Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Six Innovations to Look out for This Summer

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Livescribe: Smart pen-paper combo that saves notes digitally

Even in today’s digital world, there are many who prefer a pen and paper to jot things down, whether it is a shopping list or the minutes of a meeting. The Livescribe 3 smartpen ensures that these hurriedly noted down texts do not get lost. The Bluetooth Smart enabled pen digitises notes written on a special dotted paper and saves these in your mobile device with appropriate tags, using an associated app.

At first look, the smartpen appears to be a stylish, premium ballpoint pen with a Swiss-made tungsten-carbide ballpoint ink cartridge. Inside however is a whole lot of technology—from an infrared camera and ARM processor to a Bluetooth Smart chipset, flash memory and lithium-ion battery. An integrated stylus cap conceals the micro-USB port to charge the device.

The pen works with Livescribe+ mobile app, which instantly syncs everything users write on paper to their mobile devices. The notes can be viewed in either Page View or Feed View, where they are sorted into smaller snippets. You can search, tag and convert them into text. The app also lets you add audio to the notes. Reminders, appointments and lists that you have jotted down by hand can be used to automatically set up calendar events and add new contacts. The content can also be converted into shareable PDF files. So that wonderful start-up idea, sketched on a paper napkin at a coffee shop, can be shared instantly with those who matter!

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Livescribe smartpen instantly digitises handwritten stuff (Courtesy: Livescribe)
Livescribe smartpen instantly digitises handwritten stuff (Courtesy: Livescribe)

Company: Livescribe (part of the Anoto Group AB); Country: United States of America; Website

Neil, the Little Explorer: Your child’s robot companion

Working parents are often unable to spend enough time with their kids, and as a result they are unaware of their childrens’ real interests. In a simple but effective way, Neil, the Little Explorer, can help such parents.

Neil is a robotic toy that keeps your child company all day long. An associated mobile app lets parents watch what their kids learn, and understand patterns about their likes and dislikes. They get to know their child’s curiosity towards a particular subject like new places, planets or biology. These patterns also help Neil to share apt information related to the child’s interests, so the interactions are more engaging.

Press a button at any time and it will share a factoid (wiki as they call it) in a very conversational way. Simple button controls let Neil know if the child loved it or wants to move to the next one, revisit the previous one or get a wiki related to the current location. While the conversation is in English by default, you can buy additional language packages if you wish.

Created by the Another Circus Design Agency, Neil levitates a bit once in a while to remind the child of its presence. It has a pleasant LED light that lights up the child’s room at night. Charging is as simple as placing Neil on its ‘planet’ or base station.
Company: Another Circus Design Agency; Country: Greece; Website

Neil, the Little Explorer, chats with your kids and shares factoids on various subjects
Neil, the Little Explorer, chats with your kids and shares factoids on various subjects

ili: Wearable, instant translator

Not being understood in a foreign land can be both fun and dangerous, whichever way you see it! The problem only gets worse when you travel to places where the locals do not understand English, and you are also unable to connect to the Internet to use an online translator.

ili is a wearable translator that can solve this problem for you. A compact device with an in-built processor and memory, it can translate conversations instantly without requiring an Internet connection. It translates using an in-device database, and can do its job in just 0.2 seconds! ili’s dynamic dual microphone enables noise cancellation, and smart amplifiers and speaker ensure clear sound output. The sound is captured clearly, translated and instantly output in the other language. Likewise, replies are also translated, so the conversation is completely understandable to both parties. Currently, ili works in English, Japanese and Chinese but there are plans to include more languages, too.

What makes ili so innovative is that it is a standalone device that does not require a mobile app, Internet or Wi-Fi. It is truly a hassle-free and easy-to-use translator!

Company: Logbar; Country: Japan; Website

ili is a wearable translator that lets you communicate in English, Japanese and Chinese instantly without Internet or Wi-Fi connection (Courtesy: Logbar)
ili is a wearable translator that lets you communicate in English, Japanese and Chinese instantly without Internet or Wi-Fi connection (Courtesy: Logbar)

Kuri: A friendly home-assistant and security guard

For $699, you can now own a robot that does more than just keep an eye on your house. Kuri is a 50cm tall robot that moves around your house like one of the family. With Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, it is always in touch with you. Its eyes, with built-in high-definition cameras, can be your eyes when you are away from the house. With facial recognition features, Kuri is actually capable of recognising people and even judging their moods. It alerts you when it spots unknown people or something amiss in the house. A 4-microphone array helps Kuri react to voice commands and noises. Its speakers can also entertain you with music, engage your kids with stories, or help you catch up on news or podcasts. Kuri is also able to learn general patterns of behaviour. So it can wake you up if you are late for work!

With easily programmable tasks and ‘IF This Then That’ (IFTTT) automation capabilities, Kuri connects with your smarthome systems. It has a long battery life, and even when it is out of sap, it just goes for a nap near its charging pad and recharges automatically!
Above all else, Kuri can connect with the family emotionally. It reacts to pats on the head, speaks to you in a very cute robot language, keeps your kids company and even plays with your pets. So it is a security, helper and friend, all in one!

Company: Mayfield Robotics; Country: United States of America; Website

Kuri is a cute robot that helps, inspires and keeps an eye on your house (Courtesy: Mayfield Robotics)
Kuri is a cute robot that helps, inspires and keeps an eye on your house (Courtesy: Mayfield Robotics)

LyfieEye: Capture 360-degree content with your mobile phone

There is nothing new about 360-degree cameras, but one that is tiny and works with your Android smartphone is truly awesome! eCapture Technologies claims that its LyfieEye is the world’s smallest 360-degree video camera for Android phones. This affordable device plugs directly into your phone and enables you to record, play and share life-like spherical 360-degree videos and photos. The content can be shared instantly on Facebook 360 or YouTube 360. The camera can also be synced to a virtual reality headset, so you can relive your special moments.

Inside the 18gm camera are two Super-FishEye lenses, each providing a 180-degree field-of-view. Image sensors help to capture whatever the lenses are pointing at. The camera records videos at 30 frames per second.

Thanks to its patented chip, LyfieEye can instantly flatten and stitch together images and videos captured by the two lenses and sensors. The recording is then transmitted in real time to your smartphone via the plug-in connector. Plug-in connection ensures that your 360-degree camera works reliably without depending on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections.
LyfieEye is available at an MRP of $149.

Company: eCapture Technologies Inc.; Country: United States of America; Website

LyfieEye is a tiny 360-degree camera that plugs into your Android phone (Courtesy: eCapture Technologies)
LyfieEye is a tiny 360-degree camera that plugs into your Android phone (Courtesy: eCapture Technologies)

U by Moen: Wi-Fi connected shower controller

Your morning shower can make or break your day! Sometimes the water is extremely hot or cold if somebody else in the family has changed the mixer settings, or the hot water takes too long to reach the faucet. This makes you upset, especially if you are in a hurry to get ready for the office. For such situations, U by Moen smart shower is definitely a product worth investing in.

The kit includes a digital thermostatic valve, a Wi-Fi enabled digital controller and a mobile app, which lets you remotely set up your bath from anywhere in your home. The kit can be used to control up to four water outlets, depending on your existing shower setup. The valve setup is supposedly do-it-yourself, but early adopters say that it is a bit complicated and requires a plumber’s services.

Once you set up the system, you can customise elements of your bath such as temperature, time and outlet selection using the controller or mobile app. You can configure up to twelve presets, so all your family members can get their bath the way they want it. When it is time for your bath, the system drains the cold water remaining in the pipes, heats the water to the required temperature, pauses the water flow, and waits for you to step in and enjoy your bath.

For people with real need or love for luxury, the smart shower is a worthy investment. It can also be useful in boutique hotels, which can save preferences of their regular clients to boost customer satisfaction.

Company: Moen; Country: United States of America; Website:

Customise your bath with U by Moen smart shower
Customise your bath with U by Moen smart shower


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