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CES 2016: Boost for Bluetooth

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At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Cassia Networks unveiled the Cassia Hub, the world’s first Bluetooth router that can control up to 22 Bluetooth devices.

The Cassia Hub also extends the range of Bluetooth communications to 1,000 feet in open space ¾ more than 30 times the standard operating range. The hub also comes with the Cassia mobile app, which integrates and automates control of all connected Bluetooth devices both inside and outside the home. Priced at $99.99, the Cassia Hub is available for pre-orders today at www.cassianetworks.com and will begin shipping in Q1 2016.

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Originally developed for personal area network devices like wireless mice and headsets, Bluetooth technology has traditionally been passed up as a communications protocol for the connected home due to limitations such as range (30 feet) and one-to-one connectivity. Using Cassia’s new proprietary and patented technology developed by Cassia Networks founder and former Cisco engineer and Aruba executive, Felix Zhao, the Cassia Hub can not only connect up to 22 devices at once, but it can also communicate and relay messages for Bluetooth devices up to 1,000 feet away (open space) or through three interior walls. This means no longer being tethered to your Bluetooth speaker or losing a signal when you enter another room.

Until now, Bluetooth devices have been limited by range and the number of devices that can be connected together. With the invention of the Cassia Hub, Cassia Networks has removed these barriers and is making Bluetooth the ideal communication protocol and default standard for the Internet of Things (IoT).

“We developed the Cassia Hub because we noticed there wasn’t a universal standard of communication between the ever-growing pile of Internet connected devices,” said Felix Zhao, founder and CEO of Cassia Networks.  “Bluetooth, with its open platform and universal presence, was an obvious solution but inherently limited by its capabilities. We thought if we could engineer a way to break free of these limitations, Bluetooth could become a viable contender, and thus the Cassia Hub was born.”

The Cassia Hub is compatible with Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE and Classic) and does not require any modification or configuration of devices. This means previously purchased Bluetooth enabled devices such as smartphones, speakers, fitness trackers, headphones, lights, locks and countless other Bluetooth devices should readily and seamlessly connect to the Cassia Hub.  Moreover, with the Cassia Hub, users can stream music wirelessly from popular streaming services as well as local content on their phone throughout the house using Bluetooth speakers they already own, much like competing multi-room wireless speaker systems that sell for hundreds more.

The Cassia Hub also connects to the internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, which enables users to control their Bluetooth devices outside of the home. By using their internet-enabled smartphone or tablet to access the Cassia App, users will have access and control of their devices from virtually anywhere with internet access, something not possible with current Bluetooth technology.

In addition to the Cassia Hub, Cassia Networks is also unveiling several accessories available for purchase either with the hub or separately:

  • Cassia Bluetooth Speaker ($99.99): a powerful 2.1 stereo speaker that can work with your other Bluetooth speakers to play the same music in multiple rooms.
  • Bluetooth multi-color LED light ($29.99 for individual or $79.99 for 3-pack): a 16 million color light that pairs with the Cassia Hub for full light and color control with all your existing Bluetooth enabled lightbulbs.
  • Bluetooth Smart Plug ($29.99): a plug that makes it easy to automate and control consumer appliances from the Cassia Hub App directly.
  • Cassia Personal Safety Sensor ($99.99): this sensor has several features to help those in need of immediate assistance:
    • Users can simply push button to contact emergency services or pre-determined contacts when they need help
    • With built-in fall detection, an alert will be sent automatically if the user falls.
    • The sensor can also share where the user fell as long as it is paired with a smartphone or within range of the Cassia Hub

So, how does it work?  The Cassia Hub operates off two modes of communication:

  • Control Mode: The Cassia App controls all classic Bluetooth devices such as Bluetooth speakers, headsets and some Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices that are recognized by the Hub.
  • Transparent Relay Mode: Users can extend the range of BLE devices that are not recognized by the Cassia Hub where users are able to use their native apps with their BLE devices. In this mode, the Cassia Hub acts as a router and range extender for communication between native product apps on your smartphone and corresponding BLE devices.

The Cassia Hub can also connect to various devices and networks through Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz), Ethernet (10/100) and USB 2.0.

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Huawei Mate 20 Pro matches camera benchmark record

A benchmark by DxOMark sees the triple-cam handset tie with the P20 Pro for best smartphone camera on the market.

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The Huawei Mate 20 Pro has come out top in a camera benchmark test that assesses all aspects of smartphone camera performance.

DxOMark, which conducts rigorous hardware testing and is trusted as an industry standard for image quality measurements, has just released the results of its in-depth analysis of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphone camera. 

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the Chinese manufacturer’s latest top-end device. Building on the P20 Pro’s camera technology, the Mate 20 Pro comes with a Leica-branded triple-camera setup, but swaps its stable-mate’s monochrome camera for a super-wide-angle module, offering a 35mm-equivalent focal length range from 16 to 80mm—the widest of all current smartphone cameras.

The handset is in direct competition with the Apple iPhone XS Max, the Google Pixel 3 XL, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, among other. How does it fare?

“With a total photo score of 114, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro ties the record-setting score of its cousin, the P20 Pro,” says DxOMark. “The overall Photo score is calculated from sub-scores in tests that examine different aspects of its performance under different lighting conditions.”

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro achieves a photo score of 114 points. In stills mode, the Mate 20 Pro’s triple camera captures images with good target exposure and a wide dynamic range, recording both good highlight and shadow detail even in difficult high-contrast situations. Noise levels are well under control down to low light levels, and the camera’s white balance system and colour rendering settings produce a pleasant colour response in almost all circumstances.

At 97 points, the Mate 20 Pro is very close to the best for video as well, thanks to a fast and smooth autofocus system with good tracking performance, accurate white balance as well as pleasant colour rendering, and low levels of noise, especially in bright shooting conditions. Our testers also liked the exposure system’s ability to adapt quickly and smoothly to changes in illumination.

It was not all good news. DxOMark also had some criticism for the device.

Click here to read about the drawbacks of the Mate 20 Pro camera, and other positives.

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SA car wins
Dakar Rally

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The final stage of Dakar 2019 drew to a close at the bivouac in Pisco, Peru, and saw Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel bring home their South African-built Toyota Hilux for an historic victory. Not only was it a first win for Toyota, but it was also the first petrol-powered car to win the Dakar in the South-American era.

The Qatari driver ensured his French navigator, who turned 43 years old on Thursday, 17 January, received a great birthday present, when the pair arrived at the final time control of Dakar 2019 with teammates Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in close formation. The two Toyota Hilux crews completed the entire stage together, as De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz waited nearly 55 minutes for the leaders to start the stage, in order to shadow them to the finish.

The emotions bubbled over for Team Principal Glyn Hall, who found himself without words as his two crews drove into the media area after the time control. “This victory was long overdue,” he finally managed, before being swamped in a sea of well-wishers.

The winning driver, however, was much more vocal: “We are so happy to win the Dakar – not only for ourselves, but also for Toyota and the entire Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team. Everyone has worked so hard for so long, and really deserve this. Thank you for letting us drive this car.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA led Dakar 2019 from the first to the last stage, with Al Attiyah/Baumel drawing first blood, before handing the mantle to De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz during stage 2. But then a disastrous Stage 3 saw the Qatari retake the lead – a lead he didn’t relinquish despite some of the toughest stages yet seen on any South-American Dakar.

“When we first heard that the rally was going to take place only in one country, we were skeptical,” said Hall after regaining composure. “But the organisers made sure that this year’s race will long be remembered as one of the toughest tests in the last decade.”

Al Attiyah / Baumel’s victory at Dakar 2019 means that Toyota Gazoo Racing has now won both of the world’s toughest automotive races – the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the DakarRally.

Click here to read Glyn Hall’s comment on winning the Dakar Rally, as well as the rankings.

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