Technology

What You Should Know About the Online based Spellings Test for IELTS?

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Technology

Well advised from the cloud – with chatbot and augmented reality

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Technology

Fellow Digitals: This is how everyone can contribute new work to the company

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spelling test for ielts

If you are planning to take up the examination of IELTS then you should have all the knowledge required for this exam. You can take the help of some websites which offer free IELTS help to the students. There are different syllabus in the different countries of Europe. The audio ielts spelling test is given to every student who wants to clear their English language. It helps the students to know more about the basic and the intermediate level of their English language.

If you want to pass the IELTS exam, then there are certain things that you need to keep in mind. One is the use of the dictionary, which is very important for the students. In this exam you will be required to read a number of words by yourself. This will help you get a better knowledge about the English language. The IELTS test will be made easier if you follow all the instructions which are given in the syllabus. After you pass the IELTS test, you need to go for the placement test and get an IELTS certificate. Once you are done with the test then you should choose the job as the IELTS specialist.

You will be able to find a lot of websites which provide you IELTS help to students. These websites are not only helpful for the students but also help the employers as well. These websites give you all the information about IELTS syllabus so that you can prepare yourself for the exam. There are many online IELTS help websites. You can use the internet search engine to find these websites. If you do not know how to look for these websites

Those who can support customers remotely save time-consuming and expensive on-site visits. How two start-ups support companies with digital advice.

The CNC machine is defective and no specialist in-house to repair the device on site at short notice? Where else production standstill would result – experts are rare and on-site visits difficult due to Corona – new technologies can help.

Two of them: Augmented Reality (AR) and chatbots. According to the IT Trends 2020 from the consulting company Capgemini, almost every third company in the DACH region is relying on AR or is about to do so, with chatbots even almost 40 percent. BlinkIn and Kauz , two start-ups from Telekom’s TechBoost funding program, are now taking online consulting even further.

New ventilation for hospitals in Wuhan

BlinkIn , founded in 2018, relies on visual help – whether for questions about system maintenance or the documentation of claims in insurance operations. Thanks to augmented reality, no employee has to be on site for this: customers can use a smartphone rear camera to share, diagnose and solve the problem with an expert without any pre-training or special app.

A link to any smartphone is sufficient to start a live video call or to transfer photos and videos. With artificial intelligence, the interactive instructions and visual problem analyzes can even be partially automated.

The pandemic has shown that solutions like BlinkIn will become increasingly important in the future. At the beginning of the pandemic, for example, the ventilation systems in the temporary hospitals in Wuhan, China, could only be installed with the help of BlinkIn – the fitters from the manufacturer Huber & Ranner were simply not allowed to enter.

The Dortmund pump manufacturer Wilo uses BlinkIn worldwide during the lockdown period to analyze and rectify errors. And in the long term, BlinkIn can also be used in customer service for end users, for example to find technical problems with household appliances or in the event of a car breakdown.

One chatbot, 10,000 conversations a day

If on-site support is not required, chatbots can also help. You automatically answer simple inquiries on the homepage and thus keep personal contacts free for tricky cases. Because more complex queries often only confuse conventional chatbots, the Düsseldorf start-up Kauz has optimized the speech understanding of chatbots.

“Real understanding rates in the chatbot area are often 50 to 70 percent, with us they are closer to 70 to 90 percent,” says Kauz founder and CEO Dr. Thomas Rüdel.

Big data in companies: knowledge as an important resource

The key to Kauz’s success: programming based on linguistic analyzes helps the chatbot solution to react competently, even to unusual formulations. This ensures natural communication. Rüdels claim: “The chatbot should be able to solve most of the problems intelligently and without human intervention.”

The numbers prove him right: a person has to jump to the side of a Kauz-Bot in around every fourth chat. More and more customers appreciate this: For example, more than 100 savings banks, R + V and the drugstore chain dm already use a Kauz chatbot.

According to Rüdel, Kauz chatbots are also proving themselves more and more in internal company use, where they make knowledge quickly accessible to employees with the help of their own chat and search technology.

How TechBoost supports start-ups with innovative business ideas 

Both BlinkIn and Kauz rely on simple and secure hosting in the Open Telekom Cloud (OTC). The special software architecture of the cloud environment offers additional security and flexibility.

With the TechBoost funding program , the Bonn-based group now supports more than 450 start-ups with IT resources, access to the customer network, and sales and marketing measures.

New Work is now an established concept. The step there was not easy, as the employees in particular have to be open to this. Fellow Digitals shows you how to motivate your employees to implement the digital processes.

What does an open minimum have to do with new work? Clearly: It’s the starting point! Because if your employees don’t get involved in digitization, work in the home office and try out new methods, the implementation can only fail.

For this, your employees also need a fixed place where everyone can meet (digitally) and exchange information and knowledge. Fellow Digitals’ Viadesk Social Intranet enables just that.

Experience report: This is how New Work works in practice

Fellow Digital colleague worked from Canada for almost three weeks , which allowed them to put the company’s New Work concept and Viadesk Social Intranet through their paces.

The basic requirement was primarily digital tools so that she could work on projects with colleagues.
In an extreme way, it became clear what is also reflected in the trends in cooperation in companies: In general, cooperation in companies is changing more and more. There is more chatting here instead of quickly walking next door and speaking in person.

The physical distances are also getting bigger: some of the colleagues are working more and more in the home office, others maybe even in another city and are rarely in the office. But collaboration between different countries is also seamless thanks to digital tools.

Thanks to the social intranet, spatial distance is not a problem

Working transparently on a social intranet , in which everyone openly communicates their current projects and new ideas, meant that spatial distance was not a problem. Everything that is shared there is available to colleagues to read.

Other applications can also be integrated. The focus and the daily team meeting point is the social intranet – easily accessible for everyone and clearly structured by the various groups.

Fellow Digitals: New Work through Digitization

A modern social intranet connects people, information and processes. Employees and external persons can communicate, work together and exchange knowledge with one another in an intuitive way. The intranet is mobile, guarantees the security of documents and personal data and can be easily and flexibly combined with other tools and systems.

The Viadesk Social Intranet is a SaaS platform (Software-as-a-Service). Here you can start immediately, without worrying about installation and associated costs, IT management, updates and maintenance. The cloud solution gives you the greatest possible efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and above all: flexibility.

Every employee can access the platform at any time and on any device and work seamlessly with others. These are exactly the prerequisites for New Work to work in a company.

Communication is the key to success

As in most areas of life, communication is the key. If employees can exchange ideas with one another and if there is sufficient communication between employees and managers, this is the best prerequisite.

Working from Canada would not have been so easy without the tools from Fellow Digitals. Even during the Corona crisis, it became clear that a functioning infrastructure is important for every company. This guarantees flexibility and security for employees and gives them the opportunity to break new ground.

If you would like more information about the Viadesk Social Intranet, you will find everything here about implementing New Work in your company.

In times of corona and digitization, teamwork is becoming more and more complicated. You don’t see each other as often, agreements are usually made over the phone or emails and misunderstandings are inevitable. We have five tips for you on how to work better in a team.

The most important foundation is a shared online storage that every team member has access to. With Teamplace , your team gets exactly that:

1. Cloud storage

Sufficient storage space in the cloud is an absolute must – especially in larger companies where different teams work on joint projects, the need for a flexible solution to share and efficiently manage files, images and documents is increasing.

This is exactly what Teamplace offers : With the platform, you get an intuitive and simple solution to provide all team members with storage space in the cloud as required . With two five GB workspaces, the so-called teamplaces, you get extensive storage space for your first projects completely free of charge. As part of the bonus model, you can secure additional free team places.

2. Edit documents online

One of the biggest contributors to improved teamwork is online editing. All other members can follow all work steps, recognize extensions and see progress. All team members can edit texts, presentations, tables and other Office files directly online. With Microsoft Office 365 and the free Libre Office, two Office solutions are seamlessly integrated into Teamplace.

Install the Teamplace Desktop App on your Mac or PC for offline access to team files. Teamplace will then be linked as a local drive on your computer and folders and files of the selected project will be continuously synchronized. An activity stream informs all team members about activities that have taken place.

3. Different file formats

Not everyone works with the same file formats. It is therefore important that different formats are supported. With Teamplace, hardly any file format is left out. The solution supports common Office formats such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint files as well as PDFs, RAW formats, videos and even 360 ° recordings.

4. Privacy

If all data is to be stored in a cloud, data protection is particularly important. As a German company and with servers in Germany, Teamplace strictly adheres to national data protection laws and the provisions of the European General Data Protection Regulation.

5. Different needs

Not every team is the same size and has the same needs. For this reason, it is particularly important that you and your team decide on a solution individually. Teamplace has tailor-made teamplaces. The basic version is completely free.

Simply register, create Teamplace and you can start right away. Each Teamplace contains five GB of storage space for a total of ten users and everything you need to collaborate around files.

Test the extensive functions of Teamplace immediately and convince yourself of the free solution for your teamwork.

Actually, Apple wanted to activate a new tracking protection with iOS 14, which could have caused massive problems for app operators. But now the company is backing down – and is postponing the change to 2021. Is Apple kissing Facebook and Co.?

Just recently, Apple made a big announcement that it would  install a new tracking protection with the update to iOS 14 in autumn 2020. According to this, Facebook and Co. users first had to ask for permission to track their data for advertising purposes.

The measure could have completely changed the advertising industry. Because if users had not consciously reactivated tracking, app operators would no longer have been able to display personalized advertising. The personal data were missing as a basis for this.

Apple is rowing back: Tracking protection won’t come until 2021

But now Apple has published a blog entry in which the company is backtracking with its plans for the time being.

The company recognized that the short-term change would have posed major challenges for many app developers. Apple wants to give them “more time” to prepare for tracking protection and to find alternatives to the previously simple data collection.

That is how the official justification reads. For example, Facebook reacted to the original announcement by Apple with severe criticism. The social network claimed that its advertising revenue could fall by as much as 50 percent.

Tracking protection: is Apple cuddling up to Facebook and Co.?

The question now, however, is whether Apple really decided to postpone the tracking protection to 2021 – or whether Facebook and Co. have not put pressure on the company.

In theory, Apple itself could not have cared whether it released the update this fall or 2021. The company has exempted its own advertising platform from the regulation anyway.

Apple also emphasizes its belief that technology should protect our privacy rights. The company still wants to give developers enough time to prepare for the new tracking protection.

Unofficially, Facebook and Co. could have put enough pressure on Apple that the company postponed its update to 2021 rather involuntarily.

Here’s how to manually limit ad tracking

When exactly the tracking protection should come next year, it is not clear from the blog entry. If you want to restrict ad tracking on your iPhone now , you can do so in the settings .

There you select ” Data protection ” and scroll down to the bottom. Under “ Advertising ” you can now activate the slider for “ Limit ad tracking ”.

If you want, you can also reset your ad identification number. You will then receive less or no personalized advertising.

In the “ Start-up-Check! “We regularly examine the business models of start-ups. Who is behind the company? What makes the start-up so special and what is there to criticize? Today: ChargeX.

Start-ups. That sounds like inventiveness, future technologies, new markets. But in reality, many of the start-ups unfortunately often turn out to be a mixture of an e-commerce idea, haphazard founders and shaky future prospects.

They certainly exist: the pioneers who tinker with the big problems and revolutionize business models. Finding and presenting these is the task of the Start-up-Check format. Today: ChargeX from Munich.

Who is ChargeX?

The need for charging options for electric cars is increasing continuously. This applies to fleet operators, car dealers, large companies, hotels and parking garages. But of course also for private households.

Charging stations usually have to be cabled in a complex manner. They are also very expensive. It becomes particularly difficult if several parties want to charge their vehicle at the same time. Because then it can happen that the power grid is quickly overloaded.

ChargeX from Munich has developed an intelligent solution with the so-called Aqueduct that solves this problem. The system consists of a modular, expandable charging station that works like a multiple socket and automatically distributes the charge with a time delay.

The vehicles are thus infected. The integrated load management then controls the charging process over a longer period of time. Behind the start-up are Tobias Wagner, Michael Masnitza and Johannes Engeln, who started developing their charging station concept in 2017.

The idea itself arose from everyday life with an electric car. For example, there were very few charging points available at a previous employer. An expansion would have been very expensive and time-consuming.

The founders were convinced that they would not be the first to face this problem. From the idea of ​​developing a kind of multiple socket for e-cars, today’s Aqueduct was created after several prototypes.

ChargeX has already applied for a patent for the system. However, so far the confirmation is missing. According to the founders, the product itself has been in use since mid-2019. The cost: 3,999 euros for the starter kit consisting of four modules. An expansion module is available for 999 euros.

In August 2020, the founders had already sold 300 modules. Thus they were able to generate almost 350,000 euros in sales. A calibration-compliant Pro version can currently also be pre-ordered.

The Aqueduct is also well received by automobile sizes. In 2018, the founders successfully completed their first station at the Gläserne Manufaktor in Dresden, the Volkswagen Group’s incubator.

The young company’s idea was first put into practice at the Volkswagen site there. At the same time, the start-up concluded a business angel round with a mid-six-figure sum.

At the end of August 2020, ChargeX took part in the TV show ” Die Höhle der Löwen “. Unfortunately, the start-up was unable to negotiate a deal there due to the lack of a patent.

However, interested parties can currently participate in an ongoing crowd funding campaign on the online portal Green Rocket. So far, 720,800 euros have been collected here.

In the next five years, the founders plan to scale their charging solution and install charging points across the board. ChargeX should develop into the leading provider of flexible charging infrastructure that charges electric cars in harmony with the power grid.

What does ChargeX do?

With the Aqueduct, ChargeX provides the first modular complete system for setting up several charging points for electric cars – while relieving the load on the power grid and exactly where there is actually a need.

ChargeX also offers a digital intelligent assistant for load management. This determines the needs of each driver and distributes the charging time of the e-cars accordingly.

So if three colleagues want to charge their vehicles in the underground car park of their office complex, but they have different working hours and routes, the system determines the charging requirement and distributes the electricity so that everyone can get to their destination without any problems.

What makes ChargeX so special?

To put the system into operation, all you need is a connection to the house supply. The electrician only installs the starter module. The expansion modules can be integrated without specialist knowledge.

The plug-and-play principle avoids the lengthy installation process and the laying of cables from the main line to each individual wallbox.

The integrated safety system ensures that there is no overload of the power grid. Another advantage: If a module is defective, only this device has to be replaced. The system itself continues to run without failures.

Load management is optimized by loading according to individual needs. That means: more cars can be charged per connection than with conventional solutions.

Depending on the power grid and which vehicle should drive again when, the electricity is distributed to the individual vehicles over the time available until departure.

The system is also self-learning and recognizes potential for modular expansion. It thus supports customers in assessing future needs.

Each user can also receive an individual charging pass on request. He is then authorized to start the charging process. Users can also store further information about the vehicle and the charging profile. The charged energy is billed automatically in the background.

With the so-called Priority Pass, customers benefit from a range of around 100 kilometers (20 kilowatt hours). These are given priority in the electric car. The process can be repeated up to five times.

The Charging Assistant, which should be available from the end of 2020, supports customers on longer journeys or special departure times. It not only shows the current amount of energy, but also helps with route planning.

Are there any points of criticism?

ChargeX definitely has great potential. On the one hand, the global market for charging infrastructures is valued at around 4.5 billion euros this year. 2025 even with 16 billion euros.

On the other hand, controlled charging over several hours is ideal for use at airports, Park & ​​Ride car parks, in shopping centers or large companies. So it’s no wonder that the ChargeX team has already won over major customers such as Volkswagen, Thüga and Veolia.

However, you have to take into account that only one vehicle is charged at a time. This is due to the usual capacity of the main connection. The real limiting factor in the system is time. If enough time is available for the charges, eight charges are also possible.

Aqueduct should also be around 50 percent cheaper than the competition. What sounds good at first, can be seen in relative terms, however, as the price ranges of the wallboxes are very large – depending on their functionality.

Of course, companies still benefit because, compared to other manufacturers, they avoid the high and complex initial investments thanks to the modular concept. There are further plus points, as the system can be expanded as required.

Conclusion

With their innovative smart charging concept, the three founders want to actively shape the energy transition, reduce emissions in the transport sector and make the electric car accessible to everyone with a comprehensive charging infrastructure.

They follow the motto: Every parking space is at some point a loading space. That alone deserves a big thumbs up.

I keep my fingers crossed for ChargeX that they can build on their previous success in the future and thus make a valuable contribution to our environment. And of course it remains to be hoped that their concept will soon be patented.

Apple is tightening data protection in the App Store. In the future, developers should easily break down in their Apple apps which user data they collect and what they use it for. Two clearly structured tables should help.

Apple wants to help its users to better understand the tracking and thus also the data protection in the App Store. Because if we download an app, with a little effort we can get an overview of which user and device data is being collected and used.

So far, however, it has not been easy for every user. Therefore, with the new iOS 14 operating system, Apple is asking developers to explain to us in detail which data their apps are accessing.

In future, Apple apps will show you which data they collect from you

In a blog post , Apple explains exactly how this should look. Accordingly, developers have to disclose their data collections in two clearly structured tables.

Developers can no longer hide behind cryptic data protection texts. Instead, they have to enter information for data collection in an easily legible manner and ensure that it is always up to date.

The developers should then transmit the information to Apple. However, you are not only obliged to state what data your own code collects.

However, they must also show what information they are collecting through third-party codes that may be embedded. This includes, for example, software development kits from Facebook and Google.

This is what the tables look like

The new regulation applies to Apple apps on the iPhone, iPad and Mac. The information about the data collection should be available to users in the App Store before it is downloaded.

The tables are similar to the nutritional value labels of foods. The first overview clearly shows in various categories which detailed data the respective app collects and passes on.

So, as we can see, the table also tells us whether an app is collecting health and fitness data, financial data, location data, and other information.

The second overview then provides information on how and for what the developers use this data.

Here we also find out whether our data is used for advertising by third parties, advertising by the developer himself, analysis of app usage, personalization of products and more.

Developers must also specify whether an individual user can be traced back from the data and whether tracking takes place – i.e. whether they also use information to create a profile of the user for advertising purposes.

What Apple has not yet explained is whether the company will check the information provided individually or only intervene if there are complaints.

Apart from that, the new table system sounds like a very user-friendly change. So Apple actually seems to want to give us more information about what is happening to our data.

And as the company has already announced, full tracking protection for users will come in 2021 . Apple had originally planned to deactivate the preset tracking with iOS 14 in autumn 2020.

But because Facebook and Co. had expressed strong criticism, Apple postponed the change to a later date. As we reported earlier , tracking protection could ultimately transform the digital advertising industry from the ground up.

In WhatsApp chats, a “creepy message” has been shared for some time that completely crashes the application. But what tricks do fraudsters actually use and how can you protect yourself against such WhatsApp spam? We’ll tell you.

Perhaps you have already come into contact with it: At least since 2017, WhatsApp chats around the world have said that a so-called ” scary message ” has been going around, which contains a complete jumble of letters.

If you open this message, your app will crash immediately – in such a way that it cannot be opened again afterwards.

You will have to reinstall WhatsApp afterwards if you want to use it again. So you could say that the spam message destroys your chat history. They’re gone if you haven’t made a backup in advance .

WhatsApp spam: these are the tricks that scammers use

WhatsApp spam like this is not uncommon. Sometimes it is of the harmless kind and just forces you to reinstall the app. But it can also cause more damage and infect your smartphone with viruses, for example.

In the case of the “creepy message”, for example, the fraudsters used characters that WhatsApp cannot read. That’s why the app just crashes when you open it. The bug can also occur if the message lands on your smartphone as a virtual contact file (VCF).

But there is another way. In 2019, for example, fraudsters lured people with free data . In truth, there was a clickbait trap hidden behind the seductive offer. The masterminds wanted to achieve a higher reach for a website.

In the same year, Android users were also confronted with the “ Agent Smith ” virus , which used popular apps such as WhatsApp to secretly install fraudulent software on users’ devices.

This is how you can protect yourself against WhatsApp spam

WhatsApp spam doesn’t get to us just like that. If we are careful, we can protect ourselves well from him.

Ideally, we ensure that dangerous spam messages do not even get onto our device. To do this, we should activate the setting in WhatsApp so that not every account can add us to groups.

To do this, go to ” Account ” in the WhatsApp settings and then navigate further. Under “ Privacy ” you can specify in the “ Groups ” category that you only add your own contacts to groups.

If a suspicious message consisting of random combinations of characters still appears on your device, you should definitely not open it. Instead, it is advisable to start the web version of WhatsApp and delete the message there.

In addition, we shouldn’t – and this is especially true for Android users – hang around in third-party stores and download unofficial apps. Otherwise we run the risk of catching a virus like “Agent Smith”.

The heating system listens to your word, the security camera reports visitors on the smartphone: The connected home is a big topic at IFA – but not yet for many consumers. How the providers want to convince you.

Summer is not ideal for the tests. Who wants to turn on the heating when it’s more than 25 degrees outside? Christian Deilmann grins when he thinks back to the last few months – the sweaty work has paid off: His company Tado has developed a new heating thermostat just in time for the IFA electronics fair and for the approaching autumn. It can be controlled via the app and by Apple’s voice assistant Siri. It is an important step for the start-up from Munich to conquer the mass market.

Tado is not alone in these ambitions. At the IFA in Berlin (September 2-7), numerous manufacturers of home appliances and home surveillance products will focus on the networked capabilities of their new devices – in the hope that a gimmick will become a must for the average user. Whether heating, stove or washing machine, door lock, security camera or smoke detector: Everything becomes smart.

The market for the connected home has been small so far. According to figures from market researcher GfK , the market share of networked home appliances in Europe is just three percent, for example. However, this is only a snapshot: “In five years at the latest, all devices will be networkable,” says Peter Schnaebele, who heads the Bosch Smart Home division. Because that is technically feasible and, in view of falling component prices, will soon no longer be expensive.

Five terms about IFA

In competition with the technology giants from overseas, German companies such as Tado, Bosch and Elgato see themselves as having good opportunities. However, you have to convince the customers in several ways: that it is easy to use, that the investment is worthwhile – and that privacy is preserved in view of all sensors and cameras. What they are working on and how they argue: a tour of the fair.

Tado for all of Europe

Tado is one of the pioneers in smart heating technology. Co-founder Christian Deilmann did research on fuel cells during his studies and learned that the efficiency of energy generation is already largely exhausted. Together with some friends, he developed the idea that saving heating energy would bring more to lower emissions. They founded the company eight years ago.

First, Tado developed a control that is installed directly on the boiler. The start-up claims that heating costs can be reduced by up to 30 percent. Now, in autumn, a device will be added that can regulate the temperature of individual radiators, regardless of whether residents have access to the burner or not.

“Starting this week, all households in Europe can use Tado, unless there is a charcoal stove there,” says Deilmann. This is the prerequisite for selling the product in the mass market – and becoming profitable. A financing round of 20 million euros, completed in April, should help with the expansion.

Waiting for Apple and Google

With the new software version, which should be available to all users, Tado is also introducing a new type of control: the heater listens to voice commands. Siri can receive commands on the iPhone, and the start-up also wants to support the networked audio player Alexa from Amazon when it is available. The command sounds something like this: “Siri, heat the bedroom to 21 degrees.”

It is not yet clear which standards Tado will support. “We believe that there can only be a few platforms worldwide,” says Deilmann. After all, the effort for technical development and marketing is high. The start-up will observe which these are.

Bosch wants to build a platform

Bosch wants to set up one of these platforms. The Swabian group has developed its own smart home standard. Now he is looking for partners who can adapt their devices to this. There is great interest, assures Peter Schnaebele, managing director of the smart home subsidiary. Bosch initially wants to win partners for all important fields, such as entertainment, shading and mobility, and later expand the range.

Schnaebele sees this networking of various manufacturers as an important sales argument: “So far, the smart home has not caught on because more than 80 percent of the products are individual solutions,” he is convinced. Bosch wants to establish the connection with its own software – and guarantee with the familiar name that the technology will still work in a few years.

Many of your own devices can already be integrated, from security cameras to extractor hoods. However, this has its price: the new smoke detector costs a hefty 150 euros. Even if it can measure air quality, many consumers will think twice about whether to spend the money. The same applies to the Eyes outdoor camera.

“The great benefit arises from the networking and multiple use of the devices,” emphasizes Schnaebele. The smoke detector can be used as an alarm system – if a window sensor detects unexpected movement, the device can emit a warning tone. And the camera doubles as an intercom that can be operated from anywhere, provided there is an internet connection. “There is no such thing as one killer application, diversity makes it.”

Elgato is hoping for the new iPhone system

The Elgato company focused on networking the house early on. When Apple announced the Homekit platform, the developers immediately got to work. Some devices have been on the market since 2015, such as a room thermometer and a socket. At the IFA, the Munich-based company is showing, among other things, a smoke detector that can be combined with other devices to form a network – if, for example, the window sensor detects a break-in, it emits an alarm.

However, the early investments have only paid off to a limited extent. The smart home business contributes at least ten percent to sales. “But there is much room for improvement,” says company boss Markus Fest. For this, however, stronger support from IT companies such as Apple and Google is required . They are not only able to build and maintain a platform over the years, but also to make it known with their large marketing budgets.

So far, however, this has been lacking. The Google Nest system is technically advanced, but it takes a comparatively long time to develop, Fest observes. Apple left itself behind for a long time after announcing the Homekit platform. And you hardly hear anything from the Samsung subsidiary Smartthings.

Score with low prices

But something could happen now: In September, the iPhone manufacturer will be launching the new iOS 10 operating system, which contains its own app for the connected home. “We hope that Apple is now beating the drum and the demand increases,” says Fest. “But it will take a while until the topic reaches the mass market” – for example, until Google is ready.

In addition to powerful marketing, lower prices could also help spread the technology. Medion, for example, relies on this: The Lenovo subsidiary is launching three packages, the cheapest one costs around 200 euros. “When you think of the term smart home, you think of techies and people with money,” says Medion manager Sandro Fabris. “But we believe that the topic is suitable for the mass market.”

The five big trends of the fair

The company offers various smart devices, such as a door sensor, a motion detector and a security camera, as well as a heating thermostat and a radio-controlled socket. The connection is established by a radio module, the control runs via an app. Medion markets these devices in three packages, called “Security”, “Comfort” and “Energy”.

Fabris does not want to comment on the prospects. But: “With our prices and our distribution channels, we can sell a relevant number of devices.” The Aldi partner initially sells the packages through its direct sales force. A short time later, the sets should also be available from other well-known e- and retailers.

This little robot from Japan cannot do really practical things. The Kirobo Mini is practically a modern successor to the teddy bear and should make its owner smile or entertain.

The leading Japanese car company Toyota is making a new attempt to use robots to address customers outside of the classic vehicle market. Toyota will start selling the Kirobo Mini robot in Japan next year, as the company announced at the Ceatec electronics fair in Ciba, near Tokyo. At the Toyota booth, there was a long line of visitors to the fair who wanted to see the little social robot in action.

The approximately ten centimeter tall companion should have the intelligence of a five-year-old and be able to read the state of mind of its owner from the facial expression. It will hit the market in 2017 for 39,800 yen (350 euros). There is also a monthly subscription fee of 300 yen (2.60 euros).

In 2013, Toyota had already presented the Kirobo, a small talking robot that, among other things, could transport the Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata to the International Space Station. Kirobo was already able to recognize and react to human gestures and facial expressions. The Kirobo Mini now recognizes, for example, whether a car driver is driving too briskly and shouts “Oops!” When the car is braked sharply. On a longer journey, it also reminds the driver to take a break.

What robots can already do today

The Kirobo Mini is equipped with a camera, microphone and Bluetooth. It connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth. The robot should be able to locate human voices and turn its head towards the speaker. However, the little robot cannot distinguish between different people. Toyota assumes that the Kirobo Mini is assigned to a single person and is not shared by multiple users.

Fuminori Kataoka, the responsible manager of the Kirobo project, said the Kirobo Mini does not have a mind that can be described as artificial intelligence. The robot primarily serves as an emotional connection exception. “It’s about having someone there to talk to.” A soft toy cannot talk even though people are talking to it. “Wouldn’t it be better if it could answer?”

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Toyota produces the Kirobo Mini together with Vaio, which was spun off from the Japanese electronics giant Sony . The former Sony factory in Nagano prefecture used to produce the robot dog Aibo. Aido was discontinued by Sony in 2006, despite fans in Japan and around the world vehemently advocating further development of the robot.

Toyota is looking for new business areas

Like other automotive companies, Toyota is looking for new business areas outside of its core business. In Japan, car sales are projected to decline over the long term because the population is shrinking due to aging. In addition, many young people are no longer interested in buying their own car.

At Ceatec, the Japanese electronics group Sharp also presented a further development of its robotic smartphone RoBoHoN. The robot can not only make phone calls, but also dance, conduct dialogues and display videos with a built-in projector. After the takeover of Sharp by the Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn , observers had expected the project to end because RoBoHoN had not been commercially successful so far.

A version of RoBoHoN that also understands English and Chinese was shown at the fair. In addition, functions have been added to the smartphone so that it can also be used as a robot in the reception area of ​​companies.