Tuesday 25 September 2018

My TRE Talk Radio Europe technology for September 2018

Here's a summary of the tech I mentioned in this afternoon's 'gadget guru' chat on TRE Talk Radio Europe:

Apple Watch 4

This month Apple has announced three new iPhones - the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max and the iPhone XR - as well as a new Apple Watch. The smartwatch is particularly notable because it includes a couple of impressive features.

Probably the most significant update from previous models is that the Series 4 Apple Watch can act as an electrocardiogram (ECG). There are electrodes built into the front and there’s a heart rate sensor in the back. If you’re concerned about heart health, these readings could help you - and help your doctor, too.

The other major new feature is a fall detector: if you fall over, the watch can sense this and call for help.

There''s a choice of two sizes and various specifications: pricing starts from £399 / €429.

Vivosmart 4 fitness wristband

The new Garmin Vivosmart 4 is – as the name suggests – the fourth generation of this particular fitness-focussed smart wristband. What’s so special? It includes a pulse oximeter, which can keep track of your blood oxygen level. This helps with tracking your sleep; not just the amount but the quality as well.

It also includes a heart rate monitor that links with your stress level and your sleep quality to work out the best time for you to start a workout.

Pricing is around £120 (€135).

Segway Drift W1 electronic skates

Remember the Segway, which was an incredibly clever two-wheeled platform that you could stand on and ride? There was just one problem: in the UK (and an assortment of other countries) you couldn’t ride it on the road – and you couldn’t ride it on the pavement either.

Since the launch of the Segway PT in 2001, the company has changed ownership a couple of times – but it's not gone away.

And so we're introduced to the Segway Drift W1. These, according to the company, are self-balancing e-Skates. In reality, they have the appearance of a motorised roller skate crossed with platform shoes. Pricing is £359 (just over €400), with delivery expected next month.

When you stand on the skates, you'll find they balance themselves, so all you need to do is lean forwards to go and lean sideways to steer. Your maximum speed is 7½ mph (12km/h), which is two or three times faster than walking, and your rechargeable batteries will keep you moving for up to 45 minutes.

Just one bit of bad news. Unfortunately, it’s not just the technology that’s similar to the original – it’s also the legal situation. Here in the UK, usage is restricted to private property – with the owner’s permission, of course.

Locky smart key

Gnerally speaking, smart locks have one big disadvantage: you need to change the lock in your door. But what if you could keep your lock and turn your key into a smart key? That’s exactly what this particular Kickstarter project is all about.

Locky is a little device that clips onto your key, like a fancy key cover. Inside that fancy cover is a tiny battery that lasts for around a year, some clever sensors and a Bluetooth connection.

Basically, the sensors work out if you’ve turned your key in the lock. The Bluetooth connection then links with an application on your phone to warn you if you’ve left home without locking the house. It’s also capable of warning you if you’ve left your key behind and can even help you find the key if you put it down somewhere. Plus it keeps a record of key use, so if all your family have a Locky on their key, you know if someone’s in and when they returned.

Most importantly, it’s still a mechanical key. It can’t be hacked and it unlocks your door even if the battery goes flat.

The company reckons they’ll start shipping these in March next year for around £60 each but there are currently special offers if you commit early.