Meccanoid Robot Comes to Life at CES

Meccano logo

We’ve all dreamed of owning our very own robot. Imagine, having a mechanical friend who’s always there and won’t mind when you tell it to fetch another cold drink from the fridge. Well, those robot dreams are quickly becoming real thanks to the efforts of companies like Meccano.

Nick had a chat with Fraser from Meccano. Fraser explained that many people are probably already familiar with the Meccano brand, as it was known as Erector for many years in the U.S. He also gave details on an incredible new product, the Meccanoid, that Meccano will bring to stores in August of this year.

Meccanoid is a four-foot tall humanoid robot that’s built from an easy-to-assemble kit. Once constructed, users can program Meccanoid by using a simple “record-and-playback” system built right into the bot, or via bluetooth-connected smartphone, or USB-connected computer. The potential of Meccanoid is endless as the kit can be broken down into a number of configurations, limited only by the imagination of the builder.

Interview by Nick of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

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Adidas and Monster Join Forces at CES

Adidas logo

Many well-known brands bring exciting new products to market during CES. And sometimes, some of those brands will team up and double the excitement. That’s exactly what happened when Adidas and Monster got together to create a new line of headphones and earbuds.

Nick had a chance to talk to both Johan and Kevin from Adidas. They both gave a breakdown of this new line of listening devices. There’s everything from full over-the-ear headphones to bluetooth-enabled wireless earbuds that link up with the Micoach smart watch from Adidas.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

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Sennheiser Momentum Wireless Headphones

Sennheiser LogoSennheiser have always been one of my preferred headphone brands and I previously reviewed the Momentum On-Ears for GNC. Consequently, I was very interested to hear that a second generation of Momentum headphones were on their way with both Bluetooth wireless and noise-cancellation features. Marlo chats to Scott Houston from Sennheiser about the Momentum Wireless.

The new Sennheiser Momentum Wireless takes the original Momentum and updates it for listening on the move. No tangled wires with Bluetooth wireless; environmental sound kept to a minimum with active noise cancellation; integrated microphone to take calls without removing the headphones, improved padding for extended listening and folding arms to pack the headphones away neatly. Overall, it looks like a tidy package.

Of course, this doesn’t come cheap with the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless costing US$499 or GB£379 from Sennheiser’s web store.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch for the TechPodcast Network.

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Phonotonic Turns Movement into Music at CES

PhonotonicIt’s one thing to play music. It’s another to react to that music. But the Phonotonic turns a person’s movements into music in real time, which changes the entire dynamic of the music creation process.

Scott met with Nicolas, a representative for Phonotonic. Nicolas performed an energetic demonstration of his product, showing how the movements of his body changed the sounds produced by two Phonotonics, one for rhythm, the other for melody. Phonotonic uses Bluetooth to transmit data to a smartphone app which then converts that data into musical sounds.

Phonotnic is currently only available in France but the product will receive a wider roll out as the year goes on.

Interview by Scott of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

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Kinivo Music and Video Gadgets at CES

Kinivo LogoKinivo have a range of consumer-oriented music products from headsets to speakers, including several with Bluetooth. Don chat’s with Henry Wong, Kinivo’s Director of Product Management to find out more.

All of Kinivo’s products are competitively priced – for example the ZX100 Mini Portable Speaker with rechargeable battery costs less than $20. The BTH360S Bluetooth Stereo Headphones which supports wireless music streaming and hands-free calling costs $69.99 so these are good value products. There’s also an interesting HDMI switcher, the HS420 which has four inputs and two outputs, at just under $65. Could be very handy for advanced gaming or home cinema setups.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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On3 PowerCliq Smart Battery Case

PowerCliq LogoCombo battery cases for the Apple iPhone are commonplace from no-name clones to well-known manufacturers whose brand is almost synonymous with the product. On the other hand, combined case, battery and Bluetooth headset packs with smart battery management are really quite rare. In fact, On3‘s PowerCliq is the only one I know of, so watch Don get a hands-on demo from Brad Yasar of On3.

The PowerCliq is a 2700 mAh battery case for the iPhone which has two additional features. The first is a Bluetooth 4.0 headset that slides into the back of the case for both storage and charging. The second is that the charging features of the external battery can be controlled by app on the iPhone. When plugged in, most battery packs simply charge until the smartphone is fully charged and then keep it topped up; there are some schools of thought that suggest this can be detrimental to the long-term performance of the battery.

On the PowerCliq, the app can be used to set a minimum battery level such that the recharging doesn’t kick in until the iPhone’s battery falls to that level and once fully charged, turns off. This larger discharge / charge cycle is supposed to improve the life of the battery.

The PowerCliq is fundraising on Kickstarter with early birds getting in at $88.  Update: since CES, the Kickstarter campaign has been cancelled. There’s a note on Instagram saying that this is to allow for new developments and the campaign will restart soon.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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Flic Gets Much Well-Deserved Coverage at CES

Flic logoIf you’ve followed our CES 2015 coverage at all, you’ve probably heard about Flic, the Bluetooth-enabled programmable button. One Flic button can be configured to perform multiple tasks with a simple series of (up to) three clicks.

Brian was the latest correspondent to stop by the Shortcut Labs booth and speak with a representative of Flic. Using the Flic app, users can program a simple button to do things like move thru music playlists, send GPS coordinates and more. Flic is available thru an ongoing Indiegogo campaign. Pricing varies, depending on how many buttons you’d like to buy.

Interview by Nick of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

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FreeWavz Wirefree Wearable Earphones

FreeWavz LogoBluetooth headphone are commonplace these days but usually there’s a connector between the two earphones, either as a wire or a band. The FreeWavz wirefree earphones are different, using Bluetooth to transmit the music to both earphones, so there’s no physical connection between the earphones. The earphones are smart too, as the blend between sound from the smartphone and the surrounding environment can be adjusted to match the wearer’s preferences.

That’s the “wirefree” part taken care of. What about the “wearable” bit? Aimed at the fitness enthusiast, FreeWavz aren’t only earphones, they’re fitness bands for the ears, measuring the wearer’s heart rate. As you’d expect, the data is reported back to the connected smartphone but the wearer also hears about his heart rate, calories burned, distance and steps in his ears via the FreeWavz. It’s all clever stuff and there’s more revealed in the interview.

The FreeWavz earphones are expected in the summer and are on pre-order for $219 (RRP is $249).

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor for the TechPodcast Network.

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ONvocal Mix360 Combines Music, Voice and Ambient

ONvocal

Anyone who has worn earbuds or in-ear headphones will know that (a) they are very effective in blocking out external noise and (b) phone conversations sound a little strange if you use them with your smartphone to take a call. ONvocal have a solution to these problems….it’s a little unorthodox and pricey so Don finds out more from company president, Bob Spanner.

The Mix360 personal audio device combines microphones with signal processors to mix sound from three sources – music, phone call and environmental noise. The benefit in the first instance is that you can hear the world around you and avoid getting run over by buses plus when you are on a phone call, you hear your own voice, which makes it much more natural. The exact level of each audio source can be adjusted via complementary app. The interview video doesn’t really make it clear but the band is a neckband not a headband and is worn at collar level.

The Mix360 will be available in May with a price of $349 and can be pre-ordered at ONvocal’s shop.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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Oort SmartHub Integrates With Bluetooth

Oort Logo

Smart homes and the Internet of Things are very much in vogue at CES this year with vendors offering a wide range of products, some of which hardly deserve the name “smart” and others that are genuinely innovative. In the latter camp, there is Oort which tries to “make your world smarter”. Don learns more from Radek Tadajewski, Wizard of Oort.

The difference between Oort and many of its competitors is that Oort has been designed to work openly with Bluetooth devices from the start. By using Bluetooth profiles as the integration mechanism, Oort can use any Bluetooth device that has the necessary profile. To get you started, there’s a $350 starter kit which includes the Oort hub, light bulbs, sockets and a tracker beacon though other devices can be added as needed. As you’d expect there’s a smartphone app for Android and iOS which communicates with the hub and the connected  devices. You can view the status of devices and sensors through the smartphone app, whether you are inside the house or sitting in the office, and you can turn devices on and off as needed.

There’s more in the interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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