Tech News and Commentary
Dave and the team discuss a firefighting robot, Alexa and fitness tracking, Google and spying, an update to Nest WiFi that allows traffic prioritization, cash not being accepted at the Super Bowl, a new option for low cost 5G phones entering the market, and more.
Lance in Dearborn, Michigan listens on AM800 CKLW and asked: “I’ve been getting into gardening lately. Since I live in the northern states, I’m planning to try some indoor gardening. Are there any sensors I can use, any sort of tech, that could help me in my desire to get the perfect tomato, either outdoors or indoors?”
Lance, the main sensor youd be able to use is a soil moisture sensor. Theyre relatively inexpensive, for example a PlanetLink soils sensor will cost you about $35 and can be calibrated to monitor for the moisture requirements of tens of thousands of plants.
Those kinds of sensors are not all the same, but you can find smart ones that will alert your phone if the plant needs more water, which can be a helpful hint if youre new at this hobby. Its not rare for sensors like these to need to be linked to a hub like Samsungs SmartThings hub.
That is a little bit of a pain because youll need one extra device, but it does help extend battery life by using less energy hungry radios than what WiFi requires.
Since you mentioned indoor gardening, you may be interested in some of the all-in-one indoor smart garden devices. These are boxes that have room for the plants themselves, but that also include monitoring and grow lights. Some can control their humidity as well to create an ideal environment for the plants.
There are lots and lots of these boxes to the point that theyre fairly generic and itd be hard to recommend an actual brand. A few years ago they made up probably 30% of all of the major tech trade shows. They normally start at around $100 and go up in price depending on both size and features. For example, the soil sensor and humidity control, but also WiFi alerts, automatic watering, automatic light schedule, etc.
Jake in Colfax, Washington listens on K-MAX and asked: “I just got a car with an older radio. It’s a 2013 Nissan, but it’s got a 2008 radio in it. Do you know if Android Auto would work on it? and on a side note, how does Android Auto work?”
Jake, any aftermarket Android Auto head unit will work on it!
Any Android Auto radio will do all of the work as long as you just give it power from the same inputs any normal radio will take.
The only thing that will affect compatibility and overall experience is whether you can get a double DIN or a single DIN unit, but youll figure that one out right away by just looking at your current car radio.
Smart car radios are one of those very rare technologies that play nice with older partners, in this case cars. Ironically, cars dont play nice with newer phones at all and their stock radios can randomly lose features because theyre never updated, so youre probably saving yourself a headache by installing an Android Auto radio if you want to count on being able to pair it with your phone.
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