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May the Force Band be with you

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tar Wars fans are being invited to channel the Force with the Star Wars Force Band by Sphero.

Designed with an authentic Star Wars look and feel, the Force Band fastens to the wrist and allows the user “to enhance your native Force powers”.

Designed to work in conjunction with the BB-8 droid from Sphero, it allows the  users to control the App-Enabled Droid with a wave of their hand and expand their abilities with Force Training.

The Force Band takes the Pokemon Go concept a step further, by allowing digital objects to be collected in the user’s environment, much like the collection of Pokemon creatures. Here, the prizes are called holocrons. The expanded abilities the user develops can also then be used to gain greater control over BB-8.

The company sums it up: “Use the band by itself to complete Combat Training, or collect digital holocrons in your environment through Force Awareness. Fullfil your destiny and become strong in the ways of the Force. Sphero has expanded the features of Force Band well beyond driving BB-8, giving the owner many reasons to use this cool gadget for longer.”

Force Band Features:

Droid Control Mode

Use the Force to push, pull and control BB-8

Force Training Mode

Follow commands from BB-8 to master Jedi Knight abilities

Combat Training Mode

Use your imagination to wield a lightsaber* or battle with a blaster*

Force Awareness Mode

Uncover digital holocrons in your environment and collect them in the app

Robot Control Mode

Use the Force Band to drive other Sphero robots powered by Bluetooth SMART

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CES: Most useless gadgets of all

Choosing the best of show is a popular pastime, but 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: 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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