Category Archives: Internet of Things

Amazon Echo now does Traffic

Amazon Echo Traffic ReportsAmazon is slowly rolling out new features to the Echo, and today’s update introduced traffic reports. The functionality as it is today is rather limited: You need to configure the to and from destinations in the app before she can give you a report – just ask “Alexa, how is traffic?”

And that is all she can do right now… just report on the traffic between those two locations. I tried asking about the “traffic to RDU airport” and several other locations, and the response was “I can not find the answer to the question I heard”.

I find myself in the camp that appreciates frequent, steady updates (versus huge updates once a quarter), so I’m looking forward to the many feature additions the Amazon team will surely add in the future.

Here’s a quick video of the traffic report in action:

Update (3/13/2015): Just saw the mail they sent out this update.  Apparently, they’ve also added a new Celtic Prime Playlist in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

Echo Traffic Email

Vessyl the Smart Cup

Vessyl Smart CupVessyl: the drinking cup that knows and tracks what you’re drinking. This brand new gadget claims to be able to detect even the brand name of the liquid it holds. But at a price point of $119 dollars,  it has also been making its rounds in recent late-night monologues.

Who would pay $120 for a cup?  Well, out of pure curiosity,  I just pulled the trigger. This product likely has a very limited potential customer base… at first, it will probably appeal only to techies with a passion for life-logging.  But as time goes on, and production costs get cheaper, I’m guessing the price will drop to something more reasonable that the average soda-chugging consumer could afford.

Currently, there are few details available about how it actually works. Some are guessing it uses an absorption spectroscopy technique.

If nothing else, this will make for a fun toy and conversation starter.  If you’ve got $120 of disposable income, reserve your pre-order today. Ships in “early 2015” which I guess is any day now!

Buy one here:


COSM is now Xively

XivleyCOSM, the self-proclaimed “first public internet of things cloud” is out of beta, and came out with a new name: Xively. With the new brand launch, the look and feel has changed to be a bit more business/professional looking. Now there are three tiers of service offered for production use, none of which are free.

It will be interesting to see how this Platform as a Service (PaaS) gets used. When I played around with it a few months ago, there wasn’t much there other than a bunch of twitter stats (COSM offered Twitter status out of the box as  a working demo of the technology). Now, you can take the test drive to set up a package tracker. In addition to the cosmetic changes, there are some API differences (the old COSM will still work, for a while), and new Oauth integration. Nice!

Has anyone done anything useful on this platform yet? Any interesting projects out there?