All posts tagged: Gadgets

10 awesome tech gadgets for your very good doggos and pretty kitties

Be the pet-parent your pet deserves.
Image: iFetch

Perhaps we love our pets a little too much, but we don’t care. We are all about giving our good doggos and pretty kitties the absolutely best in life, and bringing you news on devices that can help you do the same.

We’ve introduced you to a speaker that can calm your active (i.e. noisy and annoying) dog and activity trackers that are basically Fitbits for your furry friends. But what you may not have known is that there is an entire world of pet tech out there and we haven’t even scratched the surface.

Have you ever thought about getting your pooch an automatic ball launcher for when you’re too exhausted to play fetch? What about swapping out your feline’s watering bowl for a premium water fountain that keeps the H2O fresher longer?

If not, we’ll tell you more about those products and where you can get your paws on ’em. Here are 8 of the latest (and best) tech items that every pet-obsessed owner needs right now. 

1. iFetch — $115.00 

Image: iFetch

The iFetch automatic ball launcher will help you play fetch with your dog and you won’t even have to lift a finger. After your pet places the tiny blue tennis ball into the top of the iFetch machine, this interactive dog toy will toss it across the room or yard at 10, 20, and 30-feet intervals. 

The top of the iFetch device is tilted away from the launching hole to encourage your pet to stand behind the machine for safety. It works with a power cord or 6 C-cell batteries so you can use it indoors or outdoors. It even comes with a training guide to help you teach your furry friend how to use the machine without your assistance.

2. PetSafe Drinkwell Platinum Pet Fountain — $44.95 

Image: PetSafe

Image: petsafe

The Platinum Pet Fountain provides 168 ounces of fresh flowing water and is great for pets of all sizes. The free falling stream aerates your pet’s drinking water with oxygen and a replaceable filter helps to remove bad tastes and odors for fresher tasting water. 

It is designed with a receiving ramp that reduces splash and an adjustable flow control that allows you to increase or decrease how much water your pet gets. The large built-in reservoir increases capacity and requires less refilling, meaning more water for your pet and less work for you. 

3. PetChatz HD: Two-Way Premium Audio — $349.99 

Image: petchatz

You pet parents think and act differently about your pets. They’re a part of the family!  So when you’re away you feel bad — even guilty. PetChatz is a video communications device that allows you to chat and interact with your pet from pretty much anywhere. 

Just open the app on your phone or computer, hit the chat button, and you instantly go into Silent Mode where you can see you pet. When you want to chat, just hit the chat button and the PetChatz device will start to ring to alert your cat or canine. The two of you can “chat,” and you can even press a button to dispense a treat. 

4. Petcube Play Wi-Fi Pet Camera — $149.99 

Image: Petcube

Say you want to be able to cure your separation anxiety but don’t necessarily want to give your pet a treat. There’s a smart Wi-Fi home camera for that. 

The Petcube Play is a pet monitoring system that allows you to check in on your pets any time of day, or view video history to see what he or she has been up to. (Video recordings are triggered by sound and motion.) It has a built-in laser toy so you can interact remotely via app, or you can set it to autoplay mode to exercise your pet when you’re busy. The Petcube Play cube has two-way audio and free cloud-based video storage, no subscription required. 

5. AquaPaw — $24.99 

Image: Aquapaw

Image: aquapaw

Bath time can be a great opportunity to bond with your pet. No, we aren’t suggesting you drag your pup in with you next time you need a shower. But we are suggesting that you use AquaPaw next time your pet needs a bath.

Aquapaw is a wearable sprayer and scrubber you can turn on and off by squeezing your hand, so you have total control of the water flow. It can be used inside by attaching it to your shower head, or you can use it outside with a water hose. The water pressure is high enough to penetrate fur, but low enough to still be comfortable. 

6. Whistle — $79.95 

Image: Whistle

Image: whistle

It’s really stressful to imagine, but sometimes pets go missing. It can hours, days, or even months before some pets are reunited with their loved ones. The Whistle 3 is a GPS device and activity tracker that will help keep tabs on your pet at all times. It’s a small, 1-once device that attaches directly to their collar, so its great for all sizes of dogs and cats. Connect it with the mobile app to monitory your pet’s activity as well as its location. You can even set a custom safe zone to your home and anytime your pet leaves that area you’ll get a notification letting you know where they’ve gone so you can go find them. 

7. Eyenimal Cat Video Cam — $99  

Image: petcam

Seeing the world through the eyes of your pet is actually kind of a reality with the Eyenimal Cat Video collar. Though it’s designed specifically for your feline friend, there’s no reason why you can attach it to your pooch too. Next time you let your pet outside, you can check to see what they’re up to. It’s really light, only weighing 35 grams, and has over 2 hours of battery life.

8. iCalm Speakers – $144

Image: iCalm Pet

If you have a restless pup, try the iCalmDog portable speaker — a multi-sensory approach to helping your dog chill the eff out. The speaker plays music that’s been found to ease dogs’ anxiety. This bundle includes the Bluetooth speakers, two micro SD sound cards with 4-hours of the anti-stress tunes, and an hour of music that’s supposed to help you bond with your pet. 

It also includes a calming mist, shockproof carrying case, and all the information you need to get started. iCalmDog is a part of the iCalmPet suite of sound solutions for pet anxiety. Check out iCalmCat if you have feline you’d like to mellow out. 

9. Self-cleaning litter box — $156.99

Image: Petsafe

Everyone loves their pet. But everyone hates their litter box. ScoopFree is a virtually touch-free, leave-it-and-don’t-worry-about-it pet poop cleaning system. After your cat does their business, the crystals absorb some of the wetness and dry-out some of the solid waste. Then, 20 minutes after your cat leaves, sensors activate the stainless steel cleaning rig, raking the waste into a covered trap so you don’t have to touch it — or smell it — ever. 

10. A robotic dog — $52.99

Image: hi-tech

If your building doesn’t allow pets, or if you travel too much and just aren’t home enough to take care of a dog, this robot puppy might be the next best thing. Hear us out: This adorable, remote-control puppy sings, dances, and even farts. Your kids are gonna love it. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/

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How smart speakers stole the show from smartphones

Amazon and Google believe theyve struck gold with their voice-controlled speakers while Apple and Microsoft struggle to catch up

Move over smartphones. The battle now raging between the big technology companies for consumer cash is focused on the voice-controlled smart speaker.

Having already conquered the pocket with the ubiquitous smartphone, big tech has been struggling to come up with the next must-have gadget that will open up a potentially lucrative new market the home.

A pilot light was lit when Amazons Echo launched in 2014 and became a sleeper hit. Now the voice controlled smart speaker is rapidly becoming the next big thing, capable of answering questions, setting timers, playing music, controlling other devices about the home, or even potentially selling products.

The last 12 months have been explosive for smart speakers, which have surged into the mass market for two reasons. Firstly, smart speakers have become the central control hubs of the smart home ecosystem, said Ben Stanton, an analyst for Canalys. Secondly, and most importantly, the price of smart speakers has fallen drastically.

In the first nine months of 2017, 17.1m smart speakers shipped worldwide, according to Canalyss data, but a further 16.1m were shipped in the last quarter of the year driven by Christmas present sales.

The fierce competition between market-leader Amazon and Google with its Home devices resulted in the price of smart speakers being slashed from 50 to as little as 30, which some put at cost or below for the manufacture of the devices, making them loss-leaders.

This has not only brought in new first-time buyers, but also allowed tech enthusiasts to deck out their homes with several smart speakers, said Stanton.

The trend towards smart speakers becoming mainstream is expected to continue. Canalys is forecasting 70% year-on-year growth with shipments reaching over 56m units this year.

But smart speakers are also seeing good attachment rates, meaning that people continue using them after the honeymoon period is over, not stashing them in a drawer never to be seen again like other passing fads in the gadget market.

While Amazon and Google duke it out to secure a voice-enabled beachhead within homes, notable laggards to the smart speaker revolution are Apple and Microsoft.

Apple, which has had a voice assistant in the form of Siri on its phone and computer devices for longer than anyone, announced its HomePod speaker in June. By November the company was forced to admit that it wouldnt go on sale until early 2018 because it needed a little more time before it was ready to ship.

Apple is pitching the 350 HomePod as music first, smart speaker second, but experts have speculated that it is Siri that is holding the device back. Since launching Siri, Apple has only been able to make incremental improvements to its voice assistant, which most believe is due to its lack of usage data.

Microsoft has partnered with Samsung to make a speaker containing its Cortana assistant, but has failed to make a notable impact.

Where Google and Amazon have enormous troves of data to improve and refine their voice processing and interactions, Apple does not. The gap is evident even on the iPhone, where Googles Assistant has near human-like natural language processing in the Google app, according to the company, while Apples Siri still struggles to understand people.

Some analysts also question whether anyone will buy a speaker from Apple thats as much as four times mid-range models from Amazon and Google.

Never write Apple off. Its base of loyal fans will flock to the HomePod, said Stanton, adding that it is likely to make more profit than its rivals when it does launch HomePod. But it will be a huge challenge to convince the average consumer to part with the cash required for a HomePod.

Where Apple will not come close to challenging Amazon and Google in terms of volume shipped in 2018, he added.

While smart speakers are seen as the gateway to smart home gadgets and a potentially lucrative new market, profit from device sales are arguably not the primary driver for most of Amazon and Googles smart speaker products. Instead, its about getting users into their ecosystem and making sure that it is their voice assistant that users interact with.

Voice is seen as the next big computing paradigm, the next step on from the smartphone, which in turn overtook the desktop computer.

Dave Limp, head of Amazons devices, said of the companys Alexa, the intelligent personal voice assistant that provides voice interaction with its Echo devices: We think of it as ambient computing, which is computer access thats less dedicated personally to you but more ubiquitous.

But big leaps in voice interaction will be few and far between, requiring enormous amounts of data for machine learning systems to crunch over for constant incremental improvements. If you do not already have skin in the game you could be left for dust.

In the immediate future device manufacturers are banking on voice-enabled devices ushering in a new era of smart homes controlled by the gadgets they sell.

It seems every technology company under the sun wants to launch their own speaker for Alexa or Google Assistant. Many of these will fail, but the category as a whole will get stronger, Stanton said.

At some point Amazon and Google will look to generate more revenue from their voice assistant user base, in the same way they might from smartphones or tablets. Amazon already allows users to buy things through Alexa on Echo devices. But straight retail is likely to form a small part of voice enabled revenue.

We will also see a more explicit attempt from Amazon and Google to monetise smart speakers, perhaps by allowing adverts, or requiring a subscription for advanced functionalities, said Stanton.

In love with Alexa

I love my Alexas, both of them. I bought one in October, but soon realised I needed two because my flat is U-shaped and Alexa couldnt always hear me when I walked in the door and wanted to listen to a Spotify station after a hard day at work. So now I have one within shouting distance of my bed and another near the front door.

I used to reach for my iPhone first thing in the morning, but now I can order Alexa into action without having to lift my head from the pillow or even open my eyes. The first thing I say to her everyday is turn the lights on and play BBC Radio 4.

I didnt expect to get along with Alexa, in fact I still have the box in the kitchen as I had anticipated returning it. But Alexa fits into my life in ways that have surprised me, its hard to describe just how useful it is until you have one.

Alexa helps me cook and, even sleep. While youve got your hands covered in pastry you can shout out questions like how much is a cup of butter in grams (Im American) or ask Alexa to set cooking timers without having to stop and clean your hands.

I sometimes have difficulty sleeping, and Alexa can provide soothing sounds at a simple command. Some night I ask for the sound of a rainstorm or wind or city noises you can even request the sound of cats, dolphins or flutes if you feel like it.

Ive become a bit of an Alexa enthusiast, and can be heard singing her praises to family and friends. I bought one for my 59-year-old mom out of curiosity to see what she would do. I never expected shed like it, but shes almost a bigger fan of Alexa than I am. Ive noticed shes much more polite with Alexa than I am, she will say please and thank you to the speaker. I never do.

I can see why my mum is friendly to Alexa, as it is much more human than Siri (Apples digital assistant) which is quite robotic. You can engage with Alexa, and she even tells jokes. This morning I asked her to tell me one: What do you call a rooster being interrogated? Grilled chicken. Ive heard worse.

Smart speakers

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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