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App turns old smartphone into no-cost security cam

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A new free app allows users to turn just about any smartphone or tablet into a security camera. In fact, users can set up multiple monitoring devices around their homes for a DIY CCTV installation.

New Zealander Melissa Rodrigues’ three-year-old son claimed he heard an intruder. The first time she didn’t believe him. The second time, he showed her the proof – footprints in the mud. The third time the intruder appeared, Melissa and her husband caught him using the free app, Salient Eye (www.salient-eye.com), which allowed her to transform an old smartphone into a camera and motion detector.

“The support this app gave us was absolutely fantastic,” said Ms. Rodrigues. “It meant we didn’t have to put ourselves in harm’s way to look for him, and with the email alert we were on the phone to the police in literally seconds!”

Salient Eye’s free Android security alarm system transforms cameras on old mobile devices into motion-sensitive alarms with immediate notification. Users can even put smartphones throughout their houses to create an instant security network for free.

Haggai Meltzer, founder and CEO, Salient Eye, created the app after he’d been robbed. “I had a drawer full of old smartphones. They were too old for the thief to take an interest, but not too old for me to figure out a better way to use them.”

The only hardware required is an old phone or tablet, with security only two clicks away. Requiring no registration nor payment, app setup is not technical; it’s all icon-based for simplicity. Salient Eye works on any Android system, as far back as 2.2 (2010) and sends notifications to any device.

Although the story is rather frightening – Ms. Rodrigues property was violated three times in three nights – there’s a happy ending.

Once the Salient Eye app “saw” the intruder, Melissa was immediately notified with an email alert. She called the police, and a manhunt of five police cars and a dog tried to track him down. The dog actually lost his scent, but the picture from the Salient Eye app provided enough details that the man could easily be identified. He was a neighbor living a few houses away. He was on a spree and confessed to everything – not only stealing tools from the Rodrigues family but also stealing from other neighbors.

Ms. Rodrigues found Salient Eye online. “Having no money to be able to buy a ‘proper’ system, I stumbled across the app, which allowed me to have a free, immediately available security setup. The app literally helped our whole community,” she said.

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AppDate: Shedding light in our times of darkness

SEAN BACHER’S app roundup highlights two load-shedding apps, along with South AfriCAM, NBA 2K Mobile, Virgin Mobile’s Spot 3.0 and SwiftKey.

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Load Shedding Notifier

With all the uncertainty about when South Africans will next be plunged into darkness by Eskom, the Load Shedding Notifier tries its best to keep up with Eskom’s schedule. The app is very simple to use. Download it, type an area in and click the save button. The app automatically tells you what load shedding stage Eskom is on, the times you can expect to start lighting candles and for how long to burn them.

Multiple areas can be added and one can switch between the different stages to see how each one will affect a certain area.

A grid status is also displayed, showing how strained the country’s electrical network is.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

EskomSePush Load Shedding App

EskomSePush does much the same as the Load Shedding Notifier, but allows multiple cities to be tracked. However, they may just want to rethink the name of the app if they want wider respectability.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

South AfriCAM

South AfriCAM enables users to add branded stickers and frames from popular lifestyle magazine titles to their posts, including Huisgenoot, YOU, Drum, Move!, TRUE LOVE, Women’s Health and Men’s Health. 

In the process, they can earn JETPoints for their social influence: through the app’s built-in JET8 social currency, users are rewarded for their engagement. For every in-app like, comment, and share, users earn JETPoints, which can be used to redeem products online or over the counter across more than 2 500 retail stores in South Africa. Users are additionally awarded JETPoints for cross-posting onto external social media networks.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

Click here to read about console quality graphics on a mobile phone, Virgin Money payments made easier, and an app that redesigns the keyboard.

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Drones to drive
Western Cape agritech

Aerobotics is set to change how farmers treat their crops by using drones and machine learning, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The Western Cape is poised to be a hotbed of innovation in the agritech sector, with drone piloting set to playing a major role in in the tech start-up scene.

This is the view of Tim Willis, chief operating officer of pioneering drone company Aerobotics, a Cape Town drone company recognised as a world leader in agritech.

“Drone piloting is a key skill that feeds into the value chain of the budding 4th Industrial Revolution,” said Willis. “Cape Town and the Western Cape is uniquely positioned to be the melting pot for innovation in the agritech sector, as a leading agricultural exporter and a hub for creative tech start-ups.”

He was speaking at AeroCon, a drone expo organised by Aerobotics and held in Johannesburg this week aimed at providing opportunities for drone pilots to apply their skills in South Africa, and to show how drones are being used to collect data on crops. 

The event was supported by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), Wesgro, PROMMAC, MicaSense, and Rectron, among other

“We’re starting to sign up farmers across the country,” said Willis. “It’s exciting because farmers are starting to use drone technology on their farms. When a farmer wants a drone flown, they want it flown [now] so it’s important for us to capture that data as quickly as possible to show that drones are fast and effective.”

According to aerobotics, drone technology can help farmers reduce pesticide use on their crops by up to 30%. The result is environmentally friendly farming, reducing stressed crops and a healthier harvest. 

“We use aerial imagery from drones to recreate a 3D model of every single tree on a farmer’s orchard,” said Willis. “We’ve done this for millions of trees and it starts to give the farmers metrics of what they’re doing. We provide them with the health of the trees, the height, the volume, the canopy area, which enable the farms to make decisions on what to do next.”

Click here to read more about AeroCon and what it offers to those wanting to get into the drone industry.

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