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Using TomTom GO GPS to #GetHomeFaster

Disclosure: Sponsored post

 

The combination of being a busy mom driving my kids around with visiting clients and going to press events in San Francisco mean that I spend lots of time driving in my car.  When I drive across town with all of the traffic in Silicon Valley it can sometimes take as long as it does to drive to San Francisco (one hour)! With traffic it can be even a much longer commute (2 hours or more). Additional traffic challenges can happen due to holiday traffic, like the rush to head to the beach, parks or vacation areas this weekend for July 4th. The map apps on my phone don’t always work and at times have caused me major traffic issues. When TomTom (innovators in navigation technology) contacted me to about the new TomTom GO 500 Portable Vehicle GPS, I was excited to not only give it a try but also learn more from their press information.

 

TomTom GO Portable GPS #GetHomeFaster

 

First I set out to learn more about the TomTom GO Portable GPS Device from the press documentation:

 

TomTom GO Portable Vehicle GPS has been redesigned with real time TomTom Traffic, alternate routes pinpoint exactly where delays start and end so you know fastest route, 3D Maps that show building, Speak & Go to control device with your voice, and landmarks and interactive maps that allow you to zoom in and out to explore the map with your fingertips. TomTom has one of the world’s largest databases, covering 99.9% of the roads, with real-time traffic intelligence with the most up-to-date, accurate information on traffic anytime, anywhere so you can truly get to your destination faster. Routes can be planned ahead with the new MyDrive technology to be ready to hit the road as soon as she gets in the car. The TomTom Go is the only navigation device which allows you to start navigating in two taps and has “Jam Ahead” warning for traffic incidents”.

 

 

TomTom GO 500 Portable Vehicle GPS

Photo Credit: TomTom

 

 

Then I wanted to learn how it works:

 

“TomTom Traffic crowd-sources real time data from over 150 million vehicles and devices in the US. Their process combines community probe data with many other trusted sources to create accurate traffic data.  This data can pinpoint where delays start and end, how long delays will last and how fast traffic is moving.  TomTom chooses the fastest route through traffic because it knows the traffic conditions on all roads. Every pixel of the screen is utilized to provide rich map that distinguishes between primary, secondary and tertiary roads.  Every icon on the map is interactive

 

The TomTom GO 500 has GPS receiver chips that looks for satellites in the air. Once it finds 4 satellites it triangulates the location. The TomTom comes with preloaded maps that has details such as speed limits etc and Route IQ that incorporates historical data.  If you are driving in an area that does not have cellular service, TomTom can still give you directions because it uses satellite information and the downloaded maps that are updated 4 times a year. All of the GO products include lifetime map updates. The downloaded maps, combined with the real time map updates from the TomTom MyDrive app, provide fully accurate traffic information.  The MyDrive app is available on iOS and Android.

 

The press release also shared what’s new and the features of the TomTom Go 500 (or 600):

 

What’s New:

 

  • Lifetime “real-time” TomTom Traffic (Click here to view TomTom’s live traffic portal)
  • 3D Maps
  • Pinch to Zoom Interactive Map
  • Tap & Go to instantly get a route
  • Quick search to find destinations
  • My Places to see your favorite locations on the map
  • Route Bar for essential traffic and travel information
  • Speak & Go to control device with sound of your voice.

 

 

TomTom GO 500 TomTom GO 500 Portable Vehicle GPS

Photo Credit: TomTom

 

Features:

 

  • 5” (GO 500) or 6” (GO 600) Capacitive Touch Screen
  • Pre-installed with map of US, CAN & MEX
  • Lifetime map updates
  • Free daily map changes from the TomTom map share community
  • Advanced Lane Guidance
  • Spoken Street Names
  • Click & Go Mount
  • IQ Routes
  • Quick GPSfix

 

In the box with either the TomTom GO 500 or 600 is click & go mount, adhesive disk, car charger, USB cable for computer and quick start guide.

 

The screen has a Route Bar on both sides which shows lots of information in one place. The Route Bar shows estimated time of arrival, distance to destination, delay in current route, upcoming speed limits, road work, speed camera alert, traffic on route and speed and distance to next event. The screen also shows parking with “P” icon. When in San Francisco and busy areas, showing parking on the map is essential for finding parking near destinations. There are even notifications about speed limits and when you are going over them.

 

There is a free TomTom GO MyDrive mobile app – connects to smartphone via bluetooth. Note: your smartphone must be compatible, and include a data plan. Extra costs may apply. For more information, visit TomTom.com/Connect.

 

When you first turn on the device it will ask you if you want to set up MyDrive. To do that you plug the TomTom GO it into your computer. MyDrive checks server then downloads maps through Internet to PC and then to device. When you get into your car the first time (before you start driving), just turn on Bluetooth on your smartphone (set to discoverability). Then log into the MyDrive app with the same credentials you use for online.

 

From your computer you can type address on MyDrive and it will send to your device which connects to phone and syncs up to cloud platform. The cloud sync also takes all favorite addresses and backs them up. If you had to reset device you have favorites online.

 

The 500/600 has microphone and voice control (Speak & Go).  You can speak an address (such as “Go Home” and even set your own wakeup word out of the box (Hello Tom Tom, Go home”). Voice commands can also change brightness, settings and wakeup words.

 

The voice prompts provides audio reminders when close to exiting such as “exit in 2 miles, get in right lane”. If you have multiple turns in a row the voice prompt will keep speaking to you “say right” “stay left” – both visually and audio.  Backroads are different – it depends on class on the road.  Another key feature is that you can use your phone and still get voice navigation. If you have a conference call then you won’t need to worry about navigation speaking over the call.

 

TomTom shared information to confirm how much parents drive their kids around: “A 2013 study said that the average mom drives her children around for 1,248 miles per year, or the equivalent of two weeks “.  Saving any time on the road is an important issue!

 

 

***GIVEAWAY****

 

How much time do you spend on the road and what would you do with the time you would have not stuck in traffic? Do you live in the any of the Top Most Congested Areas below? Sadly, I live in the second most congested city area (San Francisco Bay Area)!   Share your thoughts for a chance to win a TomTom GO 500/600. To win, enter below on Rafflecopter. Contest will run from July 1, 3pm PST to July 6, 3pm PST.

*Giveaway is over and winner has been notified.
TOP MOST CONGESTED CITIES

  1. Los Angeles
  2. San Francisco
  3. Honolulu
  4. New York
  5. Seattle
  6. San Jose
  7. Miami
  8. Chicago
  9. Washington, DC
  10. Portland, Washington

Check out TomTom on Facebook and TomTom on Twitter.

 

 

Disclosure: Sponsored post. Products were supplied for review purposes.

 

 

 

Shuddle Rideshare Service For Families (Discount Code!)

Disclosure: Sponsored post. See below for special Shuddle discount code for Techmamas readers!

 

Shuddle

One of the biggest challenges for families is the minute by minute, ever-changing scheduling of driving kids to and from school, after school activities and everything in between. With a mix of minimum days, school holidays, after school activities, homework, sick days, sports and medical appointments, no two days are the same. Assembling a weekly transportation schedule is like putting together one of those 1,000 piece puzzles, and while I’m a master project planner (My Parent Plan), scheduling can be a challenge.

 

I decided several years ago to work out of the home for several reasons, including the flexibility to drive my kids around. Now that my three boys are getting older and I can keep track of their location by calling their phones, I feel the time is right to go back to working outside the home.  As I am planning this transition I realize the biggest challenge is transportation for my tween sons (twins). Several of my friends confirmed that they, too, have the same problem.

 

Shuddle

Photo credit: Shuddle

 

When Shuddle contacted me to work together on a (disclosure) sponsored post, I said, “How did you know that I have been looking into transportation options?”  The fact they contacted me happened to be a coincidence because I had independently planned to try their service. Shuddle is a rideshare service designed specifically to transport busy families with drivers that have caregiver experience. They undergo an extensive verification process (national criminal background checks, motor vehicle records check, employer reference checks,  in-person training and vehicle inspection), plus live monitoring and support for every ride.  I started my transportation hunt by looking into hiring a driver on my own, but the verification process was complicated and some information was hard to find. Shuddle’s verification process is a huge benefit.

 

The steps to start using Shuddle and scheduling a ride are straightforward.  The flexibility of having  until midnight to book a ride for the next day is helpful.  One key requirement is that riders must have a mobile phone in order for drivers to reach them. Even if your kids don’t currently have phones, there are a great selection of budget basic prepaid phones that have the ability to call and text. All of my kids started out with those types of phones anyway. Shuddle currently operates in the San Francisco Bay Area (Marin, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Burlingame, San Jose, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Mountain View).

 

Shuddle Mobile App

Photo credit: Shuddle

 

Shuddle has an iOS and an Android app to enable managing and scheduling rides easily on the go.

 

As much as the transportation features offer great value, I also appreciate the flexible employment opportunities Shuddle is providing to women. Here are some of the interesting facts about  Shuddle:

  • “Shuddle has given thousands of rides and has a community of more than 200 female drivers, 80% of which are mothers themselves.
  • In contrast to other companies garnering praise for having 30% of their workforce composed of women (Lyft), Shuddle’s  community of all women drivers is unprecedented.
  • Shuddle is one of the only companies in which women are at the forefront of the ride sharing economy and is proud to be presenting an economic opportunity for them.
  • To make money with other rideshares, you really need to drive Friday and Saturday nights, and so there are understandably concerns about safety. That isn’t the case with Shuddle and whose value proposition speaks strongly  to women.
  • Shuddle rides can be scheduled by midnight the day before, giving drivers the opportunity to know who they are driving before they get in their car.
  • There are no late-night rides or rides with potentially threatening customers, etc.

 

***********DISCOUNT OFFER TO TECHMAMAS READERS***************************

 

If you would like to try Shuddle, use the code TECHMAMAS to have one free ride up to $20 in value

 

To sign up, CLICK HERE to load either the Shuddle iOS or Android Shuddle app.

 

To learn more about Shuddle (such as passenger requirements, driver screening and the ride experience), visit: http://shuddle.us.

 

 

Disclosure: Sponsored post. My words are my own.

 

 

 

 

Panasonic Booth Tour #CES2015

My favorite Consumer Electronics Show (CES) activity is roaming the showroom floor and seeing all the new technology. This year I was excited to work on a sponsored project for Panasonic and Techlicious.com that included video coverage of the CES 2015 Panasonic Booth. I have been going to CES for years and always find time to tour the Panasonic Booth.  To get ready for CES this year we (my video Director Ben Blecherman and I) decided that we needed a new travel camera to capture pictures and video. I reviewed a selection of great cameras but was really looking for one that had a good price and was available in a bundle with accessories. We chose to buy the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000K 4K QFHD/HD  because it was one of the top rated travel cameras that not only shot great pictures but also up to 4K video. We used that camera to shoot our Panasonic CES 2015 Booth tour video. So here it is!

One of the key technology trends at CES was 4K, which is a resolution level of 3840 x 2160. Having a high resolution means more “pixels” in the display which in turn makes the image appear more clear and crisp then lower resolution displays. Panasonic had many announcements including cameras, home monitoring, kitchen technology, personal grooming, TVs, and stadium screens. But one of the most exciting was the 4K infrastructure they announced at CES this year:

 

 

 

Panasonic 4K Ecosystem CES 2015

Photo Credit: Panasonic

 

 

Other Panasonic CES 2015 announcements included new cameras, home monitoring, kitchen technology, personal grooming, TVs, and stadium screens. Listed below are more details from the Panasonic CES 2015 press releases.

 

4K TV

 

The CX850 series of VIERA Smart TVs offers high quality 4K Ultra HD images with color expressions enriched by a new phosphor technology that expands the range of colors. Incorporating Firefox OS, the TVs also make it easier for users to access quickly the content they want. The CX 850 series features the Xumo Discovery Home Screen for seamless enjoyment of various VOD services.”

 

Panasonic also showed an 8K TV at CES!

 

Panasonic has developed the world’s first* 55-Inch, 8K (7680×4320 pixels) liquid crystal display, realizing the superior reality of 8K in a 55-inch screen, the size versatile for many B2B applications. The display features high contrast ratio of 1500:1, wide viewing-angle of 178 degrees, and high frame rate of 120 Hz, using Panasonic’s unique IPS-Pro technology. The 55-inch display can show four pages of full-sized broadsheet-size newspaper in one screen, convenient for CAD work. The 8K displays are shown in two formats, wall-mounted and table-top.    * As of January 6, 2015

 

 

Blu-ray 

 

Panasonic has developed Blu-ray Disc playback technology that supports the latest technologies such as 4K and High Dynamic Range that are expected to be included in the next-generation Blu-ray Disc standard.”

 

Kitchen Tech  

 

Panasonic announced the debut of its Cyclonic Wave Microwave Oven line at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).   Panasonic’s Cyclonic-Wave technology evenly distributes microwave energy to ensure that foods are perfectly thawed and evenly heated and cooked. Panasonic Cyclonic-Wave Microwave Ovens can be installed as countertop or built-in units and features electrostatic glass touch control panels, 1250 watts of cooking power, multi-stage cooking, 20 programmable sensor cook and reheat options, and a turbo defrost mode.  The SE985S features a 16.5-inch turntable diameter and the SE785S offers a 15-inch diameter.”

 

Panasonic unveiled its 2015 Bread Maker featuring a gluten-free baking mode at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).  The Panasonic Bread Maker is part of Panasonic’s expanded line-up of healthy-lifestyle small home appliances.  Unlike standard bread maker models which offer only one rise mode, the Panasonic Bread Maker offers a short-rise feature which enables users to also bake gluten-free foods using a wide range of recipes.  The bread maker (SD-YR2500) will be available in September via panasonic.com and other retailers.  Pricing and additional availability details will be announced at a later date.

 

Adventure

 

Panasonic introduces adventure products for outdoor activities including 4K wearable cameras and ruggedized compact digital still cameras.  (One Example is) The Panasonic TS6, a rugged water-, dust- and shock-proof compact digital still camera, and water and dust resistant 4K wearable cameras that allow for hands-free shooting of 4K30p video on active scenes.

 

Imaging

 

“Panasonic introduced new styles of photography and video expressions such as the “4K photos” function that enables the user to capture a still photo from a frame of 4K video and “hybrid photography” that combines still images and moving images. LUMIX cameras including the CM1 communication camera, which is a full-fledged digital camera with high-speed mobile communication capability (LTE), as well as new mirrorless single-lens system cameras and compact cameras. Panasonic also announced that it has been named a 2015 CES Innovation Awards Honoree for the LUMIX LX100 Digital Camera. The LX100 is also capable of smooth, high quality video recording not only in Full-HD 1,920 x 1,080 60p but also in 4K (QFHD 4K: 3840×2160, at 30 fps(NTSC) in MP4).  The LX100 is available at www.shop.panasonic.com and valued channel partners. ”

 

Panasonic CES 2015

 

 

Connected Home

 

Panasonic announced a new Home Monitoring System that offers the latest in wireless communication technology and is extremely easy to install. The kits allow you to remotely activate appliances, lights and devices in your home, perform surveillance and monitor your baby or pet. Powerful and compact, the DECT-enabled hub unit connects enabled devices to a secure long range (up to 1000ft.) platform which can be placed in any room or space.  It connects in seconds to your Wi-Fi router with the push of a button enabling you to control the system from your smartphone, tablet and system handset. There is no Ethernet cable necessary; as the hub operates completely on Wi-Fi. There is also no need for a PC to set-up the Wi-Fi connection as you only need a smartphone or the system handset. Unlike other systems, there is no monthly fee as remote monitoring and control is free of charge.  Including The Baby Monitoring Kit (KX-HN6001), DIY Home Surveillance Kit (KX-HN6002) and Home Monitoring and Control Kit (KX-HN6003) The Home Monitoring System is available immediately at Panasonic.com.
Automotive Solutions

 

Panasonic’s latest in-vehicle solutions, included infotainment system SYNC 3 to be delivered to Ford Motor Company and an Internet radio service, AUPEO!.”

 

Green Mobility

 

Panasonic’s green mobility solutions using its 18650 size, cylindrical lithium-ion batteries are showcased here, with vehicles powered by them. (1) Electric vehicle – Tesla Motors’ Model X, an SUV with benefits of a minivan, is on display as an example of the partnership between the two companies.  (2)  Electric scooter – Gogoro’s SmartscooterTM makes a world debut here. The company aims to achieve a smart city transformation with its electric scooters and battery-swapping infrastructure. More information can be found in Gogoro’s press release: http://www.gogoro.com/press/2015-01-05-gogoro-smartscooter-launch/. (3) Electric assist bicycles – Panasonic’s premium electric assist bicycle “Titanium Flat Road EB is on display.”

 

Salon

 

Panasonic also showcased an interactive mirror (prototype) that can check skin conditions, virtual makeup, make-up navigation and provide skin care advice when you simply sit in front of it. Men can try on virtual beards and mustaches that suit on the facial contour. Panasonic’s shaver featured “close-fit tracing head” that gives a smooth feel after shaving; five Japan-made blades that enable fast and deep shaving; and a “skin and beard sensor” that reduces burden on the skin. Panasonic introduced hair dryers equipped with its nano-e technology that allows for smooth passing of fingers through hair by balancing the moisture of the hair. Combined with optimized grip and operability and a quick drying nozzle, the nano-e dryers make it easy and quick to dry hair by untangling wet and clustered hair without the need for the user to shake the dryer.”

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All of my words are my own.

 

 

 

 

TechMamas.com Road Trip: Nissan Leaf Electric Car #EcoTech

Using technology that is resource and environmentally friendly (#ecotech) is important to me and one of the most prominent ecotech products is the electric car. These automobiles are run by a rechargeable battery with no gasoline engine or carbon emission pollution like their gas-powered brothers and sisters.  To learn how these cars work and how I could fit them into my busy life as a mom, I have started to review electric as well as hybrid cars for TechMamas.com.

 

TechMamas.com road trip: Nissan Leaf

 

The first car in my series is the Nissan Leaf.  I was happy to receive a press email offering a Nissan Leaf to evaluate for one week (disclosure). All I can say, is that it was very hard to return the car when the week ended. My minivan was still handy when driving my 3 boys and their friends around, while I enjoyed using the Nissan Leaf for two mini-vacations and trips around town. I most enjoyed going a whole week without filling up a gas tank.  I also learned all about the way the Nissan Leaf works.

 

TECHMAMAS.COM NISSAN LEAF ROAD TRIP VIDEO: Here is a video showing our road trips with the Nissan Leaf. My oldest son and cameraman filmed the footage using two GoPros synced up with the GoPro iphone app to recorded the audio. Here it is:
 


 
DETAILS:
 
2015 NISSAN LEAF®S features and specifications:

 

  • 107 Horsepower
  • 126/101 city/hwy MPGe*
  • 5 Seats / 4 Doors
  • 80 kW AC synchronous electric motor
  • Zero tailpipe emissions
  • Nissan Intelligent Key® with Push Button Start
  • Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System
  • Heated front and rear seats
  • RearView Monitor

 

My Observations:

 

1. Ride: The ride felt comfortable and sturdy, not like smaller cars that feel as though they are going to blow over! We cozily fit all 5 of us (Mom, Dad, Teen and twin 11 year olds) for a one hour road trip to Santa Cruz.

 

Even room for three in the back seat!

 

Nissan Leaf TechMamas.com Road Trip

 

Plus a trunk area that can hold enough for a road trip.

 

Nissan Leaf TechMamas.com Road Trip

 

 

2. Controls: Getting used to the charging controls and routine was the biggest adjustment. All the basic car controls are similar to other cars so there really was not a learning curve. I was able to find the dashboard, steering and general controls I needed and using them was intuitive.

 

Nissan Leaf TechMamas.com Road Trip

 

 

3. Charging: The car’s screen displayed the amount of charge and indicated the remaining miles on the battery, which was very helpful. I was able to drive two long road trips, both around 40-45 miles, on one full charge with a little left over.

 

 

Nissan Leaf TechMamas.com Road Trip

 

 

I did notice that the calculations on mountains adjusted the amount of miles I had left down because the miles are calculated on conditions (i.e. uphill). Once I hit the top of the mountain and was coasting downhill, the vehicle recalculated the remaining mileage upward. Using the regenerative brakes also recharges the battery and increases total miles remaining. In my experience, just plugging the Leaf into a regular house charger for around 4-6 hours charged it up from 75-80%, which was fine for regular use. If I were going on a long trip, I would probably stop by one of the charging stations to make sure the car is either at 100% (the car conveniently lists the closest charging stations on the screen) or I would buy one of the Do-It-Yourself charging stations (AreoVironment is an example of one) to charge the battery more quickly. Along with not needing to buy or use gas, knowing that the Nissan Leaf is zero emissions made me feel I was also doing my part to support the environment.

 

 

Nissan Leaf TechMamas.com Road Trip

 

 

When I was just driving The Nissan Leaf on quick rides around town, the regenerative braking recharged the battery enough to avoid the need to plug in.It was a real treat to know that I did not need to visit a gas station and was not releasing any emissions.

 

I enjoyed driving the Nissan Leaf for a week and it especially made me realize (after NO visits to the gas station) how much gas I use while driving my minivan. Every visit to the gas station makes me want to buy an Electric car even more!

 
Click over to the Nissan Leaf website to find out more information, Facebook: www.facebook.com/thebetterride, @thebetterride and Instagram @thebetterride.

 

 

 

Disclosure: A Nissan Leaf was provided for a one week review. This is a review post.

 

 

 

 

 

Intel Showcase of The Future Preview

*See Disclosures at the bottom of this post.
**GIVEAWAY WAS CLOSED 9/17
 

This summer I went to an Intel Future Showcase Press event in San Francisco to learn about  Intel’s current and new technology. I am always on the lookout to learn about the future and envision what exciting technology will help make my (and my family’s) life more efficient and productive.

 

Intel Edison - Showcase of the Future

Photo credit: Intel press release

 
GIVEAWAY CLOSED!
To celebrate, I am giving away an Intel-powered Dell Venue 8 Pro to a lucky commenter on this post who shares what future technology they are looking forward to using. Here are the details for the giveaway:

1. One Blog Post comment per person. One Blog Post comment is equal to one entry (so only one entry per person)

2. Winners are limited to US residents only 21 years of age or older.

3. If a valid email address is not provided in the entry, another winner will be chosen.

4. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded.

5. Approximate value of prizes may vary.

6. All decisions are final

7. By entering any giveaway on this website you release Techmamas.com from any liability whatsoever, and waive any and all causes of action.

8. Contest starts Sept. 12 and ends Sept 17. Winner will be notified by Sept 20.

 

 

INTEL FUTURE SHOWCASE – PRESS EVENT

 

At Intel Future Showcase, the press was shown some impressive form factors, technology and trends. The press release explained, “Intel is working with the technology industry to accelerate and deliver a smart, seamlessly connected and integrated digital world. Because Moore’s Law enables us to continuously shrink devices , technology is beginning to disappear into the objects and spaces that we interact with on a second nature basis even the fabric of our clothes. One day the need to remember to ‘bring your device’ may seem quaint because intelligent objects will encompass you to suit whatever you need in the moment.”

 

 

 

*Personalization is an important computer trend and this new app takes it a step further with a new 3-D mobile messaging app called Pocket Avatars. Pocket Avatars allows you to choose an avatar and then give it your “facial expressions, head movements and voice, and then maps this data onto a 3D character chosen from a library.” The Pocket Avatar app is available now for download from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

 

Intel Showcase of Future: Apps

 

 

**2 in 1 form factors are a hybrid computer/tablet that can detach, flip or slide. It also has multiple form factors and input including type, touch and stylus to write. The key advantage for the 2 in 1 form factor (highlighted at the showcase with Intel(r) 4th gen core processors) is the flexibility to use the devices for work, entertainment, gaming and more.

 

Intel Showcase of the Future: Devices

Photo credit: Intel press release

 

The whole trend of versatile devices extends from 2 in 1 devices to smartphones. Some of the key features are:
1. Screens that can be detached from the keyboard to become a lightweight tablets. Screens that can be flipped around, switching effortlessly from a traditional notebook into a tablet., Stand-alone tablets come in a range of sizes, including compact 7-inch and 8-inch devices that can be tucked into a handbag.
2. Devices that offer a dual-boot option with both Windows* 8.1 and Android. Intel processors also power mobile phones, including tablet-sized devices running Android. With cellular capability offering up to 32 hours of talk time , these devices also are ultra slim and offer a powerful, full HD display.
3. Intel is at the heart of Chromebooks*, too. Chromebooks are low-cost devices that run Google* Chrome OS and connect via the cloud to your Google services.

 

Mobile Security:


The Intel showcase also highlighted the importance of mobile security by sharing a recent McAfee Mobile Security Report which found that Android malware almost tripled from 2012 to 2013. Here is some information about Intel’s initiative: “As part of Intel’s initiative to make security an integrated part of the consumer experience, a full-featured McAfee solution is free for all Intel-based mobile devices. McAfee’s mobile security suite takes a number of steps to protect your Intel-powered device, including alerts regarding risky Wi-Fi networks you are trying to connect to and the CaptureCam feature that snaps a picture of someone who has made multiple unsuccessful attempts to unlock the device. The suite is integrated with Intel® Device Protection Technology to provide atom-level security extensions. It is high-tech peace of mind designed to protect your phone from today’s threats.”

 

Wearables and Maker Movement:


Two areas I find most interesting are the Wearable tech and Maker (#STEM) movements.  Wearing our tech devices offers a more seamless interaction than using a separate device. The wearable tech movement is just starting to offer more functionality and has a long way to go. The Maker movement is exciting because that it allows the general public to experiment and create their own devices, some of which will propel the wearable movement forward as well.

 

 

Maker Movement: “Both Intel® Galileo and Intel® Edison are designed for tinkerers and makers, taking personalization to the next level by designing creations from their own imaginations. CEO Brian Krzanich first unveiled Intel Galileo at the Maker Faire Rome in October 2013. Intel Galileo is Intel’s family of Arduino-compatible development boards featuring Intel architecture and designed for the maker and education communities. The Intel showcase includes a light installation that is controlled through Intel Galileo.”

 

Intel Showcase of the Future: Maker Movement

Photo credit: Intel press release

 

 

 

Wearables: “One technology that straddles today and tomorrow is wearables, devices that make technology truly personal. Devices can now measure running speed, heartbeat, steps, blood pressure and even gauge the quality of your sleep via wristwatches that act as a companion to – or even replace – your smartphone. Intel’s strategy is to imagine and create reference design devices and platforms ready to be used by customers in the development of wearable products. At the showcase, you will be able to see one example of Intel’s commitment to wearable devices in the form of the Basis Health Tracker, in addition to browsing some of the top entries to the Intel Make It Wearable Challenge. The Challenge celebrates creativity by inviting individuals, teams and organizations to develop ideas for wearable products.”

 

 

Intel Showcase of Future: Wearables

Photo credit: Intel press release

 

 

 

What’s in store for the FUTURE?

 

 

The Intel Technology Showcase highlighted some very interesting future technology. I was first exposed to some of Intel’s future vision back in January at CES, when Intel demonstrated the Mimo Baby Smart Onesie that interacts with devices to let parents know when the baby is sleeping and can also help predict when the child is hungry (and in the future WARM the bottle to prepare)! The Mimo Baby used the Intel Edison system on a chip. As a mom of twins, it just would of been great to have that technology out years ago when the kids were babies!

 

Listed below is the press information provided about some of Intel’s future technology:

 

Llama Mountain: “An Intel concept design fresh from its debut at Computex, Llama Mountain captures the future of 2 in 1 devices while remaining feather light, super sleek and staying cool without a fan. The concept 2 in 1 detaches from its keyboard to function like a tablet, features a 12.5-inch screen and measures just 7.2mm thick. The Intel® Core™ M processor makes the sleek design possible with 14-nanometer Backgrounder transistors, which are smaller than today’s 22-nanometer transistors of 4th generation Intel Core processors.”

 

Wireless Charging:How many times have you had to hunt around for a charger and cable for your device? Families can often find that every plug in the house seems to have sprouted a charger with a mobile or tablet umbilical cord connected to the wall. And what if you have a device that doesn’t use a standard charger? If you’re running out of juice at someone else’s home or office and they don’t have the right connector for you to borrow, you’re in trouble.

Intel’s wireless charging bowl is a concept shown that is an example of how  meant to put an end to the ‘spaghetti junction’ of wires and endless hunt for a charging station. It’s a smart and smart-looking bowl that can charge a number of devices at the same time. Using smart charging coil technology, the wireless bowl is a consumer-friendly product that shows how powering up several different devices can be a no-brainer – even ones that use different connectors. And, as the icing on the cake, the bowl will look equally appealing in a chic corporate environment or in a home.”

 

Intel® RealSense™ Technology:Last year Intel made a foray into perceptual computing, which promises to bid farewell to the old way of interacting with technology: farewell to the mouse and hello to gesture-controlled devices. Since then, the technology has matured by getting smaller and neater. Intel RealSense frees you from clipping a chunky camera onto your monitor. The camera has been made smaller and moved into all-in-one systems and the lids of laptops. At the heart of the system is an integrated 3-D camera and 2-D camera model, which means devices can ‘see’ depth in the same way as humans.

As well as being able to control devices with gestures, Intel RealSense will be able to create 3-D objects on the computer that the user will be able to mold using natural gestures, and ultimately share those objects with others and print them out using 3-D printers. This will bring a whole new level of realism and interactivity to work and play: from gaming to calling grandma, from videoconferencing to designing product. Without the added distraction of bulky 3-D glasses, RealSense is the most natural way to interact with technology – and with distant people.

 

Intel Edison: “Honey, I shrunk the computer! Just when you thought they couldn’t get any smaller, Intel introduced Intel Edison a system-on-a-chip that isn’t much bigger than a stamp. The Intel Edison development board is a product-ready, wirelessly enabled general purpose compute environment. It is designed for inventors, entrepreneurs, consumer product designers and industrial IOT solutions providers that create wearable or small form factor devices to be sold through commercial channels to consumers. Intel Edison is slated for release in summer of this year. “

 

Intel Showcase of the Future: Edison

Photo credit: Intel press release

 

Make Your Own Robot:Meet Jimmy the Robot. Jimmy, who was shown off at the Maker Faire in New York at the end of last year, was created by Intel Futurist Brian David Johnson to demonstrate how anyone will be able to use open-source files to create their own robot and print it out on a 3-D printer.

 

Intel Showcase of the Future: Jimmy The Robot

Photo credit: Intel press release

 

Jimmy himself will soon be available for you to download and print for an affordable price, thanks to Johnson’s sharing of the “Jimmy template” with 10 teams at various universities. Once you’ve printed out and assembled Jimmy, the idea is that you’ll be able to program him and install apps to add to his capabilities in the same, simple way we now install apps on mobile devices.
Jimmy is a glimpse of a future when we will all be able to create and print our own robots – and their possibilities are endless. It’s up to you to come up with innovative applications for Jimmy; the only limit is your imagination.”

 

Future In-Car Experience:While there’s significant talk about self-driving cars, Intel’s vision of cars includes one where you’re still in control of the vehicle – although the car will be an intelligent device. You’ll be able to talk to your car and tell it where to go by talking to it – and the car will detect if you’ve got the kids on board and will automatically fire up their favorite movie to entertain them during the journey.”

 

At the Intel Future Showcase, a demonstration in the automotive space highlights how modern vehicles are now computerized. Many deeply embedded computers are responsible for monitoring and control of vehicle systems, such as telematics, infotainment, connectivity and advanced driver assistance systems. While such features enhance usability and convenience, they also widen the threat landscape significantly, increasing the potential for malicious activity. In the demonstration, there is a lightweight, trusted execution scheme optimized for the vehicle, which will demonstrate how malicious software manipulation can be successfully intercepted.

 

Intel Showcase of the Future: Car

 

 

Smart Solar Controller:Solar power is already ubiquitous, but Intel has envisioned a 500cm solar panel that uses the variable DC current output directly rather than converting the sun’s energy into AC. The aim is to use this device in developing world locations where there is no existing electricity to charge devices, such as the Intel® Classmate PC made for children. 

 

Intel Showcase of the Future: Solar charging devices

 

 

Embedded Security for the Internet of Things: One of the hot trends getting a lot of attention right now is the “Internet of Things,” where connected devices reach out to the cloud, sharing analytics and insights (e.g. data from local sensors) to add to and inform their functionality. Anything from cars to wearable devices and home appliances may be connected, but we have now given hackers a brand new, vulnerable entry point. Intel’s latest security research aims to identify these ports and ensure devices and information remain as safe as possible from cyber threats.”

 

 

This week was the Intel Developer’s Conference (IDF) where more future tech announcements were made: What’s New at IDF14.

 

 

One of the new projects it the connected Intel Connected Wheelchair Project explained in this video with Stephen Hawking:

 

 

 

 

What types of technology are you looking forward to in the future?

 

 

Disclosure: The information was obtained (in Italics) from a press event. This is press post. Products were given in the past for review purposes. All of the words are my own.

 

 

 

Carpool Management Tip: Get Help with Boost by Mercedes-Benz (Giveaway)

Disclosure:  This is a press post. One ride credit was provided to me for review purposes but I also paid for another ride. All of my opinions are my own.

Too busy motherOn TechMamas.com l write about innovative services, apps and websites for parents on TechMamas.com. But just recently as I ramped up my own work,  I realized as a parent with tweens and teens that the main help I needed was driving my kids to and from school/activities after school. I have carpools, but that does not always work because kids go to different activities afterschool. I tried to fit in work during school hours but it seemed like my kids were either always waiting for me to finish something so I could drive them, or waiting to get picked up at times when I was running late from a meeting. Yes, driving my kids around was the one challenge getting in the way of me ramping up my work. So I set off to find a service, website or app that can help me find a solution to my carpool challenges. As would have it, I was lucky enough to see an email from the folks at Boost by Mercedes-Benz on their new innovative transportation service for kids.

 

Boost by Mercedes-Benz

Photo Credit: Boost by Mercedes-Benz

 

Here is the information from Boost by Mercedes-Benz on the story behind their innovative transportation service. The current zip codes covered are in California – Palo Alto (94301, 94302, 94303, 94304, 94305, 94306), Los Altos – 94022, Menlo Park – 94025 and Mountain View – 94043:

 

Story behind Boost By Benz:

Busy schedules and the stress of scheduling for today’s youths seem to be part of the daily family life. Boost by Mercedes-Benz was developed to address that challenge. Boost by Mercedes-Benz (www.boostbybenz.com) is a proof-of-concept business launched by the Business Innovation Team at Mercedes-Benz Research & Development in Sunnyvale. This youth transportation service is designed to transport children safely and reliably to and from the educational and recreational activities that fill their day.

 

 

Knowing how important it is for children to balance school and extracurricular activities, it can be very tough for parents to get their kids from place to place – safely and on time. The goal at Boost is to make parents’ lives easier, while enabling children to participate in more activities. In addition, Boost hopes to minimize the number of vehicles on the road (and in the school driveway) by providing a safe, reliable youth transportation alternative for parents.

One of the goals in Business Innovation is to change the way people think about transportation and with Boost; the team has already seen this shift taking place.

 

 

Technology story behind Boost by Benz:

 

Innovative technology is the backbone of Boost by Mercedes-Benz. We built a seamless system that handles route planning, notifications and updates to allow our Boost Dispatcher, Driver and Concierge to focus on what’s most important, your children.

 

 

We kept a parent’s busy schedule in mind when we built our scheduling and notification system. A simple, three-step process guides you through the one-time, online account setup. Once your family’s info is in our system, simply schedule a ride online by selecting riders, pick-up and drop-off locations, and ideal pick-up and drop-off times. Confirm your child’s ride and you’ll get an email confirmation with the ride reservation details.

 

 

The rest is even easier. We’ve built custom tablet apps for our Boost Team to allow you complete transparency throughout your child’s ride. You’ll be notified via SMS or through our iPhone app 24 hours before the ride notifying you of our arrival time. Then, the day of your child’s ride, we’ll notify you that we’re on our way to pick up your child. When we arrive, we check them in via our technology and you’ll be notified that they’re aboard Boost. If so inclined, you can log in to your account while they’re aboard Boost to get a birds-eye view of their ride. Lastly, we’ll notify you to let you know they’ve safely arrived at their destination.

By blending the ease of technology with the best in transportation, you’ll rest easy knowing your kiddos are safely bound to their next adventure.

 


Overview of Business Innovation:

Business Innovation initiated in 2007 is Daimler’s ‘think tank’ for innovative solutions beyond the core business of car manufacturing. The team deals with future trends and technological, social and cultural developments to create profitable business models. Tested and evaluated on a pilot basis, success stories like car2go and Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy started here as proof- of-concept projects and have subsequently become prosperous businesses. Business Innovation teams are also located at the headquarters in Stuttgart, in Beijing, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Sunnyvale, CA. Business Innovation at Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc. started in 2012.

 

 

Boost by Mercedes-Benz

Photo Credit: Boost by Mercedes-Benz

 

 

Details:

To sign up visit https://boostbybenz.com/. The hours currently are Monday through Friday from 12noon to 7:00pm.  The trips are scheduled online but there is also an Boost by Mercedes-Benz iPhone app and they send texts (I have an Android phone so I used the text option). Pricing will depend on the package you get, but for me it was cheaper then hiring a sitter for their minimum amount of hours per day. Instead I was just paying per ride which worked for my kids schedules.  In the van there is a driver (of course) and a Concierge that is in charge of watching over the kids and walking them to their destination from the car.

 

Boost by Mercedes Benz

Photo Credit: Boost by Mercedes Benz

 

 

Above is one of the press photos of the Concierge that rides with the driver. I used Boost to take my boys to an exercise class. The Concierge greeted me for pickup and then at drop-off walked my boys into the facility and to the class instructor per my instructions. The driver waits with the other kids in the van while the Concierge delivers the child being dropped off. In my experience, both the driver and the Concierge were very friendly and my kids enjoyed using the service (which is the most important thing!).

 

 

Now I just need to figure out my schedule in a way that I can plan the rides in advance.  Boost By Benz usually recommends scheduling rides at least 1-2 weeks prior but some time frames may be open if you need to schedule closer to the date needed. Boost also requires 48 hour cancellation to receive a 100% refund.  They will also be running over the summer! In fact, there is a special promo going on now dedicated to summer booking. Parents can use the discount code “SUMMER15” when they register and checkout on boostbybenz.com to receive 15% off rides (expires on April 30th).

 

 

I am thrilled to know that transportation services like Boost by Benz exist to help busy working parents manage carpooling challenges!

 

GIVEAWAY:

 

Please share your family carpooling challenges in the comments and we will randomly choose one comment to win ONE RIDE CREDIT received when they sign up for Boost by Benz.

 

1. One Blog Post comment per person. One Blog Post comment is equal to one entry (so only one entry per person)  2. Winners are limited by zip codes valid to Boost by Benz stated above and to US residents only 21 years of age or older. 3. If a valid email address is not provided in the entry, another winner will be chosen. 4. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. 5. Approximate value of prizes may vary. 6. All decisions are final 7. By entering any giveaway on this website you release Techmamas.com from any liability whatsoever, and waive any and all causes of action. 7. Contest ends May 6 2014 -10am pst. Winner will be announced by May 7 2014.

 

 

 

Disclosure:  This is a press post. One ride credit was provided to me for review purposes but I also paid for another ride. All of my opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Sponsored: Tips For Teaching Kids Not To Text and Drive

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for a campaign with AT&T.

 

 For today’s teens, texting is their natural and persistent form of communication. I realized just how deeply integrated texting is to my older son’s communication when he went to a friend’s birthday party at age 12. The kid’s mom had pre-arranged a great scavenger hunt in the back yard, the excited boys searched for hidden toys in silence, texting each other as they discovered treasure.
I soon realized that I needed to not only teach my teen texting etiquette and safety rules but also role model appropriate technology use. As my son approaches the age of driving I decided that one of the most important places to demonstrate texting safety is in the car. Especially when recent studies show that 75% of teens say texting and driving is “common” among their friends.  Here are some of my tips for texting safety, please share yours!

1. Create A Routine: I create a routine for what I do with my phone in the car and I share it with my teen. For example, there are some days where I hand my phone to my teen and he places it somewhere out of my reach.. I always say “look where my phone is – out of my reach while driving!”. Or there are some days where I turn on the AT&T Drive Mode and show my teen that I have it set so I can’t text until I turn drive mode off. ”When the app is enabled and the vehicle is moving 25 mph, the app automatically sends a customizable auto-reply message to incoming texts*, letting your friends know you’re behind the wheel and will reply when it’s safe.”

2. Show Them The Dangers of Texting And Driving:  My son not only watches YouTube videos but also films and edit videos. So I decided that another step in his education would be to watch some of the videos from the “It Can Wait” Campaign that show the dangers of texting and driving. Seeing those stories on video really helped him visualize why texting while driving is 100% not acceptable.

3. Simulate The Dangers of Texting and Driving: The “It Can Wait” campaign has a game simulator that allows you to experience the dangers and consequences of texting and driving.  I had my son try the simulator at home and he was surprised because he thought (like many other teens) that he could text while also concentrating on all the various visual cues required to successfully drive.

How do you teach your kids not to text and drive? I am looking for new creative ways to add to my list!

 

Ford’s “Sync” Voice-Activated Calling and MyKey™ Auto Parental Controls

To provide some background for my interest in auto technologies : My husband and I
need to replace our 10 year old wagon with a new car. We are looking at
the Ford Hybrids, other Hybrids and dreaming of buying an electric car.
So this makes me even more interested to learn about the new auto
technologies available to help us in our decision process.

SYNC:

While at CES, I had the chance to have a demo of the Ford and Microsoft partnership created "Sync" that provides voice-activated, hands-free calling. Here is a link over to the Ford website with more details :

"Sync is a voice-activated, hands-free, in-car communications and entertainment system that fully integrates your Bluetooth®-enabled mobile phone and digital music player".

It will be offered on Ford, Lincoln and Mercury cars , but can not be purchased after market:

"Sync will debut in fall 2007* on twelve 2008-model Ford, Lincoln and
Mercury models: Edge, Explorer, Five Hundred, Focus, Freestyle, Fusion,
Milan, MKX, MKZ, Montego, Mountaineer and Sport-Trac. Additional
Sync-equipped vehicles will be rolled out as quickly as possible
.".

The demo at CES was seamless, you get in the car with your cellphone – turn on the car – and Sync takes over all the functionality from your cellphone to provide a voice activated hand free experience. Functionality includes voice dialing from the phone's address book, navigation, weather and finding local businesses like restaurants all from a small screen located on the dashboard. To use Sync, the drive needs to have a cellphone in the car, that acts as the host to the technology. The IEEE Spectrum tech talk blog shared their opinion on some of the challenges, but I think this is a step in the right direction for integration of this type of functionality in cars instead of having to install separate gadgets or attach something like a hand sized GPS (that can be stolen) to a dashboard.

Here is the video demonstration of Ford Sync:

MyKey™ :

Watching the video is best way to understand how MyKey™ works.

Here are the details from the Ford Website on MyKey™ :

"a new technology that allows parents to limit the vehicle’s top
speed and audio volume – next year as standard equipment on the 2010
Ford Focus and many other Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models.

MyKey, another affordable innovation from the company that
introduced SYNC™, also encourages safety-belt usage, provides earlier
low-fuel warnings and can be programmed to sound chimes at 45, 55 and
65 miles per hour".

I joined a conference call for the DigiKnows Episode #1 An Insider’s Look at Ford MyKey™ to learn more about that technology. Here is the video from the live UStream discussion:


The UStream live discussion covered questions like "Would kids want big brother watching"? The answer was that if the kids are given the privilege of driving – that they would be ok with having auto limits set. Other good questions were on monitoring/reports – and the response is that the designers thought it was to big brother-ish so that is not currently available. Knowing that my 10 year old has already figured out how to de-install programs and tried to "de-install" the internet filtering controls on our computer – I would like to see some type of monitoring available.  I know that teens will not be happy about the volume controls, but there is plenty of information about how listening to loud music for a period of time can lead to hearing loss. That may be an "uncool" message but it is a valid issue.

Here are some of the links for more information:

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