Gadgets news: Amazon galore, Google glasses, speakers and security

21 Sep 2015

The new HiddenHUB smart speaker system

This week in gadget news we have a smart speaker system, a smart privacy system, Amazon’s tranche of releases and Google’s new glasses project, because the last one went well.

This week’s gadgets news has been a bit of a hangover from last week’s Apple love-in. There was the new iPhone, iPad, iOS 9 etc, so many other releases were marginalised somewhat.

The popularity of the upcoming iPhone 6s was such that follow-up reports on specs, release dates and features continued to pour through as journalists returned from the great Apple jamboree in California.

But with Google and Amazon always willing to fill the void, we are not left wanting for long for other gadget news.

Google’s Project Aura

Google Glass is gone. It was catapulted into the public’s consciousness, before quickly vanishing, so you may have thought the fashion choice of the truly tech-proud people was lost to the ether.

But fear not, for Project Aura has emerged. Google is snapping up staff from Amazon’s Lab126 to help kickstart the new project, with the project’s short lifespan (reportedly starting back in June) not holding back the tech giant.

According to Business Insider, whatever Project Aura eventually becomes, it will remain a part of Google, rather than fall into the subsidiary cracks created by Alphabet’s creation.

Google Glass gadget news

Google Glass no more

“By remaining within Google, the Aura group will be able to collaborate more closely with other advanced technology efforts such as Soli, which allows consumers to control gadgets through gestures such as rubbing fingers together, and Cardboard, which turns ordinary smartphones into virtual-reality devices using a cardboard headset,” reads the report.

It’s not Project Ara, though, which is Google’s pursuit of a modular smartphone we covered recently.

Amazon… everything

Speaking of Amazon, the American company has brought out a raft of new gadgets.

On Thursday it released a new suite of kit into the wild, including Fire TV and new, incredibly affordable tablets.

Amazon Fire TV

The Fire TV has all the things you would expect, with streaming capabilities and microphone search functions etc. However, an eye-catching element is that, now, Fire TV is 4K-compatible.

As everyone compares things to what Apple does, it’s important to note that the Cupertino company cannot do such with its own, rival device. Apparently its quicker than before, which is nice, and there’s even a memory card slot included.

Fire Tablets

However, it was the tablet announcement that really caught the mood, with a US$50 variant coming in way below what many would have expected.

Amazon claims its twice as powerful as other budget tablets, with a weird ‘buy five get one free’ offer included.

Hidden HUB

We spotted this clever gadget on Kickstarter last week, with it achieving its desired US$200,000 in a day, with the figure rising since then.

The HiddenHUB is “the first truly smart speaker”, we’re told. The device apparently works off its surroundings, measuring gradients and obstacles and adapting its sound accordingly.

This is something I’ve thought about for a while, with such smart sensor technology out there, and the fact that wires are becoming less relevant.

The HiddenHub has a built-in accelerometor to help it create a “fully omnidirectional sound experience”.

The team are those behind the HiddenRadio speakers you may have heard of before. Here’s the video to explain it better:


Cujo’s wonderfully scaremongering promotional video obviously did the job as, after just a few days on Indiegogo it flew past its US$30,000 target, doubling after a couple of days.

The gizmo blocks malware, identifies viruses and phishing scams and detects hacking of your home network by plugging into your wireless router.

Apparently there are no upgrades, you just download an app, plug the device in and receive warnings you need to be aware of.

If this is effective then it could really catch on. Especially considering how reluctant people are to invest in decent antivirus software when they buy new computers.

Perhaps hardware is actually the answer.

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Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic