Category Archives: Interview

Azur Drones Spy in the Sky at CES 2018



Up to now, drones have been little more than toys and camera platforms, promising much but delivering little. Working with Directorate General for Civil Aviation, Azure DronesSkeyetech provides “100% autonomous and 24/7 operational drones” as a “security drone solution“. Antoine and Todd talk about the new security guard.

A market leader in France, Azur Drones has developed an airborne surveillance system for the remote monitoring of industrial properties. The system, called Skeyetech, is composed of a smart drone equipped with HD and thermal cameras, and a smart (weather) station which recharges the drones, monitors the weather and provides protection for the craft. Skeyetech drones can be programmed and undertake automated flights, before accurately landing on their docking stations to be recharged.

The docking stations aren’t just power outlets but relay instructions and information from the drones. Consequently, the drones can be controlled remotely making them capable of operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without any human intervention. It comes at a fraction of a cost of traditional video surveillance.

Technically, the drones can fly for 35 minutes before needing recharged for 30 minutes. Top speed is 50 mph and they’re waterproof to IP56. The drones can be configured to patrol premises on a regular basis, or respond to alerts generated by motion sensors.

This isn’t the kind of drone found on the shelves of Best Buy or Fry’s. Interested parties will need upwards of US$100,000.

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

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Marvel-lous Massage Chairs at CES 2018



There are massage chairs and then there are BodyFriend massage chairs. With these chairs, it’s not so much getting a gentle pummelling from a recliner as putting on Iron Man’s exoskeleton with Jarvis as your masseur. Todd gets a sensational experience with Roy.

The premium BodyFriend chairs provide full body massage including shoulders, arms, waist, legs and feet, with more than a dozen massage modes (depending on model) including brain concentration and digestive massage. The brain massage uses sound waves to soothe the grey matter. There’s built-in heating, stereo speakers and Bluetooth.

Most recently, BodyFriend has partnered with Lamborghini for a new chair which is expected to ship in spring 2018. Other BodyFriend chairs are on sale now in the US with prices from US$5000 to $9000.

BodyFriend have partnered with Marvel for themed hugchairs including Spiderman and Captain America. Priced at US$1580, these are aimed at children and grown-up kids while providing a massage experience in a smaller, friendlier chair.

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

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Clazio Spark Shows Off at CES 2018



The Amazon Echo Show might be getting all the headlines, but it’s not the only show in town. Here we have the Clazio Spark, the most powerful smart speaker on the market – it’s a mini-media centre with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Todd and Dake discuss getting the right colour for the rear of the device.

Previously known as Clarity, the Clazio Spark is an all-in-one smart speaker that combines a 7″ Android Nougat tablet with a professionally developed speaker and both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice services. The HD screen (1920 x 1200) is set into a retro-modern design and when combined with a 4K HDMI out, creates a lovely media centre that can play music, show films, make video calls. If you can do it with an Android tablet, you can do it on the Spark with the additional benefit of Alexa.

The Spark isn’t tied to a power cable as the 4,800 mAh battery gives around 5 hours of music and about half that for video. There’s a 5 MP front facing camera for video calls and a microSD card slot for more storage. Is there anything the Spark can’t do?

After successfully crowdfunding on Indiegogo in early 2017, the Spark is preparing to go into retail with an expected price of US$269. You can still contribute to the Indiegogo campaign with “pre-orders” to get some good deals but the usual caveats regarding crowdfunding apply.

I’m with Todd on the colour.

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Get the Whole Screen for Multiplayer Gaming with MirraViz at CES 2018



Having friends round to your house for multiplayer games is always fun, but the more there are, the smaller each player’s screen becomes as they share part of the TV. Split even a big screen into quarters and the immersive effect is lost. But what if all the players had the same large screen? MirraViz have got it covered.

The MirraViz projection screens are highly reflective but brightly reflect the light back in a tight cone, rather than scattering the light widely as a nomal white screen would do. When used with a video projector, this means that only someone sitting close to the projector sees the image. Think of the screen like a reflective street sign in the distance lit up by headlights: only the driver and passengers see the bright reflection from the sign.

As light beams don’t interfere with each other, the screen can reflect light back from multiple sources without distortion, so several projectors can be used with one screen. As a result, each player sees only their gameplay…..but on the full sized screen. Whoa!
It’s kind of hard to imagine, but think of walking round in front of the screen. Only one gaming screen is seen at a time but as you walk round the screen changes between players. Don’t worry, it takes Don a little time to get his head round it too.

The screens are entirely passive – there’s no electronics – and the video projectors don’t have to be massively powerful because the reflectivity is so good. Personal or pico projects with less than a thousand lumens are fine.

MirraViz sells combinations of hardware and screens for home entertainment or gaming setups, and they sell the screens on their own too. A 52″ screen costs US$699, 75″ is $899 and 94″ is $1299. Available now.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and gives lectures at TheGadgetProfessor.com.

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Manage Diabetes with DiabiLive App at CES 2018



Diabetes is a disease that affects increasing numbers of people in developed countries where obesity, lack of exercise and genetics are causing epidemic levels of the condition. Simplistically, the pancreas becomes unable to manage blood sugar levels as it (usually) can’t to produce the right amount of insulin. Don and Nicholas discuss the problems facing diabetics and how DiabiLive‘s new app can help manage the disease.

Winner of a CES Innovation Award, DiabiLive have a developed a smartphone app which calculates the correct amount of insulin to inject based on three parameters (physical activity, diet, sugar level). In addition, the app plans ahead based on past history to warn of possible low sugar levels.

The app’s algorithms are based on medical science and protocols: the app is awaiting FDA approval, hopefully within 2018.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and gives lectures at TheGadgetProfessor.com.

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Track the Supply Chain with YesItIs at CES 2018



Tracking environmental conditions is important for many industries, particularly food & drink and pharmaceuticals. Often products have to be kept below a certain temperature and any deviation above this means that the product has to be disposed of. French firm Yes It Is is working hard to provide a continuous unbroken record of the environment surrounding the goods. Sandra shows Allante the prototype of their sensor tag module.

Traditionally the recording of environmental conditions is done by equipment installed in the building or the refrigerator. To match the data to a particular product means that the time in and out needs to be recorded so that relevant periods can be checked. Wouldn’t it be better if the sensor was small enough and battery powered so that it could be packaged in with the product? There would then be a complete and unbroken record of the environmental conditions from production to use.

Yes It Is are working hard on this problem and are developing tags that have a year’s worth of battery life, record the environmental data and can be scanned by a smartphone to retrieve the data. The plan is to have the tag small enough to fit in a label within a year!

Allante Sparks is a video producer at PLuGHiTz Live Special Events.

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Get Cooking with a Cauldryn at CES 2018



Stainless steel insulated water bottles are commonplace today and have largely taken over from the glass vacuum flasks – the latter are just too delicate, especially for camping and hillwalking. And while the steel bottles are good are keeping stuff warm, the liquid has to be hot in the first place….or does it? Cauldryn Fyre bottles have a built-in heating element which not only keeps liquids warm, it can actually boil water. Colten and Joe have a quick Americano.

The Cauldryn Fyre water bottles feature a modular design, offering a 16-ounce, stainless steel, vacuum insulated bottle with the revolutionary Fyre heating element. The standard Cauldryn Fire is powered from AC but the Fyre Mobile features a rechargeable battery to heat the liquid and keep it hot all day. The mobile base has a couple of USB charging sockets too. There’s a DC base available for heating from 12V / 24V.

The Cauldryn Fire system is modular. Want a smoothie? There’s a blender attachment. Need a light? Snap in the rechargeable battery. It’s even got integration with Ok Google. Seriously, I want one of these.

The Cauldryn Fire is shipping now. The standard Fyre is US$69.99, Fyre Mobile is $129.99 and additional battery units are $69.99. DC base $9.99.

Colten Clymer is one of the team at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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Fibaro Doubles Up With HomeKit at CES 2018



Fibaro are one of the bigger names in smart homes with a wide range of products from simple light switches to complex controllers. Originally based around Z-wave, their accessories now work with Apple HomeKit, and integrate with other systems like Philips Hue. Allante and Rich take a quick spin through some of Fibaro’s new products.

First up is a smart power plug with a USB charging port and a coloured LED which changes colour according to the amount of power being drawn through the socket. Although the colour-changing is fun, the measured power can be used within a smart home to initiate other actions or send a warning. Should the iron have been on for a hour?

Next is the big The Button which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a big red button, though it does come in seven different colour. Press it and stuff happens. What happens is configurable by the user – turn on the lights, sound an alarm, play music.

All the products are on sale now, priced between US$49 and $59.

Allante Sparks is a video producer at PLuGHiTz Live Special Events.

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Know Your Ionising Radiation with Icohup Rium at CES 2018



Geiger counters are great for detecting and measuring ionising radiation but their biggest flaw is that they can’t discriminate between the different types of radiation; alpha, beta or gamma. Icohup‘s Rium detector addresses this with a compact and stylishly wooden unit. Allante and Billy discuss the benefits of radiation detectors without mentioning a single nuclear disaster.

Winner of a CES Innovation award, Icohup’s Rium uses scintillation spectrometry technology to not only detect levels of ionising radiation but also the type. This means that the Rium can determine if the radioactivity is natural or industrial, or if it’s a Cobalt, Uranium or Cesium source. The Rium unit is about the size of a packet of biscuits and is tastefully made of wood. Not sure if there’s a scientific reason for this, though it looks good anyway, and the small size means that it can be carried by a drone to record radioactivity in potentially hazardous areas.

Data is collected and displayed by a nearby smartphone and with geotagging of the radiation information, maps can be built easily to show radiation hotspots. The data can be transferred either by Bluetooth or by USB.

The Rium will be available shortly from Icohup for €399 (about US$500).

Allante Sparks is a video producer at PLuGHiTz Live Special Events.

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Get the Perfect Pint with HOPii Personal Brewery at CES 2018



The popularity of craft beer has ensured a steady stream of smart gadgetry that helps ferment and brew the perfect pint. Here we have the HOPii personal microbrewery which successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter in the autumn raising US$380,000. Allante drinks it in with Jong, CEO of HOPii.

The HOPii advertises itself as a one touch brewery – put the ingredient pods into HOPii device and press START. HOPii does the rest and brews the craft beer for you at its perfection. The HOPii beer pack contains all the ingredients needed – a three-litre bottle of wort, some dry hops and other flavors plus a pack of yeast. The pre-prepared wort gives the HOPii a bit of a headstart, as it were, and the smart features of the HOPii control the internal environment to develop the best beer.

If you want to do your own thing, HOPii has a special “Brewer’s Mode” so you can ferment your own personal craft beer with your specific ingredients. You can put in your own custom recipe into HOPii and ferment your own wort, dry hop, flavours and once ready, set it to the beer’s best drinking temperature or your personal preference.

Although the Kickstarter has finished, it’s now “InDemand” over at Indiegogo for US$399 and delivery in June 2018. Cheers!

Allante Sparks is a video producer at PLuGHiTz Live Special Events.

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