Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Innovation in Every Sphere of Life

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Smart pan that lets you cook perfectly

Computer engineer Rahul Baxi and his nutritionist sister Prachi put their heads together to develop Smartypans —a smart pan that makes anybody a wonderful cook!

The pan is smart in many ways. First, even an amateur can whip up amazing dishes with this pan and its associated app. You can pick recipes by master chefs or from the community and start cooking. The app will give you instructions on what to add, what to do next and when to turn the pan off! The built-in weight and temperature sensors make sure you do not add too much oil, char the dish or commit other such silly mistakes that could spoil the dish. While the weight sensors keep measuring and showing you each of the ingredients you add to the pan, the temperature sensor keeps track of the cooking temperature and modifies each recipe based on your stove’s temperature.

You can also share your recipes with your friends instantly. As you cook, just tell the app what ingredients you are adding. The app records the weight of each ingredient, the temperature and the cooking time. Click a pic at the end and voila, your recipe is ready to share.

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The pan has a unique lighting system for notifications. It works on a 2500mAH rechargeable Li-Po battery that lasts over four months on a single charge. With a nice, double-layered heavy bottom, the pan is also durable. The colourful, detachable cooking inserts come in ceramic non-stick and stainless steel.

The Smartypans app also syncs with fitness trackers like Fitbit. As and when you cook, the app computes the nutritional value of the dish and shares it with your fitness trackers at the click of a button. So, now you just cannot go wrong with this pan!

Company: Smartypans; Country: USA; Website

A smart pan with built-in sensors and an app that helps you cook perfectly all the time (Courtesy: Smartypans)
A smart pan with built-in sensors and an app that helps you cook perfectly all the time (Courtesy: Smartypans)

MEMS microphone to voice-activate battery-powered devices

Imagine activating your television remote and switching on the TV with just a voice command instead of walking over to it? However, speech capabilities consume a lot of power, often 1000µW or more, which makes them impractical for battery-powered devices like television remotes. Now, Vesper’s VM1010 ZeroPower Listening (ZPL) microphone can help you voice-activate such devices too.

The VM1010 is a piezoelectric micro-electro-mechanical-system (MEMS) microphone with a tiny footprint of 3.76×2.65×0.96mm3. When the environment is silent, the device stays in the listening or wake-on-sound mode, which consumes just 6µA, while in normal mode it uses around 90µA. The microphone simply uses sound energy and the power that is automatically dissipated by batteries, thus practically consuming no power for the device it is used in.

Using special materials, the microphone converts sound energy directly into electrical energy to wake up devices from sleep. According to the company, the device uses piezoelectric effect to make the acoustic transducer operate as an acoustic switch. When a sound wave hits a piezoelectric cantilever, it moves the cantilever. This motion creates a voltage via the piezoelectric effect. This voltage is sensed by a very low-power comparator circuit, which sends a wake signal to the rest of the system. All sounds create a voltage on the cantilever but the circuit responds only to the human vocal range (sounds between 300Hz and 6kHz). Users can program such aspects as loudness threshold, desired distance and level of background noise.

Company: Vesper; Country: USA; Website

This MEMS microphone uses sound energy to wake up battery-powered devices (Courtesy: Vesper)
This MEMS microphone uses sound energy to wake up battery-powered devices (Courtesy: Vesper)

Keep fit with this Wi-Fi smart weighing scale

Fitness trackers help you stay fit but their effectiveness also depends on whether you are able to provide accurate and regular updates on your food intake, weight and other parameters. The more the inputs are automated, the better the performance of fitness trackers. Fitbit’s Aria falls in line with this concept.

Aria is a sleek weighing scale with a polished glass surface that tracks your weight, body mass index (BMI), lean mass and body fat percentage. It recognises up to eight users and keeps each one’s recordings confidential.

As soon as you step on the scale, it recognises you, displays your readings and sends it across to your Fitbit account using your home Wi-Fi network. On the Fitbit app, you can see weight statistics and progress trends in the form of easy-to-read charts and graphs. This is very important because long-term weight trends are better indicators of health and fitness than short-term fluctuations.

With the ability to record workouts and log food habits and weight too, the Fitbit app becomes a one-stop solution for your fitness needs. You can make the weighing scale, the tracker and the app work in sync by setting goals and using calorie coaching to achieve them.

You can buy Aria at the Fitbit store on
Company: Fitbit; Country: USA

This Wi-Fi smart scale syncs with your Fitbit app to give you the real picture and help you attain your fitness goals (Courtesy: Fitbit)
This Wi-Fi smart scale syncs with your Fitbit app to give you the real picture and help you attain your fitness goals (Courtesy: Fitbit)

Remotely control your washer-dryer with this Wi-Fi adaptor

The Samsung smart home adaptor (Laundry) enables you to control your smart washer and dryer remotely using a mobile app. You just need to plug the adaptor into your washer-dryer, download the Samsung Smart Home App on your mobile device and follow the simple set-up instructions. The adaptor connects to a wireless network and enables you to control the washer and dryer remotely from anywhere using the app.

You can start, pause or stop your washer/dryer and select cycles and other options like temperature, rinse and spin cycles. From wherever you are, you can watch the progress of your wash cycle, and receive notifications when there is an error or when your laundry is done.

User reviews highlight some of the thoughtful features of this product. For instance, the app sends you a notification as soon as the cycle is complete, ensuring that you do not forget to take the clothes out. If you are getting delayed and the dry cycle is over, you can extend the tumble time so that your clothes don’t crumple up before you arrive. If your dryer has a de-wrinkle option, you can start it when you step into the shower to ensure that you have clean, wrinkle-free, ready-to-wear clothes when you need them!

This product (priced at just $25) is available on Samsung website and other online stores like Amazon.

Company: Samsung; Country: South Korea; Website

Samsung’s smart home adaptor makes your laundry smarter (Courtesy: Samsung)

3D printer priced below $100

This 3D printer is not bulky. Rather, it is quite sleek, even cute. And it comes from Kodama, the company that surprised the world in 2015 with its affordable and sturdy 3D printer Trinus. Obsidian, an even better bet, is a readily-assembled, plug-and-play fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printer made of aluminium parts, costing $99 upwards. The best part about Obsidian is that it runs on non-proprietary firmware, which expands the scope of what you can do with it!

Obsidian connects to your laptop through USB, has build volume of 120x120x120mm3, layer thickness of 50-350µm and heat range of 180-250°C, which makes it a reasonably good printer. At extra cost, you can include add-on features like Wi-Fi connectivity, a 2-megapixel webcam to record time lapses and monitor prints remotely, a heated bed to print with materials like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polyethylene terephthalate-glycol modified (PET-G), an Android display to control your print settings with an exclusive user interface, and an 8.12cm (3.20-inch) thin-film transistor (TFT) touchscreen. The idea is to give you a good-quality but basic product at a low price-point, with the option to add features.

Incidentally, did you know that Japanese researcher Hideo Kodama developed the world’s first prototype of a 3D printer way back in 1981? That explains the name of this company!

Company: Kodama Inc.; Country: USA; Website

Obsidian is a plug-and-play $99 3D printer from Kodama Inc., which runs on non-proprietary firmware (Courtesy: Kodama Inc.)

Anyone can play music with this soft cube

A soft tactile foam cube with assistive music technology, Skoog, is a wonderful accessory for the iPad that helps turn anybody into a musician. The company compares it to a games controller—for what they call ‘musicplay’! The tactile cube is like a wireless controller for the music app running on your iPad. Touching it in different ways produces different sounds. The app is beneficial for young kids who have a flair for music but are not old enough to understand the theories behind it. It has also been found to be especially helpful for kids with disabilities, as it helps them to express themselves through music. It is a wonderful addition to a kindergarten classroom!

The toy-like device is shaped like a cube with colourful hemispherical bulges on the sides and top. The soft, foam-like material ensures that kids can easily press, poke, twist and squeeze the cube as well as the bulges. The device can be connected to your iOS device through USB or wirelessly. You also need to install the free Skoogmusic iOS app or Skoogmusic software for Mac/PC, to start using the device. Once done, just fiddle around with the soft, foamy cube to yield different notes on the app! You can select the instrument, set up sensitivity and thresholds on the app.

There are also other apps that work with Skoog and can be used to expand the spectrum of sounds and tunes produced. The Skoogmusic app also works with iTunes and other music streaming services, so you can play your favourite songs and jam along with Skoog!
Skoog can be bought online from Apple across the globe, or from select Apple stores in Europe. While dancing around with your previous iPhone to this music, do ensure that it has a strong stylish scale like the iPhone cases from this French brand.

Company: Skoogmusic; Country: Scotland; Website

Just press and fiddle around with the cube to create music (Courtesy: Skoogmusic)


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