Snapchat Spectacles : Do They Have a Future?

To be honest, I thought the Snapchat spectacles were a waste of money when I first heard about them. “Oh great, another company trying to make glasses with a gimmick”. So I put them out of my mind and moved on despite hearing about all the craze in Los Angeles and New York regarding their pop-up Spectacle vending machines.

snapchat-spectacles

Fast forward to this past weekend. I was on a trip with a group of friends and a couple of them brought their Spectacles along. Every now and then they would press the button on the side of the glasses to start recording a 10 second video. Although they used it quite regularly, I almost never noticed them filming except for in darker areas where the ring of light around the camera would animate while it was recording. At this moment I had revised my opinion of them to “They’re great “spy-like” glasses for recording video”.

The true “aha” moment came at the end of each day when my friends would view the footage and transfer it to their phones. As we watched each clip I felt that I was seeing each moment through their eyes, not just some video they had recorded. It turns out that the 115 degree angle lens being placed on a pair of glasses right next to your eyes is a great POV (Point of View) recording combo. This led to the next realization, “Why bother taking out a camera/phone, or strapping a GoPro to your head to record?” Just throw on a pair of Spectacles and press the button to record while still living in the moment. There’s no need to check a screen to make sure you’ve got the shot, or fumble with opening up an app or sending it right then an there. The key to the future of the Spectacles (in my opinion) is that it allows you to live in the moment, record the moment, and relive the moment.

However, there are a couple of improvements that I think would greatly increase its adoption for “capturing the moment”.

  1. Waterproof it (allows you to take it to more areas)
  2. Hide the camera better or make it smaller (allows you to put it into other styles)
  3. Make the lenses swappable so that you can have clear ones for night-time or indoors but shades for the day (allows you to wear it in more areas)
  4. Make the battery last longer (always on the list for any electronic)
  5. Make the video capture capabilities longer (having options is always better and being able to select the default length of clips would be nice. Press the button again in the middle of recording to stop it earlier)

Will I buy one now? Maybe. But I’ll be looking out for the V2 for sure.

 

 

Bridging the Gap Between Nest and Line Voltage Thermostats

nest

I recently decided to switch my old thermostat to a Nest and figured that it should be easy considering my current thermostat just controlled a simple electric wall heater. Unfortunately, it was only after taking my old thermostat off the wall that I realized that it was in fact a line voltage thermostat (Honeywell’s T410AA), which means that it uses high voltage (240 V) and acts as an in-line switch between the electric wall heater and the power supply. The problem with this is that systems like the Nest run off of low voltage (24 V) and can’t be used to switch a high voltage system.

To fix the issue I started researching. Surely I wasn’t the only person who wanted to switch their old school line voltage thermostat with a Nest! Unfortunately, a bunch of the solutions were on Nest’s old community site which had since been taken down. However, I was able to find out about a relay/transformer that according to the reviews should be able to bridge the gap between line voltage (240 V) and the typical low voltage setup used for modern thermostats like the Nest (24 V). The schematic for it shows the method for hooking it up to known thermostat wires.

aube-relay

The Aube Relay RC840T-240 does exactly that. It takes 3 wires carrying the line voltage (connected to Black, Blue, and Red) and then connects them out via 3 wires (R, C, W) carrying low voltage. This works to connect the line voltage wall heater with controls from the Nest system.

thermostat-wiring

After connecting everything up, I tested the Nest to see if it worked and low and behold! It worked like expected. The only thing left after wiring and testing the setup is to mount it properly. However, the relay/transformer does not fit inside the original electrical box so I will need to devise a workaround to get it to all fit within the wall up to code.

Read the Continuation here: http://blog.anthonyngu.com/2017/01/10/finishing-touches-installing-nest-w-line-voltage/

Make It Dead Simple: Documentation

Lately I’ve been writing a lot of documentation, instructions, and guides for work, Hackster.io, and my side-project (Open Smart Hub). Most of the time the instructions needed to be compiled from multiple sources but kept simple and digestible. As a long time consumer of documentation, I’ve come to a couple realizations about instructions and guides. The most important is:

Make it dead simple. It should be fool-proof and easy to follow.

Don’t make assumptions about a reader’s skill level, the more knowledgable readers will skim over the instructions they already know, but newcomers will treasure those details.

How?

  1. Draw up a storyboard of the steps. Just like primary school, where they would tell you to brainstorm on a sheet of paper before writing an essay. This will help you figure out if there are any missing parts before you get into the nitty gritty details, whether or not the ordering makes sense, and if you need more research as well.
  2. Start with a schematic of the parts (if it’s a hardware related or multiple component documentation)
  3. Add pictures (these always help clarify for the unsure)
  4. Be concise. Make sure that each word added to your documentation adds value.
  5. Don’t overwhelm your reader. (Avoid using acronyms unless you have elaborated on them earlier in the documentation)

Making this kind of robust yet straightforward documentation takes time, but it will also reduce the amount of support and questions you might receive about it in the future.