Category : Gadgets

VR add-on to make Oculus and Vive headsets Wireless


Atlanta based company KwikVR is confident they can deliver a wireless VR headset device that is capable with both the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift.

The device is less than a pound and is attached to your belt. It features two USB ports and an HDMI port. The company reports that the device delivers low latency and “guaranteed native resolution”. It also delivers 5GHz Wi-Fi connectivity.

Price of the device has not yet been released. The Vive-compatible TPCast sells for around $220 a pop, so it is predicted that KwikVR could be priced similar. The KwikVR could stir up additional buzz since the TPCast is currently only available in China.


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Ubiquiti’s Amplifi – What a mesh!



The Amplifi system is best for those large homes struggling to get strong Wi-Fi connection throughout. Not only is the Amplifi a competent router with a firewall integrated, but it can also be used as a pure Wi-Fi access point and mesh network.

The web interface is basic, with all management needs being completed via the iOS or Android application. The Amplifi kit supports sshaccess out of the box via LAN or WLAN, not the WAN side. Amplifi does not support several features for power users, such as WPA2 Enterprise for 802.1X.

The base station comes with two mesh points, an AC adapter with a Micro-USB plug, a 1.5-meter Cat5 Ethernet patch cable, and a small instruction booklet. The setup includes involves first downloading the Amplifi application (this is where you will find the step-by-step setup instructions) and applying power to the base station by plugging it into my cable modem.

The device itself looks pretty cool, the design is modern with an LED light glowing from the bottom of the device. The mesh points and their articulated antenna heads are meant to plug directly into electrical outlets around your home. Each can be manipulated around to aid with reception. The antenna is not permanently affixed to the bottom of the plug component, and for good reason. The antenna is held in place by a very strong magnetic ball-and-socket. This way if the antenna is bumped or nudged it simply falls off without breaking the entire component and can be reattached without hesitation, great for kids, pets, and the clumsy alike.

The Amplifi data sheet advertises a max speed of “5.25Gbps” for the Amplifi HD. In a real world test performed by Lee Hutchinson, Senior Technology Editor for Ars, the 802.11ac test system was able to negotiate a transfer rate of 867Mbps in a relatively calm RF environment at a distance of about two meters from the base station. Though the Amplifi units don’t yet support 802.11k or 802.11r managed roaming, his phone and laptop had no issues jumping between the mesh points as he wandered around the house with file transfers in progress. The observed transfer rates varied between 100-500Mbps, though there was no bench-marking in place and the tests weren’t controlled.

Amplifi systems are offered with three models ranging in price from $199 to $349. Aggressive pricing considering the Eero is priced at $499 for a three-device starter pack, and the Apple Airport Extreme is priced at $199 and $99 for a mesh extension. Depending on your needs, the standard option would be more than enough for the average user.






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Low Profile iPad Pro Mechanical Keyboard Case

At $169 a pop this mechanical keyboard case for the iPad Pro resembles a briefcase with a handle. The keyboard employs a new switch called the “Ultra-Low-Profile Mechanical Switch” with true actuation, reset, and 70 grams of forced needed per key. The keyboard/case combo comes with a metal kickstand, a detachable poly-carbonate case, and connectivity via Bluetooth. In addition with the maximum brightness glowing the device still has 10 hours of battery life or 600 hours with the back-lighting off. This tech exists for those looking for a laptop like typing experience rather than the touchscreen option. However, if you change your mind Razer gave this keyboard a full range of motion so you can keep the case on and use your iPad as usual. It’s pretty cool if you use your iPad for many different functions.

mechanical keyboardmechanical keyboardmechanical keyboard


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Tiny Lenses Turn Smartphone into Microscope


Smart Micro Optics, a spin-off from the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), has developed two lenses called Blips, that for the small price of $17 transform a mobile device’s camera into a digital microscope that can magnify subjects up to 30 times, or 80 times using the zoom of the camera.

With these lenses, the average user is introduced to a new world of teeny tiny things. The magnification allows one to take high-resolution pictures or videos of insects as small as a dust mite. With the help of a prepared slide, one can even count the red blood cells in a blood sample. Insane! These are the thinnest microscope lenses for smartphones and tablets in the world, adding a mere 1.5mm to the thickness of the device. I mean the camera is the size of a lentil. I don’t think anyone is going to complain about how much space it is taking up.

“Our dream is to put a high-performance microscope in everyone’s pocket, opening up opportunities for people to learn science or simply having fun in discovering firsthand the world at the micro-scale,” Andrea Antonini, who co-founded Smart Micro Optics with his former IIT boss Tommaso Fellin, tells ZDNet.

Of course since the technology is patent-pending, I couldn’t get much information about the construct of the lenses. We do know that the lenses are made of various kinds of plastic, providing better refractive index than silicone, as used in much of the products on the market today. The top surface of the lenses are designed to be non-sticky, to fight dust problems. The lenses adhere to the camera glass through electrostatic attraction. You can keep the lens attached permanently to the camera, or attached with mobility, ready to use when needed.

Before turning to investors the creators really want to see how customers react to the product, and create some buzz. At $17, I think they will get more than enough buzz to support crowdfunding.



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The verdict is in…2-in-1 vs. tablet

Just the other day I tried relentlessly to convince my mother than a PC with tablet capabilities would significantly improve her work flow. She brought up the usual restrictions associated with tablet use, “does it have enough power to accomplish what I need?”. Most iPads and tablets just can’t compare to the power behind a PC or laptop. Doing research can be a pain, as it isn’t always easy to switch between applications on a tablet device. Multitasking for the work day is exponentially better on a machine that can allow multiple applications to be open and running so that the user can easily shift gears without creating a giant mess. However, tablets have their perks, the machine is much lighter and easier to carry and the hands on capabilities are great. The riddle here is finding a machine that can take from both a PC and a tablet and combine efforts to create a better machine.

Windows 2-in-1 systems combine power, ease, and the Windows operating system, to create better raw usability. Apple iOS and Android can’t compare to the usability of Microsoft Windows even with continuous improvement. With a 2-in-1 system you can run full applications, several of them, side-by-side, switching without problem. The Windows platform was designed for this. I love Apple products and I own quite a few myself, but I know needs and Apple products cannot match the needs of the consumer that wishes to work from a tablet. I know this from experience as I tried to brave my first year of college on only an iPad. I lost a lot of sleep that year.

A Windows 10 powered 2-in-1 PC is not only less expensive, but easier to use for ‘real’ work. Here are a few guidelines to help you make a 2-in-1 purchase.

Choose your Size – 2-in-1 devices range in size from 10 inch models that are ideal for those that are always on the go and need something light that travels well, to 11 and 13 inch models such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and the Lenovo Yoga 900. If you are simply not impressed with 13 inches, the HP 15 inch Spectre x360 should do the trick.

Detachable or Rotating Hinge? – Typically you can opt for bendable or detachable. If you prefer the touch-based experience similar to using a tablet but again with better power and management, choose a detachable model. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4, HP Spectre x2 and the Dell XPS 12 are all great detachable models with tablet bodies and magnetic keyboards. In comparison, if you write a significant amount for your job then a bendable 2-in-1 is a better match for you. The Lenovo Yoga 900 and HP Spectre x360 have hinges that bend 360 degrees, and also offer tent and presentation positions.

Processor Specs – The highest power systems will feature an Intel Core i7 or m7 chip. Midrange models will have Core i3, i5 and m5 CPUs, which will support productivity as a good middle range between price and performance. Those on a budget are going to find Intel Celeron and Atom CPUs in their hybrids. If you want a device for browsing the web, answering emails, and watching Netflix a lower budget spec should work just fine.

Storage– The standard for 2-in-1 machines is 4GB of RAM, but 8GB is better if you can afford the increase. I would not advise 16GB of RAM unless you are going to be answering some serious work demands. For most people the extra memory and performance is not needed, not to mention it is more expensive.

Screen Resolution– Screen resolution is very important! A higher resolution screen makes a huge difference throughout the day. Affordable 2-in-1 models have 13366 x 768 pixel displays, but if you can you should look for a sharper 1920 x 1080 full-HD screen. Better image quality and side by side window viewing. The higher end resolutions are so beautiful it is hard not to pay the price for higher resolution. But these can suck up a lot of power, so be mindful of what is really important.

Budget – You can spend anywhere from $150 to $3,000 on a 2-in-1 device. Prices escalate as you increase size, specs, storage, and resolution. Look to our next post to find the perfect 2-in-1 for you!

Earbuds that cancel specific noises, enhance others

Here One

Doppler Lab’s noise filtering earbuds, The Here One earbuds, are truly the coolest earbuds on the market right now. The debuted on Kickstarter and made their way to Coachella this past spring, where 10,000 pairs of buds were put to the ultimate sound test. Now, a few tweaks have been made and the buds are even more revolutionary. The newest generation is “dramatically improved” as Doppler Lab puts it. I’d hope so, considering the first version lacked one major ingredient to mass integration, the buds didn’t stream music! The Here Ones can now play music and answer phone calls via Bluetooth, perfect for personal and work use. Unlike traditional noise-canceling headphones, these are more particular about the sounds you do hear, fine-tuning the world around you, so that when you are outside you can hear the outside without the blaring sirens of the ambulance whirling past. Best of all, you can listen to music and still maintain a conversation with someone.

Each earbud houses a tiny computer with CPUs, sensors, speakers, microphones, the works. The engineers at Doppler Labs, developed algorithms that allow the technology to identify and target individual sounds, so that you can configure the device to cancel specific noises you do not wish to hear. For example, sirens, dog barking, baby cries, can all be identified by the earbuds and canceled so the listener is never bothered.  The set-up process includes a tailoring experience in which allows each individual to customize an audio profile of their own. This is particularly useful to those with sensitivity to certain frequencies. The Here One buds feature adaptive filtering, meaning the software is programmed to learn what the listen does and does not want to hear, similar to Siri learning the sound of your voice. The directional microphones in the device can even identify the specific direction of the noise you wish to cancel out or enhance. The buds can work to enhance noises as well, such as if you wished to zero in on the waterfall in your backyard. This is one step above the level of noise canceling buds on the market right now. This next level technology is now available for pre-order for a reasonable $299.00 and will begin shipping in November 2016. Here One

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Can entering a password be as easy as taking a selfie?

Most of us have heard of two-factor authentication, but photo login? This is an entirely new concept. Cloud-based security solution, LogMeOnce, has released PasswordLess PhotoLogin which allows users to sign into any website, just like one would expect from any password manager, but with a photo!

Two-factor authentication is a preferred extra layer of security that uses a password and username in combination with something that only the user has on them such as a a piece of information only the user knows or a physical token. With PhotoLogin, this second piece of information is a photo, taken on the desktop and then approved or denied via a trusted mobile device to gain access. So rather than a code being sent to your mobile device, the photo serves as the code.

When you click the PhotoLogin icon on the LogMeOnce home screen, you are prompted to snap a picture of yourself, or really anything you would like, even a stapler or your dog. The photo is then automatically sent to your linked mobile device where you can verify the image. The true protectors can swipe left and see data such as IP address, GPS location, and time stamp. Photos expire in 60 seconds and will self destruct after the first use, which ensures that you photo password is always unique. The LogMeOnce PhotoLogin update is free and available on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, as well as iOS and Android.




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Big Monitors conquer Big Workloads

From experience I can vouch for the benefits of having more surface area to complete tasks, and the digital world is no different. Just like when I’m cooking dinner at home, I need room to work. I need music, I need clean tools, I need space to let my elbows kick out to either side freely (yes this applies to the kitchen and the office).

So of course I am a huge supporter of the multiple monitor desk space. First thing I did this spring was reorganize my desk life. Pushed my laptop out to the left a tad, replugged my monitor and voila, I felt instantly more productive. Why? Because I can see everything I need to do, all at once. I can have my outlook open on my laptop screen, checking emails and the calendar, while I am writing blogs on my larger monitor. This basically ensures I miss nothing, which is how I like things to be. Do yourself the favor and take a minute to look at your desk situation. If you are looking at that tiny laptop screen and thinking you could really benefit from a new monitor or even two, I’m with you, and I have complied a list of the best monitors to increase your work productivity.

Desktop monitors generally fall between 15 inches and 34 inches (measured diagonally). The bigger the screen the more you can expect to pay, so take into account the amount of space you have at your desk. A 24-inch display is a solid choice for the average user, but if you have the room in your budget and on your desk, you can opt for a 27-inch or even a massive 34-inch display. I personally recommend a curved monitor. Not only is this cutting edge, but makes for a more comfortable working experience. If you spend a significant chunk of your day starring at your monitor, the curved design will allow for a better range of vision, not to mention the picture quality will be insane compared to any monitor you’ve had in the past.

Dell UltraSharp U3415W – $900

34 inches  / 3440 X 1440 resolution/ HDMI, MHL, DisplayPort and mini DisplayPort 6 USB ports

Excellent and my personal top pick for curved 34 inch display. The price is high but it packs the quality to match, with In-Plane switching panel technology, with anti-glare non-reflective screen. Split screen capabilities, picture in picture, picture by picture, great sound, and amazing clarity. A sure fire win!

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Acer Predator XB271HK – $800

27 inches / 3840 X 2160 resolution / HDMI, DisplayPort, 5 USB ports

Top pick for big screen, performance, gaming, crisp colors and gray-scale reproduction. Only get two video inputs sadly, but has excellent gaming features. Still appropriate for the workplace if you have the cash and the desire for ultra crisp visuals.


BenQ XL2730Z -$500

27 inches / 2560 X 1440 resolution /DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA 5 USB ports

This 27-inch display pairs Twisted Nematic (TN) panel technology with AMD’s FreeSync dynamic-refresh technology to deliver excellent gaming performance with sharp, accurate colors and a Quad HD (2,560-by-1,440) resolution.XL2730Z-front-on

AOC G2460PF – $200

24 inches / 1920 X 1080 resolution /DVI, HDMI, MHL, DisplayPort, VGA 5 USB ports

If you’ve been itching to get your hands on an FreeSync-enabled display, but have found the prices prohibitive, check out the AOC G2460PF ($249). This 24-inch monitor uses AMD’s FreeSync anti-tearing technology to deliver smooth gaming action, and it offers a quick pixel response, speedy refresh rates, and low input lag. The gray scale is nothing compared to the BenQ however.


200 petaflop supercomputer from IBM – coming early 2018



The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is expected to take delivery of a new IBM system, Summit, in early 2018. Summit will be capable of 200 peak petaflops, making it twice as fast as Sunway TaihuLight, China’s new system announced this past Monday. As of now, TaihuLight is listed in the TOP 500 list of fastest supercomputers in world. TaihuLight packs a Linpack benchmark score of 93 petaflops and a claimed peak of 124.5 petaflops. Linpack benchmark has become the perferred yardstick for measuring performance of supercomputers, as it doesn’t record overall performance but rather performance of the system when solving dense systems of linear equations. This gives the best approximation of real-world performance. The Summit however, will emply IBM power 9 and Nvidia Volta GPUs. Using about 3,400 nodes, Summit will deliver five times the computational performance of Titan’s 18,688 nodes. Over half a terabyte of coherent memory in each node, as well as 800GB of non-volatile RAM, serving as a burst buffer or extended memory.  Cray also announced this week that it’s XC systems are now available with the latest Intel Xeon Phi (Knights Landing) processors. The XC systems should deliver a 100% performance boost over prior generations, with an adaptive design that supports multiple processor and storage technologies in the same architecture. Cray also revealed the Sonexion 3000 Lustre storage system, which will deliver speeds of almost 100 GB/sec in a single rack.




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With Algorithms comes Voice, with Voice there is No Offline

InformationAgeAutomationThe device in your hand, the one that half of you are most likely using to read this blog post, has been so fantastically adapted to the preferences of the user that sometimes we tend to read over how that device works for us. In the past decade alone mobile devices have taken a great leap into innovation, especially within the global smartphone market. Remember the Motorola razer? Yeah.

Perhaps it is hard for the population to have a desire to learn how such devices are working for us, rather than just learning how to control the device itself. For instance, Amazon. I can decide that I want to buy a pair of fuzzy cat socks, find the socks, buy the socks with one click, have them delivered same day, and that task has become a fleeting occurrence in my memory. But not to Amazon.

By quantifying or behavior, companies can deliver marketing strikes to potential customers that are so specific it is almost scary. The platforms that package this behavior are even more successful, making serious money selling it to advertisers. This is what the marketplace looks like with the innovation of algorithms. So when I decide to buy those fuzzy cat socks, and proceed to move on to reading an article on the web only to be startled by an advertisement on my webpage for fuzzy bunny socks, my brain does a little double take. How did they know that? Are they watching me? No. It’s Algorithms. Algorithms people.

Taking this idea one step further, think about those devices you don’t just click with, you talk with. You are literally telling your device what you want, what you like, what you need. You think developers haven’t noticed? Getting users to utilize voice control is a surefire way to use algorithms in an even bigger way. The always listening digital assistant devices we employ are doing exactly what we should already assume they do, always listening. These devices may only be activated into service by specific voice prompts but in order for that to work that microphone needs to always be turned on.

Now, I’m not saying any of this is a bad thing, in fact I think it’s brilliant. My point lies within understanding the technology that is working for you, if only at a minor level, so that technology can continue to work better for you, the user. Voice and audio activity items help technologies such as Google, understand what the user is saying when using voice search features, so you better believe those voice snips are saved in order for the device to be able to recognize that voice again. Eventually those snips will be perused for marketing data points in the form of audio content analysis, just like algorithms picked up on my purchase of fuzzy cat socks.

Technology is literally becoming unavoidable, and in my personal opinion that isn’t the worst thing in the world. Who doesn’t want a personal digital assistant to know exactly what you need when you need it? With a link to get it?



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