Category Archives: Bluetooth

Playbrush Brings Fun to Toothbrushing at Gadget Show Live



Playbrush LogoGood oral hygiene is important for everyone but getting children to brush their teeth can be a bedtime battle. Playbrush should help win the war, bringing fun into the bathroom. I get the toothpaste out with John to find out more about Playbrush and continue coverage of the British Inventors’ Project.

The Playbrush is small bulbous gadget that slips over the handle of a manual toothbrush and turns the toothbrush into a game controller. Communicating via Bluetooth, the toothbrusher plays a game “Utoothia” on their tablet or smartphone, encouraging correct brushing technique and duration. The Playbrush can be shared among a family with game apps supporting up to six people. It’s rechargeable and will last around four-to-six weeks on single charge, depending on use. The games are in both the Apple and Google app stores.

Playbrush with app

Originally a Kickstarter Project, the Playbrush launched back in November and is available now from the Playbrush store for GB£31 (says the store). There’s a bathroom kit for an extra £8 which is a vinyl pocket to hold the smartphone during brushing and keep it toothpaste free. It sticks to tiles or a mirror using suction cups.

I think this is neatly executed idea that’s very affordable, especially as it can be shared with more than one child, though I think Playbrush need a neutral colour that’s not blue or pink!


Chipolo Tracker at Wearable Tech Show



ChipoloThe Bluetooth tracker tag market is busy at the moment with several players making a name for themselves. Into the fray steps Chipolo, another ex-Kickstarter project, with their colourful tags. Andrew asks Nika and Katja what makes Chipolo different?

Much like other tracker tags, the Chipolo tag is paired with a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth LE. The Chipolo item finder app keeps track of where and when the phone was last in touch with the tag. If you can’t find the tag, but it’s in range, the tag can ring to help you find it. The reverse is true too. Shake the tag and your phone will ring.

The Chipolo works as a remote camera shutter button too, so it’s easier to take group shots with everyone in the picture. Set the smartphone app, shake the Chipolo and snap the shot.

The Chipolo app is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, and it’s good to see Windows being supported. On sale now, a single Chipolo tags costs 24.99 € (GB£19.99) though four tags is 89.99 €.

Chipolo


Product Review: 1byone Outdoor/Shower Bluetooth Speaker



1byone logoIt’s a basic rule of safety when using personal electronics: water and electricity don’t mix. It’s super important to take caution when using electronic devices in bathrooms or outdoor environments. Fortunately, there are products that are designed specifically to be used in these situations. With this in mind, I was given a new 1byone Outdoor Sports & Shower 4.0 Bluetooth Speaker to test out and review.

1byone Bluetooth speaker box
1byone Bluetooth speaker box
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing
1byone Bluetooth speaker unboxing

The speaker comes with a user manual, a hook for hanging the speaker and a USB cable for charging and connecting to a computer. Using the speaker is pretty straightforward. Hold down the power button and when the speaker powers on, a voice prompt lets you know if the device is connected to an external sound source, either via Bluetooth or USB. Pairing the speaker to my iPad worked flawlessly, triggering another voice prompt from the speaker indicating that it was connected via Bluetooth.

I tested the Bluetooth speaker by sending spoken-word audio from a couple of different podcast apps. The connection worked but it had some issues. By nature, spoken-word audio has some gaps of silence. And when the podcasts I was playing would have a moment or two of silence, the audio stream would cut out and “skip” to the next portion with audible speaking. This made it difficult to listen to spoken-word audio via the Bluetooth speaker. (For the sake of troubleshooting, I tried a couple of different podcast apps and two different Bluetooth devices but the problem never went away.)

I also tested the Bluetooth speaker by playing some music (most likely what the speaker is designed for) and in that case, it operated as expected without any of the issues I experienced while listening to podcasts. I suspect the speaker itself is designed to go into some kind of “low power” mode when the incoming audio drops below a certain threshold. Thus, causing the speaker to try and “turn off” when the podcast audio reaches a silent part.

The speaker is charged over USB and it can also be connected to a computer to use as a USB speaker. When I connected the speaker to my Mac, a voice prompt announced that the device was in USB mode. But the speaker never appeared as an available sound source in my Mac’s Sound System Preferences. The speaker can also play back media from a TF/Micro SD card but I don’t have a card in this format so I can’t test that out.

The 1byone Bluetooth speaker has no display. It provides its status thru voice prompts. The device is controlled by a series of buttons on its side. This includes power on/off, play/pause, volume up/down which also doubles as track forward/backward, a “phone” button for answering/ending phone calls and a “mode reset” button. The controls are molded into the chassis of the device and they are difficult to see in low-light conditions. Having the volume and track controls be shared by the same buttons can be a bit awkward as it’s necessary to hold the buttons down to adjust volume, while pressing the buttons once will skip ahead/rewind depending on the type of app you’re using to send audio to the speaker.

1byone Bluetooth speaker controls
1byone Bluetooth speaker controls

I tested the speaker by letting it play in the shower, The speaker has more than enough volume capacity to be heard over the running water. And while I didn’t position the speaker in a place where it’d get too wet, it did get some water on it and it came thru just fine. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to fully submerge the speaker (why you’d want to do that is beyond me, anyway) but you shouldn’t have to worry about operating it in damp environments. Also, the speaker is very sturdy. It’s covered by a rubber shell that should protect it from most of the accidents that can occur in a typical day.

The 1byone Bluetooth speaker is available direct from the manufacturer for $45.99 (link above) or at a nice discount from Amazon for $19.99.


Eton Solar Powers for Good and Bad Days



Eton LogoEton‘s motto is “Empowered by nature” and in this case, it’s powered by nature too, with a full range of solar powered gear. Scott gets charged up with Sharon Cook, Eton’s VP of Marketing.

First up is the Rukus Xtreme, a solar powered Bluetooth speaker with USB charging ports. Five hours of charging gets around eight hours of playing time and with an IPX-4 rating, the Xtreme won’t mind a few splashes either. Available for US$179 (MSRP $199).

Next is the the Xtreme’s baby brother, the Rugged Rukus, which is perfect for camping or hiking weighing just a pound. Retails for US$79 (MSRP $99), it charges and plays for similar times to the bigger Xtreme and has the same IPX-4 rating.

On standby for emergencies, Eton have the Scorpion II, a “rugged, portable multi-purpose digital radio, that charges smartphones with crank power back-up and weather alert”. Think of this as being the information equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife or Gerber Multitool. You need one of these in your emergency packs and at US$50 you’d be a fool not to get one.

Finally, FRX5 is the big brother of the Scorpion II, with all the emergency features you can think of from torches to emergency beacons, am/fm radio to NOAA weather alerts and SAME regional alerts. Powered by solar, crank, rechargeable batteries or three AAAs, you can charge via USB if you need to. Perfect for the home or car at US$100 (MSRP $129).

Note Eton is known as Soulra in some countries.

Scott Ertz is a software developer and video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Smart Cooking in the Kitchen with SmartyPans



Smarty Pans logoTracking nutritional information when cooking from a recipe can be difficult as it’s not as easy as looking at the back of the packet to find out how many calories are in 100g. Aside from adding up the constituent values, the cooking process can alter the composition too. If this is a familiar problem, then the Smartpans smart skillet might be the solution. Scott finds out more from Prachi Baxi, CEO and founder of Smartypans.

The solution comprises of two parts, the smart skillet and the complementary app, which communicates with the pan via Bluetooth. The clever bit is that the pan includes temperature and weight sensors, simplifying the cooking process as weights can be measured on the fly; the chef enters the food, such as chicken, into the app as it’s being added to the pan. The pan measures the weight of chicken being added, passes that to the app which then calculates calories and other nutritional information, adding that to the total for the meal.

The cooking processes can follow two different paths. The app can guide the inexperienced pot-stirrer through the recipe, directing what and when, but for the seasoned chef, the app can follow along and help out only as necessary.

With an expected retail price of US$299, the Smartypan is currently on pre-order for $209. The interview references an Indigogo campaign but that doesn’t seem to have started at time of writing.

Scott Ertz is a software developer and video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Altec Lansing BoomJacket Bluetooth Speakers at 2016 CES



boomjacket-blue-front-1024x512Scott Ertz interviews Jill Byeff, marketing for Altec Lansing Speakers. They discuss Altec Lansing’s BoomJacket line of waterproof, shockproof Bluetooth speakers for active outdoor lifestyles.

The BoomJacket speaker is priced at $199.00 and is IP67-rated waterproof, sandproof, shockproof and snowproof construction. It is also floatable and submersible and has a 50 foot Bluetooth range. It has a 40 hour battery life at spoken word volume level. The BoomJacket also features a built-in universal mounting mechanism for easy attachment to equipment and structures like bikes, kayaks, jet skis, and motorcycles.

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Oasis at 2016 CES



OasisScott Ertz interviews Phil Diamond about the Oasis customizable noise-cancelling Bluetooth headset from Audasis. The concept behind the Oasis Bluetooth headset is that it takes any conventional user-provided ear buds and converts them into a noise-cancelling Bluetooth headset. The consumer plugs their conventional earbuds into the Oasis, and then pairs up the Oasis to their Bluetooth playback device. The Oasis also includes a Bluetooth dongle with the headset to enable the user to convert any device that has a conventional 1/8th inch headphone jack, say an old CD player or a 1/8th inch headphone jack on a plane to Bluetooth to be used with the Oasis. The Oasis includes a wireless charging stand and up to approximately 30 hours worth of audio playback depending on the impedance efficiency of the earbuds and the loudness of the music.

Audasis hopes to ship the Oasis Bluetooth headset in Q4 of 2016 in time for the Christmas holiday season. The target selling price is $150.

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Helix Cuff at CES



Helix CuffDaniele Mendez interviews Rachel Schroath, Communications Manager for Helix Cuff. Helix Cuff is the world’s first wearable bracelet that conveniently stores Bluetooth earbuds for use whenever and wherever you need them. Pair the Helix Cuff earbuds with your smartphone, tablet, or other Bluetooth-enabled device to get tangle-free, high quality Bluetooth audio.

The Helix Cuff begins shipping in March of 2016. The black and white versions of Helix Cuff are priced at $199, and a special 24k gold and red version is priced at $299.

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Wistiki Tracking Tags by Philippe Stark



Wistiki LogoBluetooth tracking devices are fairly common but when the tags have been designed by Philippe Starck as “connected jewels”, it’s definitely worth taking a look. Lisa Despeyroux, Wistiki’s Communications and PR manager connects with Jamie and Daniel to tell them more about Hopla!, Voila! and Aha!

French outfit Wistiki have partnered with the famous designer, Philippe Starck, to create three shapes of tracking device (or Wistikis) in four colours. Hopla! is credit card shaped for wallets and purses, Voila! is rectangular for keychans and the oval Aha! dangles for pets or gear. Colour-wise, the choice is yellow, blue, orange and pink. It all adds up to Gallic flair!

As with most tracking systems, the Wistiki connects to an app on the smartphone and there’s a fairly standard set of features including ring, reverse ring and leash. There’s an additional neat feature where if someone finds a lost Wistiki, they can message the original owner to arrange return. And the ringtone is cool too.

The new range is launching on Indiegogo now with expected delivery in late 2016. Current perks offer six Wistikis for US$149.

Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic and health journalist.
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Dog and Bone LockSmart Padlock



Dog and Bone logoDog and Bone are more usually known for their protective range of Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphone cases, though here it’s a smartphone-controlled Bluetooth padlock that’s going to provided the protection. Jamie and Daniel find out more from Maria.

Dog and Bone’s LockSmart keyless Bluetooth padlock is exactly what it says: a padlock that uses Bluetooth communication from an app on a smartphone to unlock it. While that alone might be handy in some circumstances, the real trick is that with the app the owner can give unlocking privileges to other people. Say your bike’s padlocked to a railing in town and you want a friend to pick it up for you. You can give him (or her) the unlock permissions for the LockSmart, let him get the bike and once it’s returned, you can revoke the permissions. Definitely much handier than sharing keys or combinations. In addition, the app can manage multiple locks and receive notifications when locks are opened. Both iOS and Android devices are supported.

There’s a choice of two LockSmarts: on sale now is the larger version at US$89.95 with a mini version expected soon for US$69.95.

Jamie Davis is the host of Health Tech Weekly at HTWeekly.com. He is a nurse, paramedic and health journalist.
Daniel J Lewis dares you to get started in podcasting with The Audacity to Podcast.

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