Posts tagged Gadgets
Make no mistake, hoverboards have been the hot technology of 2015.
Fuelled by Back to the Future fever and celebrity spots with Jamie Foxx, Justin Bieber et al, self-balancing scooters (to give them their proper name) have proven so popular with the public that online auction site eBay reported sales of one every twelve seconds earlier in December.
On Thursday I joined the ITV Good Morning Britain team to talk through the hoverboard phenomenon and the growing safety concerns that have led retailers around the world to stop selling and start refunding.
Negotiating an obstacle course on a hoverboard in windy conditions while answering Ben Shephard’s questions live on national television? No sweat!
There are two powerful safety angles to this story:
First up, hoverboards are heavy, powerful vehicles requiring skill, balance and practice to master. Unlike a Segway – considered the hoverboard’s forebear by many – there are no handlebars here, it’s just a motorised sideways skateboard.
Like the Segway, however, it is illegal to ride hoverboards on public streets and pavements in the UK. When the Crown Prosecution Service issued a statement reinforcing this guidance in October some argued the law (derived from the Highway Act of 1835 in England and Wales) was overbearing and heavy-handed. Then, last week, a 15 year-old lost control and was killed, run over by a London bus after losing balance on a hoverboard.
The other safety angle is the construction of the boards themselves. Leaping aboard the lucrative coat-tails of the hoverboard craze far-east manufacturers have mass produced hoverboards to lower price points with inevitable corner-cutting. Sadly, these short-cuts have been potentially lethal, with basic safety standards and common sense all but ignored. The main flashpoint has been the electronics.
One problem is that lithium-ion batteries used are notoriously unstable unless properly shielded. Major airlines are refusing to carry hoverboards in hold or checked luggage for risk of the batteries catching fire mid-flight. The other problem is that to keep costs low manufacturers are choosing to ship hoverboards with inferior quality poorly-shielded batteries, without thermal cutout circuitry or fuses in their plugs. Outcomes have included spontaneous explosions and fires and have been well-documented in various social media and the mainstream press. National Trading Standards claims to have examined thousands of self-balancing scooters at UK borders since October, with 88% (15,000) assessed to be unsafe and detained.
Eager to avoid a PR horror story major retailers have been quick to ground hoverboards, pulling stock from shelves and issuing health and safety advisories faster than you can say Great Scott. Amazon has been issuing automated refunds to customers and advising to dispose of hoverboards in WEEE approved sites.
October is National Home Security Month, the last week of which is Smart Home Security Week. Writing once again for The Metro newspaper I revealed six app-connected cameras for your connected home that give you piece of mind and, if necessary, help to catch crooks red-handed.
Amongst those I reviewed were flyaway Kickstarter success story Canary, home security heavyweight Piper nv and the innovative app-only Manything, which helps you to put to old smartphones to good use.
September is one of the busiest periods in the technology calendar as manufacturers race to announce and release the consumer products they hope will make their Christmas a happy one.
Not only a great time of year to be working in technology but a great time to be reporting on it too. Over the last few weeks I’ve joined the technology desk at International Business Times UK to report on breaking news from Apple, Samsung, Sony and more.
Alongside announcements of new smartphones, tablets and watches I wrote about topics as diverse as Virtual Reality video and fallen enterprise mobile player Blackberry and its attempts to remain relevant.
However, I want to share a couple of video stories here. First up is my bite-sized take on the major announcements at IFA 2015:
New smartphone announcements by Apple are a highlight for many tech-watchers but, frankly, they do go on a bit. I produced an extremely cut-down version of the Apple press conference revealing everything you need to know in roughly three minutes – saving you about an hour and forty minutes of your life.
Planet of the Apps is back for an all-new season on Ginx TV!
The fourth series of TV’s top mobile tech show kicks off this Tuesday 21st April.
In the first show Adam, Lucy and I look at whether smartphones are killing the games console, and some of the kicking mobile gaming kit currently making waves on Kickstarter.
Later on in the series we’re delving into virtual reality, flying high with drones and getting ahead with extreme sports tech.
Here’s an item from the third show in the series in which we lift the lid on Virtual Reality:
Planet of the Apps hits your screens on Tuesdays at 7pm in the UK on Virgin Media ch 286 and online at www.ginx.tv.
In Technology Corner recently I’ve been exploring everything in science and tech from the rise and fall of Google Glass, smartwatches and the latest in wearables, to alternative fuels, eco-homes and upgrade culture.
During the BBC’s WW1 centenary commemorations in 2014 I presented a special item on technology that has changed the world over the last 100 years.
Here’s a clip of an item I broadcast on the Kevin Fernihough show in March 2015 on the emergence of Virtual and Augmented Reality:
September has been a busy month for television appearances. As well as new seasons of BBC1 Rip Off Britain and Planet of the Apps for Ginx TV, twice I’ve been up bright and early sitting on the ITV Good Morning Britain sofa.
The stories I covered were both Apple-focused but, it’s fair to say, at different ends of the good news spectrum.
The ‘iCloud Celebrity Photo Hack’ (or “The Fappening”, as it has also come to be known) is an altogether different news item, made more difficult because there’s a lot that’s still unknown about how private photos of celebrities came to be leaked in the first place – not least, whether Apple’s iCloud is even culpable.
I’ve uploaded my notes on the iCloud Celeb-gate story (do keep in mind that’s exactly what they are, just notes), and I’ll be sure to update them as regularly as I can while the story develops.
At the Gadget Show Live 2014 I will be hosting the British Invention of the Year event at the Innovation Theatre, an all-new feature for this year showcasing innovation, invention and the entrepreneur.
On Tuesday 8th April – press day at the Gadget Show Live – I’m hosting the awards event where the GSL British Invention of the Year will be announced.
From Wednesday 9th to Sunday 13th of April I’ll then be presenting two different live shows throughout the Gadget Show Live public days:
The British Inventors’ Project celebrates the UK innovation and startup scene. Having an idea is one thing – a very special thing – but having the meat to go to market with it and convince others to buy in to it is quite something else. Welcome to the world of the inventor. Featuring interviews with inventors and demonstrations of products ranging from wholly indispensable to the slightly strange, this show is a celebration of the very best of British invention.
The Future Tech Project is your chance to see the future before it hits the shelves! Live on the Innovation Theatre stage we’ll be getting a glimpse at the technology that will make a difference to the way we live our lives, showcasing everything from affordable 3D food printers to solar-powered racing cars.
The Innovation Theatre, in partnership with Wired, runs from 9th to 13th April 2014 in Hall 6 of the Gadget Show Live at the NEC Birmingham. Click here to find out more and book tickets for the Gadget Show Live.
Nikki Dean is familiar to many as host of Strictly Come Dancing for BBC online or as regular gadget girl on Something for the Weekend.
However, it was in her alter-ego as a Brand Detective that I caught up with her last month at the Gadget Show Live London at Earl’s Court.
The Brand Detective is a leading gadgets and technology blog run by Nikki and her fellow detective Kelly Allen.
Keep up with The Brand Detectives’ latest antics over at www.thebranddetective.com.