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Swissdigital Made A Backpack With 4 Massage Motors And It’s Ridiculous

Well, this isn’t a turn in backpack technology any of us were expecting but Swissdigital have debuted a backpack. With massage motors. To massage you while you’re wearing it. Of course it sounds ridiculous and of course it is, but with a few modifications, the Swissdigital Cosmo 3.0 might not be as crazy as you think.

You can watch my full video review here or read on.

Starting With A Backpack

First though, it’s worth considering the Cosmo 3.0 as a backpack. Massaging motors aside, it’s a medium sized bag (28 x 13 x 41 centimeters) weighing 1.37 kilograms. Swissdigital don’t provide any specs in liters but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s around 26 liters. Split into two compartments, the Cosmo 3.0 has a large turtle shell with a smaller pocket for more vertical gear like a laptop.

The turtle shell opens up flat 180 degrees, great for organization and easy access while packing. Overall the Cosmo 3.0 is a respectable backpack designed better for weekend trips rather than as a daily carry due to its bulk.

Let’s Talk Motors

But the most interesting feature of the Cosmo are the 4 massage motors. Two are built into the shoulder straps while on the lower back two other motors add to the mobile massage. You power those massage motors with a portable charge bank (not included) activating 4 massage modes with a little button on the right hip belt.

swissdigital cosmo 3.0

There’s the shoulder massage, the lower back massage, the combo, and a high intensity mode where all the motors are on at full blast. And it’s a pretty relaxing massage until you notice the noise.

Integration Situation

Loudly humming backpacks don’t make for discrete airport lounging. Having motors in the shoulder straps mean they can’t bend too well so when the massage isn’t running, they’re not the most comfortable. Plus you have to bring your own power and possible explanation to airport security who might be wondering why your backpack is motorized.

In all, the Cosmo 3.0 feels like a prototype. A concept you didn’t know you wanted and once they iron our the design a bit, could be one you look for in your next bag. For now though, unless you really want a massaging backpack, it’s better to wait to see what the next version brings.

Airtags vs. Tile: What’s The Better Bluetooth Tracker?

Tracking your lost luggage for finding house keys you’ve misplaced is made a lot easier with Bluetooth trackers. These small, electronic homing beacons let you locate items in your home or far-flung locations through their smartphone apps. Until recently, Tile was the biggest Bluetooth tracking network. Now that Apple has joined the market with Airtags, which one is better and for who?

Comparing Trackers

At their core, both Tile and Airtags work to accomplish the same goal: help you find lost things. They also work in similar ways, via Bluetooth and by leveraging their user networks. Right now, in both regards Apple has an advantage.

Let’s look at the two problems trackers attempt to solve. The first is finding things that go missing locally, like around your house. These aren’t so much lost items but more misplaced ones. Chances are they’re going to be in one of a few usual places or at least within the walls of your home. Both Tile and Airtags have chimes you initiate through their respective apps and using those beeping tones, lead you to the tracker.

Airtags vs. Tile: What’s The Better Bluetooth Tracker?

Airtags though use ultra-wideband (UWB) technology which is more precise in close range. Tile is rumored to be working on a UWB version of its trackers this year but for now, you’ll have to rely on the chimes. In other words, Tile can tell you lost keys are in your house but not show you where exactly.

Stitched Through Networks

Now when things gets really lost, like blocks or across a city (or further) the Bluetooth signal on your phone (about 10 meters of range) isn’t going to do you much good. In these cases, what Tile and Apple do is leverage everyone else’s Bluetooth connection to geo-locate a tracker marked as missing.

With Tile, you have to be using their app. With Apple, if you’ve got an iPhone, you’re already part of their network. In both cases as you walk by (within Bluetooth range) a tracker marked as missing, your phone sends back an anonymous, encrypted location of that tracker back to Tile or Apple. The person walking by has no idea this happened but you will get to see a location of the missing tracker on a map.

What Recovery Is Like

Once you’ve got a location you can retrieve the tracker (and lost items it’s hopefully still connected to). Getting that location in the first place though as you may have guessed, comes down to the size of the network. Tile says they’ve got 26 million users (potential people running their app who might happen to walk near a lost tracker).

Worldwide however, there are a billion iPhone users, according to Apple. A network of users 42 times the size of Tile is a major advantage, as is the use of UWB. Tile for their part does make trackers in different shapes (some flatter, better for wallets) but otherwise lose out to Apple’s massive user-base advantage for most people.

How To Handle Photos On Your Phone When It’s Out Of Storage

 

How To Handle Photos On Your Phone When It’s Out Of Storage

A lot of people’s primary camera is their smartphone. It’s portable, good resolution, and always with you but what happens when a “not enough storage” warning pops up? Well, you can try offloading pictures and video to your laptop but maybe that’s full too. Fortunately there are some options on backing on photos you’ve already taken on your phone so you can have space to take more.

Here’s how to handle photos on your phone when it’s out of storage space.

Clear Up Space Elsewhere

Before going nuclear on your photo albums, start with some basic clean up. Obviously check for any duplicate photos or those taken in sequence (you know the one that turned out good, delete the rest). Sorting through and deleting photos and videos you don’t need is good practice because like clutter in your house, there’s only so many cabinets you can stash crap away in. Eventually, you need to clean the house.

You should also check the rest of your phone for common storage culprits. Here’s how to see what’s taking up space on your phone:

  • Android: Depending on the version you’re using the exact steps will vary but generally going into Settings Storage will show you bloated apps.
  • iOS: On most of the latest versions, go to General > Device Storage

Some storage hungry apps tend to be Whatsapp (all those memes you’ve been texting add up) and Podcasts (particularly on iOS).

Cloud Options

Assuming you’ve cleaned up what you can, if you’re still low on storage space, try looking at cloud options. Both Android and iOS devices have services that let you upload your photos and videos to online storage, freeing up space on your phone. All of you media will still be accessible if you want to download it but will live in the cloud otherwise.

icloud

  • Android: Some options include Google Photos (free up to 15 gigabytes) and Google One ($1.99/month for 100GB).
  • iOS: iCloud is Apple’s service that starts at 99 cents in the U.S. (prices vary internationally) for 50GB of storage up to to terabytes for $9.99 a month.

There are a lot of other cloud options but keep in mind, anything that goes to the cloud is more vulnerable than it is on your physical device. Check the privacy policies and use two factor authentication before using any cloud provider to backup photos.

Physical Drives

For phones that can charge wirelessly, SanDisk’s Ixpand can both automatically backup photos and charge your phone, acting as a backup drive. Older phone users that don’t support wireless charging can check out drives that plug in directly, like the iDiskk Photo Stick for iOS devices or SanDisk Dual Drive for Android.

These direct-to-phone options though require a (free) app download to use them. No problem there but be sure to carefully read the privacy policies and permissions of the app prior to using it. Some do allow manufacturers to access your photos – and to be extra cautious, make sure you turn on airplane mode once you get the app and transfer your photos to the drive without an Internet connection.

Tropicfeel Makes Travel Shoes You Can Wear Anywhere

This post is sponsored by Tropicfeel. [What is this?]

Tropicfeel Makes Travel Shoes You Can Wear Anywhere

When you’re packing for a trip, trying to figure out the right shoes to bring can be confounding. There’s your walking shoes, hiking shoes, and causal sneakers but what Tropicfeel have designed are one shoe to fit them all. Based out of Spain, Tropicfeel claim to be the most funded shoe on Kickstarter and that’s only the beginning of what make them unique.

All-Terrain Sneakers

Tropicfeel make three varieties of their shoe. Monsoon are made to be ultra-light and quick drying, since these shoes are designed to be work in water. The Sunset line are more casual but also made for long walks and handle water without any problems. Tropicfeel sent me the Canyon, which are a combination of the Monsoon and Sunset but with thicker soles made for hiking.

tropicfeel shoes

Having worn the Canyon for several weeks, they stand out in several ways.

What Makes Tropicfeel Different

Right out of the box the vibrant colors of the Night Blue I received stand out but there are four other color options you can choose from. The Canyon are light, weighing just 198 grams, with thick soles made from 80% recycled polyester. The top part of the shoes are a thinner, breathable mesh that can be worn underwater and will dry within minutes on a hot day.

tropicfeel canyon

The insoles are firm but soft and can be removed for hand washing and the rest of the Canyon can be machine washed, then air dried, as needed.

Streamlined Functionality And Comfort

There’s an efficiency to the way Tropicfeel have designed their shoes. First, the Canyon are comfortable to wear on hikes, long walks, or quick jaunts to the grocery store. There are no laces to be tied. Instead, the elastic bands make slipping the Canyon on and off fast; leaving you to wonder why so many other shoes mess with string laces at all.

To get the right fit though, you’ll need to account for socks. See, Tropicfeel’s shoes are meant to be worn barefoot but they can definitely be comfortably worn with socks. You’ll need to order a size up in European (e.g. 40 to 41) or half a U.S. size if you plan to generally have socks on. Once you’ve found the right fit, both barefoot or with socks, the Tropicfeel Canyon are comfortable, especially after they’ve been broken in over a few days.

tropicfeel canyon

For those of you wondering, to further prevent odors (whether you’re wearing these barefoot or not) the Canyon are lined with Agion, a silver antimicrobial to prevent odor. Tropicfeel says this Agion treatment should last the entire lifetime of any of their shoes.

Minimalist Footwear

In many areas of the design Tropicfeel have made the Canyon an impressively efficient shoe for daily use. Yes, these are shoes made for travel but versatile and stylish enough to be worn even when you’re not on the road. All of the clever features Tropicfeel have built into their shoes – like being machine washable – are useful no matter where you are.

Sure there are elements of the Canyon that show off its portable side, from the thin mesh than can be collapsed down for packing – but Tropicfeel haven’t made a shoe that’s a collection of travel gimmicks. Rather, the Canyon are a hybrid of several types of shoes you probably already own but this time with some clever enhancements.

You Can’t See The Curve Of The Earth From Your Airplane Seat (Mostly)

We know the Earth is definitely round but the view from your airplane seat at cruising altitude isn’t good proof of it. Using math from the 4th century B.C., the ancient Greeks were able measure the curve of Earth at sea level. Taking those same formulas, it turns out most commercial jets aren’t flying as high respective to the size of the earth as it seems.

You’ve probably seen a curved horizon at 10,000 meters during a flight but as you can see in the video above, it’s not what you think.

How To Check For Hidden Cameras And Microphones In Your Vacation Rental, Hotel, Or Airbnb

Hidden cameras in hotel rooms and Airbnbs are much more common than we’d like to think but common enough that you should do a thorough surveillance sweep before settling in. Most people aren’t bug sweeping security experts though there are a number of lessons you can use from them to find concealed devices that could be recording you.

As you can see in the video above where I went through a rental that had devices hidden in it, knowing what to look for is as important as where.

The Threats

We tend to think of cameras first but hidden microphones can be trickier to detect since they don’t need a line of sight. A simple pen could be a microphone in disguise so don’t easily dismiss many common items. Another favorite for Airbnb owners are USB ports that plug into a wall. Those wall chargers can charge your phone but come with a hidden camera that can be very difficult to notice if you’re not looking for it.

Your own mind is working against you so be familiar with the common threats but don’t assume they’re the only ones. (Stuffed animals, alarm clocks, smoke detectors… there are many possibilities.) To be a good bug sweeper, you have to think creatively.

Visual Inspection

Hidden cameras need a line of sight to get footage. Start with the places someone might want to film, the bedroom, bathroom, and common areas. Look at the angles a lens would need to be placed to film the larger parts of rooms or sensitive areas (near a shower). Walk around, making a careful inspection before you unpack your bags.

How To Check For Hidden Cameras And Microphones In Your Vacation Rental, Hotel, Or Airbnb

Take a note of shelves, vents, or any cracks in wood panels or otherwise dark hiding places that have a line of sight.

Scan The Network

Once you’ve completed your visual inspection, logon to the rental’s wifi network with your phone. Using Net Analyzer scan to see how many other devices are connecting to the network. Minus you phone and any obvious devices like a smart TV, be wary if there are many more devices than you can account for.

Also note any networks that have a very similar name, for example RentalWifi1 and RentalWifiPrivate. Separate wifi networks could be used to hide surveillance devices from the network you happen to be on and common names could be a clue more than one network is in use.

Now that you’ve narrowed things down visually and wirelessly, the next step is to use a bug sweeper.

Sweep Like A Pro

I’ve written about a consumer grade bug sweeper you can use and how to properly scan with one. Those of you who watched the video above know that these devices do work in real-world situations if used properly and with a careful eye.

Remember to check the policies of the rental you’re staying in and the service you’re using since many allow for common areas to be recorded. (Though they hardly advertise that fact.) Still if you end up finding any surveillance device, get in touch with the company and get as much evidence as you can through photos of your own.

As for your legal options, it’s still a grey area in many districts so be wary of any temporary accommodation, especially before you do a bug sweep.

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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