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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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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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