It’s a Wrap!

Presents, promises, and predictions to ring in 2019

By Leslie Steere

November/December 2018

Bixi Touch-Free Gesture Controller

Bix Touch-Free Gesture Controller

Who hasn’t stealthily fiddled with a smartphone while at the wheel—to activate GPS, send a message, or control music, for example? Keep your focus on the road (or bike trail) with Bixi, a customizable device that uses machine learning to recognize in-air hand movements and deliver commands to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Attach the portable gadget to any dashboard—or use it in other situations where you need touch-free control for your mobile apps. US$99. Bluemint Labs

Open Sesame

Forget keys and combos: If you’re gift shopping for someone who loses both, consider the Tapplock One fingerprint padlock. This weather- and water-resistant lock opens in less than 0.8 seconds at the tap of a finger—on the lock itself or remotely from a smartphone. Programmable for 500 fingerprints, the lock boasts a capacitive fingerprint sensor with an adaptive algorithm that makes it faster and more accurate with each access. Set access rules and track history with the (free) app. US$99. Tapplock


AI: The More You Do, the Better the Outcome

Is AI measuring up to its promises? When Deloitte surveyed 250 of “the most aggressive” early adopters of cognitive and AI technology, it found 83% of respondents’ companies had already achieved either moderate or substantial benefits, integration with existing systems was a principal challenge, and most companies had either added jobs related to their cognitive technology projects or experienced “little or no” job loss. Not surprisingly, the more experience a company gained, the more economic benefit it enjoyed.


Source: “The 2017 Deloitte State of Cognitive Survey


Do you speak tech? Quiz yourself!

  1. Which of the following describes a generative adversarial network?

    A. A network created to reproduce itself in such a way that each reproduction destroys its earlier version.

    B. A euphemism high-tech executives employ to describe expanding gang networks within their industry.

    C. A class of AI algorithms used in unsupervised machine learning in which two neural networks duel. One network (generative) creates a realistic photo (for example) in an attempt to fool the other network (discriminative), which attempts to determine whether that creation is real or artificial.

  2. In the context of IT, CaaP stands for

    A. Common language infrastructure as a platform

    B. Conversation as a platform

    C. City as a platform

    D. Computer as a platform

  3. One term for a chatbot that acts as a conversational interface for the Internet of Things is

    A. CaaP

    B. ThingTon

    C. TalkaLoT

Answers: 1. C; 2. B; 3. B


Habit-Forming Apps for the New Year

Three apps that help you keep those pesky resolutions



Gamify good habits and productivity with Habitica, an app that motivates via in-game rewards (and punishments!) and connects with a large social network to help you achieve your goals. Create an avatar, customize your task list, and progress toward leveling up your character and unlocking new gear every time you tick off a task. Participate in quests alone or with friends, and stay accountable by tracking and managing your habits and achievements. Developer bonus: Habitica is an open source project. Free (Android, iOS)


six with us

Built from the ground up for mobile devices, Cyclemeter transforms your smartphone into a killer fitness computer complete with maps; graphs; splits; intervals; laps; training plans; more than 120 configurable announcements including distance, time, speed, elevation, and heart rate; and more. Sensors let you record heart rate, bike speed, bike cadence, and bike power, and you can share your location and progress as well as your workout calendar with family, friends, and coaches. Free (Android, iOS)



Looking to improve your health in 2019? Meet Ada, a personal health companion designed by a team of 100 doctors, data scientists, and engineers that uses AI and machine learning to help people to understand and manage their health. Launched with the mission to give everyone access to high-quality, personalized health information and care, Ada asks simple, relevant questions; compares your answers to thousands of similar cases to help you find possible explanations for your symptoms; and suggests next steps. Free (Android, iOS)

Photography by Bixi and Tapplock