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Square Panda makes learning phonics easier and fun for all kids (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

Square Panda came into being when the CEO noticed his daughter, who had dyslexia, was struggling to learn to read. Many children with and without dyslexia do not learn easily using only a pencil and paper or listening to a teacher lecture. The innovative thing about Square Panda technology is that it integrates visual, auditory, and tactile learning so that every child can grasp the skills to use phonics in reading.

In the showcased game, a child can place letters in the tray in any order. The chameleon in the game reads the letter combination to the child. If the child has formed a real word, then a picture of that thing may be displayed. The chameleon reads the letter combination, even if it does not form a real word. In this way, the child is still learning sounds and phonetics and learning the correct way to spell through experience. If a child spells several correct words in a row, they are rewarded. If a child attempts to spell words unsuccessfully several times in a row, the chameleon begins to suggest letter combinations or displays a picture and asks the child to try to spell the name of what he is seeing.

There are ten different games available to play with this hardware. The games range in age appropriateness. For instance, there is a lullaby game available for the youngest players and a more complicated bowling game for older players. The child can choose which games he or she enjoys most, and still get the benefit of learning without the tedium of a classroom setting. The interactive nature of Square Panda keeps children entertained, while they are learning.

Being the mother of a very tactile child, I can easily see the benefit of this type of technology. Classroom experiences and homework can be nerve-wracking for my child and me. Many of you know what I'm talking about. Imagine a learning experience your child could enjoy, that was capable of helping them become a better reader! Square Panda is the solution for children who have become frustrated with traditional learning experiences.

For more information, please visit their website. They have sets available for the home and the classroom, as well as replacement smart letters. Pricing for the home set starts at $69.95.

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

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Sphero Specdrums: The most fun you'll ever have tapping your fingers (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

Do you ever sit at your desk and tap along to the beat of a song? Is the steering wheel in your car a full-on drum set when your favorite song comes is playing? If you're like me, you're a world class drummer in your own head. So, for all of us who don't quite have the time or drum set to become rock stars, Sphero has introduced Specdrums.

Specdrums are sleekly designed, Bluetooth enabled, app connected rings that detect color, combined with accelerometers that detect tapping. So you are able to play music on anything in the world around you. They are a fun new musical instrument that provides an accessible, portable, and tactile way for anyone to create music anywhere. You can play on the included color pad, or really on anything, like your shirt, a drawing or even a bowl of fruit. They are perfect for beginners who want to explore but also open-ended for advanced musicians to get creative and show their chops. Specdrums provides an outlet for whether you are practicing music using your hands without loud, expensive, and large physical instruments.

They work by sending a very quick, low latency color signal to the app on your device. The colors can be programmed in the app to have a specific sound for each color. They also have curated packs in the app for different genres of music. Each pack has a combination of loops that continue to play like drum or baseline and also some instruments like a keyboard. With all of these great features, they sound great right out of the box. And with all of the customization choices available, you'll have your own amazing creations in no time. They offer sets with one ring for $64.99 or expand your play experience with a 2 ring set that allows you to switch it up using two hands with more versatility or to play with friends for $99.

You can get more information and grab your own set on their website.

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

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BenjiLock is here to secure your stuff with the convenience of biometrics (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

One of the things our team loves the most about CES is getting to see companies start out in Eureka Park, the show's startup section, and end up having a major presence on the show floor. The best example of that transformation is definitely BenjiLock. When we first encountered Robbie Cabral in 2017, he had a small booth in Eureka Park with a large, nonfunctioning prototype. The idea was sound, but the technology wasn't there just yet.

The following 12 months were big for BenjiLock, with a successful appearance on Shark Tank and a big investment from Kevin "Mr. Wonderful" O'Leary. Following O'Leary's investment, the company got the attention of Hampton Products, makers of the Brinks Home Security line of products. For sure, Hampton is a company that knows security products and brought BenjiLock into the fold, with a large presence at CES 2018.

Since then, another year of growth. In 2019, not only did Robbie have working products to show off, he announced the availability of the locks. These biometric padlocks offer both fingerprint scanning, as well as traditional key unlocking. The key is perfect in the event the battery dies, or you need to give someone else access to the device temporarily.

In addition to the standard padlock, Robbie has announced a new, smaller model, with a very specific purpose: travel. The smaller BenjiLock is designed as a luggage lock and is TSA-compatible. That means that you can use it on your suitcase when going through the airport, but you don't have to worry about the lock being cut off if security needs to access your bag.

The standard BenjiLock padlock is available now from ACE Hardware, Home Depot, Lowes, and more. The new TSA-compatible BenjiLock padlock will be available in the near future.

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

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After claiming no problems, bent iPad Pros are experiencing failures

The phenomenon of iPad Pros shipping bent has been well documented, with customers all over the world reporting the issue online, as well as to Apple. Despite this, Apple has taken a bizarre position on the topic. Initially, the company said that any shipping bend in an iPad would cause no problems and is a normal part of the manufacturing process. Later, the position changed, posting a support article that simply explains the unibody enclosure. The part they have maintained, however, has been the lack of an issue.

What happens when you do experience a problem with your bent iPad Pro? Well, one customer documented their experiences trying to get his iPad repaired. He went into an Apple Store, expecting the service that Apple has always advertised from their "Geniuses." However, he was told that, because of the bend, his only option was to purchase a new iPad. He left and went into another Apple Store, only to be told the exact same thing.

While most people might have given up, this customer took an unusual step and used the Apple Support page to request a repair from an Apple Repair center. He sent off the iPad and, on the same day the center received the iPad, was shipped a replacement unit. The repair center made absolutely no mention of the bend, which the customer was never able to see from the beginning.

The fact that Apple has not taken a consistent position on the issue has caused an incredibly negative experience for customers. The company should not require a customer to drive around town, contacting different Apple employees, hoping that someone is going to take care of the problem. In this case, it worked out, but not everyone has the time or patience to fight at this level. It is important to remember, however, that the first response is not always the correct one. Persevere.

FoldiMate makes your laundry day great and gives you back your time (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

For a lot of people, the absolute worst part of doing the laundry is when it comes time to fold it. The washer and dryer do the important part for them, but when it needs to be folded, they just haphazardly shove it around and wind up with a lot of wrinkled clothes. We all have that one friend with a clothes chair or a decorated treadmill! We were very happy to talk to Gal Rozov who is the founder and CEO of FoldiMate, a fascinating robotic laundry folder.

FoldiMate is a new concept to help make a bothersome task for some people a pleasure. Gal told us that even his children fight over who gets to fold clothes! It is mainly designed for shirts, towels, and pillowcases. It is able to fold neatly and accurately up to 25 items in 5 minutes. The execution of this is very easy. You simply grab the item by the shoulders, facing you and clip it onto two uniquely designed clips and it automatically pulls the item into the machine. While that is happening, you put on the next item after it opens up again.

The appliance plugs into a standard 110-volt outlet so that makes it very versatile. The possibilities for placement are endless in your home, depending on your space limitations and your work habits. Some folks like to put them in the laundry area while others want it in their bedroom. It is also incredibly energy-efficient. He is also thinking about the possibility of using them in laundromats for their customers to experience.

While last year they were in a prototype mode and this year they were extremely honored to receive the Best of Show Award at CES for 2019 from Business Insider.

The FoldiMate is planned for public release in late 2019. The price point is uncertain at this time but they are hoping for around the $1000. range. For more information go to their website.

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

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Smart Oven+ by KitchenAid is changing the way you prepare your meals (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

Everything now in your home has become "smart" and your kitchen is no exception. KitchenAid has come out with a very smart oven to help make cooking easier and fun. The KitchenAid Smart Oven+ is a new idea for revolutionizing your meal prep. Taking inspiration from their very popular stand mixer, the new oven currently offers options to expand your cooking capabilities.

This very versatile oven is designed with a modular plug that connects to three different attachments. The first one is a grilling rack that has high-intensity heat for faster cooking and searing. It's like grilling outdoors without worrying about the weather. The heating element fits down inside the grate and the grease drips down inside so there are no flare-ups. This design also helps for a more evenly heated surface. The steamer attachment is another option. The pan is quite large so you can easily plan a meal for the entire family. This also is great for desserts such as cheesecake, souffles or creme brulees. It provides a water bath that is very important to such foods. A third attachment is a baking stone. This one is porcelain covered enamel that heats very quickly and makes your food very crisp, especially nice for pizza and French fries.

All of these are Yummly-integrated and that makes it very easy to cook even when you are not at home. Yummly is an app that is for guided cooking, which is very helpful to the novice cook or even an experienced one. The app also features Yummly pros, such as Carla Hall that will walk you through some of their recipes. It can be connected to your mobile device to help you start or stop the oven, or even adjust the temperature during the cooking time.

The price point for the Smart Oven+ is $3000. for the single oven with a microwave above and $4700. for the double oven. For more information go to their website.

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

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Whirlpool eases your laundry and space problems in one simple machine (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

People with tight space problems will be excited to learn that Whirlpool has solved that particular problem in the laundry room. Without compromising on the size of the interior drum, they have created a combination washer/dryer that does the job of two separate machines quickly and efficiently. It is called the Smart Front Load Washer and Dryer.

It has a Load-and-Go feature which is an automatic detergent and fabric softener dispenser. It can hold enough soap for up to 40 loads. It has a sensor to measure how much soap to dispense based on the weight of your laundry. When you are running low on soap or fabric softener, the Whirlpool app can automatically reorder through your Amazon Dash account. It also has the feature to be connected to Wi-Fi so you can control it remotely. You can also get notified on your smartphone when the load is complete so if you are away for the machine, you can still know.

The control screen is large enough to read easily and is well-lit with bright colors. That makes it user-friendly and the choices for the cycles are directly available. They have a full-size drum, which is 4.5 cubic feet and is 27" in diameter. They have recently come out with a smaller model of 24". Probably one of the most exciting features is the fact that they are ventless and can be used everywhere, especially since they are powered with a 110-volt plug instead of the old bulky 220-volt version. In having the combination of two big machines into one compact one, there is no problem of losing precious space in your laundry area, so having it where it the most convenient place is a true advantage, especially for apartment dwellers who do not have a dedicated washer and dryer hook-up.

The price point is at $2199. For more information go to their website.

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

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FIBARO Walli brings a distinct new look to your smarthome setup (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the concept that makes the smart home possible, but Z-Wave is the technology that makes it work together. What it means is, no matter what company you buy your products from, if it is part of the Z-Wave Alliance, you know that they will be compatible with one another.

One member of the Z-Wave Alliance is FIBARO, with a visually distinct style of smarthome accessories. While most companies take a very subtle approach to their designs, FIBARO skews the other way, choosing instead to use bright colors and bold designs. The newest addition to their smarthome lineup is their Walli line, a line of round outlets and switches.

Following the company's design language, these products are designed to stand out and look good. Whether you are looking at an electrical outlet, a dimmer, switch, or shutter control, all of the products are circular. Many of the products also feature a lighten ring around the outside, which is also something the company has been known for in their existing wall plug line. They even offer matching outlets for cable, Ethernet, and USB.

FIBARO has also updated its Home Center app. The new version brings with it a much more streamlined interface, designed to make using the products easier. More importantly, and certainly most interestingly, the app has added into it machine learning and analytics. The app is able to learn the user's behaviors and find and suggest new scenes that could improve their daily routine. For example, if you regularly turn on two sets of lights right after unlocking your front door, the app might be able to create a scene for you to automate that process.

The Walli line will be available soon in Europe, with a planned launch in the US in late 2019 or early 2020. FIBARO's other products can be found on Amazon.

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

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Z-Wave.Me has products to enable makers to join the Z-Wave movement (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the concept that makes the smart home possible, but Z-Wave is the technology that makes it work together. What it means is, no matter what company you buy your products from, if it is part of the Z-Wave Alliance, you know that they will be compatible with one another.

One member of the Z-Wave Alliance is Z-Wave.Me, a company that helps to facilitate the development and production of Z-Wave products. Some of their products are aimed at makers, such as the RaZberry, a module that can connect to any Raspberry Pi model and add Z-Wave capabilities to a project. This is great for either an amateur who is learning the technology or making a custom project for their home. It is also perfect for a professional as they prototype a new idea.

If Raspberry Pi isn't your platform of choice, the company also offers the Z-Uno, an Arduino Uno-inspired board that incorporates communication for Z-Wave. They also offer the UZB, a USB-interface for being able to control Z-Wave devices from a computer. For a maker or product designer, these capabilities really open up what can be done accomplished in a short period of time. For installers, Z-Wave.Me offers an altered version of the Z-Uno, which comes in a sealed case to prevent atmospheric and weather damage.

A number of interesting projects have been done using the maker hardware produced by Z-Wave.Me and were on display at CES. For example, a water leak detector, featuring a remote sensor, was built on top of the platform. They also demonstrated an entry control system that uses NFC in the plate to detect a card and sends a Z-Wave command to unlock a door, turn on a light, or any other Z-Wave capability.

The RaZberry module is availabe now for $55. The Z-Uno maker board is available now for $70. The UZB interface is available now for $35.

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

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ZOOZ can provide amazing savings on your home power usage and bill (PLuGHiTz Live Special Events)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the concept that makes the smart home possible, but Z-Wave is the technology that makes it work together. What it means is, no matter what company you buy your products from, if it is part of the Z-Wave Alliance, you know that they will be compatible with one another.

One member of the Z-Wave Alliance is The Smartest House, a dedicated Z-Wave marketplace and makers of the ZOOZ line of smarthome products. The company boasts streamline technology not available anywhere else in the Z-Wave world. The first product displayed is the ZOOZ light switch. This switch comes with a dimmer and can control all the lights in your home from one central hub. There is no need to change out any wiring. Just install the one switch, and every light in your home can be controlled through your Z-Wave system.

Next up is the ZOOZ powerstrip. The power strip comes with five outlets, which can be controlled individually or all together. You can turn off nonessential outlets with the push of a button. The power strip also comes with USB ports for easy charging of your mobile devices. One of our favorite features is that it can issue reports on each of the outlet's power usage. You will be able to narrow down which devices are using the most power in your home. Also, the power strip notifies you through your Z-Wave system when any of your devices are fully charged.

There is also a double plug available. Like the power strip, the double plug measures power usage and notifies you when a device is fully charged. The double plug is a more streamlined choice, with only two outlets instead of five, and still comes with a USB port. The two outlets can be controlled individually or together. An advantage to the ZOOZ double plug is that two of them can fit into one receptacle. The Smartest House produces the only Z-Wave double plug device which is not too bulky to fit alongside another double plug in the same receptacle.

These products make life easier and your Z-Wave system more functional while saving you money on your overall power costs. You can now be more in control of the devices which are using power in your home. You can learn more about the ZOOZ line of products on their website, and you can purchase them directly from The Smartest House or Amazon.

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

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