This year’s IFA event saw some innovative and exciting products being exhibited ranging from new developments in virtual reality to personal trackers to drones and robots. These are the winners.
Analytics company IHS Markit has announced the winners of the IHS Markit Innovation Awards. Presented at the ShowStoppers press event in Berlin on the eve of the IFA expo, the awards showcased the most innovative technology products submitted by event exhibitors.
Winners and runners up by category are:
Augmented Reality (A/R), Virtual Reality (V/R) and Gaming
- Winner: Nuheara Ltd IQbuds, the world’s most intelligent wireless earbuds that allow users to hear what they want to hear around them and connect with their digital devices.
- Runner-up: Pixie Technology, a technology leader in the emerging Location of Things (LoT) sector, whose Baggage Claim service allows users to be alerted to the proximity of luggage and bags in real-time.
- Winner: ReSound LiNX 3D from ReSound GN, the third generation of the first hearing aid made for the iPhone. This product offers clear speech understanding, 360-degree sound location, the most modern control options and more.
- Runner-up: Nuheara Ltd IQbuds
- Winner (Tie): Rugged Messenger Keyboard for new 9.7-inch iPad from ZAGG International. The keyboard is designed to give users total versatility when it comes to being productive and on the go.
- Winner (Tie): Presidio CLEAR for Macbook from Speck Products, the first drop-protective laptop case designed to protect against drops from up to 1.2 meters. It features a transparent, durable design without the bulk of the traditional protective cases on the market.
- Winner: Tempow Audio Profile, a software-only solution for hardware and chipset manufacturers that lets existing Bluetooth speakers, of any brand, work together in perfect sync.
- Runner-up: CatS41 Smartphone, a rugged, waterproof device with great battery power, built to handle the extreme conditions that users face every day at work and play.
- Winner: Libratone ZIPP, speakers that create a 360-degree, full-room sound experience in any space. These speakers feature a pleasant-looking exterior, great battery power and are carefully designed to follow users around the home.
- Runner-up: Jooki, the jukebox for kids, from Muuse Labs. Users can link the Jooki music player’s playlist on a figurine (song, story, album or internet radio station), place it on top of Jooki and let the magic happen.
Robotics & Drones
- Winner: Astrobot Kit from UBTECH Robotics, the first Jimu robot kit that builds three distinct form categories: humanoid, anthropomorphic wheeled vehicle and treaded mobile robot with grab and lift action.
- Runner-up: Cruzr from UBTECH Robotics. Cruzr is the first customized service robot adaptable to a variety of business needs, optimizing human resources and improving work efficiency.
Smart Home & Appliances
- Winner: The Neato Botvac D7 Connected from Neato Robotics, a Wi-Fi enabled robot lets users control their vacuum from wherever they are. The Neato app allows the user to set a vacuum schedule, stop or pause the robot, and get instant notification about the status of the vacuuming run.
- Runner-up: VELUX ACTIVE and Netatmo from VELUX Deutschland, roof windows controlled by sensor technology. Smart sensors measure the temperature, light, humidity and air quality to automatically open or close roof windows, blinds and shutters.
Judges for the awards were technology industry research analysts at IHS Markit as well as prominent journalists who cover the gamut of technology sectors related to each ShowStoppers event:
IHS Markit Judges
- Ian Fogg, senior director, mobile and telecom
- Paul Gagnon, senior manager, consumer devices
- Paul Gray, principal analyst, consumer devices
- Dinesh Kithany, principal analyst, home appliances
- Ken Park, senior analyst, consumer devices
Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets
Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.
Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.
Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps.
Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.
Vodafone Smart Kicka 4
At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.
The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018.
Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games.
Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.
Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer.
The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past.
Huawei Y3 (2018)
The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are.
Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.
Comparing the 3
All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker.
Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.
SA gets digital archive
As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive.
The southafrica.co.za site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.
Designed as a nation building, educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.
The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.
At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.
Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.
“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.
Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island. The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.