Gadgets

  • Home Automation and IoT

    So I'm a big fan of IoT, (Internet of Things), and over the last couple of years have done various things to my house to enhance my living environment. The main things been introduction of Tado controls to the central heating and hot water system so I can control that remotely and the addition of a few Belkin WeMo electrical sockets and their movement sensor. I have also added a LIFX wireless bulb for the front of the house that is remotely controllable.

    The big advantage of most of these things is that they can be connected together using the IFTTT service so there's a certain amount of logic that can be controlled when each device is used.

    However the biggest problem with the whole IOT environment currently is that there is no universal "glue". A certain amount of things can be done outside the appointed IFTTT channels by using their maker channel which sends a web hook off into the cloud and you can invoke another service, just by using this more freehand way of doing stuff. However the big issue is that currently there is no central home hub that somehow pulls all of the stuff together. If there is an API available, with a number of these devices I have also created proprietary Windows apps in C# to make them do stuff that is of more use to me.

  • Kibbi Unboxing

    I have now received my Kibbi device, (http://www.kibbi.io/), which I backed on IndieGoGo a while ago.

    I intend to write up a review when I get a moment, but other backers are keen to see the shipping device, so I thought I'd write a quick post and show some unboxing pictures for now.

    Initial impressions are that it's a solidly built device and won't look out of place in any home - but hopefully I'll fill this all out in a later post.

  • Leap Motion

    So, I've had my latest toy delivered and it's called the Leap Motion.

    What is the Leap? In the words of the manufacturer "With a wave of a hand or lift of a finger, you’re about to use your computer in a whole new way. The Leap Motion Controller senses how you move your hands the way you naturally move them. So you can point, wave, reach, and grab. Even pick something up and put it down. Just like in real life. It’s an amazing device for the things you do every day and for things you never thought you could do."

    Basically, think of the film "Minority Report" where Tom Cruise interacts with a large screen by gesturing in front of it. That's kind of the gist of the device.

  • LILA - Bluetooth Home Security

    A new project on to Kickstarter is the LILA and although the headline feature is security, it is really multifunctional. With the appropriate sensors questions such as "did I remember to shut that window?" or "did I remember to turn the iron off?", can easily be answered with most iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices supporting Bluetooth 4.0.

  • Logitech T650 Wireless Touchpad review

    My latest bit of kit is the Logitech T650, and I've been so impressed with it I thought I'd better write a short review.

    This device is a trackpad intended primarily for Windows 8, but can be used with Windows 7. However the full value of the product comes out when you use it with Windows 8, because of all the other gestures that have been introduced to this version of Microsoft's operating system. Of course Windows 8.1 is supported as well.

  • Microsoft Band desktop Sync App

    Recently I took delivery of a Microsoft Band in order to improve my fitness and lose weight and so far so good! I'll probably do a more in depth write up when I have had a chance to really get to know the device.

    You can alter the devices settings through the associated app on your phone, but they don't seem to have publicised the Windows app. Interestingly this is a desktop download rather than a "modern" app, but I think is a pre-cursor to Windows 10 apps being universal.

    You can download the app at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=44579

  • Pebble Watch

    I just can't resist a gadget and here's one that I'm looking forward to getting when they ship in September 2012. [*Update It's now April 2013, and I've just received my shipping notification!]

    In their own words:- Pebble is the first watch built for the 21st century. It's infinitely customizable, with beautiful downloadable watchfaces and useful internet-connected apps. Pebble connects to iPhone and Android smartphones using Bluetooth, alerting you with a silent vibration to incoming calls, emails and messages. While designing Pebble, we strove to create a minimalist yet fashionable product that seamlessly blends into everyday life

  • Pebble – a waiting game…

    [* Updated 17 May 2013]

    I decided to write this post because I've been playing a long-term waiting game for the pebble watch, and I really don’t want to take up half of a review with my views on the delivery process when it eventually arrives. Just to remind you the pebble is a smart watch where the greater percentage of the intelligence is in a Bluetooth connected smartphone whether that be an iOS or android device. However, the watch would allow you to interact with various bits of software on the phone without ever removing it from your pocket; oh and of course allow you to read the time! It turned out to be a hugely popular kickstarter campaign as they ended up with 68,929 backers and $10,266,845 of their original $100,000 goal.

  • Plinth Tablet Stand

    Just love this new project on Kickstarter for a neat little tablet stand. In it's travel state it's no bigger than an iPhone, but will expand out with a little flick to fit pretty much any tablet that is currently available on the market.

    It has multiple angles it can be set at and rubberised feet so it doesn't slip around - ingenious bit of kit.

  • The Pebble

    I've had the pebble for a couple of months now and I reckon I'm overdue writing up a short review, so here goes.

    Like many other people who purchased the pebble, I haven't actually bought worn a watch for years. However because the watch is so closely integrated with my iPhone, it has become a useful second screen for the phone. What do I mean by this? For those of you not familiar with the pebble, not only does it tell the time, but also allows various notifications from the iPhone to be displayed on the watch screen. The most obvious thing that it can do is show you the phone number of any incoming calls and the text of any SMS messages that come in on the phone.

  • The Pebble has landed!

    Well.... It's finally here - obviously my earlier bleat was not required; it was obviously already in transit.

    It doesn't make that post any less relevant as the delays were dreadful, but hey ho, it's another day and the Pebble has landed.

    No doubt I'll write a proper review of it in the next week or so once I've had a chance to play with it a bit.

  • Visit to the Kibbi stand at the Gadget Show

    Just a quick post after my visit to the gadget show yesterday. I thought I would just show a couple of pics of the devices to my fellow backers on the Indigogo campaign.

    I spent about an hour talking to Edd and Robert and briefly with Ronnie. The enthusiasm of these guys for this project really shines through, it's actually incredible that they have got the product this far.

  • WeMo Switch

    Another recent acquisition was the WeMo switch from Belkin. In essence this switch allows you to turn on or off anything plugged into it from anywhere in the world.

    There is a free app available for Google or Apple devices on which you can set up various timebased rules to switch the device on or off. There is of course an override switch on the device itself, so that if you really feel the need to get up and turn it off manually then you can do that as well…

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