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CES 2016: Connected shower tracks water use

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European start-up Smart & Blue, which builds awareness of water conservation, demonstrated the first water-powered and Bluetooth connected showerhead at CES 2016 in las Vegas last week.

Hydrao is an environmentally friendly connected device that tracks water usage in the shower.

As water conservation continues to be a high priority, Hydrao will track, measure and educate users on the importance of self-restrictions. The smart showerhead is easy to assemble and can be installed into any standard tub. Hydrao is designed to help reduce excessive water usage in the home through positive reinforcement and cool technology.

Hydrao comes equipped with LED lights, a sleek design and is easy to handle. The showerhead can fit into a small child’s hands. Hydrao can also

be transformed into a standard detachable showerhead by removing it from its mount. Once the water is turned on, the connected showerhead begins tracking the water flow instantly. A green light comes on and remains the same color as long as the

shower water used does not exceed a set limit.

When the limit is passed, the Hydrao communicates with a mobile app and changes colour to alert the user of the next threshold.

The Smart & Blue mobile app (available on iOS and Google Play) is designed for a family of four and allows the users to create thresholds, individual profiles and track savings per shower. Users can customise each threshold with their favourite colours. The 3-tier thresholds can be customised to reflect, yellow, red and green, once each level is reached.

Depending on the source of water heating, users will also see a difference in their overall household utility bills.

Not only does Hydrao make bath time more enjoyable for children, but parents will appreciate the fact that their kids are learning about water conservation in a fun way and  are developing great life habits.

“I created Hydrao to with the idea in mind that I could educate my little girls on the importance of saving water; I needed to make bath time fun and educational in order for them to develop good habits,” says Gabriel Della Monica, CEO and Co-Founder of Smart & Blue. “Shortly after seeing the positive effects it had on them both, I decided to bring the same knowledge and excitement to other families around the world.”

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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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