sensor Stories March 10, 2016

emergency

A patent application describes how the Apple Watch and iPhone could work together to detect medical emergencies like a heart attack, and automatically call 911.

While the patent wording doesn’t specifically name either the Apple Watch or iPhone, the meaning of one electronic device cooperating with another one seems pretty clear.

An occurrence of one or more “care events” is detected by an electronic device monitoring environmental data and/or user data from one or more sensors. The electronic device transmits one or more alerts regarding the detected occurrence to at least one other electronic device. In some cases, the electronic device may cooperate with at least one other electronic device in monitoring, detecting, and/or transmitting.

Apple says that the setup could detect a range of emergencies, and take appropriate action depending on the severity – ranging from sending an email to a family member at the low end to calling 911 in the most urgent of cases …

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sensor Stories February 16, 2016

Elgato Eve Energy

Elgato already makes several smart sensors for the home, and today it’s adding the Eve Energy accessory for U.S. customers to its lineup. Eve Energy works similarly to other smart plugs: connect it to the wall socket, then power appliances on and off using your smartphone. Eve Energy also doubles as a power meter, however, and there’s HomeKit support as well …

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sensor Stories December 21, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 14.46.47

The Elgato Avea Flare is an egg-shaped mood light with an iPhone and Watch app available to control the scene and colors displayed. It sits in the corner of a room or garden and discreetly glows. I tested the standalone unit, but you can also buy the Avea Bulb which is the same concept in a different form. The Elgato Eve Room ($78) is an indoor climate detector — it measures air quality, humidity and temperature. This data can then be reviewed through an iPhone app to act upon or using your voice with Siri questions. The Eve sensor (pictures below) is meant to be tucked away and out of sight, on a shelf or wall, silently checking up on your interior air quality.

These two products are from the same manufacturer, but they sit at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of smart home gear; one has a clear functional purpose and the other is a ‘smart’ whimsical decoration. Both integrate with iOS via an iPhone app and both make cool additions to your life. I’ve been using both for a few weeks; read on for my full review of these smart home devices from Elgato …

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sensor Stories September 28, 2015

Camera-plus-iPhone6s-comparison-01

There has been a lot of opinions floating around about the new iPhone 6s camera, its upgraded 12 megapixel sensor, 4K video capability, and the other software side improvements with iOS 9. Our own photographer Ben Lovejoy put the device to the test in his ongoing diary series. But this latest photo gallery from the people behind the Camera+ app gives us a look at how the camera has improved not just over last generation, but also over all other previous generations of iPhones in a side by side comparison. expand full story

sensor Stories August 27, 2015

9to5mac_6s26

One of the marquee upgrades to the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus will be a major revamp to the camera system. For the first time since the iPhone 4S launch in 2011, the iPhone camera’s megapixel count will be upgraded: Apple will be moving from the 8-megapixel sensor on the iPhone 6 to a custom imager billed as 12-megapixels in both of the new iPhones, according to sources. The 12-megapixel camera will mean that the new iPhones will be able to take larger, higher-resolution photos than before. Because of an upgraded image signal processor that comes as part of the new A9 system-on-a-chip, the new sensor will not wash out or otherwise decrease the quality of photos, according to sources.

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sensor Stories April 10, 2015

Dexcom announced today that it’s preparing updates to its two mobile apps that will allow users of its Continuous Glucose Monitor System to track everything straight from Apple Watch. The apps will not only let users view their own glucose information, but also invite others– parents or caregivers for example– to monitor the data from their own Apple Watch. expand full story

sensor Stories January 17, 2015

Kalt turns your iPhone into a precise, non-contact thermometer

Robogaia Industries is using Kickstarter to seek funding for a product called Kalt, an infrared sensor that plugs into an iPhone’s headphone jack and turns the smartphone into a precise, non-contact thermometer. The Cleveland-based company is looking to raise $10,000 over the next three weeks to cover development and manufacturing costs.

The palm-sized Kalt sensor reads the infrared energy that an object omits and converts it into readable temperatures in Fahrenheit, Celsius or Kelvin. Simply point Kalt towards the object and it will automatically show the temperature on the companion app for iOS and Android. The sensor is powered by the device it is plugged into and requires no batteries.

sensor Stories September 24, 2014

touch-id

You may recall that the Touch ID sensor was successfully hacked last year, using a technique where fingerprints were lifted from the phone’s casing followed by sophisticated lab techniques used to create artificial copies of the print to activate the sensor.

The bad news is that the sensor in the iPhone 6 is vulnerable to the same methods – the good news is that security researcher Marc Rogers found the iPhone 6 version to be both more secure and more reliable …  expand full story

sensor Stories July 17, 2014

both

GforGames is citing a Chinese web forum for a rumor that the iPhone 6 camera will get a bump from 8MP to 13MP as Apple switches to to an improved version of the Sony Exmor sensor. The Sony Exmor IMX220 is a larger 1/2.3-inch sensor that can support up to 20MP, but Apple is said to be planning to use it in its 13MP incarnation.

While a Chinese web forum is generally as unreliable a source as you can get, GoforGames claims that this one has a good track-record with Sony-related rumors …  expand full story

sensor Stories June 5, 2014

Withings-Wireless-Blood-Pressure-Monitor

Withings Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor

Apple’s new HealthKit platform and Health app for iOS 8 acts as a central location for users to store and share health data from third-party apps, but Apple is also supporting some Bluetooth accessories natively in the Health app. That means that some accessory manufacturers will be able to skip the process of developing a companion app for their product and instead allow HealthKit to automatically connect to and control the device itself.  expand full story

sensor Stories June 2, 2014

 

Apple just announced during its WWDC keynote that it’s opening up its Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the iPhone to third-party app developers. Apple showed off the personal finance management app Mint (pictured above) using the Touch ID feature to allow users to login instead of using the keyboard to enter a password. Previously Apple limited this feature to its own App Store and iTunes purchases as well as unlocking the device itself.

Apple also shared some stats on Touch ID noting that it has improved security by getting a much higher number of users using a passcode to protect their device: expand full story

sensor Stories May 9, 2014

Apple-EasyPay-iPhone5s-01

Apple is in the process of updating the iPod touch units used by Apple Store employees as a mobile point-of-sale system to the iPhone 5s, according to sources familiar with the roll out. 

Apple first started using its iPod touch as an “EasyPay” system for employees in its retail stores back in 2009 and currently uses 4th gen iPod touch or previous models for staff. It uses a point-of-sale attachment for the iPod touch that adds a magnetic stripe reader, barcode scanning functionality, and more. It’s not clear the exact motivation behind Apple’s move to the iPhone after long using the iPod touch, but the device does provide a few advantages.  expand full story

sensor Stories May 7, 2014

Dropcam adds $29 motion sensors (and teaches its cam to recognize cats)

Dropcam, whose Wi-Fi video security system impressed us when we previously tried it, is now adding separate motion sensors to its product range. Costing just $29 each, Dropcam Tabs are small, weather-resistant devices that can be attached to doors, windows, and valuables. They use Bluetooth LE to connect to your existing Dropcam Pro camera which then sends push alerts when motion is detected, turning it into a much more comprehensive security system.

Dropcam says battery-life is rated for around two years, making Tabs close to fit-and-forget. Tabs can be pre-ordered today, and will be shipped in the summer.

The company has also made the Dropcam Pro suitable for more households by allowing it to recognize and ignore cats. Previously, the system would send push alerts any time it detected any movement, creating lots of false alarms as Tiddles engaged in her hectic schedule of moving from the sofa to the food dish and back.

Detecting pets usually requires 3D sensor systems which can measure the size of moving things, but Dropcam says that it has analyzed many hours of publicly-shared video in order to teach the system to recognize cats using only analysis of the visual data.

sensor Stories February 26, 2014

With Touch ID in the iPhone 5s, Apple wasn’t the first to integrate a fingerprint sensor in a smartphone, but it certainly popularized the feature as other manufacturers race to build similar technology into their next-gen iPhone competitors. HTC is packing in fingerprint sensors in its latest flagship devices and Samsung announced its new Galaxy S5 earlier this week with finger scanning as one of the standout upgrades. The verdict is still out on how Samsung’s tech compares to Touch ID, but it is interesting to see how others are using fingerprint sensors while Apple keeps it closed to developers and offers very limited applications. With Samsung letting app developers access the new S5’s fingerprint scanner for mobile payments and more right out of the gate, should Apple open the fingerprint sensor to devs in iOS 8? expand full story

sensor Stories February 25, 2014

Jealous of S5 heart rate monitor? Your iPhone can already measure your heart rate with these apps

When Samsung unveiled its new flagship Galaxy S5 yesterday, the big news was the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner and heart rate sensor. The fingerprint scanning of course brings it up to par with Apple’s TouchID functionality, the standout feature and big selling point for the iPhone 5s. The heart rate sensor, however, is something not included in the current iPhone lineup and something Samsung will spend a lot of time marketing as fitness and health wearables like its new smartwatch lineup become big business in 2014. But did you know you can already measure your heart rate on iPhone using the device’s built-in camera?

A number of apps on the App Store, such the “Heart Rate Monitor” app just launched by PlusSports, allow you to accurately measure your heart rate by simply placing your face or fingertip in front of the camera lens. Another app available on the App Store that we’ve tested and works well is Instant Heart Rate. Popular fitness app maker Runtastic also has its own heart rate monitor and pulse tracker app.

The experience of using these apps is almost identical to the S5, which also forces the user to place a finger over a sensor on the back of the device and wait several seconds for a reading.

It’s possible Samsung would tell you that its built-in heart rate sensor is more accurate or feature-filled, but from our tests and reviews from others, the iPhone apps are remarkably accurate.

sensor Stories January 23, 2014

Image: techbeat.com

Image: techbeat.com

An intriguing patent application by Apple to deliver mood-based advertising contains what could be read as a strong hint that the rumored iWatch will, as we’ve speculated in the past, major on sensor technology.

In addition to describing ways of assessing mood by such clues as likes in social media, type of applications used and music playing, the patent also lists physical characteristics that could be used:

Mood-associated physical characteristics can include heart rate; blood pressure; adrenaline level; perspiration rate; body temperature; vocal expression, e.g. voice level, voice pattern, voice stress, etc.; movement characteristics; facial expression; etc …  expand full story

sensor Stories November 24, 2013

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXKqIr4cjyo]

Globes reports that Apple has completed its purchase of PrimeSense, the Israel-based firm behind the technology in Microsoft’s Kinect sensor, and Apple confirmed the acquisition to AllThingsD. As noted earlier this year, the deal will cost Apple somewhere between $300-350 million. PrimeSense previously denied any talks with Apple.

On Friday, the acquisition of Israeli gesture recognition company PrimeSense Ltd. by Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) was closed. The deal, which has not been formally announced, was made at a company value of $300-350 million, and follows lengthy negotiations by PrimeSense with several potential buyers.

The sensor firm is no longer working with Microsoft, as the Xbox manufacturer has moved to all in-house work for its latest Kinect-based technology. With Apple reportedly working on a gesture-controlled 3D interface, possibly for some sort of television-related product (or a media hub to rival the Xbox One, perhaps?), the PrimeSense purchase makes perfect sense.

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sensor Stories October 4, 2013

3D motion sensor promises instant sports analysis on your iPhone

You’ve long been able to get wireless sports sensors that transmit data to your iPhone: heart-rate, cadence and so on. Zepp Labs has now taken the concept one step further with a small, lightweight sensor that captures data on your baseball, golf or tennis swing, providing an instant analysis and data-logging.

The 17g 6g sensor, which attaches to a glove, contains 2 accelerometers, a gyroscope and compass. The rechargeable battery allows five hours of continuous use. The Zepp Multi-Sport Training System is expected to be available next month for $150.

Sensors definitely appear to be the new black. The iPhone 5s features the M7 chip, which captures sensor data while the main A7 chip takes a nap, and the long-awaited iWatch is widely expected to major on sensors, Apple recently hiring a key Nike Fuel Band designer to work on wearable products.

The M7 chip could do all this right now, but you’d have to duct-tape it to your glove … It’s our bet that the iWatch will offer the same functionality, it’s just a question of how long we might have to wait for that.

sensor Stories September 19, 2013

Even cats can unlock the iPhone 5s with the TouchID sensor [video]

Amusing little tidbit from TechCrunch:

I tested a colleague’s hypothesis that you could register the identifying skin segments of your favorite furry friends for Touch ID, too.

The cat’s paw worked, and while it encountered more frequent failures than did a fingerprint, it was able to unlock the phone again repeatedly when positioned correctly on the sensor. Note that no other paw pads would unlock the device, and that cats essentially have unique “fingerprints” just like people, so this doesn’t make the Touch ID sensor any less secure.

I wonder if a rabbit’s foot would work?

sensor Stories September 16, 2013

iphone-5s-smalliPhone 5s schematic, click to enlarge. 5c below

Apple has updated it guidelines (PDF) for case manufacturers to include specific requirements and schematics for the iPhone 5s and 5c. As expected, the 5s schematics are similar to the iPhone 5 since the outer shell is largely unchanged.

The 5c design is more distinct from the 5, because while the internal layout is nearly identical, the exterior plastic casing is very different. See below for the 5c’s schematics.

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sensor Stories September 11, 2013

touchid

Via the Wall Street Journal, an Apple spokesperson fleshes out some of the finer details surrounding the fingerprint sensor and Touch ID.  To use Touch ID, it is mandatory to also set up a passcode. This acts as a fallback in case the fingerprint sensor fails temporarily or experiences a permanent hardware fault. iOS may necessitate a passcode under some other conditions, as well.

Only that passcode (not a finger) can unlock the phone if the phone is rebooted or hasn’t been unlocked for 48 hours. This feature is meant to block hackers from stalling for time as they try to find a way to circumvent the fingerprint scanner.

By having the sensitive data expire fairly quickly, Apple is hoping that hackers will not have enough time to decrypt the data and have it still be useful. However, the time is long enough that it should not inconvenience users very often.

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sensor Stories September 8, 2013

lordofthering_12-640x480

We haven’t seen any LEDs behind the fingerprint-reading home button in parts leaks but that hasn’t stopped Martin Hajek from mocking up a ‘Lord of the Rings’ version (Gallery below) of the iPhone 5S based on the recent packaging leaksexpand full story

sensor Stories August 19, 2013

Gold iPhone image created by <a href="http://www.shoplemonde.de">Shop Le Monde</a>

As Apple’s September 10th event iPhone event approaches, we’ve learned some additional details and have independently heard some of the already-floating around information regarding the upcoming announcements.

We’ve long been expecting Apple to launch an iPhone 5S at this upcoming event, an iPhone that looks almost identical to the iPhone 5 but with improved internals. For past iPhone “S” upgrades, like the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4S, Apple has retained the same design and colors as the previous models. Black and white units in both of those cases. shoplemonde But, we’ve heard, 2013 will be a bit different. Color will be a differentiator. Much like the much-rumored plastic iPhone will see Apple expand its color palette for iPhones, the iPhone 5S will move beyond the black/slate and white/silver options offered for the iPhone 5…

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sensor Stories August 10, 2013

Authentec-sapphire-iPhone-fingerprint

We’ve previously noted KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo for his often accurate reports on upcoming Apple products in the past. Usually those reports revolve around features that have been somewhat expected. We’ve expected a fingerprint scanner for quite some time and even found code that seems to point to a biometric input for the new iPhone. We’ve also profiled possible fingerprint readers in the iPhone 5S just last week.

Today’s report is something a bit out of left field however. Kuo expects the iPhone 5S to have a sapphire fingerprint reader home button that will no longer be plastic and concave but actually protrude slightly from the iPhone in a convex manner. This isn’t the first we’ve heard of Sapphire home buttons but the first reputable source on the matter. Kuo

Convex home button creates space for fingerprint sensor; yield to improve. We think that a fingerprint sensor will be placed under the home button of iPhone 5S. However, assembling it could be difficult as the space under home button is limited as it already has to accommodate the Lightning connector, speaker and microphone. Thus, we think the shape of the home button could be changed from concave to convex to create more space for a fingerprint sensor.

Sapphire prevents home button from being scratched. A convex home button could be more easily scratched, so a harder material is required. We believe Apple will switch from plastic to sapphire, whose hardness is second only to diamond. Sapphire would protect the home button from being scratched and the fingerprint sensor from being damaged.

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