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The interconnected age is upon us, and the proliferation of smart devices has made them consumer accessible and easy to use. The "Internet of everything" is everywhere. Business Insider estimates that by 2018 there will be more than 18 billion connected devices in use globally, ranging from smartphones to cars and wearable tech. Creating a connected home has never been easier. Here's a look at just a few of the devices you can use to move your home into the smart age. And you don't even have to be a rocket scientist or engineer to make it happen.
August Smart Lock
The August Smart Lock lets you control your home locks from the palm of your hand, and even issue keys with various accessibility permissions. You can issue one key for a family member that allows 24/7 access and another for a cleaning person or guest who will only unlock the door at a certain time. August Smart Locks even keep a log of who entered and when, allowing you to know precisely who has been in and out of your home. August sends you reminders if the batteries in the lock are low and can even unlock the door automatically as it senses your approach.
Philips Hue Smart Lighting
Smart lighting is more than just being able to turn your lights on and off from your phone. Philips Hue Smart Lighting systems let you create macros and parameters for your lights. Hue can brighten gradually over time to wake you up in the morning or dim slowly to help you fall asleep. Perhaps the most impressive feat of the Hue system is the ability to re-create light parameters from photographs, such as bathing your home in the colors of your favorite sunset or even match the ambiance to events in the movie you are watching.
Samsung did say it was going to ease down on the amount of smartphone offerings for 2015, but here we are just days into the New Year and we're being introduced to the new, all-metal Galaxy A7 handset.
The new Galaxy A7 smartphone features a much better, high quality build made from a full aluminum, unibody construction. We have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 64-bit processor, providing eight CPU cores in total. These are split into two separate quad-core processors, clocked at 1.8GHz, and 1.3GHz or 1.5GHz and 1GHz for the dual SIM version of the Galaxy A7.
We don't know which resolution the 5.5-inch panel sports, but we can be sure it'll be 1920x1080 (but it could be 720p, boo). There's also 2GB of RAM, 16GB of NAND flash backed up by expandable microSD, LTE Category 4, a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, 5-megapixel selfie shooter, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC and Android 4.4. We should expect a 2600mAh battery, and a thin design for the Galaxy A7.
3D printers can be used for so much these days, but what about creating new pasta shapes? This is something pasta maker Barilla is using to find out a new pasta design, which is unique if you ask me.
The company held a competition recently, where they revealed three winners who created new shapes using a 3D printer. One of the winners, Rosa, blooms into a full rose when it is put in boiling water. Two other designs include a conical vortex shape and a circular moon, with the moon featuring craters to "improve the interaction between pasta and sauces."
Barilla has said that it might starting working with leading design using 3D printers going into the future, coming off the back of the company announcing plans to look into restaurant-grade printers that would be capable of made-to-order custom shapes. An interesting road for pasta, that's for sure.
As traditional mail is becoming a less needed service, Royal Mail has stepped up in a bid to stay ahead of the 'rat race' - offering consumers the ability to 3D print and ship various objects from their local offices.
Paired up with 3D-printing company iMakr, Royal Mail using their services to install brand new printers in their New Cavendish Street delivery office in London, set to enable both custom designs and pre-made product designs to be ordered by consumers. These products can be ordered online by any end-user and have them shipped directly to their address or picked up directly from the office.
Mike Newnham is Royal Mail's Chief Customer Officer, sharing his thoughts on this business advancement he commented: "3D printing is an emerging technology that has many applications and offers an innovative way to create unique or personalized objects. It can be prohibitively expensive for consumers or small businesses to invest in a 3D printer, so we are launching a pilot to gauge interest in 3D printing".
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho-based startup Rohinni has an interesting project to share with the world: LightPaper. LightPaper is something the startup took to their Twitter account to tease, writing: "We print light".
The goal of the startup is to be the leading lighting application for, well, everything. LightPaper is the world's thinnest LED lighting, which can be applied to, stuck on, and placed onto virtually any surface. LightPaper, if you've already guessed, is super-thin, and is made by mixing ink and tiny LEDs together, and then printing out a mixture onto a conductive layer.
This layer is then "sealed between two additional layers. The tiny diodes are about the size of a red blood cell. When a current runs through the paper, the tiny, randomly-dispersed diodes will light up", reports 3ders.org. OLED is currently one of the thinner technologies out there, but LightPaper is set to break that record. LightPaper is being aimed at the automotive industry, where it could allow for better tail lights, or super-impressive looking branding.
If you're not busy playing this Super Smash Brothers mod on your graphics calculator, prepare yourself for the 2015 year of schooling by modding your ever useful device into a selfie-capturing camera.
Thanks to Christoper Mitchell, high school girls can take more selfies than ever before due to his latest project named ArTICam. Through the utilization of a Game Boy Camera and a programmable Arduino board, Mitchell has released plans to enable you to take a 128 x 123 pixel selfie grayscale image.
If you like to look at fish in the aquarium, but don't spend enough time at home to take care of a pet the Capsule might be for you. This round aquarium has a couple roundish fish inside that do something for you other than float around. The fish are called LumiPUFF are able to connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
Once the robotic fish are connected to your smartphone, they will change colors to notify you of messages on your phone. Users can also choose the color combination of the lights inside the fish. The cool electronic fish use inductive wireless power transmission technology so you never have to charge them or change batteries.
The Capsule aquarium is a closed habitat that never needs maintenance. LumiPUFF fish measure 2.8" and have three light regions in the body. The fish swim around and users can interact with them via a game app on the smartphone that allows you to feed and play with them. The Sphere will ship in May 2015 at an undisclosed price.
One of the hallmarks of the Raspberry Pi developer board is modest power for a low price. Microsoft wants to get in on the action that Raspberry Pi is getting with DIY fans and tinkerers. The software giant has unveiled a new developer board of its own called Sharks Cove.
The board works with Windows or Android and hardware for the board comes from Intel and is made by a firm called CircuitCo. The processor used on Sharks Cove is an Intel Atom Z3735G quad-core chip with speeds of 1.33GHz to 1.83 GHz. That chips is paired with 1GB of RAM and the board offers 16GB of flash storage with storage expansion via a microSD card slot.
One of the things that has made the Raspberry Pi so popular is its very low price, as you might expect Microsoft is offering Sharks Cove for a much higher price- $299. To help justify that price Microsoft points out that it includes a Windows 8.1 image in the price.
3D printers are becoming more and more common in schools, offices, and homes around the country as prices come down. One thing that will help adoption of 3D printers almost as much as cheaper prices is better availability. MakerBot has announced a new deal with some Home Depot locations that will see its 3D printers available in stores.
The MakerBot Replicator 3D printer is now available to purchase in about a dozen Home Depot locations around the US. The dozen locations are found in California, Chicago, and New York City. Some of the stores will have elaborate kiosks installed, such as the one seen in the photo here.
There will also be staff on hand at some locations that will be able to demo the product and give out items made with the printer. It appears that you can buy printing supplies at these locations as well.
Electronics tinkerers love the Raspberry Pi because it is cheap and has some very cool uses. The little Raspberry Pi has been updated again and this time it gains some very cool features that fans will really appreciate. This latest model is called the Raspberry Pi Model B+.
The main new feature of the upgraded Pi is a microSD card slot that is a push-push unit rather than the old friction fit. Changes to the connector layout mean that existing cases may not work for the B+ version of the Pi. Some of the add-ons won't work either, such as the Adafruit Cobbler and Wolfson audio card.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation says that this will be the last evolution of the original Pi and that the next version will be Version 2. The Pi also gets the ability to power memory sticks and other items through the USB port. Other changes for stability and usability were made as well.