Category: Smartwatches and other wearables

Mixing audio and Bluetooth Low Energy–what is happening

Article

Sony SBH-52 Bluetooth Headphone Audio Adaptor

Audio over Bluetooth Low Energy could make these devices last for a long time on a single battery charge

Apple Used Bluetooth Low Energy Audio for Cochlear Implant iPhone Accessory | MacRumors

My Comments

Any of you who have used Bluetooth headsets with your smartphones may have come across situations where the headset ceases to function or sounds the “low battery” signal when you use these devices a lot. This can happen more so if you are listening to music then make or take a long phone call using the headset and is something I had experienced many times with the Sony SBH-52 audio adaptor. But the audio protocol is being worked on to avoiding consuming too much battery runtime.

Plantronics BackBeat Pro Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones

.. as it could with Bluetooth headsets

Apple and Cochlear, who are behind the Australian-invented Cochlear Implant hearing-assistance technology, have developed Bluetooth Low Energy Audio to provide a high-quality audio link between mobile devices and headsets but make very little demands on the battery. As well, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group are working on a similar protocol to achieve these same gains, with the goal to have it part of Bluetooth 5.0. But this has to be supported in a vendor-independent manner in the same context as the current Bluetooth audio technologies that are in circulation.

But why is there an imperative to develop a low-energy audio profile for Bluetooth?

One key usage class is to integrate Bluetooth audio functionality in to hearing aids and similar hearing-assistance devices that are expected to run for a very long time. Here, we are also talking about very small intra-aural devices that may sit in or on your ear or be integrated in a set of eyeglasses. The goal is to allow not just for audio access to your smartphone during calls or multimedia activity but even to have an audio pathway from the phone’s microphone to the hearing-assistance device as well as the phone being a control surface for that device.

Similarly, there is a usage goal to improve battery runtime for Bluetooth headsets and audio adaptors such as to avoid the situation I have described above. It can also cater towards improved intra-aural Bluetooth headset designs or lightweight designs that can, again, run for a long time.

Let’s not forget the fact that smartwatches are being given audio abilities, typically to allow for use with a voice-activated personal assistant. But devices of this ilk could be set up to serve full time as a Bluetooth headphone audio adaptor with the full hands-free operation. The expectation here as well could even be to have the display on the wearable active while in use, whether to show the time, steps taken or metadata about the call in progress or whatever you are listening to.

Once audio over Bluetooth Low Energy technology is standardised, it could be a major improvement path for Bluetooth-based audio applications.

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A call-for-help program has been developed for Microsoft Band

Article

Microsoft Band App Provides Discreet Reporting For Domestic Violence  | SuperSite For Windows

Previous coverage on this topic

Doncare has launched a mobile-phone app to help people in domestic-violence situations

From the horse’s mouth

Band Aid

Home Page

My Comments

Previously, I had given some space to an iOS mobile-platform app written in conjunction with Doncare Community Services in Doncaster to provide domestic-violence survivors access to the necessary information. This app provide the one-stop information shop functionality but could be quickly deleted from a mobile device if the user is in danger of ending up in trouble for seeking help, which can happen in an abusive relationship.

For those of you who are based in the UK, this has recently become a cause celebre thanks to it being woven in to BBC’s “The Archers” radio serial which highlighted an abusive relationship that was taking place in to one of its storylines.

But another project has been finished where a wearable is used as a tool for summoning help in these situations.  This is in the form of “Band Aid” which is an app that works with the Microsoft Band to detect when the wearer is under undue stress and invite them to have the paired smartphone call the national emergency-services number or a user-determined help number like a trusted friend or domestic-violence helpline. The user can override the software to bypass stress-sensing during exercise or similar situations.

There is further development taking place with this software such as working alongside support and refuge centres for domestic and relationship violence sufferers. There is also some work taking place with “social listening” and machine-learning to identify the behaviour of one who is under threat.

The “Band Aid” project has been developed as part of the “HackForHer” hackathon which is a programming challenge for software solutions that can help and enable women. Here, these kind of hackathons can flesh out ways that technology can help particular user groups in particular situations.

Personally, I would like to see this program be “taken further” to facilitate help in other situations like independent ageing (fall detection), living with chronic illnesses with a high fall risk like diabetes or epilepsy, or living with mental illnesses. The sensors in wearables like the Microsoft Band, the Apple Watch and the Android Wear smartwatches are able to monitor body signs along with the wearable’s gyroscope sensor being able to detect falls and similar situations while machine learning that is part of the software can identify what is normal compared to what is abnormal.

Here, it could detect if one is about to have a diabetic coma or epileptic seizure, or needs help because they as an old person fell. Having this kind of software work with the “Internet Of Everything” can work well for identifying risk-taking behaviour such as a person who is living alone not entering the kitchen to feed themselves or making sure that a person has taken medicines that they have to take.

What is happening is that it is the first time devices in the platform wearables or Internet-Of-Things class, along with the concept of machine learning, are being exploited as a personal-welfare device rather than as a wellness or “keep-fit” device. Here, this avoids the need to wear extra clutter to achieve a goal of ideal personal safety or health.

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TAG Heuer’s Android smartwatch proves itself

Article

TAG Heuer’s Android smartwatch is (relatively) popular | Engadget

My Comments

TAG Heuer have launched their Connected Android Wear smartwatch and have seen their efforts in designing and promoting it pay off.

This is in the face of the Apple Watch which is seen as being part of the Apple brand which has a similar “status symbol” appearance to the likes of Nike footwear; and in the face of LG’s Watch Urbane which is LG’s dress-watch effort. Rather, the TAG Heuer will keep itself in the premium “Rolls Royce” or “Lamborghini” end of the market while premium watches offered by Apple, LG and others will keep themselves with the popular “BMW” or “Audi” end of the market.

There were some Initial doubts whether a luxury smartwatch, especially one based on the Android Wear platform would become successful . But TAG Heuer have ramped up the production of their Connected smartwatches from 1200 timepieces per week to 2000.  They also intend to run the Connected Android Wear smartwatch as the basis of a series of smartwatches that have different varieties, materials and finishes.

What I see of this is TAG Heuer achieving the combination of a true smartwatch running a common smartwatch platform emanating from one of the names associated with Swiss luxury dress watches. This is compared to some other attempts in the traditional luxury-watch sector to have a “connected watch” which is a traditional watch with a baseline remote-indication ability for your smartphone.

Time to impress her at that fancy restaurant or impress them in that C-suite upstairs!

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Internationaler Funkaustellung 2015–Part 2–Wearables and the Home Network

IFA LogoPreviously, in Part 1 of my series about the Internationaler Funkaustellung 2015 in Berlin, I had covered the trends affecting regular computers, tablets and smartphones especially with Intel just releasing the Skylake processor silicon which yields better performance for the same amount of power used. This has caused manufacturers to effectively refresh their desktop and portable computer lineups. As well, nearly every computer manufacturer is offering a lineup of desktop or portable computers that shine on gaming-grade performance to appeal to the core gamer and e-sports communities.

Wearables

ASUS ZenWatch 2 press picture courtesy of ASUS

ASUS ZenWatch 2

The smartwatch scene is slowly maturing with manufacturers offering more of these watches in their product lineups. The key trends here are about smartwatches that are designed to “look right” for the user and occasion. Here, we are seeing premium smartwatches that would look the part if you are to “dress to impress” on that date or in the corporate boardroom, but there are a few sports smartwatches with the rugged look along with a few “ladies’ watches” that look the part on her wrist.

Samsung had just launched the latest Tizen-based Gear S2 which has a traditional-looking round face and they have co-opted Alessandro Mendini, a well known Italian designer, to design accessory bands and watch faces for this watch.

ASUS has come along with the Zenwatch 2 Android Wear which uses an OLED display and Gorilla Glass protection and comes in 2 different sizes. It even has an add-on battery pack for if you want to get that more runtime out of the watch. Fossil has come up with another Android Wear watch as part of their range.

 

Moto 360 ladies smartwatches press picture courtesy of Lenovo

Motorola 360 smartwatches for her

Motorola have built out their Moto 360 range of Android Wear smartwatches with the Moto 360 Sport which is their smartwatch equivalent of the sports watch along with a slender “ladies’ watch” variant that will look good on her wrist. There are different finishes available such as a rose-gold look, a gold look, a silver look and a black-metal look with these watches up for preorder. This is also accompanied with a 1” TV commercial which they used to promote this watch.

LG Watch Urbane Luxe press picture courtesy of LG

LG Watch Urbane Luxe – fit for the boardroom

LG have also brought out the LG Watch Urbane Luxe which is a more premium variant of the LG Watch Urbane. This comes with an OLEP flexible display that works like the OLED displays and has a 24-carat gold finish. Huawei’s Android Wear watch can be had gold plated for US$800, gold with a leather band for US$649, black metal for US$449 and a stainless steel look for US$349.

The home network

The main trend affecting the home network is the availability of 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless-network technology which implements the MU-MIMO multi-path technology. This has led to some very powerful routers hitting the European market lately which have four MIMO streams and support the “multi-user” feature that effectively creates a Wi-Fi “switch” out of the access point.

ASUS RT-AC5300 router press picture courtesy of ASUS

ASUS RT-AC5300 router

ASUS has launched the RT-AC5300  which is considered the world’s fastest Wi-Fi router. This router, which uses spike-shaped antennas can run 1Gbps over the 2.4GHz band and 2.167Gbps over the 5GHz bands.

NETGEAR also fielded the 7800 Nighthawk X4S which is the first modem router to offer this kind of performance. This modem router has a DSL modem on the WAN (Internet) side that can work with ADSL2 or VDSL2 (fibre-copper) networks alongside a Gigabit Ethernet connection for fibre-to-the-premises, fibre-coaxial or Ethernet-based fibre-copper networks; and has on the LAN side, Wi-Fi capable to AC2600 4×4 MU-MIMO dual-band standards along with 4 Gigabit Ethernet connections. It is available in Europe and Australia for a recommended price of AUD$529, EUR€299 or GBP£269. The American press were moaning that they didn’t get this modem router first but they work on a service provisioning method very different to Europe and Australasia where self-install or BYO-modem provisioning of DSL based services is the norm.

D-Link have fielded some home-network hardware in the form of the DIR-885L router which supports 4×4 MU-MIMO AC3150 for its Wi-Fi functionality. They even fielded a USB Wi-Fi network adaptor which can allow any computer to work with an 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless network. This device’s best-case abilities is to work with Wi-Fi network segments up to 3×3 MIMO AC1900 standards.

AVM Fritz!Box 6820 LTE "Mi-Fi" press picture courtesy of AVM

AVM Fritz!Box 6820 LTE “Mi-Fi”

AVM has been very productive with its home-network hardware although this has been very much “in the comfort zone” with existing technology. They have launched the Fritz!Box 4020 which is a small Internet gateway with an N300 dual-stream single-band Wi-Fi access point along with the Fritz!Box 7430 VDSL Internet gateway that has an N450 three-stream single-band Wi-Fi access point. They also launched the Fritz!Box 6820 which is a “Mi-Fi” that can work with LTE mobile-broadband services and implements 802.11n Wi-Fi and a Gigabit Ethernet connection on the LAN side.

AVM Fritz!Powerline 1220 HomePlug AV2 adaptor press photo courtesy of AVM

AVM Fritz!Powerline 1220 – AVM enters the HomePlug AV2 fray

They have bought in to the HomePlug AV2 MIMO arena by offering the Fritz!Powerline 1240E HomePlug wireless access point along with the Fritz!Powerline 1220E HomePlug adaptor with pass-through AC outlet. This is in conjunction with the Fritz!WLANRepeater 1160 which is a dual-band Wi-Fi repeater.

Devolo haven’t been quiet lately. Here, they are pitching custoem HomePlug-based powerline solutions including HomePlug access points to ISPs and telcos so they can provision these devices to customers for optimum Wi-Fi coverage. They intend to sell these solutions more likely on an OEM basis. As well, they have launched the dLAN 550 WiFi which is a HomePlug AV500 wireless access point that can establish a single-band N300 Wi-Fi segment. They also used this show to exhibit their existing dLAN 1200 HomePlug AV2 hardware including the dLAN 1200+ WiFi AC which is a wireless access point that answers to the HomePlug AV2 MIMO and 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi.

Next I will be talking about the home-entertainment trends that are expected to cover Europe and Australasia such as the ultra-high-resolution TV and networked audio. Stay tuned!

Part 1 – Personal Computing Trends

Part 2 – Wearables and the Home Network

Part 3 – Home Entertainment

Part 4 – Home Automation and the Internet Of Things

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The connected wearable concept now embraces personal safety

Article

Can Wearable Tech Combat Sexual Assault? | FastCompany

From the horse’s mouth

Roar

Product Page

Video

Safelet

Product Page

Video

My Comments

The concept of connected wearables has primarily focused either on smartwatches that serve as an auxiliary control surface for your smartphone or fitness bands of the Jawbone or Fitbit ilk that measure how you are performing on your workout.

Now three companies have focused on personal safety as an application for the connected wearable. This is in the form of personal alarm or “panic-button” devices that interlink with your smartphone.

They are not your garden-variety attack alarm which was typically a white box which had a built-in battery-operated alarm with a loud piezo sounder that you activated by pressing a button or pulling a cord. Rather they communicate by Bluetooth with a special app on your iOS or Android smartphone to contact a predefined list of contacts if you press a panic button on the wearable. This is in addition to the ROAR Athena having their own alarm and flashing light.

These devices place emphasis on elegant style that underscores the value women place on aesthetics and designed to be pieces of jewellery that they can wear. The Safelet is styled to look like a silver bracelet while the ROAR Athena is styled like an attractive brooch that can be attached to one’s clothing.

The ROAR Athena also works with a Web-based intelligence database about those areas that are safe and those that aren’t. Here, people can identify and report areas that are potential troublespots as far as personal safety is concerned like streets that are poorly lit or known troublemaker hangouts.

It’s early days yet but I would like to see these device able to integrate with related applications like workplace personal-safety systems or home security so that they can “map” to these systems when one is in their scope.

What I see of this is the concept of wearable technology and platform-based computing encouraging innovation for the common good.

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Smooth looks arriving for personal electronics

Article

LG G4: hands on with the new leather-clad smartphone

LG Promotional Video

My Comments

Time to play some smooth-sounding yacht rock! Personal electronics devices are coming on the market that show a style that doesn’t look out of place in that hotel room at Intercontinental Melbourne The Rialto or in that nice BMW or luxury yacht.

How is this coming about? Here, manufacturers are paying attention to how a device looks in order to make that premium device stand out. For example, Harman-Kardon had released the Esquire range of Bluetooth speakers that are finished with the leather trim on a beautiful metal finish.

Then Apple launched their Apple Watch which conveys the look of their personal-computing products and has the Edition premium variant that has that look of luxury with even a model in that variant having a gold finish. LG came up with their Watch Urbane which is the latest in a run of smartwatches offered by different vendors that have the look of a dress watch that you could wear when you want to dress to impress. This has been brought on by Swiss watchmakers like TAG Heuer considering connected watches as part of their luxury watch product lines.

Now LG has raised the bar for how a smartphone looks with their G4 Smartphone that has a lot of attention paid to its looks. One feature that has been added for some variants to have leather trim on the back of the device. Along with this, there is a carbon-fibre look on the front as part of maintaining that luscious look. Previously, one would look around for accessory cases that make a phone have that desireable look. Now this is an effort to make these devices special.

Who knows what will come about for other big-name smartphones, tablets and notebooks that will make them look the part in that C-suite office or premium hotel room. As well, it will be a chance for manufacturers to make sure that these personal-electronics products aren’t just drab and ordinary but are highly special.

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Android Wear gains more functionality

Articles

Samsung Gear Live Black Android Wear smartwatch press image courtesy of Samsung

The next iteration of Android Wear adds Wi-Fi to the smartwatch platform

Android Wear gains Wi-Fi, wrist gestures, and always-on apps | SmarterWatching

Android Wear getting big update with Wi-Fi, always-on apps, and more  | Android Authority

From the horse’s mouth

Google Android

Android Wear: wear what you want, get what you need  (Blog Post)

My Comments

A new version of the Google Android Wear wearables pllatform is being rolled out in the coming weeks which will acquire some major functionality improvements. There is talk of having this version rolled out in the coming weeks for most Android Wear devices and an increased likelihood of it appearing in newer watches.

One will be the ability to support an always-on screen with always-on apps like a traditional watch. Here, the apps can show a high-contrast power-efficient display rather than going blank when the the smartwatch isn’t being interacted with so you are able to glance at them for data.

This also ties in with different ways to gain access to other information on your Android Wear smartwatch. Firstly, you can flick your wrist to switch between cards on the display rather than brushing the watch’s face to change app cards. Similarly you can touch the screen in certain ways to show the apps you have or your contacts on your smartwatch.

As we become more addicted to using emoticons and emoji, we can hand-draw the emoticons on the watch face to show up the ones we want in our messages.

But, as far as connectivity is concerned, the new version of Android Wear has support for Wi-FI wireless networking. This is implemented in a way where you don’t even need to have your phone or smartwatch on the same logical network as each other and you can even gain access to your somartphone from your watch even if it is on a mobile-broadband connection. This could encourage smartwatch manufacturers and silicon designers to design Wi-Fi chipsets that consume very little battery power in order to obtain this functionality.

The question I have about this feature is how it will cope with public-access wireless hotspots especially where most will implement the Web-based authentication and provisioning process. Personally, I would like to see “out-of-box” support for Wi-Fi Passpoint technology with this new version of Android Wear to facilitate seamless authentication on suitable networks.

Personally, I see the new version of Android Wear as a sign that Google is putting faith in the idea of integrating Wi-Fi in to smartwatches and other wearables along with simplifying the operation of these devices.

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TAG Heuer announces an Android Wear dress smartwatch

Articles

TAG Heuer and Intel announce Swiss Smartwatch for 2015 | Smarterwatching

Watch Out Apple Watch, There’s a Swiss-Made Android Wear Watch Coming | Gizmodo

From the horse’s mouth

Intel

Press Release

TAG Heuer

Press Release

Video Press Announcement

My Comments

Most smartwatches that were being released were pitched as “everyday wear” watches or sports watches which were something you wouldn’t really choose to wear if your goal was to impress someone special. That is unless they were someone who was impressed by the concept of the smartwatch and what it can do.

But when Apple put forward their Apple Watch, they put forward a few premium models that would go alongside or replace that Rolex Presidential as a status-symbol dress watch. Here, they set the cat amongst the pigeons when it came to providing a smartwatch of the calibre that you would wear in the Member’s Stand at Flemington during the Spring Racing Carnival (Melbourne Cup) or you, as the father of the bride, would have on your wrist as you walk the bride down the aisle at the start of the wedding.

TAG Heuer, along with Intel and Google, have worked on an Android Wear smartwatch that uses technology from the microelectronics name. Here, the idea is to create one of these watches that is pitched to the luxury-watch market rather than keeping Android Wear and the smartwatch scene for so-called “all-purpose” or “sports-class” wearables.

As well, TAG Heuer are even pushing to allow the qualification of a Swiss watch to expand to smartwatches that integrate electronics from other countries like Intel’s silicon but still have the watch assembled in Switzerland and have decorative and electromechanical parts coming from there. It can also be a good chance for Intel to investigate the idea of using Switzerland as a hub for activities associated with manufacturing, research and development for wearable technology.

What I see of this is the fact that companies are stepping forward to sell smartwatches fit for wearing at that exclusive club or in the boardroom of that Fortune 500 company in America. It also means that the smartwatch market can become like the traditional watch market with watches that suit different price ranges and different dress senses.

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Consumer Electronics Show 2015–Part 2

Previously, in Part 1, I covered the trends that are affecting personal computing which encompases laptops / notebooks, tablets including the “2-in-1” convertible or detachable units, and the smartphones.

As I continue coverage of the trends shown at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, I am highlighting what is being highlighted when we think of the connected world and the Internet Of Things. This is where devices we have on ourselves or use in the home, or the cars we drive, connect to each other and the Internet to acquire a range of impressive capabilites.

Wearable technology

There is an increasing number of smartwatches and other wearables being launched at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. These are based on the Android Wear platform along with Tizen and other proprietary wearable platforms. It is although Apple has their smartwatch close to launch as part of their iOS ecosystem. A question that often came to mind is whether the smartwatch is to be seen as a bridge device between your smartphone and other wearable devices.

Sony raised the bar for Android Wear by integrating a GPS in to the metal-look variant of their Smartwatch 3 Android Wear watch. It may be seen as a way to provide standalone navigation and distance measurement for this watch or to serve as a secondary GPS sensor for your smartphone.

LG had headed towards smartwatches by putting forward one that is to run WebOS. This is part of having their devices run the descendent of the Palm operating system which HP refashioned as WebOS.

Lenovo had jumped on the wearable bandwagon by offering the Vibe lineup of wearable products. At the moment, the first of these products is the Vibe Band which is a water-resistant fitness band that uses an e-ink display, allowing for this device to run longer on a single battery charge.

There have been a few weirdly wonderful wearable devices like some snowboard bindings that help you plough through the powder better. These bindings measure the forces you apply on your feet as you slide down the slope and an app uses your smartphone’s GPS and these sensors to assess your snowboarding prowess. There is the Misfit LED which works alongside the Misfit range of activity trackers to show how you are performing. But the most weird device is the Emiota Belty which is a men’s dress belt that records your waistline and reports it back to your smartphone.

Hyundai Blue Link smartwatch app press photo courtesy of Hyundai America

Hyundai Blue Link smartwatch app – your smartwatch is your keyfob

The smartwatch is becoming part of the “connected car” ecosystem thanks to some vehicle builders. As I will mention below, BMW uses the smartwatch as a key fob that is to be part of their self-parking setup that they are working on. But Hyundai has presented the Blue Link app for the Apple Watch and Android Wear platforms so you can use this watch like the typical button-equipped car keyfob. Think of this as being to touch your watch to start your Veloster from afar, open its doors or have that coupe flash its headlights so you can locate it in the car park.

The connected car

Speaking of which, the car that links to the home network and the Internet is being given a fair bit of airtime by most of the vehicle manufacturers. This is promoted by Mercedes-Benz who were exhibiting a capsule-style self-driving concept car, Ford demonstrating their idea of a self-driving car, and other vehicle builders talking about the self-driving idea for cars.

Smartwatch control surface for car press picture courtesy of BMW America

Smartwatch as control element of BMW car

BMW took the modest path by demonstrating a self-parking variant of the i3 car. This smartwatch-controlled car looks for a parking spot by itself and implements a map-based setup where it has pre-loaded maps of car parks. This is very like a valet-parking setup but without the car-park attendant parking your car for you in that car park.

BMW self-parking car press picture courtesy of BMW America

It parks itself

Ford launched the third iteration of their Sync connected-car technology which will implement a touchscreen as part of its control surface and use of Blackberry QNX technology. This is intended to be part of what will be offered for the 2016 model-year vehicles.

Even the chipset manufacturers have dipped their finger in the connected-car scene with NVIDIA announcing that they are purposing Tegra and similar processors to power the connected-car dashboards.

Next generation VW infotainment setup press picture courtesy of VW America

Next generation VW infotainment works with Apple Play, Android Auto or MirrorLink

As for infotainment, there is a trend to support both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in both factory-supply and aftermarket infotainment setups. This means that the advanced abilities of these systems can work in a system-native manner to both iPhone and Android users. The Volkswagen Group had put this forward in the latest factory-spec infotainment setups and were even involved in the level-playing-field idea of MirrorLink even when it was put forward.

Parrot have premiered the RNB6 which is a 2-DIN media unit which runs both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay but has 55 watts per channel output for all of the channels along with more options. Pioneer have launched this function in to some of their newer 2-DIN car radios. These efforts satisfy realities that exist in countries like Australia where people are likely to keep their cars on the road for a very long time.

Internet Of Everything

The Internet Of Everything has become a key feature of this show with companies either showcasing new gadgets that link with the Internet or showcasing improvements for existing gadgets with this kind of ability. Most of these devices are still pitched as a “system” of devices, cloud services and apps supplied by the same vendor that are dependent on each other and there haven’t been any devices that are pitched in a manner where they can work with other manufacturers’ devices, services or apps.

There have been some devices that are targeted at your baby’s health such as a smart baby bottle holder measures food intake. Another of these is a Bluetooth-connected infant thermometer that uses your smartphone as its display with this being developed by the company that is behind Moto’s smart temporary tattoo.

Parrot has launched houseplant water monitors that link to the home network. One is the H2O which is a sensor and automated watering system that you can use in-situ with your plants and the other is the Parrot Pot to put your plant into.

D-Link DCH-S160 myDLink water sensor press picture courtesy of D-Link America

D-Link myDLink water detector alerts you via your smartphone if your washing machine leaks or the bath overflows

BeeWi and D-Link are snapping at Belkin’s WeMo home-automation technology with their own technology. The latter have packaged it in as their myDLink package which is dependent on a home-automation hub even for the Wi-Fi devices. They have Z-Wave motion sensors and door magnet/reed sensors which interlink with this hub and also work as ambient temperature sensors.

They also have a Wi-Fi-based water-leak sensor that uses a wire to sense leaking water from that dribbling washing machine along with a Wi-Fi siren unit and smart plugs. This system is managed on your mobile device through an app that D-Link supplies. TRENDNet are running a HomePlug-based home automation package that links with their TPL-406E HomePlug AV500 adaptor and the THA-102PL appliance controller with both devices using the AC wiring to communicate to each other. They also have the THA-103AC which is a Wi-Fi-managed appliance controller that works as an AC750 Wi-Fi range extender and both these systems are controlled using an app for the iOS and Android platforms.

Kwikset Kevo cylindrical deadbolt in use - Kwikset press image

Kwikset Kevo Plus extends online monitoring and control to this Kwikset Kevo smart deadbolt

Two companies that are known for the common door lock have fielded some “smart-lock” products, but they are focused around the “bore-through” cylindrical deadbolt form-factor that is common on many American front doors. Firstly, Kwikset have provided an IP bridge and online service for their Kevo smart deadbolt. Here, the Bluetooth-IP bridge and online service allows for such functions as “remote unlock” for situations like when you have a friend or relative who doesn’t have a smartphone with the Kwikset Kevo app to come to your house to do some caretaking or fetch something for you or to have a repair technician visit your house to perform some repair works on an appliance while you are at work. The service is offered as an annually-billed service. August who offer a similar Bluetooth-driven smart lock have come up this path using their own IP bridge to provide “remote check / remote release” functionality.

Yale Real Living NFC-capable smart deadbolt - outside view (brass finish) press picture courtesy of Yale America

Yale Real Living smart deadbolt – enter using the code on the keypad or touch your open-frame smartphone to it

As well, Yale have launched an NFC-based smart lock that works to the Seos NFC-based smart locking platform that ASSA Abloy, the “Electrolux” of the door-hardware industry, have established. This is one that comes in the same form factor as the Kwikset Kevo but doesn’t use a key outside as a failover method. As well, it requires you to touch your NFC-capable Android smartphone to the outside keypad to unlock your door.

Tagg are working with Alarm.com to implement a tracker system for your pets. This will be based around a collar attachment that implements GPS to locate and uses 3G as a “report-back” mechanism.

The CES tech fair has given Roost some boost with their “smart battery” for existing smoke alarms. Here, they were able to show and demonstrate this battery in action as a monitoring device for the common smoke alarm.

Appliances

Unlike the Internationaler Funkaustellung where a home-appliance trade show had been merged with this consumer-electronics trade show, there has become an increasing de-facto presence of home appliances at the Consumer Electronics Show. This has been brought on by some of the Korean and Japanese consumer-electronics manufacturers wanting to show their appliances at this trade show along with appliances, both major-class “white-goods” and countertop “small-goods” and is demonstrating that home appliances are increasingly becoming part of the “Internet Of Things”.

Dacor used this show to premiere their Android-controlled ovens which used an “app-cessory” approach to controlling these ovens. This also goes alongside the use of a touchscreen as a local control surface and is representative of what is to come about for premium “white goods”.

LG Twin Wash System press photo courtesy of LG America

LG Twin Wash System – two washing machines in one

LG have fielded some interesting “white goods” at this show. The show-stopper for them in this department was the Twin Wash “drawer-load” second washing machine which is installed underneath their recent front-load washing machines. It works in a manner where you can wash a small load while the main machine is processing another load. The example often cited was for ladies to wash a change of delicate underwear on the delicate-wash cycle while the main machine runs a lot of normal-cycle washing. Another example from my experience would be to turn around two white shirts by themselves while a large quantity of coloured clothes is being washed, with everything being ready to dry at the same time. They also fielded a “double door-in-door” fridge for easier organisation of food in the fridge. Samsung were fielding some interesting appliances like a dual-cavity oven and their “ActiveWash’ washing machine which implements an advanced wash action.

The coffee making scene closes in to the home network more with Smarter running a “bean-to-cup” espresso machine for the US market which uses Wi-Fi technology to facilitate its app-cessory control surface.

In the next part of this series, I will be looking at what the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 is representing for entertainment in the connected home.

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Netflix makes your smartwatch a control surface

Article

Netflix official logo - courtesy of Netflix

Netflix – the sign of on-demand video’s progress

Android Wear Can Now Control Netflix | Tom’s Guide

My Comments

Just lately, Netflix issued an update to their Android client software. This has functionality that was provided as part of the iOS variant like the ability to have your smartphone work as a remote control for the TV or set-top-box client software, along with the ability to share a recommendation on Facebook. But this implements a feature that may be seen as giving that platform the “edge”.

Samsung Gear Live Black Android Wear smartwatch press image courtesy of Samsung

This smartwatch to be part of your TV viewing courtesy of Netflix

Samsung Gear Live Black Android Wear smartwatch press image courtesy of Samsung

This smartwatch to be part of your TV viewing courtesy of Netflix

Here, they have baked Android Wear functionality in to this software to make your Android Wear smartwatch work as a control surface for the program. You may think that the smartwatch may be irrelevant when you are wanting to watch “House Of Cards” or “Lilyhammer” but it isn’t as far as they are concerned.

When you watch “Lilyhammer” for example, you can use the smartwatch as a remote control to stop the movie when you need to visit the kitchen or bathroom and start from where you left off when you are comfortable. This avoids the need to “dig out” your smartphone at these occasions. There is the ability also to share what you are watching on Facebook at that moment if you wish to do so, along with the fact that your smartwatch would show the artwork associated with what you are watching.like Frank Tagliano’s face.

This concept could allow platform-based smartwatches to serve as part of the “second screen”. For example, it could mean that during a TV reality show, you could cast votes for the talent on that show or find out a bit more about the talent. It would also be about having the smartwatch serve as part of a sports scoreboard app by showing the current scores for the match you are following.

A bit more effort and the smartwatch could play a role in the concept of multi-screen TV viewing.

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