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Robot kits come to SA

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Young engineers’ dreams to create, programme and control their own robotic creations are about to come true as Gammatek will distribute robot kits from Ubtech Robotics.

Robot kits available to South Africa include Alpha1 Pro, a household programmable humanoid robot that can be used for education and entertainment, and Jimu Robot, an interactive robotic building block system that lets kids easily build, programme and share their robot creations.

Gammatek’s Zev Cherniak says: “These are the robots that youngsters dream of. Suitable for children as young as age, and upwards, these interactive robot building kits go beyond pure play and also challenge our perception of educational toys. While stimulating creativity and imagination, Ubtech Robotics building kits encourage critical thinking, problem solving, three dimensional engineering and collaboration. The possibilities are quite simply endless.”

Says sales executive Andy Chen, “The UBTECH Alpha1 Pro Humanoid Robot is a household programmable humanoid robot that is both educational and entertaining. Alpha1 Pro has 16 high-precision robotic servo motors, making him capable of reproducing human movements. Able to do push-ups, choreograph, even make kung-fu moves; no human movement is out of its reach. Each robotic servo can rotate at a given speed, allowing him to perform precise movements.”

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Youngsters can dance with him, play sports with this new fitness coach, sing along with him or teach him to tell stories. With Bluetooth 4.0, Alpha1 Pro connects to the mobile app, available on iOS and Android, which allows users to control and programme their robot. Using the app, players can control up to five robots via a smartphone or tablet.

With the programming PRP (Pose, Record and Playback) functionality, youngsters save new movements by moving Alpha1 Pro manually and launching the recording option. They can then edit the speed of every move, giving them the freedom of creation and endless editing possibilities.

Youngsters can also personalize their robot’s movements using the Alpha Robot programming software, available on Windows and Mac operating systems. With the intuitive 3D interface, they can select the robotic servo; select the rotation angle; define speed of the movement and even add music or a voice clip.

Once finished, the sequence can be transferred onto the robot via a USB and launched via the mobile app. Another advantage of Alpha1 Pro is the community platform which allows users to download online actions edited by Ubtech or by other users of Alpha worldwide. Equipped with a built-in speaker, the robot facilitates learning of simplified programming, integrates the concept of balance and helps children to understand the mode of moving in space by breaking down each movement.

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It’s suitable for young amateurs and beginners thanks to its “finger-friendly” structural design as well as eco-friendly and “shock resistant” materials.

Jimu Robot Kits use snap-together, interlocking parts and connectors which allow youngsters to build their own robots. Smooth motion robotic servo motors allow the robot to reproduce pre-set movements or movements programmed via the Jimu app available on available on iOS and Android. Jimu Robot Kits available in South Africa include the Jimu Mini Kit, Jimu Explorer and Jimu Tankbot Kits.

The Jimu Mini Kit comes with everything needed to build the MuzzBot, Ostrich or Bull robots and includes four smooth motion robotic servo motors and 253 snap-together interlocking parts and connectors. Explorer Kit comes with everything needed to build five models including a Baby, Parrot, Penguin, T-Rex, and Walrus. The kit includes seven smooth motion robotic servo motors and 561 snap-together interlocking parts and connectors.

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All Jimu kits include a main control box and a lithium ion battery, adapter and feature:

·       Interchangeable Parts – All Jimu Robot parts are interchangeable with other Jimu sets, so after building the official models, you can create your own inventions by mixing with parts from any other set.

·       Robotic Servo Motors – The key to the Jimu Robots’ amazingly lifelike movements is the high-torque robotic servo motor, allowing for fluidity and stability when moving from one pose to another.

·       Jimu App – The free app provides easy-to-follow 3D-illustrated building instructions, pre-programmed actions, Pose-Record-Play and direct-servo programming, Blockly coding to sequence your actions, and an in-App “Joystick” remote to control your Jimu Robot in real time on your smart device. The app also serves as a portal to a closed online community of Jimu enthusiasts.

Jimu Robots were built from the ground up to specifically meet the needs of STEM curriculum:

·       Science (physics, electronics)

·       Technology (advanced motors, sensors)

·       Engineering (building & creating, software-hardware interface)

·       Math (geometry, balance and programming)

The robot kits will be available through an exclusive network of retail partners including Cellucity , Digicape , Incredible Connection, iStore , New World , Sandton Stationary and Print ,  Technomobi.co.za and Takealot.com.

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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Five key biometric facts

Due to their uniqueness, fingerprints are being used more and more to quickly identify and ensure the security of customers. CLAUDE LANGLEY, Regional Sales Manager, for Africa at HID Global Biometrics, outlines five facts about the technology.

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How many times in a day are you expected to identify yourself? From when you arrive at work you are required to sign in, visiting your bank, receiving healthcare services… The list is endless. When a system knows who you are, you are able to do any number common, everyday activities. Your identity is unique and precious. It is also easily stolen and the target of many hackers across the globe. Technology is constantly evolving alongside the criminal element, always looking for ways to protect data and identity. One such solution happens to be biometrics and it is rapidly gaining traction in our increasingly complex modern world.

Reliable, secure and fundamentally YOU, unique biometric traits such as fingerprints are being used by banks, enterprises and consumers to verify identity. Biometric solutions offer significant identity protection because they use unique biological details to ensure an account is only accessed by the account holder, a door only opened by the owner. Here are five things that are little known about this technology…

  • The uncut identity. Your fingerprint is unique to you. Nobody can use a copy of it to impersonate you. Good technology is capable of scanning down into the layers of the fingertip to differentiate unique elements of a person’s fingerprint, this data is then encrypted and used as a key to unlocking whichever physical or virtual door that the biometric system protects.
  • The living proof. No, there is nothing to the stories of fingerprints being used without their owner’s knowledge or permission. Biometric solutions can use specific variables to determine if the finger used to access the system is that of a present, living person.  A copy or a fake cannot be used to access a cutting-edge biometric solution.
  • Easy and convenient. Queues and documents and paperwork may well be a thing of the past should biometrics take a firmer grip of government and banking systems. The process of registering is easy, and access to identity documents and records is yours alone.
  • Security blanket. A thousand passwords and a hundred post-it notes stuck on walls and drawers.  An excel file with a list of sites and applications and their corresponding passwords, all a thing of the past.  Nobody needs to remember their password with biometrics, they only need to show up.
  • Anywhere is cool. Schools, airports, networks, offices, homes, toilets, banks, libraries, governments, border controls, immigration services, call centres, hospitals and even clubs and pubs – knowing “who” matters and biometrics can quickly and conveniently confirm your identity where needed.

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