Category Archives: Special Media

Special Media Events

The Gadget Show Live 2016



If you are heading to the Gadget Show Live in Birmingham, England this weekend then you are in for a treat. This is the fourth time that I’ve been and I think it’s the one of the best. Loads of stands, loads of activities, loads of gadgets. Busy for sure and I racked up over 15,000 steps in the pursuit of interviews, which I’ll be publishing over the next few weeks.

Gadget Show PresentersAt the press call, I was lucky enough to chat with the presenters  Jon Bentley and Ortis Deeley and I recorded an interview with Jason Bradbury and Amy Williams, though I wasn’t asking the questions (Birmingham Post?) and there’s a bit of background noise as they were still setting up the stage for the theatre event.

Underwater Jet PackLooking round, the key trends were personal electric vehicles with plenty of hoverboards, bikes and scooters; smart homes with offerings from Hive, Fibaro, Smanos and Samsung; and of course, drones.

The Gadget Show Live supports the British Inventors Project and it was great to see so many new and genuinely innovative ideas: I’ll be covering these in subsequent posts. Here’s one of the inventors, Supermarinovation and their underwater jet pack.

Morphy Richards ToasterSlightly surprisingly, the gadget of the show for me was a kitchen appliance. Morphy Richards have developed a glass heating element (Thermoglass) which gets very hot and have used the material to create transparent products including an iron and a toaster. Now you can see how brown your toast is in the morning!

The Gadget Show Live is on until Sunday 3 April 2016.


Bonnie Binary Demos E-Textiles at WTS



BonnieBinary Logo For me, this was one of the highlights of the Wearable Technology Show. Bonnie Binary is a design consultancy offering creative skills and prototyping for e-textile and associated wearable technology products.

The team at Bonnie Binary have created impressive demonstrations of e-textiles, with lights sewn into the cloth responding to touch on other areas of the fabric.

Rather than explain what Bonnie Binary can do, here are two short videos demonstrating their e-textile capabilities and founder Annie Lywood tells me more in the 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