Every month, we'll bring you a variety of tech we like; it could be serious and work-related, or more playful and fun for personal use! In April's episode, we discover a parent's best friend, right through to radio navigation (oo-er). If you see anything you like the look of, below this video is our ‘Link Library’ to help navigate you to the right place (see what we did there?!)
Link Library for April’s Tech We Like
PlantNet Plant Identification: From Google Play https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.plantnet&hl=en_US&gl=US and from the App Store https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/plantnet/id600547573
Accurate clock based on GPS: https://create.arduino.cc/projecthub/ingo-lohs/a-cheap-and-accurate-clock-based-on-gps-adc0d9
Yoto – The Screen-Free Audio Platform for Children: https://www.yotoplay.com/
Learn My Way: https://www.learnmyway.com/
The National Theatre caption glasses: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/your-visit/access/caption-glasses
Perfect Prep Machine: https://www.tommeetippee.com/en-gb/product/perfect-prep-machine
Chloe 00:00: This is going to be the first session of ‘Tech We Like’ which we are going to do monthly and just put simply, it's a chance for us to just quickly chat through any tech that we've seen or that we're using at the moment that we quite like. So i'm going to start with Chris Rhodes.
Chris 00:21: My ‘tech I like is something called Radio Navigation which is the technology that underpins GPS and all the other things you use. So everything you use day to day, say like from Strava for example or like Google Maps, through to your plane not getting lost and running out of fuel and crashing in the middle of the Atlantic, is all based on this piece of technology. And it just uses, like, different radio beacons so you know where your positioning is the whole time. And now, it's up, and now, that's how it started and now they use satellites to do it. So wherever you are in the world, you can know where you are and that underpins, like, probably about half of the technology we use today is based on knowing whereabouts in the world you are at any given time, like whatever the weather, whatever is going on. So yeah, it's pretty cool. I mean, the main daily application of it is, like, not getting lost when you're walking around a city you've not been to, I suppose. But, yeah it's pretty nifty really. There's a lot of things we couldn’t do if we didn't have it.
Chloe 01:21: It blows my mind, honestly. I can't. I'm the wrong person to talk about technology because that is just like another level for me.
Linda 01:29: And me!
Sara 01:32: Yeah, me too!
Chloe 01:33: Okay, Ben.
Ben 01:36: Me? So I've found this rather cute looking video game which is in development at the moment. So if I can share this up, it’s called, it's got a working title ‘Vokabulantis’ but the awesome thing about it is that it’s all done using stop-motion animation and real genuine puppets, models.
Sara 01:59: Ahh, wow.
Ben 01:59: And physical props.
Chris 02:00: That’s amazing.
Ben 02:01: So all of this has been made in a studio as you can see there. They've actually got the armatures and the pieces and then each each prop is photographed, rotoscoped, scanned in and then has the animations, even the animations aren't actually done in the video engine, they're actually done by stop-motion animation, recording the animations and then simply playing them back on demand.
Chris 02:31: So it's like low-tech/high-tech.
Ben 02:34: It's brilliant. It's just such a wonderful, there you can see how the the lighting responds.
Chris 02:41: Wow.
Linda 02:42: Wow.
Chloe 02:43: That is cool.
Ben 02:44: It's such a wonderful marriage of, as you say, the really old technology that's been around since last century and then being used on cutting edge and current generation game platforms.
Tom 03:00: That’s really cool.
Chloe 03:02: Wow, that is cool.
Ben 03:04: Which i thought was really cute. They've got a Kickstarter going and I'm pretty sure they've already blown through their funding target within a week or something.
Chloe 03:13: Amazing, that's really cool. I like that. Okay, I'm gonna go next because I’m next on the screen and mine is probably really not technological at all, but I have become obsessed with plants, mainly indoor plants, and my latest thing is the plant identifier app which you can literally scan on anything and it should tell you what type of plant it is. So obviously I know what I've got indoors, but now when I go for dog walks and things like that, I like to have a look at what the wild flowers are and stuff like that, so I just, yeah, as I say I'm not very tech so that just, yeah, easily pleased I think.
Linda 03:55: Is it free that one or do you have to pay?
Chloe 03:57: Yeah.
Linda 03:58: Ooh well I'll have a link to that one.
Chloe 04:00: Definitely yeah, I'll send it to you. And it does I'm not sure if you, you must use one already, but it's flowers, leaves, trees, you know everything. So yeah, really cool.
Sara 04:12: Have you tried it? Like, have you actually managed to identify one with it?
Chloe 04:16: Yeah, it does actually work! Okay, Linda, over to you.
Linda 04:20: Mine's pretty boring too and it's, I've discovered the Couch to 5k app and I just think it's a fantastic app for beginners that want to start running again for all levels. And you do three runs a week and it's walk a bit, run a bit, and she's telling you in your ear when to walk and when to run, so yeah, I like it. I think it's good for all levels and I'm almost enjoying it.
Chloe 04:52: Almost! Nearly. Nice, very good. Ed?
Ed 04:58: Mine, I mentioned before but LastPass which we all use, many of us will know that they changed their pricing system. So it means you can only use it on one device so I looked into loads of alternatives and one of which is BitWarden and it's basically really similar to LastPass in, sort of, how it all functions but it's completely free and completely open source and the, kind of, plus side for me is that it actually works better on Android than LastPass did because on Android there is a lot of issues where you'd, kind of, click on a password field and you wouldn't get the LastPass prompt and you'd have to leave your app, go back into LastPass and then go back into your web browser and it sometimes still wouldn't appear, so it was really frustrating. Whereas this works really well, and I don't know if I can show you this but it gives you a little, sort of, view. It shows you which accounts you have passwords. So I'm on Facebook and it just, when you click on the password field, auto, sort of, fills…
Chloe 06:08: Oh, I see.
Ed 06:09: ..in your keyboard and you can just click on it and it will fill it in for you, which is really helpful.
Chloe 06:16: So, it's an alternative, is it a password keeper sort of thing?
Ed 06:23: Yeah, it’s a, sort of, password vault and it has the same sort of functionality that LastPass has, in that you can store, you know, secure text notes for example, like, you know, I've got my national security number in there because I always forget it. And bank cards and things like that. It's really good.
Chloe 06:45: Hmm. And you're confident in keeping those things in there, like that's how secure you think it is?
Ed 06:54: Yeah, I mean it's, basically you can it's locked, sort of, via a password or you can use biometrics to unlock it. So when you, sort of, use it I think there's like a timeout on it, so I'm just logged in, like you know, sort of a minute ago just to see whether it works and I can show you it and so it is unlocked. But usually when you go into an app it'll say “Your vault is locked” and then you have to unlock it with your fingerprint or password.
Chloe 07:23: Right, I see. Hm, interesting. Will have to have a look at that. Cool, thank you very much. Okay, Mike.
Mike 07:30: Hello. Yeah I've got so many things to talk about but I wasn't actually going to talk about this particular thing but when Chris Rhodes started talking about GPS, it reminded me of something that I saw recently through Hackaday I think, where someone figured out that you can build a little electronics device that gets your GPS location relatively easily, but also you can actually get the current time, this guy reckons, which is quite special because it means you could build a device that can get the, can get an accurate timestamp, but without like having to connect to the internet, you know. So you could put it, you know, you could make sure that the clock in your car is always accurate for example. Or a watch or, you know, anything that could be anywhere in the world and it would always be the correct time. It's pretty cool. I've not seen that before.
Ed 08:29: That's really cool.
Chloe 08:31: Has it been released already?
Mike 08:34: No, no, it's just some dude. I mean I've bought a module. I've got myself one here, a little GPS module, so I'm going to try it out.
Chloe 08:44: Wow, I wish I could do stuff like that, that's so cool. Nice, well you’ll have to let us know how that goes then in the next session. Okay, Tom.
Tom 08:54: Yeah, I'm gonna talk about a little, I was trying to think about what to do, but I've got a device I bought for Florence ages ago. I can’t remember where I heard about it, but I backed it on Kickstarter, and then it’s become a thing and it's doing really well. It's a little, like a speaker unit for kids called the Yoto. So it's really, I'll just share the screen so you can see their website. Hang on. Here we go. And it's really cool. So, basically it’s this little box that sits there and you put in a card. And it can be, like, audiobook, or music or educational things or games and things like that. And it’s got like a little pixel display so it shows, like that's the Enchanted book and it shows you a tree. But when Florence was little we had cards that would show up different animals and she'd try and say the noise before the audio said them.
Linda 09:43: Aww, nice.
Tom 09:44: And there's books there so she'll like take herself off and put on The Gruffalo or something like that, and quite happily sit there listening to an audio book, which is it's a nice alternative to the telly or an iPad or the screens in the world. And it's really nice that it's, kind of, a really fun way of getting her engaged in things beyond the telly. It's really nice. It’s cool. And it's just little things like when it's just on standby and it shows you the like night time or daytime things, when she was really little it would help us get her to bed. We’d say “Look, your Yoto says it's night time now.” And she’d go “Oh yeah, it’s night time” and go to bed.
Linda 10:19: Aww.
Tom 10:20: Yeah, it's really cool. So yeah, it's nice. They've got like a big range of books and whatnot. And they've got all of these educational cards with phonics and stuff like that, that we haven’t quite got to yet. But she is using it a bit, but she's getting more into it as she's, kind of, learning more about the world. It's really cool. It's a kind of nice thing for her to be able to play with and yeah, it's very clever.
Chloe 10:40: Yeah, that is cool. It's funny actually, I've been thinking about audiobooks for George and I think it was because I have some CD’s that I found and I thought I have nowhere to use these now, so something like this would be perfect.
Tom 10:56: And you can actually, you can make your own cards. You can get blank cards and you can upload audio so if you had playlists or whatever you want, you can upload it to the Cloud and connect it to a card, so you've got your own card with your own content on. It's nice. And there's like radio stations and all sorts of things. Very cool.
Chloe 11:16: So I could do a Lego Movie playlist for him?
Tom 11:21: Yeah, yeah.
Chloe 11:22: Oh, cool! Hm, I’ll have to have a look at that.
Ben 11:25: That’s brilliant.
Chloe 11:29: Nice, thanks Tom, very good.
Chris F 11:32: We got something similar called a Techno Tonibox which is a similar thing, but I've not come across that one you mentioned, probably should have looked around a bit more, there probably is a lot more.
Tom 11:42: Yeah, it’s good, it’s good.
Chloe 11:44: Hm, nice thanks. Sara?
Sara 11:50: So I couldn't think of anything that, like, really excites me that I use, but one of the things I'm really passionate about from my career is, sort of, inclusive and accessible technology. So Tech For Good. Tech For Good initiatives. So helping vulnerable people, disadvantaged or perhaps people with disabilities and there's loads of examples of this, so I couldn't really pick. There's such a huge spectrum of initiatives that are Tech For Good and there's loads of awards for them as well, like spanning from, you know, charities that through the pandemic have been giving out devices that they've acquired from organisations along with MyFi, so there's a big issue around data poverty, so giving people data as well as devices. And then at the other end of the spectrum there's like loads of initiatives going on, you know, I could list loads but like, for instance, on the accessibility side you've got The National Theatre who have created these new glasses which pair speech technology with closed captions. So anyone can go to the theatre and put on these glasses and if they've got a hearing impairment they can, it can recognise what the actors are saying and then put them on the screen. So that's a really cool one. But the one that I know loads about is one that I've worked on which is Learn My Way and this is an online platform which is helping people that have very low levels of digital literacy so, and it's such a challenge to support people to learn like really really basic digital skills via an online platform. I can imagine it's like such a, like a..
Chloe 13:52: Counterintuitive, yeah.
Sara 13:53: Yeah, so it's really great because like, well, barriers to getting online, there's tons of them like, but like the key ones are access, skills, motivation and confidence. And the Learn My Way platform tackles this in amazing ways because, well, in terms of access, it is free. So anyone can get hold of it and use it and obviously they might not have devices so it's widely used in libraries across the country and in community centres, so people can use it. And yeah, it's just a great tool. It, like, teaches people everything from how to use a keyboard and you might think, like you guys might think ah, people these days they must be able to use a keyboard or a mouse but there's millions of people that can't. So yeah, it's a fantastic thing. So yeah, there's loads of that, but yeah, that's what I'm really passionate about and what I like.
Chloe 15:00: Cool, no that's really good. I've never heard of that before so, yeah, I'm going to take a look at that because that sounds, like you say, you don't realise how little access some people do have to stuff that we take for granted every day, so yeah, really cool. Thank you. Erm, Perry.
Perry 15:22: Right, yeah, so someone who's apparently techy, I don't really use much tech or follow tech, but for me it would be, not one I use now but when the babies were younger, it's the Perfect Prep Machine for making baby formula. It just, like in the old days you used to have to boil the kettle and wait for it to cool down and get to the right temperature and all that rubbish. And it'd be an absolute nightmare, like, babies waking up at 2 p.m, 2 a.m wanting a bottle and then having to do that. But the Perfect Prep Machines that they made, they basically just make it in minutes at the right temperature and it's ready to go, just saved us, saved a lot of sleep.
Tom 16:07: Happy days.
Chloe 16:10: Yeah! Nice, thank you very much. And lastly Chris Foster.
Chris F 16:17: Yeah, I've changed mine a few times while I’ve been…I was going to pick something which was a bit developer-y and probably not very interesting to a lot of people but…
Chloe 16:29: You might think that, but you'd be surprised.
Chris F 16:32: But yeah, one of my recent purchases is this little YubiKey which is kind of a two-factorial method of signing in. It's kind of an alternative to using your mobile phone and it's just, you just plug it into the USB-C and you just put your finger on it and it kind of logs you in. And it's also got NFC built in so you can just touch it to your mobile phone and log in that way as well.
Linda 17:09: Nice.
Chris F 17:10: And hopefully one day people, I mean there's a few places already that do it, but it becomes a bit more widely used. We could do away with passwords completely and just log in using the keys.
Tom 17:30: Love it.
Chloe 17:32: I didn’t even know that was a thing so thank you. Thank you all very much. We've got some, a variety of different things there, so yeah. I thought that was, well for me anyway, that was good.
Tom 17:42: Yeah, good stuff.
Chloe 17:43: I don’t know about you guys.
Tom 17:44: Yeah, it was good.
Chloe 17:46: So you've now got another month to think of the next thing. Thank you all very much.
Tom 17:53: Brilliant, thanks Chloe.
Chloe 17:55: Thank you, and I'll see you later.
Tom 17:58: Yeah, see you next time.
Linda 17:59: Speak to you all later.
Everyone 18:00: Bye. Bye.
See you in May for the next episode of Tech We Like!