Tech For Your Pets

Tech For Your Pets

If you’re like me (and all the other pet owners I know), you probably care a lot about taking good care of your furry friends. You feed them well, walk them (or leave them alone, depending on the pet you have), and dote on them.

What’s great is there’s plenty of tech out there ready and waiting to make your pet’s life a little bit nicer. Here are just a few of the cool things you can get for your pets (and for your own peace of mind)!

Petcube Bites Pet Camera

This device is a fun, multipurpose bit of tech that is designed to be fun for pets while also being useful for pet owners. Using the Petcube app, you can watch a stream of the device’s camera, enabling you to check in on your pets while you’re away. It captures moments for you using its motion and sound detector, and you can even “talk” with your pets through its two-way audio. Plus you can brag about your pets by sharing video clips with others.

What makes it different is that it’s a camera and a treat dispenser. Using the Petcube app, you can have the device throw a treat to your pet whenever you want. You can use the sample treats that come with the device, then get some of your own (keeping in mind you’ll want to get a certain size of treat for the dispenser). So while you’re out, you can not only look in on your beloved pets, you can even reward them for good behavior (or just spoil them). You can find this device on Amazon.

ASPCA—Emergency Pet Safety

This app is a very useful way to make sure you and your pets are ready for an emergency. This app from the ASPCA is meant to help pet owners prepare for and recover from major storms. It shows people how to get ready for a storm, even letting you enter your pet’s health information for safekeeping in the app. It can then inform people of what to do to find a missing pet, even letting them design a lost pet flyer they can share. If you live anywhere that is prone to major storms, this app can give you peace of mind.

CleverPet Hub

There’s a lot to consider when caring for a pet. Sometimes people forget how important it is to give their pets proper exercise. The CleverPet Hub is one way to take care of that. It stimulates pets’ minds and gives them exercise. Pets are able to solve puzzles and get food rewards as they finish challenges. You can create a schedule for your pets, as well as track what your pet is up to using the connected app. And since the Hub is designed to be durable and stationary, it can withstand a lot of use (even if you have a very energetic pet). You can find this device on Amazon.

Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor

We like to track our own activity, so it seems only natural we’d like to track our pets’ activity, too. With this tracker, you can keep up with what your pet has been doing. You simply attach it to your pet’s collar and harness, then set it up using your WiFi. You can create a “Place” your pet is meant to be, then receive an alert if your pet leaves that location. You can also see where your pet went over the course of the day. And, of course, it tracks other aspects of their activity, like their level of activity and the amount of rest they’re getting. All of these features make it possible to keep up with your pet’s health even if you’re away from home for a large part of the day. You can find this device on Amazon.

Dog Walk

With this app, you can track your pets while you’re with them. This app lets you keep track of the walks you take with your dogs. It tracks where you are, as well as how far and how long you walked. It shows you your route on a map so you can see where you went. And if you love taking millions of pictures of your pet (I know I do), you can use the built in camera. Also, you can track where and when your dog is relieving itself by adding the information in the app as you walk. This app is available for Android and iOS.

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

Welcome to this week’s Tech Spotlight! Each week, I’m sharing some fun and cool tech-related products you can find on Amazon. This week’s Spotlight features a wireless controller, a smartphone camera kit, and a photo printer. Take a look at what I’ve found this week, then go on over to Amazon to add some new tech to your cart!

Myo Gesture Control Armband

The Myo Gesture Control Armband is a wireless controller that makes it easy to control your tech. While wearing the armband, you can make gestures and motions to perform certain tasks with your devices. The armband works by reading muscle activity and through the use of downloadable apps in Myo’s store (the Myo Market).

Using this armband, you can control many different things. Its product description mentions its use for gaming, as well as for things like controlling presentation slides and even flying your drone. You can also use the Keyboard Mapper to connect the armband to your keyboard. There are more than a hundred apps in the Myo Market, so there’s quite a bit you can play around with.

The Myo armband is designed to be convenient. It won’t weigh your arm down—it’s light (the description says it’s lighter than most watches). The battery is rechargeable and works throughout the day. And it’s compatible with many devices, including those using Windows 7 and up, as well as many Android, Mac, and iOS devices.

The Myo Gesture Control Armband is a convenient way to control your devices from a distance with just the motion of your arm. Head over to Amazon to find out more about what it can do!

Telephoto lens kit, 4 in 1 Cell Phone Camera Lens

This camera photo kit from ARORY offers a way to take photos from your phone in a new, fun way. Though many phone cameras do offer a lot more customization and options on their own, this telephoto lens kit gives smartphone photographers more choices for their shots.

The telephoto lens kit comes with 10 items designed to make photographing with your smartphone easier and a little more engaging. It does, of course, come with several attachable camera lenses. There’s a telephoto lens that offers 12x optical magnification, meaning photos can be zoomed in 12x further without the photos suffering from a loss of quality. There’s also a macro lens for close-up shots, a wide-angle lens for larger shots, and a fisheye lens for curved shots.

These are not the only items that come with this kit. There’s also a mini tripod with an attachable phone holder, so you can place your phone in the holder and take photos without worrying about a shaky hand or take a photo of yourself that’s not a selfie. To make this even easier, there’s also a Bluetooth remote shutter. Using this small device, you can take photos from a distance without having to touch your phone. There are also clips to hold the different lenses in place, and there’s a cleaning cloth to help keep the lenses clear of any dust or specks.

Many current smartphone cameras offer reasonably high-quality images, and many people rely solely on their phones to take pictures. This kit can improve the smartphone photo-taking experience!

Prynt Pocket, Instant Photo Printer for iPhone

The Prynt Pocket is a small, portable photo printer for use with iPhone. While you’re on the go, you can print previously taken photos or take new ones to print right away. All you have to do is place your iPhone in the printer and you’re on your way to printing photos anywhere.

The Prynt Pocket works with many different iPhones, from the iPhone 5 to the iPhone X. It uses ZINK Sticker Paper, which is an ink-free paper with a sticker backing (so you can also stick your photos anywhere). The photos print within 30 seconds, so there’s not a long wait for your photos. Oh, and if you like your tech to be pretty, there are several colors to choose from—graphite and white both look fairly clean and standard, but there’s also lavender and mint green.

The Prynt app also allows you to do some fun things with your photos. For instance, after you take a photo with the Prynt app, you can also record a short video to go with it. Then when others point their Prynt app at the photo, they can watch the matching video! You can also use the app to tweak your photos with things like filters and text.

If you take many photos with your iPhone (and if you have an iPhone, I’m confident you do), the Prynt Pocket will make a nice new addition to your accessories!

Tech Spotlight

Tech Spotlight

It’s time again for our weekly Tech Spotlight! I’m sharing tech that’s fun, interesting, educational, or just cool. Take a look at this week’s finds and then head over to Amazon to add them to your cart!

Makey Makey – An Invention Kit for Everyone

This tech toy lets kids and adults experiment and come up with ideas for new fun inventions. The kit is a small circuit board with alligator clips. Using these alligator clips, you can turn all kinds of different objects into something new.

For instance, the product description mentions a “banana piano” more than once. This invention can be made by using a virtual online piano, Makey Makey, and some bananas. Placing the alligator clips on the bananas turns them into piano keys. This is just one potential fun invention—their description says there are thousands of things to come up with.

Not only can it be silly and fun, it’s also meant to help people learn. The idea for Makey Makey started at MIT. There are lesson plans on Makey Makey’s websites, and the hope is that people will be encouraged to really think and be creative.

If you or your child want to learn and have fun at the same time, check out Makey Makey’s kit, and then get creating!

Navdy – Heads Up Display & GPS Navigation

Navdy provides the services you might have grown used to having in your car, displaying them in a convenient way. The device’s display projects the information you want onto your windshield so you can keep your eyes forward on the road, and it since it’s a transparent display, it doesn’t unnecessarily block a chunk of your vision. Information is displayed in the distance and in full color. It also promises to be visible in bright light, and it dims when it gets dark out.

It also helps you avoid having to turn to pick up or handle your phone. You can use gestures to swipe with Navdy, letting you answer your phone and perform other tasks. And since it can read information out loud to you, you won’t feel tempted to dangerously attempt to read information or messages.

You can do a number of different things with Navdy. Perhaps most important is its navigation service. It uses Google Maps, so if you already use that service, you won’t have to get used to a new one. You can also use Navdy to take calls, listen to and send messages, and play music. Plus you can set up a customized “dashboard” that shows information like how much gas you have left and how fast you’re going.

Whether you use a navigation service every now and again or want to keep up information during a drive, Navdy can work for you. Check it out on Amazon and make driving more convenient!

SZJJX RC Drones, Foldable Remote Control Wifi Quadcopter

This drone from SZJJX has some particularly fun and useful features. The drone can be used for multiple purposes and can be controlled in more than one way.

SZJJX’s drone is convenient because it can be folded when not in use. This means it won’t be particularly bulky if you’re taking it somewhere. It also has two speeds, LED lights, and a wind-resistant design.

What might be the most fun, though, is the HD camera with its wide angle lens. This camera can be used to take photos of cool shots from the air. It can also be used to experience the drone in flight. Your phone can be connected to the drone’s camera, allowing you to watch video from the drone while it’s in the air. You can even use a VR headset while watching the video.

The drone has a number of other interesting little features, like its “gravity sensor” and “altitude” modes. You can also use their app to create a flight plan by drawing where you want the drone to go.

Drones are becoming more and more affordable and accessible, and this drone seems to be a highly-reviewed and fun choice. Take a look at all of its features on Amazon!

Google Clips: A New Kind of Smart Camera

Google Clips: A New Kind of Smart Camera

Many people want to capture the little moments in life, but they’re easy to miss if you’re not watching carefully. Google’s newly announced Google Clips should help take care of that problem in an interesting new way. Google Clips is a new kind of camera that will work unlike any other you have and will catch more of your memorable moments on…well, not on film, but on the device.

Google Clips is a small, square, white device with rounded edges and very limited functions on the device itself. As you might guess from the name, it has a clip on the back that allows it to be attached to other items, but it can also stand on its own. It has a small lens, of course, and a shutter button, but the intention of Google Clips is not to use the shutter button—it’s to let Google Clips learn which moments you might want a photo of.

Google Clips is a smart camera that recognizes and learns when it has an opportunity to take a good moving photo. As time passes, it gets better at knowing when to take a photo; it learns to recognize faces, it can tell when there’s a pet in the frame, and it even notices when there’s photo-worthy lighting. The idea is to set Google Clips somewhere in your home and allow it to take photos that you’ll enjoy seeing later, without someone having to be behind the camera. Clips doesn’t even have to connect to the internet—it connects to your phone. You can look at the photos it’s captured using your phone, and you can decide which ones to keep, which ones to share, and which ones to toss. The phone app can suggest which photos it thinks you’ll want to keep the most, and you can also use it to save specific still photo frames from a moving photo. It’s also smart in other ways, like being able to tell when the shot is blocked, and Google says it will have up to 3 hours of photo-taking in each full charge of the battery.

The idea of Google Clips is an interesting one, and, of course, it’s easy to imagine the pros and cons of such a device. One reason for using Google Clips is that it is a hands-free way to get photos—no one has to stand behind a camera. It also provides candid shots instead of photos of people with stilted or forced expressions. It could capture important moments that a family member misses, allowing that person to get a chance to see it. And hey, since it can recognize pets, it might even be possible to get some shots of what your dog gets up to while you’re at work. But there are certainly some reasons you might not want Google Clips, as well. For one thing, it might feel invasive to have a device randomly taking photos of you. If you’re doing anything that you might not want a photo taken of, you’ll have to remember to turn it off beforehand. Also, it may make some visitors to your home feel uncomfortable knowing they might be photographed at any moment, particularly if they’re averse to having their picture taken. Also, though Google Clips emphasizes its safety and security, some people might be nervous about having any device watching them throughout the day, security reassurances or not. And, of course, there’s its price: a substantial $249. Of course, for such a new type of product, a price like that isn’t strange, but it does place it outside of the typical family’s price range.

If Google Clips sounds like a device you’d like to add to bring into your smart home, you can join a waitlist now and await the announcement of a release date. While you’re waiting, make sure you look over Google’s detailed and highly informative Google Clips page. I, like many others, am looking forward to seeing this smart camera in action.

iPhone X’s Camera Incorporates Face Tech

iPhone X’s Camera Incorporates Face Tech

There’s been a lot of hype about the upcoming new iPhone X, and with all the hype has come plenty of news tidbits. One major piece of information has been the discussion about Apple’s Face ID technology. Face ID will, among other things, allow iPhone users to unlock their phones simply by using their face. Face ID can recognize a face and use it as a security measure, sort of like unlocking with a fingerprint or a PIN. It will also let you do things like make payments by verifying your face. Face ID is implemented using the iPhone X’s TrueDepth Camera. The TrueDepth Camera incorporates a number of technologies in order to “accurately map and recognize a face,” says Apple. While Face ID sounds exciting, another interesting and fun application of the TrueDepth Camera will be the new iPhone’s Animojis. You heard that right—Animojis.

Using the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X, you will be able to send customized and animated emojis to your friends. Right now, of course, texters are usually limited to the typical pre-chosen emojis. These emojis have a limited range of emotions, to some peoples’ frustration. I myself have often found myself irritated when I couldn’t really find the right emoji to accurately express what I was feeling (because of my ability to send texts with unbelievable typos, I really need an emoji to better display my embarrassment). And considering how often people replace full-blown sentences with simple emojis, having more options could be great fun.

Animojis will allow you to use your TrueDepth Camera to choose from a set of different Animoji styles, like perhaps a panda. You will then be able to make different faces—Apple says there are “over 50 different facial muscle movements”—and display that emotion on your chosen style. You will be able to send these Animojis to your friends as short, looping animations. This should let you feel more like you have properly expressed your true emotion, though of course, you’ll probably be doing so as a unicorn or a fox. Still, Animojis should bring some fun to the world of emojis for owners of the iPhone X.

Face Filters Are Everywhere

Face Filters Are Everywhere

These days more and more platforms are giving its users fun effects for their photos. At this point, three particularly popular social media apps allow us to overlay our faces with silly filters, maybe letting us turn ourselves into cats or football players or doe-eyed woodland creatures. Snapchat is the obvious app of the three, but Instagram and Facebook are in the face filter arena, as well. Each app has its own special face filters, so let’s look at what these three apps have to offer.

Snapchat

Snapchat, the popular photo-based app, is likely the first app you think of when you see a picture of someone with dog ears or a brightly glowing flower crown. Snapchat centers on being able to send your pictures to your friends, add them to a group message, save them to your photo story, and more, all without any real permanence. Photos on Snapchat, unless you remember to save them to your private memories, only last for a brief amount of time before they are gone forever. Here’s what you need to know about their face filters:

  • Snapchat adds and removes face filters regularly
  • Filters are often chosen based on current events and seasons
  • Some face filters can be placed on multiple people within a photo
  • Some filters have sound or music
  • Filters often include full-body animations that place your face in the appropriate location, usually incorporating music
  • Snapchat filters can be recorded as video, and they often have voice changers attached
  • Like other photos you take on Snapchat, you can save them to your Memories and you device

Instagram

Instagram is best known for letting users apply toned and/or textured filters to photos that have already been captured. But earlier this year, Instagram added special features to its in-app camera, allowing us to take pics with silly or cute face filters. Here’s what you can expect from Instagram’ face filters:

  • Instagram adds new face filters often, though not as often as Snapchat
  • Many of Instagram’s face filters are styled like doodles
  • Some filters can be placed on multiple people within a photo
  • Instagram’s face filters can be used while also using their other features, like Boomerang (a looping video) and Rewind (a video played in reverse)
  • After adding a face filtered photo (or any other photo) to your story, you can add linkable hashtags on top

Facebook

Facebook joined in on the face filter fun, as well. After I found out Facebook added face filters, I realized Facebook might just take over my life, considering they seem to be integrating a little bit of everything into their app. Facebook’s in-app camera has several special features, but personally, I find their face filters to be the best reason to open their camera and snap a photo. Here’s what to look for when you’re checking out Facebook’s face filters:

  • Facebook already has a large number of face filters available
  • Many (though not all) of Facebook’s face filters are bulkier than Instagram or Snapchat filters, covering much of the face instead of adding small details
  • Facebook features several pop culture filters (like the current Game of Thrones and Justice League filters)
  • Some of Facebook’s face filters include sound
  • Some filters include a voice changer
  • Video can be recorded while using Facebook’s face filters

The Verdict

All three apps are pretty similar. They all allow video recording while using face filters, they all have quite a few face filter options, they all offer some sounds, and even some of their filters look alike. But each app has its own feel and special features. Snapchat offers new filters so regularly that it would be difficult to become bored with their offerings. Instagram has options like Boomerang available. And Facebook has cool branded filters (one of which can make you look like a white walker). Try them all out and see what you think—then you might decide which you like best, or you might do what I’ve done and just use all three.