LEYTON helps sustainable startups to exhibit their tech @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

For some companies, the dream of attending CES can be completely outside the realm of possibilities. Maybe it's because of finances, the distance, or something else. Because of this, we have seen organizations across the globe run contests to help those companies get to and exhibit at CES. This year, one of those contests was the LEYTON Sustainable Start-up Challenge.

This program allowed five startups from around the world to exhibit in Eureka Park. To qualify, the companies had to originate in one of nine countries, and have a positive impact on sustainability. It must also fit into one of the official CES marketplaces, which are varied and numerous, offering 32 options. The company must also fit within the CES Eureka Park criteria. From the more than 200 entries, they then narrowed it down to the five winners.

One of the winners, GroPod, was in a growing category of startups that offer indoor vegetable grow cabinets. They often look like a standard appliance, usually fitting into a refrigerator gap in a kitchen. We have featured several over the years at CES and Collision. Another winner, RetroLabs, offers a camera that goes into your refrigerator to help identify and manage expiration dates on your food. This can help reduce food waste, as well as over-buying, as you can see the contents from the store.

Skriware sets itself apart as an educational platform that teaches through 3D printing and hands-on activities. For example, you can build and program a robot almost entirely with parts and pieces you print yourself. As robotics programs are growing in popularity in schools, this can help start that program. Wiseair allows you to test and determine the air quality of a home, including during the buying process. This is done through local sensors and wider air quality data. Finally, BeFC is a paper-based biofuel cell system that doesn't use traditional and expensive catalytic conversions.

To find out more about the LEYTON Sustainable Start-up Challenge, check out their website.

Interview by [tpnmarloanderson" class="UpStreamLink">.

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OrCam MyEye 2 brings independence to the visually impaired @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

It should be no surprise that vision is an important part of modern society. For those with impaired, limited, or no vision, getting through the day can be incredibly difficult. From reading signs and menus to identifying other people in a room, the things most of us take for granted are often unavailable. With the help of the OrCam MyEye 2, some of those capabilities can be replicated.

The device is a small rectangle that attaches to a pair of glasses. Through the device, the wearer can get a lot of information about their surroundings. We got to see the device in action as it read aloud the text on a flyer in the studio. Of course, as with so many live demonstrations, it didn't work perfectly, but the CES environment is not normal life. However, what we saw was still impressive. The ability to control what is verbalized via voice controls makes it far easier to learn how to use it.

In addition to the ability to read text, the MyEye 2 can also identify faces. Once taught, the device can announce verbally when someone in your close circle is in the vicinity. Obviously, knowing who is in the room with you is an important part of socializing, and one that is often lost with visual impairment. Normally, it would require you to wait for them to introduce themselves as being there.

The best part of MyEye 2 is that it does not require an internet connection. Because all of the AI technology is built directly into the product, there is no need for an internet connection. This means that it will continue to work no matter where you are or whether or not you've got a viable cellular connection.

For more information about the OrCam MyEye 2, check out the company's website.

Interview by [tpnmarloanderson" class="UpStreamLink">.

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MicroEJ makes developing smart devices less expensive @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

When it comes to connected devices, one of the more complicated aspects is deciding upon an integrated platform. We've seen Google promote that there are millions of smart devices on the market that run on Android, but Android has a large footprint that requires onboard storage and RAM, both of which add additional cost to the production of each device. A significantly smaller platform called MicroEJ gives hardware developers all of the features they need while limiting the memory needs significantly.

The goal of MicroEJ is to help companies bring smart features to devices, in categories from smartwatches to electric meters, printers to lighting, in a faster and less expensive process. They accomplish this in part with their software platform, which is 0.1% the size of Android, which means that the system requirements are lower than they would be if they were using Android on their devices. It also means that, with smaller processors, comes less electrical requirements.

Power efficiency can be the difference between a product being viable in certain marketplaces and being more of a hassle. With lower power requirements comes the ability to run for a longer period on a battery. For example, consider a GPS transceiver on a shipping container. There's the possibility that the container will be in the dark for an entire shipment, either on boat or train and cannot charge via solar. Better battery efficiency could mean that the tracking could last longer on a smaller battery.

In addition, the platform allows hardware developers to allow software developers to deploy additional apps with new capabilities to the devices. With this ability comes a branded app marketplace, similar to what we see on Windows, iOS, and Android. This makes for the ability to allow integrations that the manufacturer might never have thought of.

For more information about MicroEJ, check out their website.

Interview by [tpnmarloanderson" class="UpStreamLink">.

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Sure Feed Microchip Pet Feeder makes feeding time easy @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

If you have ever had a pet, you know that most of them would eat 24/7 if given the opportunity. They are also known for stealing food from one another when they're not looking. Dogs get into the cat's food and vice versa. Even my dog suffers from food theft when at my parents' house during CES. Sure Petcare has a solution for some of these problems with the Sure Feed Microchip Pet Feeder.

How does the Microchip Pet Feeder work?

The Microchip Pet Feeder works by tracking your pet using the microchip that many pets already have. Once registered to the feeder, the device has the ability to track your pet's eating behaviors and help regulate those activities. The bowl stays covered until the pet crosses through the archway over the bowl. The feeder then determines whether or not this pet is allowed to have food.

There are several conditions that may apply to the availability of food for the pet. For example, you may only want them eating during a certain time of day. This could prevent your cat from throwing up in the living room in the middle of the night. Or, perhaps they are only allowed to eat a certain amount of food. By including a weight sensor under the bowl, the feeder can determine when they've had enough.

Who is the Microchip Pet Feeder for?

In addition to limiting your pet's eating habits, the Microchip Pet Feeder can still provide value. For example, if you have two pets, each can have their own feeding station locked to their unique microchip. This can prevent my mother's dog from eating my dog's food while he is staying there. It also means that they don't have to stay in different rooms while they eat.

It also gives the ability to track your pet's eating habits. When are they eating the most? How much do they eat each day? You can use that information to determine if something is wrong when they are eating too much or too little, or see if they are changing their habits as they age.

The Microchip Pet Feeder is available starting at $149, with the Microchip Pet Feeder Connect available for $180. For more information on the product line, check the Sure Petcare website.

Interview by [tpntoddcochrane" class="UpStreamLink">.

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Monster IlluminEssence and the smart future of the brand @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

After the initial announcement of the IlluminEssence lighting product line from Monster at CES 2019, the reception has been mixed. Some of what has been missing from the line has been true customization, such as custom patterns and proper color picking. The original line was controlled by a small remote control, but this new generation, known as the Smart IlluminEssence, is different

The Smart IlluminEssence line, which will be launching in the coming months, gives greater control over the products by introducing smartphone control. This means the ability to pick a color and get back to that exact color again. It also introduces custom moods, so you can create patterns in addition to the existing ones.

Most importantly, the Smart IlluminEssence line will have a variety of new and unique products. Our favorite new product is a glowing ball, dubbed The Orb. This "magic ball" is waterproof, making them perfect for use outdoors. At CEO Noel Lee's insistence, the designers are working to make them float upright so that they can be used in a pool. To make the product even more compelling, The Orb is battery-powered and features all of the capabilities above, all for $29.99.

Our next favorite products are the wall panels. There are two sets of these panels: Digit and Prism. While the Digit line looks like the individual segments of an LCD number panel, Prism is a triangle. The pieces of each set are designed to connect to one another, making unique patterns and designs. These sets are designed to be used for creative projects without breaking the bank. Digit ships with three panels for $59, while Prism sells for $69.

The most surprising product in the line is the waterproof LED strip. Unlike normal LED strips, this strip has a custom diffuser. That means that you cannot see the individual pixels on the strips, but instead, you get a single, uniformed light. In addition, this can be used outdoors because of the waterproofing. The long strip will sell for $39, with a smaller unit being available as well.

These products will be released over the coming months through "A major national retailer" at the price points listed. As information is made available, it will be at the Monster Store.

Disclosure: Since Thanksgiving 2019, our team has spent a lot of time with the Monster IlluminEssence product line because of a defect with the first generation non-smart products. Our interview at CES 2020 was to help show what a different manufacturer can do with the brand.

Interview by [livescottertz" class="UpStreamLink">.

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Apple might finally be eliminating iPhone's biggest limitation

For anyone who has used a computing device other than iPhone or iPad at any time in the past few decades, there is one commonality - the ability to determine default apps for common tasks. The behavior is such an important piece of computing that, when Microsoft began to build their web browser, Internet Explorer, into Windows 98SE and beyond, Europe was afraid they were going to eliminate the ability to change the default browser option. That wasn't the plan, but it didn't stop worry, anger, and an anti-trust case.

Today, that anti-trust case has likely continued to have an effect on the industry. Almost all new platforms that have been created since have included the ability to set default web browser, email client, and more. The biggest exception to this rule is Apple's iOS and iPadOS. Owners of an iPhone or iPad are forced to use Safari as their web browser and Apple's email app as their default email. This is another example of Apple's attempt at owning a complete monopoly in its ecosystem. But that might finally be about to change.

According to Bloomberg News, iOS 14 will bring to an end that aspect of the company's monopoly. This move could possibly be the biggest change in Apple's policy of control since the inception of iOS, which issued in this new corporate philosophy. It might also be the most anticipated feature from Apple.

The ability to choose your own browser, email app, maps app, etc., are so commonly requested, that both Google and Microsoft have baked the ability into their own application ecosystems. If you use Outlook as your email client, which is very common, you can choose what apps will open from Outlook. Standard links can be opened in Safari or Edge, and location links can be opened in Apple Maps, Citymapper, Google Maps, or Waze. Google's applications offer similar settings, all for the same reason. But, it would be nice to know that, no matter where you open a link, it will open the way you want it to.

February 23, 2020 - Episode 551 (F5 Live: Refreshing Technology)

This week, Apple's changing its defaults, GeForce Now's losing its content, and Google's following kids again.

Is It Worth Upgrading Your Video Card? - Episode 217 (Piltch Point)

This week, Avram Piltch discusses whether or not it is worth upgrading your video card. Sure, your existing computer might have the ability to take the newest and most exciting video card, but is it worth the upgrade cost?

Tom's Hardware recently released a video card lookup to help you determine what video cards are compatible with your system. However, the most important question to ask yourself when considering a video card upgrade is, "What are your goals with the upgrade?" For example, if your goal is to play games in 4K, you video card might not be your limiting factor.

If your system is a few years old, your system processor might not be able to keep up with the requirements of 4K gaming. It's also possible that your motherboard might not support the latest and greatest cards. Or, your power supply might not have the 8-pin or 8+6-pin setup for the really powerful cards. These other limitations could possibly mean a bigger upgrade might be required to accomplish anything noticeable.

This is not to say that a video card upgrade is not a viable project. With a more modern setup, upgrading your video card could have a profound effect on your system's performance. This is especially true if you're going from an on-board card to a full graphics card. You might be upgrading from an older card that you kept from a previous system to something more modern.

However, it is important to remember that, in most system upgrades, the only part that is easily retained is the case. To get a lot out of your upgrade, it will usually require replacing the processor, motherboard, and RAM, on top of the video card. Plus, if it's a big upgrade, you'll possibly need a new power supply and, for speed, you might even consider an upgraded SSD.

The EcoFlow DELTA brings power to a dark situation @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

If you live in a place where the weather gets dangerous, like the Gulf Coast, you know just how important having a backup for power can be. Following a hurricane a few years ago, several of our team were without any power for over a week. In Florida, that means more than just food in the freezer spoiling - it can also mean health issues from the heat. Standard battery systems are too small, and generators require gasoline and maintenance. But, the EcoFlow DELTA is a product that finds the best of both worlds.

EcoFlow DELTA Basics

The EcoFlow DELTA is a large rechargeable battery designed specifically for those powerless situations. Unlike small packs, the DELTA is designed to be able to run your lights, refrigerator, CPAP machine, and more when the need arises. The DELTA is for more than just emergencies, however. You can use it to bring power along on a camping trip, without the need for the noisy generator, or running your car battery down.

EcoFlow DELTA Specs

The battery features a capacity of 1300Wh and an output of 1800W. The battery can charge from completely dead to 80 percent in only an hour. When combined with solar panels, through the universal solar input port, you can even keep the battery itself charging while it is also keeping your home running. On one side of the system is a panel of standard electrical outlets to power your appliances and necessities. On the other side is a panel of USB ports to keep your electronics, like phones and tablets, powered. You can even use it to give a small charge to an electric vehicle.

The EcoFlow DELTA is available now in several configurations. You can but it on its own for $1399, or in bundles with portable solar panels. To find out more about the products or to place an order, check out their website.

Interview by [tpntoddcochrane" class="UpStreamLink">.

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MONIT Adult Diaper Sensor reduces elder health risks @ CES 2020 (PLUGHITZ Live Presents)

While baby care technology is a popular category, one area that seems to be missed is elder care. All elder care facilities have certain common issues, with one of the most common being incontinence. As we get older, it is fairly common to have problems controlling our body, but for a care facility, managing this for multiple patients can be a real challenge. Luckily, MONIT Adult Diaper Sensor is designed to help.

Smart Adult Diaper Sensor

The technology is designed to help care facilities manage and monitor the diaper status of their patients. Currently, facilities either expect the patients to report when their diaper is soiled, which is not always possible, or check during their rounds. This is time-consuming and takes the caregivers away from other tasks. It can also waste resources by unnecessarily changing a diaper. By using MONIT's system, they can get alerts, care of the sensing technology built into the device.

More important than any of the resource issues are the medical problems produced by improper diaper changes. Patients can suffer from any number of issues, ranging from skin rashes to urinary tract infections. These health issues pose both discomfort for the patient and cost for the family and caregivers. The Adult Diaper Sensor reduces these risks while giving everyone involved a new peace of mind.

Other sensing benefits

The sensor does more than just alert to a soiled diaper, however. It includes temperature, humidity, and accelerometer sensors as well. This can make staff aware of other issues, including a skin temperature spike or drop, or even a fall. It can also notify if the patient hasn't been moving at all, which can be an indication of a severe issue.

To find out about all of the Adult Diaper Sensor's features or to contact the company, check out their website.

Interview by [tpntoddcochrane" class="UpStreamLink">.

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