Voice quality on Skype over 4G

Earlier this week I needed to join a Skype call but found myself in central London. I mainly use Skype from my laptop, over WiFi and a fixed broadband connection, with a dedicated headset. But I didn’t have my laptop with me. I’d installed Skype on my Android phone, and might have used it over WiFi in a cafe – only the cafes are all a bit noisy. So I tried Skype over 4G as I walked about the back streets of Bloomsbury, trying to find places that were quiet and not too windy. I’m on an ‘unlimited’ data deal from 3, so why not?

I was surprised how good it was. The voice quality was really good at my end – not sure how I sounded at the other end. I know it’s not always good on Skype, but it was a lot better than the kind of voice quality that I get on telephony on the mobile network these days. Can’t help wondering what the point of the QoS on VoLTE is meant to be.

Crowd-sourced platform to grass up bad drivers

Part of a growing trend towards technology-facilitated denunciations, but no less fun for that; Rishi Spot is an app that lets you not only report traffic hazards and obstructions but also ” a mobile application helping people to report traffic violations in real time simply by taking a picture or video of the incident.”

Heavy on the acronyms – RISHI is Road Information And Safety By Human Intelligence and SPOT stands for Site of Problem Occurrence Trends.

Really good paper about “peak car”

Is here. Suggests that the decline in car ownership, usage, etc. is not only due to recession but also structural and behaviour change. Bearing in mind my earlier post about the rich walking to work, and looking at this rather interesting video from Javier Caletrio about elite forms of mobility, is it possible that “not-driving” is also an example of taste transfer from the rich to the merely comfortable?

AT&T to take its OBD2 offering overseas

One mustn’t push the ‘waiting for a bus’ metaphor too far, but there do seem to have been quite a few of these announcements lately. AT&T have been offering the Audiovox product since November 2013, but this latest announcement is about the company’s plan to offer it outside the US. Perhaps we’ll see some head to head competition between these offerings in Europe soon. It might even be worth doing a detailed comparison of telecom operators’ OBD2 offerings.

DriveNow comes to London

Rather pleased to see this post telling me that DriveNow is coming to London. I’m fond of car sharing in general because I think it’s more drivenowenvironmentally friendly, and because I also like the idea of sharing expensive things that one doesn’t use that often. Even corporate-facilitated sharing is better than not-sharing.

Things to like about DriveNow vs. other car sharing providers –  you can leave the car where you like, not in a designated bay, and you can use it for a one-way journey, so you don’t have to pay while it sits on the street until your return. It looks more expensive than ZipCar, but I am keen to give it a try and see whether it works out that way in practice.

 

Hacker threat to connected cars

Another car-hackingpost about the threat to the connected car from hackers, here in the LA Times. It’s not a real story with any evidence that this is actually happening, just a claim by security experts that they did it. I don’t want to seem either cynical or complacent, and I know that it’s important for connected cars to be secure. But the words ‘Y2K Bug‘ do come to mind. Generally speaking car theft seems to be on the decline. That might be, as this article suggests, because cars have become more secure – so the hacker threat might be the pendulum swinging back in favour of the criminal. But most other kinds of physical crime are on the decline too, despite the recession in developed countries. Something about demographics, or better opportunities for criminals elsewhere, I think.

Getting in the car when it’s cold

Spent last week in Sweden, where the highlights included a good briefing from Volvo Cars which included a session about its smartphone-enhanced telematics service, Volvo On Call. The telematics service has been available for around 14 years, though obviously the smartphone app as a control system is rather newer. One of the main use cases for the telematics service is to allow Swedes to turn on the car heater so as to warm the vehicle up without having to leave the house; it’s easy to scoff at this sort of thing if you haven’t experienced the Scandinavian winter.

On the flight back I discovered (via the in-flight magazine – who says there’s no point in reading them?) that there is an after-market alternative via the Norwegian company DEFA, which does pretty much the same thing – warm up the engine, the interior of the car, and charge the battery. It seems to require that you add new physical devices to the car though – a new heater, a new battery charging system, an engine pre-heater.

 

Is this the stupidest connected home product ever?

Yes, the long wait is over. Now you can switch your kettle on without having to walk over to it, with this super new wifi-enabled kettle and smartphone app. This could save you perhaps a minute, because you won’t have to actually go to the kettle and then wait there while it boils. Now it will have boiled and switched itself off by the time you get there. Providing that you remember to go there after you put it on. Otherwise you’ll just have to do it again.

Could you perhaps use an IFTTT recipe to put the kettle on when you approach your house/flat? Because then you wouldn’t have to wait those thirty seconds or so to make a cup of tea…

Who is this aimed at? I can’t think of anyone, except perhaps the ‘much-more-money-than-sense’ segment.