gadgets Stories January 5, 2015

The gadget for the person who has everything: the breath quality sensor

We know that health gadgets and apps are the new black, but you have to wonder whether things might be getting just a little out of hand when the latest one to appear on crowdfunding site Indiegogo is essentially a hi-tech way to determine whether your breath smells …

Ok, the Breathometer Mint is a little more than that, measuring your hydration level too, and the company behind it is keen to point out that the breath analysis can be an early pointer to risks to your teeth as well as your social standing.

Breath analysis specialists Breathometer says the device measures Hydrogen Sulfide, Methyl Mercapthan and Hydrogen Disulfide levels in parts per billion to determine whether you may have dental problems.

“Changes or trends in your breath quality can tell you a lot about whether your oral hygiene program is adequate, or if you need to do more,” says Charles Michael Yim, CEO of Breathometer. “Over time, low breath quality can be a signal that you need to visit your dentist or physician about other possible causes.”

Using the device couldn’t be simpler: place it in your mouth, wait a few seconds for it to analyse a sample of your breath and view the results on the accompanying iPhone app.

Intended to retail at $99, early birds can pre-order for $89, but note that delivery isn’t expected until August.

It’s not the first dental-related gadget we’ve seen – it’s almost a year to the day since the Kolibree connected toothbrush was announced (though we note that one is still ‘coming soon’).

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gadgets Stories December 3, 2014

Choosing holiday gifts for the techies in your life isn’t always easy, so we’ve put together a series of gift guides to give you plenty of ideas. These include category guides, like making musicsmart home and in-car, as well as across personal recommendations from the rest of the 9to5Mac team – with more to follow.

For my personal guide, I’ve opted for a mix of the fun and the functional – ranging from action cams and drones to backup drives. Mix-and-match to the personalities of your lucky gift recipients as appropriate …  expand full story

gadgets Stories August 6, 2014

Any tea drinker will know the experience. You wander into the kitchen to put the kettle on to make tea, wander back to the living-room or office and half an hour later realize you forgot all about it. So the second time you stand there waiting impatiently for it to boil. This is the problem the iKettle sets out to solve.

That, at least, is my excuse. The reality, of course, is that it’s a kettle with wifi – how could anyone reasonably expect me to resist … ?  expand full story

The best 4K & 5K displays for Mac

gadgets Stories January 7, 2014

There are some technologies that happened way earlier than they had any right to. Frankly, putting a man on the moon in the days when the Apollo Guidance Computer really did have less power than a pocket calculator was an insane achievement.

And then there are those technologies that have taken way, way longer than they should have done – with home automation heading the list. The main reason it was such a slow-burn was the lack of a standard interface (X.10 never really established itself in the home).

2014, however, looks set to be the year in which all that changes, with the iPhone the new standard interface. Steve Jobs once said that the Mac was the hub at the center of our digital lives; this year, it looks like the iPhone is taking over the crown …

expand full story

gadgets Stories November 30, 2013

Review: LifeTrak Zone C410, the all-inclusive fitness band with automatic sleep tracking

Back in August, I posted my review of the LifeTrak Move C300. In short, I couldn’t get enough of the Bluetooth-enabled fitness band with a long-lasting coin battery set to live for over a year.

The Move C300 is the best fitness band I’ve used, through and through. For me, having the information always available on my wrist and on my phone is extremely powerful. Rather than having to guess at how many steps you’ve taken or syncing just to find out, just looking at your wrist to find out real-time then syncing later to see aggregate information just feels like the right solution.

Now, Salutron (the company behind the LifeTrak brand) has released the Zone C410, which includes not only all of the great movement tracking and heart monitoring, but also automatic sleep tracking. I’ve had the pleasure of testing out this device for about a month now, and despite my best efforts to fool the “automatic” tracking, it is the best technology available in the industry.

The sleep tracking is “monitored based on motion and arm posture.” I’ve had the Jawbone Up and Fitbit Flex, but having to tell the band when I’m going to sleep has always been impossible for me. I tend to fall asleep on the couch or looking around on my phone while in bed. In addition, I’ve fallen asleep folded up in a regular chair. Yet, the Zone was right there tracking the sleep and even measuring the quality of the sleep.

While the band is water-proof, I tend to take it off when I shower so it doesn’t keep the moisture around my wrist. I have found that sometimes it will go into sleeping mode when I put it on the counter for a shower, but the added amount of “sleep” is negligible when comparing sleep data.

Just like the Move C300, the on-device screen can display charts of calorie, step, and distance data. In addition, you can see your sleep quality for the past 24 hours and the amount of sleep you’ve gotten per night (or total per day, for those who take naps throughout the day) for the whole week.

When it comes to size, the LifeTrak bands are definitely larger than their competitors. However, the on-screen display makes it easy to know how you’re doing without taking out your phone. In addition, the battery doesn’t require you to take off the band and charge every couple of days. The size of the band doesn’t affect my typing and, honestly, I feel naked whenever I take off the band. It’s extremely comfortable and doesn’t weigh you down.

The LifeTrak Zone C410 is available on Amazon for just $99.

gadgets Stories October 9, 2013

The perfect gift for British gadgeteers: the iKettle

We Brits are famous for the copious amounts of tea we drink (as well as for the fact that we drink it with milk, a habit which puzzles us as much as it does the rest of the world). But who has time to stand around your kitchen, waiting for the kettle to boil? A problem neatly solved by the iKettle.

Simply use your iPhone to switch the kettle on from wherever you are in the house, and it will alert you when it’s boiling. Wander through to the kitchen, and you can be drinking tea within seconds. Loose-leaf Earl Grey, naturally.

The app also offers to put the kettle on as soon as your iPhone comes within wifi range when you’re arriving home. All terribly civilised.

Ok, it’s $160/£99, and only available on pre-order for delivery in 1-2 months, but if I didn’t already use a Wemo plug to switch on my kettle from my home-office, I’d be seriously tempted …

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