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Bored with ironing? Effie quickly irons up to 12 items of clothing at once

Digital Trends



***Original post published on Digital Trends***

Why it matters to you

Effie can iron up to 12 clothing items in about 3 minutes, eliminating the need for a squeaky ironing board.

One of the personal care activities that most people hate or are too lazy to do is ironing. Many avoid the chore and walk around in a wrinkled shirt and slacks, or just avoid buying clothes that require ironing to begin with. There could soon be a solution. Effie, an automated ironing system that looks like something straight out of The Jetsons, is looking to save you the headache of pulling out that squeaky old ironing board.

The device, which looks like a small wardrobe closet, can iron up to 12 different items of clothing at once. All you do is hang each item on a special hanger and then place it into the device. It can handle garments made of polyester, cotton, silk, viscose, denim, and more. Effie does the job in about 3 minutes — about as long as it takes for you to dig the iron out of the closet, turn it on, and wait for it to heat up. The device promises to get rid of all creases and wrinkles and reduce time spent ironing by 95 percent.

United Kingdom engineers created Effie because ironing is apparently the U.K.’s most hated chore.

The idea for the device came in 2015 with the intent of creating machines that would fully automate the home one chore at a time. Engineers Rohan Kamdar and Trevor Kerth decided to begin with laundry due to how time-consuming ironing is. They used small-scale, rapid prototyping tools to create Effie, including 3D printing, acrylic laser cutting, and plastic vacuum forming. They then used specialized software to make each part digitally, and assembled them virtually to make sure that all pieces and technologies worked well. A patent is pending for the device.

“Since we were able to quickly test multiple versions and different features of effie, we are confident that the final form is a device that users will be excited with, and which will save them so much time and mental anguish,” Kamdar said in a statement. 

The device is a prototype right now, but you can sign up for updates and provide backing.

***This post originally published on Digital Trends***

Digital Trends is a leading consumer technology publisher helping people navigate an increasingly digital world. With easy-to-understand product reviews, entertaining news and videos, Digital Trends serves more than 30 million unique visitors each month. Digital Trends reaches 90 million tech influencers through their own media network, and its syndicate partners include Yahoo!, FOX News and more than 200 broadcast news stations. Digital Trends is headquartered in Portland, OR with offices in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Chicago.



These automakers have learned to stop worrying and love the plug

Digital Trends



***Original post published on Digital Trends***

Aside from a handful of pioneer models like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S, automakers have largely shied away from electric cars. But that’s about to change.

Over the past few months, several major automakers have announced plans to add large numbers of electric cars—along with hybrids and plug-in hybrids—to their lineups. Some have even pledged to stop selling cars that don’t feature some degree of electrification.

Some have even pledged to stop selling cars that don’t feature some degree of electrification

It’s a bold move, but automakers may not have a choice. World governments are passing stricter regulations to curb carbon emissions. China—the world’s largest car market—will institute sales quotas for electric cars and plug-in hybrids in 2019. Several European countries are considering banning sales of new conventional gasoline and diesel cars in the coming decades.

While the current U.S. presidential administration opposes regulations related to climate change, automakers will still have to realize significant efficiency gains under regulations that have already been locked in. California—which is allowed to set its own emissions standards—continues to pursue aggressive policies promoting electric cars.

But automakers are preparing for this low-carbon future. Here are the plans that have been announced so far, including the new electric cars and hybrids that will hit the road over the next few years.


BMW i3

At the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW announced plans for 25 electrified models by 2025. That total includes 12 all-electric cars. These cars will be sold not only under the main BMW brand, but also Mini and Rolls-Royce. Even BMW’s vaunted “M” performance division will get some electric cars or hybrids.

BMW has more experience with electrification than some of its luxury rivals. The automaker already sells the i3 electric car and a fleet of plug-in hybrids—including the sleek i8 coupe.

BMW definitely needs an electric model to slot between the i3 and i8

Up next is a production model based on the Mini Electric concept, which will arrive in 2019. An all-electric version of the BMW X3 crossover will follow in 2020, and an i8 convertible is also in the pipeline. In 2021, BMW will unveil the iNext, an all-electric sedan that will also have some degree of autonomous-driving capability.

It’s unclear how BMW will fill the many remaining electric-car slots. The automaker definitely needs an electric model to slot between the i3 and i8 in its “i” sub-brand, and rumors of such a model have swirled for the past few years. The BMW i Vision Dynamics concept from the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show provides a hint at what this new electric car could look like.


Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ concept
The parent company of Mercedes-Benz, Maybach, and Smart will soon offer a hybrid or all-electric version of nearly every car it makes. Mercedes will offer an electrified version of every model in its lineup by 2022, Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche announced at the company’s investor day in September. Mercedes will eventually offer no less than 50 hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric cars, Zetsche said at the time.

Daimler previously announced that Smart would sell only electric cars in North America beginning in 2018. The automaker has sold Electric Drive versions of its Fortwo alongside gasoline versions for several years. In the U.S., Mercedes currently sells plug-in hybrid versions of the C-Class, S-Class, and GLE-Class, but just discontinued its only all-electric model, the B250e.

Mercedes’ future electric-car plans center around EQ, a new sub-brand for electric cars analogous to BMW’s “i” division. EQ will eventually encompass 10 models, the first of which will be a production version of the Generation EQ SUV concept that debuted at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. A production version of the EQA concept from the 2017 Frankfurt show will likely follow.

In addition to cars, Daimler plans to electrify commercial vehicles. It’s currently upgrading a factory in Germany to build electric versions of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, and recently delivered a handful of Fuso eCanter electric trucks in the U.S.


2017 Ford Focus Electric
The Blue Oval recently formed “Team Edison,” a dedicated group focused on the development of electric cars. But the company’s electrification plans seems a bit more limited than its competitors’.

Ford’s only confirmed new all-electric model is an unnamed SUV launching in 2020, which will have a 300-mile range. The company will also build hybrid versions of the Mustang and F-150, and its promised self-driving car (due in 2021) will be a hybrid as well. Those will be among the 13 hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric models Ford has said are in the pipeline.

Outside of passenger cars, Ford is building a Fusion Hybrid police car, with plans for a second hybrid police vehicle. It’s also working with DHL to build electric vans in Germany, is demonstrating a plug-in hybrid van in London, and unveiled a prototype Transit Connect hybrid taxi at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.

General Motors

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Andrew Hard/Digital Trends

Detroit’s largest automaker may have created the Chevrolet Volt and Bolt EV, but until now it hasn’t tried to build on those successes with a wider range of models. On October 2, though, GM announced an electric-car blitz.

GM will launch at least 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023

GM will launch at least 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023, with the first two coming in the next 18 months. The automaker has not offered specific details on what types of vehicles these will be, or which brands they will be sold under, but it did say that future models will apply lessons learned from the Bolt EV.

The General is also one of a group of automakers still pursuing hydrogen fuel cells. It has a deal with Honda to partner on the technology, and has shown military-oriented hydrogen pickup truck and cargo vehicle concepts. However, this work hasn’t coalesced into any apparent plans for a production fuel-cell passenger car yet.


Hyundai Kona
The Korean automaker is taking an “all of the above” approach to reducing emissions. Hyundai currently rosters hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric, and fuel cell models, and it’s planning more of each. Those plans include sibling brand Kia and the Genesis luxury brand.

In August, Hyundai announced a new round of green car launches, with the goal of adding 31 new “eco-friendly” models across the Hyundai and Kia brands by 2020. That includes an electric version of the new Kona SUV, which will have a 390-kilometer (242-mi) range and arrive in the first half of 2018.

After that, Genesis will get its first all-electric model in 2021, and Hyundai will launch an electric car with a 500-km (310-mi) range that same year. Hyundai is also working on a second-generation fuel cell SUV to replace the current Tucson Fuel Cell.

Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar I-Pace in London
In September, JLR announced that it would put a mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or all-electric powertrain in every new model beginning in 2020.

Given the tight timeframe and the need to please conservative buyers, it’s likely that most of these future models will be mild hybrids, which use electric power primarily to run accessories rather than for propulsion. Mild hybrids are cheaper to engineer, and feel more like conventional cars from behind the wheel.

But not every new JLR product will go the mild-hybrid route. The Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV will launch next year, and Land Rover has already confirmed plug-in hybrid versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Electrifying the automaker’s sedans and crossovers should be pretty straightforward, but some models—like the Jaguar F-Type sports car and upcoming Land Rover Defender SUV—might prove more difficult.

Volkswagen Group

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept
As it works to recover from its diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen is about to undertake what might be the most ambitious electrification effort of all. VW wants to offer a hybrid or all-electric version of every model across its numerous brands by 2030. Right now, the company offers more than 300 distinct models ranging from the humble Volkswagen Up! to the mighty Bugatti Chiron.

By 2025, Volkswagen wants to introduce 50 all-electric cars and 30 plug-in hybrids.

By 2025, Volkswagen wants to introduce 80 new electrified models, including 50 all-electric cars and 30 plug-in hybrids. The identities of some of these new models have already been revealed.

The Volkswagen brand will get production versions of the I.D. hatchback, I.D. Crozz crossover, and I.D. Buzz electric-car concepts. Inspired by the classic VW Microbus, the I.D. Buzz has been confirmed for a 2022 launch, but it’s unclear when the other two will arrive in showrooms.

VW’s luxury brands are also getting in on the electrification act. Audi will launch its e-tron electric SUV next year, and will follow that up with a production version of the e-tron Sportback concept in 2019. Porsche will launch an electric four-door sedan based on the Mission E concept by the end of the decade.


Volvo plug-in hybrids
The Swedish automaker kicked off the wave of grandiose electrification announcements when it declared in July that, beginning in 2019, every new car it sells will have a mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or all-electric powertrain.

Volvo already has something of a head start on this. It already sells “T8” plug-in hybrid versions of the XC90, S90, V90, V90 Cross Country, and XC60. The recently revealed XC40 crossover will get a plug-in hybrid variant as well. Other Volvo models will likely get the plug-in hybrid option as they are redesigned, with mild hybrids filling out the rest of the lineup.

Volvo doesn’t currently have any all-electric cars in its lineup, but it will launch five of them between 2019 and 2021. Three will be sold under the main Volvo brand, and two will be allotted to Volvo’s Polestar performance sub-brand.

The rest

Nissan Leaf
Other automakers have smaller-scale electrification plans. Here’s a sampling.

The Nissan Leaf is the bestselling electric car in history, and a new model is on the way. Nissan’s partner Renault sells electric cars in Europe, and new acquisition Mitsubishi has its Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid. But the three automakers have not discussed electrifying a larger array of models. That may happen eventually, though, in which case Nissan and Renault will adopt Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid tech, and Mitsubishi will lean on its new benefactors’ experience with all-electric cars.

Toyota has been a champion of hybrids and hydrogen fuel cells, but has been less enthusiastic about battery-electric cars. Japan’s largest automaker is now expected to launch a mass-market electric car by the end of the decade, and will continue selling its Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. But hybrids without plugs will likely continue to dominate its product plans.

Mazda has no hybrids or electric cars in its lineup, but still manages to lead automakers in average fuel economy. But it will need to add plug-in hybrids or all-electric cars to satisfy California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate, and a partnership with Toyota should help with that. Subaru is in the same boat, so expect it to launch at least one new car with a plug to comply with the California rules.

Aston Martin is working on an electric version of its Rapide sedan called the RapidE. The car is expected to launch in 2019, and will be a limited-production model. Aston CEO Andy Palmer previously said the RapidE will have 800 to 1,000 horsepower, and a range of over 200 miles. The RapidE will be a stepping stone to a higher-volume model, likely an electric version of the upcoming DBX SUV. More recently, Palmer said Aston will electrify its entire lineup by the mid 2020s.

Aston Martin RapidE concept

Honda currently sells all-electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell versions of its Clarity. The Japanese automaker wants electrified models to make up two thirds of its global sales by 2030, but so far it has committed to ending sales of conventional gasoline and diesel cars only in Europe.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) CEO Sergio Marchionne is a notorious critic of electric cars, and the company has not announced any large-scale plans to develop them. But as a large global automaker, FCA will need to embrace electrification to meet tougher global emissions standards.

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***This post originally published on Digital Trends***

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Huawei may be releasing a foldable smartphone next year

Digital Trends



***Original post published on Digital Trends***

Why it matters to you

Huawei maybe joining the ranks of Samsung and ZTE by offering a foldable smartphone next year.

Edge-to-edge displays were the defining trend of smartphone design in 2017. First appearing on the Samsung Galaxy S8, the feature will be included on the iPhone X and numerous other smartphones. As pretty as these screens look, it is possible that we’ll be seeing yet another trend emerge in 2018, and it’s one that could really shake things up: foldable smartphones. ZTE kicked things off with the Atom M, which featured two screens connected by a hinge. The device was certainly an interesting one, but we found it lacking in comparison to the more traditional, and much cheaper, Axon 7.

ZTE’s offering may not have been perfect, but it may have been a herald of things to come as CNet has reported that Huawei is working on a foldable smartphone for next year. Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business group, said that the company already has a workable prototype, but stressed the need for better design and innovation.

“We have two screens,” Yu said. “But we still have a small gap [between the screens]. That’s not good, and we should get rid of that gap.”

Such new features are more than just a novelty for tech enthusiasts. It is one of the ways in which Huawei hopes to overtake its rivals and become the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer.

“We will overtake them definitely,” Yu said. “That’s our destiny. Maybe I’m not humble … but nobody can stop us.”

Such boasting might seem like PR spin, but Huawei has the resources and market share to back it up. The company might not be the household names that Samsung or Apple are, but it is the world’s third-largest smartphone manufacturer.

In terms of foldable smartphones, Huawei isn’t the only company seeking to enter the market. Samsung is hoping to release a bendable smartphone next year. Samsung’s device, which appears to feature a single flexible screen, is more in line with the rumors and patients regarding foldable phones. As for Huawei, it remains to be seen whether their device will be closer to Samsung or ZTE’s. Either way, 2018 is looking like it will be a very interesting year for smartphone enthusiasts.

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When protecting medical devices from hacks, is the cure worse than the disease?

Digital Trends



***Original post published on Digital Trends***

Why it matters to you

Whether you use a pacemaker or other medical device, the convenience of connectivity with your doctor carries some new risks.

Medical technology, like other tech, has become increasingly connected in recent years. Even devices such as pacemakers are now connected to the internet. This allows doctors to monitor problems such as irregular heartbeats or failing battery life. However, internet connectivity brings with it new risks for pacemakers and other medical devices. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Abbott Laboratories has rolled out an update intended to protect pacemakers from being hacked, but some medical professionals are concerned that the risks outweigh the rewards.

Abbott warned that its newest update has the potential to cause malfunctions within the pacemakers. Since Abbott Laboratories released the update, the Food and Drug Administration received at least 12 reports of pacemakers malfunctioning during the update process. In some cases, the devices failed to update properly. Even when the devices did update correctly, there were reports that some of the pacemakers went into backup mode during the updates. In backup mode, the pacemakers are reset to default settings rather than those customized for a particular patient.

Despite the glitches, none of the reports contained any mention of serious harm being caused to the patients.

While there have been multiple reports of malfunctions during the updating process, the FDA has received no reports of any of the hacks which the updates were meant to prevent. Mike Kijewski, chief executive of MedCrypt, said that the risk was fairly low due to the fact that a hacker would have to be within close proximity of the patient in order to get to his or her pacemaker.

The low risk of hacking combined with the higher risk of malfunction has led some doctors to simply refuse the updates.

“It’s not really a risk we’re willing to take at this point,” said Bruce Lerman, chief of cardiology at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “We don’t feel the benefit at this point necessarily outweighs the potential risk of uploading this software.”

Abbott Laboratories pacemakers are currently in use by about 465,000 patients in the United States, and they aren’t the only medical devices at risk of being hacked. In December of the last year, the FDA released new guidelines for protecting medical devices from hackers.

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***This post originally published on Digital Trends***

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