Category Archives: Transportation

Xiaomi Ecosystem Updates for the UK



Xiaomi launched in the UK back in November 2018 and has made considerable progress in brand recognition and product availability – I know a couple of people who have bough Mi phones or Smart Bands and say good things. Certainly there’s probably an element of benefitting from Huawei’s misfortune but I think that does a disservice to Xiaomi’s products which go from personal gadgets and personal transport to smart homes and smart phones.

Xiaomi continues to move forwards and recently revealed its plans for UK partnerships for electric scooters and smart phones, plus the availability of the latest Mi Smart Band 5. Checking out these scooters, I definitely need to get one of these in for review…

Motoring and cycling specialists Halfords will be stocking Xiaomi’s new scooters. At the top of the range is the Mi Electric Scooter Pro 2 at GB£599. This e-scooter has a range of 45 km and can reach speeds of 25 km/h (15.5 mph) with a 300 W motor, and folds up for easy storage. It’s available now from Halfords.

Also available is the Mi Electric Scooter 1S, a cheaper variant of the Pro 2 at £499, but still coming with a range of 25 km and a top speed of the 25 km/h (15.5 mph) from the 250 W motor. Both the 1S and the Pro 2 have double brakes for safety.

At the bottom of the range is the Mi Electric Scooter Essential at £399 which can cover a distance of 20 km at a speed of 20 km/h. This scooter comes with 8.5″ pneumatic tyres, E-ABS and disc brakes and will be available soon.

Please remember that currently electric scooters can only be ridden legally on private land. UK Government trials are underway using commercial rental scooters. For a bit of fun, check out this race between a Xiaomi scooter and a jet-pack. Really…a jet pack

On the phone side, Xiaomi has partnered with 3 UK to offer the Mi 10 5G and Redmi Note 9 smartphones from 28th August. These are phones at opposite ends of the handset market. The Mi 10 comes with 6.67″ 90 Hz screen with a Snapdragon 865 CPU, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB storage, 5G and a quad camera setup with a 108 MP main shooter. Photos are analysed and improved using AI to get the best possible image. Priced at £799, it’s not cheap but there’s plenty of value in the Mi 10. On contract, 3 are offering a number of deals, including some with six months half-price.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Redmi Note 9 is only £149 with a 6.53″ FHD+ screen powered by a Mediatek Helio G85. There’s an AI supported quad camera round the back, with a 48 MP primary lens, and comes with 3 GB RAM and 64 GB of storage. Again, 3 have offers on the phone if buying the phone outright isn’t your thing

Finally, the Mi Smart Band 5 has a large 1.1″ AMOLED colour display, tracks 11 different sport types and is water-resistant to 50m, which means it’s perfect for swimming. With a two week battery life and magnetic coupling, it can spend more time on the wrist and less time on the charger. Priced at only £39.95 it seems like a complete bargain!

If you want to see more on all these products, the UK launch video is on Twitter.


China’s ‘Straddling Bus’ is Stranger Than Fiction



TEB graphicFrom an American perspective, China can look like a very strange place. While the Asian country has absorbed many Western traits into its culture, China is still different in many ways. I experienced this recently when I came across news of a new public transit vehicle being tested in China. The vehicle’s technically known as the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) and it’s colloquially referred to as the “Straddling Bus,” due to the way it straddles the roads it moves over.

The TEB looks like a quasi-futuristic people mover that actually travels above the road on elevated walls that glide along a predefined track. In reality, the “Straddling Bus” isn’t really a bus at all. It’s more like a train. Whatever you call it, busses and trains aren’t likely to elicit that much excitement in 2016. But the TEB’s appeal comes from the way it moves over traffic, allowing cars to pass underneath. In the right setting, a TEB could be an extremely practical public transit solution, requiring less space (and in turn expense) than subways or elevated railways.

The company that designed and built the first TEB prototype actually took the vehicle out for a short test drive on a public street in Qinhuangdao. The event was attended by a decent-sized crowd, some of whom even got to ride aboard the vehicle.

But over the next few days, reports began to surface that the TEB and the company behind it were nothing more than a scam:

…Several state media outlets have published articles alleging that the company in charge of developing the TEB crowdfunded their project illegally and misled investors.
Despite the hype surrounding the trial run, both domestic and abroad, it seems that the company may have blown the occassion out of proportion. Not only was the test run just 300 meters long and completely failed to mimic real-life traffic conditions, but authorities in Qinhuangdao city also were not aware of it even happening, People’s Daily reports. The firm later verified that it wasn’t a “road test,” but simply part of “internal testing.”

It looks like the Straddling Bus has gone as quickly as it arrived. Perhaps another enterprising transit company will pick up where the first TEB left off. Anything’s possible in China.

 


Stebles Carbon-Fibre Bike at Gadget Show Live



Stebles LogoContinuing GNC’s coverage of the British Inventors’ Project at Gadget Show Live, I met Mark of Stebles Bikes and his interesting road bicycle with carbon-fibre mudguards integrated into the bike frame. Mark tells me more about his new design and the problem it’s trying to solve.

As an enthusiastic cyclist himself, the thinking behind Mark’s idea was “more riding, less cleaning”. Often keen riders have two bikes, one with mudguards for rainy days and one without for better weather. Obviously it’s expensive to have two good bikes, so why not have one bike with streamlined, lightweight mudguards?

Stebles Bike

Mark used 3D printing to create the initial prototypes and the next stage is to produce the necessary aluminium molds for the frame parts. It’s an expensive business so Mark has a GoFundMe campaign if you want to support him and get the project to the next stage.

Looking to the future, a British-made version of the bike is likely to cost around GB£5,000 but Mark aims to get this cost down to make the bike affordable to wider range of riders.


BikeDeck Stores and Transports Bicycles for Modern Living at Gadget Show Live



BikeDeck LogoToday’s apartments and smaller houses aren’t always conducive to bicycle ownership. Bikes don’t stay upright, handlebars mark walls and transporting them can be awkward. They’re all wheels and finger-nips. Mark and Julie’s BikeDeck looks to solve these problems and I chat with him as part of the British Inventors’ Project at Gadget Show Live.

The BikeDeck is a free-standing bicycle storage and transport platform. It holds the bike in a upright, free-standing position or the BikeDeck can be hung on a wall (from a suitably strong hook). BikeDeck keeps the bike ready for transport as it can be wheeled it along like a trolley suitcase or lifted easily into a car.

It works with any bike which has quick release wheels, and with practice, an owner can get the bike onto the BikeDeck in around a minute. Almost any frame size can be accommodated as the BikeDeck’s sliding system adjusts to length.

BikeDeck

Currently in the prototype stage, BikeDeck is looking for partners to bring the product to the market.


British Inventors Project Awards at Gadget Show Live



British Inventors ProjectOne of the best bits of Gadget Show Live is the support for the British Inventors’ Project. Designed to showcase the best of British invention and innovation, the Project sets aside part of the GSL for the inventors to demonstrate their products. It’s always interesting to see what’s on show, with some inventions little more than sketches on the back of an envelope, to final products looking for trade buyers and distributors.

British Invention of the Year 2016There’s an award for the British Invention of the Year and last year the winner was the OmniO Rider, a backpack buggy. You can here my interview from last year’s show here and it was good see that this invention has gone on to full production.

In 2016, the British Invention of the Year award went to eFOLDi, an electric scooter that folds up into both a chair and a suitcase. The pictures show it both folded and unfolded, and the eFOLDi easily morphs between wheeled vehicle and suitcase. If you are interested, the eFOLDi is pre-ordering on Kickstarter for GB£699 (while pledge levels remain). The videos on Kickstarter show more detail on folding and unfolding the scooter. The project is a short of its £90,000 goal with a little over a third raised and 25 days to go. Good luck.

Regrettably, I didn’t get to interview the eFOLDi team, but I was able to record the award ceremony, which was hosted by Hosted by David McClelland and Jason Bradbury. The audio isn’t great – I was standing at the back!

eFOLDi

Over the next few posts, I’ll be covering the great inventions of the British Inventors’ Project 2016. There’s some fantastic stuff to come.


Cobra Dash Cams and Detectors at CES



Cobra LogoCobra Electronics are well-known for their radar detectors and other automotive products. Here at CES, Cobra won the TWICE Picks Award for one of its flagship units, the CDR 855 BT Drive HD dash cam, so Todd Aune finds out more about the latest devices from Mark Karnes, VP of Marketing at Cobra.

On the table are two relatively new devices from Cobra, the CDR 855BT dash cam and the world’s smallest DSP radar detector, the DSP 9200 BT. Starting with the dash cam, it’s a connected device, pairing via Bluetooth with a smartphone to acquire GPS co-ordinates which are then sync’d with the video footage. On top of this, the dash cam can work with Cobra’s iRadar app on the smartphone to know the location of cameras and provide alerts to the driver. The app is shared with the radar detector, so as the detector finds cameras, these can be reported back to the app and then up to the cloud to keep the camera database up-to-date for everyone through the iRadar Community. That’s pretty neat.

Not to be outdone, the radar detector was a CTA Honoree Award for an Intelligent Vehicle Device. The trick in this radar detector is to use digital signal processing to tell the difference between signals from the new collision avoidance systems and law enforcement speed guns. A range of radar and laser signals are presented to the driver as detected, with both visual and audio warnings, and the unit also benefits from alerts provided from the iRadar app on a connected smartphone.

Both devices are on sale now for US$349 for the radar detection and US$149 for the dash cam.

Todd Aune bridges the technology gap with the The Elder Divide.

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Hudway Glass at CES 2016



maxresdefaultIt can be tempting to glance at your cell phone or check the time while driving, but we all know it’s critical to keep your eyes on the road. Hudway aims to solve this problem with the Hudway Glass.

The Hudway Glass is a new driving accessory that turns your smartphone into an unobstructive display that lets you view real-time direchudway_logo_45124tions, road curvature, speed, and other important information without taking your eyes off the road. The Hudway Glass attaches to the dashboard of your car using one of two mounting options– a compact 5mm mount for everyday usage or a 30-degree tilting mount.

The multi-layered glass display is specially designed to prevent glare, image doubling, or poor image size or quality, so you’ll be able to clearly view the information without any dangerous distractions.

The Hudway Glass costs $49 and is available for preorder now here. Be sure to visit the Hudway folks at CES in Hall G, booth 80752 at the Eureka Park Marketplace.