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PE tech start-ups boosted by incubator R&D la

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SEDA Nelson Mandela Bay ICT Incubator (SNII) has opened a new technology research and development centre, located on-site at its Newton Park technology office business park in Port Elizabeth.

The SNII R&D Lab offers assistance and support to creatives, entrepreneurs, and small businesses in PE to design and develop apps, software solutions, as well as electronic and mechanical device prototypes. It forms part of SNII’s technology infrastructure support service to clients enrolled in the centre’s incubation programme and for small businesses and entrepreneurs in Nelson Mandela Bay.

“This is a giant step forward for sustainable SMME development in the ICT sector in Nelson Mandela Bay,” said Scott Zambonini, Enterprise Development Manager at SNII.

“If you have always dreamed of a new app or had an idea for a technology product or service, the R&D Lab will help to develop a concept into something concrete.”

In particular, the SNII R&D Lab allows users of the service and facility to develop new technology solutions and own the intellectual property and patents on what they develop.

The main advantages of the R&D Lab is the rapid rendering of technology ideas and concepts into concrete solutions with major cost- and time-saving benefits.  In particular, this will help SNII incubator clients and technology entrepreneurs to get new products, services and solutions to the market much faster, explained Zambonini.

“The SNII R&D Lab offers access to integrated technologies, specialist resources and development support which will enable tech entrepreneurs and small business to design, visualise and create prototypes.

“Companies with existing technology-based solutions or products will also be able to use the R&D Lab as a facility for upgrading, expanding and evolving products and services.”

A dedicated team of development experts has been appointed as the design support backbone of the R&D Lab.

The programmers are  literate in a variety of major design programming languages including Javascript, C#, Android Development, Google API’s, SQL, SQLite, MySQL, Python, F#, Matlab and  HTML.  Developers will work closely with and under the direction and supervision of tech entrepreneurs and SNII incubator clients to produce cutting-edge, technology-based products, services and solutions.

The SNII R&D Lab will allow users of the service and facility to design and develop new technology solutions, develop and own technology intellectual property and patents, and unlock technological innovation.

“The R&D Lab is envisioned as the city’s technology innovation epicentre,” said Zambonini.

“The facility will not only empower private and public sector organisations who require technological innovation to remain at the forefront, but will also help SMME’s, tech start-ups, entrepreneurs and clients enrolled on our incubation programmes to take their ideas to a more concrete phase of development,” he said.

Zambonini said that the SNII R&D Lab will improve technological innovation in sectors of Nelson Mandela Bay’s regional economy, including automotive, manufacturing agro-processing, renewable energy and green technology and mari-time economy sectors.

“However, the R&D Lab is first and foremost a resource for big dreamers and innovators from a small business grassroots level.   Raw and rough-diamond business and technology ideas of SMME’s will be brought to life through the support and resources offered by the R&D Lab” he said.

Zambonini said the SNII R&D Lab will also offer the private sector a way to invest, support and show a return in BBBEE enterprise development and skills development spend.

“Through the SNII R&D Lab, corporates and development agencies will be able to allocate financial and non-financial resources to deserving entrepreneurs and high-potential enterprises.”

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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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