Aiding the Blind

More than 250 million people lack the gift of sight. While for the most of us even imagining what it is like to live in complete darkness is impossible, some have found a way to make a commitment that’s truly amazing—to end vision loss by 2020. Luckily, we live in the era of wearable technology. eSight originates in Toronto, Canada, where one successful engineer—Conrad Lewis— with two legally blind sisters, wanted to use his skills to come up with a solution to their blindness. It took him seven years and investments of tens of millions of dollars to develop the technology and in 2013, managed to release two beta versions of the glasses that would revolutionize the world of the legally blind. In 2017, the company launched eSight 3, a much sleeker and lighter version of the headset, which also has improved battery life and image quality. How does it work? The gadget is equipped with two depth sensors and a high speed, high resolution camera positioned in the middle of the eSight glasses that captures whatever it is that the user is looking at in real time. It also has a powerful computer, which instantly processes the high definition video and displays it on two OLED screens in front of the user’s eyes, using specific optics. The gizmo’s proprietary algorithms enhance the video feed, which offers clarity without perceptible latency or delay. This allows the user to auto-focus between short-range vision to long-range vision. A special feature—the patented Bioptic Tilt capability—enables users to adjust the eyewear to the precise position they choose and also maximize the outer peripheral vision, which people with low vision still have functional. The feature, combined with imperceptible short latency, keeps the user’s balance in check, thus no nausea...

Alien Ale

Start with a little volcanic ash, add a dash of vermiculite and some coffee grounds, and what you end up with is not just a reasonable facsimile of Martian soil, but also the perfect environment for the cultivation of hops. While on its own, Martian soil’s density and aridness make it inhospitable to most crops, the addition of a few crew ingredients can change barren earth into the perfect host for potatoes, herbs and, apparently, the types of grains that make beer possible. Soil analysis reveals hops could thrive on Mars, opening the door for a truly out-of-this-world brew. That’s the discovery presented by a group of students from Villanova University to a recent meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington D.C. Working with astronomy and astrophysicist Professor Edward F. Guinan, 25 budding Martian farmers initiated a series of experiments to see which types of crops might thrive on the red planet. While most of the participants chose practical plants, like soybeans and kale, on group decided to see if the essential ingredient for beer might also be viable. “Because they’re students,” Dr. Guinan said of the decision, it makes sense they’d lean toward ‘Martian beer.’” A Handful of Mars The Martian agricultural experiment began as a way for Guinan and his class to explore how a typical Martian colony could sustain its residents. Though real Martian soil isn’t actually available, The Martian Garden sells a unique blend of crushed basalt from the Mojave Desert based on NASA and JPL research to produce soil “as close as you can get to Mars without leaving Earth.” While the soil is available for purchase, beginning with the MMS-1 Mojave Mars Simulant at $5 a pound, students, researchers and “space enthusiasts” can receive a free sample...

Digital Definition

What does “digital transformation” mean to commercial property management beyond a catchphrase? Six thought leaders including Alex Stanton, Yardi’s commercial industry principal, provided clarity on the subject in a recent Realcomm-hosted webinar. Digital transformation extends technology beyond acquiring and managing property.  It’s driven by business factors such as profitability, occupant satisfaction and productivity along with new technologies including the cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things. Digital transformation is “a strategy lever to achieve broader business agendas and create new levels of value,” according to panelist Marc Petock, chief communications officer and vice president of marketing for IoT technology builder Lynxspring. Digital transformation aggregates business, operations and IT practices into a common platform for people, processes, best practices and services, Petock said, with new technology embraced not for its own sake but to change thought and organizational culture. Executed properly, digital transformation can foster better resource planning, empowerment, technology collaboration and risk mitigation. With heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment comprising a major expense, for example, commercial building owners and operators are incentivized to adopt intelligent building technology that provides new insight into operations and equipment performance. Commercial real estate has traditionally been slow to adopt transformative technology; when the panelists were asked how much of the industry understands digital transformation, no estimate exceeded 30 percent. But that’s changing in the face of pressures for profits, high sustainability expectations and consumers’ technology sophistication. “Technology used to mean ‘support’; now it’s at the forefront of driving revenue and services,” said Sandy Jacolow, chief information officer for real estate developer, investor and manager Silverstein Properties. “It has shifted how we do business.  For example, mobile capability is no longer a luxury; tenants say ‘Is there an app for that?’  A poor interface or customer experience...

A New Look

Just before CES 2018, Dell unveiled its new XPS 13 laptop. The device, favorited by many thanks to its compact design, bright display, comfortable keyboard and decent battery life, has been completely overhauled, boasting narrower bezels, a new cooling system and a white option with a stain-resistant coating. The device had been revealed at CES 2012 and counts now seven versions, the very last one featuring a new white-and-gold finish, a slimmer frame, eighth generation Intel CPUs and other upgrades. Design wise, the latest version marks the first tangible design changes since its original launch. Dell slimmed down the XPS 13 chassis to be 30 percent thinner at just 0.3 inches (3.4mm) at its narrowest point, but also lighter at nearly 2.7 pounds (1.2kg). Obviously, the color change is the most notable modification, even though the original black and silver configuration is still available. The white and rose model features a woven glass palm rest that has a slight texture to it, unlike the black model’s smooth palm rest. According to the company, it is finished with a titanium oxide coating for shine, and the anti-stain coating that should protect the palm rest from turning yellow. There are three USB-C ports (two of which are Thunderbolt 3), a microSD card reader and a 3.5mm audio jack. One strange thing about the XPS 13 is the webcam placement—at the bottom of the screen instead of above it—but this is not something new. The camera can be used to log into the computer using face recognition if the fingerprint scanner feels ancient. The device will be available with an FHD non-touch or 4K touch display, while inside it comes equipped with 8th generation quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs, Intel Graphics 620, support for up...

2018 Tech Trends

With 2017 drawing to a close, we’ve been thinking about the future. The current year’s tech trends have been big and impactful, with artificial intelligence topping the charts. How about 2018? Most likely, technology is set to focus on the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning. The Internet of Things Pretty much everyone has heard about IoT as it can be found in almost any industry now. You must have noticed that everything is becoming ‘smart’. In your car, at home, in the office, or shopping—there’s smart technology everywhere, ready to collect data and connect to other devices in order to assist you with your tasks. Gartner states that by 2020, a quarter of a billion cars will be hooked up to the internet. No doubt the trend will continue to progress in 2018 and even expand to areas outside of those mentioned above. Artificial Intelligence Pretty much anywhere you look—tech conferences, development and discussions, AI is at the forefront. And rightly so as it’s no easy thing to have computers able to learn in much the same way as humans do. Behind its extraordinary advancement is the incredible explosion in data—the more data an AI system has, the faster it can learn and the more accurate it becomes. It seems like humanity is on a path without a return alley. Machine Learning This technology has already swept every platform into its net. All developers want to make life and software more intelligent and advanced. It will replace all those mindless, repetitive and time-consuming tasks, precisely what technology should do. We already have some automated processes, decisions, functions and systems, carried out by algorithms or robots. Machine learning is the next step and ever more industries will be impacted by it—truck...

Pluses of Plugins

Just what is a plugin anyway? How is it different from a patch? Or a full version update? The somewhat frustrating truth for most of us is that software is one of the few products we use that doesn’t seem ever be ‘done’. With all of the different types of software we depend on every day, it’s common for users to experience confusion, frustration and fatigue when it comes to software updates. Operating systems for smartphones, tablets and computers are constantly updating themselves with security fixes and new features. Every day it seems we get notices on our phones that app updates are ready to be downloaded and installed. Software that supports a team of professionals, such as Yardi property management software, is a good example of why updates are extremely valuable for users. Software updates address security risks, solve coding bugs and prevent unplanned downtime. Think of it this way: if your organization has developed an internal workaround to address a problem, and you haven’t updated your plugins lately, then it’s likely that problem (and perhaps others) has an official fix from Yardi ready to download and install. Laurie Swertfager from AJB Consulting talked about software updates at the Yardi Affordable Housing and PHA Forum in Atlanta. Laurie is an affordable housing consultant with extensive expertise in compliance, finance and technology. “My clients sometimes lament that little things they are looking for aren’t available in Voyager. In those cases, my first step is to see if they are up to date on their plugins. Chances are they have not, and often the uninstalled plugins have exactly what they are looking for.” says Swertfager. “Some clients work under the guise of ‘if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it,” says Dave Kessler, vice president...

Mobile Management

The new RENTCafé Senior Living Resident App makes lets residents and families manage payments, maintenance requests and more on the go! While we are all used to seeing young adults glued to their smart phone screens, increasingly senior citizens are logging on to mobile devices and taking advantage of everything mobile apps have to offer. According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, since 2013 the number of seniors who own smart phones has nearly doubled to roughly 40% of adults over 65. Smart Phone Freedom Smart phones have a lot to offer older adults, not the least of which is the ease with which they can connect with loved ones. With advent of online banking and one-click purchasing, seniors have begun to adapt to an era of convenience and (almost) instant gratification. In fact, the Pew Research Center found that “for Americans ages 65 and older who own a smartphone, having one in their pocket is a liberating experience.” Communities Go Mobile For senior living communities, the ubiquity of mobile devices amongst residents presents an opportunity to enhance communication and improve comfort and care. In the past, many senior living providers depended on paper forms to handle all manner of resident interactions, from account management to maintenance requests. Going digital has changed that dynamic, and with the advent of mobile apps, communities can now empower residents to take charge. RENTCafé App makes it Easy Earlier this year, Yardi unveiled the latest update to its innovative Yardi Senior Living Suite with the introduction of the RENTCafé Senior Living Resident app. Offering the convenience of mobile payments and maintenance requests, the RENTCafé Senior Living Resident app provides residents and their families with easy, secure access to account information via iOS and Android devices....

Build to Rent

LONDON – Technology has changed all our lives so fundamentally in recent years that it is sometimes difficult to look back to an era when things were done differently. Today’s normality was, just a short time ago, unthinkable. Banking is a good example. Today, we take it for granted that we can access our accounts at any time and transfer money and pay bills quickly and cheaply. The chequebook is still available for those who need it, but it won’t be long before they too are consigned to history. Then take taxis. While in London at least, using a cab was once the preserve of those with substantial salaries – or travelling at somebody else’s expense – now the rise of Uber and others means that getting a ride home is a real option for many people. Property has, of course, been slow to embrace the benefits that digital technology can bring – one estimate is that the industry is around 20 years behind financial services – but that is starting to change and at pace. Just a few years ago, if the property press mentioned technology at all, it was to reference the influence of the likes of Rightmove or Zoopla. Today the phenomenon has its own name: proptech. A lot of attention has been paid to how proptech is disrupting the industry, most notably through big data potentially making the role played by many agents redundant. That is obviously a cause for concern and the introduction of new ways of working will obviously have to be done with care and compassion. But proptech also has the potential to bring huge benefits to both property companies and their consumers – and without the need for anyone to lose their jobs. In no sector...

Lamborghini’s Phone...

These days, most of us own a smartphone or even several. Smartphone manufacturers have also worked their best to bring near premium design and specs to budget devices. Yet, every now and then, the industry surfaces some device with a ridiculous price boasting marketing names such as “the most luxurious technology” and you’re just wondering who on this planet would buy it and most importantly, why. The latest—Lamborghini Alpha One—can be yours for $2,450. It’s sort of obvious that a smartphone delivered by a luxury carmaker like Lamborghini will undoubtedly come with a premium price, but is it really worth the money? The Android device features a “liquid metal” frame, “Italian handmade black leather” and the company’s ‘Raging Bull’ logo, the symbol of “strength, courage, determination and boldness.” The liquid metal is used in the device’s side frame and it’s basically an alloy often used in supercars, premium golf clubs and surgery tools thanks to its high strength, corrosion resistance, light weight (still, the device weighs 200 grams, above the 188 grams of the iPhone 7 Plus) and malleability. But this is where the premium features stop. The ‘supersmartphone’s feature set is not as impressive as its luxurious exterior: a 5.5-inch WQHD, 2560×1440 display with Gorilla protection, powered by a two-year old Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage, expandable up to 128GB. (Note: there are already on the market devices with 256GB capacity.) The Alpha One runs on Android Nougat and sees through a 20-megapixel rear-facing camera with f/1.8 aperture and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with f/2.2 aperture, 4K video recording, optical image stabilizer and electronic image stabilization. It also offers dual SIM support. The Italian device features a DOLBY ATMOS dual-speaker 3D acoustics system optimized for mobile...

Alexa and AI

As the popularity of Artificial Intelligence is on the rise and corporate giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple are racing to develop the best commercial AI product, the focus has shifted from humans being more intelligent like machines, to developing machines to act more like humans. This past July, Amazon acquired a Santa Barbara startup called Graphiq, previously known as FindTheBest, for an estimated 50 million dollars in hopes of using the company’s data analysis and search engine technology to make their digital AI assistant, named Alexa, even smarter. Alexa was first implemented in 2014 with the introduction of Amazon’s Echo, but has come a long way since then by developing complexity that far surpasses its competitors such as Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant. The reason why Alexa has become such an advanced AI is due to the integrations that were built into the voice-controlled platform. For example, users can apply a skill to Alexa, which allows the AI to do various actions such as setting the oven temperature or turn on lights in your home with a simple command. There are currently about 250 or more products offered on Amazon.com that can be integrated with Alexa skills, but there are over 4,000 other products from other manufacturers that can also include the function. Smart Cars get Smarter In addition, Alexa’s API, or application program interface, allows it to integrate seamlessly into the automotive industry. Just recently, Amazon has already created partnerships with automotive manufacturers such as BMW, Hyundai, and Ford. While each car manufacturer will vary in how they will integrate Alexa into their product designs, the voice controlled command system that Alexa offers would remain the same across all manufacturers. For example, simple commands such as opening the car trunk, or...

Watch Out Fido

Just in time for the holidays, Sony has resurrected the robot pet it removed from shelves in 2006. This new model is called aibo, which stands for Artificial Intelligence robot. Aibo is also the Japanese word for “companion” or “friend.” The new model (no. ERS-1000) develops from a newborn puppy to an adult with personality shaped by the interaction with its owners and surroundings, thanks to the latest AI technology. This ability to form an emotional bond with members of the family makes each aibo unique, so no two will be the same. The new puppy’s rounded appearance makes it pretty irresistible. Sony has spent quite a bit on animation. That being said, I am personally a bit skeptical about how it feels to pet a piece of plastic, even though it’s premium plastic. The pup has the capacity of expressing its love for its owners through lifelike expressions and a dynamic array of movements, but it does make one wonder—is this the future of pets? The robot pet has a behavioral repertoire more limited than that of the least bright dog, but an aibo doesn’t need you to feed it (technically, it does when you charge it), doesn’t wake you up at 5am to take it out in the pouring rain and will never make a mess inside your home. Aibo’s ‘fur’ is ivory-white, and it has cute flapping black ears and a wagging tail. It’s about 30-centimeters long and comes with a package of sensors on the head, chin and back for pet detection, two cameras, four microphones for voice commands and internet connectivity, as well as the earlier mentioned upgraded AI backed by cloud computing to develop the dog’s personality. The advantages of deep learning and AI tricks help it to...

Largest EV Station

Automakers have been hard at work, developing ideas for the cars of the future, but in order for the new vehicles to have a future, a proper infrastructure needs to be designed and put into place. The battery industry is in full swing with more and more scientists getting involved into the development of bigger and better ones, but regardless of their capacity, they all need to be recharged. This means that charging stations need to spring in at least as many locations as the conventional gas stations. Sortimo, a German company headquartered in Berlin, unveiled plans of what’s to become the largest electric vehicle fast-charging station in the world—the Sortimo Innovationspark Zusmarshausen. The project will be located along Germany’s six-lane A8 highway, in the industrial area in Bavarian-Swabia, between Ulm and Augsburg, in close proximity to Tesla’s Supercharger in Jettingen-Scheppach. The electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging station will consist of 144 charging ports, which will allow for more than 4,000 cars to be refilled with energy on a daily basis. Of the planned charging columns, 24 are to be superfast chargers, with a charging capacity of record-breaking 350 kilowatts, meaning that a vehicle battery can be replenished in only a few minutes. Tesla’s ‘Superchargers’ currently stop at about 150 kilowatts, but even though this is more than what today’s car batteries can handle, the company is convinced that both battery capacities and the need for charging infrastructure are growing at a significant pace. Moreover, the Innovationspark will feature offices, shopping and dining areas, serving those who stop to recharge their vehicles. The images accompanying the announcement reveal that the planned station will be topped with green roofs, emphasizing on the development’s care for nature and awareness for the environment. The massive charging station will...

Procurement Payoff

Cutting costs never loses appeal, even in a robust industry and a thriving economy. Inescapable expenses such as insurance and taxes, along with competitive pressures, have forced property owners to become increasingly creative in finding opportunities to cut costs and work more efficiently. Processing payments for the various products and services that keep properties running smoothly is one of those inevitable expenses. This historically has been a manually intensive and paper-heavy process.  Routing one paper vendor invoice through payment can take as long as 30 days and cost up to $35 dollars, according to data compiled by Yardi. With potentially thousands of invoices coming in every month, those costs add up fast for property owners and managers. A recent analysis examined 25 million invoices that about 1 million vendors submitted for processing by Yardi Procure to Pay on behalf of more than 1,000 real estate businesses.  The study offered insight into ways that companies handling small and large volumes of invoices can streamline the process and reduce costs and staff burdens. The Yardi Procure to Pay study found that businesses submitting five or more invoices per month, which account for just 7% of vendors but 75% of invoices, often require accounts payable or property teams that spend significant amounts of time scanning, keying and verifying these large invoice volumes. Even vendors submitting a low volume of invoices—four or fewer per month—can spend an inordinate amount of time on invoices, often repeatedly calling client properties for status checks or sending duplicate invoices until they are paid. All this activity takes up significant time and effort from accounting departments and property-level staff.   Streamlined Approvals Fortunately, the procure-to-pay process has become dramatically more efficient in terms of labor and expense in recent years. Many real estate...

New from Google

Earlier this month, Google launched eight new hardware products — two versions of the Pixel 2, a new Daydream VR headset, two new Google Home speakers, an AI camera dubbed Google Clips, AI-enhanced headphones called Pixel Buds and the Pixelbook laptop. The second-generation family of consumer hardware products seems an effort to make up for the lost time in the hardware department. Google’s senior vice president of hardware, Rick Osterloh, reminded everyone at the launch that while late to the race, Google could still be a contender. After all, Apple was not first to market with MP3 players and smartphones, nor was Facebook the gate-clanging social network. Pixel 2 & 2XL Following last year’s Pixel, Google launched two new smartphones—Pixel 2 made by HTC and Pixel 2XL made by LG. The phones boast an overall score of 98 points in camera benchmark charts, surpassing every other smartphone currently on the market. Google managed to score higher with a single camera when competitors have done so with two. Google has also added the live photo and portrait modes, two of the features iPhone users have been playing with for awhile. Both phones are made of metal instead of glass or plastic, but for this premium look and feel the company had to ditch wireless charging. It does support wireless communication though, thanks to a glass window at the top of the phone. The headphone jack is missing on both models. Both devices run Android 8.0 (Oreo) with some custom software and features from Google. They’re water resistant and are powered by Snapdragon 835 processors with 4GB of RAM and storage of 64GB and 128GB. Connectivity-wise the devices support Bluetooth 5.0 + LE and have an USB-C port to be used with the headphones (there’s also...

Recon from Space

Earth-orbiting satellites have been part of the fabric of daily life for more than 50 years.  Billions of people depend on them to support fast, accurate execution of communication, weather monitoring, military and intelligence operations, and other activities. In recent years, the property management industry has become a leader in leveraging space systems’ elevated perspective for better-informed decision-making. Sharp Images from Orbit A key connection between satellites and real estate stakeholders is Westminster, Colo.-based DigitalGlobe, owner and operator of five imaging satellites launched between 2007 and 2016.  (Two other satellites launched in 1999 and 2001 were decommissioned, although their imagery remains available.)  Equipped with best-in-class optics and electronics, the satellites—GeoEye-1 and four WorldView-class sensors—crisscross the globe, snapping high-quality pictures from low Earth orbit (300 to 478 miles). Imagery from DigitalGlobe’s satellite constellation, which is capable of covering more than 620 million square miles annually, populates GBDX, a big data digital library and analytics platform.  Investors, insurance companies, environmental managers, urban planners and others involved in buying, developing and occupying properties tap into GBDX.  The high-resolution (about 12 inches) imagery aids site selection and development planning, property value and insurance assessments, solar and wind energy potential, code enforcement and more.  The collection, transmission, processing and dissemination cycle can take as little as two hours, and the data can be used to create 3-D, stereo and digital elevation models. Assessing Risk “If you’re thinking of purchasing property for investment or development, there’s a lot you need to know: what’s a building’s size, shape, configuration and proximity to neighbors?  Is a property flooded, burned or otherwise damaged?  What’s the possibility of fire, floods, wind or hail?  What is the best access route for emergency service providers?  Are there new additions or deletions that could impact value or...

Pacemaker Panic

The FDA recently released an emergency notice last recalling several implantable pacemakers due to recently discovered cyber security vulnerabilities. According to the FDA, devices manufactured by Abbott’s (formerly St. Jude Medical) could be compromised by hackers with exploits that would allow a third party to affect the speed of the device or deplete its batteries. Fortunately, a simple firmware update will protect patients from any outside interference. Frequency Failure According to the FDA, hackers could take advantage of radio-frequency-enabled pacemakers to compromise the device’s authentication algorithm. Under the right circumstances, bypassing the device’s authentication key and time stamp would allow a nearby attacker to send “unauthorized commands” to the pacemaker via RF communications. Additionally, because the number of “RF wake-up” commands are not limited by these specific pacemakers, a third-party could repeatedly send commands to the device to drain its battery life. Both the Accent and Anthem pacemakers could also potentially reveal patient information to unauthorized parties. As of yet, there are no reports of any real-world infiltrations, and both the FDA and the Department of Homeland Security confirmed the exploit code is “not publicly available.” The Department of Homeland Security warns potential hackers would need to be physically near their intended target. Additionally, the Department of Health promises only “an attacker with high skill would be able to exploit these vulnerabilities.” Nevertheless, the potential for real harm exists, especially because the flaw in the device’s software would allow a third party to slow or stop the device. Even though the possibility of of injury or death remains remote, influencing the speed or power on a pacemaker could result in life-threatening injury, thus spurring the FDA’s recall action. “These vulnerabilities, if exploited, could allow an unauthorized user (i.e., someone other than the patient’s physician)...

Rebel Retirees

As Ferris Bueller famously advised, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” For many older adults, the bells and whistles of the modern age continue to befuddle and frustrate, but as reporter Jane Morice suggests, seniors are adapting to this new world in some surprising ways. While technological advances may leave some older adults confused and cautious, many senior citizens are embracing an active, modern approach to aging. “The sharpest contrast between generations in 2017 is inarguably the comprehension of technology,” she writes before adding, “They’re not all old fogies in rocking chairs, watching the world go by.” Complicated Connections Social media and smart phones continue to flummox many older adults, despite apps and devices continue to simplify their user interface. While most grandparents have discovered the joys of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter remain mostly out of reach. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, 62% of adults over 65 have a Facebook profile, while less than 20% on Instagram and only 9% on Snapchat. Though most seniors now own smart phones (about 40%), few use them to their full potential. As the Pew Research Center discovered, some of that reticence isn’t merely stubbornness, as “older adults may also face physical challenges that might make it difficult to use or manipulate devices.” Online shopping also remains out of reach for many seniors, most of whom continue to feel a sense of discomfort with automation and online activities.  Baby boomers as a group appear the most comfortable with online shopping, while only 10% of the older crowd purchases items on the internet. Some of that doubt seems well-founded, considering the Department of Homeland Security estimates seniors “defrauded over the Internet” at twice the rate of...

Apple Update

Come autumn, the world stops to see the next Apple crop. In this case, we mean tech, not fruit! This year has been especially bountiful with the launch of an upgraded Apple Watch, new iPhones, the 10-year celebration of the iPhone and the first keynote to be hosted at the company’s spaceship headquarters in the Steve Jobs Theater. Apple Watch Series 3 Even though the star of the evening was the iPhone X, some other interesting stuff occurred on stage. For example, we met the Apple Watch Series 3, Apple’s newest wearable version, upgraded to LTE connectivity—basically, the watch now works as a standalone device, so you don’t have to keep it connected to your iPhone. If you already own an iPhone and don’t have a watch, this should be the next item in your Apple shopping bag. The gizmo will work with the same phone number that your iPhone has, synchronizing calls, iMessage and music automatically. It will use a separate connection when away from the phone, so you no longer have to carry both your watch and your iPhone next time you hop on your mountain bike or head out for a jog. Visually, not much has changed. The device itself is slightly thicker than the Series 2 model, but that’s to be expected considering the performance upgrades it has stored inside. The Watch Series 3 is decked out with some new band options too—the Sport Loop, designed for outdoor active situations, and Hermès leather straps. Technical specs of the new watch include a new dual-core processor with 70 percent better performance and a new W2 chip that boosts Bluetooth, wireless connectivity and power efficiency. The cellular antenna is the display itself, and there is a tiny electronic SIM card inside for...

Galaxy Note8

It’s not easy to follow the footsteps of a maligned predecessor. After last year’s disastrous Note7, many believed the Note8 would never exist. But Samsung has launched the Note8, aiming at a righting the wrongs of the previous iteration. The new phablet, launched in August, does its best to restore customers’ faith in the brand,  but not without a hefty price. How big is too big? At 6.3-inches, the device feels like a Gulliver. Don’t even dream about using it with only one hand. The front is all screen with just a thin bezel top and bottom and curved edges that bend towards metal sides. However, the curvature of the screen seems reduced, compared to the Note7—the change means less real estate on the rounded edges, which makes using the stylus easier. For protection, its glass front and back are coated in Corning Gorilla Glass 5.0. The Super AMOLED display sports bright, vibrant colors, with deep blacks and beautiful viewing angles. It features the same virtual home button and pressure-sensitive screen as the Galaxy S8. The fingerprint scanner is placed on the back of the phone, to the right of the camera module, which takes some finger gymnastics to reach it. Samsung offers both iris-scanning and face-scanning unlock systems, so you don’t have to rely on the fingerprint scanner as much. Still, the face-recognition feature doesn’t feel secure enough just yet, even though the South Korean company has improved it and works faster and more reliably. The iris scanner on the other hand, is fast and as secure as the fingerprint method, that if don’t mind holding the phone up, awkwardly close to your face while making your eyes as big as you can. Specs-wise, the Note8 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor,...

AR Glasses

What makes a pair of glasses smart? They can improve the quality of what you see. This process is called augmented reality (AR). You can navigate the internet by giving natural language commands, you can also synchronize with computers and smartphones for communication. Today’s smart glasses have almost all the features of a smartphone. People are already replacing their desktop computers with smart glasses. Recently, major companies in Silicon Valley have shown significant interest in augmented reality, a technology that integrates computer graphics and software into the real world. If you thought Snapchat’s Spectacles were expensive, check out these smart glasses for normal people…with a lot of money. Microsoft HoloLens They use a projection system to generate low-latency, multidimensional holograms. The mixed reality headset is made of plastic and is adjustable. You interact with the content, information or holograms using your gaze, gesture and voice. It’s one of the priciest headsets available, however Microsoft is clearly the leader in AR tech. Price: $3,000 ODG R-7 smart glasses system The ODG R-7 glasses are jam packet with sensors and features. The glasses are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor and pack 3GB of RAM, as well as 6GB of internal storage. The Snapdragon 805 processor is the first commercial mobile processor to support on-device 4K Ultra HD display, including support for 4K Ultra HD UI and 4 K Ultra HD video capture and playback, realistic 3D gaming and up to 55MP photo support. Price: $2,750 Vuzix M300 Smart Glasses After the success with Vuzix’s M100, the company developed M300, a pair of glasses that are made for enterprise and come with an Intel Atom processor powering performance, all in a comfortable, yet rugged design. The M300 runs on Android with 2GB RAM, 16GB of...