Check out Jibo: the social robot

Here’s an interesting one. It’s a little robot called Jibo that can be your digital assistant. It’s fixed in one place but has a multitude of sensors to help it find out what’s happening in the world around it. It can see, hear and speak thanks to a couple of webcams, 360 degree microphones and natural language processing and can learn from the world around it to adapt to your daily patterns and actions. There are a couple of offerings that claim to do all this, but where Jibo is different is in that it communicates using moves and displays that are emotive and expressive to help make it more social and relatable. You can sign up to learn more at their website here: Jibo

In the meantime, if you want to learn more and figure out how to build for it, there’s an SDK available to figure out how to access Jibo’s motors, speech technology, facial recognition and tracking, touch input technology, and more. It also gives you an easy way to build Jibo Skills (robot applications) through animation and behavior editors. Check out the SDK at the Jibo Developer Portal.

In the meantime, check out this video showing how to use the SDK

A Bitcoin Honeypot

So this week, I’ve been collecting some links on cryptocurrencies, well BitCoin in particular. They’re an interesting collection, especially if you’re after learning something new. Check them out:

Some fantastic reading there. Check them out!

Introducing Future Tech

Some of you may already know, but last month I quit my job at Intelligence/Webtech and struck out on my own. It’s been a tremendously busy period for me, hence the lack of updates on the blog; but I’m finally starting to catch up and am looking to line up perceptions on where I’m heading.

A number of you won’t even notice a difference. My work with Code Club, JCC, BCS and the WordPress community will continue in the same way it has before. However my day job focus will be on growing Future Tech, my new baby. My focus there will be on strategic IT consultancy; helping organisations make best use of the technologies they have available to them. In this time of accelerating change with new technologies making themselves every day, opportunities for innovation and challenges posed by competitors, markets and regulators and something that every growing organisation has to deal with. There’s the place where I can make a real difference; so get in touch if I can give you a hand.

In the meantime, trying to find time to build a website for Future Tech, but I guess, not having time to focus on a marketing stream can only be a good thing, right?

Loving my new wireless charger

One of the great things about my new Nexus 5 is the fact that is supports wireless charging. The great thing about wireless charging today is that a new standard has emerged that is supported by a number of devices. This has led to a corresponding drop in prices of chargers and other devices associated with the standard.

It’s a standard called Qi providing an inductive charging system up to 5 Watts up to a theoretical distance of 40mm. Regulation of the output voltage is provided by a digital control loop where the power receiver communicates with the power transmitter and requests more or less power; done via backscatter modulation by the power receiver. It’s a pretty clever system that’s been gaining popularity and now has started making its way into more and more devices.


The charger I got is an Expower(TM) super mini Qi Wireless Charger which retails for £23.99 including delivery. The reviews were good so I got myself one and I’m more than pleased. It’s a small device that charges the phone really effectively and is currently my main charger at work. I’ve found it excellent as I can pick up my phone when I leave my desk and drop it back when I return, knowing it’s getting charged without having to mess around with cables. I’m actually thinking of getting another couple, one for my car and one for my bedside. That way, my phone will always be topped up.

Recommended!

Waiting for the Jabra Rox Wireless

Just saw these new earphones that were announced at CES a few days ago, the Jabra Rox Wireless, which look just fantastic. They’re wireless headphones that use Bluetooth to talk to your phone, so literally all you have are two ear buds connected by a cable. They’re waterproof and lightweight, just perfect for running with.

They have some cool features too. For example, if you’re not using the ear buds, you can clip them together magnetically, which switches them to power saving mode. Here’s a video what shows you cool they are:

They should be available soon, pity Christmas is so far away …

Regulation driving technology

It’s interesting to see what drives the technology curve. You sort of assume that things like product innovation processes are consumer led; needs are identified and someone comes up with a way of addressing them. Obviously, you need advances in technology to support such things. New technology also comes from other quarters, but I’m always surprised when I see regulation and compliance requirement creating new product offerings.

This train of thought came from looking at Message Logic’s website, who specialise in products that provide message archiving. The main reason their clients use their products are for “Regulatory, Compliance, Legal Discovery and Corporate Governance” purposes, which, to be perfectly honest, I have never really been exposed to. Thinking about it, I can understand the requirement, but it’s still interesting to see a whole industry develop around it.

The other interesting side of this product is that it’s offered in 4 different flavours: It’s available as a virtual machine, can be purchased as an appliance, or deployed in the cloud to Amazon Web Services, or in a highly compliant cloud provider (NASDAQ OMX FinQloud). This is a pretty mature way of acknowledging that clients have different requirements and the technology stack deployed for one may not necessarily be adequate, or even legal, for a different client. Here, Message Logic is providing supported options that can be tailored precisely to the client’s needs.

Some interesting thoughts there, apologies for the reambling, it’s always fun to see how companies build products and how they deploy them. Have *you* come across anything interesting today?

Evohome – a step towards a smarter home!

As you probably know, I’m always looking for gadgets and devices to play with and having a smarter home is one thing that’s high up my list. I’ve been looking at Nest recently, but while I think it’s a really cool device, it doesn’t really allow you to easily split your house into zones that have different requirements. You know how it is, it’s nice to warm up bedrooms in the evening and early morning, but those areas don’t need to be heated during the day.

Well, recently Honeywell announced that they’re launching their evohome offering in the UK and this might just fit the bill. Besides controlling your boiler like Nest does, it also lets you split up your home into up to 12 zones that can be managing centrally; really allowing you to optimise your energy usage:

zone_diagram@2x

There are a number of cool features to evohome, the zoning ability is just one of them. Communication across all devices is wireless (868 MHz), which means you don’t need to run cables or mess around with wires to get your installation set up. All you need to do is install a central control unit and change the control on each radiator to Honeywell’s motorised radiator controls. Each radiator can be assigned to a particular zone, and then controlled centrally, either manually or automatically.

hero_device@2xEvohome does promise ultimate control. Not only does it come with a colour touchscreen (shown alongside), but there’s also a mobile app which allows you to control your heating from anywhere you may be. So, if you’ve taken the family out for the day, you can override the heating controls to leave the heating turned off while you’re out, saving a substantial amount of energy. In fact, Honeywell claim that upgrading basic timer and a thermostat controls to evohome smart zoning could deliver as much as 40% savings on heating your home. If you think about the rising cost of energy, a saving like that could be massive and can offset the price of an intelligent system like this.

So, what do the costs look like? The evohome Connected Pack includes the new colour touchscreen plus the boiler controller and the network gateway and has an RRP of £249. The radiator zone kits have an RRP of £77 and both items will be available for purchase in the UK from January 2014. The cost is not insubstantial, but it does allow full control of your heating in the same way you can control the electricity you use to light your house. If you had to compare current heating technology to lighting, at the moment you would be turning on all the house lights when it gets dark and turning them all off when you go to bed. Evohome lets you control room by room heating in the same way we control our lighting, turning it on when we need it and off when we don’t. Pretty exciting stuff!