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Top 15 tech toys to buy this holiday #roundup

(TECH NEWS) There’s nothing like the impending doom of the holiday gift-giving season to keep us up to date on all the coolest new tech.



tech toys gift wrap mother's day

Checkin’ it twice

There’s nothing like the impending doom of the gift-giving season to keep us up to date on all the coolest new tech. From home security to virtual reality and learning robots, this Christmas will certainly not be lacking in cool new gadgets. Give your family and friends tech gifts from our round up that will change their lives, or just buy yourself something fabulous. Either way, here are the top gadgets this holiday season. We want them all.


Video creation and entertainment

Snap Drone: $895
Snap drone is a foldable, packable, all-in-one video drone that tracks you via GPS and films you doing awesome stuff. Right now, it’s only available for pre-order (will ship early 2017) but it’s worth the wait. No other video drone comes close to this portability and price point.

Polaroid Cube: $70
The Polaroid Cube is a tinier and cuter version of a goPro. This screenless, one-inch cube shoots 1080p video on a wide angle lens, and is outfitted with a magnet so you can attach it to anything metal. Perfect for the photographers in your life!

360 degree 4K camera: $499
Make your own virtual reality videos with this 360 degree camera. Shoots in 4k, comes with a mounting system, and is ready to share your experiences with the world. Great for your favorite VR enthusiasts.

Safety tech gifts

Roav: $300-400
While Roav may not get there in time for Christmas (they’re taking preorders and shipping in the spring of 2017), this new dash top display is worth mentioning. Roav connects with your phone and displays your directions, texts, and phone calls on a transparent screen that attaches to the dash of your car. It’s a great gift even if it won’t arrive until May.

Silver Mother: $499
Silver Mother is a sensor tracking system that helps caretakers make sure their loved ones are staying healthy from afar. Monitor their meals, comings and goings, sleep habits, and medication so both of you can keep your peace of mind.

Ring video doorbell: $200
Ring is the video doorbell that lets you pretend to be home even if you’re not. See and talk to the people on your doorstep from your smartphone, monitor package delivery, and protect your home every time someone rings your doorbell.

Nest Cam: $200 plus $100/year
Give your loved ones the gift of safety this year. Help them keep tabs on their house with Nest Cam, an indoor security camera that can distinguish humans from animals or objects, and let homeowners know when something at home doesn’t look right. With the Talk and Listen button in the app, your loved one can tell burglars to get out of their house (or say hello to Puff Kitty), even if they’re a million miles away.

Home tech

Google Home: $130
Google home is the latest in smart home innovation, cheaper than the Echo, and with more potential. Stream music simultaneously to Chromecast speakers, make shopping lists, turn off lights, and even play trivia! Google home is perfect if you already have Google products and don’t have an Alexa yet.

TP-Link Wifi range extender: $100
Make sure wifi covers every part of your home with this range extender. It expands your wifi network, acts as a port for a wired device, and even helps you find the best place to put it with its signal strength meter. Anyone with wifi range issues or an upstairs TV that needs a hard internet connection would love it.

Alexa-powered Smart bulbs: $19.99-49.99
These smart bulbs are fully integrated with your smartphone and Alexa. Set light timers, change light colors (16 million color options), track energy usage, and turn on and off lights from anywhere using the app or Alexa. These light bulbs can even track natural light throughout the day and turn on when you need it most. Awesome for anyone on your list.

Tech toys

Samsung Gear VR: $60
Powered by Oculus, the Samsung Gear VR works with your galaxy smart phone to provide 360 virtual reality experiences. More high tech than the cardboard, GearVR responds to motion more accurately, and has a touchpad on the side of the head set for more control. Great for the kid on your list (or grown-up kid), Gear VR is this Christmas’s high tech View Master.

Xbox One S 500GB console: $299
Xbox One S will turn any TV into a smart TV with integrated DVD player and video apps. It’s not just for gamers (though the gaming is top notch), it’s for anyone who wants an integrated Blu-ray player, 4K content streaming, and high powered smart TV machine all in the same slim device.

Anki Cozmo: $180
Cozmo is your self-aware robot pet who learns as you play. With an app on your phone you can interact and teach Cozmo new tricks. See what Cozmo sees with streaming video, play games with power cubes, and unlock new tricks in the app. Perfect for the kid on your list who can’t stop talking about a puppy. You both might like this even better.


iWatch: from $269
iWatch series 2 is water resistant to 50 meters and is your fitness band with all the benefits of an iPhone. It’s a step counting, work out coaching, Siri-enabled, heart rate sensing GPS watch with awesome apps and features. It even tells the time. Fitbits just won’t cut it this holiday season.

Lumo Run (smartpants): $100
Give your loved ones the gift that melds with their lifestyle. Lumo Run is a sensor you clip on your running shorts that monitors your running form and gives feedback straight to your smartphone. It can coach you on basic running technique, from bounce to cadence braking and pelvic movements. If someone you know wants to run their first marathon this year, or is picking up a new hobby, this may be the perfect gadget for them.

‘Tis the season

These gadgets are on the cutting edge of technology today, and they’re no match for a pair of socks and an orange. Gift the gift of innovation this holiday season. We know your loved ones will fall in love with anything on our totally-cool-never-fail-innovation-station tech list. We know we would be. (Hint hint!)


C. L. Brenton is a staff writer at The American Genius. She loves writing about all things, she’s even won some contests doing it! For everything C. L. check out her website

Tech News

Introduce AWS Panorama to add machine learning to any camera

(TECH NEWS) Amazon Web Services has announced a new hardware device that will add machine learning to any camera – AWS Panorama.



Security cameras on a gray cement wall that can be outfitted with AWS Panorama to give machine learning.

At its learning conference, AWS re:Invent, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced a new hardware device that will add machine learning to any camera. Named the AWS Panorama Appliance, AWS claims the tool will improve industrial operations and workplace safety.

The device lets you add computer vision (CV) to your existing on-premises internet protocol (IP) cameras, which is the standard type of digital video camera most companies use today. In doing so, cameras that weren’t built to accommodate CV can now be turned into smart cameras that do.

So, how does it work?

You register your AWS Panorama Appliance with AWS Cloud and install it on your network. Automatically, the device will identify camera streams and start interacting with the existing industrial cameras.

How will it help?

According to a press release, “Each AWS Panorama Appliance can run computer vision models on multiple camera streams in parallel, making possible use cases like quality control, part identification, and workplace safety.”

  • Manufacturing Quality Control
    AWS Panorama can automate monitoring and visual inspection tasks. For instance, it can detect defective items in a manufacturing line, and send you an alert in real-time. With this information, you can address and resolve the issue to improve product quality.
  • Reimagined Retail Insights
    Leveraging AWS Panorama’s control vision, you can get insights about the retail environment to improve operations and customer experiences. For example, the appliance can count customers and calculate the length of queues.
  • Workplace Safety and Social Distance Monitoring
    It can monitor site activity to ensure operating compliance is always in place, and notify you about any potentially unsafe situations. For instance, if a forklift is outside a designated area. You can take preemptive steps to remove it so it won’t come in contact with pedestrians.
  • Supply Chain Efficiency
    AWS Panorama can track barcodes, labels, or completed products. By doing this, it can help optimize work operations.

Alongside the AWS Panorama Appliance, AWS unveiled the AWS Panorama Device SDK (Software Development Kit). This software kit enables third-party manufacturers to build their own AWS Panorama-enabled devices.

According to AWS, with Panorama SDK, manufacturers “can build cameras with computer vision models that can process higher quality video with better resolution for spotting issues.” Although the SDK isn’t ready yet, AWS says it will be ready soon.

AWS Panorama Appliance is still in preview in US East (N. Virginia) and US West (Oregon) regions, so it isn’t available everywhere yet. However, you can apply for an AWS Panorama Appliance Developer Kit on their website to start building and testing your computer vision applications.

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Tech News

Create a pandemic-friendly sign-in with this touchless technology

(TECH NEWS) In an era where touchless communication is paramount, Wellcome brings touchless employee and visitor sign-in technology to the workplace.



Logo page for Wellcome, a touchless technology sign-in.

Touchless technology is becoming more and more common these days and for good reasons — health and safety. Due to the COVID pandemic, social distancing is crucial in helping decrease the amount of positive coronavirus cases.

Unfortunately, some work environments require in-person employees, contractors, and visitors. And now, some businesses are even starting to bring more of their workforce back into the office. While we can hopefully assume they all have some safety protocols in place, the front desk interactions haven’t changed much. This makes it difficult to manage and see who’s in and out.

But to fill in that gap, meet Wellcome. Wellcome is a touchless sign-in platform for employees and visitors. According to their website, the app “helps you manage the workplace effectively, making it safe and easy for everyone” who’s in the office.

And the platform does this by implementing the following features in its tool.

Employee Touchless Check-in
By uploading a list of employees to the Admin, employees automatically receive an email with a one-click “Wellcome Pass”. This pass can be added to their Apple or Android digital wallet.

Once at work, employees scan their pass on an iPad at the reception desk. Then, they will see a customizable confirmation screen with the company’s health and safety guidelines messaging. This reminder can help ensure everyone is following the rules and staying safe.

Visitor Touchless Check-in
For visitors without a Wellcome Pass, they can still scan the QR code on the iPad using their device. The QR code will direct them to a customized check-in form where they can select their host and fill out a health questionnaire on their mobile device.

COVID-Safe Visitor Screening
Based on how a visitor answers the health screening questionnaire, it will grant or deny them access to the office. This health COVID screening will help HR managers “protect the office by restricting access to visitors that might be infected.”

Host Notifications
Via email, Slack, and/or SMS, Wellcome will immediately notify the host when they have a visitor and send them the visitor’s contact details. It will also let them know if their visitor was granted or denied access based on the health screening. If a visitor is denied access, the host is instructed to not meet the visitor, but contact them another way.

Contact Tracing
If there is a potential or confirmed COVID-19 case at work, Wellcome makes it easy to identify and notify anyone who may be at risk. To do this, the HR manager just needs to search by a person’s name and date range in the Admin. Search results will pull up anyone that could have come in contact with the infected person.

The Admin will also notify all employees and visitors that need to self-isolate and get tested. If needed, Wellcome also lets you download and submit a tracing report.

Manage Office Capacity
Wellcome tracks workplace capacity and occupancy data to help maintain social distancing. If occupancy reaches the capacity limit, the Admin will be notified to “take steps to reduce occupancy in order to stay within the required limits.”

In the Admin Dashboard, reports are available to view the status of current capacity. It can also predict what the occupancy will be each day so companies can plan ahead.

Book Workdays
Employees have the option to pre-book when they want to come into the office. The app displays how many slots are available for each day, and it can send out a calendar reminder. Through the Admin, HR managers can see who will be coming into the office. This is Wellcome’s other way of making sure capacity limits are always within range.

Also, setting up Wellcome is pretty simple. All you need is an iPad. You install the app on it and leave it at the reception desk for employees and visitors to check-in.

For companies who have employees and visitors in and out of the office. Wellcome does sound appealing, and it looks like they will benefit a great deal from the platform. And, if you’d like to check it out, Wellcome lets you use the app free for 14 days. Afterwards, you can select a plan that works best for you.

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Tech News

Scoring productivity: Is this new Microsoft tool creepy or helpful?

(TECH NEWS) Microsoft launched a new tool that helps monitor user data, but it’s not a work monitoring tool – it’s trying to judge productivity.



Black and white data screens monitoring productivity.

Last month, Microsoft launched their new tool, “Productivity Score”. According to Microsoft, this new tool will help organizations understand how well they are functioning, how technology affects their productivity, and how they can get the most out of their Microsoft 365 purchase.

But to do all of this, the tool will keep track of how each employee is using Microsoft products. For instance, the tool will monitor how often video or screen sharing is enabled during meetings by employees.

It will keep a metric of how employees are communicating. It will show if employees are sending out emails through Outlook, sending out messages through Teams, or posting on Yammer. It will also keep track of which Microsoft tools are being used more and on which platforms.

So, Microsoft’s new tool is a scary work surveillance tool, right? According to Microsoft, it isn’t. In a blog post, Microsoft 365’s corporate Vice President Jared Spataro said, “Productivity Score is not a work monitoring tool. Productivity Score is about discovering new ways of working, providing your people with great collaboration, and technology experiences.”

Spataro says the tool “focuses on actionable insights” so people and teams can use Office 365 tools to be more productive, collaborative, and help make work improvements. And, while this all sounds good, privacy advocates aren’t too thrilled about this.

Microsoft says it is “committed to privacy as a fundamental element of Productivity Score.” To maintain privacy and trust, the tool does aggregate user data over a 28-day period. And, there are controls to anonymize user information, or completely remove it. However, by default individual-level monitoring is always on, and only admins can make any of these changes. Employees can’t do anything about securing their privacy.

So, user data privacy is still a large issue on the table, but privacy advocates can breathe a sigh of relief. Yesterday, they got a response from Microsoft they can smile about. In another blog post, Spataro responded to the controversy. “No one in the organization will be able to use Productivity Score to access data about how an individual user is using apps and services in Microsoft 365,” he said.

Although Productivity Score will still aggregate data over a 28-day period, it will not do so from an individual employee level. It will do it from an organizational one as a whole. Also, the company is making it clearer that the tool is a “measure of organizational adoption of technology—and not individual user behavior.”

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