Givaudan iPerfumer App: Portable perfume recommendation engine

Latest Gadgets were invited to the launch of iPerfumer – a free iPhone recommendation engine for perfumes by Givaudan. Wondering what this could mean for Patrick Süskind novels, I headed down to speak with Sid Shah, Givaudan’s head of Internet Technology and Innovation.

iPerfumer

Apparently the disruptive power of the Internet – that has done so much to shake up the way we buy books, music and film, has extended to the fragrance industry, with net-savvy bargain hunters heading online for savings on perfumes. The perfume market has become diversified and the days of the blockbuster fragrance are no more.

Sid was especially excited about the growth of mobile platform and the explosion of the smartphone market. Many modern consumers walk around with a small, online computer in their pockets at all times, which is a gift and a curse for retailers. Customers can purchase goods almost instantaneously, with the caveat that they may not always choose your goods to purchase.

Perfume is of course, a specialized purchase – Sid referred to it as an “investment”, and it can be daunting to spend that much money on something you’ve never smelt, making it a little different to other online purchases. The iPerfume app attempts bring some traditional expertise to online purchases. Unlike existing perfume recommendation engines, which use psychological profiling, iPerfumer has a mathematical algorithm, that improves over time via collective intelligence – if you have ever used Apple’s Genius playlists you will have a good idea of how the system works.

I had a play with iPerfumer – you can download it for free from the App Store here, and it was ridiculously easy to get to grips with. I had two concerns – one was the lack of an online purchasing store connected to the recommendation. It would be great if you could simply click through to an online store – or range of online stores and purchase your chosen fragrance but Sid said this was something they were looking into. Givaudan’s development roadmap also includes Android and Blackberry devices. Whether you are a perfume novice or seasoned perfumistas the free iPerfumer app seems like a great way to improve your buying options.

Garden gadgets roundup

Summer’s here, it’s time to get out in the garden and enjoy the sunshine (hopefully) while you can. But don’t leave your gadgets behind! We’ve found some great al fresco gear for the long hot summer ahead (yes, we are trying to be optimistic!).

Garden-Gadgets

Anyone who’s tried to use matches to light the Barbie with a gale force wind blowing (well, we Brits are pretty resilient when it comes to al fresco dining) will appreciate the brilliance of the Zippo Flexible Neck Outdoor Utility Lighter. Like its famous stablemates, it’s windproof, so even in the worst weather you’ll still be able to light fires and candles without burning your fingers and impress your family with your BBQ prowess. Available in black matte or chrome it’s a very reasonable £13.70.
www.zippo.co.uk

Once the barbie’s lit, you’ll need some sounds. We’ve been to many a barbie where the music’s died halfway through because the battery has run down on the iPod, so how about the Solar Sound 2 portable stereo speakers? The system plays music wirelessly via Bluetooth, while charging its battery from the integrated solar panel – now that’s what we call multitasking! Produced by Devotec, this is the second generation of this system, with improved sound quality, louder maximum volume and less distortion at higher levels. Playing time from a charged battery is between five and 10 hours, but of course if it’s in the sun, it can keep going! The Solar Sound 2 works with almost every model of phone that has Bluetooth and the A2DP profile; iPhones, Nokias, Blackberries and so on. £69.99 from here

If you want to listen to the summer of sport while you’re catching some rays, then the latest digital radio from Vita Audio should be on your shopping list. The Vita Audio R1 MkII has impressive credientials: its predecessor was dubbed the Aston Martin of digital radios by the Daily Telegraph. The new radio offers greater control over bass and treble, has an input for playing sounds from an iPod or other music player and has an optional CarryPack in tan or black full-grain leather for greater portability. Prices from £159.99 (CarryPack £39.99). From House of Frasier, John Lewis and Selfridges or www.vitaaudio.com

As long as your garden’s big enough, you can take a trip back in time to the heydays of 80s TV and this remote control Airwolf helicopter replica from Heliguy.com. Capable of reaching speeds of up to 60mph, it’s a pricey toy at £299.99, but think of the fun you’ll have! Recommended for the more experienced flyer, so get it out before you start on the tinnies.www.heliguy.com

If you’re actually planning to do some work in the garden, rather than just sitting back and relaxing – and you’ve got a spare £799 to spare – you could invest in an electric autobarrow to take the weight off your shoulders. This battery-powered wheelbarrow is designed to take the effort out of moving heavy stuff such as turf, paving slabs and plants. It has a semi-automatic tipping mechanism to make unloading easier too.
If the price tag is a tad heavy for your taste, you could soften the blow with its green credentials – no fumes, and an eco-friendly 250-watt electric motor.
Available from the Really Useful Vehicle Company.

A far cheaper addition to your gardening arsenal is GardenID, an iPhone app that tells you what to grow when based on your location. Once your location is set, you can choose the right fruit and veg to grow for the time of year, follow full steps for planting, growing and harvest – and read lots of helpful tips. There’s even a facility for identifying and solving any gardening problems.
More at: here or download from the AppStore for $2.99

The Royal Horticultural Society has just upgraded its Grow Your Own iPhone app. Now, on top of the 20 fruit and veg listed in the free app, you can add another 16 for £1.79. The upgrade includes calendar alerts to remind you what to do when in your garden, frost alerts based on location and watering reminders and drought alerts, also based on location. More upgrades, adding on extra varieties, are expected to follow.
Log on here
Or download from the App Store.

Latest Gadgets reviews the Beauty Steals App for the iPhone

The Beauty Steals App is your personal guide to getting beauty products at the best value as it is a jungle out there. The App comes from Jo Fairley and Sarah Stacey, the authors of the bestselling Beauty Bible series of books. If you need to know what the best bronzer is under £10 for your upcoming holiday or want to find a hairspray to make your hair shine in the sun, then look no further.

beauty-steals-iphone-app

You can search for products by brand, name or category. There are many products to choose in every category you can think of from every major brand. There are ‘beauty steals’ for hair, make-up, skin and body.

Each product has been tested by real women and given extensive feedback. Reading the feedback was interesting as I got a very good idea of what worked. Each product is scored out of ten so comparison is very easy. What I really liked about this app is how it features organic products which are highlighted using a ‘daisy rating’. You can buy products online by using the shopping cart and there are discounts available when buying through the app. The app really pays for itself as you save money using the discounts. You can also save your favourites for the next time you want to buy your best mascara.

I am always changing the brands I use for beauty as I look for the latest products, so this app is very useful for comparing what is out there and reading feedback whilst on the move. The Beauty Steals App is available in the iTunes Store for £2.99, available by clicking here. You can visit the website at www.beautybible.com for all the latest beauty news and all the answers to beauty questions you need. Here’s to looking good girls!

iPhone 4: the verdict

So, the next generation of iPhone has been released. Here’s what the great and the good of the tech world who have managed to grab a few minutes with the holy grail for phone lovers have to say about it…

iPhone-4-Round-Up
“Courtesy of Apple “

Pocket Lint:
“The iPhone 4 feels great in the hand. The glass on the back and front makes it smooth and appealing – no wonder Apple’s own case is just a piece of brightly coloured rubber that covers the extreme edges, leaving the front and back exposed to the touch. And that stainless steel frame is pretty cool, too.”

Gizmodo, which famously got hold of a prototype earlier this year, commented:
“The biggest feature of the new iPhone 4 is probably video calling, thanks to its front camera. Apple calls it FaceTime, and it works iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 over Wi-Fi – at least for 2010. Apple claims that in the future it will be available over 3G.”

PC Pro’s Barry Collins, meanwhile, lists the four things he thinks are still missing from the iPhone 4:
“1. 64GB model: Those with even moderately sized music collections and an appetite for apps may struggle with the 32GB storage capacity, let alone the entry-level 16GB model.
2. OLED display.
3. iPad tethering: OK, nobody was seriously expecting Apple to shoot itself in the foot by allowing iPad owners to tether their device to the iPhone and give it a mobile internet connection. But is it really too much to ask for those who’ve invested in Apple products twice?
4. Music streaming.

FT:
“If you’re a gamer, you will appreciate the addition of a gyroscope to the iPhone’s motion-sensing capabilities, and if you are just a general user, improved battery life that allows up to 10 hours of internet browsing on Wi-Fi means the iPhone will still be lit up and functioning long after the Evo, with its weak battery life, will have shut down.”

Techradar was a fan of the phone’s camera functionality (with a 5mp sensor and 720p HD video):
“The metal buttons, shiny edge, and the way the flat-edged case feels more camera-like when you’re shooting pictures, like a particularly slim point-and-shoot. Solid and familiar, yet futuristic.”

PC Advisor:
“The new phone’s display doubles the resolution to a 960-by-640-pixel IPS display. That display truly makes a difference. Whereas the iPhone 3GS’s text – in the menus, in apps, or on web pages – appears thick, fuzzy, and undefined, the Apple iPhone 4’s text is razor sharp, even when enlarged. The new “Retina display” – so named because it surpasses the number of pixels the human retina can process – also greatly improves the sharpness, clarity, and visible detail of images.”

The Independent:
“Aside from the introduction of face-to-face video calling, it’s not a staggering feature set: a sleeker design, a better display and enhancements for gaming and photography. But, crucially, it’s way more powerful than its predecessor, speedier, easier to use, and will make previously laborious tasks seem like a cinch.”

MacWorld:
“We got to spend a few minutes using two new iPhone apps, iMovie and iBooks. Given just how much processing power is required to edit video, iMovie’s performance was impressive. Trimming a clip is a simple as tapping on it and dragging a pin right or left. Now you can shoot your kid’s dance recital, edit it together, and ship it out to friends and relatives before the dance teacher has finished her thank-yous at the end of the night.”

The Telegraph’s Claudine Beaumont sums it up for us:
“On battery life, speed and multitasking, Apple has addressed some of the key criticisms of its device. And, with Google Android snapping at its heels, Apple has, apparently effortlessly, manage to haul itself to the front of the chasing pack and cement its reputation for producing some of the best smartphones on the market.”

So, if that’s got your fingers twitching to flash the plastic and upgrading, here’s some final advice from PC Pro:
“O2 customers will have to sign a new 18- or 24-month contract when they purchase the iPhone 4, and of course pay for the new handset. Current iPhone owners could mitigate much of that upgrade fee – or even turn a profit – by trading in their current handset with O2. The network is offering £240 to customers recycling a 16GB iPhone 3GS, and £253 for the 32GB model. For customers with a year or less to run on their contract, that could eliminate the cost of buying out their contract.”

The sweet spot between iPhones and iPads: the Dell Streak?

Dell have announced the launch of their Streak tablet, a device which they promise will hit the ‘sweet spot’ between smartphones and larger tablets such as the long-awaited iPad, released today.

There is of course a whole other debated required to see if such a ‘sweet spot’ exists in the first place; but regardless, the company’s first foray into the ‘on-the-go’ market is certainly an interesting one. The Streak is a 5-inch Android based Tablet that’s designed to empower users to access entertainment social media and a whole range of other services on the move. Set to launch in due, the company who are synonymous with no-frills PCs, claim the device will become a compact and powerful companion for people who want to expand their ability to access their digital lives. The 5-inch touch screen around which the Streak is built, is set to play host to the thousands of games, widgets and applications that are available via the constantly growing Android Market; all of which can be accessed via built-in Bluetooth, WiFi and 3G capability.

Dell-Streak

Under the surface the Streak leverages Qualcomm’s Snapdragon solution with integrated 1GHz processor, a powerful set-up that combines pocket-portability with enough raw power to perform the kind of basic browsing you’d usually employ a laptop for. On the memory front there’s a built in 2Gb, which isn’t much, but can be expanded to 32Gb via Micro SD. There’s a 5mp digital camera (presumably an inclusion designed to appeal to those who are deterred by poorer performing camera’s on more popular smartphones) as well as built-in Google maps and navigational functionality. However, aside from that there’s really not much to write home about, save for the 5-inch screen that offers the full-screen browsing experience which seems to be Dell’s main selling point.

To be fair the screen is larger than almost any other smartphone on the market and also has more portability than the swathe of tablets that are currently entering stores, so the Streak really does operate a unique position that it’s manufacturers claim. However, it remains to be seen whether it’s a position that will appeal to customers. The Streak sacrifices both the portability and functionality of a smartphone, as well as the user-experience of a tablet; falling somewhere between the two it’s more of a mongrel breed than a best in show, and it’s hard to imagine who the device will appeal to.

Pricing is yet to be announced, but given Dell’s track-record you can at least expect the Streak to be affordable when it is made available via O2 and The Carphone Warehouse from June. Overall, it’s not the worst piece of kit you’ll see this year and the 5-inch screen is great; however I struggle to see the appeal in a device that’s trying to find a niche that isn’t there. Then again, they said that about the iPad and that’s already proving people wrong.

Risk-free new hairstyles with ‘Hair-Pod’ iPhone app

What’s the best way to get over a broken heart? Once tears and anger are out of the way, the tried and tested method is to get yourself dolled up and out there again.

It’s a common theory that a new look will boost confidence and put that smile back on your face, but changing your hair-do can be fraught with danger. How will you know it will suit you? How can you trust your hairdresser to get it right? What if you end up bumping into the ex when you look like a cross between Russell Brand and Peter Stringfellow (and you’re a girl)?

Hair-Pod-iPhone-App

Luckily, a new iPhone app – the slightly ickily-named ‘Hair-Pod’ – has been launched that can help you out. Although it sounds a bit like a weird sort of hirsute chrysalis, the Hair-Pod allows you to test out a new look before you get anywhere near a pair of scissors.

The app provides an updated version of those faceless pictures of hairstyles that used to accompany hair magazines. Back then, you needed to put a passport-style photo behind the pictures and they just made you look like you were wearing a terrible wig. This time around, all you need to do is upload a picture of yourself to test out over 30 looks.

Launched by celebrity hairdresser, Stuart Holmes, it can be used to test out a new colour or totally different style. Play around until you find something that will put the spring in your step and help you wash that man (or woman) right out of your hair.

Available for free from the Apple App Store, it’s worth having a look even if it’s just for a laugh. You might even find a perfect new hairstyle when you weren’t looking for one. If you need a second opinion from mates, you can email the images to them or upload pics to Facebook for a global consensus on your potential new do.

Once the required number of compliments has been reached, use the app to get prices and directions to the Stuart Holmes Salon in Cheltenham, where you can turn the fantasy into a head-turning, show-stopping reality.

Still worried about the ex? No, didn’t think so.

In bloom – Bang & Olufsen’s BeoLab 11 subwoofer

Danish manufacturer of high end home entertainment systems have released what is possibly the most interesting looking subwoofer so far. Winning a race that no one else was running, the new BeoLab 11 has the usual high end sound quality that you would expect from Bang & Olufsen and it is both full active and compatible with third party applications.

BeoLab-11

The unit is basically two identical loudspeaker cabinets, with baffles facing each other, creating the tulip look. It comes in silver and white and is as much about creating a distinct talking point (the company says it has a strong sculptural presence, ) in the living room as it is about bass. It would probably make a good companion piece to the Dyson Air Multiplier.

However it is not all looks, and the BeoLab 11 is the first Bang & Olufsen subwoofer to utilize the Acoustic Balance Principle and will provide a richer listening experience, enhancing low end frequencies.

The unit reproduces omni-directional bass frequencies, which means that it doesn’t need to tucked away in the corner for optimal performance. And due to the tulip design, it might not look that bad in the middle of the room. Bang & Olufsen go one further and suggest that you can hang the unit on the wall. Apparently the BeoLab 11 produces minimal vibrations making it one of the few subwoofers in the world that can be wall mounted. Why you would want to is another question, but it can be done.

Not content with eye-catching sub-woofers, Bang & Olufsen also produced BeoLink a free iPhone app available in the Apple App Store. This allows owners of Bang & Olufsen’s Master Link Gateway to fully control all their home automation equipment from their iPhone or iPod touch. The range of potential applications is pretty impressive. You can turn on the lights, unlock your front door, change CDs or adjust the volume on the TV. You can also control your gates, garage doors, alarms and A/V equipment. And as you leave the house you can press a button and turn off all your appliances, lock all your doors and set your alarms. Or you can download the app, set it to demo mode and just pretend.

Feeling flabby? Swap miCouch for Adidas miCoach

If your quest for New Year fitness has already taken a nosedive, Adidas has launched just the gadget to get your training back on track. miCoach is an interactive personal trainer which measures heart rate, pace, distance and stride and tells you when to speed up or slow down (safe to say the latter option on my unit won’t be breaking a sweat…)

Provided you don’t cheat, these real-time stats will keep you motivated and on course to achieve your goal. If you’re thinking this all rings a bell, you may recall miCoach’s 2008 practice run as part of a training system with Samsung mobile. Now breaking from the pack, the new miCoach trainer has a choice of systems to plan your ideal workout.

miCoach Pacer is an eager, lightweight fitness instructor, which plugs into your MP3 player to bark its verbal commands. It also has its own headphones if you don’t want to tarnish your prized player with flashbacks of mud-riddled limping sessions. It’s a smart-looking bit of kit, with two 3.5mm jacks so you can keep your sporty playlist running while miCoach coerces you through your paces.

The Pacer comes with a heart rate monitor and stride sensor. Simply do an “assessment run” and if that doesn’t put you off, miCoach will plan a workout schedule to train you through.

Check out the demo video:

You can save your Pacer results on the miCoach website to create personalised training plans, set fitness goals and see your progress over time. You can also choose a ready-made programme to help you on your quest – whether it be shedding that Christmas chocolate tin or chasing down a schooldays’ PB.

If you’re not quite ready to submit yourself to such intensive training, you might prefer the less invasive miCoach Zone. This colour-coded LED wristband measures your heart rate and other training stats to help you work at the most efficient intensity. This is your option if you just want a bit of guidance rather than enlist the type of coach that would iron your training kit and shovel your snow to make sure you didn’t miss a session. Zone doesn’t work with the website, but it’s got everything you need to get the most from those tentative spring runs.

miCoach – not one for the lardy-hearted, but a great selection of training gizmos for athletes and attitudes of all sizes. More info at http://micoach.adidas.com/