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When Jack tested the Samsung Gear S!

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Following the success of Total’s Technology Lounge at the Gloucestershire Business Show, Total’s purchaser Jack Steele (pictured to the left with the Samsung team) reviews the Samsung Gear S loaned to us by the tech giants themselves.

“We were in full preparation mode for the Gloucestershire Business Show, when Samsung sent us three brand new Samsung Gear S watches to trial and demonstrate in our Lounge! I was lucky enough to be one of the three testers.

“First of all, I have to say, what an amazing piece of technology this is! With its sleek design and curved screen it sits perfectly on any wrist: the level of investment in the design is very apparent.

“The watch was a great help in simplifying my day-to-day working life as it meant that I didn’t have to carry my mobile with me around the office and I wouldn’t miss a phone call. Not only is the watch good for making calls but its great if you’re on the move and receive and email that you just need to have a quick scan through. There is also sat-nav on the watch which is very helpful if you are going to a meeting which requires a little walk round a town you’re not too familiar with – saving your smartphone battery life as you don’t need Maps to do so. You can also change the watch face to your favourite design, whether that be analogue or otherwise.

“Of course, the Gear S needs to tether to something to enable functionality. I used my Samsung Note 4 to connect with it, however can also be connected to an iPhone which breaks the Android vs iOS barrier. I would definitely and highly recommend the Samsung Gear S – if you are using a Samsung mobile to connect it to. If you are using an iOS Watchdevice to connect be aware that there will be some functions unavailable on the watch.

“A smart watch that can look better than an ordinary watch and have some amazing features on top of that, what’s not to want?”

Jack Steele is a Purchaser at Total Ltd – the communications technology experts who deliver smart solutions to help your business grow and continually evolve. 

What do you know about #HashTags?

hashtag_corOddly enough, hash tags were invented alongside the pound (‘lb’) abbreviation, around 700 years ago. The initial appearance of ‘lb’ appeared with a line through the centre of it (‘lb’). Moving from the end of a number to the beginning, the hash tag evolved to replace the word ‘number’ (#1), eventually mutating into the Twitter friendly symbol – ‘#’ – we use daily with a very different meaning.

Hash tags are now a symbol of metadata, utilised to stipulate a topic or name which generates a clickable link, to enable users with similar interests or topics to engage in conversation or follow those topics. Hash tagged topics are not moderated and are never ‘retired’. A single hash tag can be used for many things, for example ‘#Tip’ can be placed within a post to relay useful information or absolute nonsense, by scholars or pranksters. Spelling can also be an issue.  But they do have their uses – want to know more about #WorldHealthDay or even some #PositiveThinking motivation? Click on the hash tag, read all about it, view the latest images and feel informed and inspired.

Originally rejected as being ‘too geeky’ by Twitter, hash tags have only been utilised in their current form since 2009. The hash tag now also provides a way for social media users to express their emotions, #great. There are plenty of #awkward posts out there too, thanks to the number of teenagers using the site.

When the same hash tag is used by many people, Twitter reports this via ‘trending topics’, which of course offer a direct route for Twitter voyeurs into the hot topics of the day. You stand more chance of your post being read if it relates to a hot topic, or ‘trend’.

EPky6qSoHowever, the hash tag has quickly outgrown the environment it grew up in. The text messages I receive on my mobile – outside of any social media app – contain #hungry, #tired, #bored, along with an endless list of abbreviations:  “HIG. POS. TTG. TBC, TTYL #awkward” is now an actual text conversation.

The word hash tag is even said in conversation: watch Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon demo how it’s done (or not!) here. US retailer JC Penney even ran a scheme where customers received a discount if they spoke the word ‘hash tag’ at the till.

Hash tags are now used across various social media sites; Facebook and Instagram are two which have recently bowed to the pressure to allow hash tags, whilst LinkedIn has introduced them, then removed them at a later date.

In short, utilise the hash tag sparingly to allow others to find your #topic. If you want to message someone on Twitter use their Twitter name instead (@Total_ltd for example).  You can use hash tags on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Tumblr. Grammar and punctuation has little to do with it; so it’s no to spaces in between words and no punctuation within your hash tag itself.

The question now is, how much longer will hash tags be utilised? With advancements in trend monitoring, I have a feeling their time may be strictly #limited and we’ll all be referring to the nostalgia of the hash tag in years in just a few years. What do you think?

Catherine Grayson is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – the communications technology experts who deliver smart solutions to help your business grow and continually evolve.

Workstyle: Are you sitting down?

We’re all working in different ways – PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, BYOD, remote working via ‘the Cloud’; it was only a matter of time before the desk was reinvented to accommodate this new ‘workstyle’.

2IKEA has launched a desk called the Bekant which rises to enable stand-up working, then lowers back down to the traditional seated height for those days when you just need to sit down.

I must admit, I would absolutely welcome a desk like this – there are some days where standing is far more efficient and the health benefits are far greater than sitting down all day.  The fact that this desk can function as both a tall and standard desk makes it a truly useful investment.

Of course, IKEA aren’t the only supplier of height adjusting desks, there are many out there featuring electric or manual cranks and a quick Google search brings up several.

3What about those moments when you need a pop-up office, quite literally.

Fortunately, a highly unique project on Kickstarter, called ‘Refold’s Portable Cardboard Standing Desk’ raised $70,700 to bring this idea to life!

Ideal for when space is in short supply, or for an office move, or even if you are a freelancer who needs to be office-based just for the duration of a particular project. Outside of an office environment, they could also be useful for schools struggling to finance furniture, or as part of a disaster-relief package to get a school up and running again (the developers are currently working with UNICEF).

The desk is sturdy enough to hold the weight of a person standing on it, assembles in around two minutes using four pieces and even comes in three sizes for different heights. What this video on Vimeo for a full demonstration.

4Have you heard of a kinetic desk? The Stir Kinetic Desk ‘learns, quantifies and breathes’ according to its manufacturers.

Like the IKEA desk, this is adjustable enabling users to sit or stand, however this is done via the built-in touchscreen. Just double tap to change position – it even has a calorie monitor to tell you how much more energy you use by varying sitting and standing. It is also smart enough to remind users to change positions to keep them energised. This video is certainly worth watching.

The desk has integrated cord management which enables users to plug several devices directly into the desk – it even recognises users as they approach! At the moment, the Stir Kinetic desk is only available in the USA, priced around $4,000.

Would you consider a standing desk?

Catherine Grayson is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd  the communications technology experts who deliver smart solutions to help your business grow and continually evolve.

Secusmart unveils high grade security tablet

The BlackBerry owned company, Secusmart, has recently revealed a high-security tablet in partnership with Samsung and IBM.

LockReports suggest that the handheld device will run on Samsung hardware and it will be compatible with BlackBerry 10.

The operating system is yet to be announced however Android is a firm favourite.

The tablet will have all the security aspects you would expect from a BlackBerry device but IBM has integrated its ‘app wrapping’ technology to strengthen the layers of security to sensitive data.

Analysts predict its price tag will be around £1,600 which to the average consumer may seem pricey. However, to businesses and governments, the extra security features may be worth it.

Nick McQuire, Vice-President of Enterprise at analysts CCS Insight, has said:

“It’s aimed at businesses and sectors where security is paramount. Let’s not fool ourselves, this is a very limited solution for a very specific area of the marketplace.”

A full specification is yet to be announced but when it does, a follow-up blog will be posted so stay tuned!

Jamie Sansom is a Marketing Assistant at Total Ltd – the communications technology experts who deliver smart solutions to help your business grow and continually evolve.

The Race to 5G

Galaxy-S6While networks are still rolling out both 3 and 4G, 5G is already in the pipeline with Ofcom advising the service could be up and running in Britain by 2020. Although 5G is still five years away, much has been done to accommodate the development over the last few years with more research and trials to follow.

£35m in funding was granted to Surrey University in 2012 by mobile operators keen to stay ahead of the curve, along with infrastructure providers and the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund to research 5G. In addition to research, the grant also funded the creation of the 5G Innovation Centre where trials are still being undertaken, funded by Samsung, Huawei, Fujitsu Laboratories and the UK government. Alternative work is being carried out in Japan and China.

Interestingly, at the time the grant was received, Prof Tafozolli, Professor of mobile wireless and communications and Director of the university’s research declared, “4G for us is old hat. We started working on 4G 10 years ago,” offering us a glimpse into how the university stays one step ahead of the industry and the time it takes from concept to implementation.

May 2013 saw Samsung announce that the core technology to transmit 5G had been developed. The ‘adaptive array receiver’ was announced with ambitious claims of transmitting data at more than 1Gbps over a 2km distance. Although the announcement focussed on success, there remains more to do in developing all components to enable 5G to transmit. By 2020 it is thought that 50 billion to 100 billion devices will be connected to the internet so, with the electricity costs of running the networks being so high, cost-efficiency needs to be considered in conjunction with the advancements in technology.

Fast forwarding to February 2015, The University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) achieved 1 Tbps speeds in laboratory tests, the fastest to date. Prof Tafazolli now believes it is possible to run a wireless data connection at an astounding 800Gbps – that’s 100 times faster than current 5G testing. To put that into context, according to the BBC, a speed of 800Gbps would equate to downloading 33 HD films – in a single second.

What is 5G?

To answer this question, we first refer you back to our previous blog, The 1G to 4G Journey which explains how mobile devices evolved from ‘voice only’ to the data-only 4G (the ‘G’ stands for ‘generation’). 5G is an advancement on 4G as it transmits in an entirely new way which allows for dramatically faster speeds.

UntitledThe main differentiator is the term “harmonisation of the radio spectrum”, as coined by Prof Tafazolli himself. Data is transmitted via radio waves, which are split into various frequencies – and each frequency (or band) is regulated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). As new technology is developed, their frequencies are being squeezed into an increasingly tight spectrum and this is where problems with speed and reliability occur.

5G needs more space to deliver the standard now required. As such, the ITU is completely restructuring parts of the radio network to transmit data – all without imposing on currently-functioning 3G and 4G frequencies. So, why is 5G such a priority? With the ‘internet of things’ evolving rapidly, more inanimate objects require connection alongside the smart devices we already use en masse.

With promises of transferring mobile data up to several hundred times faster than 4G and the ability to stream ultra-high definition content, will you be upgrading in 2020?

Catherine Grayson is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – the communications technology experts who deliver smart solutions to help your business grow and continually evolve.

 

Banks introduce fingerprint recognition technology

It has recently been reported that two UK banks are allowing their customers to log-in to their smartphone banking applications via fingerprint recognition technology.

Touch ID

Once activated by the individual, customers of both RBS and NatWest could use Apple’s Touch ID on its iPhone 5s, 6 or 6 Plus to access their online banking.

Once inside the app, additional verification for making payments will still be required and limits have been set on making new payments.

Stuart Haire, Managing Director of RBS and NatWest Direct Bank said “Adding Touch ID to our mobile banking app makes it even easier and more convenient for customers to manage their finances on the move and directly respond to their requests.”

Both banks have said customers would be required to re-enter their passcode after three unsuccessful ‘fingerprint recognition’ attempts. However, a security expert says Touch ID isn’t secure enough for a banking application.

Ben Schlabs from Security Research Labs has commented: “Just the fact that you are carrying the key around with you and leave copies of it exposed everywhere you go makes it a very different risk to something that is inside your brain. The risks are poorly understood.”

The banks have reported that 15 million of their customers use online banking and the introduction of Touch ID will make it easier and more convenient for them.

Would you install Touch ID on your online banking applications?

Let us know.

Jamie Sansom is a Marketing Assistant at Total Ltd – the communications technology experts who deliver smart solutions to help your business grow and continually evolve.

BlackBerry update brings Amazon App store to its handsets

Due to a recent update across the company’s operating software, all of BlackBerry’s BB10 devices will soon get features that were originally only made available on the BlackBerry Classic.

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One of the most appealing outcomes of the update is giving BB10 users the ability to download their favourite Android Apps by accessing Amazon’s app store.

BlackBerry Assistant, BB’s equivalent to Siri or Cortana, is another great feature which is also set to be included in the update.

Another noticeable improvement is the introduction of BlackBerry Blend.

BlackBerry Blend allows BB10 users to combine their texts, emails, messages, BlackBerry Messenger, contacts, and calendars which can keep them all synced across a number of devices and operating systems.

The UK is set to receive the update today so if you’re a BB10 user, make sure you check it out and let us know what you think.

Jamie Sansom is a Marketing Assistant at Total Ltd – the communications technology experts who deliver smart solutions to help your business grow and continually evolve.

Kickstarting Smart Innovation

Whilst we patiently await the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy 6, today we take a look at two mobile innovations trying to get off the starting blocks.  Could one of these smart inventions be tomorrow’s Next Big Thing?

IpadPrynt is ‘the first instant camera case for iPhone and Android’, initially hoping to achieve a goal of $50,000. With around two weeks left to run, the project has already raised over $1m!

Slot the case onto an iPhone 5 or 6, or Samsung Galaxy S4 or S5 and print directly from images stored on your smartphone to the built in printer. And there is no need to purchase ink cartridges as the ink is already embedded in the paper!

In addition, if the photograph is taken from a video, another user can scan the photograph with the Prynt app to view the correlating video from one photograph.  The case doesn’t require either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, so you can simply just snap and print to share mobile photographs in a tangible way.

Want to be part of the Prynt adventure? A $1 pledge fames you on their website and keeps you updated or a $49 pledge buys you a Prynt case and paper (other pledge amounts available).

 

ScarabScarab invites you to ‘see the world around you with new eyes’. According to its inventors, this is an opportunity to own a ‘first in history’ device to detect invisible threats.

So, what does it do? The small sensor is carried separately, it can be attached to bags or clothing whilst you are out and about, and reports back via the Scarab app warning you about ‘invisible threats’. Once data is gathered it is then represented via web mapping (such as Google Maps).

Scarab, described as a ‘revolutionary new nervous system’ will steer you clear of dangerous UV, carbon monoxide, radiation, magnetic fields and more. By capturing the data, the bigger goal is to dramatically and permanently change how the world stays healthy and safe.

The project has already exceeded its $100k target; will you pledge from $1 to $5,000 and secure your place in history?

 

Catherine Grayson is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – the communications technology experts who deliver smart solutions to help your business grow and continually evolve.

The 1G to 4G Journey

When first introduced, ‘1G’ mobile devices were ‘voice only’. Despite their size (and weight), usage was limited and devices were highly insecure. 1G was in fact just an extension of a phone line that broadcasted over the air – at the time; anybody with a suitable scanner could tune in and listen to private conversations.

1GThe release of 2G addressed the security issues. Launched with a peak rate of 120kb/s, 2G was a ‘digital protocol over the air’ meaning that information was now encrypted and more secure than its predecessor. And because there was now a reliance on digital technologies, handsets were able to reduce in size, become cheaper to manufacture and more user-friendly. As a result, mobile communications became mainstream.

And, interestingly, now 27 years after its introduction, 2G also brought us the first ‘Short Message Service’ (SMS) or ‘text’ as we’ve come to know it. Texting is now such a popular and useful communication tool, that O2 in the UK moves 250 million text messages on average – every single day.

As we evolved to 3G, we increased on data, and whilst initially starting at 384kb/s, it has now grown to 21mb/s. However, did you know that 3G is a hybrid service? 3G consists of two elements – voice and data.

And what many people don’t realise is that 4G is a data-only network. You may be even more surprised to discover that there is no way to make a standard voice call on 4G. 

So, what is 4G? 

4G is designed from the ground up to be data. You can make voice calls over 4G – using an over-the-top-client (like O2 TUGO) which works over data, works over Wi-Fi and works over the 4G network.

In addition, there is a protocol called ‘circuit switch fallback’ so, when you make a voice call on the 4G network, the device actually drops back to 3G and uses 3G to make a voice call.

QuoteThere are three key advantages to 4G:

  1. It is more ‘spectrally efficient’ which means it carries more information over the air.
  2. 4G is designed from the outset to be faster.
  3. Its ‘latency’ is superior – when you want something to happen – it happens. If you make a video call for example, you don’t get a ‘satellite style’ wait.

When it comes to the rollout, O2 is the only UK operator committed to providing coverage indoors at nearly 2mbps to 98% of the UK population by 2015. And, whilst 4G is rolled out, 3G continues to be rolled out simultaneously benefitting both 3G and 4G users.

4G is transforming the way people do business. The superior bandwidth and speed available with 4G means you can use sales tools, videos, diagrams, CRM systems and more on a mobile devices, making a ‘pop up office’ working for flexible workers an easy-to-manage reality.

To find out more about how 4G can change the way you work, call our team on 0845 070 5450 or email us at solutions@total-ltd.co.uk.

Catherine Grayson is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – the communications technology experts who deliver smart solutions to help your business grow and continually evolve.

Kickstarting Hive, BUHEL and Wishbone

If you have followed our blogs over the last year, you will already know that we have a keen interest in following crowdfunding projects. In fact, the Marketing Team even funded some projects of personal interest, from the OrbitKey to the Kano, both of which successfully made it to market.

And, because we’re always interested in the technology-of-the-future we’re taking a fresh look at Kickstarter, curious as to whether one of these innovations could become the next surprise success.

Hive BUHEL Wishbone

Hive is a good place to start. Designed to be a simple and affordable tool to ‘protect everything and everyone’, Hive is designed to be a single solution for both automation – and entertainment.

The Hive Hub is the main component, supported by companion Hive Sound. Sound is the first smartphone speaker which can be used anywhere, not only for high quality sound music but also for door and light alerts. The Hub connects all ‘smart stuff’ from thermostat to lighting via motion sensors, door and window contacts and cameras – even ones you already own. Yes, Hive is a truly intelligent home system.

HiveWith the prototype stage complete, the Hive team are now hoping to start manufacturing and one of their reasons for doing it via crowdfunding is because they want feedback and ideas from backers.

With just over one month to go, Hive has reached around 60% of its $100,000 goal. Pledge from just $10 to $10,000 depending on whether you just want to support the venture, or support, purchase and attend a ski trip with the entire Hive team!

You can also find out more about Hive via their own website.


BUHELBUHEL SG05
is an interesting example of the new direction in technology innovation – the wearables market.

The BUHEL innovators paid attention to something which may escape our attention on a daily basis – the fact that most of us spend our time with headphones in our ears, oblivious to anyone talking to us – or even traffic approaching us when glued to a mobile device screen. Until now there has been no alternative. Enter the BUHEL SG0 ‘SOUNDglasses’ which allows wearers to listen to music without earphones, without wires and completely hands-free. The noise cancelling headset and bi-directional microphone also tethers to your smart device enabling you to take calls on the move.

This is the second time that this project has appeared on Kickstarter, originally doing so to obtain the suggestions of their backers. It has now been re-launched, following prototype development, with a goal of $80,000. With over a month to go, this goal has already been exceeded. It looks like this project could be a success and shipping in May as proposed.

 

WishboneDespite being the ‘world’s smallest smart thermometer’, Wishbone is one of the big-surprise successes of the week.

This innovative iOS and Android compatible thermometer fits and rotates within the headphone socket of the smart device. Working alongside the Wishbone app, this popular gadget allows you to track temperature changes via an infrared sensor. It measures skin and liquid temperature easily, accurately and safely, and the environmental temperature modes are currently being developed.

This simple idea has seen the original $20,000 goal exceeded by nearly $70,000 with just over three weeks left to go.

Catherine Grayson is a Marketing Executive at Total Ltd – the communications technology experts who deliver smart solutions to help your business grow and continually evolve.