The Kohler Stillness bath – smart relaxation

A smart home is great for convenience, allowing users to set routines to deal with mundane tasks, think switching on and off lights and even controlling your coffee machine and now your bathroom.

Kohler is working towards creating the ultimate smart home from the bathroom to the kitchen. The Stillness bath is one of those products that is perfect for unwinding after a hard day. It combines water, steam, lighting, and aroma into a relaxing journey for any mood.

The bath will fill to the level you set it at, at the perfect temperature you like and even when it drains all thanks to the PrefectFill technology’s built-in voice assistant and you will always sink in to a soothing bath.

The PerfectFill technology will be sold as a wall-mount or deck-mount spout, or freestanding bath filler to fit a variety of bathroom designs and also includes a valve, drain, and controller.


Mercedes unveils MBUX Hyperscreen

Ahead of the launch of the EQS electric saloon, Mercedes has unveiled the MBUX Hyperscreen – a massive 55-inch screen that will sit the full length of the dashboard.

“The MBUX Hyperscreen is both the brain and nervous system of the car”, says Sajjad Khan, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG and CTO. “The MBUX Hyperscreen continually gets to know the customer better and delivers a tailored, personalised infotainment and operating offering before the occupant even has to click or scroll anywhere.”

The Hyperscreen isn’t one screen but several displays which appear to blend seamlessly, resulting in an impressive, curved screen band. Analogue air vents are integrated into this large digital surface to connect the digital and physical world. The screens in the central and passenger displays are OLED to provide a brilliant images when a passenger is in the car. If not, the passenger screen can be used a decorative element.

There are a total of 12 actuators beneath the touchscreen for haptic feedback during operation. If the finger touches certain points there, they trigger a tangible vibration in the cover plate. The Hyperscreen is also fitted with 8 CPU cores, 24-gigabyte RAM and 46.4 GB per second RAM memory bandwidth are some of the MBUX technical specifications.

To avoid drivers spending time looking at screens rather than the road, Mercedes has implemented what it calls zero layer, the user does not have to scroll through submenus or give voice commands. The most important applications are always offered in a situational and contextual way at the top level in view. In this way, numerous operating steps are taken away from the EQS driver.

As well as zero layer, Mercedes is implementing artificial intelligence where it will learn a user’s habits over time and can then suggest them on the drive – like the hot stone massage when it is cold, or if you call a friend every Tuesday.

Huawei Mate 40 Pro – The best phone you shouldn’t buy

Huawei, the smartphone manufacturer that has unfortunately been added to Trump’s USA ban keep pulling out all the stops to show that their phones are technically advanced than everything else on the market and now they have released their latest model – the new Huawei Mate 40 Pro 5G.

Fitted with a 6.76-inch OLED 90Hz refresh rate edge to edge display, the screen seems like it wraps all the way around the frame. In fact, it curves so much that the buttons for the lock screen and volume have been moved further back too. It has two selfie cameras, a 13MP wide angle selfie camera and a 3D depth sensing camera used for 3D Face Unlock and also has an optical in-display fingerprint sensor for additional security options, especially as this is the year of the facemask.

At the back of the phone, the user is treated to an array of cameras in what Huawei calls a Space Ring formation as an homage to balance and symmetry. There is a 50MP ultravision wide angle camera, a 20MP ultra wide camera and a 12MP Telephoto camera.

The new phone is powered by the Kirin 5nm 9000 chipset, a first in a smartphone with 5G connectivity, meaning it is FAST. It is IP68 dust and water resistant and if you can’t put it down long enough to charge, the 4400mAh battery can be charged via 66W ultrafast wired charging or 50W wireless charging. The screen also has a new feature that makes always-on display look dated. This is ‘eyes on display’ meaning it will light up and show notifications when you look at it.

Gaming or watching films has got that much better with true stereo speakers, a downward facing speaker at the bottom and another speaker at the top which is separate from the earpiece.

However, there is one major caveat that needs to be added in whenever talking about Huawei phones outside of China – there are no Google applications – meaning no Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Uber or anything that uses a Google component in the app. As much as it is one of the best phones on the market, it isn’t one that can be recommended. But if that doesn’t phase you, the Mate 40 Pro will be available in Black or Mystic Silver with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for £1,099.99.

MUST HAVE: Bullet 02 – World’s smallest torch

The Bullet 02 is touted as the world’s smallest LED torch, created by Slughaus, a start-up in San Francisco. This is their second take on the Bullet torch correcting the shortfalls found in the original concept.

13af5e0bb8101863bed6d10bdb64eb80_originalThe Bullet 02 is the world’s smallest LED torch, waterproof and practically indestructible based on a .40 Smith and Wesson round. It is a pretty simple design with an 180-degree spring-locked rotation to turn the LED on producing 20 lumens powered by three button batteries and that’s about it. Constructed from space grade aluminium and weighing in at 5 grammes Slughaus is keen to prove that it is indestructible. During testing, it was run over by an SUV.

The Bullet 02 is in its final stages of funding on Kickstarter and $10 will get you one round (a single torch) in either Matte Black or Matte Brass. Check out the funding page here


Driverless cars – Who will be to blame?

The Luddites were an interesting bunch. Rioting and protesting in fear of machines taking their jobs in the textile industry which in the end, required the army to suppress. But what the Luddites dreaded eventually came true and technology today is replacing workers around the globe. Now, the automotive network is in a similar situation. On the back of reading a thread on PistonHeads, I’d like to discuss more when, than, if autonomous cars are going to form part of the driving network.

On enthusiast motoring sites, focus is on the driver’s car, occasionally snubbing lower-end models for those where engineers are allowed to show off their prowess. But, even these cars are susceptible to smidgens of new technology, take the Porsche 911 (991) GT3 RS as an example. The first of its kind to ditch the manual gearbox in favour of a 7-speed PDK. In turn, everyday cars are fitted with more and more sensors slowly removing the driver from driving situations, helping to keep the car in lane and keeping a safe distance between it and the lead car in motorway traffic.  I’ll be honest, I am all for these updates as it helps drop insurance premiums due to less incidents.

audi_rs7_autonomous_05Tech showcase
Tesla, Google and Audi have showcased driverless technology over the past few years with the latter proving its autonomous capabilities by letting the RS7 tackle the Hockenheimring and chauffeuring celebrities to the red carpet. Tesla’s autopilot system combines laser cruise control, lane assist and a combination of sensors, radars and cameras to steer you safely to a parking space.

A parade lap on an empty race track is a little different to the school run where children may dart out at any instant. Who is to blame if and when there is an accident? Google’s own test car has had minor incidents at low speeds blaming other drivers over a six-year period racking up over a million miles. There has been one incident involving a bus where the Google car was to blame.

google_car_001Programmed to kill
Before getting behind the wheel, a driver must study endless scenarios and rules. Drivers learn that larger vehicles (buses and lorries) are a lot less likely to give way and drivers in certain makes refrain from using indicators. It all comes with experience. An experienced driver will also manoeuvre a car to avoid hurting a passenger during a crash. But how can you teach that to a driverless car?

Are manufacturers programming cars to minimise the loss of life even it it means sacrificing the driver and passengers? Humans have an innate need to survive so a car that can potentially sacrifice the driver is one that may sway the buying decision. An MIT report states, “people are in favour of cars that sacrifice the occupant to save other lives — as long they don’t have to drive one themselves.”

google_car_002Volvo has joined Google by accepting full liability for accidents of their driverless cars in turn pushing the US government to set up consistent rules across states. In the US, it is illegal to jaywalk making it easier to test autonomous vehicles but here in the UK we aren’t as patient – we bolt across the street expecting the wrath of the angry driver if we leave it a little too late.

Currently, the UK allows for autonomous testing,  ‘providing a test driver is present and takes responsibility for the safe operation of the vehicle; and that the vehicle can be used compatibly with road traffic law.’

Summer 2017 will see the Government reviewing and amending domestic regulations to accommodate driverless tech but driverless lorries are being trialled on the M6 later this year.

When the autonomous car takes over from the driver’s car could it mean the road and highway code as we know it could disappear? And will the ethical thinking of the car play a major part in the buying process? These are questions I can’t answer but I am very intrigued to find out.


Sources: Gov UKTED TalksGoogleAutocarNextweb, Tech CrunchMIT Technology review, BBC News, Spectator

Budnitz Model E

In any major city, push bikes are omnipresent. Mountain bikes, Brompton folding bikes, fixed-gears to full on street racers. Now, an electric bike that looks like any other bike is here. The Budnitz model E is the lightest electric bike ever built with a range of up to 100 miles helping the rider travel assisted up to 15mph.

large_budnitz-bicycles_budnitz-4720-edit_copyThe solid frame is built of titanium or steel uses a twin-tube single arc cantilever that does away with the need for shock absorbers. The frame flexes to absorb shocks from daily use such as gravel, curbs and rough pavement. Don’t expect the damping to be as absorbing as a full on off-roader though.  The bike weighs in at 13 kg with a 250W all-in-one electric hub in the rear wheel. Instead of a traditional chain drive, the Budnitz Model E uses a carbon belt drive which is not only grease-free but apparently impossible to de-rail, quieter and lighter than a normal chain. Not only that but as it all encased in one hub, it is technically maintenance free. The multiple modes and power delivery can be set through the Bluetooth interface. How do you recharge it? Either coast downhill or pedal backwards.

The company is so sure of its product it is guaranteed for 100 years and if you don’t like it after 100 miles of use, you can return it for a full refund. There are three choices of models starting from $3,950 which you can buy from here.


MUST HAVE: LVL -a wearable hydration sensor

Wearable tech has exploded since Nike first introduced its Nike+ app that let you keep an eye on calories, steps taken and distance travelled. Now, with the recent announcement of the waterproof Apple watch series 2, the wearable tech game has taken another leap forward but are these gadgets missing one thing?

lvl_001Running, cycling, swimming, whatever the sport dehydration will hinder progress. Step forward LVL, a device thought up by a team who have one foot in the medical industry that alerts you when you need a to drink as well as how many ounces (the company is based in the US) you need to drink to get back to your optimum.

Now, this sensor isn’t a one trick pony. As well as observing how much water is needed it also measures sweat rates, heart rate, sleep patterns, mood and hydration analytics and calories and activity monitors. The sensor is supported by both iOS and Android, with a battery life of four days with a two-hour full charge time. Oh, and it is IP67 water-resistant.

Much like the Apple watch the LVL is not only functional but stylish. With a choice of three straps (silicon, brown and black leather) it is a piece of tech to wear throughout the day no matter the occasion.

It looks very likely that LVL will hit shelves soon as it has been 769% funded with 37 days to go. Prices look to be around the $200 mark but you can get yourself a discount if you fund the project now, click here.