Pico U: Universal Brewer for Most of the Good Stuff

Have you ever imagined brewing your own beer, coffee, tea, kombucha, horchata and a host of other drinks using one smart universal machine like the Pico U? The U in its name obviously refers to its universal nature to brew just everything. While earlier incarnations of this countertop beer-brewing machine were bulky, inefficient, noisy, and designed for just a single product, the current Pico U is more compact, quiet, and versatile. If you like embracing the minimalist lifestyle where less is more, then consider getting a Pico U to simplify getting your beverage needs.

Initially funded on Kickstarter with a $50,000 goal, it has surpassed that with a total
US$ 358,256 in pledges from 1,669 backers and still 26 days to go!

If you can dream it, you can drink it!  — Pico U

More and more consumers are conscious about their health, especially what they put in their bodies. Pico U is perfect since you could brew exactly how you want your beverage, using the freshest ingredients for a delicious, no-preservative drink. For sure, your mother would have loved having this in her kitchen – from perky coffee in the morning to tisanes in the afternoon and relaxing, icy home-made beer to cap your day. Pico U Brew comes with accessories the Bruet, Mini Step Filter, and recipe kits to widen your array of personalized beverages that include popular fusion drinks like:

  • Sumatra cold brew coffee
  • iced horchata,
  • ginger lemon kombucha,
  • Goji Berry Acai kombucha
  • citrus dry soda,
  • yerba mate chai tea,
  • vanilla cocoa cold brew,
  • Saffron Turmeric golden milk, and more.

Backing Pico U is easy since it is affordable (a bargain comes in different packages to suit your needs and size of operations. So whether it’s just a drink for two or one for the road with friends, there is definitely a package to back – with room to grow!

  1. Early Bird Pico U (Basic)
    US/Canada only.Brews coffee, tea, and fusion beverages. Makes single serve coffee and tea, and 1.4-liter batches. Includes Pico U, Mini Step Filter, Glass Bruet, and Coffee Filter Basket. Unfortunately, this is no longer available. Scheduled for release in January 2019 but ships only to certain countries.
  2. US$ 179 or more
    Production Run 1: Pico U (Basic)
    Brews coffee, tea, and fusion beverages. Makes single serve coffee and tea, and 1.4-liter batches. Includes Pico U, Mini Step Filter, Glass Bruet, and Coffee Filter Basket. Estimated delivery in February 2019 and ships anywhere in the world.
  3. US$ 189 or more
    Early Bird Pico U (Deluxe)
    US/Canada only.Brews coffee, tea, and fusion beverages, as well as craft beer, kombucha, and dry soda. Makes single serve coffee and tea, 1.4-liter batches of fusion beverages, and 5-liter batches of craft beer and other fermented/carbonated drinks. Also supports sous vide.Includes everything in Pico U Basic, plus a Brew Keg and Full-Size Step Filter. This reward is no longer available.
  4. US$ 199 or more
    Production Run 1: Pico U (Deluxe)
    Brews coffee, tea, and fusion beverages, as well as craft beer, kombucha, and dry soda. Makes single serve coffee and tea, 1.4-liter batches of fusion beverages, and 5-liter batches of craft beer and other fermented/carbonated drinks. Also supports sous vide.Includes everything in Pico U Basic, plus a Brew Keg and Full-Size Step Filter. This is available in February 2019 and ships worldwide.
  5. US$ 229 or more
    Mass Production Pico U (Basic)
    Brews coffee, tea, and fusion beverages. Makes single serve coffee and tea, and 1.4-liter batches.Includes Pico U, Mini Step Filter, Glass Bruet, and Coffee Filter Basket. Available in March 2019 and ships worldwide.
  6. US$ 249 or more
    Mass Production Pico U (Deluxe)
    Brews coffee, tea, and fusion beverages, as well as craft beer, kombucha, and dry soda. Makes single serve coffee and tea, 1.4-liter batches of fusion beverages, and 5-liter batches of craft beer and other fermented/carbonated drinks. Also supports sous vide. Includes everything in Pico U Basic, plus a Brew Keg and Full-Size Step Filter. Available in March 2019 and ships worldwide.

In the past, the blender was the go-to small kitchen appliance. But with tastes getting more sophisticated, the Pico U promises more fun than a jugful of blenderized Margaritas!

Attribution: Information and video from the Pico Kickstarter site.

NATEDE: Want to Breathe Indoor Air That Won’t Kill You?

Finally, NATEDE, from Clairy, an Italian company, has come up with a smart air purifier that cleans your indoor air of pathogens, pollutants, and toxins naturally. On its second run on Kickstarter, minimalist-looking NATEDE continues to impress investors, raising $300K in only a week and projected to end its campaign at $1.8M. First introduced at CES in 2016, it won the European Product Design Award, was a finalist in the Best Entrepreneur Award at G20 Germany in 2017 and selected to represent Worldwide Entrepreneurs during Global Money Week 2018.

NATEDE is the perfect marriage of IoT and nature. It has advanced sensors and a dedicated app that adjusts airflow and monitors pollutants and conditions in the environment. The photocatalytic filter does not need to be replaced, making NATEDE convenient and economical in the long run. And being smart, it communicates with Alexa and other devices.

So why is this deceptively simple planter-like device getting so much hype? For one thing, the air you and I breathe certainly consists of more than just oxygen and is unbelievably more polluted than outside air. It is also the carrier of dust, allergens, viruses, bacteria, and contaminants unseen by the human eye.

Whether at work or at home, we typically breathe in two tablespoons of dust that includes dander, human skin, pollen, and antigens. These particles are trapped in the respiratory system and can also cause immunologic reactions like asthma and allergies. Although we see dust and dirt, bacteria, viruses, and molds are small but vicious pathogens that attack unseen.

And of course, VCO and other pollutants from off-gassing paint, lacquer, synthetic material, household cleaning solutions and even your sweet-smelling air-freshener can poison you unseen – continuously.

“Thanks to the combination of the plant with this innovative filter, this air purifier successfully eliminates 93% of VOCs, 99% of bacteria, viruses, fine-particulate and odors.” – NATEDE

How NATEDE stacks up against other purifiers:

A single Clairy NATEDE can purify 36 m3 resulting in environmental air cleared of its pollutants and odors. A microbiological report affirms that it clears the air of formaldehyde (often found in off-gas) and E.coli bacteria.

Clairy looks a stylish flowerpot that comes in two models (regular or premium) and stylish colors, white, blue, rame, corallo, sand or matte black. Two new, vibrant colors are coming soon – Azalea and Girasole. It is made of sustainable and biodegradable materials and now comes with an optional wooden stand.

After the success of our first Kickstarter campaign back in 2016, we started working with fluid dynamics engineers to perfect the airflow and to improve the purification range. NATEDE has an incredible purification range and guarantees a perfect and silent air flow.

Connected by WIFI, it monitors temperature, humidity, pollution

If you hate waking up sniffling, sneezing, or reeling from dizziness and splitting headache, this is something worth considering. Chronic sufferers of asthma and allergy whether under maintenance meds or not benefit from the NATEDE’s air cleaning effects. And of course, with better oxygenation comes better sleep and increased productivity. You can even choose from 4 modes of air cleaning: auto, performance, night (economy) and custom.

With 8 days to go, you still have time to back this project. Thus far, it has 3,086 backers and had raised over US$ 712K of its US$ 58,811 goal. Let your plants clean your air of benzene, xylene, ammonia, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde stylishly, economically, and efficiently.

There are so many blog-worthy, life-saving gadgets that improve the way we live. TechNewsGadget is all ears about any product you want featured or reviewed so we can all live our BEST LIFE ever!

Attritnution: Photos, graphics and video from Clairy, Natede and Kickstarter.

Google’s New Android P: Simple, Adaptive, Powerful and Energy Efficient

Google I/O 2018 was mostly focused on improving Google Assistant, Maps and the News app that keeps you abreast and tackles fake news to boot. But a lot of improvements on the Android operating system, the Android P were overlooked as Duplex, the human-like voice too center stage. Note that the Android P is not Fuchsia, something designed to be a universal Operating System of sorts. But it IS predictive and ambitious in many ways. Even as it adapts to you and anticipates what you are likely to do (e.g. Suggested Actions), it also offers tools that allow you to “disconnect”. It can be downloaded not just for Pixel and Nexus but also for flagship phones of Nokia, OnePlus, Oppo, Vivo, Essential and Sony, among others.

Google claims that Android P, at the forefront of AI and machine-learning, is all about Intelligence, Simplicity, and Well-being. One of the things it tackles is battery life, for which Google partnered with Deep-Minds to improve longevity; something which Apple had an upper hand in the past. Interestingly, this battery “spending” adapts to your own usage patterns. In short, it prioritizes apps which are often used or considered important. It has a 60% success rate in predicting and does so in an energy efficient way. For instance, its feature “App Action” adjusts screen brightness for you, based on your former preferences. Not only is it power-efficient, it second-guesses which app you are about to launch and what action you are likely to take. It has absolutely gone from “Hey, Google” to predicting your next step.

It has also streamlined user interface in an attempt to make your increasingly complex digital life to something simpler and organized. Even searching is no longer overwhelming with so many “hits”. This time with “Slice” the search ferrets back the most relevant to you in the context of what concerns you most from apps installed on your phone. For instance, typing “Lyft” will interactively give you the price it takes to get to work and such – and you don’t have to get out of search into the Lyft app because you can now order your ride from there. Neat, huh?

And if that’s not enough, Android P also has ML Kit, a new set of API that will enable:

  • Image labeling
  • Text recognition
  • Face detection
  • Barcode scanning
  • Landmark detection and
  • Smart reply

What else can it do? Beyond powerful productivity and energy efficiency, Google wants to give you more time by understanding your habits. And the really ambitious part is that it will let you “focus on what matters, switch off, and wind down.” The Android dashboard gives you a mini-analytics on how you are spending your time. Google hopes that this awareness will give you a good idea on how to balance your time – something essential for digital addicts!

Believe it or not, it also attempts to carve personal space for you with the gesture-driven “Shush” that’s essentially a NO DISTURB sign. It’s as easy as turning over your phone, face-down to shut yourself from calls, texts or pings. But it does compromise with starred contacts who are let through even when on Shush mode. And “Wind Down”? It’s something we all need -including you. Your phone calls it a night when you do. And that’s a wrap!

 

 

Zamzar: Veteran Free Online File Converter Still Hot After All These Years

I discovered Zamzar quite by accident, and happily so. I received a  .numbers file and being on a PC, had to Google for a converter. I have to confess that after having my share of free online converters that didn’t deliver, I was skeptical. So what are my woes? Some of these converters have to be downloaded and installed and you know that these can bring with them malware etc. Most of the free apps will also convert up to a certain point and leave you hanging. And saving the worst for last, convert into a gibberish file. And with so many new ones popping up and disappearing into thin air, you never know if it’s going to be there the next time around. Let’s not even go to whether it will keep your data sacred.

What’s not to love? It can convert about 1200 files – an all-in-one audio, video, image, ebook, CAD, presentation, and text converter! Currently, when there are many platforms and devices, this functionality makes it extremely helpful. In the past, I would use 4-5 apps just to get everything I need on the same page. This multiple converter saves time, effort, stress and money. After all, who wants to buy a full program, something that can only be used rarely, if you can have a free one to use?

Here are a few of the popular conversions it can do: PDF to Word | PDF to Excel | FLAC to MP3 | DOC to PDF | EPUB to PDF | MP4 to MP3 |PDF to DOC | WAV to MP3 | MKV to MP4 | DJVU to PDF | JPG to Word | XPS to PDF |FLV to MP3 | MOV to MP4 | Excel to PDF | PNG to PDF | PDF to JPG | DOCX to PDF |EPUB to MOBI | MP3 to WAV | MP4 to GIF | PPT to PDF | Excel to PDF | PNG to JPG |PDF to DWG | PDF to DOCX | JPG to GIF | JPG to PNG | FLV to MP4 | Word to PDF

Conversion is fast and convenient because the file to be converted can be uploaded from your hard drive, from the cloud, and from a URL. Files up to 50 MB can be converted 100%. Files are converted once uploaded and you simply enter your email address to receive the converted file. It even saves your file online for 24 hours.

Zamzar has been around for around 12 years and it has not stopped growing. The most interesting development is it can convert to files proprietary to Adobe and now has video support. The sheer number of files it can convert is astounding: https://www.zamzar.com/conversionTypes.php.Currently, it can now convert video from various video sharing websites.

 

 

 

 

Nemo: Smart Submarine Drone That Takes UHD 4K Photo-Video Underwater

Don’t know how to dive or swim but mesmerized by the pull of underwater marine life? Nemo, from Aquarobotman, the smart drone that takes amazing UHD 4K photo and video will get you into the deep waters without having as much your toes getting wet. Launched at Kickstarter, it has already exceeded its goals and may be released by July 2018.

Unlike other drones in its class, it uses a “patented QAS-balance system with a 4 tandem thruster design” to give it the most stable video platform for amazing focus. To ensure clarity and vividness, Nemo has a built-in powerful lighting system, the  8 LED fill light matrix that makes undersea footages a cut above the rest. Designed by engineers, photographers, and divers, Nemo understands needs and is the perfect dovetailing of professional quality and ease of use.

With an app that is simple to use even by amateurs and a dedicated wifi signal to a depth of 100 meters, it is a fully-functional underwater drone that is priced within reach of consumers.

 

 

Controlled by your smartphone and paired with VR glasses, you can choose to store captured footage or stream it live so you can uncover mysteries and have fun exploring the depths.

It is perfect for fishing, diving, underwater photography and for conducting scientific studies even in previously difficult to reach underwater caves.

 

It takes stable photos to a depth of 100 meters or 328 ft. and captures videos at 30 frames per second. What does that mean? It means that the video is exceedingly smooth and not jumpy or pixellated. This means that you can take calculated risks and act with impeccable timing before actually jumping into the water. You’ll never have to miss out on the details or the live action ever again!

According to Aquarobotman as explained in Kickstarter, Nemo’s best features are:

  • Ultra stable UHD 4K, 30 fps camera
  • VR Goggles for a truly immersive experience
  • Immediate social sharing
  • Stable 4-Thruster technology
  • Longer diving hours with the long-life battery and quick battery changer

During its testing phase, it was put to utilitarian use like checking a ship’s engine problem and studying a pearl farm. The adventures were many: the deep-sea study of coral reefs, underwater grotto exploration, swimming alongside dolphins and manta rays in Hawaii as well as crocodile spotting in Florida.

You can still back Nemo at Kickstarter starting at $799 and have your own drone by July 2018. Its high-standard features will make this summer unforgettable whether you choose to be in or out of the water. Find Nemo and go off on an undersea adventure of a lifetime!

 

 

Cyberstalking: Fighting Back and Staying Safe Now

It is said that vampires can’t enter your homes without an invite – same is true with cyberstalkers. We OURSELVES, are by and large the reason why these intruders are in our homes and practically broadcasting personal information even when we least expect it.

Just imagine the number of apps installed on your smartphone, PC, wearables, and gadgets, all of which are tracking what you do and keeping tabs on your secrets – is it a wonder if a breach is just somewhere close by waiting to happen? Short of living off the grid, there are ways to protect yourself from technology while enjoying its benefits. And though cyberstalking carries a ten-year sentence, may are undeterred.

“Cyberstalking is increasing because we spend so much time online,” — Dr Emma Short, the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research at the University of Bedfordshire

The truth is, it’s not just organized cybercrime syndicates specializing in identity theft that take advantage of your vulnerabilities. It can be envious workmates, ex-best friends, scorned lovers, crazed stalkers or practically anyone with malicious intent who has gained access to your data. But like the locks that you change when it doubt, passwords should be changed often.

In a survey, 47% of Americans have experienced online harassment, including cyberstalking. It is highest at 65% for those between 18-29 years old. Research shows that 66% is linked to social media and apps with Facebook is the most abused social site. Whether due to boredom or heartbreak, 88% of college students snoop on an ex, 74% hover on the social account of the new flame, and worse, 70% use a friend’s account to do the sneaky act. However, harmless crushing is different from annoying and dangerous stalking, harassment or bullying, especially these personalities can have 10 or more dummy accounts before Facebook wises up and blocks their account. There are ways you can check if there’s a stalker on your phone. Check this video for pointers:

Additionally, you can:

  1. Block, unfriend, use strict filtering and report – make sure you are able to document the aggression so log everything in case you need to see the police or go to court.
  2. Change contact information and learn all the current privacy settings.
  3. Never give your home address; using a work email or a P.O. Box is safer. Amazon can now enter your house and deliver the goods – think again!
  4. Keep virus protection updated and don’t click on links – call or check with the sender. Simple common sense but something that is usually taken for granted. Skype is particularly notorious with this.
  5. Password protect all accounts and don’t trust Google or any app that is supposed to be an impregnable vault of your passwords.
  6. Double check the validity of mail asking you to verify your account – sometimes you get spurious mail like these from fake “Paypal” and fake “Yahoo”.
  7. Check how you appear online; you might be open to attack without you knowing it. Google your name, phone, and address.
  8. Don’t be afraid to leave it to the pros. If necessary, have a computer professional sanitize your smartphone and gadgets.
  9. BE especially careful of email – 83% report being stalked by email and 65% through instant messaging.
  10. Ensure that your Wi-Fi is safe and impregnable.

We can’t help but be connected these days. But do remember that Alexa, Siri, or Cortana are not your best friends. They could be literally the Trojan horse bringing your cyberstalker nearer to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AI and Beyond: Your Future Job Starts Now (Don’t be Left Behind)

The future scenario for jobs is something that is so vastly different from what we know now – but we can come prepared. There is so much apprehension over AI and robots taking over most jobs; something justifiable in the light of AI assistants that can engage in very human-like conversation and robots that can perform fast and complicated tasks. But that’s not saying that we can’t compete. In fact, quite the opposite is possible – especially if you are in the computer, technological, engineering, mathematical, design and architectural fields. Of the 7.1M jobs that stand to be lost in 2020, will you be one of the casualties?

According to the “Future of Jobs”, a report released by the World Economic Forum, the top three skills are what humans are programmed for: complex problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity. Yes, even in what is foreseen as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” that will see AI, IoT, self-driving vehicles, nanotechnology, renewable energy, quantum computing and biotechnology taking dominating commerce, humans who have adapted to new technology will still earn top dollar.

“As technology disrupts industries, the demand for soft skills — including creativity and emotional intelligence — is growing fast.” – Barbara Palm

While creativity was just in 10th place among the most wanted skills in 2015, its job to the third position speaks volumes about the importance placed on thinking innovatively. Emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility debuted on the list – something surprising for those who think that techie skills are everything. People skills like management, negotiating, coordination, decision-making abilities, and service orientation round-up what can get you employed – or let you keep your job.

Overall, social skills — such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others — will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills, such as programming or equipment operation and control.

Without a doubt, technology is disruptive and will continue to be so at a faster pace. We foresee new markets, AI that think like we do, robots that make life easier and business faster – and computers that will use that information in ways still unfathomable. But behind the wheel, there will be a human with a growth, digital, and creative mindset. In fact, even Tesla’s Elon Musk has turned to humans to meet the demand for even more cars.

In essence, technical skills will need to be supplemented with strong social and collaboration skills.”

Sources:

World Economic Forum

Fast Company

Explore Engineering

Growth Tribe

 

 

 

 

 

Google Duplex: Incredibly Human-like and Smart Enough to Take Your Job

Google is a master conjurer of what’s innovative and in the recent developer’s conference, it showed its mettle with Google Duplex, a new technology that can conduct “natural” conversation over the phone through Google Assistant. It is designed to conduct mundane tasks like setting up appointments and inquiring about prices – something that it did too well causing an uncomfortable stir since it sounded so human. According to the Verge, this personal assistant will now have a built-in disclosure identifying itself as AI before engaging in a conversation with a human. Using WaveNet, an audio-generating technology from DeepMind, Duplex also uses advances in language processing to understand and generate natural speech. In contrast to what we have gotten accustomed to, the conversation is not stilted and it does need adjusting to.

But before we jump the gun on Google and declare that Duplex will grab all Front desk jobs in the future, note that its expertise is limited to small real-world tasks that it needs to be deeply trained on. For now, Duplex can carry on limited talks convincingly but is not suitable for lengthy conversations. Duplex, a fully automated system can initiate calls and receive them in a variety of voices. Incredible as it sounds, the voice you hear is computer generated even if the accent, context, syntax, and pauses are humanlike. The audio files below where an appointment to a hair salon and restaurant are made are from the Google Blog. To hear is to believe:

“Google Duplex: An AI System for Accomplishing Real-World Tasks Over the Phone” — Yaniv Leviathan, Principal Engineer & Yossi Matias, Vice President, Engineering, Google

Longer conversations between someone who is not too familiar with the booking system in the salon or the menu in the restaurant are challenging, if at all feasible. Natural sounding syntax, intonation, and meaningful pauses are extremely difficult if the level of familiarity is low. These are deemed complex conversations and while it may sound “human-like”, the contextual responses or nuances are not up to par.

According to Google Blog, they have yet to fully master interruptions, elaborations, synchs, and pauses but it is relying on advances in Google’s automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology, the recurrent neural network (RNN) and TensorFlow Extended (TFX) to improve “understanding, interacting, timing, and speaking”. Meaningful conversation is a result of a sequence of processes:

  1. The ASR processes incoming sound.
  2. The text that is produced is run against the context and other inputs.
  3. The response text is created.
  4. The TTS (text to speech) system reads the response aloud.

According to Google, this will greatly help businesses because information and the appropriate reply is available 24/7. There will also be “downtime”, something that can be considerable and expensive when training and nesting Frontliners. From the user-end, you can book, search and get information asynchronously, effortlessly, and in the background. How soon can Google’s deep-learning and AI get this mainstreamed and threaten customer service jobs globally? Hopefully, it can make life easier but not smarter than humans.

UberAir: Flying Taxi Takes Off

Don’t get too excited yet about evading city traffic by flying in Uber taxi’s space-age like drones. Though Uber premiered its “flying car’ concept at the recent Elevate conference in L.A., the actual target launch of the aerial taxi service is still in 2023, a good five years from this sneak preview. Looking like an extremely light plane but functioning more like a helicopter, it has four rotors for lift and one at the rear for propulsion. Why so many rotors? It means that should one rotor fail, there are others that can operate and enable a safe landing for the four passengers and driver on board. Uber said that the rotor design where one is on top the other and rotating in the same direction results in quiet and better performance.

Flying at 1,000 – 2,000 feet at a speed of 150-200 miles per hour, it will land on sky ports and other landing sites that can accommodate passengers at the rate of 200 landings and take-offs per hour. Electric-powered with a single charge sufficient for a 60-mile radius, it will be piloted by humans initially. Eventually, Uber sees a future where the aerial taxis can fly on auto-pilot but this would depend on the public’s acceptance of the concept.

Uber’s flying taxi was broached in 2016 but it faces not just design issues but also engineering and regulatory concerns. It’s true that an autonomous, electric air taxi that can conveniently take off and land vertically, land from rooftop-rooftop is a Utopian shuttling goal, but it does face a very uncertain future. However, the mood of Uber’s manufacturing partners, Bell Helicopters, Embraer, and Pipistrel remains upbeat. In fact, way ahead of its competitors, Uber is already in talks with real estate firms to firm up its idea of skyports for its air taxi service. More significantly, Uber has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA for a new traffic control system that will enable Uber’s low-flying to be a commercial possibility.

The idea is not unique to Uber – although it has the upper hand at the moment. Already, Kitty Hawk owned by Google’s Larry Page, and the venerable Airbus and Boeing are testing the waters. It looks like, despite its woes in its Asian operations, Uber may yet rule the urban skies in the future.

Uber unveiled its flying taxi prototype, which looks like a giant drone from CNBC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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