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Review of Vidonn X5 Fitness Tracker

June 29th, 2014 2 comments

With all the activity / fitness trackers on the market now, I wanted to try on,e but I did not find they were good value, but when DealExtreme sold Vidonn X5 fitness tracker for about $27, I decided to jump and have a try. You can synchronize data with Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy enabled Android 4.3+ and iOS mobile device, but I don’t have any, so instead I used a netbook running Windows XP for initialization and fitness data tracking.

Vidonn X5 Unboxing Pictures

I was quite surprised how fast I received the parcel. It was shipped by China Post, yet I received it within 9 days. Usually small items can be found without package and shipped in bubble envelopes, but this device comes in a relatively nice looking plastic box.

Vidonn X5 Package (Click to Enlarge)

Vidonn X5 Package (Click to Enlarge)

The box just contains a user’s manual in Chinglish, and the fitness band.

Vidonn X5 Fitness Band (Click to Enlarge)

Vidonn X5 Fitness Band (Click to Enlarge)

Two clips are used to fastness the band on your wrist, and the “brain” is a USB device with an OLED display and one single button that is also attached to the band with two clips. Overall I find the device looks good, and build quality decent.

Vidonn X5 Review

The first time you’ll need to charge the device for 2 hours with a USB charger or one of USB ports of your computer or laptop. The first thing that surprised me is how small the digits are on the OLED display.

vidonn_x5_dx_vs_reality

Vidonn X5 Display – DX vs Reality

It was all the more disappointing that the digits on DealExtreme were shown much larger than in reality. I had also seen other pictures with the small digit but it did not strike me at the time. I planned to use it as a watch as well, but I was quickly disappointed because you need to press on the button to display the time, and it will show for about 5 to 6 seconds, before turning off the display. Not the most convenient as a watch… Visibility is bright environment is virtually nil, so if I want to know the time, I need to press the time, and use my hand to block the sun is order to see anything. Vidonn X5 was also advertised as IP67 on Deal Extreme, albeit only IP65 on the manufacturer website, and I though I could safely shower and swim with it… However the user’s manual stipulates “Waterproof so you can wear it when washing bu without showering”, and “Please keep the bracelet in dry environment. only for water, such as the usual hand washing, rain wet”, so it’s clear its Ingress Protection rating is not IP67 (30 minutes under 1m of water),  and IP65 (water proof water jets) is more like it. Having said that, I’m still showering with it, and it seems OK. Just make sure to dry the USB pins before charging as they will be wet.

End result: I almost decided to return the thing, but finally I complained to DealExtreme about the tiny digits, and the incorrect IP67 rating, and it appears I’ll keep the device and get $5 store credit as compensation.

A short press on the button will cycle through clock (time), steps, and calories. A long press will enter “temporary mode” start a timer, and you can cycle through the timer, steps, calories and distance as you exercise. A long press will revert to the mode where it monitors your activity continuously. The first i used it “temporary mode” worked, but the numbers of steps in the other mode was also zero, it turns out you really need to synchronize your device with a mobile phone or Windows computer by downloading the application for your OS, and running it. The online user’s manual explains how to do this in Android, iOS and Windows, but the one provided in the package skips Windows instructions.

Vidonn_X5_WindowsThe procedure is rather simple so I won’t detail it here. Just register an account, connect the device to your PC, click on synchronize to the the date and time on the fitness tracker, as well as optionally your personal information.  The first time, you’ll also be asked to install some drivers. You can also set 8 different alarms, but I have not tried that part.

I’ve now used the tracker for one week, and it seems to do a decent job at tracking activity. However, if you walk slowly it may not count steps, and it may record activities when you don’t walk, but just move your arm. I’ve right handed, and the band is on my left arm, which is probably the right thing to do, or it may over estimate your activity.  I’ve just synchronized the data. Let’s see what it looks like on the web based User Center.

Vidonn User Center (Click to Enlarge)

Vidonn User Center (Click to Enlarge)

The “Person” section will show the data for the current day in terms of steps, distance, calories, and how you slept last night (no good apparently). It also shows the details per hour. I worked in the garden at nine, and it shows a spike at that time. Clicking on trends shows the data daily for the last thirty days, weekly or monthly.

vidonn_user_center_dailyThe other thing I learned from this is that Vidonn X5 apparently only keeps 7 days data. Last Sunday, I went for a run and got about 9,600 “steps”, but it does not show here, so the data must be gone for good. This means you need to synchronize data more than once a week, at least every 6 days.

Other sections include Friends (added by phone, email, or nickname), PK Zone (Not it sure, but it may be to organize virtual events with friends), and Config to complete your profile (nickname, email, phone, height, weight, and sleep time). Sleep time is important if you want to get an analysis of your sleep.

In conclusion, despite various initial disappointments, I still find Vidonn X5 is a fun device, it’s comfortable to wear, and the web interface gives a nice overview of your daily activities, and sleep patterns. Yet it’s difficult to recommend for the price it normally sells. You can’t use it as decent watch, you can’t swim with it, you are not supposed to shower with it, you can’t connect it to an heart rate monitor that would provide much more accurate estimate of calories burnt during cycling. Despite the small 40mAh battery, it takes about one hour to fully charge, which you need to do every two or three days. Using a 5V/1.5A charger, charger indicates it draws 0.03A during charging instead of about 1A for my phone, or about 33 times slower. It should be expected that it charges slower, but not that slower.

If you can live with its shortcomings and limitations, it will be much cheaper than Fitbit Flex ($100), as it sells on DealExtreme for $39.44, Geekbuying for $40.99, and you can find it on Aliexpress for $35 and up.

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Cydia Impactor Provides an Alternative Method to Root Android Devices via Windows or Mac OS X

August 24th, 2013 7 comments

Cydia Impactor is a GUI tool for working with Android devices from computers running Windows or Mac OS X.  It can be used to reboot the device, enter fastboot mode, access the shell, scan for USB drivers for your device, and a bit more.

Cydia_Impactor

But its key feature is to provide root access to many Android devices by exploiting of the Android “Master Key” vulnerability, and if it does not work falling back to a different signature verification bug. There are other tools (e.g. unlockroot, Moborobo,…) or methods to provide root access, but if those do not work or you have troubles installing drivers, Cydia Impactor may be worth a try.

I did try on MK908 and T428 mini PCs in a Windows XP netbook, but for some reasons the software could not detect the USB connection (with USB debug enabled in Android), although Moborobo did. But Benjamin, who tipped me about this application, told me he successfully rooted a Mediatek MTK6577 based phone, as well as a tablet powered by Rockchip RK3066.

If your device firmware has been patched against the two bugs used for the root exploit, you won’t be able to root the device. Currently three device/firmware combinations are known to not be rootable with Cydia Impactor:  Motorola Atrix 4D 4.1.1, Huawei Ascend Mate 4.1, and HTC One 4.2.2.

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Categories: Android Tags: Android, how-to, mac, root, windows 7, windows xp

Ostec Wi-Fi Telescopes, Wi-Fi and USB Portable Microscopes for iOS, Android, and PCs

August 20th, 2013 5 comments

Ostec Electro-Optical Science and Technology, is a company headquartered in Shenzhen, China, with a factory based in Guangzhou, that manufactures optical devices such as telescopes, microphones, endoscopes, and scanners that connects to your computer, or tablet via USB or Wi-Fi. Charbax of armdevices.net interviewed the company in April at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair, and uploaded the video (see bottom of post) very recently. Let’s have a closer at some of the products.

KoPa WiFi Telescope (Model TW501)

The first device is TW501 Wi-Fi telescope that comes with a tablet holder, and allows you to visualize the picture directly on your smartphone, tablet, or other Wi-Fi capable device either via specific Apps or via the web browser. It apparently not suited for astronomy, but can be used for bird watching, building surveillance, hiking, and any application where you may need to take close-up pictures or videos.

Ostec_Wi-Fi_Telescope

Wi-Fi Telescope Specifications:

  • Sensor type – 5M 1/2.5″ CMOS
  • Max resolution – 2592 x 1944 (5.0MP)
  • Frame rate – 40fps
  • White balance – Auto white balance, auto gain, auto exposure
  • Focus mode – Manual focus, and auto focus (via Wi-Fi eyepiece). Minimal focus range: 5m
  • Lens diameter – 82mm
  • Magnification: 25X-75X-300X
  • Field of view – (25x) 1.6 °,  (75x) 0.8 °
  • Connectivity –  Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n @ 2.4000 – 2.4835GHz up to 150Mbps
  • USB – Mini USB
  • Temperature range – Operating: -10 ~ 50 ℃, Storage: -20 to 60 ℃
  • Relative Humidity – Operation: 30 ~ 80%, Storage: 10 ~ 60% HR
  • Battery – 2400mA lithium battery

The telescope can be used with a computer running Windows XP/Vista/7/8 (32 & 64 bit) via USB or Wi-Fi, Mac OS X (Wi-Fi only), or a mobile device running IOS 5 or 6 (Wi-Fi only). There’s no word about Android support.

The F.O.B price for TW501 Wi-Fi Telescope is $1400. You can get more information in Chinese on TW501 page. You can also read more about an earlier model TW201, which has a page in English.

KoPa W5 Wi-Fi Microscope and M101 USB Microscope

Ostec also manufacturer USB and Wi-Fi microscopes that act more like a powerful magnifying glass than an actual microscope as you may think of it. However, it’s still useful for the education market, beauty care, checking PCB traces, etc… The company lists 4 models in their site, including on that does look like an actual microscope, but during the interview, the focus was on W5 and M101 portable microscope, respectively with Wi-Fi and USB interfaces, both of which allowing for real-time visualization on iOs and Android devices, as well as Windows or Mac computers.

Kopa W5 (Wi-Fi + USB) and M101 (USB) Microscopes

Kopa W5 (Wi-Fi + USB) and M101 (USB) Microscopes

Apart from Wi-Fi support, both have slightly different specifications, but I’ll only list W5 specifications here:

  • Sensor type – 5.0MP true color 1/4”CMOS,
  • Max. resolution – 2592 x 1944
  • Magnification 32X-130X (Display in 21” Screen)
  • Image format:
    • YUV – 640×480@30fps,800×600@20fps,1280×960@10fps,1280×720@10fps, 2592×1944@5fps
    • MJPEG – 640×480@40fps,800×600@40fps,1280×960@40fps,1280×720@40fps,
      2592×1944@15fps
  • Focus Mode – Single Automatic focus/Continue Automatic focus
  • White balance – Automatic White Balance/Automatic Exposure
  • Visible Spectrum – 380-650nm (with IR-cut Filter)
  • Connection modes – USB 2.0 Micro Interface, or WI-FI (802.11 b/g/n up to 150Mbps)
  • Illumination – Built in 8 LEDs
  • “Speed Shooting” – 1 second
  • Power supply – Replaceable and rechargeable LR123 lithium battery (3.6V/1500 mAh), 5V USB power supply by PC, or 5V/1.5A power adapter
  • Dimensions – 62mm (diameter) x 54mm (height)
  • Weight – 90g

There’s also a snapshot control API available in native C/C++, C#, and compatible with Direct Show and UVC.

Application Examples:  PCB Quality and Skin Health

Application Examples: PCB Quality and Skin Health

You can use the device with a computer with an Intel Core2 @ 1.6GHz or greater and 2GB RAM or higher, running Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7/8 (32 & 64 bit), or MAX OS X. The specifications also list iOS 5 and 6, but not Android. However, Android support is clearly mentioned (in bold) in the product page… Up to 5 Wi-Fi devices can share the same microscope simultaneously.

The Wi-Fi model is said to cost 100$ and the USB model 50$. Another Wi-Fi Microscope (HD51) with magnifying level up to 365x sells for 800$. All price ares F.O.B prices.

The video below shows the telescope and microscopes, as well as an A4 document scanner (A99) that can be used to display document and larger screens.

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DroneShield – Raspberry Pi Powered Drone Detector

May 2nd, 2013 1 comment

In case you are wary of having drones, such as RC helicopters, quadrotors…, flying around your house and invading your privacy, DroneShield can help you detect consumers’ drones by using a Raspberry Pi, a microphone and FFTW library, a C library for computing the discrete Fourier transform.

DroneShield

The device will capture the audio with the microphone, analyze the noise spectrum of the drone flying around, and search for an entry in a signature database, and if a match is found the device will then send an email or SMS to inform you of the “invader”.
DroneShield_Block_Diagram

There are complex challenges to overcome, or limitations, with this method, as any background noise will affect the detection, and drone emitting little noise or flying at high altitude won’t be detected. Spectrum analyses should however help avoid false positives such as a loanmowers and leafblowers as those emit a different kind of noise.They also need to gather more signatures to store in their database for this device to be more useful, and plan to rely on the community, but I haven’t found links and/or instructions to do so yet.

Currently, they have a working prototype (DroneShield V0.0) on a laptop, and they’ll port the code to the Raspberry Pi (DroneShield V1.0). FFTW library supports x86 SSE/SSE2/Altivec SIMD instructions, as well as NEON instructions on ARM, which are not available on the ARMv6 processor (Broadcom BCM2835) used in the Raspberry Pi. I don’t know the processing power required to do real-time FFT, but there could potentially be performance issues on the Raspberry Pi.

They give hints, but do not commit, that they may release the source code for V0.0 and V1.0, as well as the hardware documentation for V1.0 after the indiegogo campaign.

You can get a DroneShield fully assembled by pledging $69 on Indiegogo, alternatively you can pledge $59 to get a box with all parts needed, and do the assembly yourself. Delivery is expected in August 2013. This is very much an “American thing”, and there does not seem to be an option to ship this internationally.

The next step, DroneShield V2.0, will be to build a specialized hardware, possibly based on ARM Cortex processor, and at a cost close to $20.

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AMD Introduces AMD G-T16R G-Series APU with 2.3 Watts Power Consumption

June 26th, 2012 No comments

AMD has unveiled another APU in its Embedded G-Series processor family with the AMD Embedded G-T16R, which aims to provide a more powerful (up to 3x) and less power-hungry (7% less) replacement to AMD Geode LX processors. The AMD G-T16R is targeted at very low power, small form factor and cost-sensitive embedded designs. The company claims the processor consumes about 2.3 watts on average or 4.5 watts thermal design power (TDP).

Advantech CPU Module Based on AMD G-T16R APU

This new AMD embedded processor targets industrial control, point-of-sale, medical appliance and transportation markets.  As with the other G-Series platforms, the G-T16R can fit into small form factor boards by implementing a two-chip platform: APU + controller hub.

AMD G-T16R is clocked at 615MHz, features a Radeon HD 6250 GPU and supports 1920×1200 resolution via VGA, single link DVI and DisplayPort 1.1a video outputs. It can also output 1080p via HDMI and LVDS.

The APU supports Windows Embedded Compact 7, Green Hills INTEGRITY and Express Logic ThreadX operating systems according to the press release. It also support Windows XP/7 and Linux since they measured the power consumption on “Inagua” development board running Windows 7 Ultimate and performance on IBASE MI958 board (with G-T16R APU) running Ubuntu 11.04.

AMD also introduced several customers boards and modules that are already designed around AMD G-T16R APU:

  • Advantech PCM-3356 PC/104 CPU module
  • Aewin PM-6161 PC/104 board
  • Arbor EmETX-a55E0 ETX CPU module
  • aValue ECM-A50M 3.5” embedded motherboard
  • Axiomtek CM100 COM Express module
  • MEN Mikro Elektronik SC24 computer-on-module.

In addition, AMD announced the availability extension of the entire AMD Embedded G-Series processor family through 2017 both existing and new designs.

You may be able to find further details on AMD G-Series APU page.

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Collabora and Fluendo Release GStreamer SDK 2012.5 Amazon

June 14th, 2012 No comments

Last week, Collabora and Fluendo jointly announced the release of an open source software development kit (SDK ) for GStreamer multimedia framework.

The SDK aims at easing the integration of Gstreamer  into projects and provides a pre-built version of the framework which is available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X.

GStreamer is used in many Linux applications such as media players (Rhythmbox, Banshee and Amarok),  video editors (PitiVi), and media centers such as XBMC among other applications. It’s also often the framework used to play videos on ARM platforms with implementations for OMAP 4/5 and devices compliant with the OpenMAX standard.

Gstreamer website has also been updated and provides links to download GStreamer SDK and documentation on the home page.

The new documentation looks pretty good with fives main sections:

GStreamer developers also announced that future releases of the SDK will support Android, iOS and possibly other platforms.

Via: H-Online

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Github Releases GitHub for Windows Client

May 23rd, 2012 No comments

Github Windows IconGithub has announced the release of Github for Windows, a client that makes it easy to use Github in Windows XP, Vista, 7 and the upcoming Windows 8.

To get started, download GitHub for Windows. After the first part of the installation procedure, it will go through 2 eye raising steps: 1- Restart your computer, 2- Start Internet Explorer automatically (to complete the installation). Then you’ll just need to enter our credentials (or register) to get started with Github. It will automatically scan your local git repositories and ask you if you want to add then to Github. It will also show your Github repository as shown below.

If you want to clone other people Github repositories, you’ll need to go to github.com, select a repository and click on “Clone in Windows” button (See below)

Clone Github in WindowsThis will start cloning the repo in C:\Documents and Settings\User\My Documents\GitHub directory (default) and show the progress in Github Windows client.

Once a repository is cloned, you can check the history and status for each file in a user friendly way as well as commit changes and find, checkout, create and publish branches.

Github Changelog / History in WindowsThat’s a good start for a first version, but it would be interesting to see issue tracker integration and possibly access to the wiki and graphs.

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VIA Technologies Announces VIA AMOS-3002 System For Embedded Applications

May 17th, 2012 No comments

VIA Technologies has just unveiled the VIA AMOS-3002, a fanless system based on VIA EPIA-P900 Pico-ITX board, targeting embedded applications such as telematics, in-vehicle control, machine to machine controller (M2M), digital signage and kiosks.

Embedded Systems based on VIA Eden X2 dual core processor and the VIA VX900H media system processor

VIA AMOS-3002 System (Click to Enlarge)

The VIA EPIA-P900 Pico-ITX board is powered by VIA Eden X2 dual core processor (1GHz) together with VIA VX900H media system processor (MSP) and VIA Chrome 9 video processor which render VIA AMOS-3002 systems capable of handling hardware video decoding for MPEG-2, WMV9 and H.264 codecs at 1080p resolution.

Two models are available: AMOS-3002-2D10A1 and AMOS-3002-2D10A1. The latter features a 2.5” SATA hard disk drive bay which is not available in AMOS-3002-2D101A1.

Here are the specifications for both VIA AMOS-3002 Models:

  • CPU – VIA Eden X2 @ 1.0GHz
  • Chipset – VIA VX900H Media System Processor
  • Memory – 1x DDR3 1066 204-pin SODIMM socket (Up to 4GB)
  • Storage:
    • 1x CFast Flash disk socket
    • 1 x 2.5” SATA hard disk drive bay (Model AMOS-3002-2D10A1 only)
  • Graphic Controller – Integrated VIA Chrome 9 HD DX9 3D/2D video processor with MPEG-2, DivX, WMV9/VC1, H.264 video decoding acceleration
  • Video Output:
    • 1x External VGA port (Up to 2560 x 1600)
    • 1x Onboard HDMI 1 port connector
    • Dual View support with independent display of VGA and HDMI
  • Ethernet – 2x Gigabit Ethernet
  • Audio I/O – 1x Line-out and 1x Mic-in
  • USB – 6x USB 2.0 ports
  • Serial Ports:
    • 1 x RS-232
    • 1x RS-232/422/485
  • GPIO – 1 x D-Sub 9-pin connector of 8-bit GPIO (4 inputs+ 4 outputs) + 5V power source
  • Expansion:
    • 1x MiniPCIe slot
    • 1x SIM slot
  • Watchdog timer
  • Power Supply – [email protected] A
  • Dimensions – 197mm (W) x 49mm (H) x 104mm (D)
  • Weight – 1.4 kg
  • Operating Temperature:
    • -10 °C up to 60°C
    • 0 °C ~ 45°C when system equipped with 2.5” hard disk drive
  • Certifications – IEC 60068-2-64, IEC 60068-2-27, CE, FCC Class A and CCC
VIA Eden X2 + VX900H Block Diagram

VIA EPIA-P900 Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

VIA AMOS-3002 systems support Microsoft Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows Embedded Standard, Windows Embedded
Compatibility Standard 7 and Linux operating systems.

You can find more information on VIA AMOS-3002 (Pico-ITX) page as well as EPIA-P900 page.

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