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Bluetooth, the short range wireless data communications technology, is in a huge range of products these days, and not just computers and phones.
Originally created by Ericsson in 1994, Bluetooth was intended as a wireless alternative to the venerable RS-232 wired connections, and its success has been remarkable. Indeed the caretaker of the technology, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, now boasts over 19,000 member organizations and the latest version, Bluetooth Smart (v4.0 and 4.1), has taken the standard even further by making it possible to provide ultra-low power operation with backwards compatibility with prior versions.
So, what are the latest and greatest Bluetooth devices you’re going to want to get your hands on? Read on, dear geek, read on
The Garmin fēnix watch is much more than a timepiece. With a built-in altimeter, barometer, and 3-axis compass with automatic sensor calibration it can store up to 1,000 waypoints and up to 10,000 track points. Its TracBack feature reverses the track log to navigate you back to your starting point and, using its built in Bluetooth, you can share routes, tracks and waypoints with other devices. The fēnix can also collect data from ANT-compatible devices, such as wireless heart rate monitor, cadence sensors and Tempe wireless temperature sensor. Priced at $400, it is a gadget that even a desk-bound geek will lust after (and you’ll never lose your way to the lunch room again).
Now you can feel like a jet pilot. The Garmin HUD+ is a head-up display that projects navigation information onto your windshield. Driven by a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone running the free Garmin HUD app (available for iOS, Windows Phone, and Android) the HUD+ provides directions, ETA and lane guidance. Put one of these in your ride for a mere $180 and you can choose your own call sign (just don’t use “Maverick,” you’ll date yourself).
This is one is for what Top Gear refers to as “petrol heads”: The Garmin Mechanic with ecoRoute HD turns your Bluetooth-compatible nüvi (Garmin’s line of complete navigation systems) or Android smartphone into a real-time diagnostic computer. By connecting the ecoRoute HD to your vehicle’s diagnostic system via your vehicle’s OBD II interface, Garmin Mechanic can get detailed system operation data, including engine monitoring, sensor and gauge data, fuel efficiency, and engine diagnostics. All that data and you don’t have to get your hands greasy for just $100.
Garmin vívofit is a smart exercise and activity monitor. It learns your activity levels and assigns a personalized daily goal. The display shows you your steps, calories, distance and sleep quality. You can also pair it with a heart rate monitor for more insight into your exercise routine. Once set up you can upload your data to a free online Garmin Connect community using the Garmin Connect Mobile app. Priced at $130 it will lightly exercise your wallet but it’ll be worth it.
If you play golf and you’re a geek you’ll definitely want the Garmin Approach S4 Touchscreen GPS golf watch. With a sunlight readable, high-resolution display, its easy to use on the links and comes preloaded with over 30,000 international courses. The display shows the distance to the front, back and middle of greens plus layups and doglegs and provides detailed stats tracking. And so you never have to take your smartphone out, the Approach S4 links to your smartphone via Bluetooth to display email, texts and alerts. At $300 it’s not cheap, but it could improve your game enough that people will be buying you drinks at the 19th hole which could soon make the purchase a break-even.
The Nike Fuelband SE is an activity monitoring bracelet that gauges “not only how much, but also how often and how intensely you move. And it gives you real-time feedback, move reminders and insights to help you move more and move better.” The Fuelband app links to the bracelet via Bluetooth 4.0 and logs your workouts as well as your daily grind to give you a big picture view of your exercise and fitness goals. Priced at $149 the Fuelband has proved immensely popular and as a geek you can just wear one to look cool … you don’t have to show anyone your stats.
Nike launched its line of “smart” sports shoes with multiple Bluetooth Smart sensors in the sole last June. The Nike Hyperdunk+, Lebron X+ basketball shoe, LunarTR1+ and Lunar Hyperworkout+ shoes each have four pressure sensors that gather information from different parts of the foot and send it via Bluetooth to the Nike+ Training app (iOS only). The app tracks vertical jump, quickness, calories, "NikeFuel" points, and other performance data. The shoes cost a hefty $250, but it appears Nike has quietly dropped the line. If you’re committed to proving geeks can jump with hard data, you can still score a pair on eBay.
The GB-6900B and GB-X6900B ($180 and $200 respectively) from Casio America are shock-resistant watches and support low energy Bluetooth v4.0. When paired with an iOS or Android smartphone you can control the smartphone’s music player from the watch. From the phone you can adjust watch settings such as audible, vibration and display notifications when there is an incoming call or email, and auto synchronization with time data received on the phone as well as setting the alarm, countdown timer and world time. Finally, a button on the watch can be used to operate smartphone applications.
The Lockitron is an add-on for a wide range of deadbolts. Local control is provided by Bluetooth while remote access is via Lockitron’s server and your local WiFi network. This product was going to be a Kickstarter project but Kickstarter rejected it so the founders did a do-it-yourself fundraiser aiming to collect $150,000 in preorders. Much to their surprise they raised $2,278,891 from 14,704 people. Due to ship very soon, the Lockitron costs $149.
The Goji Smart Lock is a sophisticated smart deadbolt replacement operated by smartphones using Bluetooth and remotely via Goji’s servers and your local WiFi. It also detects special Bluetooth key fobs and opens the lock and has backup mechanical keys. You can send virtual keys to anyone that can be limited to specific days and times and date ranges. It also contains a camera that records video of activity and sends pictures with alerts and text notifications. Priced at $278 it’s pricey but well-designed and very slick.
The Pogo Connect is an amazingly pressure-sensitive Bluetooth 4.0 pen for iPad (3rd generation) and iPad (4th generation) (it is supposedly not compatible with the iPad Air but it seems to work fine with mine). You can use various tips that provide finer lines or brush tips that mimic the feel of real brushes. The Pogo Connect works with a large number of apps and there’s even a “bridge” app that lets you use the pen with unsupported iPad models by having a iPhone 4S or later act as an intermediary. The Pogo Connect pen is priced at $79.95.
The Dream Cheeky iLaunch Thunder is a Bluetooth-controlled ICBM (inter-cube ballistic missile) launcher perfect for open office warfare. Controlled by a free iOS app, it provides 270-degree horizontal rotation with 40 degree elevation and a maximum firing distance of about 25 feet with four missiles for serious workspace attack and defense. It’s powered by a rechargeable battery which allows for deployment in devious hidden locations. Priced at $59.99 it’s got office domination written all over it.