VENTURES AFRICA – For decades, entertainment has been the core driver of innovation with the gadget market, with most adorable gadgets usually equipped with the latest music or movies feature. But with the business world increasingly becoming global, information transfer, dissemination and processing are now at the forefront of developers’ mind – the key reason the smartphone/gadget market has seen a boom in recent years.
With 2014 again proving successful for companies like Blackberry, Apple, Samsung and Tecno, an Asian mobile device manufacturer with a huge fan base across Africa, Ventures Africa takes a look at the five gadgets we think mattered to business people in Africa this year.
Blackberry was always know for its enterprise business, until it decided to compete with core smartphone makers like Apple. With its smartphone business not doing really great anymore, the passport came as a big statement that Blackberry cannot just make smartphones, they can make business-smart phones. Forget the fascination every gets with the size and shape, the blackberry passport was made like that for a reason. You can view charts and graphs, which are crisp, large and readable. If you work so much with excel and pdfs, you couldn’t have viewed them on a better mobile device.
“The phone feels like it will be perfect for people like me: People who need their phones to do a lot of work, a lot of email, a lot of reading, and a lot of business stuff like PDFs. If iPhone and Android are social-media tools, then the Passport is a work-productivity tool. It’s a great fit for people who have both a smartphone and a work BlackBerry that they’d like to consolidate into one device,” Mike Bird, a European markets reporter for Business Insider wrote.
Wearable technology has always been criticized for not being fashionable, with several fashion-conscious people I have met, especially women, vowing never to use one. The arrival of Ringly however changed their stand on wearable tech, with the “smart ring” combining class and glamour with its intelligence. While the Apple Watch has been tagged as “too masculine”, women have a device they can call their own in the Ringly.
The smart ring made by two young entrepreneurs Christina Mercando and Logan Munro, vibrates to send you custom notifications, like, five minutes before a meeting or if an important contact texts you. It also vibrates subtly when notification from a favourite app comes in and gives you a gentle buzz when a call comes in from someone you love. It could be very useful when you are in a long meeting, but you are expecting a very important call you have to answer. Not all vibration from the phone will make you excuse yourself from the meeting if you had a Ringly.
Although the rings are only being pre-ordered in 2014, with shipping scheduled for early next year, several women who have seen Ringly have signified interest in getting the wearable tech.
Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard
The Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 can be used with up to three devices, computing platform regardless (Windows or Mac, iOS or Android). It’s a computer keyboard, but it also works with your tablet and smartphone. While working on your computer and something comes up to do on your tablet or smartphone, all you need to do is turn the Easy-Switch dial to switch typing between three connected Bluetooth wireless devices. Another cool thing is the integrated cradle that holds your phone or tablet at just the right angle for you to read while you type.
Livescribe Echo Smartpen
This one is great for journalists. It allows you to record audio while taking notes. You can play the audio back later. You can also save and share interactive notes to your computer, iPad or iPhone through a micro-USB connector, with you recharge your pen. Great thing is the large memory can hold up to 400 to 800 hours of recorded audio, depending on the model. It has an OLED display that makes it easy to navigate smartpen apps.It has highspeed infrared camera that can take up to 70 images per second.
NEC VE281 mobile projector
NEC’s VE281 mobile projector is designed to provide high brightness for small-to-medium-sized businesses, education environments, corporate conference rooms and mobility applications where heavy ambient light is present but the space requires a small projector. This lightweight model includes 3D-ready technology, high-contrast images and a powerful 7W speaker. Its automated technologies — from Auto Power On and quick startup/shutdown to a lamp life up to 6000 hours — make it an eco-friendly choice. The VE281 offers the Intelligent Driving Scheme (IDS2) for increased lamp life and contrast.