Coronavirus Contact Tracing

So now we are in the middle of this pandemic. In the face of this, Google and Apple has joined forces to supply contact tracing. They will be releasing software to automatically and autonomously log all the people you have been in contact with. It uses Bluetooth to collect (encrypted) codes but it doesn’t know the identity of the person. The codes stay on your phone while you remain anonymous.

Apps can be built on the API they make that can do what needs to be done with the codes but you will have to give permissions. Contact tracing is used to try to keep coronavirus at bay. This will help find those who are positive stay quarantined during their contagious period and find those they have contacted before they were symptomatic.

Having Apple and Google on this, will ensure their respective OS systems can be ready for this. They have only built a way to collect and make alerts. It is up to healthcare/governments to build the app to handle the information.

Car doesn’t have Bluetooth?

If you car is older, you might try to add Bluetooth through an adapter. There are several out there you can look at to see what will work for you. Some require an AUX input and/or USB port. Some even come with USB ports if you don’t have them.

But why add Bluetooth to an older car? You might want to stream music. You may even want to use it for hands-free phone calls. There are a few available that will allow you to stream through your car stereo speakers or you can get a Bluetooth speaker that will cost a bit more.

More about LED Light Bulbs

Last week, the Victor crew discussed light bulbs. This week we will speak more about specialty LED light bulbs.

There are special LED light bulbs you can purchase that you can control through an app. Not only can you control the brightness but you can control the color. These light bulbs are a lot more spendy.

LIFX makes one you purchase for $39.99 each. They are the equivalent to a 60W bulb. With the app you can schedule the times they are on, change the color or brightness, or create your lighting schemes. They integrate with Nest, Amazon Echo and few other smart home devices. This brand started as a Kickstarter project.

Another one is by ilumi. It is a Bluetooth enabled bulb that can be controlled through an app as well. Wi-fi is not required for the bulb itself. This bulb will set you back $59.99. You can choose settings like Daylight, Sunlight, Natural White, Early Morning, Sunrise, Warm White. Change colors and brightness as well. This bulb got its start when the developers won first place that came with $5,000 prize in the annual Business Idea Competition at the University of Texas in Dallas in 2010. The prize money helped fund their company. In 2013 they used Indiegogo and Kickstarter and raised $200,000. In 2014, they went on Shark Tank and their company was further helped by Mark Cuban.

Connectivity on the Go

Jody’s crew came across a new gadget called goTenna. It is a small device that comes in pairs. You pair each goTenna with a smart phone and if you go somewhere that has limited connectivity, you can use this as your own network. The goTenna itself has to be within 20 feet from the smart phone. You can use the free app to send free texts or share a location.

The range depends on the terrain and elevation. Theoretically, you can expect about 3.6 miles. Less in the city more in the desert.

Some practical applications might be camping trips, hiking, shopping, amusement parks – whenever the family might need or want to split up. It is waterproof and dustproof. It’s not very large and has a snap-on holder to hook to your gear.

Right now you can pre-order a pair for $149 for shipping in early 2015. A family pack of 4 goes for $289. Right now these prices are half off the retail price!

The Coolest!

You’ve heard of coolers. You probably even have one or two in your basement or garage. They all look basically same. Plain. Some are hinged. Some have wheels. Coolers have just only done one thing – let you put in ice or ice packs and keep items cold. Not anymore. Jody‘s crew found out that now you can get the Coolest!

Here are some of the features:
It comes in 6 colors
Holds 60 quarts
Has an 18v battery powered rechargeable built-in ice crushing blender
Waterproof Bluetooth speaker
USB charger
LED lid lights
Gear tie-downs
Cooler Divider/Cutting board
Extra wide rolling tires
Integrated storage for your plates and knife
Built-in bottle opener

See it explained in their video.

You can joing the kickstarter for this project here (although it looks like it’s been fully funded and then some!)

Jody Victor

Couple of new products

Need a last minute gift? With, you can take your pictures and turn them into a photo album. Download the app to your iPad. Use the pictures from your camera roll, facebook, or dropbox. Put your album together and pick up your new photo book the same day at any Walgreens or Duane Reade starting at $19.99.

If you’re looking to make your house smarter, look into Zuli Smartplugs. Not quite on the market yet, you can watch their progress on KickStarter. These plug into your outlets and through a smart phone app using low energy bluetooth, you can control your lights and appliances through the app. Zuli’s Smartplugs can detect and trigger customized actions when you walk in or out of a room.

~ Jody Victor