Category Archives: video

Need a Housesitter? Ask Kevin at CES 2018



It’s a sad statistic that around half of us in the Europe and US will experience a break-in or burglary during our lifetime and unfortunately, I’m one of those. Most burglaries are over in less than five minutes and by the time the police turn up, the criminals are long gone. Smart homes and security alarms only go so far and what you really want is to deter the burglars from breaking in at all. You need a housesitter and Mitipi have one called Kevin. Todd thought Kevin was a minion

Kevin is the first IoT device to simulate the presence of people in a room by emitting light, shadow effects, and sound, meaning burglars will think someone’s home, and won’t want to break in for fear of being confronted or even caught.

Kevin is extremely easy to use. Place the device in a main room with a window, say, the living room. Once set up, Kevin can be controlled via the buttons on the box, or through the companion app. To pretend someone is home, Kevin uses a smart logic that considers multiple factors such as location, language, weather and home type to produce a realistic simulation with light, sound and shadows.

Kevin is currently on Kickstarter and the best pledge is SFr249, which is around GB£190 or US$270. Delivery is expected in December 2018.

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

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Keep Porch Pirates at Bay with BoxLock at CES 2018



From a consumer’s point of view, internet shopping is great: huge choice and prices to fit every pocket. Sure it takes a day or two to come but that only increases the rush while you wait for the delivery…..only that’s the snag. Many of us are in work when the delivery comes to our empty homes and either the delivery service takes it back to their depot or you parcel lies at risk of theft until you get home. BoxLock have an ingenious solution and Todd unlocks its potential with Brad.

BoxLock is an internet-connected smart padlock with a built-in barcode scanner. To use BoxLock, you first get a secure container or bin which can be locked using a traditional padlock – it’s usually called a hasp – and put it out front. The BoxLock then goes on the bin instead of the padlock.

When the delivery driver arrives, he (or she) simply grabs the BoxLock and presses the button on the top to scan the tracking number on the package. The BoxLock checks online via wifi and only packages addressed to you and that are actually out for delivery that day will unlock the BoxLock. The driver opens the container, places your package safely inside and then closes it all up.

Your BoxLock smartphone app then notifies you which package was scanned and that your BoxLock is safely locked with your packages inside.

Several of the big delivery companies are on board including FedEx, UPS, USPS and Amazon, so it’s perfect for keeping those porch pirates and packet thieves at bay.

BoxLock is current InDemand on Indiegogo for pre-ordering at US$109 (the video says $129 retail) with deliveries expected in June 2018.

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

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Kolibree’s Magik Toothbrush Brings AR to Brushing at CES 2018



Tooth decay is the most prevalent chronic disease in children and it can easily be prevented by regular and effective brushing. Getting children to brush is another matter entirely but French firm Kolibree are looking to gamification and augmented reality to get children excited about brushing. Todd finds out what is like to interview Arthur with a toothbrush in his mouth.

Kolibree’s Magik toothbrush plays an augmented reality game where the children defeat evil cavity monsters by attacking them with their toothbrush. Using a smartphone or tablet, the child sees themselves in a “magic mirror” and fight boss monsters to win superpower masks. At the end of a brushing session, the app shows the child and parent how well they’ve brushed and any areas missed.

The Magik brush is expected in Q3 2018 and Kolibree is looking to price it at under US$30. Sign up at Kolibree to hear when it’s ready to buy.

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

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Petrics Helps Owners Shed Pet Pounds at CES 2018



Just as in humans, obesity in cats and dogs brings health issues like diabetes and heart disease. Over half of the pets in American households are overweight and this reduces their life expectancy by several years. Petrics want to help owners spend less time managing their pets and more time loving them with a couple of new products aimed at reducing obesity. No treats for Todd from Edward.

Winners of two CES Innovation awards, Petrics are coming at the problem from two fronts. First Petrics have a Health & Nutrition application which records the animal’s food and exercise, but also guides the owner towards appropriate meal choices for their pet. Second, Petrics are launching a smart pet bed which works with an activity tracker to measure pet exercise and weight. This will pass information to the Health & Nutrition app, giving the owner current and historical information about their animal’s condition to see if new regimes are having the right impact.

The app and bed will be coming to the market early in 2018, priced at US$100-$300 depending on the size of the bed.

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

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Kano Codes for Kids at CES 2018



Kano‘s mission is to encourage people, particularly children, to see computers not as unchangeable appliances but as tools to be made, shaped, coded and shared. Their kits plug together bits, boards, buttons and cables to make individual and personalised computers. Joanna gets to the heart of the matter with Todd and the Pixel Kit.

Kano’s approach is to challenge each young developer into programming simple apps that achieve technical goals. Using Kano’s development tools, Kano Code, it’s really easy to build programs as the tools come with code building blocks for things like displaying an emoji or responding to noise via a microphone. It’s very easy to quickly produce something that’s fun and keeps children interested.

The Pixel Kit is available now for just under US$80 and GB£75 from both online shops and major retail stores.

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

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BIO-Key Uses The Power of Touch at CES 2018



Fingerprint readers are well established in all but the lowest cost smartphones – look at the Moto G-series for phones priced around US$200 – and it’s a trusted solution. So it’s not surprising that fingerprint readers are now appearing in other devices such as padlocks and bike locks. BIO-key are fingerprint specialists and have a range of locks and readers that do away with keys and passwords. Todd unlocks the potential of his finger with Scott.

BIO-key’s locks can be opened by a range of technologies depending on the model. Most use fingerprints, but others also have Bluetooth capabilities and some use PIN codes. There are some real benefits in using a fingerprint for unlocking – no key to lose, no combination to remember.
Prices start at US$39.99 for the TouchLock Designer, and a TSA approved lock is $54.95.

BIO-key produce fingerprint readers for PCs too, so if you don’t want to type in your password, check out these USB devices.

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

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Lizn and Hear the Conversation at CES 2018



True wireless earphones have been around for about eighteen months and products are beginning to innovate away from making the earphones technically better and physically smaller. As an example, Lizn‘s “hearpieces” are wireless earphones but also have some properties of a hearing aid. Todd listens to Michael to find out more.

The clue to Lizn’s USP is in the name itself – it’s a play on “listen”. C’mon, keep up. As well as being discreet Bluetooth wireless earphones, the earphones have directional amplification to help the wearer hear conversation in difficult circumstances. The dual microphones use advanced sound processing to enhance the consonants in speech which helps understanding in noisy environments.

The earphones come in three different colours, ruby red, caffe latte and anthracite grey. They’re on pre-order for US$149 with an expected retail price of $199, and should be available in April.

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

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Clap for Kano’s Camera Kit at CES 2018



Kano‘s mission is to encourage people, particularly children, to see computers not as unchangeable appliances but as tools to be made, shaped, coded and shared. Their kits plug together bits, boards, buttons and cables to make individual and personalised computers. Bruno gives Todd a hand to develop a selfie camera from their new Camera Kit.

Kano’s approach is to challenge each young developer into programming simple apps that achieve technical goals. Using Kano’s development tools it’s really easy to build programs as the tools come with code building blocks for things like taking a picture or responding to noise via a microphone. Consequently, even Todd can code an app to take a picture when someone claps.

The Camera Kit‘s not expected until next year but you can sign up to hear the latest news. Expect the price to be around US$99.

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

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You Can Feel It with Ultrahaptics at CES 2018



Playing games using bare hands for controllers goes back as far as the Eye Toy for the Sony PlayStation 2 but it was really Microsoft’s Kinect that brought gesture recognition mainstream. Fantastic as these cameras were, players only received visual feedback, e.g. the in-game character moved in the desired direction. But what if there is no TV screen to show feedback? How could the user know that they’ve pressed the right button? That’s where Ultrahaptics come in with their ultrasonic speakers. Todd gets a feeling for the tech with Heather.

Simplistically, Ultrahaptics uses ultrasound to project sensations onto a hand. Small highly controllable speakers can focus sound waves to make a hand feel on object that’s not there. It’s pretty clever technology but what it means is that a hand action can receive feedback directly, without needing a screen.

Heather splits the use cases into two, controls and experiences. Want to turn on a light switch? Feel the imaginary switch and flick it up. For experiences, a two-dimensional object could be given three-dimensional properties. Think of a film poster that responds to a hand approach it. The force awakens!

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

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Grow Your Own with Opcom Indoor Hydroponics at CES 2018



When I hear “hydroponics” I always think of scifi and long missions to deep space. Fortunately, hydroponics is much more rooted in reality than the genre suggests, and this brings us neatly to Opcom Farm and their indoor hydroponics systems. Todd digs with Ray from Opcom and discovers how to garden in your garage.

Opcom offers everything needed to setup a home hydroponics garden except the space. Even then, the GrowPod can create space within another area, such as a garage, for the racks and shelving needed for a hydroponic garden. These days all the lights are LED, so energy costs are kept low, and there’s a range of units from the simple O2-Light to a full GrowWall. It all depends on the budget – a GrowPod starts at US$2000.

There’s plenty of information on Opcom Farm‘s website and some products are available from Amazon.com. Others are on pre-order for delivery in 2018.

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

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