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CES: Smart wall outlet will understand power use

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A startup devoted to creating smart products that reduce energy consumption will use CES in Las Vegas next week to debut the first AI-powered in-wall smart outlet that analyses power usage and personalises recommendations.

The Currant Smart Wall Outlet creates suggestions for consumers, contractors, business owners, and real estate managers to power off devices and appliances automatically, cutting excess electricity usage and helping to save money on electric bills. Currant announced that the device will be available in a 15 amp version for homes and a 20 amp outlet designed for the commercial market. Both the home and commercial models can be controlled by the Currant App, Amazon Alexa, or Google Home.

In addition to Smart Wall Outlets, Currant also announced that it has added a number of powerful new features to its WiFi Smart Outlets. Available January 8, these features include the ability to lock the outlet so it cannot be turned on or off except through the app, which is particularly useful for parents looking to prevent kids from using certain appliances for safety reasons, such as an iron, or who want to set limits on gaming consoles.

Outlet locking is also valued by people who want to prevent things like a WiFi network from cutting out in the event someone accidentally turns it off, or business owners who want to shut off power to specific outlets or devices and not enable them to be turned back on from the outlet itself. In addition to the ability to lock the outlets, Currant will offer customized alerts that notify people when their rules take effect and when devices are using certain levels of power.

“We are on a mission to help reduce the insanely high levels of energy consumption in the United States,” said Hasty Granbery, founder and CEO of Currant. “To that end, we are thrilled to announce our newest offering in what will be a long line of energy-saving smart home and commercial products. Currant Smart Outlets will work in essentially every environment — home or commercial space. We can help anyone cut energy consumption, save money, and make a positive impact on our world without any inconvenience to their day-to-day lives or activities.”

Click here to see how smart wall outlets easily replace traditional outlets.

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CES: Most useless gadgets

The worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Language tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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