The University of Pittsburgh’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) is one of the United States’ foremost research institutes for assistive technology. Researchers at HERL primarily focus on wheelchairs and their accessories, and HERL engineers have invented and prototyped some revolutionary devices. The lab’s latest invention, the PneuMobility Wheelchair, stands to revolutionize the electric wheelchair.
Put simply, an electric wheelchair is one that is powered by electricity. Put less simply, they are designed for people who, for one reason or another, can’t use standard push rim wheelchairs (i.e., the ones you see people propelling by manually spinning the wheels). Depending on the make and model, electric wheelchairs can support numerous optional features, such as Bluetooth connectivity and a seat lift. However, electric wheelchairs are expensive, require a good deal of maintenance, and take hours to recharge. Researchers at HERL hope to fix these issues with the PneuMobility Wheelchair.
The PneuMobility Wheelchair starts with one simple design change: instead of being powered by a large electric battery, it is powered by pressurized air canisters. Without the battery, the PneuMobility Wheelchair does not need any electronic components, which in turn simplifies the wheelchair design, makes it lighter, and significantly decreases the amount of required maintenance. Furthermore, recharging this wheelchair is as simple as replacing the air canisters, which only takes a few minutes. Most importantly, the PneuMobility Wheelchair is relatively inexpensive and fabricated with components you can buy at your local Home Depot or Mom and Pop hardware store, which is a boon for people who can’t afford electric wheelchairs.
While the above is an impressive list of features, the PneuMobility Wheelchair has one more advantage: it is completely waterproof. Since this device has no electronic parts or battery, exposure to water won’t short out the components. Therefore, this wheelchair is ideal for beaches, lakes, pools, and water parks. Granted, I would not recommend going into the water with the wheelchair, but people can still use them around water slides without fear of a short circuit.
Right now, the PneuMobility Wheelchair is in the testing phase; the engineers are currently looking into the device’s feasibility and how it compares to electric wheelchairs, especially how far it can travel before it runs out of air. Soon, the wheelchair will undergo durability, maneuverability, and stability tests. If it passes the tests, we might see PneuMobility Wheelchairs (and PneuMobility Scooters) in public. And, water parks could offer these devices to people who use electric wheelchairs, so they can enjoy their attractions. No matter what, the device will give people who can’t use push rim wheelchairs a new affordable option.
The Matter standard is now supported by Google’s smart home appliances
Only if goods truly support it can the Matter standard facilitate the use of smart home appliances from different brands. You don’t even need to download or install any updates because Google has just announced that it has enabled Matter compatibility for its Nest and Android devices. This means that Matter can now be controlled by the Google Home speaker, Google Home Mini, Nest Mini, Nest Audio, Nest Hub (1st and 2nd gen), Nest Hub Max, and the new Nest WiFi Pro.
Additionally, Google has made Matter compatibility available for Fast Pair on Android, which will let you to connect Matter-enabled devices to your home network “as rapidly as you can pair a set of headphones.” This functionality will make it simple to integrate your devices with apps and smart home ecosystems once they are linked. The tech behemoth has also upgraded the Nest Wi Pro, Nest Hub Max, and Nest Hub (2nd gen) to include Thread border router functionality. In this manner, you can utilize them to link items that support Thread, the networking standard for low-power gadgets like smart locks.
Since 2019, the Connectivity Standards Alliance, of which Google is a member, has been working on the Matter standard to address the fragmentation issue in the smart home market and make it simpler to use products from various manufacturers. It had to postpone Matter’s release a few times before it was eventually able to roll out the standard’s version 1.0 definition and product certification program this October. It had originally planned to introduce the standard in 2021. Soon after Matter was released, Samsung said that it is collaborating with Google to make it simple to add devices that are already configured with SmartThings to Google Home and vice versa. One of the other founders of the Alliance, Amazon, also provided a list of the 17 Echo devices that will support the standard as of this month.
The number of products that are Matter-enabled is now somewhat small, but according to Google, this holiday season and early 2023 will witness an increase. With the exception of the aforementioned Google items, all devices that implement the standard will be identified by the Matter badge and will function with all other Matter devices right out of the box.
CES 2023 :Learn the latest information from the greatest technology event of the year
Although the CES doesn’t start until tomorrow, we’re back in Vegas for the event, and several exhibitors have already shown their new items at numerous press conferences and media events. In addition to more news from TV manufacturers, gaming laptop manufacturers, smart home firms, and other companies, we are starting to see some of the early automotive news that typically headlines CES today. Here is a summary of the top news from Day 1 of CES 2023 in case you haven’t caught up yet.
Since last night
But first, even though we covered the most of yesterday’s launches in a different video, more things were announced last night after we had finished filming that. For instance, Withings demonstrated the $500 pee-scanning U-Scan toilet computer.
It’s a 90mm block that you install inside your toilet bowl as a deodorizer and employs a microfluidic device that functions like a litmus test to identify the components in your pee. Although Withings is developing a consumer-focused version that will evaluate your nutrition and hydration levels and forecast your ovulation and period cycles, you will need to decide the precise tests you wish to run in your module. Prior to launching in the US, it is still awaiting regulatory approval from the European Union.
We also witnessed the Fufuly pulsing cushion by Yukai Engineering, which was less… gross news. Although a vibrating cushion may sound like something out of an anime, the concept is that cuddling something that might simulate real-life pulsation may have calming effects. Another thing that could calm anxiety? watching a video of adorable birds! Additionally, Bird Buddy unveiled a brand-new intelligent feeder with a built-in camera so you can watch your feathered friends while they build nests. The most recent version, which is intended for hummingbirds, uses AI to recognize the different breeds that are in the area and, in conjunction with a motion sensor, determines when they are ready for a feast.
Speaking of nibbles, there was a ton of food-related technology news last night, like as the $1,000 stand mixer from GE Profile that has a digital scale and voice controls. We also observed OneThird’s freshness scanners, which determine the freshness of produce using near-infrared lasers and secret algorithms. Even the shelf life of an avocado can be determined instantly, preventing food waste!
We also witnessed the Wisear neural earbuds that let you control playback by clenching your jaw, the blood pressure monitor that hooks onto your finger from Valencell, and Loreal’s robotic lipstick applicator for people with limited hand or arm mobility. Smart speakers, smart pressure cookers, smart VR gloves, smart lights, and more were available.
Let’s move on to the recent news. Prior to the onslaught that is set to happen tomorrow, there was only a little trickle of auto news. Volkswagen debuted the ID.7 EV sedan, tempting us with only the name and a rough body form. BMW, meanwhile, revealed the I Vision Dee, or “Digital Emotional Experience,” to provide additional information about its futuristic I Vision concept vehicle development. It’s a simplified design with a heads-up display that spans the entire front windshield. Many of the Dee’s characteristics are anticipated to be incorporated into production vehicles starting in 2025, notably BMW’s new NEUE KLASSE (new class) EV platform. BMW’s Mixed Reality slider will also be available on the Dee to regulate how much digital stuff is shown on the display.
The premium 2023 TVs from Samsung were also not unveiled until the evening, with this year’s models emphasizing on MiniLED and 8K technologies. Additionally, it added more sizes to its selection and unveiled new soundbars with Dolby Atmos capability at all price points. While this was going on, competitor LG unveiled a 97-inch M3 TV that can wirelessly receive 4K 120Hz content, allowing you to deal with fewer connections in your living room and… more soundbars. Leave it to LG and Samsung to essentially duplicate each other’s actions.
Hisense, a competitor with comparatively smaller TVs, today announced its 85-inch UX Mini LED TV, which has more than 5,000 local dimming zones and a maximum brightness of 2,500 nits. Startup Displace, meanwhile, demonstrated a brand-new 55-inch wireless OLED TV that can be attached to any surface via vacuum suction, doing away entirely with the requirement for a wall mount or stand. You can even live without a power cord thanks to its four inbuilt batteries. Essentially, this is a fully functional, portable TV.
We also noticed more HP, MSI, and ASUS laptops. A laptop with glasses-free 3D, a sizable Zenbook Pro 16X with lots of space for thermal dissipation, and a Zenbook 14X with a ceramic build are all products of ASUS. Both of the latter Zenbooks include OLED displays. In the meantime, HP unveiled a new line of Dragonfly Pro laptops that are designed to simplify the purchasing process for customers by removing the majority of configuration options. The Windows version exclusively uses an AMD CPU and has a column of hotkeys on the right of the keyboard that provide shortcuts to camera settings, a control center, and 24/7 tech support, whilst the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook has an RGB keyboard and Android-like Material You theming capabilities. The last of these buttons can be programmed to open a particular program, file, or website.
The first of some audio news is now being presented to us, starting with JBL. The business presented its array of five soundbar models for 2023, all of which will support Dolby Atmos. New true wireless earbuds with a “smart” casing including a 1.45-inch touchscreen and controls for volume, playback, ANC, and EQ presets were also introduced. Nearly simultaneously, HP unveiled the Poly Voyager earphones, which are comparable to the JBL in terms of controls and have a touchscreen on the carrying case. However, the Voyager also features a Broadcast mode that enables you to connect the case to an older device with a headphone port (like while you’re on an airline) via the provided 3.5mm to USB-C connection, so you can view movies during a flight without having to bring along a second set of headphones.
Not only today but also the remainder of the week will see a ton more CES news. I was unable to tell you about Citizen’s latest wristwatch or Samsung’s new, more affordable Galaxy A14 smartphone. Keep checking back for updates on all CES 2023 news.
Google appeared as a car manufacturer
Google has recently used CES as a platform to present its philosophy of “Better Together,” the notion that all devices should get along with one another. Typically, this entails making announcements regarding new Cast compatibility and features like Fast Pair. The business revealed that it is collaborating with Spotify to incorporate the Connect streaming capability into the Android UI at CES 2023. Additionally, it showed a sneak peek at an audio handoff tool that would recommend various devices to shift your music to based on your preferences and location.
However, CES is a significant vehicle event, and Google also sells items for cars. Additionally, it said today that the Polestar 3 would receive its higher-resolution maps, and it debuted the most recent Android Auto user interface for the first time since it was revealed at I/O 2022.
Two vehicles, a Volvo EX90 with Google preinstalled and a BMW i7 with the new Android Auto experience, were at the Google stand in the trailer lot of the Las Vegas Convention Center. We had never seen the Volvo before, and we’ll be posting a separate hands-on on that experience shortly. The new Android Auto is the main topic of this article and video.
The redesigned interface will support larger screen sizes and have a split screen layout, as we discovered at I/O. Google has eliminated the status bar and inserted a row of shortcut keys below it, along with some indication icons in a small area to the top left. When we were in the car, the Spotify app was located on the left panel, and we could access a list of suggested playlists by swiping in from the right side.
Alerts that you won’t have time to respond to while driving are likewise stored in this left pane. For instance, you can swipe right on a notification to move it to the dock, where it will wait until you’re ready to deal with it.
Check out the video up top for more of our experience with the updated Android Auto in the BMW i7! And be sure to pay attention this week as there will be a ton of news at CES 2023.
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