This week, Avram Piltch shows off a preview of the newest addition to the Sphero lineup: the Sphero Mini Activity Kit. This kit builds on top of the existing Sphero Mini robotic ball, adding to it a variety of pre-planned activities that can be done with the ball. These activities give new owners ideas of things that can be done with their ball. This has long been a leading problem with robotic toys like this. Without ideas on how to use it, educational toys tend to be abandoned in fairly short order.
One of the activities that come in the kit is building a maze. To accomplish this, the kit also comes with the parts and pieces to build such a maze. Another activity is bowling and, once again, the kit has bowling pins to help encourage the activity. After working through some of the included activities, kids' minds can be sparked to look for new things to do or new ways to accomplish the same goals.
As with other Sphero products, the Sphero Mini can be controlled in several different ways. You can use it in play mode, where you run it like a remote-controlled car. It can also be controlled using the accelerometer in your phone or tablet, to move in the direction of the device. It can even move based on your facial expressions, with a smile moving it forward and a frown moving it backward. There is also a programming interface, which allows you to move the device around programmatically. This is where the fun of a Sphero really comes in. You can use the included block-based programming system to build logic, but you can also use full programming languages, like C#. With all of these options, you can come up with any number of ways to bowl or complete a maze.
The Sphero Mini is available now, but the Sphero Mini Activity Kit comes out in early October.
This week, Uber's fighting off pressure, EA's testing under stress, and Vudu's hiding from bad words.
This week, Avram Piltch tries something new and unboxes the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard live on the show. This keyboard is unique in that it is designed to be modular, both in itself and with accessories. The small-framed keyboard detaches in the middle, allowing you to use it as a standard ergonomic keyboard, or configure it however is convenient and comfortable for you. But, the split keyboard design gives the ability to use the keyboard with additional features.
For example, the company will offer attachments for different input methods, like a trackpad, trackball, or track pointer (like on a Lenovo laptop). They will also offer a small additional key cluster. But these add-ons are just the beginning. The name is not just cutesy, it is because the entirety of the keyboard is open source. This could lead to additional accessories from other companies, or even in the form of maker projects. Of course, all of the expandability will only come to fruition if the product and platform become commercially successful. It doesn't make sense to make add-ons for devices without customers, just ask Motorola.
The biggest challenge to the success of the keyboard could be the general layout. While a keyboard of this style would likely be targeted at computer enthusiasts, the keyboard layout is far from it. There is no function row, number pad, directional pad, navigation keys, or media controls. For most computer and keyboard fans prefer more keys rather than less. All of these capabilities, except media controls, are only available via a function key combination. Unfortunately, media controls are completely missing, though you could use the key cluster add-on to replicate the missing feature.
The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard is available for pre-order, with product shipping in October. The keyboard runs $275, the add-ons run $60 each, and the palm rest runs $75.
This week, Apple's trying to dodge bugs, Nintendo's embracing their past, and Facebook's giving out your number.
At PLuGHiTz Live, we enjoy getting out and covering special events like Collision Conference. When we do these special events, we love being among the first to get a glimpse of new products. This is especially true when it comes to the new mobile apps, and even more so when they are games. Hedgie co-founder, Stas Zlobinski, stopped by to show us their fun new game, and we were not disappointed.
Hedgie is a unique strategy and exploration game that is free to play. You start by choosing your Hedgie. Each of these legendary creatures come with an interesting backstory with unique powers and skillsets. They are considered skilled explorers with a storied past that are limited edition digital collectibles (or "crypto-collectibles") and they are on a never-ending mission to uncover lost treasure and ultimately earn you Curio coin. Your journey with your Hedgie takes you through four unique kingdoms, digging up all kinds of loot that will boost your Hedgie's performance. And to make it even better, you also earn crypto coin along the way. There are four different kingdoms to explore and you need to strategize as you go.
The coin that you collect is also spendable in real-world businesses. They have partnered with a few global businesses, so far. This was important to them because it is a game that will have players throughout the world. Most of their current partners are located in Toronto, as that is where the app has been launched initially. Some of the partnerships are with businesses that sell digital products which makes it easier to give their users things like a free one month subscriptions or free items in exchange for coins. So users make this coin in the game and then spend it on real-world awards. They can also make purchases within the game, to enhance their level of play.
You can learn more about this exciting game that we all downloaded right there in Toronto by watching the full interview. You can also get more details by visiting their website.
Imagine being able to travel to a particular city without the fear of not knowing anyone or where to go to get the best experience possible. Chumaround is now available to help alleviate that problem. Michael Cruz is the CEO and is very excited to share his business to help people with their travel experiences. Chumaround is a web-based platform that connects travelers with locals who are like-minded in their interests.
Based in Orlando, they currently have 6500 hosts available in 100 of the biggest cities in America and are rapidly growing in Europe and Asia. After being compared to a tour guide, Michael says "We are everything a tour guide is not." He gives the example of being a "traditional traveler": having taken pictures from a bus window and posting them on Facebook. With Chumaround, you get to become an "experiential traveler", that being one who can truly experience the full culture, food, and people of the area. You can enjoy it much more because you are getting the effect by sharing it with someone who shares your interests and appreciation. You can and are supporting locals when you sign up for Chumaround.
In addition to making travel engaging, Chumaround can be an exciting and very beneficial tool to use if you are relocating to a new area. One of the most challenging parts of moving to a new area is meeting and making nee friends. Whether it be for relocating for business or starting a new married life or even going to college, this can help ease your frustrations and make your life a lot easier because you have people to associate with that are like yourself in their interests.
This new and exciting platform is currently available now globally. For more information and to book an experience, go the website.
When most people think of virtual reality, they tend to think of the technology in terms of gaming. However, there are many uses for VR that are not based on entertainment, but instead on education. One area of education that is being enhanced by virtual reality is the medical field. VR and AR can be used to replicate real-world experiences without the cost of the procedure. Marion Surgical is doing just that with surgical education.
There are several steps in a surgeon's life that can be enhanced using Marion Surgical's technology. The first is in the early training process. Traditionally, surgical skill is learned through pig labs, but that has issues, such as cost, as well as kosher concerns. Because the VR technology can replicate the process entirely, without the need for the pig, it can be used by anyone for less money. The room is replicated by the headset, while the haptic feedback is provided through robotics. The surgical instruments, however, are real.
The technology can also be used to do training on a particular surgery for a particular patient. Using CT scans, the system can replicate a patient in great detail, allowing for a surgeon to perform a procedure on a patient before bringing them into the operating room. This means that many possible problems can be discovered while in virtual reality, rather than during actual surgery. The simulation gives doctors more than once chance to mitigate these risks without the risk of harming or killing the patient. It may not be a foolproof solution, as unknowns can always happen, but it can certainly be of huge benefit in most cases.
The technology is already being used for training exercises and an exciting experiment is being conducted with two real patients. To find out more about the platform, check out the company's website.
The problem with creating a position of power is that other people want to influence that power. Our founders knew that which is why our government was structured the way it was. Today, we are way past the safety of that system, which has allowed the governmental policies to be dictated by lobbying groups with more money and time than the public interest. It has been nearly impossible for individuals to fight the big money of these lobbying groups for particular issues until the creation of NationCrowd by Echo Ridge.
The platform combines the power of crowdfunding with political causes to help individuals come together to create change in their world. This is done not by supporting a particular candidate because change does not actually come at the ballot box. Instead, this platform is based around ideas and causes - giving a voice to the people which has been lost to big money in politics. People are able to throw their support behind issues that are important to them, allowing politicians and policymakers to see what is important to their constituents. This is a far more effective way to bring about lasting change than petitioning a single politician.
The company recently closed its beta program, in which they focused on the issue of paid family leave. There are competing bills being pitched with varying ideas on what should be made law. As part of the platform's beta, CEO Jeff Allan had the opportunity to speak to members of Congress to show them the numbers. They were both amazed at how much information was available on what the people, and their constituents, are hoping for in regards to family leave.
The platform's beta has concluded, and the company is making changes based on feedback from the program. To find out more about the platform and to sign up to be notified when the platform comes online, check out the website.
I don't know about you, but it always seems to be such a hassle for me to not only make appointments but even more so to get myself to them. This is especially true when I have a lot going on between work, family obligations, and household projects. Do I make my hair appointments near the house, or near work? Will I have time to get it done during my lunch break? So many things to consider and workaround.
Klippers is a mobile app that recently launched in Toronto, that is a marketplace for connecting users with the hairstylists and the barbers that are in the area. So users go into the app and can see all of the hairstylist and barbers around the area that they choose. Not only that, but the services that they offer and their portfolios are also right there on the app. It's easy to locate exactly what you want, check prices and ratings and book right there. Oh, and let's not forget the best part... then they come to you. That's right, they show up at the location of your choice with all of their supplies. It doesn't get any easier than that for even the most hectic of schedules.
Klippers not only makes scheduling easy, but they also have very high standards for their service providers, to help put the client's minds at ease. They put all stylists through a screening process right upfront before they are allowed to be listed on the app. This process verifies experience and licenses as well as provides a full background check, so you don't need to be worried about who is coming to your home or place of business. Customer safety is their top priority.
Although currently only available in Toronto, Canada, the company is looking to expand into other large markets. Make sure to watch our interview with the CEO and Co-founder, Neel Patel to find out more about this exciting new app. You can also learn more by checking out their website by clicking here.
It's hard to believe that, with all of the technology in a modern hospital, or even in our smartwatches, the part of the body that is completely ignored is our skin. This is despite our skin being the largest organ of the body and the first line of defense that we have against disease and injury. Patients all over the world enter medical facilities for other issues, but develop skin issues while there, all because it is difficult to track. Fortunately, Curiato noticed this problem and has developed a product to help solve it.
The company has developed a smart bedsheet, which is capable of detecting pressure, temperature, and humidity. With those 3 data points, the platform can detect, predict, and prevent injuries like bedsores. While everyone has heard of bedsores, almost no one knows exactly how big the problem of skin issues is. In North America alone, 7 people die every hour from skin issues like bedsores. Yes, you read that right: 7 people die every hour from fairly easily preventable skin issues. However, detection has always been the problem, but Curiato helps to fill that skill gap.
While bedsores may be where the company is starting, they believe that the technology can be used for far more. The intention is to use the platform as a marketplace of ideas and applications. Using the data collected by the existing hardware, other applications can use it, combine it with other data, and make even more powerful platforms. Imagine if the patient management system that helps run an assisted living facility could have Curiato built-in directly. If a patient doesn't move for an extended period, an ALF employee could be alerted to prevent a permanent or life-threatening injury.
The platform is currently in clinical trials and they hope to begin rolling it out soon. For more information, check out the company's website.
For authors of fiction, several issues can make the experience challenging. Some of those issues end up making the final work frustrating for the reader. We've all gotten into reading a book series or watched a television series in which a known fact, about a character or a location, is contradicted - not because of plot development, but because of the difficulty of maintaining the details of a universe that doesn't exist (did Michael Scott go to college or not?!). For those writers who want to prevent this issue, there is Granthika.
Normally, writers keep a notebook or a separate document with the individual details of the development of the world or universe being created. However, no one is ever able to maintain all of the details. When did two characters first meet? Who started working at Dunder Mifflin first: Jim or Pam? These types of questions can take the reader or watcher out of the action, but Granthika can help prevent it. Using natural language processing, the software can essentially read a book and begin to build a timeline and fact database for the author.
While this is great for a solo author, it has a particular value for a universe with multiple authors. It doesn't matter if it is two authors working together on a book, or an open-source universe like Isaac's Universe, created by Isaac Asimov and contributed to by authors all over the world. When a rule is created, or experience documented, that data can be shared with the other authors, to prevent continuity issues or storylines based on false accounts.
Granthika is currently in an open beta phase, and an author can try it out today. To get in on the beta, or to find out more about the software, check out the Granthika website.
Not very many people here in the states know this, but the candy brand Kit Kat is extremely popular in Japan. One of the reasons that it is so popular there is because they have different flavors than we have here. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine traveled to Japan and brought back all kinds of wonderful (and crazy) flavored Kit Kat's. There was strawberry cheesecake, green tea, orange, wasabi, and sweet corn, to name a few. And once they were gone... they were gone. If only I had a quick and easy way to get some more of these unusual treats. Sure, there are now some trendy candy, and even comic book, stores that dabble in some of these candies from overseas, but still not the full range. And it can get so expensive to order foreign items online, with markup and shipping, to say the least. This is where the new app, KNGRO, comes into play.
We learned more about it when we met Roy Abdo, Marketing Director and one of the cofounders of KNGRO, at Collision Conference 2019. They realized that there are a lot of people around the world who want to purchase items from far away places. Likewise, there are millions of people who travel internationally every year. So why not find a way to link them up? They created a platform where people can order things from other areas and then someone traveling to/from that location will bring them to you for a mutually agreed-upon fee. It's the perfect set up for everybody involved. The traveler can make a little extra cash for their efforts, and the shopper can get their items, not only for a better price than shipping but also much faster than waiting weeks for their international packages.
The app and the online version are really easy to use, too. You simply list the item that you want, along with your location and the location of the item. Then travelers go in to "make an offer" on the items that they can bring along in their luggage to drop off when they arrive in your area. Simple transaction for both parties.
Check out Roy's full interview to get more details and then hop over to their website to get started.