Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is likely the most popular gadget of the year. People are still figuring out what benefits excite them about the watch. It seems to me the potential is huge but this initial effort is not quite amazing.

I embedded Apple’s promotional video for the watch which is obviously a sales piece but they do a very good job of showing what the watch offers.

There are many good reviews of the watch: The Apple Watch (Daring Fireball)Apple Watch Review: The Smartwatch Finally Makes Sense (WSJ)A Week on the Wrist: The Apple Watch Review (Recode)Apple Watch Review (Verge

My opinion is it is very expensive for what you get. But I can see the potential for some very wonderful things down the road. The health kit options I think will be a killer feature (maybe not right away but within a couple years).

Another feature that will be quite valuable are paying with a swipe from the watch (which seems to be less than perfect so far), but it will be very nice. Apple Pay is a very smart system given the relative ease at which consumers credit card details continue be stolen using conventional means (Apple Pay doesn’t turn over you credit card number so hackers can’t get it from poor IT systems at retailers).

The quick interactions with friends I think will be a big feature, again it may take several interactions to get this to be wonderful. The “tap” notifications seems to physically be done very well. Figuring out the right settings to properly filter what should generate that touch seems to take a bit of work (and not surprisingly apps are defaulting to too much bothering the user).

Being able to just speak to leave yourself notes is a nice feature, though my guess is one that isn’t used as much as people would think it would be.

Personally I see more potential for the watch that I see actually delivered thus far. I am more positive about the long term success of the watch today than I was when it was first announced.

I stopped wearing a watch years ago. And I don’t have any plans to start again anytime soon. But if I do, the Apple Watch is a likely candidate. It sure isn’t cheap but hopefully I can just use a bit of profit from Apple stock when the time comes to pay for one.

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Answer Your Doorbell with Your Smartphone Wherever You Are (and see video of who is at the door)

The Ring Wi-Fi Enabled Video Doorbell provides some useful features.

You can see and speak to visitors using your smartphone or tablet, whether you’re upstairs or across town.

Not everyone rings the doorbell, so the doorbell includes motion sensors to alert you of activity at your home. The sensor can detect movement up to 30 feet away. HD video recording stores all recorded footage to the cloud (it connect to your network via wifi).

I have thought about such a product since long before I ever heard of wifi (or “the cloud”). Back then I envisioned being able to see who it was and decide if I wanted to answer the door or not.

I also like the security feature of having a record of who comes to your door. If someone tries to “case” your house and check to see if you are there by ringing the doorbell, you will have a record of it (and see it in real time, wherever you are).

The doorbell can tie into existing electricity or operate using a battery.

You could rig something that does this yourself for less (it costs $199 now) but this product lets you get something up and running easily. That is actually what I figured I would do when I returned to my own house (I am busy living the nomad life for now).

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Save on Phone Charges When Traveling – Sim Card Savings

Roaming charges on cell phones are ludicrously expensive. When I travel I normally just get a local sim card but that does have hassles (you don’t have your normal cell phone number attached to your phone).

A new service provides much better roaming rates by directing your roaming traffic to their network instead of your cell phone carrier. The cool gadget that allows this is a sticker applied to your sim card.

You phone must be unlocked for this to work. It works with iOs (iPhone and iPad), Android and other systems and all sim types (micro, nano and mini).

There is an option to get a local number to let people easily call you locally.

When applied to your home SIM card, the KnowRoaming sticker can detect when you are at home or abroad. When abroad, the KnowRoaming Sticker takes over and switches you onto the KnowRoaming network, enabling you to connect to our local partner networks worldwide. After returning home, the KnowRoaming sticker switches you back to your home mobile network and remains dormant.

They take your balance after 15 months of no activity which is unnecessarily hostile to customers. But for the right people it might be worth looking into if this option would benefit you.

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Canon PowerShot SX60 HS Digital Camera

I am fairly cheap. I bought a Canon Powershot SX-60 HS camera today (with 64 Gb card, backup battery and comfortable strap) for $550. I think that is the 2nd most expensive thing I bought this year (an iPad mini I think was more expensive). In the last 5 years the only other thing I can remember buying that was more expensive was a MacBook Pro.

I am very happy to have a new camera. I started looking more than 6 month ago, at that time the updated version of the Powershot was already 6 month overdue (with no explanation from Canon) so I decided to wait. I am glad I did (though I was annoyed not to have a new camera for my trip to Hong Kong, Guilin, Yunnan and Shanghai earlier this year.

The old camera was ok, if you don’t consider how much better things have progressed in the last 5-10 years. But that is a big thing to ignore. I think the Canon SX line is the most awesome camera for people that want something better than a smart phone (by far the biggest issue for me is zoom though it is also better for various things such as low light, taking lots of photos and video without running out of room on your camera…).

photo of the Canon ax-60

The photo shows the LCD screen extended which is actually a nice feature at times (normally I just fold it into the back of the camera).

The Powershot SX 60 has an amazing 65x optical zoom (21mm–1365mm). This is just amazing. Much more expensive cameras can’t come close to competing with this. The Canon SX 60 is DSLR-like but not a DSLR. It looks like one but isn’t. It really straddles the area between DSLR and non-DSLR in my opinion.

You can watch at Curious Cat Travel Photos and see if you notice a big leap in the quality of the photos now that I have a new camera.

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PulsePoint App Gets Medical Help Where Needed Quickly

Ok this isn’t really a gadget but it is my blog so I get to do what I want :-)
PulsePoint is a crowdsourced iOS app that locates nearby help for a cardiac arrest and helps get help to those in need quickly.

view of PulsePoint screen cardiac notification

Life-Saving Crowdsourcing App Expands Reach to Stop Cardiac Arrests

[PulsePoint] on his phone warned him that someone nearby needed CPR. Brawner reportedly raced around the gym, trying to find the victim, before heading to the parking lot, where he saw a man sprawled on the pavement. He began giving the man CPR until fire and rescue units showed up.

The man’s survival wasn’t just a blessing for his family, it was a huge victory for the PulsePoint Foundation, a Bay Area nonprofit whose app is making it easier to alert CPR-trained people that someone nearby needs help.

PulsePoint’s free app connects to local 911 call centers and alerts users when there is someone nearby in need of CPR. PulsePoint users get an alert the same time as local emergency responders.

It also shows the location of the closest automated electronic defibrillator (if there is one nearby) as well as a reminder about how to do CPR, just in case the user has an adrenaline-induced brain-freeze.

Very cool. It is great to see us find ways to help improve the health care system.

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Polaroid Cube Camera

Introducing the Polaroid Cube lifestyle action camera—water resistant, shockproof, mountable (1080p HD video, 3MP CMOS sensor and 124° wide angle lens).

The Mobius Action camera is another option (that doesn’t look quite as cool, but has good video quality in a small package at a cheap price – $90).

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Add 128Gb of Storage to Your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro

Very cool device that fits inside the card reader slot of your Mac laptop to add 128 Gb of storage (it sits flush with your MacBook, you can barely even tell it is there).

Simply insert JetDrive Lite into the card reader slot on the side of your MacBook and instantly boost your storage capacity.

You need to select your laptop version so my guess is you can’t use one card for both a MacBook Air and a MacBook Pro (or between some versions of MacBook Pro that have different JetDrive Lite versions).

It is compatible back to late 2010 MacBook Air 13 inch so I am buying one for my old MacBook Air. Buying via Amazon a 128 Gb version is only $80 (at least right now), list price is $120. Currently it is back-ordered for 2-4 weeks.

I would include a way to lookup the production date of your laptop if I were selling these but they didn’t do so (maybe they will be smart and update the page to do so). You can use this Apple page to determine the production date of your MacBook.

Another similar product, PNY StorEDGE 128 Gb is $75 from Amazon ($200 list price – it is a bit older so likely price to places like Amazon has dropped, even if they didn’t lower the list price, since the release).

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Night Vision Contact Lenses

University of Michigan engineering researchers have developed infrared technology that doesn’t need bulky cooling equipment to work.

“We can make the entire design super-thin,” said Zhaohui Zhong, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. “It can be stacked on a contact lens or integrated with a cell phone.”

Infrared light starts at wavelengths just longer than those of visible red light and stretches to wavelengths up to a millimeter long. Infrared vision may be best known for spotting people and animals in the dark and heat leaks in houses, but it can also help doctors monitor blood flow, identify chemicals in the environment and allow art historians to see Paul Gauguin’s sketches under layers of paint.

Unlike the visible spectrum, which conventional cameras capture with a single chip, infrared imaging requires a combination of technologies to see near-, mid- and far-infrared radiation all at once. Still more challenging, the mid-infrared and far-infrared sensors typically need to be at very cold temperatures.

Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms, could sense the whole infrared spectrum—plus visible and ultraviolet light. But until now, it hasn’t been viable for infrared detection because it can’t capture enough light to generate a detectable electrical signal. With one-atom thickness, it only absorbs about 2.3% of the light that hits it. If the light can’t produce an electrical signal, graphene can’t be used as a sensor.

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Google Glass for Fitness

I am not a big fan of Google Glass or running (basketball is my sport, and I also swim to stay in shape) but this is a pretty cool product combining those two things (you can also use it for biking and skiing): Race Yourself.

You can have your previous runs added into your view using Google Glass. This product is in development.

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Wooden Device to Hold Open Books While You Read

photo of wooden book holder

Some gadgets are very low tech like this book holder that fits on the thumb like a ring and spreads the pages of the book open. Perfect for reading while holding the book in one hand!

Simple gadgets can be useful and beautiful.

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