Posts Tagged ‘Smartphone’

I think it is safe to say that now it is a normal sight in society to see the majority of people carrying a smart phone. Most of us carry around our whole lives in these little devices, which have private information, social network logins and our lives in photos just a few clicks away.

The other issue is that not only is there a sentimental value to the device with everything it has inside, but we forget of the actual monetary value and most of us walk around in public openly looking at our smart phones without a care in the world.

Imagine walking down the road, holding £500 in cash in front of you for the world to see….I am not sure that would last very long as thieves look to make an easy steal.

The good news is that you can protect yourself with certain tweaks which a lot of iPhone owners do not know about.

Before I start the most important thing to have is a pin number or passcode to lock the device. Make sure you ALWAYS have a passcode as this is the first line of defence to someone snooping through your device. Also make sure your device auto locks itself after a few minutes, this will ensure that if you put the device down and walk away it will lock on its own and will need your unique passcode to unlock it.

Find My iPhone:

Firstly, make sure you have Apple’s very own “Find My iPhone” app which can be downloaded from the app store, as this will allow you to track your iPhone if it has been lost or stolen. With this app you can remote wipe the phone to at least give you some peace of mind and put it into “Lost Mode” which allows you to locate and post a message when the phone is turned on. This can be accessed via the internet on any web browser through iCloud.com or on one of your other Apple devices with the “Find My iPhone” app installed.

Once installed, do the following to turn the service on;

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on iCloud
  3. Tap on Find My iPhone.
  4. Turn On the option for Find My iPhone.

Recently I lost my rucksack on the train which had my iPad inside. On returning home I launched “Find My iPhone” from my iPhone and was quickly faced with all of my Apple devices in a list. I could see the iPad in question had not been turned on yet, so I clicked on the device in the list and put it into “Lost Mode”.

Lost Mode

This allowed me to firstly set a tracker on it which meant I would be notified as soon as it was turned on and its location. I then could set a phone number and a message allowing the person who turned it on to know who owns the device and how to get in contact. If you think you could be near the device you have lost, you can also set a loud tone to sound which will allow you to find it if it is in close vicinity and will annoy the person that has it.

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Three hours after putting it in Lost Mode, I was notified that the device had been switched on and of course the location of the device and within minutes I got a call from National Rail staff telling me that they had the device and that I could pick it up.

Now this does rely on two things, firstly that your iDevice has a connection of some sort as this is how it pushes info back to you and secondly that the person who switches it on actually gets in contact to return the device. If they do not get in contact, we recommend giving the details to the police as you will now have a location. At the very worst you will be able to erase all of the data on that phone through the app.

Safeguarding Your iDevice:

Now, criminals have got tech savvy and have realised that merely switching off location services disables the tracking feature which police can use to track the phone down, so here is how to stop them doing this;

  1. Click on Settings
  2. Hit General
  3. Select Restrictions – at the point you will be asked to set up a pass code, do this!
  4. Click “Enable Restrictions”
  5. Scroll down and look for Deleting Apps and toggle the switch to “Off” – This stops people deleting “Find iPhone” which aids in locating the phone after its been stolen.
  6. Scroll down to the section labelled Privacy
  7. Click on Location Services and then click “Don’t Allow Changes” – This stops location services from being disabled without your pass code.
  8. Lastly, scroll down to the Allow Changes section and click on Accounts, then hit “Don’t Allow Changes” – This will stop anyone disabling your iCloud account and will allow the phone to be tracked as long as a Sim card is in the phone. Even when a thief puts their own sim card in, your details cannot be taken off even with a system wipe.

This makes it impossible for your phone to be disabled, so if you do encounter the worst and your iPhone is stolen, call the police and hand over your iCloud account details and let them track your phone.

Hot in for review at The Tech Spy offices this week is the Yale Easy Fit SmartPhone Alarm.

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This is Yale’s top of the range wireless alarm and being part of their ‘Easy Fit’ range promises to be a breeze to install thanks to all components being pre-paired. So, let’s get on with it….

Unboxing

Included is the control panel, keypad, siren box, dummy box, 1x standard PIR room sensor, 1x camera PIR, 1x door contact, Ethernet cable and all fixings.

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Pre-installation

The first step was to plug the control panel into my router using the supplied Ethernet cable and power it on. Next, I downloaded the Yale app to my iPhone and once installed, I created myself an account.

I was then prompted to enter the control panel’s MAC address to register the alarm and the app immediately picked it up. So far, so painless.

Installation

The siren box was the first thing to go up, and it really was as simple as drilling four holes in the exterior wall, screwing it in and switching it on. If you’ve ever had a wireless alarm where the components need pairing before installing, you will know my relief that the siren box remained silent during install!

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With every wireless alarm I’ve installed in the past, the siren has gone off at some point while I’ve been 20ft up a ladder. Let’s just say that it’s not a pleasant experience and I dread it each time. Granted, that may have been me not pairing the siren correctly or triggering the tamper switch accidentally, but either way. I had no such problems this time.

The PIRs, door contact and keypad all have ‘knockout holes’ for screwing to the wall, but these need to be drilled rather than punched through. It’s simple enough however and took 5 minutes.

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The keypad was mounted by the front door and the door contact was easily mounted on the UPVC  patio door using the supplied adhesive pads.

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The standard room PIR was easily affixed to the corner of the living room wall with just a couple of rawlplugs and screws, as was the Camera PIR in the kitchen.

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And that’s it!

Testing

On opening the app (I am using the iOS version), you will prompted to login to your Yale account. Unfortunately this isn’t a one-time occurrence – you will be prompted to login every time you open the app unless it has recently been suspended to the App Switcher.

The app will however keep the username and password fields populated with the last successful credentials, which makes this a little less frustrating, but only if you’ve ticked the ‘Remember me’ box.

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Hopefully with a software update, the app will skip this login page entirely and just use last configuration settings to take you directly to the main page. For now though, it’s just another page that needs to be loaded and clicked through before you can remotely arm or disarm the alarm.

Once logged in, the next step is to check that all of the accessories (devices) can be communicated with successfully.

Here you can see the 5 devices that ship with the alarm as standard:

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You may notice that the Status column appears blank for every device. This is a little confusing at first, but blank means ‘Good’. If a device was offline, you would see a yellow exclamation mark in this column. I’ve tested this by taking devices well out of range and also by removing the batteries. A green tick would be more informative than a blank cell and this is something I will suggest to Yale.

The Walk Test

The Walk Test is an essential part of the install process that verifies the sensors actually pick up movement (or a contact break in the case of the door sensors). This involves pressing the Walk Test button at the bottom of the device page and then, quite literally, walking around the house. The PIRs should pick up any movement and an audible chirp should be heard from the control panel.

The door contact and normal PIR worked as expected, but I couldn’t get the camera PIR to pick up any movement as I walked around.

Try as I might, I could never get the camera PIR to pick me up. Biting the bullet, and going against every urge I had, I eventually succumbed to calling Yale’s support line. I explained the problem and they ran me through some tests, including re-pairing the device to the control panel, but to no avail. They promised to send me a replacement PIR which duly arrived a couple of days later for me to pair with the alarm and try again.

Even with the new PIR, it just would not pick me up on the Walk Test so I called Yale again. Their support representative informed me that the PIRs ‘sleep’ for 90 seconds after the last detected movement in order to conserve battery power and would therefore need a short period of time before registering any movements on the Walk Test. I tried this too, but even after 4-5 minutes of waiting out of sight, the camera PIR still wouldn’t register any movement.

They advised that for a proper test I should arm the system and then try to enter the building through the area monitored by the camera PIR.

Success! An immediate trigger of the alarm! Testing of the other area covered by the normal PIR also worked along with the door contact. So it transpires that the alarm is actually in full working order but the instructions regarding the Walk Test could do with updating. The camera PIR isn’t configured to trigger a Walk Test event – possibly due to the fact that there is much more hardware inside and still running off AA batteries –  but it does work normally when the system is armed.

I also received a photo taken by the camera PIR during this ‘break-in’ which is stored on Yale’s server and accessible in the app:

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Yale will keep a list of the last 100 images for you, which is more than enough and these can be passed to the Police in the event of real burglary. It should be noted the the camera PIR is assisted by a flash rather than any form of IR-assisted imagery.

The alarm supports up to 20 zones which can be individually assigned home/away/burglar/entry modes depending on what the normal method of access to your property is.

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Let’s be honest though, the real reason for this alarm though is the remote arm/disarm. The amount of times that I’ve forgotten to arm my alarm long after I’ve left the house unattended for the weekend is staggering and I’ve been left contemplating turning around to go back or begging a family member to pop around to arm it. Well, forget those days, the future is here. It really is as simple as this screenshot would suggest:

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Hit Arm to arm, Disarm to disarm, what could be easier?

Conclusion

A solid, modern, smartphone enabled alarm. 8/10

Pros

Once installed, rock solid.

Responsive and helpful customer service.

Cons

Confusing installation instructions.

App doesn’t auto-login.

-pc

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Tag Heuer have just announced that they are producing an Android powered smart watch in partnership with Intel and Google. There are no specifics on specification or design yet, which makes the timing of the announcement look like a brazen attempt to make people think twice before purchasing an Apple Watch next month.

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Data from a number of customer surveys appear to suggest that up to 18% of iPhone 6/6+ users may buy an Apple Watch and, if true, that’s a very real dent in the Swiss watch market. Tag, along with other premium Swiss watchmakers such as Breitling, have now taken notice.

Most of those surveyed who answered ‘Yes – I will be buying an Apple Watch’ will most likely have never owned anything other than a traditional timepiece. 18% is a very high number for a market that aside from Pebble, doesn’t really exist.

There seems to be some trepidation from potential buyers, who may like the idea of a smart watch but just don’t know for sure if it’s for them. Apple knows this and from April 10th, will have all models available in store so that customers can test drive it themselves. For those who find it a bit too much of a leap to make and perhaps come away still preferring the classic watch look, Tag Heuer could be ideally placed.

If a Tag Heuer smart watch looked like a traditional timepiece with smartphone features and was priced around the £1000-£1500 mark, I’m sure it would sell very well. I for one would be interested!

When it comes to the crowd sourcing websites, it’s not that easy to find a unique product anymore as it seems that every day a new USB battery charger, “Smart” suitcase or iPhone dock populates the pages.

I have to say, as tech bloggers we have been pretty disappointed with the lack of cool tech that has arrived on the market with only the odd device exciting us at the end of 2014.

Today we saw Displio….This is an e-ink display that will simply show you what you want to see….simple!

Displio Colours

Sometimes in life you have to take things back to basics. Yes, we can see this information on our phone or our computer, but you physically have to go through a number of steps to make this happen. Displio is different, as this device allows you to display information via widgets simply on the screen so that you can at a glance, see what you want to see.

The device will show things like the weather for a particular area, or your appointments for the day and can even show you details like email message counts, FitBit data, Facebook likes and messages, Twitter feeds, reminders, PayPal balances, and tracking details for shipments all taken from the internet via the WiFi connection.

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The idea of this is simply brilliant. I can imagine how this would fit into my life, on my desk at work or in front of me when I wake up and brush my teeth in the morning. The brilliance of this is the simplicity, as all we want is a glance of info during the day to remind us of things that we want.

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The Displio device is offered in seven different colours and in a wood casing too. It gets power from an internal battery allowing it to be placed anywhere you want and being e-ink this will have a great battery life. Users tap the device to reload it and with its inbuilt accelerometer it will adjust the screen. The screen is a 2.7-inch E Ink unit and it has a speaker for alert sounds.

The only problem with this device is its price. At $99 on Kickstarter I would not buy more than one which in reality I would need to fit into different areas of my life. Let’s hope the price comes down as I think the company may struggle to fulfill pledges on this occasion.

TheTechSpy never thought he would be reporting on an item of luggage, but it is time to introduce this little baby.

It was only a matter of time before someone was going to do this as it is an arena which has been fairly untouched by Tech and in need of a shakeup.

Introducing the Bluesmart carry on case with some serious in-built features that you just wouldn’t expect. Let’s start off with the “smart” part of the case. This piece of luggage will connect to your smartphone allowing you to not only digitally control the lock, but also track its location. With this, it also has a built in proximity sensor which will alert you via your phone if you stray too far from your case or if it indeed strays from you.

Bluesmart Case Lock

The team are promising smartwatch apps which will show all the information that your phone would display but on your wrist. I would be particularly interested in this as when moving around the airport is not always convenient to pull out your phone.

You can tell the team behind this have really sat down and researched what is wrong with the current design of luggage. A great feature to show this is the digital lock which will tell you if your case has been opened, so you will always know if the authorities have been through your case. The lock is also TravelSentry approved and has a feature that when you move away from it, the case will automatically lock for extra security.

The case itself has an in-built digital scale that when you hold the handle and lift the case, will provide the weight information directly to your phone app, hopefully stopping all those unwelcomed airport charges.

Scale

Inside, the firm have provided easy access spaces for your laptop or tablets and a hidden removable battery that can be connected to your phone to recharge on the move. We would have loved to have seen some kind of recharge of this batter via the rolling of the wheels. It would be cool to get a little charge back for the work you are doing pulling it around the airport.

Recharge

As a basic case, this has been built to a very high standard. The team have opted for 4 wheels to improve the way this case moves around and used anodised aluminium and polycarbonates to keep the case lightweight.

All in all this is an awesome smart suit case which you can carry onto the aircraft. But the things to consider here are firstly the ever changing rules of the airlines which at the moment here in the UK can force you to check the baggage in. Secondly, the company are yet to confirm the warranty details, which for the likes of Samsonite are set at 10 years and over. Last but not least is the August 2015 delivery via Indiegogo….these crowdfunding campaigns have a horrible habit of taking longer to deliver than promised so expect this to go over its target.

With all this being said, $235 + $40 shipping (£170ish) is a cheap punt to take on a product that could revolutionise this sector.

I have never been so excited by luggage…..take notes Samsonite, this case is a glimpse of the future.

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Here at TheTechSpy we are still testing the tado° system which so far has been working wonderfully.

We will be doing another review at some point to see how we have got on with the system, which so far has sat unassumingly in the background, which is exactly what we wanted it to do. Our first review can be found Here

The guys at tado° have today made it even better, with the announcement of tado° Care. We think this is brilliant and are pretty sure this is the first of its kind.

Here’s what the company says;

“This digital boiler protection is an additional service which is part of tado° Heating and ensures that your heating system always runs flawlessly. tado° is the only Smart Thermostat which is able to connect to the digital boiler interfaces of most manufacturers in Europe. With this direct digital connection to your heating system, malfunctions and maintenance requirements can be detected well in advance to prevent boiler breakdowns. In case of any service or error messages you will be notified immediately via Mobile App news feed and you will get detailed self-help instructions from us. If necessary, we will connect you to an engineer.”

tado° Care brings the idea of the Smart Thermostat to a new level. Not only does it look after your heating needs and as I said above, just sit in the background so that you almost forget it is actually there, but now it continues to look after you even when you are not using the system. It is very easy during the summer months to forget that you have a heating system so you would most probably not even realise that it has a fault, but the first day that you know about it, is the day you need the system the most.

Here is a company that has not only brought out a cool product in a now crowded marketplace, but is revolutionising the market place itself.

Well done guys

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Have you ever lost anything? Then taken an absolute age to find it, only to wish that you had some kind of device that would find lost things (OK, that last bit might only be me).

Well, I think I can safely say that we have all been there, and like with other inventions, from this annoyance a solution has been found. Now these guys don’t claim to be the first to do this, but what they do claim is to be the first in the world to make each iFind tag to need no battery at all.

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This is a significant change, as the only thing more annoying than having to charge each individual tag from time to time is when you actually need to find the item you have lost, it has no power!

It connects to your device (either Android or iOS) via bluetooth and has a range of about 60m in open spaces. This should allow you to find items in any normal house.

In order to sync the tag with your phone, you simply put the free app into pair mode and bring the blank tag close to it. This will allow you to pair the devices and also name the tag. If you have a few, this will mean you can call up individual tags to find them instead of walking round your house like a madman going from tag to tag trying to find one in particular.

They do come in a range of colours to suit all needs and I could name so many different situations this device would be good for, but I am sure you have already done that yourself.

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The applications are massive and they even give the suggestion of using this to trace pets around the house or garden. You can pick these up from Kickstarter right HERE for $16 if you are lucky, but the twin pledge seems like good value at $30.

We think this is a superb product and once again keeps your phone at the centre of your life.

It is not often something like this comes along, but recently firms have been battling it out for control of your heating.

I am sure we have all heard of Nest, the thermostat which can intelligently control your heating, but just took what seems like a lifetime to arrive in the UK as the good ol’ Yanks were trying to work out our heating system due to the strange weather we have here.

Well, in the meantime tado° have been working hard, to not only perfect a device, but also get it out to the market which is basically what we all want. They are a German company and have had this working in Europe since 2012 so already have some miles on the clock when it comes to experience.

I have to say, from the minute we started conversing with the guys at tado°, an element of professionalism is immediately apparent. They are happy to help and even asked for a photo of our boiler system so that could check whether they would be compatible.

A couple of days after ordering, a very sleek, well packed tado° box arrived on our doorstep and quickly we realised that the firm is pushing for well made simplicity. Even the box has been thought about.

Tado Box

As soon as you open the box the simplicity is still apparent as the clean white devices are well packed in its environmentally friendly packaging. The company has catered for every eventuality with even the conductive screwdriver and screws included in the package. We opted for the charged installation which was well worth it, as for most people the installation may be a little challenging.

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The box comes with the controller which replaces your existing unit. It strangely has no screen, but although I thought at first they had missed a trick, again they are trying to keep it simple and all can be controlled from the supplied app or online.

A smaller box connects directly to your router and a third solar charged device is picking up the temperature of your room.

When installing, you need to log on to the website and it actually has a step by step guide on how to install the device in all different scenarios of house set ups. It even knows when your router device is online and when the thermostat has been plugged in letting you go to the next step to set it all up.

All in all, installation was very simple, but I would suggest that if you know nothing about your heating system, get a professional to do as its reasonably priced and they guys that tado° are using were very good. The whole thing took about 30 mins to set up and was ready to go almost instantly.

SetUP

 

The app itself is the heart of the whole thing and works very well as again it has been kept simple. We are running this on an iPhone 5S and it is all very slick. You are first presented with your house temperature and then a small animation of your house with you in it. This indicates that you are in the house and tado° is looking after you.

 

 

Tado home

As you can see, the app is pulling data from the internet knowing that today it is raining where i live. Cleverly using algorithms along with data, the app gets to know things like that if it is particularly sunny outside and it needs to notch the temp up a degree or so, it may not have to turn the heating on to get to the desired temperature which helps to save you money. It also learns how quickly it takes to heat your house to the temperature you need, so it may stop the boiler a degree or so away as it knows that the remaining heat in the radiators will heat the rooms further. At the moment the system is not compatible with Blackberry or Windows phone, but we have been told that the latter is in the works.

 

The flaw is the lack of BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone apps because, while tado can still be controlled via a mobile browser, the app is required to detect a user’s location and automatically adjust the temperature.We’re told a Windows Phone app is in the works.
Read more at http://www.trustedreviews.com/tado-smart-thermostat_Peripheral_review#1awEwPOGva2lIvWI.99
The flaw is the lack of BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone apps because, while tado can still be controlled via a mobile browser, the app is required to detect a user’s location and automatically adjust the temperature.We’re told a Windows Phone app is in the works.
Read more at http://www.trustedreviews.com/tado-smart-thermostat_Peripheral_review#1awEwPOGva2lIvWI.99Within the app, if you swipe from left to right you get the main menu, which allows you to set the system up. Here you can create schedules and let it know when you go to sleep on every day of the week. You can set it to work for either savings or comfort, but we have had this in the middle and it is working just fine.

Tado Menu

tado° does work if you have a separate hot water tank, but at the moment it works in the same schedule as your heating. For most modern houses this isn’t ideal as we would want it on a separate schedule as new tanks do not lose heat as much as they used to, so the ability to keep it at a desired temperature all day is not really needed. On talking to the developers, this will be addressed in an update next week where you will be able to set its own schedule.

But what sets this apart from the likes of Nest, Hive and Honeywell I hear you ask….well, it’s a nifty feature called “Presence Detection”. We especially like this as if for example your house is in the middle of a schedule where it should be heating up to a desired temperature and you leave the house forgetting to turn it down, tado° knows you have left. But the brilliance doesn’t stop there, if you are a mile away at the shops, tado° knows you are not that far away, so reduces the desired temperature down only a small amount in anticipation of your quick return, that way as you return back home it hasn’t got a huge amount of work to do.

On the other hand if you were to go to work and be more than a few miles away, the system knows you are a larger distance away and reduces the desire temperature right down so that you are not un-necessarily heating the house. You can add other users, so the device detects that someone may have stayed home one day, whereas old units would have just stuck to the schedule making you play with the thermostat, this device knows you are home so keeps a desired comfort temperature for you.

So far we are loving this device, but apart from the gadget excitement we get when we see stuff like this hit TheTechSpy’s doorstep, it still has to save you money as that is the aim of this kind of tech. The only way we can do this is by reporting back to you in a few months time for another update.

tado° 

£249 to buy or you can rent the device from them at £6.99 per month with no cancellation costs or minimum contract period. The cool thing is, if you decide to actually buy it, they will refund 6 months rental back to you during purchase.

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So, the long awaited Doorbot arrived at TTS Headquarters just before the holidays and we could not wait to get this bad boy out to start reviewing it.

Let’s be clear here, from the second it is pulled out of its courier parcel, you do not think “Crowd-funded” product. This device would look completely comfortable sitting next to the first class products you ordinarily see in an Apple store.

On opening the box I was surprised to see the care that has been taken with this device. Firstly, not only are you given a screwdriver handle which also includes a screwdriver bit  to help you fit the device, but they also include a liquid level and drill bit with all wall plugs to ensure this can be fitted right from opening the box.

Open Box

Fitting is remarkably easy. Even those less DIY savvy of you will have no problem getting the device in place. The instructions show all the different places you may want to attach it to with a step by step guide and the camera can be angled quite freely to deal with most front door situations . We have ours directly connected to our old door bell wiring to power it but also wanted to have the door bell still chime inside when the Doorbot is pressed which is not actually functioning. We are currently waiting on the guys over at Doorbot to address the situation.

Once installed, setup was again very easy. It uses your smartphone app or can be accessed online via a laptop. My only gripe with the setup is that it only supports 802.11b when you would expect it to at least be N graded. We had trouble connecting the Doorbot to our Wifi and to get it to work we had to move the router much closer reducing the distance away from the router from 15 metres to 5 metres away (although the app still shows a very low signal).

After setup has been completed, using the device is relatively straight forward. The button is pressed and you get a notification on your phone. In this case we are using it with an iPhone so the notification is like all others and once opened you get the choice whether to answer the call seeing who is at the door (this took about 7-10 seconds to appear). We especially liked the walkie-talkie type push button to talk so that you get complete privacy inside the house when talking to someone at the door, but was not that impressed with the low quality video which is delivered to your device. We think this should be either your choice as it depends on your internet speed and wifi connection or an auto function depending on your connection.

All in all, this is a good product. The Doorbot team need to address a few issues which I am sure can be fixed in future updates delivered direct to the device. On viewing comments online their support is a little to be desired at the moment, but it will take them time to catch up with all support related issues as we cannot forget this is a small start-up which do not have the comfort of a whole department just to answer technical issues.

The Doorbot is an awesome product when you think of its roots, but they already have competitors close on their tails. Get yours for $199.

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So, yesterday we showed you the wonders of Piena, which promises to solve an issue that every parent has to endure, simplifying the sterilisation process for us all.

Call us the Mary Poppins of the Tech world, as we have something else for you on the horizon which we think again parents will love and in the end need!

One of the biggest fears in life is losing a child, which is so easy in modern day malls and super markets, but the guys over at BeLuvv think they have solved the problem. The idea was born after the founder himself lost his child in a supermarket and had to come up with an idea to keep track of him in today’s modern connected world.

Guardian, a small device which can be clipped to your child’s clothing or put into a watch type strap is used to communicate with your smartphone to keep track of your child’s whereabouts. When your child is in Bluetooth range, Guardian keeps track of them and notifies you if he or she approaches the tracking boundary which can be amended by the parent at any time from the app.

The device comes with an app to help you track your child in real time and it also creates a network of parents that grows stronger as more people join the system. Since every copy of the Guardian app can connect to central servers, when the child leaves the phone’s range, the cloud-based system can trigger an emergency network search, and you’ll get an alert with your child’s location if he or she is close to another person with the Guardian app.

Of course, this has to see a massive take up for it to become viable on a local level for the network search features, but as an out-of-range assistant will work extremely well. I cannot see any parent saying no to this, the wearable device can easily be worn by a child and at a pre-order price of $24.95 you cannot afford to not take a look.

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