Future Living

  • 6 of the Coolest and Most Imaginative Smart Home Tech of the Future

    6 of the Coolest and Most Imaginative Smart Home Tech of the Future

    On the eeco blog, we’ve talked about home automation and Smart Home products that currently exist on the market. Today, let’s talk about the future – highlighting incredible products imagined by creative designers.

    Future tech is all about convenience, so check out these incredibly smart ideas and the accompanying pictures. Not everything here actually exists; they are smart ideas, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t coming to a future near you.

    Water Shade

    Watershade 1

    Tired of fruit going bad within a few days of being left outside? Getting annoyed by those pesky fruit flies? Water Shade is the solution. Created by designer Yitu Wang, Water Shade is an intelligent tabletop dish and cover that provides protection for your fruits and vegetables. It works by creating a continuously working shield of water (delicious H2O) over whatever is placed inside.

    A built-in detector senses when a hand approaches and halts the water flow in that spot, like how Moses parted the Red Sea. Once you grab the fruit and remove your hand, the water shield goes back up.

    This clever idea keeps freshness and moisture locked in, while keeping flies, bacteria and any other unwanted particles out.

    Bio Tank Robotic “FishWater”

    BioTank Robotic Fish

    Designed by Akifusa Nakazawa, the dishwasher of the future just got a whole lot cooler. The Bio Tank is a dishwasher, composter and aquarium all-in-one. The fish in this aquarium are little robots that clean dishes by eating food residue and grime and turn it into biofuel.

    The robotic fish have built-in filters that clean the water, too, so replacing the water in your new dishwasher is unnecessary. How nice to have a pet that does so much and doesn’t need to be replaced every other week like that goldfish.

    The Dividing Printer

    The Dividing Printer

    If you’ve ever worked in a small office, you know how confusing and frustrating it can be to dig through a pile of printouts looking for the one you printed just ten minutes ago. Losing important printouts is one thing, but losing time looking for them or putting them in order is even worse.

    The Dividing Printer is the solution to small office spaces and homes where every individual needs their own print stack. By mounting the printer on a rail, it allows the printer to move left and right, printing documents in the right stack every time. The printouts are separated by different user profiles.

    It’s a simple, yet smart innovation to an old product. The Dividing Printer doesn’t change the function of the printer itself. Designed by In Young Jo & In Young Joo of South Korea, the product won a Red Dot Design Award in 2015.

    Floor Plan Light Switch

    Floor Plan Light Switch

    This nifty light switch makes current light switches obsolete. By putting your entire home’s layout onto one touch-based light switch, you can turn the lights of a specific room on/off with one touch. Designed by Taewon Hwang, the Floor Plan Light Switch is one button that controls the entire home.

    With one touch and a quick look at the switch, turn on/off the lights to your living room, bedroom or den. No more guessing around for which switch does what.

    Smart Windows

    Smart curtains are coming to the market, but what about smart windows that automatically adjust their tint throughout the day? These smart windows can keep sunlight in or out, meaning there’s no longer a need for window shades. What if the windows were paired with your thermostat? Now, the two work together to save energy by telling each other when to work and when to stop depending on how cold or hot the home is.

    A similar design already exists on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner fleet, but these windows still need to be controlled manually.

    Withings Thermo – Smart Thermometer

    Withings Thermo

    As one of the few products on this list that is readily available, this is truly a thermometer of the future. Thermo is an instant temporal smart thermometer that can measure temperature simply by hovering it over a forehead. 16 infrared sensors provide accurate measurements in only two seconds. It also pairs with a smartphone app that tracks temperature readings and provides symptoms/medications.

    By measuring temperature emanating from the temporal artery, Thermo is a non-invasive and hygienic thermometer that fussy kids will love. It supports up to eight unique users and is FDA/CE compliant.

    The Future is Cool

    There is so much more future tech out there. This list of six is a very small portion of the interesting and imaginative ideas coming out from creative designers around the world. If you want to see more, check out Yanko Design.

    What do you think of this list? Would you buy any of these products? Let us know below.

     

     

    六月 9, 2017 By masy@eeco Blog Future Living
  • Smart Cities of the Future and the Internet of Things (IoT)

    Smart Cities of the Future and the Internet of Things (IoT)

    Internet of Things – Barcelona, the world’s mobile capital, held the Mobile World Congress (MWC)  from February 27th to March 2nd. MWC is one of the most influential mobile events in the world as it consists of over 2,000 companies internationally. Some of this year’s featured categories are 5G, App Development, and Connected Living through the Internet of Things.

    Smart City - Internet of Things

    Photo Credit: Pixabay

    Smart City IQ

    With the growth of the tech industry, many cities are looking for ways to use digital information or the Internet of Things (IoT) to solve some of their biggest problems. Barcelona is a smart city that has implemented new technology to better connect and enhance the city’s efficiency with digital sensors that monitor parking and waste management. During the 2008 financial crisis, Barcelona suffered economic hardships which made it difficult for the city to financially sustain itself. In efforts to rebuild its structure, the city channeled energy into becoming what is now called, SmartCity Barcelona, through the integration of the IoT.

    It is through success stories such as Barcelona that enable other cities to identify and harness new technologies to increase efficiency. What is a smart city? There are multiple buzzwords encompassing this idea such as intelligent, green, livable and sustainable. These buzzwords however, are regarded as linked components through a continuous network of digital information generated by people. Through the web of interconnectivity, cities can extract data needed to improve infrastructure. In other words, the stronger the connection within the network, the smarter a city will become.  Use of the Internet of Things is vital in assisting the development of a sustainable society.

    Connected World - Internet of Things

    Photo Credit: Wordstream

    The Internet of Things (IoT)

    “In 2008, history was made as the number of appliances connected to the internet surpassed the number of people on the planet for the first time ever, foreshadowing a future where it is not only the people on this planet which are connected, but also the things” – The Alexandra Institute 2011

    Driven by urbanization, many cities are thriving thanks to the integration of the IoT―which not only refer to sensors, but also includes a diverse group of technologies such as smartphones, augmented reality and cloud computing.

    Partnership with the Internet of Things helps cities like San Jose and Copenhagen utilize smart technology which translates to an increase in environmental stability, economic growth and quality of life for its residents.

    Environmental Sustainability

    Many may not know of the problems California has faced such as droughts and major water pipeline failure in August 2016. San Jose has taken preventative measures to ensure this does not happen again through determination to become smart. Its location is an advantage because it is nestled in Silicon Valley, a popular area for tech startups. With San Jose’s Go Green Vision plan, it aims to address issues such as wasted energy, polluted air, and water supply challenges through partnership of Smart Cities USA and Intel Corporation’s pilot program to sustain economic growth.

    Intel’s program and Smart Cities USA will implement digital sensors throughout the city to interpret some of the environment’s problem areas, such as wastewater, air pollution, and transportation systems that help the city make effective decisions based on real-time data. It is through these data residents can become more educated about their surroundings and take curative measures conducive to their community. For instance, on days with polluted air, people can take Uber or carpool with friends to reduce car pollution.

    Greener Community in the IoT

    In 2014, Copenhagen was awarded the World Smart Cities Concept award in Barcelona for its Copenhagen Connecting (CC) project. Like San Jose’s project, CC aimed to create a greener community knitted together with the Internet of Things and a conscious neighborhood of residents. Most cities including Copenhagen, use an array of digital sensors to collect data and interact within the city. But to shake things up, Copenhagen is using street lighting as its framework to improve the city’s integration.

    The use of the city’s street lighting is an excellent platform as there is no need to create new housing for the sensors; lamp poles are plentiful throughout the city.

    “The lighting poles are also excellent for housing sensor equipment for water, wind and pollution as well as for traffic sensors,” says Søren Kvist, spokesperson and Project Manager at Copenhagen Solutions Lab, Copenhagen’s incubator for smart city initiatives.

    WiFi Light - Internet of Things

    Photo Credit: Pixabay

    Using new and existing technologies to create an ecosystem of connectivity makes a city efficient. Copenhagen demonstrates this concept well by showing how lighting can be a viable source for building this web of interconnectivity.

    “An innovative twist is how Copenhagen is planning to use outdoor lighting as infrastructure for the smart initiative. Street lighting is everywhere and every luminaire is connected with electricity, something that’s crucial to get all this tech stuff working. In the coming years 20 000 existing streetlights will also be changed into LEDs.”

    “LED-luminaires also have an important advantage as they are always operating. ‘They’re never totally switched off, only dimmed to extremely low levels. This means that other equipment will have power supply, regardless of the time of day,” says Kvist.

    Economic Growth

    Many cities are dealing with numerous economic hardships from recessions to growing populations. While San Jose and Copenhagen have differences in terms of smart city design due to variations in environmental and cultural characteristics, the two share a desire to create economic growth for their cities.

    San Jose’s project is expected to bring in about 25,000 clean-tech jobs as part of its economic strategy. With these new jobs, residents will have the opportunity to become part of a new workforce in different sectors such as healthcare, transportation and disaster response. Following pursuits to succeed in economic leverage, the city aspires to create an open-data system with the aim to encourage sharing of bigger business ideas from local entrepreneurs that complement the city’s clean-tech jobs.

    In Copenhagen, the CC project predicts almost €592 million in economic leverage and €104 million in new jobs if the project succeeds, according to a report done on the project’s socio economic analysis.

    Quality of Living

    Copenhagen Connecting is well underway as it brings the user experience side of Internet of Things to its residents. For instance, as part of Copenhagen’s hygge-style approach, the project has implemented a sensor-based bike post which records the number of riders cycling in certain areas. The post shows bikers how many riders have taken this route, thus giving that extra boost of encouragement for others. The CC project is also working to alleviate its problem of traffic congestion through improved traffic management fueled by the IoT. According to the Business in Copenhagen site, the project will reduce travel time for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists by up to ten per cent.

    San Jose plans to improve the quality of life for its residents by establishing a more user-friendly infrastructure. It plans to design a digital neighborhood dashboard which will allow access to real-time data information and create an open dialogue for residents to interact and find solutions to problems that may arise. Though not as busy as surrounding cities, San Jose makes for an excellent place to experiment with new technologies and concepts. The city itself is working to build a downtown area from scratch. This is very useful in building the infrastructure required for the Internet of Things as new technologies can be placed directly within systems being created.

    Will the IoT save the day?

    It is through ideas of everyday people that form the basis of what a smart city should and can represent. The migration of people to urbanized communities has birthed the creation of the smart city―which is beneficial for the many creative, tech and business professionals. However, issues such as quality of life have risen. Traffic is one of the top problems urbanized cities deal with around the world.

    As the world moves into the era of transformative technologies, the potential to make our communities more livable are endless. The transformation into a world powered by the Internet of Things will provide cities the tools needed to create a communicative network for its residents to access.

    Without a community of educated residents, smart cities would diminish because it is only through the distribution of shared information that people will be able to make better decisions about their place in the world.  It is well understood a device can only be as intelligent as its user. With that said, how are you becoming an integral part of your city? What improvements can be made in your city and do you envision the Internet of Things to solve some of its issues? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

    五月 29, 2017 By masy@eeco Blog Future Living
  • 5 Must-Have Smart Home Products

    5 Must-Have Smart Home Products

    Let’s face it, Smart Home and home automation is going nowhere. There’s no doubt that homes are going to get smarter as Smart Home products become more affordable. Not everyone wants to upgrade, but there are a few Smart Home products that are really, really worth buying.

    Smart Home products aren’t just for show – they’re meant to make life more convenient and take on tasks we’re too lazy to deal with.

    Here’s a list of eeco recommended Smart Home products for your home.

    Smart Home Products

    1. LED Lightbulbs

    The most useful Smart Home product is smart LED lightbulbs. How many times did you feel too lazy to get up and turn off the lights before going to sleep? In the morning, you wake up to find the lights are still on! Remember the times you left home but weren’t sure if the lights were turned off? With smart lights, these problems are instantly solved. Using Wi-Fi, you can turn lights on/off with a single touch on your smartphone or tablet.

    Lightbulbs like Philips Hue can be dimmed for times you don’t need a bright room or when you want to create a mood. Dimming lights also saves considerable energy. Additional energy is saved by controlling smart lights individually. If you’re curled up on the sofa watching a movie, turn off the lights without getting up and keep just one or two on for ambiance.

    Smart lights can be controlled from anywhere in the world. Afraid of monsters in a dark, pitch-black basement? Don’t get clammy fumbling around for the light switch; light things up using your smartphone. Forgot to turn a few lights on before leaving for a weekend getaway? Use the app on your smartphone and turn on those few crucial lights that say, “I’m-still-at-home-even-though-I’m-not.”

    2. Smart Doorbell

    Wouldn’t it be nice to know who’s at the door without getting up? How many times did you get locked in a conversation with a sales guy who wouldn’t take no for an answer? Did you instantly regret opening the door to another Jehovah’s Witness?

    Smart doorbells will ensure you never get stuck in an awkward conversation again. Most smart doorbells come with a built-in camera to see who’s at the front door, letting you pretend you’re not at home. A built-in speaker helps when you’re really not at home.

    When someone rings the bell, its app pops-up on your smartphone or tablet with audio and video. If the UPS guy comes with your newest eeco Amazon purchase, tell him to drop the package at the front or take it to the back. With this Smart Home product, find out who’s stealing your home deliveries.

    Because a smart doorbell’s features are accessed using Wi-Fi, a smartphone or tablet can communicate with the device from anywhere in the world. You can be sitting at the office or a quaint café in Paris and always know who’s at the door.

    3. Smart Curtains

    It was always annoying when mom opened the bedroom curtains in the morning at the speed of lightning. That initial flood of sunshine did more harm than good. Ever wish curtains opened slowly for a more pleasant wake-up experience? Smart curtain systems make that wish come true.

    Connect Slide to your smartphone’s alarm clock and let your curtains pour gentle rays of sunshine when it’s time to wake up. Slide can also open and close curtains according to sunrise, sunset and other settings using the Slide App.

    Because smart curtain systems like Slide are made using a retrofit design, there’s no need to replace curtains and railings. It’s a truly DIY design that makes installation a cinch. As with all smart things, smart curtains can be programmed to learn when you leave home and return; and work alongside other Smart Home products.

    4. Smart Plugs

    Never forget if you turned off the stove ever again. Smart plugs are a handy Smart Home product that attach to any outlet in the house. Most plugs only have room to attach one appliance, while a few plugs are big enough to connect more. The main purpose of smart plugs is an on/off feature. Using an app on your smartphone or tablet, instantly kill the power (or turn it on) to any appliance connected to a smart plug.

    Smart plugs also allow scheduling when appliances turn on or off. For example, set a coffee maker to turn on at 7:00am for a fresh brew first thing in the morning; program a space heater to warm up the bedroom before you get home; schedule Christmas lights for the festive season or save power by turning off your home entertainment session.

    For rental property owners (such as Airbnb), having smart plugs is especially useful. Property owners can remotely turn off appliances that may have been left on by previous renters.

    5. Voice Assistants

    Last on the list of five must-have Smart Home products are voice assistants. No Smart Home should be without one. Voice assistants work with Smart Home products providing control via voice recognition. This means you can be sitting on the couch watching television and command your voice assistant to turn down the lights, open the curtains or turn up the heat on your thermostat.

    A few voice assistants on the market are extremely popular. Amazon Alexa and Google Home are the most common, with Apple’s Siri falling behind. The first two have physical hubs and can be purchased online, while rumor has it Apple is making one of its own.

    A flood of different Smart Home products on the market make controlling them a big pain. Instead of searching between five or six different apps to find the right one, simply tell your voice assistant what to do.

    “OK Google, close the curtains.”

    “Alexa, what’s the temperature inside?”

    “Siri, dim the lights to 30%.”

    Voice assistants make Smart Home operation easier.

    Make Your Home Smarter

    It can be overwhelming trying to determine which Smart Home products you should buy. Understanding the inconveniences in your home is a good place to start. Simple things such as automatic curtains, scheduled on/off appliances and energy saving lightbulbs make life more convenient.

    As for voice assistants, chances are you already have one! If you use an iPhone or Android smartphone, an assistant comes with either device by default.

    Don’t forget to learn about even more Smart Home products by reading our previous blog posts

    五月 22, 2017 By masy@eeco Blog Future Living
  • Smart Home and Home Automation Protocols: Breaking Them Down

    Smart Home and Home Automation Protocols: Breaking Them Down

    Smart Home products are quickly taking over the buzz around consumer tech, and so are their proprietary home automation protocols. Every Smart Home product comes with a protocol for control and use. What are these home automation protocols? Which one is the best?

    More devices than people

    2014 was the first year in which mobile devices surpassed the number of people on Earth, and they are multiplying five times faster than we are. IDC (International Data Corporation) and Ericsson predict there will be at least 28 billion Internet of Things enabled devices by 2020.

    That’s a lot. There’s also no arguing that mobile devices like smartphones are ubiquitous in a smarter future. Read more about Smart Home products in our previous post.

    With a sleuth of IoT connected devices, there are also multiple protocols that control them. There is no single standard when it comes to home automation protocols. Luckily, there are only five major protocols that guarantee control of most Smart Home products. The best part is, you already own two of these home automation protocols.

    Big Five Home Automation Protocols

    Wi-Fi

    Every major Smart Home product has Wi-Fi capability. Wi-Fi was never intended to be a home automation protocol, but because it’s so widely available and everyone has access to it, companies quickly adopted it for home use. Wi-Fi is not particularly power-efficient nor is it very strong when a lot of devices are connected (unless you have range extenders throughout the house). But it does have a big advantage: Smart Home devices connected via Wi-Fi do not require a smart hub for control. It’s easy to set up Smart Home devices with a quick connection to the home’s Internet.

    Wi-Fi is one of the best home automation protocols. It’s ease of use and ease of connectivity makes it user-friendly and provides device control from anywhere in the world (with the respective app).

    Bluetooth

    Every smartphone available on the market today comes with Bluetooth. It’s a low-energy home automation protocol that allows control of smart devices by using a phone or tablet. Bluetooth is power-efficient, and a single charge on a Bluetooth device can provide standby times of a month or even a year. Unlike Wi-Fi, Bluetooth devices have a short range (usually 10m indoors). So, if you want to dim the lights using your smartphone or tablet, you must be in physical range to do so.

    Master & Slave

    Master & Slave is one of the most useful connection types for Bluetooth. Bluetooth acts as the master and connected devices are slaves. One master can connect to multiple slaves, and the slaves can only connect to one master. For example, your mobile phone’s Bluetooth can connect to your thermostat, lightbulbs and your car’s audio system. As you walk through your home, the thermostat automatically sends a message via Bluetooth about the current temperature and efficiency; lightbulbs automatically turn on/off as you walk in/out of a room and your car plays music from your phone as soon as it turns on.

    Z-Wave

    Z-Wave is currently the most popular home automation protocol. Over a thousand devices and a hundred companies make Z-Wave compatible products, and the numbers continue to grow. It uses a proprietary method for home automation that all manufacturers of Smart Home products must abide by. If a company wants to make a Z-Wave compatible product, it must license the use of chips from Sigma Designs. These chips simplify software and hardware development, ensuring that all Z-Wave devices can work together.

    Z-Wave products must also be certified before they can use the official logo. It’s all very similar to Apple’s MFi Certified program.

    Unlike Wi-Fi, Z-Wave requires the use of a smart hub to send signals and control devices. Built using sub-1Ghz frequencies, it doesn’t interfere with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (~2.4Ghz) signals. A useful feature is Z-Wave’s repeater function. Each additional product in the home repeats signals, extending the network reach so your entire home is covered and nothing is out of range.

    ZigBee

    ZigBee is the first wireless home automation protocol for the Internet of Things. It offers low-power use and mesh networking – making each connected device act as a repeater. Mesh networking allows home automation networks to grow with each device added. If one ZigBee device only provides 10m of range, adding five more devices can theoretically increase the range to 50m. This ensures operating range is never blocked by big objects like tables and sofas or walls or anything else.

    ZigBee may have been first on the scene, but it’s popularity and use is declining. Bluetooth is better at power-efficiency and Z-Wave also offers mesh networking. Is ZigBee here to stay? Time will tell.

    Thread

    Thread is a home automation protocol created by Google Nest, in collaboration with major players such as Samsung, ARM, Qualcomm and others. It aims to become the sole home automation protocol of the future by uniting existing protocols. It creates a dedicated network (IPv6 address) that doesn’t rely on an Internet connection/Wi-Fi. Running on its own IPv6 address means it’s easier to connect to the Cloud.

    Thread also runs on the same IEEE 802.15.4 physical radio standard as ZigBee and Z-Wave. The advantage of this is huge. By using the same radio standard, Thread is compatible with ZigBee and Z-Wave devices. ZigBee and the Thread Group have already started working on interoperable products between the two standards.

    Which home automation protocol is the protocol for me?

    Even with these five major home automation protocols summed up, it’s still a tough decision. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are must-haves in any Smart Home product. Having one or both ensures your devices will remain compatible with their respective app on your smartphone. But what about Thread, ZigBee and Z-Wave? Thread is still very new and there’s not many devices that use this protocol, but collaborating with ZigBee may prove to bring about worthwhile products.

    As for ZigBee, it’s an older standard that is losing the Smart Home market every year to Z-Wave. Z-Wave does everything ZigBee does, but better. Mesh networking (additional products acting as repeaters) ensures a Smart Home network never goes down. Using a sub-1Ghz frequency means no interference with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. There are also more Z-Wave compatible products on the market than any other home automation protocol.

    Whichever home automation protocol you decide to choose, remember that any additional Smart Home products you purchase down the road will need to be compatible with what you already have.

    It also helps to think about the category of products you will buy to better narrow your decision on home automation protocols. Our previous blog post covers a few Smart Home product categories.

    Choose wisely.

    五月 19, 2017 By masy@eeco Blog Future Living Technology explained
  • Smart Home and Smart Products Explained

    Smart Home and Smart Products Explained

    Smart Home Explained

    Wireless technology continues to advance every year. It leads to innovations in many ways, one of which is Smart Home technology. Smart Home is a blanket term for home automation, which consists of wirelessly controlled devices replacing conventional devices in the home. Examples of these devices include doorbells that let you see and talk to visitors, thermostats that automatically adjust temperatures by learning your behaviors, and lightbulbs that can dim and change color to suit your mood. Other examples include automated cookware, appliances and security.

    Why do we have Smart Home technology?

    Smart Home technology is intended to ease the stress of home maintenance and provide home owners with security and control over their place of comfort. It is also intended to reduce energy waste by letting computers do all the hard work.

    Eco-friendly

    Products such as Nest’s Learning Thermostat aim to save energy and reduce monthly bills. Over time, the thermostat learns when you’re at home and when you’re not, and automatically adjusts the temperature accordingly. Thanks to a mobile app, the thermostat can be controlled via Wi-Fi, allowing you to fire-up the heat/air-con when you leave the office or turn it off when you’re on the other side of the world.

    Smart lightbulbs like the popular Philips Hue provide the ability to change color and dim the lights using a Wi-Fi enabled app. While changing color provides no energy-saving benefits, the ability to dim the bulbs does. When you’re not in need of a bright room, dim the lights and save money on your energy bill. Up to 50 Hue bulbs can be connected at once, leading to a controlled home from anywhere in the world.

    Smart plugs for auto on/off

    Smart Plug Appliance Control

    Several companies create smart plugs, which can also be wirelessly controlled. Smart plugs are possibly the best Smart Home product. Any device or appliance plugged into a smart plug can be turned on/off by using a mobile device. A few apps allow the plugs to be scheduled, so they turn on at exactly the right moment. For example, a coffee maker connected to a smart plug can be scheduled to turn on at 7am, giving you a freshly brewed pot of coffee when you get to the kitchen. Additionally, when you get to work and can’t remember if you turned the stove off, a smart plug helps to make sure it is.

    Security

    Smart Home Security

    While saving energy and cutting your monthly utility bill is a major reason to upgrade to a Smart Home, security is another reason. Smart Home technology has made home security much more affordable. Installing security cameras, door cameras and motion sensors has never been easier. Wi-Fi capability provides the ability to see who is ringing your doorbell when you’re not home; motion sensors detect if an intruder is inside and sends a notification to your mobile phone; and cameras installed inside the home let you see if Fido is going through the trash again.

    When it comes to security, not everything revolves around Wi-Fi. Most devices that are controlled via Wi-Fi can also be used with Bluetooth. Bluetooth enabled door locks can unlock the front door when you get home, so you don’t have to fumble with keys or worry about getting locked out.

    Be a better cook

    Do your cookies come out unpalatable? Are you just too tired to mix up the right amount of ingredients after a long day? Smart Home kitchen products are making cooking effortless. Ovens, air fryers, fridges and coffee makers are becoming smarter. The June Intelligent Oven makes roasting a breeze. Place a dish inside, select what you’re cooking using the app, and the oven uses built-in cameras to cook food to perfection.

    Meanwhile, the Perfect Bake Pro ensures you use the right amount of each ingredient to make the perfect baked goods. It’s a Bluetooth kitchen scale that comes with an app containing recipes and step-by-step guides. By placing a container on the scale, it tells you how much to add of each ingredient and when to move onto the next one. Your next batch of chocolate chip cookies will be one to remember.

    Finally, Crockpot has got a Wi-Fi enabled version for the most delicious slow-cooked recipes you can come home to. Sure, security and energy saving is nice – but cooking delicious food with little to no effort is even better.

    Voice control

    Smart Home Voice Control

    By now, you’ve heard about Amazon Echo or Google Home. These are two major Smart Home products created by their respective companies. Voice control brings a sleuth of features and convenience to a Smart Home. All your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connected devices can now be controlled by voice – from anywhere in your house.

    “OK Google, turn down the temperature to 23 degrees.”

    “Alexa, turn on the home alarm system.”

    “Siri, dim the lights to 50%.”

    Voice assistants are convenient to use on a mobile device, but become even more so when it comes to home automation. Most Smart Home products on the market are compatible with one or more voice assistants.

    The future is smarter

    Home automation is the future of our homes. Smart Home products are innovating our “dumb” devices and appliances, leading to a truly futuristic home. Anything and everything we use today will eventually be controlled by our smartphones. The convenience, security and savings are major advantages to a Smart Home.

    What does a Smart Home look like to you? Have you bought/will buy Smart Home products? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

    五月 9, 2017 By eecotech Blog Future Living Technology explained
  • A Wireless Future is Inevitable; Charging is the Next Step

    A Wireless Future is Inevitable; Charging is the Next Step

    Cables are definitely going out of fashion. Around the late 90s and early 2000s, essentially everything was wired. Internet, file transfer, mice and keyboards, game controllers, headphones, doorbells; for the vast majority of people, these things all needed a physical connection or it was no-go. However, the wizardry of wireless technology has been spreading fairly relentlessly and now a wired connection seems disappointingly archaic. With rumors that the iPhone 8 may ship without any ports at all it begs the question, is a portless smartphone really imminent?

    Portless smartphones and a life without cables

    In truth we are already most of the way there. With the removal of the audio port from several recent phones, including the iPhone 7, the reasons for connecting a cable to your device have dwindled further. Wireless headphones are becoming more and more sophisticated, whether it’s via Bluetooth 5.0 or Apple’s W1 chip. Data can also be transferred easily through wireless methods and this area of technology is only going to improve further. The primary use of the remaining port on smartphones is charging, and this is the primary barrier that has to be overcome if we want to go fully wireless.

    Cableless current, portless power

    Wireless charging has been heralded for years as the next big thing but the technology hasn’t matched the hype. Every year there is however, incremental improvement and slowly but surely wireless charging is starting to go places and win converts.

    Survival of the fittest

    One of the main problems at the moment is that there is no unified standard, and the inevitable battle to the death between the different competitors is still under way. The current big two are Qi and Rezence, although there are others trying to squeeze in. The two standards are incompatible, so a lot of people are waiting for one or the other to “win” before committing too heavily to wireless charging.

    Wireless Shortcomings

    However, the main barrier to widespread adoption of wireless charging has always been the extremely short range of it. The wireless charging pads that have been on the market for the past few years require the device to be within a few centimeters for charging to take place. This has few advantages over wired charging and the added disadvantage of not being able to freely use your phone as it charges. This kind of close-range charging is called inductive charging, but luckily that are other types under development.

    The different ranges of wireless charging

    As we can see, long range charging is currently riddled with too many flaws to make it worthwhile, but mid-range resonance charging seems very promising. It’s powerful enough to charge a laptop and has a decent range. Others have seen the potential too, and there’s a sizeable chunk of R&D money going into perfecting this technology. There are already products of this type on the market, and trade shows like CES have seen some really promising looking solutions that are not far away from going mass-market.

    The Apple way

    With practical wireless charging close at hand, it seems that talk of portless smartphones isn’t fanciful at all (and you just know Apple is itching to make headlines again with another bold omission!). Once wireless charging and portless phones become common, it won’t be long before the last cables start disappearing from other devices and equipment too. The future is going to be wireless, and we can’t wait.

    What do you think? Will we see a portless phone in 2017? Do you think going completely wireless is a good thing or a bad thing? Let us know in the comments!

    十二月 22, 2016 By eeco Blog Future Living
  • 10 Ways to Repurpose Your Old Device

    10 Ways to Repurpose Your Old Device

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    To celebrate the launch of our first product, the eeco 30-pin cable, we are currently celebrating Apple’s old charging cable and the previous generation devices was designed for as part of our “throwback to thirty-pin” campaign. As part of this, we’ve assembled a handy breakdown of some of the ways you can give your old devices a new lease of life, hopefully it can inspire you to dust off that old smartphone that’s been on the shelf for years!

    Use your old tablet as a second monitorUse tablet as monitor

    Your old iPad may now be horribly clunky and slow, but the large touch screen will still be perfectly serviceable. There are several ways that you can connect an old iPad (or other old tablets) as a second monitor, either on a PC or a Mac. If you are using a newer operating system you can even make use of the iPad’s touch screen alongside your main monitor.

    How it’s done

    How-its-done-1

    There are a number of different apps that can achieve this. The two main methods of connection are wired and wireless. Wireless is of course more convenient and flexible, but it might take a little longer to set up and there can be issues with lag. Wired connection is usually done over USB and is largely just a case of installing the software, plugging your device in and following the instructions.

    AirDisplay is probably the most popular app of this type. It is primarily Apple focused but can also work with Android devices and Windows PCs. At around $9.99 it isn’t super cheap, but it does come with quite a few features. The main rivals to AirDisplay are iDisplay and Splashtop Extended Display (also paid apps), and there are a number of free apps available with more limited features.

    Use your devices as a home security system

    Smartphone

    A full home security system with remote monitoring capabilities is ordinarily not a cheap prospect, but if you have been collecting outdated smartphones and tablets in your drawer for years, you already have everything you need. Simply position your old devices around your house with the camera facing the area you want to monitor. It’s best the charging cable is always connected and you may wish to use some kind of mount or holder, plenty are available on Amazon and elsewhere. You can then use one of many available home surveillance apps in combination with your WiFi network to link all the devices together and be able to stream and record from each device. Even if your smartphone is properly ancient and has only a very basic camera it will still be good enough for surveillance purposes and to act as a motion detector. More modern devices with better resolutions make excellent security cameras, giving you crystal clear footage to pass to the police in the event of a burglary.

    How it’s done

    How-its-done-12

    On paper, all that’s needed is to install the app on all the required devices, connect them to your WiFi network and follow the instructions on whatever app you use. It may not always be that simple in practice though and sometimes a bit of troubleshooting is required, but the software is improving all the time and there are plenty of options. TinyCam Monitor is one of the more popular, with features such as motion detection warnings and cloud recording. IP Webcam isn’t marketed specifically as a home security app but it has all the necessary features and is also very popular. Both of these have free versions, with the pro versions selling for a very reasonable $3.99. A quick search will bring up countless more.

    Use your old iPod as an external hard drive20090506054827!IPod_family

    You may find that with your sleek new smartphone in your pocket all the time there just isn’t the need to carry an old iPod. That being the case, why not repurpose it as a storage device. Unless you bought one of the very cheapest models, chances are it has pretty reasonable storage. Even back in 2006 there was an 80GB model, and the first 30-pin model in 2003 had a 40GB version. So if you have one of these antiques lying around, why not make use of that storage space. The iPod is compact and sturdy; it can stand up to a lot of punishment and it’s highly portable, in other words the perfect external drive.

    How it’s done

    How-its-done-13

    Simply plug in your iPod and open iTunes. Go to the device summary page and check “enable disk use”. You may also want to select “manually manage music and videos” to stop it from automatically syncing. If you are sure you won’t use it again as a music player you could also format it (exFAT for Windows, Mac OS Journaled for Mac) and then you can even use your iPod as a boot device.

    Turn your old tablet into a car entertainment system

    Bracketron-Universal-Tablet-Headrest-Mount1

    There’s no need to buy a top of the range SUV with a built-in video system if you want to keep the kids quiet on a long car journey, just fix an old tablet to the back of the front seats! You could do this with your current tablet too, but older tablets can play video just fine and it’s easier to fill it full of videos and movies and just leave it mounted there. Don’t forget to pair this setup with a large capacity power bank or USB car charger, if the power cuts out before Frozen is over you’ll have a tantrum on your hands!

    How it’s done

    How-its-done-14

    There are of course several DIY methods that could easily get the job done, but there are also handy accessories that make things easier (and it bit more professional looking), from simple elasticated straps to bespoke mounting brackets. A simple search on Amazon will bring up dozens of choices, it’s just a case of choosing the one that best fits your requirements. This one is one of the more popular and at $20 isn’t overly expensive. There are other types designed for a central position between the backseats, or for mounting to the front windshield in front of the passenger.

    Use your old smartphone as a VR headset

    Screen-Shot-2014-05-30-at-10.09.49-AM-600x408

    We are constantly being told that virtual reality is finally about to arrive in a big way, but with dedicated VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift selling for $600 the price-point is currently just a bit too high for most ordinary consumers. Want to experience VR on a budget? Try a smartphone VR headset! Although it’s easy to scoff at what is basically a fancy smartphone holder, the reviews for such headsets are very strong and users report a genuine feeling of immersion.

    How it’s done

    How-its-done-15

    Prior to buying a headset you’d have to do a bit of reading to find out if it’s compatible with your device or not. Resolution is important for achieving immersion so phones older than a few years ago might not be up to the job. Other than that, installation is simple and your old device can transport you to a galaxy far far away in no time.

    Use your old smartphone as a dedicated Sat-Nav device

    waze-app

    In truth many people already use their smartphone for satellite navigation, but using your main device in this way has drawbacks. For example, on a long journey it will drain the battery and it’s always a bit inconvenient to attach your phone to the mount each time you get in the car (assuming you have a mount, propping it up against the dashboard is even more inconvenient!). Why not have your previous smartphone live in the car permanently attached to a proper mount? This is much cheaper than buying a dedicated device like a TomTom, and with a decent sat-nav app the experience won’t be any worse.

    How it’s done

    How-its-done-16

    Once again, it’s all about the app. Given that Google Maps is free for anyone to use it doesn’t take too much effort for a few coders to produce a passable sat-nav app, sometimes even for free download. In fact Google Maps on its own can act as decent navigation software. As you would expect though, the best services aren’t free, so it’s all about deciding what your budget is. TomTom software is highly regarded, as are the efforts from Copilot and Waze.

    Use your old tablet as a Smart Home controller

    loxone-hd-app-startschirm

    One of the more complex of the ways you can repurpose a device, but also one of the most rewarding. The term “smart home” is extremely broad and covers a huge range of devices and solutions, but a common theme is that smart home devices can be controlled via a smartphone or tablet. For families that have entertainment equipment, kitchen devices, security features and lighting that is all “smart”, it’s best to have a communal device sitting in the living room that everybody can use. It also avoids clogging up your main device with too many apps.

    How it’s done

    How-its-done-17

    How complex this proves to be depends a lot on the kind of devices you have. If you already have a Smart Home hub, all that’s required is linking your tablet to the hub, installing the app and you’re good to go. If you don’t have a hub but your smart home devices are all compatible with the same platform, for example HomeKit, then this also shouldn’t be too complex. There are a large number of apps out there for controlling devices using HomeKit, Z-Wave or one of the other standards that manufacturers design for.

    The most complex situation is if you have bought mostly stand-alone devices that are only designed to work with their own app. You could gather together all the apps in one place and operate them from a central device, but once again there is a dedicated app (in fact several) just for this situation. Master apps like iRule can control can unify all the devices in your home regardless of the protocol they were designed for, although it might be a bit intimidating for casual users.

    Baby monitor

    Withings-smart-baby-monitor-app-ui

    Using your old phone as a baby monitor isn’t much different from using it as a security camera in principle but there are a few differences. Aside from live video streaming, most baby monitor apps will also monitor for sound and will send alerts to your main device when the little one wakes up and starts bawling for attention.

    How it’s done

    How-its-done-18

    Just place your old device in the room with the baby and install the app. There are dozens of apps offering this kind of service, a quick search on Google Play or the App Store and you’ll find what you need.

    Car HUD

    photo-2

    Augmented reality displays for cars look super-futuristic but nowadays are actually quite easy to achieve. You can buy dedicated devices but the cheapest way is just to reflect your smartphone’s screen. Even the oldest of devices can still be used for this purpose, so it’s a good way to reuse those devices that are too slow for anything else.

    How it’s done

    How-its-done-19

    There are a number of ways you can achieve this effect. The most basic is the likes of the app from Hudway, which is designed simply to produce a reflection of your smartphone screen on the windscreen, no extra equipment required. A step up from this are the versions where you stick a reflective film to the windscreen just above where the device is placed. This can give you a slightly brighter, clearer image. Finally, there are dedicated holders like Hudway Glass, which come with a built in reflective screen. Simply place your smartphone in the holder and you’ll see all kinds of live information displayed on the transparent screen, including your current speed, warnings and the nature of the road ahead.

    News/Info Dashboard

    wall-mounted-ipads

    Old tablets may not be good at much but they are still great at displaying information. Why not place your old tablet on a stand or even fix it to the wall and have it as a permanent news dashboard. Aside from the latest headlines it could also show weather data, your Twitter feed or anything else you want to stay up to date with. You could also set up such a system at your work desk, great for businesspeople that that need to stay on top of data or the latest events.

    How it’s done

    How-its-done-110

    It’s best to purchase a stand or wall bracket and these can be picked up easily and cheaply.  In terms of displaying the information, for most users your best bet to just to use your device’s desktop in combination with widgets and plugins. This method is the most customizable, is free and is simple to set up. 

    九月 2, 2016 By eeco Blog Future Living
  • 10 Ways to Make Your Cables Last Longer

    10 Ways to Make Your Cables Last Longer

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    Cables are one of modern life’s true essentials. Everybody owns them and everybody needs them. Having a cable stop working at an inopportune moment can lead to all manner of inconvenience, and having to constantly replace cables is irritating and potentially expensive. So what can we do to make sure our cables live the fullest life they can?

    Why do my cables break?

    First of all, let’s clear up a few of the basics. What is it that actually causes a cable to stop working? Contrary to popular belief, cables actually don’t tend to “wear out” internally simply through charging or being plugged in. Corrosion in the wiring will eventually become an issue, but a decent quality cable that is never moved can theoretically last decades. The most common reason for a cable to stop working is damage to the wiring caused by bending and other external stresses. So with this in mind, let’s move on to the advice!

    1. Avoid sharp bends at the joints

    DSC_0152

    The joint is the weakest part of the cable and if it spends the whole day forced into a 90 degree bend the wiring is unlikely to last long. Stretching the PVC jacket through this kind of bending can also cause it to split or become detached from from the connector casing, exposing bare wire. Often just a little bit of thought and care can avoid contortions like this take a lot of the strain off your cable.

    2. Don’t throw your cable loose into a bag

    DSC_0147

    Throwing a cable into an empty bag actually might not be too terrible, but a cable thrown loose into a crammed rucksack or squeezed into a overfilled suitcase will suffer a year’s worth of wear and tear in one journey. It will get bent, crushed and squeezed a hundred times over, all the types of stress cables hate. Best to wrap it up in the method described below.

    3. Don’t wrap your cable tightly around an object

    DSC_0142-Edit (1)

    A lot of people will wrap their cables around the object closest to hand, for example a power bank, but this is not the best way to wrap a cable. Wrapping a cable tightly around a bulky or sharp-edged object will create kinks in the cable which may take a long time to get out. These kinks are particularly damaging to the internal wiring and are guaranteed to reduce the lifetime of the cable. The ideal way of wrapping a cable is a technique called coil wrapping (seen below), where you loop the cable around several times to create a circular shape. This avoids kinks and bends while still allowing for convenient storage and transportation.

    4. Use a velcro tie or cable clip

    DSC_0135 (1)

    DSC_0138-Edit (1)

    All eeco cables come to you bound by a snazzy velcro cable-wrap. This isn’t just packaging, you can use this to help protect your newly purchased cable. Aside from using the velcro to help wrap your cables when traveling (holding your nicely coil-wrapped cable in place), you can also use it to hold an extra loop at the connector that prevents damage in the event of a sharp tug. A similar effect can also be created by using a cable clip.

    5. Protect them from pets

    Critter Cord

    If you own a pet you’ll know that some furry friends just can’t resist a good chew. Rabbits in particular will make short work of even the strongest cables. Where a problem exists a solution will never be far, and a quick search on Amazon reveals that there are sellers specializing in products designed to keep gnawing teeth away from your beloved cables. Strengthening cables is certainly an option, but the most popular solution is to apply a scent coated cover that makes your cable not seem like quite such a tasty treat.

    6. Be careful when using your phone as it charges

    DSC_0161

    Despite a few urban myths to the contrary, using your device while it charges doesn’t damage the battery, but your cable may not be so lucky. If you like to keep your phone charging while using it in bed or kicking back on the sofa chances are you are fully extending the cable and giving it all the bending and twisting it hates. If you are right beside the charging point or have a long enough cable there isn’t much of an issue, but for many people staying comfortable while charging your phone will put your cable through a lot of discomfort.

    7. Use a magnetic snap-on cable adapter

    11337077_368480940007568_7174065736223465271_o

    A solution to the issue above is to use one of the new magnetic adapters that have appeared on the market recently. Apple’s MagSafe was an early example, and recently Znaps has received a lot of attention. Such systems allow fast and easy connecting and disconnecting of cables through the use of a magnetic adapter that plugs into the charging port of your device. This means you can connect and disconnect your phone with one hand even in the dark, reducing the temptation to stretch the cable and use it while it is still plugged in. It also means that a violent tug, for example when you trip over the cable, will merely result in disconnection rather than damage to the cable or your device being thrown across the room (not to mention preventing you falling flat on your face).

    8. Buy longer cables

    DSC_0134-Edit (1)

    This is probably the simplest way to avoid stretching and straining your cable. Longer cables are often a little more expensive but they are value for money. People always underestimate the length of cable that is practical, and short cables lead to inconvenient charging and regular strain. It doesn’t help that the cable that comes packaged with most phones tends to be as short as possible to save costs. The tiny 30cm (1ft) charging cables that some manufacturers provide are almost guaranteed to be stretched to an early grave as they will constantly be pulled to their full length and more. 1.8m (6ft) cables may sound overly long at first, but in most household situations the full length will be put to use on a regular basis. Longer cables are more convenient and last longer, surely worth investing the extra few pennies.

    9. Add tape

    DSC_0145-Edit (1)

    Electrical tape may not be particularly attractive, but adding it to your cables is a great way of extending their lifetime. Adding plenty at the connector joints will strengthen the weakest part of the cable and reduce damaging bending. And of course, any part of the cable that has become frayed or where the wire is visible should have tape added straight away if you want it to last.

    10. Don’t buy cheap cables

    DSC_0143-Edit (1)

    A bit of an obvious one but always a sound piece of advice. There are several reasons why cheap cables break quickly. Firstly, the cable jacket will usually be thin and of low quality, meaning the wiring is poorly protected from stress and it won’t take much wear before you’re through to bare wire. Cheap PVC jackets are also prone to melting, even just through exposure to sunlight. The wiring itself will also have been produced with little care or precision and won’t be able to withstand much stress before breaking. Finally, many cheap cables aren’t properly compliant with the relevant specifications and don’t have correct resistors. This can lead to the cable drawing more power than it was designed for, which can burn out the wiring and in some cases even damage your hardware. Best to stick to certified cables from trusted brands.

    八月 24, 2016 By eeco Blog Future Living Technology explained
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