Walking into any technology store these days to find out what products are available on home automation and how to get the most from your smart devices can sometimes be a challenge. Only a few years back, you would need to be a tech genius and in the know with certain apps such as IFTTT (if this, then that), to pull a virtual assistant kit together to talk to one another.
However in 2018, experienced staff at Leading Edge Computers can give you the best advice on which companies are leading the charge on home automation AI and which of the designed products can assist in making your hectic home life super smart and organised.
There are many new and upcoming brands in the smart home arena, such as Apple, Google, Nest and Amazon, who all make it much easier to control and connect to your home technology and
Many of the smart home kits available on the market are universal, meaning there is no iOS versus Android or PC versus Mac, making it much simpler to connect. Most products will say on the packaging “works with…”, so you know what devices are compatible and whether they will work with your current home setup.
Whether you’re starting your home automation from scratch, or you’re switching from one brand to another, our quick guide informs you of the biggest and best smart home products.
Alexa is Amazon’s cloud-based voice service, which allows you to instantly play music, control your smart home, as well as receive the latest information such as the weather, all by the control of your voice. There are two types of Alexa devices, smart speakers and devices with Alexa built in, as well as devices that are compatible with Alexa. The device uses Skills, an app allowing you to use various apps within it such as TuneIn to listen to the radio, and News apps so you can hear the news headlines.
HomeKit is an Apple software that is embedded into the iOS system, so that instead of having numerous smart home apps on your smartphone that don’t sync with one another, HomeKit allows you to bring them all together. There are two elements within the HomeKit. Your iOS device will show an element of HomeKit called Apple Home.
Apple Home interacts with your HomeKit devices in three ways; ‘Home’ which lists all your smart home devices, ‘Room’, which groups your devices in various locations around your house, and ‘Automation’, which allows you to automate your smart home behaviours. All of these automation can be grouped together into ‘Scenes’, such as ‘Away’, turning your lights off when you are not home.
Google Assistant is a virtual assistant developed by Google and primarily available on your mobile and smart home devices. You can ask your Google Assistant various questions by saying “Ok Google”, or touching and holding the Home button. It will complete various tasks just by talking to it.
You can also set up a ‘My Day’ program alerting you about the latest news, weather, traffic and calendar updates that the Assistant reads out when you ask. The Google Assistant is also a control hub for your smart home devices. It is easy to set up, and you can do tasks such as turning gadgets on and off, as well as changing settings and set up routines.
Other Home Automations available in Australia include the Amazon Echo & Echo Dot, Wink Hub 2, Nest, Logitech Harmony Elite, Vera Smarter Home Control, Fibaro Home Intelligence, plus
many more. Some are aimed at total beginners being able to be set up that afternoon, and some are more complex requiring the services of an electrician.
Speak to the knowledgeable staff at Leading Edge Computers for all your Home Automation needs.
Crypto currencies have grown significantly within the last year. They have been making a great impact worldwide as alternative forms of currency. In January 2018, the price had increased over 500% in 12 months – a never seen before phenomenon. Bitcoin is not bound by any specific government regulations, it is an extremely volatile currency, and the most minor change can fluctuate its prices enormously.
The first ever cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was released in 2009 by an anonymous creator named Satoshi Nakamoto. It was the first digital currency to provide a decentralised electronic cash system without a central authority or server. This has enabled a cheaper and simpler method of spending money internationally because it bypasses traditional third parties such as banks and governments. Owners are all anonymous, with buyers and sellers identified by encryption keys.
Bitcoin is comprised of decentralised peer-to-peer networks where all users have a record of all transactions simultaneously. These are documented in the Blockchain technology, which is similar to a traditional public ledger. Records of transactions are secured by cryptography which lock them within blocks. Those blocks are subsequently linked together to form a chain of blocks, hence the title of Blockchain.
Bitcoin owners access the currency, saved in their Bitcoin wallet, through a confidential key to its address on the blockchain. The record of transactions on the blockchain are unchangeable and cannot be counterfeited as they are duplicated on every computer on the network. This prevents the digital coin from being transacted with twice.
Bitcoins are finite, as its creator capped their available amount to 21 million, so its value will increase over time. This has produced an increase in ‘mining’ of Bitcoin, which is the process of computers deciphering difficult maths puzzles to validate the bitcoins used in a transaction.
There is considerable competition between thousands of ‘miners’ to be the first to solve the puzzle, with the winner currently being awarded 12.5 bitcoins. This role is essential for the crypto-currency network as mining verifies a transaction, to form a part of the blockchain.
Initially, mining for Bitcoin was small-scale but has majorly grown in complexity with the establishment of large ‘Bitcoin mining centres’, now forming the majority of the network. In particular, bitcoin mining has become so popular in Iceland that officials have warned that if projected future centres were to be established, it would use more electricity than the country’s current power usage for all its houses. An added effect of this mining boom has been to drastically drive up the prices of graphics cards and GPUs.
“The record of transactions on the blockchain are unchangeable and cannot be counterfeited as they are duplicated on every computer on the network”
The past year has seen immense volatility within the Bitcoin market. Combined with fluctuating transaction fees and times, concerns have been raised over its long-term viability. Despite such
issues, Bitcoin remains the dominant cryptocurrency within the market. Other popular competitors gaining traction include Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple and Monero, with many new forms of digital money constantly being launched.
Such proliferation demonstrates that cryptocurrencies will continue to grow in popularity as their technologies are refined.
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arduous task of navigating the complexities of
understanding new technologies and devices.
Our SIMPLE buying guide of devices, allows you to
understand what technology or device best fi ts your day to day requirements and lifestyle.
The experienced staff at Leading Edge Computers store are well equipped to assist you in
selecting the right computer or device for you. It couldn’t be more SIMPLE.
Typically are broken into two categories, primary grades and secondary grades. Most primary grade students will require relatively basic devices with entry level processors such as Celeron and Pentium processors as the applications used by the student do not require much processing power.
They will typically have 2 or 4 GB of RAM memory and around 500 GB of HDD storage capacity, many of the newer devices designed for students in this category will have a “FLIP” screen that can rotate 360 degrees on its hinges allowing the device/ computer to convert into a tablet.
These types of devices will typically have a touch screen allowing the user to operate the device without a keyboard in a more intuitive manner much the same as a touch phone. Operating Systems “OS” on these devices are usually Windows or Apple MAC based.
Designed to be used fi rst and foremost whilst connected to the internet, Chromebooks run on Google’s Chrome OS, are optimised for Google’s apps and documents in the cloud, boast an extended and battery life and are perfect for students as the OS and applications cannot be accidently lost or deleted due to being on the cloud.
Other considerations for devices used by students are: Wi-Fi, while nearly all devices nowadays have Wi-Fi, it is important to note that devices used in schools are required to be equipped with dual band or as commonly referred to as AC Wi-Fi.
Chromebooks are also becoming more popular in the corporate environment for their ability to save information and applications directly to the cloud therefore minimising the potential loss of information.
Devices for business users place an emphasis on portability, durability, security and connectivity and to a lesser degree style. They are usually lighter, thinner, and more durable devices as they are mostly used in a portable capacity and usually have hard drive encryption technology as well as “biometric” fi ngerprint technology to protect against unauthorised use.
Business notebooks also come with a business “PRO” operating system that allow for advanced networking in corporate network environments.
2 IN 1 LAPTOP
Also commonly known as convertibles or detachable devices, the 2 in 1 can transform from a laptop into a touchscreen tablet. Detaching the keyboard on these devices allows for use in confined spaces such aeroplanes perfect for the regular traveller.
There are also 360 degree hinged computers which allows the screen to flip around to convert into a tablet. These devices are smaller, thinner and lightweight with an extended battery life.
Designed for people on the move, who need a light device without sacrificing performance. These devices are extremely lightweight with many weighing less than 1kg.
Sizes range from 7 to 12.5 inches, they’re mobile, thin, light and touchscreen. With a combination of power and portability, they deliver in terms of efficiency
having a fast start up, being lightweight and easy to tuck away in your backpack or handbag. The display uses gestures with either finger or a pen stylus to replace
the keyboard and mouse.
HOME & GENERAL USE
This user group has access to pretty much all platforms, notebooks, All In One’s “AIO”, desktop, tablets, and detachable or 2 in1 devices.
The type of product selected is only limited by budget, space in some instances and performance requirements. Typically portability is not a big factor in the decision making process for people wanting a computer/device for home use as some of these types of computers and devices simply are not portable.
Performance, multimedia, screen quality and size as well as storage capacity are important factors for consideration. These users will want to run many applications for personal use, running households accessing the internet, entertainment.
In some instances these users will run several applications at the same time so processor performance, RAM and HDD “hard drive” storage capacity are important considerations.
Additionally styling for some of these devices is important to many, particularly in the All In One “AIO” category as they are seen as a furniture piece and need to be well styled. Depending on your requirements and applications any screen size from 10 inch to 32 inch and even larger are available.
LARGE SCREEN NOTEBOOKS
Large Screen notebooks are designed for people that want to replace their conventional desktop with something that is just as powerful, but significantly more space efficient and portable.
These notebooks have larger screens, 15.6 to 17.3 inch. These larger laptops have all the functionality of a desktop including large hard drives, high multimedia performance and gaming capabilities along with excellent processing power.
They are essentially a full featured computer in a laptop package, very popular for the holiday camper or people living in apartments who want or needs full functionality and power but simply don’t have the space.
The technology utilised in these devices allows for weight and size reduction without sacrificing performance.
If you do all of your work in one main or static location, it’s easy to understand the appeal of All-in-One PC’s, also known as AIO’s or all-in-one desktops.
Less or in some instances NO wires create a cleaner look making them very popular at reception and front of house applications due to the neat and clean look with excellent styling appeal.
Are also quick and easy to install because of the design of the AIO unit.
Gaming computers are designed for playing performance demanding video games. Due to the integration of common hardware components onto the motherboard the modern gaming computer is comparable to mainstream computers but with the addition of a performance-oriented video card.
Gaming computers are often associated with enthusiast computing and are built to achieve performance for actual gameplay.
Gaming PCs can be subdivided into low-end, mid-range, and high-end markets: with varying degrees of performance dictating cost. Because of the large variety of parts that can go into a
computer built to play video games, gaming computers are frequently custom-assembled, either by gaming and hardware enthusiasts or by companies that specialise in producing custom gaming machines.
Gaming machines will typically have at least 8GB of RAM with a solid-state drive (SSDs) boosting the speed of the computer, along with a monitor or display with a fast pixel response and a high
While gaming computers are usually related with just gamers on line these computers are more than capable of running all other day to day application easily and are quite often found doubling up as the office workhorse as well.
Despite many other technology disruptions around us, 3D printers technology is branching out further and further… recently we have seen the delivery of low rise homes being designed and built by 3D printers. In fact a home in Moscow was assembled earlier this year in just under 24 hours and constructed for as little as $10,000.
As more and more 3D printed construction jobs come to the drawing board and are developed. Techniques in technology are speeding up the pace of adoption whilst driving prices down.
Research and development has driven one Silicon Valley start-up construction company now based in Dubai to compete in erecting far superior and taller structures than ever imagined, culminating in building the first 3D printed skyscraper.
These challenges are being met head on. In fact, targets have been set in the UAE for 25% of their buildings to be 3D printed by 2030. So with Dubai and its other middle eastern cities leading the way for 3D printing, construction tech firm, Cazza. Cazza is about to create a new era and with that, revolutionise the industry. It will be enabling large robotic printers to be installed to not only assemble multifaceted components such as reinforcements, but build these buildings in remote sites and locations.
For the project, the new method developed by the design team is called crane planning. This is where designers use 3D printers at never before seen speeds and print specific parts of the
buildings, with the balance of the construction undertaken through existing means.
(This is a concept product and is not available in store. For further information, contact your local Leading Edge Computers store)
With economies of scale, the theory and focus is to make all of the processes faster and more environmentally friendly. Whilst costs reduce substantially as the project enters mass production phase.
Simply merged with existing cranes, there is no longer a need to prepare the specialised crane construction from the get go. With any additional construction elements for the skyscraper which can’t be 3D printed. Traditional construction methods will still need to be implemented.
No details have been released to media yet on the skyscraper’s height, or how many stories or even when the project will commence, but we definitely will be checking back in to see how the first skyscraper will be constructed in a ground breaking never before and heard of time frame.
* The text of “Could Cazza Build the World’s First 3D Printed Skyscraper in Dubai?” by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Microsoft’s Magic Mirror On The Wall;Does It Really Do It All?
Microsoft’s Magic Mirror is sparking a debate in the tech world as of late. It is a smart mirror that reads your emotions and offers predictive suggestions and move in the right direction or not? On Microsoft’s workbench at the moment is Magic Mirror; a surface that resembles the average mirror. It has built in technology that allows a user to view both their reflection and relevant information like the time, weather and current traffic conditions.
The Magic Mirror’s facial recognition system recognises eight different emotions. This includes anger, happiness and surprise. Microsoft’s Cognitive Services Face API then matches a person’s face to their profile. It allows the mirror to display information relevant to that person’s perceived mood.
“Imagine when you wake up in the morning, you’re able to use the mirror to style your hair, do your makeup. While doing that, you can also view the weather,” Izzat Khair, a member of Microsoft Singapore’s developer experience team explained.
The smart mirror concept is not entirely new. The MYHeart mirror that displayed your vital health statistics, Accenture’s intelligent mirror,analysed your behavioural patterns and could show you what you’d look like in five years’ time.
In 2011, we caught wind of the Cybertecture Mirror. This augmented your reflected image with weather and news. It also checked for messages or social feeds, let you watch a TV program, and gave you information on your health status. It could even act as a personal exercise coach.
The key point seems to be in the personalised customisation of it’s layout. When the mirror scans and recognises your face using Windows Hello technology it will bring up your profile. It will also contain a customised layout of the information you’ve deemed important.
In keeping with the focus on cyber security. The data processed by the Microsoft’s Magic Mirror would be stored on a private cloud. The data would be deleted after seven days.
The Magic Mirror is powered by a Raspberry Pi 3 running a hosted web app on Windows 10 Core. Making it more or less a consumer-level project. As the mirror is still in its demo stage, Microsoft will announce its commercial release date soon.