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LED scanner, Alexa for the car: Devices that can make interactions with tech smarter

These devices may look unconventional but are changing the way you use technology.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jul 14, 2019, 10.42 AM IST
This desk lamp will not be out of place in an art gallery or any modern home and workplace, for that matter.
From an LED scanner and an Alexa for your car to AR gaming for children and a clever way to automate ACs — these devices may look unconventional but they can make your interactions with technology a lot smarter.

Shifu Plugo
Rs 3,499 (combo kit)

Children crave for screen time. Now one can make it more fun and educational for them. Plugo is an augmented reality (AR) gaming system from the same team from Bengaluru that created the Orboot AR globe. It is designed to develop STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) skills of 5 to 11-year-olds.

Two of the games in the series are Link and Count and they work using the supplied gamepad and free app (Android & iOS). The idea is that you mount your iPad or Android tablet into the gamepad and start the Shifu app. The app uses the tablet’s front camera to recognise the objects placed on the gamepad.

There are four games in the app (250+ levels) with puzzles, construction challenges and number problems. Since we were not smart enough, we got an eight-year-old to test it out. Suffice to say, the Plugo system is loads of fun, even for the adults.

A nker ROAV Viva Pro
Rs 5,490

Getting Alexa to help you out at home is easy -- just buy any Echo smart speaker. But what about your car? Anker has a solution called ROAV Viva Pro and it looks just like a USB charger that plugs into the 12V socket in the car. It even has two USB ports to help charge devices. But hidden inside this tiny gizmo are two far field microphones listening for the wake word ‘Alexa’. It even has a ring of LED lights that light up when it is listening just like any other Echo speaker. You need to download the ROAV Viva app to configure it, add your Amazon account and then follow the instructions to pair it to your car stereo using Bluetooth, USB, 3.5 mm aux or FM. After you are done, you will have easy access to millions of songs (and all your previously created playlists, if any), controlled by voice. It is a great way to listen to ad-free music in the car without the hassle of USB drives or CDs.

Picostone Polar
Rs 4,000

Picostone Polar

This is a made-in-India retrofit home automation system designed to control home air conditioners and offers four advantages: automation, remote control, energy conservation and voice control. The combo kit includes a Polar (it plugs into the AC wall socket) and a battery-powered node. You need to download the Picostone app, create an account and configure your Polar + node (one-timeonly). Once you do this, just stick the node near the infrared receiver of your AC. Polar works with any brand that uses an infrared remote control. If your AC is not listed in the app, you can use the remote to help the Polar learn its buttons. For voice coontrol, you need to download the Picostone Alexa skill through the Alexa app and sign in with your Picostone user ID.

Mi LED bulbs
Rs 1,299

Mi LED bulbs

The standard LED bulbs you have at home need an upgrade. What better choice than these LED bulbs from Xiaomi. They can light up in any colour of your choice (including different white/yellow hues), have built in Wi-Fi, app control and will work with voice assistants like Google and Alexa. At a highest output of 800 lumens, they consume only 10 watts. Setting them up is a breeze using the Mi Home app and you can add as many bulbs you like without the need for any Wi-Fi bridge or any additional equipment. You can group bulbs to operate together, set daily schedules and even share control with other users in the house (they need to download and sign in to the Mi Home device on their own phone). The only fine print is: these bulbs are only available in an E27 (screw type) mount. If you have light fixtures with the B22 (bayonet type) sockets, you will need a B22 to E27 converter for each bulb.

Czur Aura
Rs 17,800

This desk lamp will not be out of place in an art gallery or any modern home and workplace, for that matter. If you like the design, you are not alone. The Aura is the recipient of awards from iFDesign and RedDot. It is flicker-free and has adjustable colour temperature and brightness. But it is not just an LED desk lamp — it is an AI-enabled scanner that can instantly scan and digitise documents and photos. You are thinking: ‘What’s the big deal? Any smartphone user can download an app to scan documents’.

The Aura makes it all effortless — and it looks amazing while scanning. Inside the long arm is a high-resolution camera. The LEDs light up your documents for a clearer scan. Hidden in the arm are a colour display and laser guidelines that help you align the documents. Unlike a traditional scanner or your phone, Aura takes just a couple of seconds to scan and save. It can also scan books, two pages at a time. While scanning, it flattens the curved pages of a book using artificial intelligence and machine learning. The best part is that the box includes additional side LEDs (to scan glossy magazines), a foot pedal (faster book scans, because your hands are free to turn pages) and a large leather mat to place your documents or books on.

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