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These Young Innovators are some of the ones to watch @ CES 2020

PLUGHITZ Live Presents

These Young Innovators are some of the ones to watch @ CES 2020

2020-04-09

At PLUGHITZ Live, we have a lot of opportunities to work with the best and brightest students from around the world. While we might not have hosted FIRST Looks, CES managed to provide yet another opportunity to show off some of the amazing students who were showcasing their innovating solutions to some of the world's problems. These students were invited as winners of The Young Innovators Awards for 2020.

The first student we got to talk with was Alishba Imran, a 16-year-old student from Arizona. Her product is called Honestblocks, and solves an issue that many people are unaware of: counterfeit medication. At least 10 percent of the global medication supply is counterfeit, which can easily lead to massive problems. Archer brought the issue to the attention of many, but the solution isn't as obvious, at least to us. However, by using blockchain, Honestblocks is able to track and maintain an accurate and unalterable supply chain record to protect people's health. You can learn more about the Honestblocks project on the project website.

The second student we spoke with was Stanley Liu, another 16-year-old student. His project centers around improving the process and accuracy of blood tests. His solution is called the Immuno Essense Chip, and it is an integrated device for blood plasma separation and multiplexing immunoassay detection. By improving the process, he is able to improve the turnaround time and the cost of testing. Rather than traditional tests, which can take up to a week, these tests can be run in under 3 minutes and cost less than $2. To learn more about the project, you can check out the project website.

To find out more about The Young Innovators Awards and this year's other award winners, head over to the award program's website.

Interview by Scott Ertz of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Bzigo is eliminating mosquitoes from your life one by one @ CES 2020

PLUGHITZ Live Presents

Bzigo is eliminating mosquitoes from your life one by one @ CES 2020

2020-04-09

In some parts of the world, such as Florida, mosquitoes are an annoyance that we all have to deal with. In other parts of the world, mosquitoes carry harmful and dangerous diseases. Whether you're hiding from a nuisance or preventing the spread of disease, the first step is always in identifying and locating the problem. In the case of a mosquito, that can be difficult for human eyes because they are small and maneuverable. Luckily, Bzigo has a new way to get it done.

The Bzigo looks similar to a webcam or a home security camera and functions similarly. Using the integrated camera and machine vision algorithms, it is able to locate mosquitoes in a room. It does this not just by looking at the image from the camera, but by identifying motion patterns. This is important because a mosquito is obviously tiny and is easily missed. But, by identifying the motion of the tiny spec in the image, the system can separate the insect from dust and other small items.

Once the mosquito is found, it pushes an alert to your mobile device. This allows you to go to where the Bzigo is located. Once there, you will see a laser pointer circling the location of the mosquito. Now you can eliminate the problem on your own in the manner that best suits you, or that is the most fun. My family enjoys using those tennis racket looking hand zappers but to each their own. In the future, it is possible that the system would be able to deal with the pest on its own, but for safety reasons, identifying and marking is a great start.

The Bzigo is available for preorder now, with a reserve price of $9. The expected retail price will be $169. To learn more or preorder your device, head over to their website.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch.

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The Atmos from Ao Air is a breathing mask for unclean air @ CES 2020

PLUGHITZ Live Presents

The Atmos from Ao Air is a breathing mask for unclean air @ CES 2020

2020-04-09

It's no secret that even before the COVID-19 problems began, breathing devices were a big part of everyday life in parts of the world. Most people remember the images of citizens in Beijing before and after the Olympics wearing masks every day because of the quality of the air. Even during CES, we see people from all over the world wearing masks as they walk around Las Vegas. While the passive masks that many people wear for personal respiration are helpful, there are ways to make the experience far better. Enter Aō Air, a company dedicated to making active personal respiration masks.

The company's mask, the Atmōs, is very different from the ones you see on a regular basis. Rather than being worn in physical contact with the face, which gets hot an uncomfortable quickly, the Atmōs masks look similar to a Microsoft HoloLens and are worn in front of the mouth, resting on the nose like a pair of glasses. The gap space allows for proper airflow and ventilation. And, while it may sound like that is the opposite of the concept, the airflow is a key aspect of the device's engineering.

These masks use the airflow to produce a wall of air around the face, which creates a high level of air pressure. That pressure prevents air on the outside of the mask from getting past the wall. Then, the mask pushes clean air into the void between your face and the air wall, ensuring that the air that you breathe is of high quality. That air goes through a filtration and sanitation process between being pulled into the device and being provided to you.

The first units of the Atmōs masks are expected to ship in July 2020, and pre-orders are available now. The deposit is $70 and the full retail is $350. To find out more about the company and to preorder your unit, check out the company's website.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch.

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Speech Morphing makes custom virtual voices sound real @ CES 2020

PLUGHITZ Live Presents

Speech Morphing makes custom virtual voices sound real @ CES 2020

2020-04-08

If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that computerized voices are horrible. Some systems do a decent job of blending real voice with digital, such as Cortana, but Jen can't live in the studio recording every possible outcome. What we usually get is something slightly better than the bizarre pseudo-human voices you hear in telephone trees that always sound happy, or always sound flat. But, with the help of Speech Morphing, that could be a thing of the past.

The Smorph system is capable of taking any voice and digitizing it. This gives brands the ability to use a real person and the digital representation in different scenarios. Imagine if a retailer had a famous spokesperson for their television and radio ads, but their customer support number and their digital app were able to speak to you in the same voice, all while being able to customize the words that are said on the fly.

The company's Smorph on-demand voice system is powered by artificial intelligence and is able to produce emotional inflections in the voice. More importantly, it is able to determine the right times in which to change the tone. Let's use the example of a phone tree. If you were speaking to a real operator, their tone would not sound like they just attended a party while discussing issues with billing or internet outages. A digital voice, however, usually doesn't care about your situation or the context of your conversation. Smorph's virtual voices do, however, making it a more natural interaction.

The Smorph system is also able to adapt to a business domain. The tech world has a lot of bizarre words, as does the medical industry. Digital voices are never able to get the right pronunciation of these words, but with the customization available through this system, you can get the pronunciation right so your digital agent can sound even more natural.

The Smorph system from Speech Morphing is available now. For more information, check out their website.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch.

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Become a data JEDAI through your business's mobile app @ CES 2020

PLUGHITZ Live Presents

Become a data JEDAI through your business's mobile app @ CES 2020

2020-04-08

One of the most important insights for a business is the ability to look into the needs and wants of its potential customers. To be able to see the likes and dislikes, as well as track moments in their individual experience is almost worth more than gold. It is in those moments where a brand is best able to engage with those customers and offer its product or service to complement or help repair the situation. Anagog is the service that provides that clarity.

By using artificial intelligence and phone sensors, like GPS, the platform, known as JEDAI, is able to determine what a customer needs at a particular moment. This is done by creating a virtual persona of the person, which is a generalization of the person's interests and habits. With that persona, a business can engage with their customers in a direct and meaningful way.

The service is implemented within a company's own app through an ADK (software development kit) and is intended specifically to learn about the customer within the context of that business. Take, for example, a department store. Every store has its own app that allows you to browse the product line and make purchases. But, they also make recommendations, based on the products you have explored. If you have only ever looked at women's clothing, then it would make no sense to recommend kids' toys.

Now, imagine if the app was able to do the same thing, but while you are in the store. It can see the sections of the store that you frequent to improve recommendations. Maybe, every time you go to the store, you stop by the board games. That would be an indicator that board games are an interest, even though you have never looked at them in the app.

Most importantly, the system is designed for personal privacy. While most analytics services transmit their persona data to a server for analysis, the JEDAI system is able to do all of the analysis and recommendations on the device. This means that your data remains on your device and, therefore, in your control. It is a seismic shift in the data market.

JEDAI is available now for both Android and iOS. To learn more about how the platform can help, check out their website.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch.

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AURA Devices helps maintain healthy hydration during sports @ CES 2020

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AURA Devices helps maintain healthy hydration during sports @ CES 2020

2020-04-08

One of the issues that face athletes is proper hydration. Each person's body is different, and that means that there are no general rules that work across the board. It also varies greatly by what you are doing. Some sports are more involved and produce more sweat on a regular basis, while others are "start and stop", making the exertion different. Then there's the variation between seasons, where people tend to sweat more during the summer than in the winter. The best way to determine the right process for hydration is through AURA Devices sensors.

While most people know that under hydrating is dangerous, what most people don't know is that over-hydrating can be just as dangerous. It dilutes important substances in your blood, which prevents the proper behavior of the body. By using the AURA Strap or AURA Band from AURA Devices, you can get an accurate idea of your body's current needs. The Strap is a band for your Apple Watch that adds a sensor on the backside of your wrist. The Band is similar but is a standalone device that doesn't require the Apple Watch. The sensor itself detects hydration and body mass index (BMI) on-demand, meaning that it will run the test when you ask it to.

The best way to use it is to run a test before you begin your activity to determine your hydration level and then do it regularly throughout your activity. This gives the system the ability to determine the change in your body during your workout process and make recommendations to correct your current situation.

The AURA Band is available now for $179 and the AURA Strap is available for preorder for $99. To learn more about the system or purchase a device, check out the company's website.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch.

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How to Get Gadgets Shipped Now - Episode 223

Piltch Point

How to Get Gadgets Shipped Now - Episode 223

2020-04-05

These days, we definitely live in interesting times. Much of the world is completely shut down in an attempt to keep COVID-19 under control. Some people have lost their jobs, some have been furloughed, while others have shifted to working from home. No matter the scenario, many people still need to purchase things, including electronics. For some of us, it's about reworking our offices to allow us to more easily work from home. For others, it's about enhancing their downtime. For all of us, picking the right retailer is important.

All of the online and brick and mortar retailers have changed their policies in the wake of the shutdown. Some companies are no longer shipping regular products, some are not shipping at all, while others are working hard to fulfill orders. Before you try to make a purchase online, make sure that you know the current policies of the store.

For example, Amazon has changed its shipping policies, moving its priority to essential products. So, if you are trying to buy something that is more of a luxury item, it could take a while to receive. For example, Avram purchased over a dozen different Raspberry Pi cases and has only received one so far. For other maker components, a popular store is Adafruit. The company has converted all of its manufacturing to personal protective equipment (PPE), so it is unlikely that you will receive a product in the near future.

On the other hand, stores like Newegg and B&H Photo have committed to trying to keep business running as usual. That means that if you are looking for a computer, audio video, or photography component, these should be your go-to retailers right now. The key is to check with the company's shipping policies, and verify that you are buying directly from the store and not through a third party.

April 5, 2020 - Episode 557

F5 Live: Refreshing Technology

April 5, 2020 - Episode 557

2020-04-05

This week, Sprint is gone for good, Humvees are here to stay, and the Apple Tax has been temporarily suspended.

Hachi Infinite M1 brings a projector to the Android world @ CES 2020

PLUGHITZ Live Presents

Hachi Infinite M1 brings a projector to the Android world @ CES 2020

2020-04-05

There are many aspects of a smartphone or tablet that make them an attractive device. However, the small size of the screen can take some of the shine off of the excitement. For running a presentation, looking at photos, or reading the news, a larger screen can make the experience far better. The Hachi Infinite M1 from Puppy Robot is designed to combine the best of both worlds into a single device.

The device is a DLP projector with an Android device built-in. This Android computer is capable of running any Android apps and projecting them on nearly any surface. The feature that makes this a standout product is that the projection screen is fully touch-capable. This means that you lose no features of Android by going to the big screen. The projector has an auto-focus system included, so you never have to worry about adjusting the lens manually.

During the interview, Marlo got the opportunity to try it out and was incredibly impressed. While reaching over the projector from behind caused problems for the sensors, Marlo's interaction from the side produced expected results. He was able to look at photos, play a video, and more. The part that was most impressive was when he opened Microsoft Word and tried out the on-screen keyboard. The touch is powered by an artificial intelligence system and paired with a system called AnyTouch, which makes the touch function on any surface.

In addition to the built-in computer, the device offers the ability to use the projector for external devices. That means you could plug in a computer and use the projector as a traditional projector. This capability extends the already impressive usefulness of the product.

The Hachi Infinite M1 is coming soon. To learn more about the product and find out when it becomes available, check out the company's website.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch.

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The WaterSwitch protects your whole house from leaks @ CES 2020

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The WaterSwitch protects your whole house from leaks @ CES 2020

2020-04-05

For any homeowner, one of the biggest stresses is around water. Pipes can burst, joints can leak, and fixtures can drip. All of these issues can be annoying, but some of them can be devastating. And, on top of it all, they all cost money in expanded water bills. It's difficult to prevent these issues because many of them happen in a place where you can't see - in walls, under cabinets, or inside of appliances. However, through the WaterSwitch, homeowners can prevent the damage created by water issues.

The WaterSwitch is a small connected device that goes on the main incoming water line for your home or business. The device pays attention to water flow, based on draw through the system. Using its knowledge about water usage, it is able to determine when something unusual is happening. Unusual water usage is usually an indicator of a leak somewhere in the system. When that is detected, it alerts the owner of what it has detected. This helps prevent a small problem from becoming a large one.

Another interesting aspect of the WaterSwitch is the way it conserves water. Rather than being reactive, and trying to turn the water off when something goes wrong, the valve lives in the off position. The valve is only opened when the system detects a normal water request, such as turning on a sink or shower. The original model took a moment to pressurize the plumbing and provide water, the newest model maintains pressure. This is important because it makes the usage of water feel like there is nothing different in the plumbing.

The WaterSwitch is available now for $495. To learn more about the product and to order one for yourself, check out the company's website.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch.

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Roybi Robot's AI makes elementary learning fun & personal @ CES 2020

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Roybi Robot's AI makes elementary learning fun & personal @ CES 2020

2020-04-05

Elnaz Sarraf is a CES veteran, but was attending for the first time as founder and CEO of Roybi Robotics, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered educational robot for children aged 3-7.

Roybi was featured on the cover of Time Magazine as one of the best inventions of 2019. An interactive educational tool jam-packed with over 500 lessons, songs and stories for early elementary children, it helps advance language learning and basic STEM knowledge. The device provides conversational feedback as children use it, and has a screen interface as well. Utilizing facial recognition, it can individually greet children and interact with them, although the device also includes parental controls to toggle features on and off, in the interest of personal safety preferences.

Roybi is small and portable, with more than 8 hours of battery life. It also comes with different hats and other accessories that allow children to customize the robot's look. The lessons are organized across 50 categories of learning, providing a wealth of content on a daily basis. Initial interactions are intended to help children become familiar and comfortable with Roybi, and for the device to learn more about the child.

Roybi is unique in that it is responsive to an individual child's interests and abilities, going beyond one size fits all educational tools and platforms with a machine learning system that can identify even the degree to which a child is excited about a particular lesson or interaction. The device's "emotion detection" helps the system understand what a child really likes to learn about and to deliver more content in that area.

It pairs up easily with smart devices and is extremely user friendly, installed and ready to go in just 10 seconds. The related app is intended for parents and educators to be able to see children's learning progress via customizable reports.

Roybi is ruggedly built and comes in three different colors - green, blue and orange. It's available on the company's website, and retails for $199.

Interview by Marlo Anderson of The Tech Ranch.

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Plott Carta is augmented reality for large home projects @ CES 2020

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Plott Carta is augmented reality for large home projects @ CES 2020

2020-04-04

One of the main reasons people fail to complete home renovation projects is because they don't go as planned. I think most of us have had the experience of trying to hang a collection of photos or paintings and none of the items line up. Having a failure like that can be really discouraging and can prevent people from trying other projects in the future. With the help of Plott, anyone can achieve their home project goals.

The company currently has two main products. The first is the Cubit, which is a digital, augmented reality measuring tape. You can learn more about the Cubit in a future episode. The other product is the Carta, which is a large, digital measuring wheel. In addition to the traditional feature of a measuring wheel - measuring distance - the Carta is able to track the full route and place it on a map. This is great for mapping out a new garden, a deck, a pool, and more.

Once you have the path mapped out, you can make educated decisions about the project. Whether you need to purchase boundary materials for a garden or wood for a deck, having proper measurements will allow you to know exactly what materials you're going to need. You can also annotate the map, including marking points of interest, such as large rocks, and make notes about the project. Once your map is together, you can share your project files with someone else to help.

The really exciting part of the product is the ability to take the digital world and place it back in the real world. Using an existing map, you can place the Carta in a starting position and it will allow you to re-walk the same path, so you can place your frame for your desk, the boundary for your garden, etc.

The Plott Carta is available now for $199, and the Plott Cubit is available for $119.

Interview by Don Baine, The Gadget Professor.

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