Elliptic Labs Ultrasound Gesture Recognition

EllipticLabs logoAlthough initially with a stylus and more recently with fingers, the touch user interface goes back as far as the early days of mobile devices to the Apple Newton and Palm Organiser. Elliptic Labs want to add non-touch to the mobile user interface with ultrasound gesture recognition. Todd gets a demo from Laila Danielson, CEO.

Elliptic Labs use an ultrasonic speaker to create a sonic field around the mobile device. Moving a hand in front the device creates ultrasonic echoes which are picked up by microphones and the changes in the echo patterns are converted into gestures. For example, waving a hand from left to right scrolls a picture gallery. Moving a hand closer to the phone brings up additional information on a film or movie. It’s very impressive.

At the moment it’s a prototype device being shown to OEMs so expect the technology to appear on mobiles devices in the next year or two.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by visiting casper.com/geeknews
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: cjcgncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Schneider Optics Interchangeable Lenses

Schneider LogoDigital pictures and cameras on smartphones have changed the photography beyond recognition in the last twenty years and the quality of the imagery is such that innovative filmmakers are using iPhones to record footage. One restriction remains and that is the lens itself; there’s only one and it’s fixed in place. There’s no swapping in a macro lens, though Schneider Optics might have a solution. Todd finds out more from Don.

Schneider Optics iPro Lens systems provides a selection of high quality optical lenses for Apple iPhones and the Samsung Galaxy S4, including macro, wide-angle, super wide, tele and fisheye. The system works by fitting the smartphone itself into a case and then mounting the lens onto the case with a bayonet connector to ensure the best possible optical alignment. The smallest offset can lead to aberrations and a loss of picture quality, which the iPro Lens case and lens combination avoids.

The iPro Lens is available now for the Samsung Galaxy S4, iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5/5S. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus variant will be on sale shortly. Lenses cost from $39 to $99, the case is $31 and there are kits available too.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by visiting casper.com/geeknews
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: cjcgncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Corning Brings Fibre To Thunderbolt and USB3

Corning Logo

Corning are famous for their glass-based products, most notably Serengeti Drivers sunglasses and Gorilla Glass screens which protect the majority of mobile devices on the planet. Todd gets a hands-on demonstration of Corning’s latest products from Jon Pesansky and Gabriela Allen.

This year sees Gorilla Glass 4 come to market which roughly doubles the height a phone call fall without smashing its screen. Alternatively, the glass can be made thinner for the same level of survivability and a 0.4 mm thick piece of Gorilla Glass 4 is the same as a 0.55 mm of Gorilla Glass 3.

Partly as a result of the high data transfer rates, the maximum length of Thunderbolt and USB3 electrical cables is only a few metres. To address this, Corning have developed fibre versions of these cables which can run for tens of metres and put up with the abuse typically associated with plugging and unplugging cables. Mind you, they don’t come cheap with a 5.5 m Thunderbolt cable costing $179 and a 10m USB3 cable costing $109. Available now.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by visiting casper.com/geeknews
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: cjcgncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Floome Smartphone Breathalyser at CES

2045 TechIt’s best not to drink alcohol at all before driving as even small amounts of alcohol can impair your judgement. However, if you need to check your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), then the Floome smartphone breathalyser from 2045 Tech can help you determine if it’s legal to drive. Fabio Penzo CEO shows Todd that he’s sober.

Floome is a small palm-sized device that plugs into the earphone jack of a smartphone. The owner breathes into Floome which analyses the alcohol concentration and passes the data to the Floome app on the smartphone. The phone then shows the BAC on the screen along with a green or red indicator. The app has other features such as showing the location of the nearest taxi firm or it can send “come and get me” messages with the alcohol level superimposed on a selfie.

The Floome will be launching in Italy for 49 euros and will come to USA in a few months.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by visiting casper.com/geeknews
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: cjcgncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Flic Smart Wireless Button at CES

Flic logoFlic is a bluetooth-enabled button. That’s it. But it’s a simple idea that has a thousand uses from taking pictures with a smartphone to autodialling or even working as a personal distress alarm. Nick and Todd go “ah-ha” with Pranav Kosuri, co-founder of Shortcut Labs.

Flic is a coin-sized button that can be stuck or clipped onto nearly anything. When pressed, it sends a signal via bluetooth that is actioned by the Flic app (available for both Android and iOS) and actions include controlling music, dialling phone numbers, sharing GPS position, taking pictures, dimming lights and more. It’s a bit like a local version of IFTTT. Different things can be done depending on the number of clicks or if the button is being held down: one click could be take a picture, two clicks take a video. The possibilities are huge.

The Flic is currently on Indiegogo and $99 gets 5x Flics with delivery in April 2015.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by visiting casper.com/geeknews
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: cjcgncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

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.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by visiting casper.com/geeknews
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: cjcgncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Stay Hydrated with H2OPal at CES

h2opal logoStaying hydrated is key for maintaining a good baseline of personal health. But do we really know how much water we’re taking in every day? Sure, many fitness-tracking apps will let us log how much water we’ve had, but they rely on manual input, and it’s not always easy to remember just how many trips we’ve taken to the water cooler on any given day.

Jamie met up with Matej Marjanovic, cofounder of H2oPal, a device that attaches to any water bottle and tracks water consumption. H2oPal then automatically sends that information to a smartphone app so there’s no guesswork as to just how much water has been consumed throughout the day.

H2oPal is currently available for preorder, with an expected retail price of between $80 and $100. Matej said that customers who order early will likely be offered a discount.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by visiting casper.com/geeknews
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: cjcgncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Powerocks with New Battery Products at CES

Powerocks LogoUSB power packs for charging smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous and companies are striving hard to find their niche in a market that’s full of products from both established names and up-and-coming specialists. Todd talks with Craig Miller from Powerocks about how they’re going to set themselves apart.

Powerocks has adopted a two pronged approach. In its established market for mobile devices, it’s taking USB battery packs and giving them a lifestyle makeover, in this case a leather covering, to make them more appealing to a wider audience and sold in mainstream stores.

Secondly, Powerocks is using its battery expertise to be build products that aren’t only smartphone chargers but still have a battery at the core. The Jump Starter vehicle emergency unit includes a 10,000 mAh battery, USB charging ports, an LED signal light, a torch, a distress alarm, a steel break-glass and a car jump-starter all in one unit. Seriously!

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by visiting casper.com/geeknews
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: cjcgncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today

Motorola Moto X (2014) Review

Motorola M LogoThe latest iteration of Motorola‘s Moto X has appeared on many end of year lists as the best of phone of 2014. Much as I dislike “best of” lists, I have to agree they’re probably right as the Moto X is an excellent phone. So much so, I’m tempted to simply say that the 2014 Moto X is “the 2013 Moto X – only better”. However, I guess I’d better be a little more rigorous. Let’s take a look.

Motorola Moto X 2014

I’ve spent a little around a month with the Moto X courtesy of Motorola and as an upgrade from my previous workhorse, the LG Nexus 4, it’s a significant jump which is emphasised by the coincidental arrival of Android 5. The Moto X arrived with KitKat out of the box, but upgraded to Lollipop within minutes.

Checking out the specs, it’s a 5.2″ 1920 x 1080 full HD AMOLED screen powered by a Qualcomm 2.5 MHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor supported by an Adreno 330 GPU. There’s 2 GB RAM and 16 GB of storage and a 2300 mAh battery keeps the Moto X going, with Motorola reckoning on around 24 hours use. It’s a GSM phone with 4G LTE on the 1, 3, 7, 8 and 20 bands. Dimensions are 72 x 141 x 9.9 mm (3.8 mm at the narrowest point) and weighs in at 144 g. Broadly, it’s faster, bigger and heavier than the previous generation.

Using Geekbench 3, the latest Moto X clocks in at 1001 single core and 2801 for multi-core with the previous generation Moto X scoring 666 / 1258. The bump in clock speed (1.75 to 2.5 GHz) and cores (2 to 4) are responsible for the big jump in multi-core performance.

Motorola Moto X PowerThe Moto X looks good, and this particular phone is nearly all black with the on/off and volume rocker in a dark grey metal. There are speaker highlights at the top and bottom of the phone too. Using MotoMaker there’s wide range of colour combinations for both the metal frame and the back of the phone, which also comes in a few different materials including leather. Nice.

Motorola Moto X BottomMoving round the phone, the right-hand side has the ribbed on/off button and similar volume rocker. There’s a micro-USB socket at the bottom and 3.5 mm audio jack at the top. I like the left-side clear so it’s easy to rest the phone on the edge and there’s no fiddling around for the volume controls. The back has the rear-facing camera with flash ring and there’s the signature dimple in the back which might have been a fingerprint scanner. Powering the phone up reveals two things….first the screen is even better than last time and second Motorola has still kept it near to stock Android. The full HD screen gives a high pixel density of 423 ppi and everything looks good. True to AMOLED displays, colours are strong and vibrant, though some people may find it oversaturated.

Returning to the user interface, anyone familiar with a Nexus device will be totally at home. It’s all fairly standard and what Motorola has done is to tweak some of the standard apps and include a few value-adding apps which you can use or not use, as you wish. They’re Moto X Motoall pretty good and several have been updated with new names and extra functionality. Both Help and Migrate are much as before and Connect now supports newer devices such as the Moto 360 smartwatch or Keylink tracker.

Moto has replaced the earlier Assist as a personal assistant-type app that sets up rules for when the phone needs to be quiet, based on driving, meetings or sleeping. The new version adds extra features to set up rules for reacting to motion, responding to voice and displaying notifications on the screen. Active Display is still cool – go up to the phone and notifications will fade into view. It’s one of the best Moto features by far. The new Moto X now has Attentive Display too which keeps the screen on when the owner is looking at the phone but turns it off to save power when the owner looks away. Neat.

Camera-wise, some other reviewers gripe that the 13 megapixel camera lets the phone down. I’m not so sure: while it’s not a necessarily a great camera, my photos seemed to me to be an improvement on those taken by the previous generation of smartphone camera. I was able to zoom in further without loss of detail and colour reproduction was good. Frankly, if you want great photos, use a DSLR.

To round off the review, here are a couple of family photos with the 2014 Moto X next to the original and a Nexus 4 snuck in the middle. The new one is bigger but it’s not crazy big like the Nexus 6 or the OnePlus One. I think it’s a good size.

 

Motorola Moto X and Nexus 4

Motorola Moto X and Nexus 4

Reiterating, the Moto X is an excellent phone which is competitively priced, starting at £419 here in the UK, though there are occasional offers that drop the price by good chunk. It feels great in the hand, has a lovely screen and sticks to stock Android while adding value through apps rather than eye candy. I’m seriously considering buying one for myself to replace the ageing Nexus 4, so consider that a recommendation.

Thanks again to Motorola for providing the Moto X for review.

Peri Duo Speaker Case for iPhone

Peri Logo

When it comes to smartphones and tablets, there are few mobile devices that produce anything like a decent volume and as for stereo separation, forget it. Fortunately Peri can come to the aid of iPhone owners with the Peri Duo, a high-power wireless speaker and phone charger case. Todd and Jamie find out more from Cedric Sumimoto, co-founder of Peri.

The Peri Duo is a standalone wi-fi and bluetooth-enabled speaker and iPhone charger case all in one. As expected, music can be streamed via AirPlay but the iPhone doesn’t have to be in the case when playing the music, so the Duo speaker can be on the opposite side of the room while the iPhone is safely in a pocket. Even better, more than one Duo can be connected to a phone so one Duo can be assigned as the left speaker and one as the right. Alternatively, one phone can multicast to dozens of Peri Duos, which really gets the party going.

The battery is 2500 mAh which will fully recharge an iPhone once with a bit over, or else the Duo will play music for around 4 hours.

The Peri Duo will be available for the iPhone 5, 5s, 6 and iPod Touch. The MSRP will be $139 though it’s currently on pre-order at $99 via Indigogo. Deliveries are expected from April onwards.

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

Become a GNC Insider Today!

Support our Show Sponsors:
Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by visiting casper.com/geeknews
30% off all New GoDaddy Product Orders cjcgnc30
$.99 .com New or Transfer cjcgnc99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: cjcgnc1hs
Website Builder, Free Domain, Outlook Email $1.00 Per Month Promo Code: cjcgncgot
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today