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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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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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