmacy for the cost of your pharmacy co-pay. The MedMinder pharmacy sends a prefilled tray, which slots easily into the Maya. The pharmacy checks the schedule against doctor’s notes, flags any possible drug-to-drug interactions, and programs the patient’s Maya with the correct schedule.

Unlike our other picks, the Maya is a subscription service and currently costs $40 per month (the lockable version, called Jon, is $60 per month). There is no contract: Once you’re finished with the device, you cancel your subscription and send everything back to MedMinder.

This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Sweethome: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

10
Sep

How to watch Apple’s September 12 event live


The day is fast approaching. Over a year’s worth of rumors will culminate in one event, on one stage, where the world will get its first complete look at the smartphone everyone has been anticipating — the iPhone 8. Coincidentally, it will also be the first product reveal held in the company’s new Steve Jobs theater, at its just-opened Apple Park headquarters.

The iPhone 8 is not the only device we’re expecting to see on Tuesday. The iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, which we know comparatively less about, are also expected to debut, along with the third-generation Apple Watch, and perhaps even a 4K-capable version of the Apple TV. It’s going to be a busy morning in Cupertino, but fortunately it’s easy to follow along at home or work.

Apple will broadcast the event live from its own website: Follow this link. As in previous years, the company has limited streaming compatibility to the following list of browsers, operating systems, and products:

  • On iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch: Safari, using iOS 7.0 or newer
  • On Mac: Safari 6.0.5 or newer on macOS 10.8.5 or newer
  • On PC: Microsoft Edge on Windows 10
  • On Apple TV: Second- or third-generation Apple TV on software 6.2 or any fourth-generation Apple TV

In the weeks leading up to the announcement, we’ve seen an increasing number of leaks and reports surrounding the iPhone 8. Yet we still don’t know what Apple intends to call it. Over the months, we’ve heard iPhone X — a reference to the launch taking place around the 10th anniversary of the release of the original iPhone — as well as iPhone Edition.

The iPhone 7S and 7S Plus are expected to be more conservative devices from a design standpoint. Rumors have suggested the phones will be powered by the same A11 chip expected to feature in the iPhone 8, as well as 3GB of RAM. Rumors have been similarly slow regarding the upcoming Apple Watch Series 3. We’ve heard Apple is testing LTE connectivity, though it’s a feature that has been teased since the first generation launched. There’s also been rumblings about a new capability to monitor blood glucose levels, as well as a screen made using Micro LED technology, rather than OLED as in prior models.

There could be a few more surprises in store, like a new 4k Apple TV, revised AirPods, alongside additional information regarding products we already know about, like the Siri-powered HomePod speaker. If you want to learn more, head over to our what to expect at the Apple September event guide. Be sure to check our site on September 12, as we’ll have full coverage of the event.




10
Sep

Want to learn how to upload a video to Youtube? Here’s how


As one of the most popular video streaming platforms online, if you want to have your vlog, comedy sketch or music video seen by someone, getting it on Youtube is a must. But if you’re new to the streaming scene, you may be wondering how to upload a video to Youtube.

Note: For the purpose of this guide we will assume that you’ve already made your Youtube/Google account. While those starting from scratch will need to do so, there are many elements involved in its setup and customization that are more subjective and aren’t covered by the scope of a guide like this.

Step 1: Sign into your account

You can’t very well upload a video to your account if you aren’t signed in to it, now can you?

Head to the Youtube homepage and click the sign-in link in the top right-hand corner. If you have multiple accounts associated with the device you’re using you’ll be prompted to choose the appropriate one. Once done so, enter your password and you’ll be taken back to the main Youtube page.

Things may look a little different in terms of video recommendations, but don’t fret, you’re now well on your way to uploading your first video.

Step 2: Click the upload button

The next step is even shorter than the first. Click the upload button. It’s also located in the top right-hand corner and is represented by an up arrow with a line underneath it. That will take you through to a dedicated upload page, where you can choose where you source your upcoming viral sensation from.

Step 3: Choose video source and privacy settings

The upload page gives you a few different options to pick from and they’re all worth considering. For starters, you need to decide who you want to see your video, and adjust the privacy settings accordingly. If you want anyone and everyone to see it, choosing the “public” setting in the central drop down is the way to go. If you want a little more control over who sees it, selecting “unlisted” keeps it from being findable through searches. Instead, people would need to click the direct link or go to your channel.

If you’re just looking to keep the video privately for yourself, or to store something for later unveiling, choose to make your video “private” instead. “Scheduled,” lets you choose a future time and date for a video to become public.

Once you’ve made your decision about who can see your video, you need to select where you’re uploading it from. Do you want to import it directly from Google Photos? Upload it straight from your device’s storage, or live stream it instead?

There are specific options on the right-hand side for live streaming and importing, but most will be doing so from their local device. For that, click the large white arrow with a gray backdrop in the center of the screen and pick the video you want to upload from your various files and folders.

Step 4: Managing the upload

Get ready, because once you’ve confirmed the video you’re uploading you’ll be whisked away to the upload page. It has begun, and you’ll see a progress bar at the top of the screen, letting you know how much of it has uploaded, and how long until it’s completed.

Depending on the length and quality of your video, that may take some time. While Youtube works its magic on it, you can begin getting it ready for prime time. There’s a title to put in, a description, and any relevant tags you feel it needs to help the general public find it. There’s also a button where you can add it to a playlist if you so wish.

For those wanting to go a little more in-depth with their video upload, the “Translations” tab lets you input translated title and descriptions for Youtubers around the world. “Advanced settings” lets you control various aspects such as the category, whether you allow comments and ratings, whether the video is 3D, and if you want community contributions or not.

Those are all interesting aspects of uploading videos to Youtube, and can help make your videos more inclusive and relevant to your audience, but they aren’t a necessity for simply getting a video online.

Step 5: Pick a thumbnail

Unless you have a verified account, you can’t get too creative with thumbnails, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have some choice. Once your video is completely uploaded and processed, you’ll have a choice of three thumbnails from the video to select from.

Choose your favorite and click the blue “done” or “publish” button to finalize. If you wish to privately share the video, you can click the “share” button on the right instead.

Step 6: Video management

From this point on your video is on Youtube and is publicly available, or not, depending on your preferences. If you want to make any changes to it in the future though, all you need do is head to the “Creator Studio.” You’ll find a link for it in the drop down when you click on your account portrait in the top right-hand corner.

From there you’ll be able to see your videos, their number of views and other analytics from your channel. You can then click any of the individual videos you want to edit, or click on “video manager” on the left-hand side.

The video manager gives you full access to any tools you might need, as well as overviews of each video you’ve uploaded in more detail.




10
Sep

From the Editor’s Desk: HTC x Google


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Is HTC on an inevitable path towards acquisition? And how might a Google buyout in 2017 look different to the Motorola deal of 2012?

So, Google might buy HTC’s smartphone business — or at least make a sizeable investment in the struggling phone maker. This story from the Taiwanese press, which broke on Thursday, has understandably invited rampant speculation around the future of what was once one of the biggest names in mobile.

To recap:

Chinese-language publication Commercial Times says HTC is in the “final stage of negotiation with Google for selling its smartphone business unit.” The deal may involve a straight buyout of HTC’s smartphone biz, or Google becoming a “strategic partner” for HTC. However, it’s unclear what that might involve, given the close partnership that already exists between the two around Android, Pixel and other projects — a strategic investment in the company is one likely possibility. The deal will be concluded by the end of the year at the latest, the report claims.

Oh boy.

Let’s gloss over the more vague possibility of a “strategic partnership” for the moment, and concentrate on what might actually happen if Google parent company Alphabet (with its almost $95 billion of cash on hand) snapped up the smartphone arm of HTC, a company with a market cap of just $1.86 billion. Even considering the diminished status of HTC today when compared to its glory days, it’d be a huge development in the mobile business. (It’s worth noting that Vive, which is a separate business unit, wouldn’t be included in any potential deal.)

But haven’t we been here before, with Motorola becoming “a Google company” back in 2012? Google’s last phone maker acquisition has been brought up again and again in news articles and thinkpieces over the past couple of days, the suggestion being that Google would never buy another smartphone manufacturer after it ended up selling on Moto to Lenovo — at a loss — just a couple of years later.

moto-google-2048.jpg?itok=Mkkt3ogc

There’s potential for a much deeper dive into both deals, but let’s keep things simple for the purposes of this column. The bottom line is that Google basically bought Motorola for the many valuable patents it owned. If it hadn’t have opened its wallet back in 2012, those critical patents could’ve been used to pummel cash out of other Android manufacturers — backed up by the very real threat of import bans or other legal chicanery.

Through the Motorola deal in 2012, Google became a smartphone vendor by accident.

We’re now half a decade removed from the smartphone “patent wars,” back when Apple actually succeeded in having some Samsung phones blocked from sale in the United States. But if a hostile party — like the lawsuit-happy Rockstar Consortium, made up of big names with an interest in Android’s downfall — had gotten hold of Motorola’s patents, it could’ve slowly but surely drained the life out of Google’s mobile platform.

Google didn’t buy Moto in 2012 to own a smartphone manufacturer. Instead, it paid up to nip in the bud an existential threat to Android.

If Google buys the smartphone side of HTC in 2017, it’ll be doing so to own a smartphone manufacturer, securing the manufacturing capacity, supply chain expertise and design talent it needs to build Pixel phones, Pixel tablets and, who knows, maybe watches, laptops and other devices, completely in-house. It’d bring some much-needed vertical integration to Google’s new hardware division, at a time when it’s also rumored to be interested in building its own silicon.

But couldn’t Google do all this without reaching for its pocketbook? Sure, but consider the current state of HTC’s financials. The last few years of monthly revenue reports show a steady downward trend, a decline accentuated this past month by a drop in U11 sales that saw the firm’s lowest monthly figures in 13 years. Now, it’s not like HTC is on the brink of collapse or anything, but surely Google has a vested interest in the longterm viability of the company manufacturing the phones bearing its name — aside from the benefits of owning its own infrastructure, and bringing onboard design and R&D talent. And in financial terms, whatever amount might be agreed upon would certainly be a fraction of the $13 billion it originally coughed up for Motorola. For Google, it’d be chump change.

Buying Moto five years ago was a tactical play that saw Google become a smartphone vendor by accident. Buying HTC in 2017 would be a calculated move by a company which is already a significant phone hardware brand — at least in the countries where it chooses to sell Pixels.

Such a transaction would make a lot of sense for both parties.

pixel-u11-7.jpg?itok=hzHUa_ga

An acquisition of some sort is looking increasingly likely for HTC.

For HTC as a phone maker — and I realize this may sound unnecessarily grim — but this could be its best chance to avoid a slow, undignified death as the decade draws to a close. At this stage, it’s hard to imagine the manufacturer returning to anywhere near its former glory. Even with its best flagship products in years, and what must surely be a lucrative Pixel contract (AC understands a three-year deal was signed) it hasn’t managed turned things around.

The table stakes of the global smartphone game are considerable, and if we’re honest, it’s been a long time since HTC has had the resources meet them. To even get a foot in the door as anything besides a niche brand, you either need very generous venture capitalist backers, or money from other business areas to burn on phones for a few years, before you can reach the scale to become profitable.

HTC has had to support a vast, weighty global organization just by selling phones, all while being out-marketed by big brands like Samsung and Apple, out-scaled by Chinese behemoths like Oppo and Huawei, and outmaneuvered by new challengers like OnePlus.

Its business has always been phones, first and foremost — though it tried, unsuccessfully, to branch out into high-end headphones, tablets and streaming video. Regardless, the company couldn’t simply sell a bunch of fridges or toasters to fund its phone biz, or rely on angel investors to make up the lost millions throughout the years. As a result, product misses like the HTC One M9, One A9 and Nexus 9 tablet hit harder than they otherwise might’ve. And so we’ve witnessed a steady decline over the past five years.

No longer HTC, but still quietly brilliant.

An acquisition, or at the very least a significant outside investment or takeover, seems like a probable end point. Google secures the future of the company manufacturing its phones, ensuring an important partner doesn’t get gobbled up by, say, Amazon, or any other wildcard with a couple of billion to spare. The infrastructure and considerable talent of HTC could then be accelerated by an injection of Google cash, freeing them from the financial shackles of recent years.

Would this lead to a rejuvenation of the HTC brand, and new and better HTC phones in 2019 and beyond? (Let’s assume the 2018 phones are pretty much locked in at this point.) I’m not quite so bullish on that point. As much as many of us, myself included, have fond memories of many HTC phones, and respect for the talented people who make them, the market doesn’t see much value in the brand at all. Long-term, it makes zero sense for Google to try to rebuild HTC’s brand whilst also growing its own.

If Google did acquire HTC’s smartphone business, it’s more likely that any HTC models currently in the pipeline would go to market — including the U12, or whatever the 2018 flagship is called — before the brand’s eventual retirement. What we currently know as “HTC” would then go on making Pixel phones for Google — and perhaps tablets, watches, laptops and other gadgets.

In that eventuality, HTC might not be HTC anymore, but it would certainly remain quietly brilliant.

  • If you’re in Florida this weekend, stay safe.
  • Big week next week — we’ll have our LG V30 review ready to go.
  • And it’s also Galaxy Note 8 launch week for anyone not lucky enough to have been gifted an early pre-order.

That’s it for now. I’ll be back with another Editor’s Desk in early October, from an entirely different part of the world.

10
Sep

Ben Heck’s mini pinball: Pop bumpers and targets


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The team is making progress with the miniature pinball machine. Felix designed the printed circuit board for the electronics control of the game using a Teensy and an Arduino. The layout of the board will be mounted toward the back of the device and will handle the light and switch drivers. These microcontrollers won’t do a great deal without some code, though. Ben works on the SPI communications to the targets, LCD screen and pop bumpers, and uses Autodesk Fusion 360 for the pinball launcher mechanisms. Are you building your own pinball machine? Or do you have suggestions for the build? Let the team know over on the element14 Community!

10
Sep

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Aquarium robots and LED globes


At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the Web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Moai — Aquarium robot

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Do you hate manually cleaning your aquarium? Do you also yearn for a way to monitor your fishy friends when you’re not home? Do you enjoy filling your house with robots that carry out extremely specific tasks? If you said yes to all three of those questions, then the Moai is probably right up your alley. It’s a robot that autonomously roves around your aquarium, cleans the glass, and also streams live video of your fish through the internet, thereby allowing you to check up on them with your mobile device, no matter where you are.

The device itself consists of two elements: one housing all the electronics (positioned outside the tank), and a small cleaning element that goes on the inside. These modules are connected by a magnet, so as the outside part moves around the tank, the inside part of your tank glass gets cleaned.

The robot itself uses smart ultrasound sensing tech to map its way around the aquarium, while users can use the accompanying iOS or Android mobile app to mark out specific cleaning areas. This also means that you can set specific times for cleaning to take place, such as when you’re out at work — so your aquarium always looks its best when you’re around.

Plantoid — robotic plant pot

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If you’re the type of person who can’t keep a plant alive for longer than a couple weeks, this Kickstarter project is for you. Plantoids, as they’re called, are basically robotic plant pots on wheels. Using an array of sensors, they monitor the vitals of the plant they carry, such as moisture in soil, air temperature, humidity, ambient light, and air quality.

If any of these levels get low, the bot will autonomously rove around your house in search of more optimal growing conditions. If it’s not getting enough sunlight, the Plantoid will drive until it senses a higher amount of ambient light, for example.

“Plantoids are the first easy-to-build organic robot,” creator David Ultis told Digital Trends. “Much like we have regions of our brains that deal with signaling involuntary needs like energy levels and hunger, the Plantoid’s sensors are tuned into the needs and qualities of life of the plant specimen that it carries. The Plantoid is then able to give the formerly inert-seeming plant the ability to mobilize and hunt for better survival conditions.”

Globe — customizable LED globe

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

On any given day, there are approximately twelve gazillion LED-oriented crowdfunding projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They usually aren’t particularly remarkable or exciting, but this one is worthy of note. The simply-named Globe, as it’s called, is essentially a set of programmable LEDs that spin extremely fast. When that happens, and the device reaches the correct RPMs, the strobing lights create a mesmerizing effect, generating what looks like a large holographic representation of planet Earth. And that’s not all.

“With a Raspberry Pi at its heart, Globe is capable of displaying images, video, games or anything else you could put on a traditional monitor,” the creator Edward Catley explains on Kickstarter. “Globe will ship with an easy to use web interface as well as Android and IOS apps to allow straight forward control over your content.”

It’ll even look good in your living room. “Constructed from oiled wood veneer, toughened glass and powder coated steel, Globe is designed to complement its environment.” The only downside? It costs over 700 bucks.

Riptide — lightweight electric skateboard

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We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: humanity is living in the golden age of rideable technology right now. In the past few years, electric motors have become smaller and stronger, and batteries have become smaller and more power dense — two trends that have coalesced and kicked off a renaissance in personal mobility devices. There are almost too many rideables to keep track of anymore, and they seem to get crazier and more advanced with each passing month.

Case in point? The newly-unveiled Riptide longboard. It’s a shining example of how the electric skateboard category is truly starting to diversify, and companies are starting to develop products that fill the gaps left behind by some of the bigger, more established rideables that were first to hit the scene. Riptide, for example, is designed specifically for commuters. With a relatively short deck, a kicktail on the end, and handles cut into the sides; it’s perfect for anyone who needs a “last mile” solution that’s easy to carry onboard a bus or train.

Despite the its relatively compact form factor, the Riptide board is still pretty powerful, boasting a top speed of 20 mph, as well as great hill-climbing abilities.

Treeo — 3-in-1 outdoor utility hammock

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Over the past few years, many backpackers have taken to replacing their traditional tents with a hammock, and it’s easy to see why. Hammocks are often lighter to carry, faster and less complex to set up, and offer better all-around comfort to boot.

Hammocks are not without their drawbacks, however. For starters, they require properly spaced (and sized) trees to be useful, and most can only hold one or two people. Additionally, they tend not to be especially adaptable, and typically only serve one purpose. A company called Treeo is looking to change that with an innovative new a hammock that also functions as a rain tarp and a beach blanket.

The key to the Treeo’s design is a clever cinch system. This allows the user to bunch up the ends of the tarp and secure them, effectively transforming the tarp (or blanket) into a hammock. These cinches can be released when not in use, allowing the hammock to return to its blanket/tarp configuration. The other key to Treeo’s design is its durable, waterproof construction. Made from ripstop nylon, not only will it hold your weight in hammock form, it’ll also stop rain as a tarp, and resist punctures when in blanket form. It’s like a Swiss Army Knife made out of fabric.




10
Sep

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Aquarium robots and LED globes


At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the Web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Moai — Aquarium robot

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Do you hate manually cleaning your aquarium? Do you also yearn for a way to monitor your fishy friends when you’re not home? Do you enjoy filling your house with robots that carry out extremely specific tasks? If you said yes to all three of those questions, then the Moai is probably right up your alley. It’s a robot that autonomously roves around your aquarium, cleans the glass, and also streams live video of your fish through the internet, thereby allowing you to check up on them with your mobile device, no matter where you are.

The device itself consists of two elements: one housing all the electronics (positioned outside the tank), and a small cleaning element that goes on the inside. These modules are connected by a magnet, so as the outside part moves around the tank, the inside part of your tank glass gets cleaned.

The robot itself uses smart ultrasound sensing tech to map its way around the aquarium, while users can use the accompanying iOS or Android mobile app to mark out specific cleaning areas. This also means that you can set specific times for cleaning to take place, such as when you’re out at work — so your aquarium always looks its best when you’re around.

Plantoid — robotic plant pot

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

If you’re the type of person who can’t keep a plant alive for longer than a couple weeks, this Kickstarter project is for you. Plantoids, as they’re called, are basically robotic plant pots on wheels. Using an array of sensors, they monitor the vitals of the plant they carry, such as moisture in soil, air temperature, humidity, ambient light, and air quality.

If any of these levels get low, the bot will autonomously rove around your house in search of more optimal growing conditions. If it’s not getting enough sunlight, the Plantoid will drive until it senses a higher amount of ambient light, for example.

“Plantoids are the first easy-to-build organic robot,” creator David Ultis told Digital Trends. “Much like we have regions of our brains that deal with signaling involuntary needs like energy levels and hunger, the Plantoid’s sensors are tuned into the needs and qualities of life of the plant specimen that it carries. The Plantoid is then able to give the formerly inert-seeming plant the ability to mobilize and hunt for better survival conditions.”

Globe — customizable LED globe

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

On any given day, there are approximately twelve gazillion LED-oriented crowdfunding projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They usually aren’t particularly remarkable or exciting, but this one is worthy of note. The simply-named Globe, as it’s called, is essentially a set of programmable LEDs that spin extremely fast. When that happens, and the device reaches the correct RPMs, the strobing lights create a mesmerizing effect, generating what looks like a large holographic representation of planet Earth. And that’s not all.

“With a Raspberry Pi at its heart, Globe is capable of displaying images, video, games or anything else you could put on a traditional monitor,” the creator Edward Catley explains on Kickstarter. “Globe will ship with an easy to use web interface as well as Android and IOS apps to allow straight forward control over your content.”

It’ll even look good in your living room. “Constructed from oiled wood veneer, toughened glass and powder coated steel, Globe is designed to complement its environment.” The only downside? It costs over 700 bucks.

Riptide — lightweight electric skateboard

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We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: humanity is living in the golden age of rideable technology right now. In the past few years, electric motors have become smaller and stronger, and batteries have become smaller and more power dense — two trends that have coalesced and kicked off a renaissance in personal mobility devices. There are almost too many rideables to keep track of anymore, and they seem to get crazier and more advanced with each passing month.

Case in point? The newly-unveiled Riptide longboard. It’s a shining example of how the electric skateboard category is truly starting to diversify, and companies are starting to develop products that fill the gaps left behind by some of the bigger, more established rideables that were first to hit the scene. Riptide, for example, is designed specifically for commuters. With a relatively short deck, a kicktail on the end, and handles cut into the sides; it’s perfect for anyone who needs a “last mile” solution that’s easy to carry onboard a bus or train.

Despite the its relatively compact form factor, the Riptide board is still pretty powerful, boasting a top speed of 20 mph, as well as great hill-climbing abilities.

Treeo — 3-in-1 outdoor utility hammock

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Over the past few years, many backpackers have taken to replacing their traditional tents with a hammock, and it’s easy to see why. Hammocks are often lighter to carry, faster and less complex to set up, and offer better all-around comfort to boot.

Hammocks are not without their drawbacks, however. For starters, they require properly spaced (and sized) trees to be useful, and most can only hold one or two people. Additionally, they tend not to be especially adaptable, and typically only serve one purpose. A company called Treeo is looking to change that with an innovative new a hammock that also functions as a rain tarp and a beach blanket.

The key to the Treeo’s design is a clever cinch system. This allows the user to bunch up the ends of the tarp and secure them, effectively transforming the tarp (or blanket) into a hammock. These cinches can be released when not in use, allowing the hammock to return to its blanket/tarp configuration. The other key to Treeo’s design is its durable, waterproof construction. Made from ripstop nylon, not only will it hold your weight in hammock form, it’ll also stop rain as a tarp, and resist punctures when in blanket form. It’s like a Swiss Army Knife made out of fabric.




10
Sep

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Aquarium robots and LED globes


At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the Web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Moai — Aquarium robot

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Do you hate manually cleaning your aquarium? Do you also yearn for a way to monitor your fishy friends when you’re not home? Do you enjoy filling your house with robots that carry out extremely specific tasks? If you said yes to all three of those questions, then the Moai is probably right up your alley. It’s a robot that autonomously roves around your aquarium, cleans the glass, and also streams live video of your fish through the internet, thereby allowing you to check up on them with your mobile device, no matter where you are.

The device itself consists of two elements: one housing all the electronics (positioned outside the tank), and a small cleaning element that goes on the inside. These modules are connected by a magnet, so as the outside part moves around the tank, the inside part of your tank glass gets cleaned.

The robot itself uses smart ultrasound sensing tech to map its way around the aquarium, while users can use the accompanying iOS or Android mobile app to mark out specific cleaning areas. This also means that you can set specific times for cleaning to take place, such as when you’re out at work — so your aquarium always looks its best when you’re around.

Plantoid — robotic plant pot

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If you’re the type of person who can’t keep a plant alive for longer than a couple weeks, this Kickstarter project is for you. Plantoids, as they’re called, are basically robotic plant pots on wheels. Using an array of sensors, they monitor the vitals of the plant they carry, such as moisture in soil, air temperature, humidity, ambient light, and air quality.

If any of these levels get low, the bot will autonomously rove around your house in search of more optimal growing conditions. If it’s not getting enough sunlight, the Plantoid will drive until it senses a higher amount of ambient light, for example.

“Plantoids are the first easy-to-build organic robot,” creator David Ultis told Digital Trends. “Much like we have regions of our brains that deal with signaling involuntary needs like energy levels and hunger, the Plantoid’s sensors are tuned into the needs and qualities of life of the plant specimen that it carries. The Plantoid is then able to give the formerly inert-seeming plant the ability to mobilize and hunt for better survival conditions.”

Globe — customizable LED globe

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

On any given day, there are approximately twelve gazillion LED-oriented crowdfunding projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They usually aren’t particularly remarkable or exciting, but this one is worthy of note. The simply-named Globe, as it’s called, is essentially a set of programmable LEDs that spin extremely fast. When that happens, and the device reaches the correct RPMs, the strobing lights create a mesmerizing effect, generating what looks like a large holographic representation of planet Earth. And that’s not all.

“With a Raspberry Pi at its heart, Globe is capable of displaying images, video, games or anything else you could put on a traditional monitor,” the creator Edward Catley explains on Kickstarter. “Globe will ship with an easy to use web interface as well as Android and IOS apps to allow straight forward control over your content.”

It’ll even look good in your living room. “Constructed from oiled wood veneer, toughened glass and powder coated steel, Globe is designed to complement its environment.” The only downside? It costs over 700 bucks.

Riptide — lightweight electric skateboard

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: humanity is living in the golden age of rideable technology right now. In the past few years, electric motors have become smaller and stronger, and batteries have become smaller and more power dense — two trends that have coalesced and kicked off a renaissance in personal mobility devices. There are almost too many rideables to keep track of anymore, and they seem to get crazier and more advanced with each passing month.

Case in point? The newly-unveiled Riptide longboard. It’s a shining example of how the electric skateboard category is truly starting to diversify, and companies are starting to develop products that fill the gaps left behind by some of the bigger, more established rideables that were first to hit the scene. Riptide, for example, is designed specifically for commuters. With a relatively short deck, a kicktail on the end, and handles cut into the sides; it’s perfect for anyone who needs a “last mile” solution that’s easy to carry onboard a bus or train.

Despite the its relatively compact form factor, the Riptide board is still pretty powerful, boasting a top speed of 20 mph, as well as great hill-climbing abilities.

Treeo — 3-in-1 outdoor utility hammock

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Over the past few years, many backpackers have taken to replacing their traditional tents with a hammock, and it’s easy to see why. Hammocks are often lighter to carry, faster and less complex to set up, and offer better all-around comfort to boot.

Hammocks are not without their drawbacks, however. For starters, they require properly spaced (and sized) trees to be useful, and most can only hold one or two people. Additionally, they tend not to be especially adaptable, and typically only serve one purpose. A company called Treeo is looking to change that with an innovative new a hammock that also functions as a rain tarp and a beach blanket.

The key to the Treeo’s design is a clever cinch system. This allows the user to bunch up the ends of the tarp and secure them, effectively transforming the tarp (or blanket) into a hammock. These cinches can be released when not in use, allowing the hammock to return to its blanket/tarp configuration. The other key to Treeo’s design is its durable, waterproof construction. Made from ripstop nylon, not only will it hold your weight in hammock form, it’ll also stop rain as a tarp, and resist punctures when in blanket form. It’s like a Swiss Army Knife made out of fabric.




10
Sep

Tesla extends range on cars to help owners avoid Hurricane Irma


Tesla may have software-limited the battery capacities of some cars to upsell owners to pricier trim levels, but it’s now clear that the company is willing to lift that limit during a crisis. The EV maker has confirmed to Electrek that it temporarily unlocked the full battery capacity on 60kWh Model S and Model X cars in Florida to give them the full 75kWh and help them escape Hurricane Irma. As you might guess, the extra range (about 30 to 40 miles) could be vital — in one case, it helped an owner in a mandatory evacuation area optimize his escape route and get out in a timely fashion.

It’s good to know that Tesla has the option of unlocking batteries in special circumstances, especially since buying a permanent unlock could cost several thousand dollars. You wouldn’t want to have to stop at a Supercharger station (many of which were still running on September 9th, thankfully) with a life-threatening storm bearing down on you.

With that said, it does illustrate the potential issues with capping EV batteries using software. At what point does an automaker (not just Tesla) decide that an unlock is important? There are smaller-scale emergencies where offering the full capacity might still be helpful. It’s not as pressing a question for Tesla now that the company isn’t selling cars with software battery caps, but it’s something that manufacturers may need to account for if they consider implementing software limits in the future.

Via: Autoblog

Source: Electrek

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