GNC #1172 Samsung Galaxy Note Brand



Can the Samsung Galaxy Note Brand survive? That is what Samsung is wishing as it’s going to move forward with the Note 8. Personally I think they have a single shot at it and if they have a issue they will be screwed. All that and the news of the days with some side stories along the way.

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Ford SYNC Integrates with Amazon Echo at CES



Ford logoIn our previous post, we touched briefly on the latest version of Ford SYNC, and how the platform will integrate with Amazon’s Echo (Alexa) service. In this video, Todd spoke with Jack from Ford who gave some more detailed information on how SYNC will be able to integrate with Echo:

  • Voice recognition allows drivers to give hands-free voice commands using Alexa
  • Drivers will be able to access third-party services and functions thru Amazon Echo that allow them to do things like turn on garage lights in connected homes
  • Drivers will be able to use home or office-based Echo units to ask about the status of their SYNC-enabled cars to get information like battery charge rate, etc.
  • Alexa integration will allow drivers to ask their cars where nearby stores, restaurants, and other locations are and seamlessly get directions to those locations that are then sent to the car’s built-in navigation system

Ford is planning on adding Alexa/Echo integration to Ford SYNC 3 in the summer of 2017.

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Ford SYNC Brings Multiple Apps to the Dashboard at CES



Ford logoIt might seem surprising to find a car manufacturer like Ford at CES, as the convention is primarily focused on gadgets and consumer technology. But Ford has been present at CES for several years now, focusing on its Ford SYNC in-dash system. Todd met up with Stefan from Ford where Stefan showed off some of the latest developments in SYNC. Including:

  • Integration with Amazon Echo (Alexa voice commands)
  • Driver Score app calculates a score based on your driving behavior that could be used to negotiate coverage rates with insurance companies (SYNC only provides scores to vehicle drivers, it doesn’t report directly to outside parties)
  • Speed Pass+ integration allows drivers to find nearby Speed Pass-enabled fueling stations where they can see which pumps are available and select and set up a pump before pulling into the station
  • SYNC has a built-in mobile navigation app that integrates with third-party apps so drivers can select the navigation app(s) they prefer to use

Ford SYNC is currently available in many vehicles and will be added to more vehicles as the company continues to roll out and improve the platform.

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Fall Asleep Effortlessly with 2breathe at CES



Getting enough sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle but for some people the problem isn’t just about getting into bed early enough, it’s about falling asleep. Israeli firm 2breathe has developed a smart sensor and complementary app to help those who have difficulty nodding off. Todd relaxes with Erez.

2breathe is a guided breathing system that uses a body-worn sensor to read the breaths in and out. The app records the breathing rate and then using softly-spoken instructions and gentle music, gradually reduces the breathing speed of the wearer. As the breathing rate slows, the soon-to-be-sleeper will get drowsy and fall asleep. In the morning, the app produces a session report, showing the time to snooze and breathing patterns.

The CES Innovation committee though this was a good idea too, awarding 2breathe a CES Honoree Innovation Award.

2breathe is available now for US$179, either direct from 2breathe or other major online retailers. It’s currently only available for Apple iOS devices.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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SolarGaps Solar Panel Smart Blinds at CES



The trouble with solar panels is that they take up a fair bit of space, typically on the roof of a property, which means that those living in apartments or condos often miss out on the opportunity to generate electricity from the sun. SolarGaps have a solution to this issue, with solar panels that also work as blinds, both generating power and shielding the interior. Todd talks to Erik at SolarGaps to find out more.

SolarGaps smart blinds are fitted to the exterior (or interior) of windows and automatically track the sun to maximise electricity generation and minimise heating effects. Installation is straightforward and each panel on the outside generates around 100 W-hrs per square meter so a south-facing 3 bedroom apartment could produce around 4 kW per day. As the blinds track the sun, the output is typically 20% higher than the equivalent static photovoltaic pnel. The blinds can be fitted inside too but this reduces the power output.

SolarGaps is launching on Kickstarter in February with a price around US$480 per square metre, rising to around $1000 per square metre when the product is launched, so if you are interested, get in early.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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iOttie Brings Inductive Smartphone Charger, Powerful Bike Light to CES



Most CES posts here at Geek News Central cover only one item. But when Todd stopped by the iOttie booth, he discovered two different items that were worth covering. Fortunately, Andrew from iOttie was there to give detailed information on both products.

First up is iOttie’s new iTap Wireless inductive smartphone charger. iTap Wireless needs no clunky adapters or loose wires. Simply place your phone onto the iTap’s surface, and the phone begins charging. iTap Wireless is designed to be used on a car’s dashboard, where its built-in dash cam can double as a handy safety accessory.

Next up is the Halo Charge bike light. Halo Charge is more than just a light that helps bicyclists navigate thru the darkness. It provides up to 1.5 hours of light on a single charge, uses a capacitive touch system to display the battery status, has a powerful 1100 lumens capable light, and a built-in dial that makes it easy to adjust the light’s brightness level.

Both products are expected to be available Q2 of 2017. Pricing information is not yet available.

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PureGear’s Steel 360 Tempered Glass is Protecting Smartphones at CES



PureGear logoEvery year, CES is jam packed with accessory products for smartphones. Locating a good one can be like finding a real diamond in the rough. But that’s exactly what Todd did when he met up with Arthur from PureGear. Arthur showed off PureGear’s latest development in smartphone protection, the Steel 360 Tempered Glass phone cover.

Here are some important features of the Steel 360 Tempered Glass product:

  • Made from high-quality Japanese glass
  • Glass has an armor-like surface layer
  • Smooth edge production process fortifies and protects glass, also ensures that the cover will fit perfectly onto the phone
  • Lifetime warranty on all glass covers breakage and scratching
  • Glass cover is rated at 98% scratch resistant

The PureGear Steel 360 Tempered Glass phone cover is currently available for iPhone 6, 6S, and 7, including Plus models, for $49.95. The cover will be released for other phone models soon.

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Shift from Qwertyfree Helps Visually Impaired at CES



For the visually impaired, typing on a smartphone or tablet keyboard can be tricky as the small keys can be hard to pick out. The team at Qwertyfree are developing a replacement keyboard with just five keys to help those with poor vision. Todd finds out more from Craig.

The idea behind the new keyboard is that in English eight letters are used over 60% of the time so why not focus on those and make those letters the easiest to use. Called Shift (as in shifting gears on a manual transmission), the app has a four areas; up, right, down, left, with a selection of letters in each – it’s a little like the directional pad on a remote. The user swipes once to get a primary letter and then swipes again to get a secondary one, with the keyboard reading out the selected letter. So just swipe left for E, or right for N.

The new Shift keyboard should be available by the end of the quarter, though it may be Android only. No news on price.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Switchflip Switches Sockets at CES



You might think that a switch flip is a skateboard move but in this case Switchflip lets you control new power outlets from a wall switch with no extra wiring. Todd gets a demo from Ryan on maximising those hard-to-reach sockets.

Currently seeking funding via Indiegogo, the Switchflip works like this….let’s say you have a power socket that is controlled by a wall switch but you’d prefer that the wall switch worked with another socket (or sockets) on the other side of the room. So you plug the Switchflip transmitter into the original switched socket and a Switchflip receiver into the socket(s) further away. Now when you switch the wall switch all sockets come on (or go off).

The Switchflip uses its own wireless connection so there’s no Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity to mess around with. It’s plug’n’play, or as Switchflip says, “Simple is smart”. Range is up to 100ft, depending construction.

The crowdfunding is going well, with the Switchflip currently over 200% funded with a month to go. There are still a few Early Bird Specials to available, and US$35 will get a transmitter and a receiver. Delivery is expected in October 2017.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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SolPad is Disrupting the Solar Power Industry at CES



SolPad logoFree energy. It’s a dream shared by every homeowner when it’s time to pay the monthly utility bill. The closest thing we’ve got to a true “free energy machine” is solar power. These systems harness light from the sun and convert that light into electricity that can then be used by anything and everything in the home. For years, solar power has been a steady but still kinda slow-growth industry. That may change soon thanks to new technology being developed by SolPad.

Todd stopped by the SolPad booth to speak with Chris, where he learned about SolPad’s new portable and home-based solar power offerings. Some highlights from their discussion:

  • SolPad has a complete solar solution that includes panels, battery, and an efficient inverter
  • Wireless connectivity to control SolPad systems from mobile devices
  • Portable SolPad panels use the same technology as roof-based panels
  • SolPad panels “snap” together like Lego pieces, which can reduce the cost of installation by up to 50%
  • SolPad systems run on a “net zero” concept designed to not push power back into the electrical grid
  • SolPad panels come with a 25-year warranty, SolPad batteries come with a 10-year warranty

Pricing is not yet available for SolPad products but the company will be releasing that information soon.

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