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Samsung rolls out new wearables

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Samsung has added the Gear Sport, Gear Fit2 Pro and Gear IconX to its range of wearable devices.

Samsung Electronics has introduced three new devices to its industry-leading wearable portfolio: Gear Sport, a sleek and versatile fitness-focused smartwatch that is water resistant; Gear Fit2 Pro, an upgraded GPS fitness band with smart features; and Gear IconX, a second generation of the company’s cord free earbuds.

Samsung says its new Gear devices were designed to let consumers get the most out of their day, and help them live a healthier and well-balanced life.

“At Samsung, we celebrate the everyday athlete – whether you’re going for a light jog, or training for your next triathlon,” says DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics. “We have a long history of embracing choice and innovation, and our wearables are designed to help consumers of varying fitness levels meet their goals and aspirations. We want to help remove the stigma that fit can only mean one thing and that fitness trackers are complex and for only the most intense of workouts. Our new Samsung wearables help consumers ‘go beyond fitness’ and enjoy an active, balanced and fulfilled life in a smart and seamless way.”

Samsung provided the following information:

  • Water Resistance and Swim Tracking: An ideal companion for any swim – from laps to playing in the pool – these devices are 5 ATM1 certified for water resistance. Now with Speedo’s latest swimming training app, Speedo On, the Gear Sport and Gear Fit2 Pro also allow you to easily track key swim metrics including lap count, lap time, stroke type and more.
  • Top-of-the-line Heart Rate Monitoring: With improved accuracy, the devices offer advanced real-time heart rate monitoring. They help you continuously monitor your heart activity – whether it’s enjoying a stress-free nap or an invigorating cycling class.
  • Premium Partnerships: Daily activity can be supplemented with updated Under Armour and Spotify partnerships. Both devices provide access to Under Armour’s fitness apps including UA Record, MyFitnessPal®, MapMyRun® and Endomondo for activity, nutrition, sleep, and fitness tracking functions – these apps provide users with a holistic picture of their health and fitness.
  • Auto Activity Detection: Automatic activity detection built into the devices keeps you in tune with your body and can recognize the following categories of activities: Walking, Running, Cycling or performing Dynamic Activities that could include dancing to basketball.
  • Personalized Motivation: You can customize your own wellness plan with tailored goals and alerts.

Gear Sport: A new versatile smartwatch to support an active and balanced lifestyle

Gear Sport is stylish, yet practical with a minimalistic, circular bezel, Super AMOLED 1.2-inch display and improved user interface, making it easy to view information – even on-the-go. With Gear Sport, users can work to achieve health and wellness goals, and receive nutrition management alerts and activity recommendations even when they are offline.

Designed with military level-durability, it can handle a wide-range of environments.2 With its sleek, ergonomic form that can be worn in a variety of colorful and easily changeable standard 20mm straps, it is perfect for any occasion so you can effortlessly transition from the gym to a night out with friends. Gear Sport will be available in Blue and Black and also includes Gear foundational functions:

  • Control of compatible Samsung IoT-enabled devices through Samsung Connect
  • Act as a remote control, whether for a PowerPoint presentation or Samsung Gear VR headset
  • Pay for goods with a flick of the wrist via Samsung Pay (NFC Only)3

Gear Fit2 Pro: An advanced GPS fitness band

In addition to the new swim and heart rate monitoring capabilities, the new Gear Fit2 Pro features advanced built-in GPS tracking to capture your run or ride with accurate activity tracking. Gear Fit2 Pro’s Super AMOLED curved 1.5-inch display and a high-resolution color touchscreen make real-time updates and notifications easier to read. The all-new secure, ergonomic band is light weight and comfortable to use for all activities. Available in Black and Red, its versatile design also makes it a stylish accessory.

Gear IconX: Comfortable fit, cord-free earbuds

IconX cord-free earbuds let you effortlessly listen to your favorite music – making your daily commute more enjoyable or helping you get more from your workout. Music can be enjoyed on and offline by transferring songs from a Samsung smartphone4 or PC, or accessing your favorite tunes through Bluetooth connectivity. The earbuds are also your newest connection to Bixby.5 With a simple tap and hold of the earbud you can use your voice to control your music or your phone – without even having it in your hand.

The updated design comes in Black, Gray and Pink and is even more ergonomic and lightweight so they are effectively secure, comfortable and stylish to use. For the fitness enthusiast, the Gear IconX automatically tracks your running routines, and also features standalone Running Coach which can be activated by simply tapping the earbud to provide in-ear audio6 exercise status updates – in real-time and without your phone. With an improved battery life of up to five hours of streaming and up to six hours of standalone music playing, and up to 4GB of internal storage, you can enjoy a seamless and fully standalone music listening experience.

 

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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