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CES: Home security gets first autonomous sentry drone

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The world’s first fully autonomous residential security drone made its debut at CES 2020 in Las Vegas this week. But it doesn’t come cheap. Developed by Sunflower Labs, the Home Awareness System will be available from mid-2020 for $9,950.

The system pairs always-on motion and vibration sensors with AI processing to provide privacy and guarding while minimising false alarms – which a 2018 Urban Institute study found accounts for up to 90 percent of police calls from security systems.

“Advancements in smart home security have been stationary or dependent on video cameras until now,” said Alex Pachikov, co-founder and CEO of Sunflower Labs. “Thanks to the integration of AI and machine learning, homeowners can now have a truly smart security system that, over time, learns and reacts to its surroundings. Sunflower Labs is a leader in the next evolution in smart security.”

The Sunflower Home Awareness System consists of three components: Sunflowers, Bee and Hive:

  • The Sunflowers: Each Sunflower, disguised as garden lights, houses an array of motion and vibration sensors to constantly monitor activity on the property. Sunflowers are capable of detecting and differentiating people, animals and cars as well as displaying the activity on a map in real-time.
  • The Bee: A lightweight, fully-autonomous drone that navigates safely to observe activity on your property. The Bee has advanced features, such as automatic deployment, fully autonomous flight, ultrasonic collision-avoidance sensors, high-precision differential GPS and live streaming video.
  • The Hive: This sleek, weatherproof housing and charging station not only keeps the Bee safe and powered up, it’s also the brains of the entire system with AI data processing and analysis enabled by an embedded system.

If the system senses anything out of the ordinary, it sends an alert to the property owner’s mobile device. In seconds, the owner can choose to launch an autonomous drone flight and view real-time aerial footage of the property via the Sunflower Labs app from anywhere in the world.

The starting price for the system is $9,950. Final pricing may vary based on customization for your property.

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DStv Now adds free education to ‘lockdown channels’

In its response to the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa, DStv is offering 16 free channels on its streaming app

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Two new channels have been added to a free service being provided on DStv Now, the online version of DStv. 

In response to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, DStv owner MultiChoice worked with local and international news channels in mid-March to add 24-hour news coverage to the DStv Now free service.

The company says the intent was to help all South Africans stay up to date with announcements and developments, and the results so far are encouraging. Usage of the service has increased 20% since the lockdown began, and peak usage is up 80% compared to pre-crisis peaks. 

 Now, in another step to help families through the lockdown period, MultiChoice has added additional educational content to the free service with the Mindset PoP channel. This channel features educational programming covering the entire General Education and Training (GET) phase, including Early Childhood Development (ECD), as well as a key focus on the Grade 4 – 9 curriculum. 

The channel aims to prepare children for when schools reopen. Mindset PoP will deliver live lessons daily, with six fresh hours every day. A website is available for parents to download worksheets and information sheets to work through with expert teachers. Lessons are based on the South African Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) and are also aligned to the Cambridge curriculum.

“We’re extremely grateful to all of the channel providers for being so willing to work with us to help all South Africans through this unprecedented lockdown period,” said Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of the Connected Video division of MultiChoice. 

“Thanks to their support we’re able to keep people informed, keep kids’ educations going, and keep people entertained.”

The full list of channels available to non-DStv customers on the DStv Now free service is:

100 – DStv

180 – People’s Weather

238 – SuperSport Play

313 – PBS Kids

317 – Mindset PoP

320 – Channel O

343 – TBN

400 – BBC World News

401 – CNN

402 – Sky News

403 – eNCA

404 – SABC News

405 – Newzroom Afrika

405 – AlJazeera

414 – Euronews Now

417 – africanews

To sign up for the DStv Now free service, go to http://now.dstv.com 

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FNB Connect cuts data price by 55%, offers 1GB free

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FNB Connect has reduce its data prices by up to 55%. It is also doubling customers’ data on Lifestyle plans without any price increase.

This weekend, FNB Connect will also give all its customers 1GB of free data during the national lockdown, with a validity period of 30 days. This lockdown data allocation is in addition to the Free Connect allocations that customers with qualifying transactional accounts receive monthly.

“This will enable our customers to save on telco spend, which is a regular feature in household budgets,” says Raj Makanjee, CEO of FNB Retail. “Access to affordable and free data goes a long way in assisting our customers navigate difficult times and is also aligned to our ethos of offering real help when it’s needed the most.”

Shadrack Palmer, FNB Connect product head, says: “In our efforts to provide our customers with more value for their money, we’ve reduced our mobile data prices and doubled the data bundles on most of our Lifestyle plans, to give our customers more reason to connect anywhere and anytime. This is needed now more than even, as South Africans are observing the 21-day national lockdown, with many strapped for cash during these challenging times.”

The new data prices and doubling of the Lifestyle plans are to be repriced as follows:

“Since the launch of our Free Connect offering in July 2019, we’ve tried to remain consistent to see how best we can incentivise our customers when they need it most,” says Palmer.  “As FNB Connect, we understand the pressures customers are facing financially and are committed to providing better value at every opportunity.”

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