Category Archives: wireless

Wireless Power Consortium at 2016 CES



Qi EverywhereScott Ertz interviews Arun Kumar, partner presenter at the Wireless Power Consortium booth.

They discuss the current state of wireless charging technology. They demonstrate a 15 watt wireless charger hooked to a laptop. It will soon be possible to integrate wireless charging circuitry directly into laptop computers for the first time, perhaps within a year.

Scott also interviews John Perzow, vice president of market development, about longer-distance charging. John demonstrates that it is now possible to charge a Qi device up to an inch away through an inch thick block of wood. Distance charging is problematic since electrical charging efficiency drops off very quickly with distance.

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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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iOttie Qi Smartphone Wireless Charging Solutions at 2016 CES



iOttie Daniele Mendez interviews Andrew Moughalian about iOttie wireless charging and automotive mounting solutions. The iOttie iON Wireless Qi Charging Receiver Case Charger Cover is a sleek case for the iPhone 6s/6 that adds Qi wireless charging. It is available now and sells for $49.

iOttie also sells the iOttie Easy One Touch Wireless Qi Standard Car Mount Charger that will work with a variety of Qi wireless charging-enabled smartphones. It offers an Easy One Touch lock and release mounting system that locks the device into the holder with just the push of a finger. It sells for $69.95 and is also available now.

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Somabar Robotic Bartender at CES 2016



Somabar, the winner of the 2016 CES Best of Innovation award for home appliances, is the latest and greatest in bartending technology. Somabar is a robotic bartender fimage.phpor your home that allows you to easily share and mix cocktail recipes with anyone in the world over WiFi.

Somabar incorporates WiFi connectivity, built-in sensors, electronic ingredient tagging, and automated cleaning to bring an effortless bartending experience right to your kitchen counter. In addition to giving you instant access to a digital menu of over 300 cocktail recipes, the Somabar allow you to share your favorites with your friends so they can share a taste of the magic from anywhere.

This thumbnail_1innovative new product comes packed with features including:

  • IOT functionality
  • Corresponding app
  • Menu of over 300 drinks
  • WiFi connectivity
  • Automated cleaning
    Automatic ingredient detection
  • Ability to upload and download your own cocktails.

For more information, visit the Somabar website here or stop by Booth 80143 in Eureka Park for more information.


Varta Wireless Charger at Gadget Show Live



VartaVartaOne of the biggest brands in portable power, Varta’s range goes from watch cells to car batteries. As well as the all-too-familiar AAs, Varta has a pile of products for the power hungry smartphone and tablet user. With the increasing popularity of wireless charging, it’s not unsurprising that Varta is bringing a Qi charger to market. Unlike many of the puck-style charging pads, the new Varta wireless charger is rectangular making it easier to place the phone and keep it in the sweet spot. Expected to arrive later in the year, the charger will priced a little over £30.

I talk to Natalie from Varta at Gadget Show Live to learn more.


Google Launches Mobile Carrier Project Fi for Nexus 6



Google has joined the ranks of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile with their new mobile carrier service, Project Fi. Project Fi, which is exclusive to owners of Google’s Nexus 6 smartphone, offers a completely new take on wireless plans.

project fiMost carriers charge a flat rate for a specific amount of data, even when you don’t use it all, but Project Fi only charges you for the data you actually use and reimburses you for what you don’t. For example, if you spend $20 on a 2GB monthly plan but only use 1GB, Google will refund you $10. If you only use 0.5GB, you’ll get $15 and so on.

Project Fi is available in over 120 countries (with no roaming charges– yay!) and offers unlimited talk and text, personal hotspot usage, Google Voice integration, and unlimited international texting for a flat rate of $20 per month; you can add a data plan for $10/GB per month as well.

In addition, Project Fi lets you connect to both Sprint and T-Mobile’s 3G and 4G LTE networks, so if your T-Mobile signal starts to lag and Sprint has a faster signal available, Project Fi will automatically switch over to Sprint so you’ll always have the fastest possible connection. And if no cell networks are available, Project Fi lets you connect to more than 1 million free open-access WiFi hotspots, automatically encrypting your data so you can have fast, secure online access wherever you are.

Project Fi is currently in its early-access stage and only available for the Nexus 6, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see support for other smartphones coming soon, and perhaps a partnership with AT&T or Verizon, too.

Until then, you can get all the details and request an invitation here.


Sprint brings Free Wi-Fi Calling to iPhone



Sprint logoWhen I got my first cell phone in 1995, I opted for a plan that included a whopping 60 minutes of monthly airtime. Back then, cell phones were still looked at as “emergency contact devices” by most people. But much has changed in the last two decades. Today, cell phones are ubiquitous and there’s an expectation that we can use them wherever we go. And for the most part, this is true. However, there are still some challenges when it comes to finding a cellular signal, and smaller carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile have had to adapt their coverage systems to fill in the gaps where their towers can’t reach.

Wi-Fi calling has been a regular feature on most T-Mobile handsets for years. This service allows customers to make standard voice calls over Wi-Fi when the cellular network is out of range. And now, Sprint is bringing a similar service to its iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s-wielding customers. Over the next week, Sprint’s iPhone customers will receive a software update that allows them to initiate high-quality voice calls over Wi-Fi. This enhances and expands Sprint’s coverage and connectivity options. The service is as easy to use as Bluetooth – there is a simple setting to turn it on and off. Calls made over Wi-Fi won’t have any impact on a user’s voice or data plan, making those calls virtually free.

Sprint customers will now be able to take advantage of millions of Wi-Fi networks to talk and use data even when cellular coverage may be limited. This will definitely make a difference in office buildings and other places with cellular network challenges. Customers traveling internationally can also use Wi-Fi calling to enjoy free calls from over 200 countries back to the U.S.

When I recently got back into the cell phone game with an iPhone 6 Plus, I didn’t even consider Sprint as an option, mainly due to the company’s lack of overall coverage. Upgrades like this will definitely make the carrier more attractive in the future.


Pocket-Sized Big Screen TV



Lumex_Picomax_SmartpodPocket-Wouldn’t it be cool if you could carry around a big screen smart TV in your pocket?

Actually, that is now possible.

I recently purchased a Lumex Picomax Smartpod pocket pico projector via Amazon.Com. A pico projector is a miniature pocket-sized projector that typically has a built-in battery that can also be operated off of AC household current. Pico projectors can produce surprisingly bright, crisp projected images and traditionally have been handy for people who are traveling and need to give presentations.

What sets apart a “smart” projector from a regular projector is the same things that set a smartphone apart from a feature phone, or a smart TV apart from a regular TV. Smart projectors include not only connectivity such as WiFi and Bluetooth but also come with a built-in operating system such as Android that includes access to the Google Play Store. With the Google Play Store comes video streaming apps such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime Videos, YouTube, etc., etc.

 

Projected_80_inch_imageThis is a picture of a streaming movie projected onto an 80 inch screen in a darkened room. The photo was taken from about 25 to 30 feet from the projection screen.

I drive a truck over-the-road, so with the Lumex Picomax Spartpod projector I can easily connect it to my MiFi hotspot and project a 45 to 50 inch screen onto a blank wall area of my truck’s sleeper. I connect the projector to a high-quality Bluetooth speaker for excellent stereo sound. Watching a 45 to 50 inch image is a much nicer experience than watching the same material on a much smaller iPad Air screen. It also has the added advantage of extreme portability so I can easily carry it with me and use it in a motel room.

The projector is about the size of a Roku or Apple TV box. It also has a variety of other built-in connectors, such as mini HDMI, VGA, Micro SD Card and standard 4 pin USB port. It uses Texas Instruments DLP chip and the light source is a 20,000 hour LED lamp. The projector comes with a small remote control, and also has a touchpad built-in to the top of the unit itself.

The unit will run about an hour and a half to two hours on the built-in battery. It outputs a 70 lumens when running on battery power and automatically jumps up to 100 lumens when connected to the included AC adapter.

It produces a bright, colorful image. The native resolution is 800 x 480, so it is not 720p, but 480p widescreen.

The WiFi and Bluetooth connect and stream flawlessly.at the same time. While the integrated touchpad mouse works okay, I prefer to use a wireless three button mouse. I plug the mouse dongle into the standard USB port on the side of the unit and the mouse instantly connects. With this configuration along with a wireless keyboard it could easily be used as a computer. There is a small integrated fan that runs when the unit is running in order to keep things cool internally. The fan is actually very quiet and doesn’t produce much fan noise at all.

I do have a few criticisms of the unit. First, the manual focus seems a bit sloppy. It is easy to rotate the knob past the optimum focus. When rotating back the knob will rotate freely about half a turn before it starts moving the focus back in the opposite direction, making it difficult to zone in back and forth to obtain the maximum sharpness.

Also, the integrated touchpad does not include mouse buttons like an actual mouse does. It is possible to scroll vertically running your finger along the black vertical dotted line along the edge of the touchpad, but it takes a bit of getting used to. A wireless mouse makes for a much more fluid and satisfying experience.

The tiny integrated speaker doesn’t produce much sound, so it is close to being useless. I strongly suggest using a wired speaker or a Bluetooth speaker for an adequate sound experience. Stereo headphones or ear buds can also be used.

Despite my criticisms I am quite happy with my purchase. The Lumex Picomax Smartpod WiFi projector currently sells for $399.97 on Amazon. It really is like being able to carry around a big-screen smart TV in my pocket.


Wi-Fi Alliance Looks To The Future at CES



WiFi Alliance Logo

The 10 billionth Wi-Fi-certified device will be shipping around now. That’s impressive considering that Wi-Fi is still young, going back only 15 years. I remember 802.11b and my first Wi-Fi PCI card which had an antenna the size of a pack of playing cards. Those were the days. Anyway, Don Blaine, the Gadget Professor, gets a little more up-to-date with Edgar Figueroa, President and CEO of the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Expected this year is new feature called Wi-Fi Aware which gathers information from the surrounding environment and pushes it to the user (subject to preferences). For example, when in a supermarket, a message might pop up to show the shortest check-out queue or special offers. If combined with the Internet of Things, other clever things can happen such as a garage door sending a message indicating that it’s been open for two hours, or turning the water off if a leak is detected. Sounds like a great technology to make life easier and safer for everyone.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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Celestron NexStar Evolution at CES



celestronA few years ago I was lucky enough to visit Kitt Peak in Arizona for an astronomy night and it will be one of the highlights of my life. It was a revelationary moment when I looked up and saw the Milky Way properly for the first time; I was used to seeing a few bright stars with a few more during the cold winter. Nothing prepared me for millions of dots spread across the sky…the stars, like dust…  Jamie and Todd explore the cosmos with Bryan Cogdell from telescope manufacturer Celestron.

At the interview table is the Celestron NexStar Evolution, a portable computerised wifi-operated telescope with built-in rechargeable battery. The telescope itself is a Schmidt-Cassegrain optical tube which can be controlled wirelessly from a tablet (or smartphone) using the Celestron SkyPortal app for both iOS and Android. It’s very easy to use; simply find the celestial body of interest in the app and then the telescope will orient itself to view the galaxy, star or planet of interest. The battery lasts around 10 hours so there’s a whole night of viewing without recharging.

The NexStar Evolution is available now in three variants with 6″, 8″ and 9.25″ mirrors at around $1300, $1600 and $2200 respectively.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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