Convenience, security, and mobility are at the forefront of many new products, and rightly so. Here’s a look at some game-changing technology products that will impact the way we work and live in 2015 and beyond.
1. Cicret Smart Bracelet
The Cicret (pronounced “secret”) bracelet (still in the prototype and venture capital funding phase) turns your forearm into a full-color, touch-sensitive smartphone display with a simple flick of the wrist.
You can do anything you would do on a smartphone or tablet, complete with swiping capability, on your skin. It pairs with your phone via Bluetooth and will come with either 16GB or 32GB of storage.
For secret agent wannabes, the free Android app is available now. It provides totally secure, fully anonymous, and untraceable chatting, sharing, and information exchange. Only other users to whom you give your private ID can contact you and vice versa; each interaction with other Cicret users has its own encryption. You can also store a text or audio file on your computer and get it back on your smartphone with Cicret.
Watch the promo video on Cicret.com; try a beta version of the app on Google Play.
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2. Mobile Payment Systems
Apple Pay, a mobile payment solution, was launched in October. It is a contactless payment technology that enables users to pay with their iPhone, Apple Watch, or iPad (Air 2 or mini 3)-no actual wallet or credit cards required. You enter your credit and debit card information into Passbook (you can also do so from your iTunes account), and it is securely stored there.
Stores and banks that accept it have contactless (no swiping) readers at the counters/cashier stations. The iPhone 6 uses near field communications (NFC)-hold the phone near the contactless reader with your finger on the screen’s Touch ID icon. On the Apple Watch, double-click the button next to the digital crown and hold the watch face near the contactless reader. You can also use Apple Pay within iPhone 6 and the enabled iPads; at checkout, select Apple Pay and place your finger on Touch ID.
Apple Pay has some nifty built-in security features to protect users. A unique Device Account Number (a “token”) is encrypted and securely stored in a dedicated chip on the device. These numbers, which are used to process your payments, are never stored on Apple servers, so your data is safe. The Device Account Numbers also shield your actual credit or debit card numbers from being shared with merchants or transmitted with payment.
Transaction details are not stored either, so your payments are private. Plus, you never have to show your personal data (name, card number, security code) to cashiers as you do when using a credit card.
3. Connected Cars
Cars are becoming the ultimate mobile wireless device. Your devices can connect to vehicles through application interfaces, and automobile manufacturers offer optional in-vehicle Wi-Fi routers. Some (including GM, Volvo, Nissan, Mercedes, and BMW) are working on smartwatch-connected vehicles. The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is even compatible with Google Glass.
GM plans to equip most 2015 Chevrolets with built-in OnStar 4G LTE that turns your Chevy into a wireless hot spot for your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or Apple Newton. Also, look for apps and various radio streaming programs in cars.
All this onboard wireless technology has interesting business applications. Mobile solutions such as those from AutoNet change the way people will work from the road for:
Sales and mobile professionals – Improve productivity by filing reports, scheduling meetings, and updating website information or real estate listings from the car.
Truck/car fleets – Boost efficiency with affordable location tracking, nimbly reroute drivers to meet customer pickup requests or changes, set alerts for preventive maintenance, pull mobile time cards for drivers, and much more.
Shuttle buses and rental cars – Reduce downtime for busy passengers/customers and improve service. Connected vehicles let them get the latest online news, do online shopping, update travel reservations, check email, transfer files.
First responders – Connected ambulances can transmit EKG readouts to hospitals and get access to drug indexes, emergency medicine physicians, or response guides.
Law enforcement – Officers can access secure web-based crime databases. For more routine matters, wireless handheld ticketing devices can replace handwritten paper tickets.
Connected vehicles aren’t all work and no play; they also interface with Facebook, Spotify, Pandora, online content, and portable gaming consoles.
4. Multi-Device Keyboards
Logitech’s Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 can be used with up to three Bluetooth wireless devices (they must support external keyboards) and is platform neutral. Type your computer, check social media on your tablet, and respond to a text on your smartphone-all from one keyboard.
The Easy-Switch dial allows users to toggle between three connected Bluetooth wireless devices. The integrated cradle is ergonomically set to hold your phone or tablet at just the right angle for you to read while you type. It’s inexpensive, lightweight, and great for travel or as a new kind of docking station/keyboard for the office.
5. Mobile Printing
You’re already using your smartphone, laptop, or tablet to share or work on files-now you can print from them using the HP 1200w Mobile Print Accessory for NFC-enabled devices. It connects to the USB port of your office’s supported HP LaserJet, OfficeJet Mobile printers, and multi-function printers for wireless direct printing. It’s secure because it bypasses your network with a peer-to-peer connection, and print files are sent using 128-bit encryption. You can also control access to your printer. The embedded print functionality is available for Apple iOS, Samsung Android, and Windows 8; for mobile devices without built-in print support, users must first download the HP ePrint software.
6. Mobile Device Management
In a BYOD world, it’s becoming ever more critical to secure mobile access to company data. Whether employees are using their own or company-issued devices, IT managers must have a way to manage all the users, devices, and data from a central console.
To safeguard business data, you need to know who is connecting to your information and systems and from which device. Products such as MaaS360 provide the control and security organizations need to manage devices and mobile platforms with a true 360 view of who uses what, where, and how.
7. USB-drive cufflinks
Never show up to a presentation without USB backup with these unique and stylish USB cufflinks; each has 4GB of flash memory and a concealed USB connector. Pop open the cufflink and plug in your flash drive. Sending them as a gift? You can have them engraved for your favorite techy.