Shameless review–connected medical devices

I am a connected person. I like to have information about my health and current health conditions available for me to review. I recently got three distinct devices that are incredible tools for monitoring your health.

  1. The first is the Omron wrist blood pressure cuff
  2. The second is the Withings connected Bluetooth blood pressure cuff
  3. The third device is the Kinsa smart/connected thermometer

All three devices work quickly out of the box. The Omron just needs batteries and your wrist and it can quickly take your blood pressue. It is rated the most accurate of the wrist based units.

What I love all three

  • Portable – easy to carry with you
  • two of them have very nice applications (Withings and Kinsa)
  • All three a easy to use
  • All three clearly notify of errors and let you know what to do to avoid errors the next time
  • All three are specialized and provide specific inputs and outputs.

What I don’t like

  • Actually there isn’t much – battery life is really my only complaint.

As these devices evolve there will need to be a device that acts as a home hub that can share that information with medical professionals for them to evaluate. But for now each of these connected devices is a great healthcare aid. Easy to use, easy to understand and they publish information about trends as well. You can see where you are over time as well as where you are right now.

Today there are any number of devise in the medical information field. That is only going to expand as the IoT moves into the medical world. Eventually the expanding capabilities will need that device hub in the home. I have a few ideas about that and will share those as I flesh them out.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Just another shameless review–Padbot

Personal connectivity or personal presence devices come in two types. The first type is a static device that doesn’t move, it stays in one place and you interact with it remotely and the people that are present statically. The other is the ability to move about the space the device is in. Finally the last type is one that allows you to connect to the device and control it remotely, including video and audio.

These devices tend to be expensive. Running between 2000 and 3000 dollars on average. They are very cool and allow you to connect to the device remotely and control it, moving about the space as though you were there in the room. This brings us to the new solution called Padbot. Built to be about the size of a personal presence device but using an iPad or Android tablet for its brain.

You simply connect to the device using their software and once the connection is complete you can automatically control the device remotely.

What I love:

  • Cost – simply this device costs 1/3 or less than a traditional PPD does
  • set-up was quick – install application. Connect to Padbot. Install application on a second iPad or Android tablet and connect.
  • Controls are responsive – the Padbot moves slow enough that you would in the end hit anything.
  • Motor is incredibly quiet
  • unit design is quite beautiful – Padbot looks nice in your house or office.

What I wish was better:

  • Wheels and clearance make it hard for Padbot to make it over separators in your flooring (if you have two types of flooring on a level Padbot will struggle to get from one to the other).
  • Even over Wi-Fi the video lags at times.
  • Charger is on the base, that means you have to use a floor outlet to charge PadBot.

Overall this is a great personal presence device. There are many more coming onto the market. It is a growing area for the Internet of connection. This personal presence or personal connection device market is going to explode in the next 12 months. Padbot is a great starting point for a lower cost managed solution. You don’t have to spend the additional 2 grand to get started in this space.

My impression of the team is that the software is going to get better over time. It won’t take them long to work out the kinks of video. Overall this is a great tool to add in the home, remote home of someone you are worried about and the office.

Super job getting this project crowd-funded and across the finish line!


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow!

Just another shameless review–connected instruments

I am not a musician but I do love playing music and playing with sounds. I have had a home MIDI set-up since back in the days when we only had a single Macintosh in the house. Two years ago I backed two very interesting projects on Indiegogo that have now arrived and have settled into my musical routine. I thought I would review both of them together (although I did review one of them earlier).

The two products are Jamstik and C24. Both connect to your android or iOS tablet and allow you tp play music as if actually sitting with a full guitar or piano.

c24 Keyboard and iPad Cover

What I really like c24

  • Nice keyboard overall.
  • Becomes a great protective cover for you iPad
  • Connection occurs in the software so it is easy to set-up – just charge turn on and launch the c24 application
  • The software is very nice. Discounting li-ion charging time the amount of time from opening box to playing a song was about 3 minutes
  • Once connected launched Garageband right in the c24 application!
  • You can use the iPad’s speakers or external speakers as well.

What I don’t like c24

  • Keys are tightly put together
  • keys feel a little fragile
  • It doesn’t hold the iPad as tightly in place so if the keyboard moves left or right the iPad and fall over.

Jamstik Portable Guitar

What I really like Jamstik

  • The device has heft, it feels natural to hold.
  • Software is awesome (two applications) first is for learning to play guitar the other is for playing guitar
  • easy to charge
  • time (other than charging) to get operational out of the box was about 4 minutes.
  • You can use the external speakers or the iPad’s speakers as well
  • You can use Jamstik in Garageband

What I don’t like Jamstik

  • I get that Bluetooth isn’t as good for musical fidelity but wi-fi can be a pain to set-up if your device doesn’t also have a cellular data connection. Once I figured that out everything worked perfectly.

Disclaimer – I love music. I’ve written a few songs over the years and I can carry a tune while singing. I cannot play the instruments at any level of quality consistently. I tinker and noodle and just love the sounds I can create.

Overall both of these are great if you have a tablet and love to tinker with music. Garageband on the iPad allows you to record your creation and both devices easily can be found in Garageband. They are also cheaper than buying a full guitar or a full electronic keyboard and the Jamstik has an excellent built in how to play guitar application. The c24 works with a couple of piano training programs will add to the review eventually when I have more time to see if there are limits but so far it works well with the various applications I already have.

If you are looking for a keyboard or guitar fret to noodle with while traveling or at home these two are great additions!


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow!

Another Shameless Review – Canary

Canary is a crowd funded home video and environment system. It was delayed considerably (originally slated for almost a year ago). Its arrival two weeks ago was an exciting moment (I believe in crowd funding).

The unit arrived in a wonderfully designed box. When shipping audio or video equipment you worry about shaking during shipping but that wasn’t the case with the wonderful canary case. Placement of a video camera is important. I have the exceptional Hawkcam for the basement (sorry no pictures but you can imagine why). The Hawkcam is a quick set-up point at the target and go video system. For the front door area though I needed more than simply seeing the door. Our entry way has a few obstacles and I needed a system that not only zoomed but also once the video was on allowed you to pan within the video itself.

What I really love:

  • Packing was awesome!
  • The unit just looks cool.
  • Easy to connect to power.
  • Like the Hawkcam you can set it up from your mobile device. I can’t tell you how much of a killer feature that is.
  • Video field is wider than other cameras in its market space (nearly 180 degrees full).
  • Nice HD
  • easy to record video
  • Intelligence built into the software – you can tell the software when the movement in the space is pet’s people or best of all when something bad is happening it includes an alarm.
  • The software is awesome. I am running it on my Android Tablet and my iPhone/Ipad.

What I would like to see improved:

  • Non USB based power supply

My initial impression is amazing. When you connect to the camera you get a screen that allows you to scroll down to view events the Canary has captured or to press the watch live button. When you scroll down to view events Canary allows you to determine or classify the events so that it can learn. By my front door my other alarm system operates (all three dogs) so they are frequently running to the door during the day. I can identify pet movement and put an all’s clear in the software so it knows its just the dogs.

The home screen also tells me the CO2 levels, temperature and humidity of the house. Overall this is an amazing device and adds to my home security infrastructure. If you need a system you can zoom, pan and have coverage for a large area I recommend the Canary. In the simple, quick point and shoot security requirement buy the Hawkcam.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Shameless review–The Hawkcam Pro

Its all about the reviews. there are a growing number for this great remove viewing camera.

I wanted to add inside the house video of the entrances to my house. I realize that is geeky at best but it was important to me. I looked around on Amazon and found the HawkCam Pro. First off, watching my house like a hawk appealed to me.

What I loved:

  • There is no monthly storage fee for my video. I can use a number of methods including a local S.D. card, ftp to my computer hard drive or connect my cloud drive of choice to the system – no monthly fee let’s me be flexible.
  • Occlusion detection if someone accidentally (or not accidentally) covers the lens – it notifies you.
  • Remote viewing set-up is simply an account away. Even when I drop down to 4g in my office at work I can still view my back door cleanly.
  • Night vision is great – I don’t need lights turned on to use the camera.
  • Cost is perfect. It was right in the low end of the ballpark I was willing to spend for such a camera.
  • You can have one ore more cameras in the software.
  • Very cool feature – you can set the camera up from any device. I actually stood next to it with my iPhone and had it up and running on my wi-fi network in about 3 minutes.
  • I was thinking zoom would be a critical feature I would miss but in the end if you are observing a set thing (door) zoom really doesn’t add any value to what you are trying to do. In fact I suspect zoom would actually increase the size and make remote viewing tougher.
  • instructions both for the camera and for setting the software were excellent.

What could be better

  • Really only one thing – I wish the base were a little easier to assemble.

Overall this is a great addition to the home security system. I really like the overall view it gives me and frankly in the basement where it is a straight shot I think in the end zoom would have taken away from the value rather than add to it. The software is very easy to use and I like being able to record to the S.D. card on the device. If I need the video – I can run over and grab it. Mostly right now I am using it to figure out when the dogs have muddy feet coming in the back door.

If you need a quick, good and effective video surveillance tool for home use or business use then this is the product to get. I included the link to the page up in the top section. Overall I highly recommend this product. In the IoT expanding world of home security today, all I can say about this device is NO MONTLY FEES. That alone makes it worth twice as much as any of the competitors whose monitoring packages include a monthly fee.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Shameless Review–Lenovo Helix

Based on previous life experience I looked long and hard at the Microsoft Surface 3 computer recently when I decided to try the windows convertible format. I actually went to the MS store and tried one. Then I was at an event where a number of convertibles were sitting around (convertible sadly not meaning you can take the top off, simply that it can be either a laptop with keyboard or a tablet without).

I used the pre-helix Lenovo and liked it a lot. Then I saw the ads for the Lenovo Helix and that was the computer I wanted.

What I really like:

  • Tablet mode is easy to do and works very well.
  • Stylus (stored on the tablet side of the computer) works great
  • touch interface is smooth and multi-touch is supported
  • screen is small but the entire system is light so it’s a good tradeoff
  • Nice that both USB’s are 3.0
  • Has a nice docking system for the computer
  • Mini-display port adapter works well
  • It is the old IBM style keyboard not a full chicklet keyboard. I have a couple of chicklet keyboards but I love the old IBM style more.
  • I have gone more than 8 hours and more than 4 reboots without needing the charger.
  • Wi-Fi connections are easy to manage.
  • It has a built in ATT modem
  • it has the i7 Intel chip!

What I don’t like

  • I do not like windows 8. I don’t like it in the box. I don’t like it as the tablet I just don’t like it.
  • USB 3 ports are finicky at times. Sometimes you have to hot load the USB ports rather than just load from cold boot.
  • Its annoying but the base is pretty heavy.

Overall this is a strong buy. It doesn’t have the cool cache of the Surface 3 commercials and it does have windows 8. If windows 7 weren’t horrible with touch monitors I would downgrade it. But that isn’t a viable option so I life with Windows 8. My experience with this device has been happy all the way around. No complaints and ultimately I would both recommend the Lenovo Helix and I would in fact buy another one (I did to replace my wife’s dying home computer).


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Another Shameless Review Anker 5 port 40w USB charger…

I have been traveling for years (although only once or twice a year in the past three years for work). We travel back to Indiana to see family and head off on family vacations (mostly towards the Ocean). Over the many years I have traveled I can honestly say that the one thing that has driven me crazy is device charging.

First off because every device has a different USB cable to use when charging them. I found this on Amazon one day an Anker 40w USB charger. It is a game changer. I take it with me everywhere now. If you need power, it has 5 USB ports. If you need power though you also need the right amount of power and this unit supports rapid or high speed charging for all the connected devices.
Normally it takes between 45 minutes to an hour to fully change my iphone. With this device that takes 20 mintues. I use it in the office, I use it on the road and frankly I couldn’t be happier with this device.

Anker 40 Watt USB Charger
Anker 40 Watt USB Charger

What I love:
• Plug and change – easily
• Supports fast charging for multiple devices
• Supports multi-cables (lightening, USB Micro and Apple 30 pin in one cable) and provides enough power to use all three connectors at the same time.
• Works with wall (AC) or my GoZero battery

What I don’t like
• Really only one thing why did it take me so long to find this wonderful device.
• A passthrough USB cable would be a killer add on – so you can fast charnge and sync your device as well but frankly its awesome the way it is – this would just be extra icing on the cake.

Simply put if you have more than one device that needs to be charged grab one of these and put it in your bag. You won’t regret it. In fact since its close to Christmas grab two and give one to the gadget geek in your life. They are always looking for better ways to charge their devices. I promise. As a gadget geek that is how I found the device in the first place.

IASA Fellow