Connect Anything To The Internet

Mahalo to everyone who took the time to write to me about my Aug. 15 column regarding the latest scams. I received hundreds of emails with personal stories of the scams I mentioned (and more), but with differentiating company names, phone numbers and websites. Almost all of you stated your caller had a heavy foreign accent as well. That is very disturbing, so the lesson learned is stay vigilant against these scammers!…

Now, on to cool tech. One of the best things I saw recently on Kickstarter is SmartThings, an exciting in-the-works project that allows you to connect and control just about anything you can think of – kitchen cabinets, mailbox or even track your dog. This project aims to provide you with a hefty selection of end-devices (i.e., automatic door locks, thermostats, humidity sensors, presence sensors, power outlet switches) that connect you to the SmartThings hub, which connects you to the Internet. From here you can see and control your devices from a single interface with the SmartThings app.

Photo courtesy Kickstarter

The story behind SmartThings is common for very successful companies: It started in a basement. During a power outage, the pipes at founder Alex Hawkinson’s cabin froze and burst, flooding his basement. It became clear to him that existing solutions would require separate Internet connections. Even if his cabin did have one, it would have shut off in the power outage. So his concept of “it just works” for SmartThings was born.

I think SmartThings has great potential since the capabilities of expansion are just about limitless. Although its already exceeded its funding goal on Kickstarter, you can still back the project (minimum $1) to help this company obtain a solid start. You also can order an early bird SmartThings Pack ($99-$199), which includes the SmartThings hub and three things you can connect: Home/Family (presence fob), Security (two open/close sensors) and Pet (motion sensor). If you make these early bird orders, the expected ship date is around December, just in time for Christmas.

At the moment, it’s in development for iOS devices, with Android to follow. Visit (and search for SmartThings).

Click Chick’s Mobile App of the Week: Mobility Accessibility Suite

Verizon recently announced a suite of services for Verizon Wireless Android smartphones running Android 2.2 or higher to help users who are blind or have low vision perform ordinary wireless tasks in a simple, intuitive way. This suite consists of 10 apps ranging from speech recognition to text-to-speech technology and offers visually impaired users an innovative way to use their smart-phones:

Phone: Make calls, answer calls, hear the caller ID and manage call log

Contacts: Manage contacts, even those from social networks

SMS: Compose and read text messages

Alarms: Set alarms Web: Full Web-browsing experience with the ability to navigate faster to content of choice (links, paragraphs, headings, forms, etc.) and bookmark favorite Web pages

Calendar: Create, edit and delete a calendar entry

Email: Compose and send emails

Where am I?: GPS app that gives updates on current location

Settings: Change ringtone; configure feedback and notifications (vibration or audio); configure keyboard echo, punctuation verbosity, speech pitch and rate, etc.

Quick access: Locate date and time, phone status information such as battery level and network coverage, number of missed calls and unread messages, etc.

To take advantage of this, you can download Mobile Accessibility in Verizon Apps under Productivity and Tools/Utilities on Android smartphones Android 2.2 or higher. Log onto tml for more information.