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Sean Bacher

Something on the Side: A keyboard made of light

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In this week’s issue of Something on the Side, SEAN BACHER features the Celluon Magic Cube virtual keyboard, a Star Trek Bat’leth Letter Opener, a Seal LED Dynamo flashlight, Epson’s LabelWorks portable label printer and Sony’s SmartWatch.

Celluon Magic Cube

The Culluon Magic Cube is a projection keyboard and multi-touch mouse. It connects to most Bluetooth devices like iPhones, iPads and Android devices. It also works with Windows and Mac computers via a USB connection. The cube projects a red, illuminated, full-sized QWERTY keyboard onto just about any flat surface, taking the frustration out of tapping out e-mails or tweets on miniature keyboards offered by many smartphones. No additional drivers need to be installed and, after it is paired with a device, it’s a matter of switching it on and typing away.

Expect to pay: R1 500

Stockists: www.kalahari.net

Star Trek Bat’leth Letter Opener

A full-sized Bat’leth is just too much weapon for ordinary Star Trek fans, but the Star Trek Bat’leth Letter Opener will still get the job done. Its job is opening letters, though, not hacking Federation officers to pieces. It is made from stainless steel, features an 8‚” blade and comes with a resin display stand.

Expect to pay: R230

Stockists: www.thinkgeek.com

The Seal LED Dynamo flashlight

The Seal LED Dynamo Flashlight works on the cranking-for-power principle. (You have to push a lever up and down to create power). The flashlight is waterproof for up to 10m and operates off a single switch that toggles between the three light settings of the LEDs. The Seal LED Dynamo flashlight is shock-resistant and can even be used to charge a mobile phone.

Expect to pay: R179.95

Stockists: Visit www.lightingwarehouse.co.za to find a store closest to you.

Epson LabelWorks LW-400 portable label printer

The LW-400 sports a backlit screen and is designed for printing labels on the move. It has an integrated keyboard for standalone operation and dedicated buttons for quick access to cutting and printing functions. The LW-400 boasts on-board storage that lets users store up to 50 label designs. Besides printing elegant labels, the LW-400 can also be used as a serious business tool, as it will print barcodes too.

Expect to pay: R780

Stockists: Availble from selected Matrix Warehouse and Office National outlets.

Sony SmartWatch

The Sony SmartWatch can be described as an extension of a smartphone. Users can read text messages, e-mails and social media updates, all on the multi-touch 1.3-inch OLED display. The SmartWatch operates on the Android operating system and, as with smartphones, a variety of apps are available for download from Google Play. The watch pairs with a Sony Android smartphone via Bluetooth, giving it an operating range of 10m. The rechargeable battery will power it for 3 to 4 days.

Expect to pay: R2500

Stockists: www.wantitall.co.za

* Follow Sean Bacher on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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AppDate: Whistleblowing with confidence

In his latest app roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights ExposeIT, OceansCam, Standard Bank’s My360, Samsung Pay on Galaxy A70 and A9 and WorldRemit.

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ExposeIT

EOH has announced the internal launch of the ExposeIT app, a whistleblowing tool that provides a secure, completely anonymous and confidential platform to employees who may be victims of, or bear witness to wrongdoings of any kind within their organisation.

The development of the app came about after Pretoria-based fraud-prevention experts XTND came across an app called Bravely, which was designed to combat bullying at schools by allowing children to anonymously report bullying incidents to authorities. XTND saw the potential and signed an agreement with Bravely’s developers, ZappApp, to adapt the app for use in an organisational context as a tool to enable robust cases to be constructed on whistleblower evidence, without the anonymity of the whistleblower becoming compromised.

Identification information isn’t stored anywhere on the system, meaning that even if the app is somehow hacked, whistleblower identities will not be compromised. It is not only difficult to establish the identity of a whistleblower using the app; it’s impossible. The ExposeIT App also allows users to upload and securely send video files, photos, documents or any other form of evidence available to the whistleblower. This allows a case to be built that stands a high chance of leading to convictions or disciplinary action.

All information collected via the ExposeIT App is reviewed by an independent law firm, categorised, recorded and stored for further analysis. Evidence and investigative actions are automatically time and date stamped for compliance and reference purposes, ensuring that no complaint is neglected or ignored.

Platform: Accessible through devices with an up-to-date Internet browser

Expect to pay: Details were not available at the time of publishing.

Stockists: ExposeIT is still only available to EOH employees but is set to be made available to the public in the coming months.

OceansCam

The JET8 Foundation has partnered with The Lewis Pugh Foundation to develop the first social commerce mobile application focused on saving the oceans.  

The OceansCam app incorporates JET8’s FinTech technology to reward users for in-app engagement through JETPoints – a social currency with which users can make contributions to the The Lewis Pugh Foundation.

OceansCam lets one share photos to encourage friends to support ocean protection. It’s message: “So next time you pick up a piece of plastic on a beach, find an alternative for single use plastic, or have a memorable ocean encounter, share it on OceansCam and spread the love!”

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Download the app here.

Click here to read about Standard Bank’s insurance app, Samsung Pay on the Galaxy A series, and a money transfer app for international business payments.

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AppDate: My Muze brings music to the masses

In his latest roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights My Muze, Kauai, SANRAL’s Mobility, KWV augmented reality and iiDENTIFii

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Vodacom My Muze

Since launching its music gateway in April, Vodacom has made over 30-million songs available on My Muze, which has attracted 1,3 million visitors and almost a million app installations.

Vodacom says this is mainly due to its ease of use, the ability to catch up on music industry news and watch music videos on integrated apps like Video Play or YouTube Music, and to livestream radio and listen to podcasts from radio stations.

Designed to curate music experiences into a single destination, My Muze is aimed at empowering young or new artists and ensuring access to music.

Another differentiating feature is that My Muze gives aspiring musicians the opportunity to expose their talents, as they can upload their music with the prospect of being discovered and signed to a music record label. My Muze is a partner to the 2019 South African Music Awards and for the first time allowed consumers to cast their vote digitally for the Record of the Year.

Vodacom is offering free data for use on My Muze: It is available across all networks, but Vodacom subscribers can browse the platform without using any data.

Platform: Android

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit www.mymuze.com for downloading instructions.

Kauai

Kauai, which operates under the multi-brand food group Real Foods, has launched an app with the aim of making it easier and more rewarding for customers to enjoy healthy eating.

The app allows customers to order ahead, skip the queue and collect their meals, smoothies and healthy snacks at a dedicated app order collection area in-store. Customers can order 10–20 minutes ahead, or can choose to collect at a pre-set time. Order ahead will be available at all Kauai stores nationwide. 

The app features a rewards programme that gives customers 2% cash back on all purchases. It also has 3 status levels, with accompanying perks that customers can unlock over time, as they use the app more frequently:

  • All customers starting on Green status qualify for a free coffee on their birthday
  • Customers moving up to the next status level (Gold) qualify for a free smoothie on their birthday and are rewarded with a free snack when they achieve Gold status.
  • Kauai customers who achieve Black status will receive a complimentary reusable smoothie cup when they reach this milestone, and also qualify for a free birthday coffee and breakfast

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit www.kauai.co.za for downloading instructions.

SANRAL’s Mobility Account

Another cashless parking app has popped into the marketplace, this time in the form of a partnership between SANRAL’s ETC (electronic toll collection) – yes, the e-toll guys that we all wish would disappear – and KaChing.

The app works much like any the other cashless parking app, except this one is reserved for registered e-tollers. A user sets up an account with a number plate, then loads some money into it and drives in and out of paid-for-parking places without having to put a hands in  pocket. At the moment, the parking feature is is an opt-in service on the app, and it enables users to park at 34 KaChing operated parking lots without the need for a paper ticket or cash. Through licence plate recognition technology, parking garage booms automatically open for people using the SANRAL Mobility app. More will be available as the service picks up.

The app also allows users to view e-tolls, settle them, arrange financing and share with friends and family. A variety of additional features are offered. Bear in mind that a variety of other cashless payment apps are available for both iOS and Android operating systems in case you are not yet ready or willing to register for e-tolls. 

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device or download the app directly here.

KWV augmented reality app

KWV has launched a rather novel app that works with the Cathedral Cellar  wines label: it now allows wine enthusiasts to add to their dinner time conversation via augmented reality.

Cathedral Cellar is a premium wine portfolio by KWV and includes the Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Triptych (a red blend), Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The new labels depict the Cathedral Cellar with copper line drawings. The labels also honour the cellar’s most impressive feature: its 32 “stukvats” (barrels), which measure approximately 3 metres in circumference, some of which tell the stories of the South African wine industry with intricate carvings.

Cathedral Cellar combines this art of storytelling with the use of augmented reality and modern marketing to share its most important element with consumers. The technology, developed by label print and augmented reality experts LABELinmotion by Vollherbst, enables consumers to scan Cathedral Cellar’s new labels using a dedicated app. By hovering their phones over the Cathedral Cellar labels, they can watch the winemaker appear on the façade of the bottle, from where he provides guided wine notes on each of the wines and shares the stories that inspired them.  

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit KWV here for more information

iiDENTIFii

Consumers want ease of access when opening and maintaining bank accounts, and banks want to provide this, but they do so at their own peril, as fraud syndicates are getting cleverer each day.

iiDENTIFii, an app that provides a remote biometric digital authentication and automated on-boarding technology platform, is designed to minimise many of these risks by offering various features to ensure one’s online identity is protected from start to finish. The application claims to prove the identity of a person within 30 seconds and with an accuracy of 1 error in 10 000. The current industry ratio is about 11 inaccuracies per 100 using standard biometrics.

Should a user decide to use a mobile phone and an ID document to sign up for a bank account, the app puts the following steps into process:

  • It checks to see that the person is  alive;
  • It then matches a selfie the user has taken with the image on their ID document;
  • The data is then extracted off the identity document – including the person’s name, surname and ID number;
  • Finally, all the data is matched with a facial biometric at an issuing authority or government department like Home Affairs.

Once all the steps have been satisfactorily met, iiDENTIFii will sign the customers onto its systems and hand them over to a bank of their choice where they can open up a new bank account.

In addition to setting up new bank accounts, iiDENTIFii allows one to set up accounts for online gambling, retail, property and travel.

Platform: A smartphone with a hi-res camera

Expect to pay: For costs relating to signing up with iiDENTIFii visit their site here.

Stockists: Visit iiDENTIFii here for more information.

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