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Swiss Army Knife meets Acer in wearable deal

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Victorinox and Acer have teamed together to unveil the Victorinox Swiss Army’s I.N.O.X. watch collection – a range of multifunctional watches mimicking the company’s range of knives.

Victorinox and Acer have announced a partnership to introduce wearable technology into Victorinox Swiss Army’s portfolio. The two companies have unveiled their first product resulting from this partnership, a smart accessory for Victorinox Swiss Army’s I.N.O.X. watch collection.

“Our first collaboration with Acer is a wearable device that makes your watch smart, giving it multi-functionality much like our iconic Swiss Army Knife,” said Alexander Bennouna, CEO of Victorinox Swiss Army SA. “Our partnership with Acer enables us to introduce a unique solution that combines the best of both worlds – an innovative wearable accessory that adds technology and functionality to an existing I.N.O.X. watch, without compromising its Swiss-made integrity and durability.”

“Acer is excited to partner with Victorinox Swiss Army on this journey that creates a unique and complementing synergy,” said ST Liew, President of Smart Products Business Group, Acer. “With Acer’s extensive knowledge and experience in computing and communication, we are confident that we can extend meaningful and relevant new experiences together to consumers who expect and demand the timeless tradition and craftsmanship of Victorinox Swiss Army.”

Acer provided the following information:

As we move into the digital era of the Internet of Things and the Internet of Beings (with intelligence and insight), consumers expect everyday use items to be increasingly connected. However, consumers also want to preserve the high quality and reliability of traditional craftsmanship. The careful balance of adding a “smart touch” without overpowering the original utility becomes a challenging task. The partnership is formed to create innovative and relevant solutions for consumers who want wearable technology functionality that integrates with existing lifestyle products, such as a much beloved Swiss-made watch.

Acer, with 40 years of experience in computing and communication, and a key player in popularizing personal computing technology around the world in the seventies and eighties, will work closely with Victorinox, a company with 130 years of passion in craftsmanship, tradition, quality, and innovation of lifestyle utilities. Together, Acer and Victorinox will continue to seek to extend the functionality of these utilities, by adding on to the multi-purpose DNA of Victorinox Swiss Army products.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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