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Sean Bacher

Something on the Side: A wristband to keep you on your toes

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In this week’s round-up of Something on the Side, SEAN BACHER highlights the FitBit Flex wristband, the mini GoPro Hero 3 camera, a dual-band Wi-Fi range extender from Belkin, the Epson L110 printer and a pair of wireless headphones from Jabra.

FitBit Flex

The FitBit Flex bracelet is a pedometer, sleep pattern logger and calorie counter in one. It is simple to set up, requiring the user merely to charge the bit that fits in the bracelet, set up a profile, set goals and then strap on the bracelet. Every step is logged and synched with either a desktop, Android or Apple device. Users can check on how close they are to their set goals by tapping the band to reveal a strip of LEDs (each one that is illuminated represents 20% of the pre-set goal.) Unlike other fitness bracelets, the FitBit is designed to be removed only when it needs a charge every five days or so. This means that users can get it wet without having to dry it off afterwards. At night, a double tap of the bracelet sends it into sleep mode, at which stage the FitBit Flex monitors and logs a user’s sleep pattern.

Expect to pay: R1 299

Stockists: iStores across South Africa.

GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition

At a little bigger than a matchbox, the GoPro could quite possibly be one of the smallest cameras in the world. Its diminutive size does not mean it has limited functions though, as the camera boasts12MP high-definition stills as well as video. It is designed for active users, whether they are cycling, running, skiing or even doing a little water sports. The casing is dust and water proof, meaning it can be submerged in water, although not for long periods of time.

Expect to pay: R5 600

Stockists: Visit: www.omnico.co.za

Belkin N300 dual band Wi-Fi range extender

This Wi-Fi range extender plugs into a wall socket for electricity near the edge of a router’s Wi-Fi range. Pair it with that router and it will eliminate most of the ‚”dead-spots‚” in a home or small office. The Wi-Fi range extender’s settings can be accessed from any browser on most mobile devices. It operates on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency and offers 256 bit WPA2 encryption as well as 64 or 128 it WEP encryption.

Expect to pay: R1 200

Stockists: All major electronics retail outlets across South Africa.

Epson L110 single function printer

This single function printer uses an integrated ink system, making it ideal for home offices wanting to cut their printing costs down, as it allows them to refill the cartirdges easily with Epson-genuine ink bottles. The printer features Epson’s Micro Piezo printhead technology, which allows for precisely controlled ink droplets of up to five different sizes to be ejected from the print head – resulting in sharper, grain-free photo prints with smoother tonal transitions. According to Epson, a full cartridge will print up to 4 000 pages in black and white and 6 500 pages in colour.

Expect to pay: R2 800

Stockists: Incredible Connection.

Jabra Revo Wireless

The Jabra Revo Wireless headphones connect to a phone, tablet or computer via Bluetooth, meaning the user gets maximum freedom of movement without getting caught up in a web of wires. A turntable touch control on the side of the headphones allows users to play, skip or pause music and even manage calls easily. The headphones incorporate Dolby technology, ensuring the lowest base and highest treble tones are produced with minimal distortion. The Sound App, which can be downloaded to a smartphone, allows a user to fine tune the headphones to their exact liking.

Expect to pay: R4 000

Stockists: All major electronics retail outlets across South Africa.

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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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AppDate: Bringing communities together

In his app roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights Grassroot, Saphila 2019, Zoi, Naked and Rise.

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Grassroot

Grassroot is a South African non profit technology startup that enables low-income South Africans to lead and organise their communities.

The app offers a simple set of tools that can be accessed from almost any mobile phone. Members can then interact between themselves, private organisations and government entities. It also allows for community meetings to be set up, petitions to be signed and funds to be raised in order to develop schools, churches or electricity and plumbing needs.

Currently the platform has over 300,000 users and a few thousand activities run through it per month – with only a team of three people behind the scenes. In order to manage this workload, Grassroot was born in the AWS cloud.

Platform: Most recent phones – an Internet connection is not needed

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit Grassroot here for more information

Saphila 2019

Image result for saphila 2019 app

The African SAP User Group (AFSUG) has announced upgrades to its Saphila App, which can be used by visitors and exhibitors at this year’s biennial SAP conference.

The app is designed to integrate the entire delegate experience – from registration right through to departure. This year’s conference includes beacon technology at each stand, which will alert users about talks, direct them to the stands, allow them to stream video to their phones and offer networking opportunities.

The Saphila App will allow exhibitors to view how many visitors popped passed their stand, how long they stayed there and what their interaction was like. For instance, once a visitor has spent more than eight minutes at a stand, the app will automatically ask if they would like more information.

The African SAP User Group takes place at Sun City on 10 and 11 June.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: For more information around Saphila 2019, or to register to attend, visit www.hellosaphila2019.com

Click here to read about an app that translates between languages instantly, AI-powered insurance in South Africa, and an app to help one sleep.

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