Category Archives: Interview

PitPat Activity Tracker for Dogs at WTS



pitpatIt’s all too easy for both humans and dogs to get a little overweight with a few extra inches round the tummy. The PitPat activity tracker is designed to help dogs (and their owners) stay healthy and fit. Andrew from PitPat explains more.

Around the size of a matchbox, the lightweight PitPat attaches to the dog’s collar using Velcro and records the animal’s activity throughout the day. Given the breed and age of dog, the PitPat app (free download from the Apple and Google app stores) shows suitable activity goals.

Pressing the tracker’s orange button transmits the data to the owner’s smartphone and the app shows the owner what the dog has been doing and whether the goals have been met. Future enhancements to the app will let owners share the activity with friends and social media networks.

The PitPat is waterproof for splashing around (IP67) and the user-replaceable battery will last about a year.

The PitPat has been on sale since January and is available from pet shops and on-line for around GB£40. Cuddly toy not included.

PitPat Dog Activity Tracker

 


Bittium Designs Wearables at WTS



Bittium LogoLet’s say that you are a major manufacturer of sportswear and you need an activity tracker to keep up with the market. You’ve no experience in electronics or wearables, so what do you do? If you’re Adidas, you turn to Bittium and get the professionals on the job. Martti, Senior Specialist at Bittium, takes Andrew through the company’s offering.

Finnish firm Bittium are a technology design house, specialising in connectivity solutions, from 4G base stations to mobile phones, IoT and wearables. Bittium will take an idea for a product and develop it to a finished product, including physical design, hardware and software.

Here’s the tracker that Bittium did for Adidas, the MiCoach Smart Run.  It’s a few years old now (2013) but it’s interesting to hear the development story.

Bittium Adidias


TomTom’s Golfer 2 GPS Watch at WTS



TomTom LogoTomTom are well know for their in-car navigation devices with over 75 million of them sold since 2004, including specialised variants for motorbikes and trucks. Building on their success with GPS, TomTom has launched wearable devices for runners and golfers. Tom tells Andrew all about the company’s latest developments.

TomTom GolferAnnounced at the Wearable Technology Show, the new TomTom Golfer 2 is a GPS watch designed to help golfers improve their game by using automatic shot detection for detailed post-round analysis at the nineteenth hole. Incredibly, the Golfer 2 has knowledge of over 40,000 courses worldwide. It will cost 249 € when released in May.

Although not a brand-new product, I was impressed by the TomTom Bandit, an action cam with a killer feature. After a fast off-piste descent down a mountain, just shake the Bandit and it will assemble a highlight clip in minutes using sensor data to figure out the most exciting parts of skiing. As Tom mentions in the interview, the pain of video editing is one of the main reasons action cam owners don’t use their cameras. The Bandit costs from GB£269. I want one!

(Apologies to Tom – the last part of the interview didn’t record properly)


Diota Brings AR To Manufacturing at WTS



Diota LogoFrench startup Diota have been working since 2009 to bring augmented reality (AR) to industry and manufacturing. This isn’t easy as the factory floor is no place for fancy headsets or delicate glasses. Andrew hears more from Sebastian, Diota’s Head of R&D.

Diota FuselageDiota have a range of AR products, but the one on show here uses a projective system to highlight work that needs done. Imagine that a fitter is working on the inside of an aircraft fuselage and that a series of steps needs to be followed exactly. Perhaps one set of bolts needs to go in before another and the order of insertion is crucial to the assembly. DiotaPlayer and its projective system is ideal for this problem.

Using the camera built into the system, the DiotaPlayer is able to identify the part of the fuselage in view, then project onto the surface clearly showing what areas need to be worked on first by the fitter. The projection shows the first set of the holes, highlighting them (in this instance) in blue-green, so the fitter can work on these and ignore all the other holes in the panel.

Diota have an impressive list of French industrial clients, including Renault, Dassault and SNCF. Price on application.

Diota Projector


Cozify Brings Multiple Radios to the Smart Home at WTS



cozifyWhen it comes to wireless protocols for the smart home, there’s a plethora of standards from the well-known Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to the lesser known Z-Wave, Zigbee and ISM 433 MHz. Most smart home hubs only support a subset of these, typically Z-Wave and Zigbee, but Cozify‘s Hub is different, with hardware support for all five. Andrew finds out a little bit more from Cozify’s Tony.

While the Hub doesn’t yet take full advantage of all the radios, it’s integrated with devices from eight major smart home manufacturers, including Philips Hue, Osram Lightify, Belkin Wemo and Sonos. The integration seems to have be done at a lower level than many of the competitors, with the Cozify Hub able to communicate directly with the lights and sensors. For example, with Philips Hue, the Hue hub is not required.

As expected, there’s a smartphone app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Using the app, rules can be configured to carry out actions under pre-defined conditions, e.g. turn on the lights when it gets dark.

The Cozify Hub is available now for 249.00 € though there are bundles available which include a selection of smart devices, such as lights or sensors.

Cozify Hub


Applause Crowdsources Testing at WTS



Applause Mobile ViewGiven the many different models of smartphone handset, in-house testing of apps is rarely effective at achieving comprehensive test coverage. There’s always going to be some model of phone that disagrees with the app. Samir from Applause talks to Andrew about they can help with the problem.

Applause’s approach is to crowdsource app testing to ensure that mobile apps are tested on as many different phones and tablets as possible. Applause call this “in the wild” testing – apps are tested on many different devices with combinations of RAM and CPU by real users on every day smartphones and tablets. These aren’t pristine out-of-the-box latest generation devices or emulators. This real world testing greatly improves confidence that the app is going to work on as expected on full release.

Applause’s list of customers is impressive and includes Google, Netflix, Coca-Cola and Amazon.


SoftBattery From Enfucell Powers Medical Applications at WTS



Enfucell All of us are familiar with batteries, from the normal cylindrical cells for toys and remote controls, to the cuboid batteries often seen in digital and video comeras. Whatever the shape, batteries tend to be hard, inflexible and relatively heavy. This can make them awkward to use, especially if there’s a need to attach the battery to a person as it will need to be clipped on or placed in clothing. To address this problem, Finish firm Enfucell have developed a soft and flexible battery for use in medical applications. Andrew hears more from Anja, Enfucell’s Sales Director.

Unlike a normal alkaline battery, the thin and flexible SoftBattery is manufactured by screen printing and lamination, though in other respects it is similar using the reaction between zinc and manganese(IV) oxide (Zn/MnO2) to provide energy. Coming in both 1.5 V and 3 V versions, the SoftBattery is ideal for medical applications as the battery can be incorporated into a skin patch to measure ECG, respiration and activity while still being powerful enough to drive Bluetooth LE. As the battery is only used with one patient before disposal or recycling, there’s no risk of infection between patients.

The SoftBattery technology has been incorporated successfully into several products.

Enfucell SoftBattery


Energenie MiHome at Wearable Tech Show



Energenie LogoHome automation and the smart home were very much in evidence at the Wearable Technology Show. While the recent trend has been for Z-Wave and Zigbee based systems, Energenie‘s MiHome uses 433 MHz radio frequency and an open source protocol for communication. Andrew chats with Oliver about what Energenie offers the home owner. 

Energenie’s system works much like any other smart home system with a central control unit communicating with sensors and actuators round the house, along with a complementary smartphone app. What makes MiHome different is the range of replacement light switches and power sockets which can be operated both remotely and by flicking the switch as it were. It’s a great idea and there’s even a range of styles and finishes.

The Energenie MiHome is on sale now from a number of UK retailers.

Energenie MiHome Socket


Beats for Baby from Babypod at WTS



Babypod Logo

The article and interview concerns an intimate feminine product for use during pregnancy. If this is likely to offend, please stop reading now.

Most children enjoy music, rhythm and dance so it doesn’t take much of stretch of the imagination to think that even unborn babies would respond to music while in the womb. Unfortunately there’s a great deal of sound-deadening material between the baby and the outside world. Remember those times when you could feel the music inside? How loud was the music then? Going by my experience, it was ear-ringingly loud, and consequently the problem is getting the music through to the baby without deafening mum. Fortunately, Babypod have the answer to this problem; Andrew finds out what it is from Alex.

As you’ll see from the pictures, the Babypod is a small silicone rubber ovoid with a built-in speaker. To use, the Babypod is inserted into the vagina, bringing the music much closer to the unborn child in the amniotic sac. The attached stereo cable is plugged into a smartphone or mp3 player to play music, and there’s a secondary audio jack to share the music with mum. When in use, scans have shown babies to respond to the music by sticking their tongues out or shaking their heads, with 87% of babies responding to music.

The Babypod website has much more to say on the benefits and the safety of the Babypod itself but it does appear to have been trialled scientifically and safely. The Babypod is available now for just under GB£100.

Babypod


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