Australia tests mail delivery drones


If you needed any further proof that drones can be mail couriers, you just got it. Australia Post has successfully field-tested a drone system that would deliver small packages, particularly time-sensitive goods like medication. It was only a closed test this time around, but the move clears a path for trial deliveries to real customers later in the year — this isn’t just a preview of long-term plans, like you’ve seen with other services.

The initiative should take delivery drones one step closer to legitimacy, but it’ll also underscore the limits of current technology. Australia’s vast size makes it unlikely that drones will provide anything approaching coast-to-coast coverage. They just don’t have the range to deliver to a village hundreds of miles away from the nearest large town, unfortunately. Even if drone service takes off, rural dwellers will likely have to make do with old-school airmail and delivery trucks.

Zepp’s redesigned sport sensor tracks your swing more accurately


For Zepp Labs, a young startup from Los Gatos, California, the goal with its first multi-sport sensor was clear from the beginning: To help baseball, golf and tennis players improve their game. Now, more than two years after the introduction of that product, the second-generation Zepp has arrived. At its core, the new swing-analyzing gadget remains nearly the same, but there are notable developments both on the inside and outside.

Most notably, Zepp redesigned the sensor to be smaller and round, something it needed to do make it fit in baseball bats and and tennis rackets. This is part of the company’s efforts to create an open-source standard for integrated sensors, as we saw in a recent partnership with Old Hickory, one of the biggest manufacturers of wood and aluminum bats. Eventually, Zepp hopes to partner with other companies to build its sensors directly into sports equipment.

Aside from that new shape, the second-generation Zepp is also more accurate, thanks to an additional accelerometer (two total), plus the existing pair of gyroscopes. The battery lasts twice as long too, as the sensor now features low-energy Bluetooth — Zepp claims this translates to about eight hours of use when it’s fully charged. That’s welcomed progress if you plan to take it with you on long practice sessions, or if you just don’t want to worry about plugging it in every time you’re not using it.

Naturally, Zepp made the companion iOS and Android app better as well. You’ll notice a more guided experience than before, whether you’re practicing for baseball or golf. For example, Smart Coach pinpoints specific areas of your game that need work, based on how it evaluates the swings you take with your bat or club. The application transforms that data into a recommended training plan, which gives you a set of swinging drills to better your chances of making solid impact with the ball. If you’re actually improving, you’ll get congratulated upon competing each plan.

And it works as expected. I’m terrible at golf and, after a taking a few swings at a sporting complex in New York City, Zepp’s app was smart enough to know my weaknesses right away. By color-coding my deficiencies, I knew I needed to put extra effort on the length of my backswing and the way I was swinging the club. Not that I wasn’t already aware of my atrocious stance, but it’s helpful to know in real-time what exactly I should be focusing on.

The Zepp 2 arrives in stores today for $150 (£130 in the UK), while the updated app is set to hit the App Store and Google Play momentarily.

The SkyWall 100 is a net-launching anti-drone bazooka


A group of English engineers have developed a new device for downing quadcopters that stray into restricted airspace: the SkyWall 100. This shoulder-mounted net launcher weighs 22 pounds and runs on compressed gas but does reportedly offer a 100-meter range with an 8-second reload time. What’s more, the system uses a “smart scope” that automatically calculates the drone’s distance and vector, informing the operator exactly where to aim. The netting will also deploy a small parachute once it wraps up the UAV — certainly a more gentle alternative to using radio waves or 50mm Bushmasters. There’s no word on price or availability yet, beyond assurances by the group that the first models will be available by the end of the year.

Neato’s robot vacuum is the first with smartwatch control

We’re not sure how useful controlling a robotic vacuum from a smartwatch is, but there’s no debating the bragging rights. Neato has revealed that its $699/£550 Botvat Connected is the first robotic vacuum you can control with an Apple Watch or Android Wear device. As long as you’re connected to the same WiFi network, you can start and stop the cleaning program and receive status notifications from your wrist, without even needing to set down your drink.

As for the Botvat Connected itself, we found it to be a decent option to iRobot’s Roomba 980, another popular smartphone-enabled robot vac. For $200 less, Neato’s model cleans just as well — especially in tight spots — though it gets stuck more easily and needs extra babysitting. When all goes well, however, you should be able to sit by the pool like a boss and monitor its progress with just a flick of the wrist.

Razer reveals the first games for its VR developer kit

Razer and the OSVR alliance have been working on their developer-ready VR headset for a while, but they haven’t said much about what you’ll play on this early hardware. That’s a bit odd for technology that revolves around gaming, don’t you think? Never to fear, though, as the first games have arrived for OSVR’s Hacker Development Kit. They’re mostly what you’d expect for a SteamVR-compatible device: a pair of Valve classics (Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2), a popular spaceflight game (Elite: Dangerous) and a racing title (Live for Speed). About the only outlier is Spermination, a shooter that’s about as odd as its name suggests.

The initial catalog isn’t going to reassure you that your $300 headset purchase was a wise idea. That’s not really the point, though. This is more about getting a feel for what OSVR can do than anything else. The party really starts if and when OSVR hits the mainstream, and SteamVR games are relatively widespread.

Liquid-based watch tech is coming to more devices

If you’re a fan of high-end watches and really want to stand out, one of your slicker options is HYT’s H series. Instead of relying solely on spinning hands to tell the time, it uses a hydro-mechanical system that fills capillaries with fluid. Sounds niche? Well, it won’t be for much longer: HYT and its sister brand Preciflex are receiving $23 million to fund not just more of these liquid-based watches (including at “different,” likely more affordable prices), but to a “new type of fluidic jewelery.” Preciflex has also been using it in the automotive and medical fields, too, so don’t be surprised if you see the microfluidic tech grow there as well.

HYT isn’t saying much more about what the devices will do, but it expects them to be on sale in 3 years and might team up with “strategic players” to get them off the ground. As it stands, the investors include people as powerful as the chairman of Nestle. While their investment may not sound like much on the surface, it could turn a rare luxury into something relatively commonplace.

Raspberry Pi 3 has a 64-bit processor and built-in WiFi


It’s hard to believe, but it’s been four years since the Raspberry Pi Foundation gave the DIY computing scene a huge kick in the right direction with the launch of the Model B. To celebrate the milestone and 8 million units sold, the charity is hosting another Big Birthday Bash, but more importantly, there’s also some new hardware for tinkerers to get their hands on. Introducing the Raspberry Pi 3: the Foundation’s first 64-bit computing board that also comes with WiFi and Bluetooth built in for the same $35/£30 price.

It should come as no surprise that the Pi 3 is an iterative update on the popular Pi 2. According to Raspberry Pi Foundation CEO Eben Upton, it’s been a year in the making. Gone is the 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU, replaced with a quad-core 64-bit 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex A53 chip that is roughly 50 percent faster than its predecessor. “Our primary goal in moving to A53 from A7 was to get a better 32-bit core,” Upton told me. “A53 running in 32-bit mode outperforms A7 at the same clock speed by 20-30 percent.”

Although there’s the same 1GB of RAM, it’s gone from 450MHz to 900MHz. The VideoCore IV graphics keeping things ticking over also sees a slight improvement from 250MHz to 400MHz. Both are housed on a board that retains the same dimensions as the Pi 2. However, the inclusion of integrated Bluetooth 4.1 and 802.11n WiFi will please many, as it’ll reduce the need to scour component sites for cheap USB dongles. If you’re thinking of swapping your old Pi, you may need to upgrade your power source as the Pi 3 requires a 2.5A input.

With cheap 64-bit boards like the Pine A64 starting to emerge, I asked Upton why the Pi 3 doesn’t include additional features like 4K support: “Moving to a new video codec block would have meant sacrificing backward compatibility with previous Raspberry Pi products,” he tells me. “With 8 million units in the field this isn’t a decision we take lightly.”

For this reason, the Raspberry Pi 3 will ship with a 32-bit version of the Noobs operating system. The Foundation isn’t worried about fancy tricks, it’s making sure that homebrewers can add more features to their projects without having to overhaul them first. The Pi 3 is available to buy right now from Element14, RS Components and other usual stockists for $35/£30.


Expect to see plenty more kid-friendly wearables soon


Qualcomm has signed a deal with three lesser-known tech companies to bring its new Snapdragon for wearables chip to a more niche branch of smartwatches. The most interesting outfit to sign on the dotted line is Infomark, which has no interest in making yet another Android Wear device. The business makes the JooN watch phone for kids, and is looking to produce similar gear that’s targeted toward the elderly. Another new partner, Borqs, is similarly investigating “kid watches and elderly watches” for its growing wearables division.

The final entrant on the list is Compal, a firm that produces hardware for companies that you stand a chance of having heard of. The device manufacturer’s list of clients includes Acer, Lenovo and Dell, although it’s too early to suggest that it’ll make wearables for any of them. Then again, Dell doesn’t have a smartwatch of its own, and Lenovo’s Vibe Band doesn’t run Android Wear, so there’s room to speculate, at least. Given that Qualcomm’s chips only launched a few weeks ago, don’t expect devices packing ’em to turn up for another few months. Still, we’re excited to see what companies can do with newer, more flexible tools and how that’ll change wearable technology.

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Building interfaces, to make systems communicate with each other, is a complex yet very rewarding task. Very often a few interfaces can substitute a whole new info system otherwise considered prerequisite to introducing a new service. We provide end-to-end responsibility in integration and business process automation.

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The Wahoo TICKR is a heart rate monitor intended for use with your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet device, or even your GPS watch. In conjunction with your device, it uses Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+ technology to track heart rate, calories burned, time, plus distance and pace information


This product is designed for use on the iPhone 4s and newer, iPad 3rd gen and newer, iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPod 5th gen.


This product is designed for use with Android devices compliant with the Bluetooth 4.0 protocol running version 4.3 or newer & must allow Third Party App Access to the Bluetooth 4.0 (Smart) Radio.

NOTE: Wahoo Fitness has not tested complete compatibility with all Android devices matching this description. Please download the app from the Google Play Store to ensure that it installs on your device before purchasing a product.


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