Week in gadgets: Rise of tech DIY with home brewer and genetics kit

8 Dec 2014

The Brewie home brewing machine

This week in gadget happenings, tech DIY is increasingly common with a home brewery kit and even a home genetics kit, while a toothbrush also works as a water fountain.


Describing itself as the world’s first fully automated brewery, the Brewie is a rather unassuming looking machine with its all-steel exterior, but is very much targeted at the growing number of craft beer enthusiasts and, frankly, anyone who likes the sound of cheap beer.

While aimed at beer enthusiasts, it reasonably assumes that those who love the taste don’t necessarily know how to create it and with the addition of a step-by-step guide and the swiping of a RFID recipe card, the Brewie starts churning away.

Of course, for beer connoisseurs, they can go through each of the steps and processes of brewing their own beers in minute detail.

If there was ever anything to get people on-board to the internet of things mentality, it’s the Brewie’s ability to be monitored through the user’s smartphone telling them at exactly what part of the process the brewing is in and when the next step needs to happen.

For most beers, the brewing time takes on average two weeks to make and to put things into an Irish perspective, a 330ml glass of beer in bars costs an average of €1.71 (although please tell this reporter where) while the Brewie makes the same amount for around €0.19.

The Hungarian Indiegogo project has received just over US$33,000 in backing, a third of their original target of US$100,000 by the end of January 2015.

23andMe arrives to UK

A concept that was also considered beyond consumers because of expensive equipment and labs is the process of genetic analysis to determine your genetic roots, but for some time now, 23andMe have been offering a home analysis kit to people in particular countries who may want to know where they originally came from.

However, the service has been mired in controversy and stories of secret children and covered up tales of fostering kids and yet, this hasn’t stopped interest in the kit from thousands of people around the world.

Now, UK genealogy enthusiasts, and Irish by proxy, are able to get their hands on the kit for the sum of stg£125 (€158) which is then sent back to the 23andMe labs for a detailed analysis.

However, the service has actually been suspended in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of claims by the company that it could be used as a prevention to serious illnesses or disease by finding strains in the person’s genetic make-up, something which was a big no-no in the FDA’s books.

While it is back on the US market – minus the health report offering – UK users can still get access to the controversial feature.

Pavlok passes the US$250,000 funding mark

The fantastically-named Pavlok – named after the infamous Ivan Pavlov researcher and his obedient dog – is a device which has ‘shocked’ the general public because of its claim that it is a device to combat procrastination.

The wristband is designed to act as a motivator that can shock you if it sees you are straying from your work, including visiting un-important websites.

Also performing as a fitness and sleep tracker, the band has already performed four-times as well as its original Indiegogo target of US$50,000 having only last month hovered at the US$150,000 mark.

The shock factor of the Pavlok is definitely designed as a method of getting the smartband viral with claims that it will ‘shock you when you text your ex-lover’ or ‘beep loudly when you go into McDonalds’.

Amron Rinser toothbrush

Sometimes it’s the simplest of designs that prove appealing to the general public.

In this case, the Amron Rinser does to dental hygiene what the smartwatch did to checking your phone, that is, shaving a few seconds off your daily life.

The Rinser toothbrush is designed as a manual toothbrush that allows for continuous use with a range of replaceable heads but, different to many other toothbrushes, has a design feature that turns it into a fountain to allow you to rinse your mouth out without needing to use the tap.

Despite it hardly being a revolutionary change to the way we brush our teeth, the design was still considered worthy of winning the Reddot Design Award.

Still, it’s definitely a neat feature and retails on their website at US$34.99 (€28) for the toothbrush itself or if you are insane, you can buy the original prototype for US$3,800 (€3,008).

Chromecast surpasses Apple TV in streaming device rankings

Google will no doubt be pleased to know that its affordable streaming stick, the Chromecast, has just passed Apple TV in the rankings in terms of the number of streaming devices sold this year in the US for the first time.

Despite Apple TV being on the market longer than the Chromecast, new figures show that the Google product has 20pc of the market cornered compared with Apple TV at 17pc, and yet, both pale in comparison to the Roku streaming stick which has 29pc of the US marketshare.

Meanwhile, newcomers Amazon and their Fire TV stick is gathering pace claiming 10pc of the market leaving almost a quarter of the market left to various other streaming devices.

Parks Associates, who undertook the research, estimates that by 2017, there will be approximately 50m streaming devices worldwide.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic