Category Archives: Interview

Milo Brings Home Faraway Parents at Gadget Show Live



Milo LogoWhile every parent wants to be home to see their children, sometimes work commitments and foreign travel prevent mummies and daddies being there for bedtime stories. Although it can’t give out cuddles, Milo is a friendly video messaging system that brings distant parents closer to home. Hannah and Emily take me through their plans for Milo at Gadget Show Live.

Milo

Milo is 15cm (6″) high toy lion, with a camera in his mane and a small LCD screen for his face. The idea is that absent parents record messages for the child on the Milo website, whether a good-night message, short story or simple loving reassurance. The child can play the video at bedtime (or other suitable moment) and then respond with a video message of his or her own.

MiloMilo can be provide additional fun through a treasure hunt when Milo’s face shows clues as to the whereabouts of small tokens. Once found, placing them on the lion’s savannah base will trigger a video message reward.

Shown as part of the British Inventors’ Project, Milo is still early in its life-cycle though it’s hoped to be on the market within two years at around GB£50.

Since Gadget Show Live, Hannah has contacted me to say that she has entered the Virgin Media Business VOOM Competition which offers funding, business advice and a chance to pitch to Richard Branson for the winner. To get past the first round she need as much help as possible as it’s a public vote to put people and their ideas through. You can see Hannah’s video pitch for Milo and vote him through.


BikeDeck Stores and Transports Bicycles for Modern Living at Gadget Show Live



BikeDeck LogoToday’s apartments and smaller houses aren’t always conducive to bicycle ownership. Bikes don’t stay upright, handlebars mark walls and transporting them can be awkward. They’re all wheels and finger-nips. Mark and Julie’s BikeDeck looks to solve these problems and I chat with him as part of the British Inventors’ Project at Gadget Show Live.

The BikeDeck is a free-standing bicycle storage and transport platform. It holds the bike in a upright, free-standing position or the BikeDeck can be hung on a wall (from a suitably strong hook). BikeDeck keeps the bike ready for transport as it can be wheeled it along like a trolley suitcase or lifted easily into a car.

It works with any bike which has quick release wheels, and with practice, an owner can get the bike onto the BikeDeck in around a minute. Almost any frame size can be accommodated as the BikeDeck’s sliding system adjusts to length.

BikeDeck

Currently in the prototype stage, BikeDeck is looking for partners to bring the product to the market.


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!


SleepSpace Travel Cot from BabyHub at Gadget Show Live



BabyHub logoLike me, many parents will remember the frequent struggles with travel cots: there was always that one rail that wouldn’t lock in place or the release handle that wouldn’t turn to disengage the mechanism. At times travel cots can be more frustrating than the tot!

Fortunately, the BabyHub team have worked hard to produce the SleepSpace, a travel cot  that can be put up and taken down easily with one hand. It’s lightweight (6 kg) and the clever folding mechanism is so simple it can even be setup while holding the baby. Here’s Catherine from BabyHub to explain more about the SleepSpace.

BabyHub SleepSpace

Uniquely, the SleepSpace travel cot is pyramid shaped rather than the more usual box and this gives additional stability plus the convenience of being able to drape mosquito nets or sun shades over the cot without worrying about the cloth falling into the cot. On travel, the cot can be re-purposed as a play space or tent during the day. It’s available in four different colours.

BabyHub SleepSpace

The BabyHub SleepSpace is expected to go on sale with national retailers in the autumn for around GB£139. Looks like another success for the British Inventors’ Project.


Secure Your Contactless Cards with Merlo Wallets at Gadget Show Live



Merlo LogoHere in the UK, contactless smart cards are increasingly popular with every credit and debit card in my wallet now enabled for PIN-free low value transactions. They’re very popular as travel cards too, with London’s Oyster card being a good (but not unique) example. Convenient as this contactless technology is, there can be problems. With a wallet full of cards, sometimes the wrong card can charged or the right card not recognised, but there have also been scare stories about criminals using portable card readers to take small amounts.

Merlo has a solution to this problem with a lovely range of British-designed leather wallets with built-in blocking technology, plus two outer unshielded pockets. What this means is that you put most of your cards inside the wallet where they can’t be read but put the card(s) you do want to use in the outer pockets; say, one travel card and one payment card. Pass your wallet across the reader and the right card is used.

Merlo London

Part of the British Inventors’ Project at Gadget Show Live, I chatted with Mark from Merlo to understand more about their new wallets. Prices ranges from GB£38 to £75 with four different wallet types available for purchase from Merlo’s website.


British Inventors Project Awards at Gadget Show Live



British Inventors ProjectOne of the best bits of Gadget Show Live is the support for the British Inventors’ Project. Designed to showcase the best of British invention and innovation, the Project sets aside part of the GSL for the inventors to demonstrate their products. It’s always interesting to see what’s on show, with some inventions little more than sketches on the back of an envelope, to final products looking for trade buyers and distributors.

British Invention of the Year 2016There’s an award for the British Invention of the Year and last year the winner was the OmniO Rider, a backpack buggy. You can here my interview from last year’s show here and it was good see that this invention has gone on to full production.

In 2016, the British Invention of the Year award went to eFOLDi, an electric scooter that folds up into both a chair and a suitcase. The pictures show it both folded and unfolded, and the eFOLDi easily morphs between wheeled vehicle and suitcase. If you are interested, the eFOLDi is pre-ordering on Kickstarter for GB£699 (while pledge levels remain). The videos on Kickstarter show more detail on folding and unfolding the scooter. The project is a short of its £90,000 goal with a little over a third raised and 25 days to go. Good luck.

Regrettably, I didn’t get to interview the eFOLDi team, but I was able to record the award ceremony, which was hosted by Hosted by David McClelland and Jason Bradbury. The audio isn’t great – I was standing at the back!

eFOLDi

Over the next few posts, I’ll be covering the great inventions of the British Inventors’ Project 2016. There’s some fantastic stuff to come.


Smanos Launches K1 Smart Home at Gadget Show Live



Smanos LogoIn the last of my smart home interviews from Gadget Show Live, I look at one of the new entrants to the market, Smanos. The Dutch firm announced their new K1 Smart Hub at the show and while it’s a good-looking piece of kit, the K1 is coming into an increasingly crowded space. I chat with Rafael about Smanos and the difference it brings.

Coming from a security background, Smanos has brought its understanding of that space to the smart home. The first iteration of the K1 focusses on security: the starter kit includes a siren, door/window sensor, motion sensor and keypard with the Smart Hub. As might be expected, the devices use Z-Wave for communication and there’s an app for managing and controlling the system, so additional sensors can be added easily.

Smanos K1 Smart Hub

In order to set Smanos apart from the competition, the K1 has well designed sensors that wouldn’t look out of place in a bijoux pad. All white and chrome with surface detail, it’s clear that the sensors are part of a matched set, and not awkwardly thrown together to meet a functional need.

K1 Smart Home

In addition to the K1 Smart Hub (GB£249), Smanos launched the UFO panoramic Wi-Fi HD camera (£149) with a massive field of view, and a smart video doorbell (£159). Both of these look neat.


Hive Expands for Smart Home at Gadget Show Live



Hive LogoA British Gas incubator, Hive has been a British success since 2013, bringing smart heating controls to UK homes. Building on the back of this success Hive are expanding their portfolio and making Hive the heart of the smart home. In the third of my smart home interviews from Gadget Show Live, I talk to Elvin about Hive and their new range of products.

Hive Heating SystemThe Hive team first realised that while almost everyone in Britain had a central heating system, it was often poorly controlled and inefficient, either through a lack of understanding of the controls or simple laziness. Few people go beyond adjusting a thermostat for summer and winter, never mind worrying about turning the heating off when out for the evening.

Next, they designed easy-to-use replacement heating controls that could be monitored and adjusted from a smartphone or website and fortunately the team used a standardised wireless protocol called ZigBee as part of the Hive solution. This crucially meant that the Hive system could now be extended with other new products using the same wireless technology.

Hive ThermostatHive have added the three smart home basics of smart plugs, motion sensors and window / door sensors, with lighting to come soon. As with any smart home, there’s the complementary smart phone app for the review and control of devices with the home.

Finally, the backing of British Gas as a household name gave homeowners reassurance to adopt the new technology and install Hive.

The Hive heating system consists of the main hub, thermostat and receiver, and it costs GB£249 including installation. Extending the system into a smart home costs £39 for the smart plug and £29 for the motion and door sensors. There’s more info on Hive at www.hivehome.com.


Fibaro Swipe at Gadget Show Live



Fibaro Home IntelligenceThe second of my smart home interviews from Gadget Show Live comes from Fibaro and their “Home Intelligence”. Originally from Poland, Fibaro was established in 2010 and consequently has one of the longer pedigrees in home automation and smart homes. I think it would fair to say Fibaro hasn’t received the public brand recognition it deserves but remains a choice for those in the know. I chat with Arron from Fibaro who tells me about their latest products.

As with any smart home solution, Fibaro’s system is controlled by a central hub but unlike most other vendors, Fibaro offers two hubs, the Home Center 2 and Home Center Lite, which meet different needs and budgets. Fibaro continues to offer extra choice with the option to retrofit controls into existing light and power sockets, or to integrate with new services like Philips Hue. There are all the standard smart home sensors too – motion, door/window, flood and smoke. What I particularly like about the Fibaro door sensor is that it comes in seven different colours – not everyone has white door frames!

Brand new to Fibaro is Swipe, a 3D motion-detecting panel which controls the system using hand gestures. Wave up, turn the lights up. Wave down, turn the lights off. Those are the simple gestures though Swipe can interpret several more movements and combinations of gestures too. Impressively, Swipe can be hidden behind stud walls or below desks so it’s not even visible, or it can be hidden in plain view as a photo frame. Contrary to the interview, Swipe is GB£119.99.

Fibaro Swipe

Apologies for the audio – it was very noisy in that part of Gadget Show Live.


Samsung SmartThings and Yale Smart Locks at Gadget Show Live



Yale LogoIt was smart homes galore at Gadget Show Live with at least five vendors showing off their wares. Geek News Central got interviews with four of them, and here I start with Samsung SmartThings and their partner Yale which has two smart locks which integrate with SmartThings. In this interview, I first talk with Miles, who takes me through SmartThings, followed by Hannah from Yale, who tells me about the new locks in the Smart Living range.

Yale Keyless Connected Smart Lock

Yale have two locks in the SmartLiving range. One is the “Keyless Connected” smart lock to replace a rim cylinder, typically found on wooden doors, and the other is the “Keyfree Connected” smart lock for multipoint locks. Those locks are typically found on double-glazed, uPVC or composite doors.

Yale Keyfree Connected Smart Lock

Each lock has a range of unlock options from PINs, RFID cards, remote fobs and smartphone apps and there are additional security features to resist tampering, from alarms to lockouts after too many PINs have been entered. PINs can be from 4 to 10 long and 24hr PIN codes can be setup for visitors too

The Keyless lock is self-installed and priced from £99, though the Z-Wave equipped version is around £180. The Keyfree is around £350 but comes with installation.