What’s new in home tech

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This week [retail bytes] explores the latest developments in home tech. Forget about wasting your precious Sunday afternoon trying to make sense of Ikea manuals or visiting packed furniture showrooms – the perfect living room is only a HoloLens away!

Irksome Ikea manuals? No more: Need to put that shelf up or fix a new display in your store? Ikea is the answer, but alas even the keenest of geeks can be stumped by their manuals. They lose a lot in translation and, by the time the instructions get to our shores, it’s more like reading runes – mysteriously enticing but impossible to follow. Hail Microsoft, then, as their HoloLens offers to simply stick on their kit and follow Ikea’s step-by-step instructions by projecting them nicely on to the pesky real-life shelf elements. Foolproof tutorials democratise the process, as now every non-expert can have a go and live to tell the tale. Good thinking. Other DIY stores should follow.

John Lewis, keeping life simple: Redoing your kitchen but don’t have HoloLens? No worries, John Lewis will give you the option to simply upload a photo of your room, then ‘delete’ the virtual furniture and replace it, using a simple drag-and-drop function, with that great new velvet armchair you’ve had your eye on. If the new piece doesn’t fit, an ‘undo’ button is right there. This b2b app, DigitalBridge, which is able to power home interior companies, has recently raised £700k funding from leading industry backers. For those of us who find home re-design imagination hard going, it’ll be a winner.

Real Rèmy gives way to virtual reality: Once you’ve put that shelf up and redecorated your living room, you deserve nothing less than a soothing cognac at the end of a summer night dinner. To whet your appetite, on June 15th Rémy Martin launched a Virtual Reality journey showing you how they make every cup. Starting from its soft lime soil and running through its highly unusual creation process, the HoloLens version of the Rémy journey will get you salivating at the very thought. Rémy VR is not the only reason to buy HoloLens, but any form of innovation that improves our enjoyment of life essentials gets our vote.

Big ears on Google Home: If you want to add cognac to your shopping list, nothing’s easier than saying ‘ok Google’ and adding an audio note to the Google Home device. A competitor to Alexa Echo, it looks like an air freshener but it’s way more useful. At half the size of Alexa it’s more convenient, works well as an alarm clock and gives you the morning news on your bedside table. There’s no Bluetooth (yet), but it does have decent controls for all your gadgets and it’s robust enough to be used in a professional setup, like a shop or your office. It also has a far-field voice microphone so it hears you well from across the room. When they connect it to email, Google Home will really fly.

Bliss in biosecurity: A quarter of us forget at least one of our passwords a day. Cyber security is on everyone’s mind, but it’s obvious that humans and passwords just do not go together. Vein scanning (sounds creepy, we know) is emerging as the biometric identification method of choice. It’s safer than fingerprints, as a vein print can’t be collected from a coffee cup and is therefore relatively resilient to fraud. A football stadium in Hungary completed implementation in 2014: fans had to register, then got their hand scanned in order to be allowed in. As you can imagine, though, they are not at all happy about it. Fujitsu and BioSec, however, are betting on our short memories and preference for convenient, cardless identification methods of payment.

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