Tag: Kickstarter

Ubi launched by Toronto startup makes technology news

Unified Computer Intelligence Corporation (UCIC) has released its new gadget

Last week, UCIC, a two-year old Canadian company based out of Toronto launched its new device called the Ubi, a small gadget about the size of a smoke detector that has been designed to control a variety of connected home devices via voice command.

Thermostats, lightbulbs and door locks can be managed with a simple voice command.

The purpose of the Ubi is to provide people with a simple way to control the many different connected devices within their home. Many home appliances and other devices can now be controlled over the internet. Some of these include lightbulbs, door locks and thermostats. However, the majority of these devices need to be coUBi ntrolled using its own specific web service or mobile app. The new gadget from UCIC aims to allow users to control everything with one device.

According to the official website, “Ubi is a WiFi connected, voice operated computer that allows for handsfree voice interaction in your home.” Using Android, more specifically Google’s speech-to-text software, the device takes a person’s commands and transforms them into action. It utilizes the most up-to-date voice recognition technology, as well as natural language understanding, speech triggering and speech synthesis to provide users with a way to interact with the world around them.

When it is turned on and linked to a WiFi network, the device continually listens for the phrase “Okay, Ubi”. Upon hearing this, it attempts to understand the commands it has been given. For instance, “What is the capital of Australia?” is answered using Google’s internet search.

It can also create calendar appointments, play music, as well as control a Nest thermostat and turn the heat up or down in a home or even open automated bedroom blinds. In addition, the device is equipped with humidity, temperature and light sensor and allows users to set automated alerts. For instance, it can be programmed to send a text message to a user when the lights are turned on in their home while they are away.

Ubi is not without its flaws.

As is the problem that is faced by most speech recognition devices, the Ubi will not work flawlessly all of the time. Although it works well when a person is close to the device, if they are giving a command from across the room and there is background noise (ex. TV) this makes it difficult for the device to sort out what has been said. According to UCIC CEO Leor Grebler, this “ends up really messing around with speech recognition.”

In the support and development of its technology, Unified Computer Intelligence Corporation has raised nearly $1 million ($230,000 via crowdfunding site Kickstarter) and has shipped over 2,500 early versions of the Ubi. Currently, the device costs $299.

Augmented reality combines work with play

A new company aims to transform video games into real-world experiences.

Semblance Augmented Reality is a company created by Mark Skwarek and the goal of the company is to free video games from a mere television experience and turn them into one that is physical, where a person can interact with an entire world of virtual characters, structures and objects in a real environment.

So far, Skwarek has managed to raise more than $30,000 in crowdfunding to launch Semblance.

Having raised over $30 thousand on Kickstarter, the group fundraising site, Skwarek is gearing up to release the first Semblance AR app for Android and iOS mobile phones. He recently demonstrated how the app works in New York City wearing Epson Moverio B200 glasses.

Although augmented reality (AR) is not a new concept, nor is the idea of combining AR with gaming, it is starting to become more mainstream due to an increase in popularity of wearable devices, such as smart glasses, smartwatches and fitness trackers. Furthermore, today, there is a wide range of mobile devices that are finally equipped with GPS tracking, camera technology and sensors that are strong enough to handle AR tech.

Augmented Reality and the real worldWhile AR tech can certainly improve upon a video gamer’s experience, use for this technology is also being explored in other areas where combining augmented reality with wearables could help solve practical problems hands-free. It is even showing promising results in the health sector.

According to Brian Ballard, CEO and founder of APX Labs, an AR software company, wearables will help empower deskless employees in the same way that mobile devices and computers have done for office workers. Wearable gadgets, like smart glasses, can provide workers with immediate access to information in real-time no matter where they are.

Augmented reality technology is not without its challenges.

According to Benjamin Arnold, a consumer tech analyst at the NPD Group, “The technology is here right now. It’s just implementing them in a product, showing consumers that it has a value and can do things better than they were doing before.”

However, one of the problems this tech faces is that internet connectivity and battery life of devices needs to be improved in order to make it efficient. However, Ballard believes that it will not be long before it becomes fully integrated into people’s lives. This may be particularly true for video gamers due to the success of augmented reality gaming apps like Skwarek’s.