Blue teeth: Kolibree the world’s first connected toothbrush

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When the inventors of Bluetooth revealed their new wireless communication method in the late 1990s, few people could have envisaged it being used to monitor toothbrushes. However, at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, French firm Kolibree unveiled a connected toothbrush that uses Bluetooth to provide users with unparalleled levels of feedback about their brushing habits and oral hygiene levels.

Kolibree claim that their smart toothbrush turns teeth-cleaning into “a fun experience”, although it’s more likely to appeal in terms of preventing poor brushing techniques and obeying the diktats of the dentist. The brush’s bristles are filled with sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer. These generate a detailed summary about whether any crevices have been missed, how much pressure has been applied at each point, and specific brushing directions.

Information from a family of brushes can be fed to an app-equipped Android or iOS smartphone, and daily dental routines can be shared through social media (or sent directly to your dentist), with each brushing session awarded a five-star rating.

Check out video interview with one of the Kolibree team:

Turning teeth-cleaning into a Guitar Hero-style dexterity test may seem unlikely, but children love a challenge, and Kolibree will release brushing data via an API to third-party game designers, who can then create new apps for it. In the meantime, as the Independent pointed out, the Kolibree “collects sufficient data to enable you to have dental hygiene competitions with other members of your household, a possible incentive to children.” The Independent also declared it to be “perhaps the most quirky of all the intelligent household devices on show” at CES.

Kolibree’s Amy Forrester summed up the brush’s more prosaic merits when she described it as “like having a dentist inside your phone”. The popular press agreed, and CNN revealed how the Kolibree toothbrush “was invented by Thomas Serval, a French engineer and a leader in that country’s tech industry. He was inspired to design it after suspecting that his children were lying to him about whether they had brushed their teeth.” Mashable predicted the Kolibree “will be invaluable for improving your overall dental health”, adding “You’ll have no excuse [not to] be gingivitis free at your next dentist appointment.”

Wired described the Kolibree as “an interesting concept”, although it pointed out that “companies such as Oral B have been developing electric brushes that connect to dedicated monitoring devices for a few years.” They acknowledged that the brush taps into a burgeoning trend for real-time health updates: “By using a strong visual app, this is an implementation of the idea that could well gel with health-conscious users, particularly those now familiar with devices like the Nike Fuelband or Fitbit for exercise tracking.”

Further information about the Kolibree is due to be revealed in the next few months, with a Kickstarter funding announcement expected soon. The price is going to be in the region of £60. On sale later this year.

Onewheel, the self-balancing electric skateboard

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There were, by all accounts, plenty of innovative and interesting toys on display at this year’s CES. As attending technology journalists were busy scribbling down the wondrous worthies of the best innovations, one of the most saturated desks had to be that displaying the Onewheel – even the non-technological, mainstream press have cottoned on to this one.

This self-balancing, single-wheeled electric skateboard uses gyros, accelerometers, proprietary algorithms and a single rubber tyre to give passengers a smooth, self-balancing ride, which apparently mimics snowboarding or surfing on dry land. It has to be said, the Onewheel has certainly got editors’ radar buds raving as there is literally a myriad of reports and videos surfacing on the web dedicated to the fun you can have with the Onewheel.

“It’s hard not to do a double-take when first laying eyes on the Onewheel,” writes Engadget. In fact it was Engadget which was responsible for the Onewheel being displayed at this year’s CES. As the report proudly states, the device’s creator, Kyle Doerksen, brought a prototype by the Engadget trailer to CES. With its metal frame, wooden deck and chunky go-cart wheel, aesthetically, Engadget were not balled over by this heavy-duty (25 pounds) machine. In terms of speed, the Onewheel can go as fast as 12mph, although acceleration is software-limited to allow for better balancing. On a lithium battery this dryland skateboard-esque device can go from four to six miles on a single charge or for 20 minutes with an “ultra” charger. Unfortunately, writes Engadget, the machine only has approx. 20 minutes worth of ride in its battery, which varies depending on the terrain and personal driving style.

The BBC was quick to try out the Onewheel. BBC Click’s Spencer Kelly took a ride on the ‘half-skateboard-half-unicycle’ at the CES. We have to admit, Kelly’s video, which can be viewed here, isn’t too inspiring, and merely involves the BBC reporter travelling, albeit slowly, down a street in Las Vegas on what essentially resembles a skateboard before stopping a several metres down the road.

The Onewheel, close up
The Onewheel, close up

Big kids the Daily Mail didn’t want to miss the opportunity to try out the latest transport toy. With a headline stating a device that makes you feel like you’re flying, the Daily Mail are certainly excited by the single air-filled tyre taken from a go-kart, which can reach speeds of up to 12mph and turn 360 degrees within the length of the board. The Daily Mail also points out that all this happens while the board balances itself using the same motion sensing technology found in a smartphone. Seemingly obsessed by the Onewheel’s flying merits, the Daily Mail quotes the company behind the device, Future Motion, saying it “Lets you fly over pavement on only a single wheel.”

Veteran skateboarder Sam Sheffer of The Verge, who apparently rides a skateboard every day to work and back, was naturally eager to give the Onewheel a whirl. Admitting he was soon easily cruising around the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot, Sheffer says that despite its bulky and unwieldiness, the Onewheel, alongside the E-Go Cruiser are the closest he’s come to his ideal of an electrical skateboard. We have to admit, The Verge’s video of a trial ride on the Onewheel is a lot more exciting, speedy and ‘pro’ than the BBC’s version.

To try out the Onewheel for yourself, you’ll probably have to buy one, which will unfortunately set you back $1,300. Would it be worth it? Naw.

Video: Sony’s AX100 4K Camcorder & AS100VR Action Cam

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Among the products announced at Sony’s gaff-free (no movie directors here!) CES press event, a couple of new cameras caught our eye. First up was Sony’s latest 4K Camcorder, the AX100, which is now a far more ‘consumer friendly’ looking device compared to the company’s previous efforts. Producing a lighter and smaller camera is obviously key for Sony as they look to encourage us all to start producing and consuming more 4K content. The FDR-AX100, to give it its full name, is approximately one quarter the size and one third of the weight of the current FDR-AX1 model.

The AX100 comes with a 14.2 effective megapixel back-illuminated 1.0-type Exmor R CMOS sensor and, in addition to recording 4K footage, the camera is also capable of down-converting 4K images to very high quality 2K (Full HD) video. In terms of size, the AX100 is 196.5mm long, 83.5mm high and 81mm wide, weighing in at approx 790g. The camera is available for around £1,800 and more details can be found on the company’s UK web site. Also be sure to check out our video of the AX100 below:

The other new (or should that be significantly improved) camera that we checked out was the company’s latest action camera, the HDR-AS100VR Action Cam. This new model comes with a new image processing engine, new lens and a new image sensor for significantly improved image quality. The AS100VR is being marketed as “splash-proof” which means there’s no need for separate housing.

One interesting new feature is the ability to control up to five cameras with the Live-View Remote and record simultaneously with them all for a multi-view picture. Another, perhaps more quirky, feature of this camera (as well as its predecessor) is the ability to mount it to your dog’s back. Check out our quick hands on, and demonstration of the dog harness, in the video below:

Video: Parrot unveil the MiniDrone at CES 2014

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Hovering gracefully in the air and undeterred by the throngs of journalists, the new MiniDrone from the folks at Parrot certainly stood out at the various evening shows at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The MiniDrone works on the principle that it can “fly and roll from floor to ceiling” which is achieved thanks to the ability to attach two ultra-light wheels.

To control the drone, you simply connect to it using low energy Bluetooth Smart and then use the company’s app. The MiniDrone contains multiple sensors as well as “autopilot capabilities’ which make it incredibly easy to fly as well as very stable.

Check out our short video below of the MiniDrone in action, including a close scrape with a fellow tech reporter!

The MiniDrone’s specs are also still be finalising but at the time of writing we’re told that the device weighs 80 grams and the battery should last for around 7 minutes. According to this article on Mashable the drone contains a “500 MHz processor and a gigabyte of RAM”. Details of pricing and availability are difficult to come by at the moment, with the company themselves simply stating “TBA”.

Garmin enter ‘wearables’ with new Vivofit wristband

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Although it doesn’t officially open until tomorrow, CES 2014 is already becoming the ‘year of the wrist band’. The latest company to announce its entry in to this market is Garmin, who are probably better known for their satnav devices. The new Vivofit (prounced veevo-fit) is a lightweight fitness band featuring a curved display that always stays on – with a user replaceable battery that should last ‘over a year’.

The Vivofit greats a user with their personalised daily goal, tracks progress and reminds them when it’s time to move. It also displays steps, calories, distance and time of day.

Amongst the band’s features are “Achievable Daily Goals” where the device learns the user’s current activity levels and then assigns an attainable daily goal. It also records calories burned throughout the day. As milestones are met, the Vívofit will adjust the goal for the next day. The “Time to move” is about encouraging you to take frequent, short walk breaks throughout the day. A red move bar appears on the display after 1 hour of inactivity and builds when users have been sitting too long. Walking for a couple of minutes will reset the move bar, and get users out of the red.

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Other features include a sleep monitor and a heart rate monitor. Vívofit will be available in black, purple, teal, blue and slate and both small and large sizes come in the box. Vívofit will begin shipping Q1 2014 and have a retail price of £99.99 and £129.99 (heart rate monitor bundle). For more information check out their dedicated site http://sites.garmin.com/vivo/

 

Video: Orbotix announce Sphero 2B at CES 2014

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Whilst wondering around this year’s packed CES Unveiled, it was hard not to notice/trip-over the new Sphero 2B from the folks at Orbotix. The 2B is the latest addition to the company’s portfolio of connected, app-controlled, toys. Taking on a new tubular form factor compared with the original Sphero, the 2B comes with interchangeable parts, such as different ‘tyres’ and hubcaps. “Sphero has been ‘round for a couple years now and we wanted to take the fun experience of driving Sphero, redesign it, flip it around, speed it up, and give fans something completely new,” says cofounder Adam Wilson.

We filmed the Sphero 2B in action and got the lowdown from one of their team, check out the video below:

The Sphero 2B, which is made of polycarbonate, will be available in either black or white and can reach speeds of up to 14 ft/s. Users control the 2B via the iOS or Android app over Bluetooth LE which provides a range of around 30m. The device will be available worldwide in Autumn 2014 for “under $100”. You can reserve yourself one, as well as find out more info, by going to GoSphero.com/2B

Samsung unveils faster, more powerful, Galaxy Camera 2

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With CES just around the corner, Samsung has announced the Galaxy Camera 2, a follow-up to its popular Galaxy Camera, which was the world’s first Android-powered digital camera to fuse smartphone functionality with a point-and-click camera.

As you’d expect with any yearly refresh, Samsung has improved up the spec list in several areas – so instead of 4GB onboard storage (upgradable to 64GB via SD) you now get 8GB of storage. RAM has doubled, too, meaning Android 4.3 Jelly Bean zips along at a fair old pace alongside the new 1.6GHz quad-core processor.

One area where Samsung hasn’t improved upon, though, is the 4.8-inch display, which is the same as the last model.  Oddly the Galaxy’s camera sensor is the same 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor that you’d find on the old 2012 model too – which on the face of is a bit disappointing.

Elsewhere Samsung has kept the cameras’ impressive 22x zoom, whilst the snapper’s chassis has shed a few millimeters and grams along the ways too. Battery life has also been upped, despite its lighter build, and now comes with a 2000mAh battery, which is a good jump from the original’s 1650mAh unit.

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Sharing is made even easier with the new model as there’s Wi-Fi and NFC. The new Tag & Go feature makes it easy to connect the Galaxy Camera 2 to NFC-enabled smartphone for easy sharing.

Where you’ll find the main bulk of improvements, though, is the shooting modes, where The Verge “found a ton of new smart scene modes” – 28 apparently – which should help users set up shots much more easily. The camera is also able to shoot 1920×1080 HD video and is capable of capturing slow-motion video at a sloth-like 120 frames per second.

Pocket-lint concluded that while some of the improvements to the new Galaxy Camera 2 are noteworthy, you’d probably be better served picking up the original, which apparently is “still available for £200 from Jessops” – whereas the new model will probably set you back double that.

We’ll have to wait until the camera is shown off at CES next week for details on the release date, or the price.