Control your home via verbal command with these voice-controlled products

Voice control is coming to the forefront of the smart home

Vocca by ActiVocal

Vocca

Vocca is much more than meets the eye. This simple-looking gadget is actually a lighting adapter that turns traditional bulbs into voice-activated ones. Stored inside is a microphone, an AC-to-DC converter, Bluetooth and memory, a natural language processor, and load relay. It doesn’t require Wi-Fi, set-up, or installation. Just by saying “Go Vocca light,” the device will be alerted that you’re ready to give a command, and from there, you can turn your lights on or off just by using your voice. With the compatible app, you can also schedule on/off times.

Echo by Amazon

Amazon_Echo

Amazon recently announced that it’s building a speaker that can be controlled with your voice. Called Echo, it acts like a personal assistant that’s similar to Siri or Google Now — just crammed into a speaker. By using seven microphones equipped with sensors that use beamforming technology, it listens for user requests, and can even understand you while it’s pounding out 360-degree audio to fill the entire room. Designed to make your life a little bit easier, Echo, which responds to “Alexa,” can also tell you the weather and answer general questions with facts from Wikipedia.

HomeKit by Apple

HomeKit

Apple came flying into the smart-home sector with the idea of HomeKit, a framework in iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling connected accessories. Once available, and by using Siri, HomeKit will allow users to control locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, and switches at home.

Homey by Anthom

Homey

Operating on a variety of protocols such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, and Z-Wave Homey is a voice-activated automation hub that can communicate with a bunch of differently configured gadgets at once. This voice-controlled sphere is also multi-lingual — it understands English, Dutch, Spanish, and French, and is compatible with a variety of app-enabled smart home products.
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5 strange patents owned by Google

A look into the future through Google’s eyes

Gadget that projects a keyboard onto your hand

 

Google_Projected_Keyboard

 

Image via patentimages.storage.googleapis.com.

By now most people know of the voice and gesture-activated wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display that is Google Glass. Though the idea of this device frees us from being tied to a desk and eliminates the need to carry around a smartphone or tablet, there’s still a downside. Voice commands don’t work well in noisy environments, and for those used to typing brief emails into a computer, anything lengthier could make for quite a tricky process. But it looks like Google has a solution to that.

Just last year the tech giant filed for a patent for a technology called “Methods and Systems for a Virtual Input Device.” The patent outlines a variety of projector and camera systems that would allow a keyboard to be laser-projected onto surfaces or onto a user’s hand. According to the patent, the projected QWERTY keyboard of the Glass would measure 295 mm by 95 mm. Read More

Google wants to put ads on car dashboards and refrigerators

In an SEC filing, Google admitted that in a few years it could be placing targeted ads on the public’s household and personal items

Tech-giant Google always seems to be one step ahead of the game, and right now it’s envisioning a future where it can send ads just about anywhere, including watches, thermostats, car dashboards, and even on refrigerators.

Just last week, Google sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission revealing its hopes to place marketing messages in ad-free objects. The company, which is just one of many who are swooping into the Internet of Things, revealed that its expectation is to have its users viewing ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in the future.

Google_Smartwatch_Ad

Google hopes to serve ads on your smartwatch. Image via extremetech.com.

Google already started placing its Android mobile operating system into cars through partnerships with automakers, and is also pushing it on smartwatches through an optimized OS called Android Wear. Read More

Battery-electric bus travels 700 miles in 24 hours

Proterra has set a new record for the most miles traveled by an electric bus in a day

Electric cars have been all the rage recently, turning heads and making headlines, but they’re not the only modern vehicles making their way to the streets. Electric buses have hit the roads as well, and are proving they can pave the way to a better future in public transportation.

 

Proterra_Electric_Bus 

Image via phys.org.

Proterra, for example, has now set a record for the most miles ever traveled by an electric bus in a day. As part of a test last month, one of Proterra’s plug-in buses traveled 700 miles in 24 hours driving at an average of 29 mph with the HVAC system running, and was charged periodically using Proterra’s fast-charging stations. Read More

Replace credit cards with an electronic wallet

The next generation of payment works anywhere your cards are accepted

Most of us carry around wallets stuffed with multiple credit cards and IDs, making them hard to find and easy to lose. With the high-tech smart wallet called the Wocket from NXT-ID, you can securely store electronic versions of your various plastic cards so you don’t risk misplacing them or having them stolen.

Wocket_Swipe

Swipe your cards into the Wocket to store your data.

To begin, new users swipe all of their magnetic-striped cards into the Wocket, which records their data and stores it in its onboard memory. Read More

Hack your car to post on social sites and send texts

An article I wrote for Electronic Products.

With one tiny gadget, almost any car in America can connect to social network data

Automatic, a service that aims to help drivers save time and thousands of dollars in wasted gas by teaching better driving habits in real time linked up with IFTTT, a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement. Together the team created a gadget called the Automatic Link, which allows almost any car manufactured since 1996 to connect to one of 82 social services including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SMS, and even your email account. The connection could be triggered when the ignition is started, a destination is reached, or when the check engine light comes on.

Automatic_IFTTT_Car

“Your car is the most expensive computer you’re ever going to buy, and it’s not even connected to the Internet,” Automatic Chief Product Officer Ljuba Miljkovic told Wired. “It could be so much more useful to you if it was connected.” Read More

Millennials want self-driving car features

An article I wrote for Electronic Products.

Study shows that Generation Y is pushing for driverless cars

A survey conducted by Accenture found that Millennials, also known as Gen Yers, are pushing for driverless car development. The survey covered 14,000 drivers in 12 countries, including the United States.

Google Self Driving Car

Google’s self-driving car, pictured above, has driven 300,000 miles.

While there is an ongoing debate about the safety of driverless cars, 90% of the survey respondents expressed interest in some autonomous driving options, which were primarily safety-related.

Since Millennials make up about a third of all U.S. drivers and are the rising generation of car buyers, they’re currently the top target for automakers looking for new customers. Read More