Aldershot News & Mail : 2020-09-09

21 : 21 : 21


21 NEWS & MAIL WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2020 TECH NOW With Justin Connolly Your new favourite band? tech that... A ROUND-UP OF THE LATEST NEWS IN THE DIGITAL WORLD IS FAIRPHONE FAIRER? FAIRPHONE is a unique maker of smartphone­s in that it claims to present a more sustainabl­e offering. The idea is it provides a device made from as much recycled material as possible. But that’s not all – the device also includes six internal ‘modules’ that are upgradable by the user – there’s even a little screwdrive­r supplied in the box for that task. The latest phone is the Fairphone 3+, which offers better front and back cameras and ups the recycled plastic percentage to 40 compared to the Fairphone 3. The 3 is still on sale at £379, while the 3+ costs £425. Both run Android 10 and offer solid battery life. Find out more at Amazon’s new Halo marks its entry into wearable fitness tracking tech I T was only a matter of time before Amazon moved into the wearables market – and that day has come. The online shopping giant has revealed details of its first fitness tracking band – the Amazon Halo Band. And while it lags behind its rivals in this space – particular­ly Apple with its smartwatch offering – Amazon will be hoping the unique features of its tracker (combined, of course with its epic distributi­on capabiliti­es) will see it catch up fast. Halo isn’t just a wearable wrist device – it’s also an app and a service – combined, the three elements come together to produce a fitness focussed system that offers more than the smartwatch makers have managed in the fitness space. While the Apple Watch is many things, Halo just does fitness and wellbeing. The first thing you’ll notice about the Band is that it has no screen – the device you wear on your wrist does nothing else but track your fitness and your mood. It does so using a variety of sensors – there’s an accelerome­ter, a temperatur­e sensor, a heart rate monitor, two microphone­s, an LED indicator light, and a button to turn the microphone­s on or off. And that’s it. No distractio­ns. Most of the heavy-lifting is done by the app on your phone (which will be available for both Android and iOS). The app is where the insights into the data gathered by the Band are managed – some data is sent off via the cloud to be analysed, but Amazon is at pains to point out from the off that there are strong locks against compromisi­ng the user’s privacy… and no wonder given the kind of data that is gathered. Two of Halo’s headline features could potentiall­y be a privacy nightmare for users, so it’s reassuring to see Amazon go to the lengths that it has to explain how they work. The first is a feature that works on your phone to analyse your body itself – it’s called, unsurprisi­ngly, Body, and it works by using your smartphone camera to scan your shape. Yes – you have to stand in front of it (wearing as few tight-fitting clothes as possible) and let it take four pics of your whole body… These pics, Amazon says, are sent off to the cloud for analysis before being deleted everywhere apart from on your phone – only you can ever see them. The analysed images are able to reveal your body fat percentage (with the same accuracy as a doctor, Amazon says). Obviously the idea is that you scan regularly to monitor progress (or the lack thereof ). The other headline feature is called Tone. Throughout your day the Band captures snippets of your voice and analyses them to generate a picture of your mood – it measures the energy and positivity in your voice, which Amazon says can reveal all kinds of insights into your general well-being – from stress levels, to how various conversati­on types affect your mood. You can even record a whole 30 minutes of your audio and IROBOT VACUUMS GET SMARTER THE leading maker of robot vacuum cleaners, iRobot revealed this week that its offerings have just got better. The iRobot Genius system is a new software update that builds on the software’s mapping capabiliti­es – as well as mapping rooms the software will also now recognise items in rooms, so you’ll be able to tell it to “clean up in front of the sofa” or “vacuum under the dining room table”. See for more details. Tall order: The new Amazon Halo has stiff competitio­n from Apple From the top: The app will present useful data on mood, body fat percentage and sleep patterns help you make progress on all fronts. The final fifth pillar to the service is a section called Labs – wellbeing challenges, experiment­s, and workouts devised to help users find the best way to get the service to work for them. Amazon says these are all science-backed, and come not only from its own experts, but also third-parties like WW (WeightWatc­hers), Headspace, and the Mayo Clinic. More Lab sessions from other partners will be added soon. At the moment the device is available only in the US for an initial period of “early access” to customers who apply. But the device is expected to go on general sale both in the US and UK in time for Christmas. Pricing for the UK hasn’t been confirmed, but it’s expected to hit the market for under £100 with the full service offered for a subscripti­on fee of around £3-a-month. The Band and app will still work without subscripti­on, but offer only basic functional­ity without in-depth data analysis. ELON’S HIGH ON THE HOG EXCITEMENT greeted Tesla and SpaceX boss Elon Musk’s announceme­nt that he planned to show off some actual progress from his Neuralink start up. Neuralink is a small research company Musk reckons is working to build brain implants for humans to let them directly link up to machines. Sounds creepy – but the devices could theoretica­lly be used to help people with dementia. In the event he showed up on the demo webcast with a pig called Gertrude, which he said has a brain implant and was suffering no ill effects. The implant was monitoring the pig’s neural activity, which was displayed on a live graph. Setting aside the ethics of using live animals for experiment­s like this, the progress was less than overwhelmi­ng and experts suggested his ambition may take longer to realise than he has suggested... have that analysed, which might be useful if you’re practising a presentati­on. Again, Amazon has privacy in mind with this feature. You create a voice profile which is used to measure the other snippets against, and the analysis here is always done on your phone, with the collected clips deleted immediatel­y after analysis. You can’t even listen to them yourself. And if you are ever in a situation you don’t want to be recorded, you can turn the Band’s mics off altogether. Aside from those two features, you’re looking at fairly standard fitness tracking – it measures your Activity and Sleep patterns, with those, too, being analysed in the app to Elon Musk Two of Halo’s headline features could potentiall­y be a privacy nightmare... so it’s reassuring to see Amazon go to the lengths it has to explain how they work. The Halo band itself has no screen and will rely on its app to analyse the data it will collect PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTE­D BY PRESSREADE­R PressReade­ +1 604 278 4604 . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW

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