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Welle hits Kickstarter target on Day 1

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Welle (pronounced vell-uh), a smart device that instantly turns any surface into a smart interface using Sonar Technology through hand gestures, has announced that it surpassed its
Kickstarter goal in the first day on the crowdfunding site.

The campaign is running at:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1781885077/1423513448?token=74255447.

Welle http://getwelle.com/ gives users the ability to use unlimited simple gestures to control devices, appliances, and apps – it even tracks finger movements and recognises handwriting. With Welle, the entire surface becomes connected to Sonar, allowing hand gestures to control smart devices, such as lights, TVs, speakers, doors, thermostats, cameras, curtain/blinds, fans; and even PowerPoint presentations, apps, and IFTTT (If this, then that) conditional task applets.

Welle - cooking close-up

Welle works in the home, office, or anywhere with a Bluetooth connection. Users place the tiny Welle on any convenient surface or location, or mount Welle on a wall with included 3M stickers. Working as a universal remote for all kinds of IoT devices and appliances, Welle uses the most advanced Sonar-based gesture control, replacing the multiple traditional household remote controls for a convenient connected home and office experience. Welle recognises standardised gestures and also lets you assign your own gestures or handwriting short-cuts to interact with devices.

Welle means “wave” in German and Welle’s logo shows two fingers tracking human gestures with ultrasonic waves. Welle uses Sonar Technology, advanced ultrasonic signals used in the military, automotive and drone markets, that can accurately track human movements. Welle’s Sonar Technology transmits signal pulses and collects the reflected energy back from targets, identifying motions, gestures, and finger movements from the echoed signals. These echoes are translated into different instructions and words to IoT devices using an advanced hardware design and software algorithms.

Welle - control coffee machine

Devices controlled by Welle include:

•       Thermostats

•       Coffee makers

•       Lights

•       Windows shades/curtains

•       TVs

•       Doors

•       Speakers

•       Locks

•       Humidifiers

•       Fans/air conditioners

•       Outlets

•       Garage doors

•       Robot arms

•       PowerPoint presentations

•       Creates custom gestures

•       Assigns short-cuts throughout handwriting recognition or gestures (i.e. “C” for “make coffee”)

•       Changes volume and tracks when listening to music

•       Connects with IFTTT

•       Tiny size, weighing just 3.5 ounces, with measurements of 2.97” x 1.38” x 0.64”

Welle provides an open API (Application Programming Interface) for software and hardware developers to redefine gestures, creating new possibilities for controlling devices and apps. Welle features a well-designed API, readable documents, example codes, and a developer community with full support.

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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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