Jim Lillie

Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

Monday, 19 June 2017 00:00

See Through Walls with Walabot

The device, which attaches to a smartphone, will let plumbers, drywallers, electricians, and just about anyone else with an interest see what's behind a wall surface before beginning repair or reconstruction work.

Since it first entered the market about a year ago, the Walabot has been available only for users of Android devices (some Samsung devices are excluded). The company says that an iOS version is coming soon, and offers a signup page where iPhone users can enter their email address to be apprised of updates on the app's availability.

The Walabot DIY pack, as the device is known, currently retails for $199. It can detect metal and plastic pipes, electrical wires, studs, termite nests, and even moving rodents. It can be used on surfaces made of drywall and cement, plus some others, including tables, though not with surfaces made of metal, such as walls and barricades. (Thankfully, it's no good for a jail break.)

Saturday, 17 June 2017 00:00

Teleretail's On-Demand Delivery Robot

Teleretail AG,a Swiss-based startup, has entered the growing field of drone delivery by infusing its device with a unique capability -- to deliver to suburban and rural areas while also reaching customers in cities.

Teleretail's robot incorporates several features of self-driving cars, including GPS navigation systems, sensors, and computer vision systems. Far as financing is concerned, though, the company hasn't raised any seed or venture capital cash, opting instead to pursue grants, like one for $2 million from the European Space Agency.

Company CEO Thorsten Scholl tells TechCrunch that the space agency took a special interest in the ways in which Teleretail was using information from satellites to assist ground-based systems in giving directions to drones while making deliveries or pickups.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017 00:00

Want Safer Cars? Lend Them Ears

A startup known as OtoSense is collaborating with leading auto manufacturers on software that might provide cars with a sense of "hearing" that could troubleshoot problems before they morph into overly expensive fixes.

The software could also prove useful to drivers, picking up on nearby emergency-vehicle sirens as well as sounds that indicate changes in the quality of road surfaces.

So far, the machine-learning software can already ID certain noises that correspond to changes in an automobile's engine and brakes.

OtoSense is also developing a project called AutoHound -- a tablet app that provides auto techs and car owners alike with the capability of recording certain sounds for eventual playback and, it is hoped, successful diagnosis of the trouble behind them.

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