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Guilty as charged: I love new technology

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Tech Talk by Peter Mate
Peter Mate is owner and president of Planit Canada, a software and services company devoted to servicing the manufacturing industry. For more info email
Gadgets galore. I’m guilty. I love new technology. I’m always intrigued. I’m going to share my thoughts on some new consumer technology I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. I don’t acquire all new tech stuff right away.
I usually wait a little.
Give a chance to see some reviews, feedback and videos. I’ll share with you my insights on Amazon’s Alexa controlled Echo speaker, the new Apple Series 3 watch, the IPhone X and last, but definitely not least, the DJI Spark drone. Yes, we got a drone and I feel like a kid all over again.
First, Amazon’s Echo speaker. There are a ton of new smart speakers from all the major companies available now. I can’t really judge which is best, but I’ll comment on the one we got at the office. Setup was a little tricky. Plan on taking some time to learn how to set it up and connect it to other smart devices.
Once setup, it knows your location and can offer weather information, traffic conditions including estimated drive time to get home and so on. It can be connected to smart thermostats, lights, music and much more.
At first, you find yourself talking to it like it’s a baby robot, but once you get used to it and how to interact with it, it gets more natural.
You ask “Hey Alexa, set the thermostat to 21 degrees” and Alexa responds “OK. Setting the thermostat to 21 degrees.”
It’s amazing seeing the team at the office walk by it and ask Alexa to tell them a joke or to sing happy birthday to a colleague. I have one at home too and my kids love it. I tend to prefer teaching my kids how to find answers rather than giving them answers. I can’t help but smile watching my 7-year-old daughter count money from her piggy bank and asking Alexa how much is 17 times 25 cents. If you can part ways with the hundred bucks, you should have one in your office if for nothing else than the entertainment in watching others interact with it.
The Apple watch is quite a bit pricier. I think it suits forward thinking tech junkies that have disposable cash. It definitely has some nice features, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying anything is life changing. The Series 3 watch now operates independently from your phone, meaning you can leave your phone behind and still makes calls and send/receive text messages with the watch. It uses your existing phone plan to do so. Not all phone carriers support this, so check with yours’ first.
I did find myself just coming in from outside taking my coat and boots off while a call was coming in. I answered it on my watch and continued what I was doing while having a conversation. It worked surprisingly well and it’s very convenient. One of the things I constantly use it for is weather. I have the local weather on the display at all times. It’s become part of my morning routine to check my watch for the weather today. To me, the watch is a ‘nice to have’ if you can afford it and love technology.
Apple’s IPhone X is pretty cool. One of the most talked about changes is the facial recognition. No more entering passwords. It works remarkably well! Even if I’m wearing a tuque, or have a coat zipped all the way up above my chin, it still works every time!
There are subtle things that I really like. When a text message comes in, it shows a notification, but not the content of the message. Once you hold up the phone and it sees your face, the content of the text is revealed. Pretty neat! Yeah, the camera is better, it’s way faster, but most of the functions I use are the same. It’s always good to stay relatively current, so if you have an old phone and like Apple products, this could be a good time to upgrade.
Drones. Who wouldn’t love a drone! Answer: My dogs.
If you ever loved playing with remote controlled cars, you will absolutely love flying a drone. I bought the DJI Spark and love it. It does take some learning. Much more than driving a remote-controlled car, but much less than flying a remote-controlled helicopter or plane. It has a camera integrated in it and it’s so much fun. The video recordings are very stable. If you do nothing else but record a super cool aerial video of the exterior of your shop, it’s worth it. If you had to pick one tech gadget out of this list, the drone for me is the one, but that’s a personal preference.

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