Bluetooth LE Stories February 18, 2016

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Use your iPhone to control any AA-powered device with this simple $10 adapter

HomeKit-certified devices are the slickest way to control your technology, but if you have any dumb technology powered by AA batteries, you can now remotely switch it on and off using your iPhone.

The Tethercell AA Smart Battery Adapter is a really simple idea. Replace one of the device’s AA batteries with this adapter, which takes a smaller AAA battery, and you can then switch it on and off from an app on your iPhone.

It’s Bluetooth LE rather than Wi-Fi, so range will be limited (the company claims 50-60 feet), but if the device is close enough, it’s a cheap and easy way to add remote control functionality. It’s compatible with all iPhones from the 4S onward.

The adapter costs $20 for two from Amazon.

Via BGR

Bluetooth LE Stories July 22, 2015

If you were wondering why manufacturers seemed to be rather slow in launching HomeKit-compatible devices, it may all be down to Apple’s stringent security requirements. Forbes reports that manufacturers are finding it hard to incorporate the extremely secure encryption standards demanded by Apple in order to achieve MFi certification for their products.

Apple is requiring device makers using both WiFi and Bluetooth LE to use complicated encryption with 3072-bit keys, as well as the super secure Curve25519, which is an elliptic curve used for digital signatures and exchanging encrypted keys.

While mains-powered WiFi kit is coping, the processing workload in battery-powered Bluetooth LE devices is leading to extremely slow response times, say manufacturers …  expand full story

Chrome 44 for iOS brings beacon-powered Physical Web closer to reality, new gestures

The Physical Web is an open source web specification from Google released last year with the aim to make interacting with smart devices in the real world as easy as clicking a link, just as we do on the web. Now with the company having released its Eddystone beacon technology and APIs for making this communication between devices in the same proximity easier, it’s integrating Physical Web directly into Chrome for iOS.

The latest version of Chrome for iOS, version 44 available now in the App Store, brings Physical Web content to the “Today” view. The Today view, for those who don’t know, is a section within the iOS Notification Center panel, accessed by dragging down from the top of the screen, which contains quick glance information that you may want to access often, such as weather information, calendar events, etc. But developers can also make their own widgets for this section which could include this same sort of quick glance information pulled from their own apps, as well as action buttons to perform quick tasks – like checking into a location on Swarm, for example.

What this means for Physical Web is better visibility and increased potential for adoption. While beacons have yet to heavily saturate the world, they face a chicken and egg problem: without a way for end-users to actually receive information from devices they pass by in the physical world, developers and manufacturers don’t have the same kind of incentive to design, manufacturer, and sell, and invest in beacons, and vice-versa. Physical Web, though, takes advantage of Eddystone-URL, a language that Google’s Eddystone beacon technology can send information to end-user devices in. Now that the company has a full end-to-end beacon solution – the beacon software that device manufacturers can use in their beacon hardware, as well as deeper integration into end-user devices – it will be possible for web developers to get more native-like proximity functionality out of their apps.

In addition to support for Physical Web, today’s Chrome for iOS update also adds new swipe gestures for making navigation throughout the app easier. The app is available now in the App Store.

Bluetooth LE Stories July 14, 2015

Google announces a Bluetooth beacon platform to compete with Apple’s iBeacons

Google today announced a new beacon technology called Eddystone along with APIs that together it hopes will make it easier for Android and iOS-powered devices and beacons in close proximity to communicate with one another. Unlike iBeacon, Apple’s take on the Bluetooth-based protocol, Eddystone is open source and designed to be easily extendable, compatible with any device which supports the use of beacons. A new API announced alongside Eddystone, compatible with iOS and Android devices and available to Android developers today (iOS support forthcoming), uses inaudible sound emitted from device speakers and heard from other devices using their microphones to determine when other smartphones and tablets are nearby so data can be transmitted between them.

To learn more, read the full post over at 9to5Google.

Bluetooth LE Stories April 26, 2015

Two of the hottest product categories at this year’s CES were home automation and wearables, which Apple is now tackling with HomeKit and the Apple Watch. As has historically been the case, the price premiums Apple has set for its products have left plenty of room for more affordable alternatives. Misfit, a company co-founded by former Apple CEO John Sculley, is now competing in both categories: the just-released Bolt Wireless LED Smart Light Bulb ($50) joins a small collection of Bluetooth-controlled lights, while its late 2014 wearable fitness and sleep tracker Flash ($33-$50) is in the process of being upgraded to control Bolt.

Misfit’s pitch for Bolt is interesting. It’s billing the color-shifting bulb as producing “gallery-quality light,” and focusing its new Misfit Home app for iOS on creating “Lightscapes” — lighting scenarios including neutral bright white, warm sunrises and sunsets, candlelight, forest and volcanic tones, amongst other “scenes” where the color is set but the brightness is adjustable. When Bolt works, it’s a wonderful source of light, but as is common these days, some post-release tweaks will be needed to exploit its full potential…

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The best 4K & 5K displays for Mac

Bluetooth LE Stories March 23, 2015

Two years ago, the Tile Bluetooth tracking device raised over $2.6 million in a crowdfunding campaign, thanks in part to an expansive ad run that seemed to blanket the entire Internet. Elegantly designed with a square plastic housing, Tile paired a low-energy Bluetooth chip with a battery, letting you track any attached item using a Bluetooth 4-enabled iPhone. Each Tile can track keys, a purse, or even a roaming pet for a year before the battery dies, at which point you are supposed to replace it. The first Tiles shipped last year, and can now be had for $20 each versus their standard $25 retail price.

I skipped Tile because I don’t like products that need to be replaced when their batteries die. Over the course of reviewing thousands of Apple accessories, I’ve watched some companies waste vast quantities of plastic, metal, magnets, and packing materials, and I try not to buy things that are designed to be worthless after a short period of time. (Note: Users are encouraged to recycle Tiles by buying discounted replacements and mailing old units back to the company.) So a new Tile competitor called TrackR Bravo ($29) appealed to me. Made partially from anodized aluminum, it’s shaped like a dog tag and designed to be kept rather than tossed away. The core functionality is the same as Tile’s, but Bravo’s battery can be replaced with ease. You can also use Bravo to locate a misplaced iPhone, and optionally sound a separation alarm whenever your iPhone and Bravo get too far away from one another…

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