TIME Gadgets

5 Must-Have Hands-Free Kitchen Appliances

I’m really not a germaphobe, but something happens to me when I cut and cook raw chicken.

My husband says I become obsessive: I refuse to touch the sink handle without a paper towel in my hand, and I don’t want to grab a paper towel and touch the top of the dispenser without washing my hands first — but I can’t do that without holding the bottle of soap with chicken-laden hands.

You get the picture. It’s not pretty.

Lucky for me, touch-free devices can help get me through my somewhat obsessive behavior, from the garbage pail to the kitchen sink.

Moen MotionSense Faucet

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Moen

Moen’s MotionSense faucets let me wash my hands without ever touching the faucet or handle. Thanks to advanced motion sensors, I can wave my drippy chicken-hands to start the water flowing at a preset temperature.

Four styles of Moen kitchen faucets are available with MotionSense technology. Moen provided a review sample of the Brantford faucet for me to try. It looks just like a regular kitchen faucet, only it requires a little more installation work under the sink, as well as a battery pack that holds six AAA batteries. Moen says the batteries should last for about a year, and an LED light lets you know when it’s time to change.

Once the faucet is installed, which an experienced DIYer can do in less than two hours, the Wave Sensor lets you simply wave your hand above the faucet to turn the water on or off. Not only does this stop the spread of germs, but it’s a convenient way to fill large pots with water. Set the pot in the sink while it fills; when it’s full, just wave your hand to turn the water off. Lest you worry you’ll accidentally wave your hand over the faucet before walking away for the day, an auto shutoff mode stops the water after it’s been running for two minutes.

The other way to activate the flow of water is the Ready Sensor, which is located on the front of the faucet near the base. Just like moving your hands in front of a sink sensor in a restaurant bathroom, holding your hand, cup or pot under the faucet tells the sensor to turn on. Take away your hand or pot, and the water turns off again. This is particularly useful when your hands are dirty from cooking dinner.

Of course, you can use the handle to adjust water flow and temperature as you would ordinarily, and like many other faucets, there’s a pull-down spray spout for rinsing the sink. Wash the faucet as you would any other polished surface; in fact, there’s a guest/cleaning mode that turns off the sensors when you have company or are cleaning the sink.

Moen isn’t the only company to make hands-free faucets, but it offers the largest selection of attractive kitchen faucets. On average, adding MotionSense to the price of a faucet adds from $150 to $200 to the cost. MotionSense faucets are available in chrome, oil-rubbed bronze and spot-resist stainless finishes, which Moen says resists water spots and fingerprints.

Price: From $510 at Amazon, $660 (varies by model) from moen.com

Simplehuman Sensor Pump With Caddy

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Simplehuman

Simplehuman calls its products “tools for efficient living,” and I can think of nothing more efficient than holding a sponge or my hand under a dispenser for a preset amount of soap without having to touch the dispenser or shake a tube of gel. While there are other automated soap dispensers on the market, this one includes a brushed nickel, removable caddy for the dish sponge so it stays put rather than getting buried under a pile of dirty dishes at the bottom of the sink.

I particularly like the “volume control” that lets me set how much liquid I want dispensed, so I won’t get a huge glob when all I really want is a little dab. The sensor (powered by four AA batteries) on the front easily senses my sponge, my hand or even a utensil, and since the sponge is stored on the side, I don’t get accidental drips on my hand. The sensor can be turned off for cleaning, and the caddy comes off for easy cleaning.

Most of the Amazon comments I read about this product are quite positive, with a few complaints about drips. There’s a flexible silicon valve that opens to dispense the liquid and closes immediately to create a seal, so there are no drips. It seems to be working well for me so far, and I’m enjoying the attractive, touch-free design. (One additional note about consumer complaints: Simplehuman seems to get very high marks for its customer service. Every commenter with an issue or defective device said it was immediately replaced by the company.)

Price: $48.98 at Amazon and $50 at simplehuman.com

Simplehuman Tension Arm Paper Towel Holder

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Simplehuman

Whether you use an under-cabinet paper towel dispenser or prefer something that stands on your counter, sometimes you need to grab a paper towel with one hand. A quick scan of Amazon brings up dozens of different types of touch-free dispensers, ranging from $50 to $150 for a battery-operated device, but I settled on the $25 Simplehuman Tension Arm Paper Towel Holder.

It looks quite similar to the countertop stainless steel dispenser I currently use, but the variable tension arm on the side holds the towels in place so I can easily tear off one sheet at a time without ever touching the top of the stand. Even better, I no longer have to unscrew the finial to remove the old roll and replace it with a new one.

The stainless steel base is weighted so that it stands its ground as you pull your towel. There’s a finger loop for picking up the dispenser and moving it around.

Price: $25 at Amazon and simplehuman.com

Clean Cut Touchless Paper Towel Dispenser

If you prefer the under-cabinet style and aren’t limited by budget, the Clean Cut Touchless Paper Towel Dispenser is great high-tech option. It uses LED Breaking Beam technology so you control how much towel you want, and cuts it to any length even if you’re using a pre-perforated brand. The longer you hold your hand up to break the beam, the longer the length you’ll get. When you remove your hand, you activate the cutter and the towel is dispensed for you—all without you having to touch anything.

The company says installation should take about 15 minutes. And since it requires an AC adapter for power, you will need to mount it somewhat close to an outlet.

Price: $125.66 at Amazon

Simplehuman Rectangular Sensor Can

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Simplehuman

Since most of my kitchen appliances are stainless steel, my effort to find the right touch-free garbage pail led me right back to Simplehuman. Its 55-liter Sensor Can is exactly the right size for my kitchen, with a huge capacity, and it opens automatically with just a wave of my hand.

Since I placed my sample in a high-traffic area of the kitchen, I worried that it would open every time someone walked by. It turns out this can is pretty smart and, for the most part, can detect the difference between a hand that’s passing by and a hand that’s waving. The trigger zone is right above the lid, so you won’t get many accidental opens, though if your hand swings directly over it as you walk by, the lid will open.

Once the lid is open, the trigger zone can sense when your hands are nearby; scraping a plate or peeling a carrot will keep it from closing before you’re done. A “stay-open” mode lets you choose to keep the lid open for a longer period of time.

The only downside to this can is the sound it makes when it opens and closes; it kinds of whooshes as it opens and make a wubba-wubba sound as it closes. That could definitely be quieter.

The can runs on six C batteries, which are estimated to last a year (there’s an optional $30 power adapter), and an integrated charcoal filter in the lid absorbs odors. I like the design and the rectangular shape of this garbage can: It fits up against the wall and takes up less space than a round can, and the fingerprint-proof stainless steel outside is a nice touch, so to speak. The inner can comes out for easy cleaning, and you can use trash bags to line it.

Price: $175 at Amazon and $250 at simplehuman.com

Neato Robotics BotVac

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Neato

While we’re talking about hands-free kitchen conveniences, if you don’t have a robotic vacuum, it may be time to consider getting one for their convenience and smart scheduling. There are a few different brands on the market that roam your house in search of dust bunnies and pet hair; some work better than others on carpets and getting past fringe.

I primarily use a bot vac for my kitchen floor and the hardwood floors on the first floor of my home. The Neato Robotics BotVac does a great job of picking up the dirt and crumbs I would ordinarily have to sweep up and then collect with a dust pan or vacuum. That’s because it has powerful suction capabilities, like an ordinary vacuum. Other robotic vacuums use a sweeping technology, making them better suited for thicker carpets.

Neato uses a technology-laser-guided navigation system that first scans and then maps the room. That way, the unit is armed with a plan of attack for maneuvering around kitchen stools and the center island. If it runs out of battery power while cleaning, the BotVac returns to its base for recharging and then goes back to where it left off to complete the job. I can set a schedule for when I want it to run — say, once I’ve gone upstairs for the night — and know that in the morning, the kitchen floor will be clean and the BotVac will be back where it belongs. For big messes, I can always push a button to turn it on and start the job immediately.

The BotVac series varies in price depending on which types of brushes, blades and filter options you prefer. There’s one designed specifically for picking up pet hair that CNET gave a four-star rating, choosing it over the Roomba. “In almost every situation we threw at it, the Neato picked up more debris than the competition, often in significantly less time,” CNET reported. “It’s an efficient, powerful little machine, and its laser-guided navigation system is one of the smartest you’ll find in any robot vacuum.” CNET also noted “The BotVac also did much better on the pet hair test, making it ultimately more recommendable that iRobot’s Roomba 870.”

Sure, I can use a vacuum like the portable Dyson, but for the same price, I get a vacuum that runs when I want it to whether I’m there or not, and I don’t have to touch it — except, of course, to empty the dust bin.

Price: From $429 at Amazon and from $479 at neatorobotics.com

If you’re looking for more kitchen gadgets, check out Techlicious’ kitchen picks for healthy living and the future of kitchen tech.

This article was written by Andrea Smith and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Companies

Apple Confirms Sept. 9 Event, Likely to Debut iPhone 6

"We wish we could say more"

Apple has confirmed that it is holding a press event on Sept. 9, most likely to unveil new products. The company is widely expected to debut a new version of the iPhone, and the company will reportedly offer at least one model with a larger 5.5-inch screen.

Reports also indicate that Apple may show off the long-awaited iWatch, a wearable device that would likely run on iOS.

The event will take place in the company’s hometown of Cupertino, California at 10 a.m. Pacific time.

Here’s a look at the invite:


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TIME Gadgets

Hands On with the Unique Sprint Aquos Crystal Smartphone from Sharp

K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

Recently, Sharp became the latest multi-faceted electronics company to get into the American smartphone game. In conjunction with Sprint, it launched the Aquos Crystal phone, a 5-inch, bezel-less Android handheld that will be available both as a contract phone and a pre-paid option for Virgin and Boost Mobile customers.

The Aquos Crystal is undoubtedly a flagship phone, but it will be available at a budget phone price. Sprint customers can get it for $19.99 with a two year contract, $0 down and $10 per month on Sprint’s Easy Pay, or $149 outright on Boost and Virgin. That price makes the phone, which already has an impressive standout feature, even more attractive.

The bezel around smartphone screens has gotten smaller and smaller each month as makers try to fit in large displays without making the phones themselves larger. Sharp found a way to eliminate the bezel on three sides, leaving just a small chin at the bottom. The edge-to-edge display is visually pleasing and a little jarring. My eyes kept expecting to see a small border around content–nope, just air. That’s pretty awesome.

This, plus the overall design, gives the Aquos Crystal an air of refinement not often found in low-cost phones. It’s not the thinnest or lightest smartphone available, but it doesn’t need to be. More importantly, the lack of bezel makes it narrower than other phones with similar-sized displays, something that will appeal to people who prefer to use just one hand. The back is curved just enough for a comfortable and secure hold when doing so.

The top bezel is usually where you’d find the earpiece and front-facing camera. On the Aquos Crystal the entire screen acts as a speaker, so wherever you put your ear you can hear the caller. You’ll also hear really good quality sound as the phone includes HD Voice technology.

The main speaker is on the back and is helped along by Harmon/Kardon’s Clarifi, which also made an appearance in a special-edition HTC One M8. You can’t expect the same high level of sound quality you get on that phone with the setup here, of course. It may mean you won’t need a separate MP3 player.

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K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

As for the front-facing camera, it sits on the bottom. While this doesn’t seem ideal for selfies, the camera app prompts you to turn the phone upside down before you take them.

Once you get into specs, it becomes clearer why this phone is only $149. The display has a 720p resolution–HD but not ultra high-res. The quad-core processor is backed by just 1.5GB of RAM and inside there’s only 8GB of internal storage (much of which will be taken up by the operating system and pre-loaded apps). Adding a microSD card will give you extra room for pictures, music, video, and other files, but since Android 4.4 puts a ton of limitations on moving apps there, that’s not helpful when apps are taking up a lot of space.

Speaking of Android: Sharp didn’t put a skin/different interface over the OS, so you get a mostly stock experience. There are quite a few Sprint apps and other pre-loaded software, which wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t taking up limited space.

Aside from that issue, the Aquos Crystal from Sharp is a very desirable phone at a very desirable price. It’s worth checking out, especially if you’re going with one of the pre-paid options.

This article was written by K.T. Bradford and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Innovation

This Is What Europe’s Largest 3D Scanner Looks Like

The 115 sensors scan objects and print 3D figurines of them

In Prague, Czech Republic, a 3D scanner can produce a miniature sculpture of you with remarkable detail.

The largest in continental Europe, the device is designed to scan people, animals and objects, which are placed on a platform as 115 sensors take a 360 degree snapshot. The scanning process takes only five to 15 minutes, after which a computer creates and then 3D prints a figurine between 15 and 35cm tall of the scanned item.

The price of the device is six million Czech crowns ($284,208).

TIME Gadgets

Samsung Gear S Smartwatch Can Make Calls Without a Paired Phone

Samsung

The predominant smartwatch maker introduces yet another wearable, but this one can fly solo.

Smartwatches are notoriously codependent gadgets. If you want to use one to make calls, you need an auxiliary device nearby to do the cellular legwork. Forget smart, they’re like mini-dumb terminals, wrist-bound proxies for another functionally better-rounded piece of technology.

Until now: Meet the Gear S, a curved-screen smartwatch that maker Samsung says can do phone calls all by its lonesome.

The Gear S uses a curved 2-inch 360-by-480 pixel Super AMOLED display attached to a flex band (with changeable straps), and employs a customizable interface that includes views and fonts Samsung says will let you “read messages and notifications at a single glance.”

The IP67-certified (particle and moisture resistant) wearable is powered by a 1.0 Ghz dual-core processor, has 512MB of memory and 4GB of internal storage, and runs Tizen, the Linux-based operating system for embedded devices. It includes both 3G as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, charges its 300 mAh Li-ion battery (Samsung estimates you’ll get two days out of “typical usage”) with a USB 2.0 cable, and has a battery of tracking tools, including an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a compass, a heart-rate monitor, an ambient light sensor, an ultraviolet detector and a barometer.

It’ll still sync with or act as a call proxy for a smartphone, of course, if that’s what you prefer, but the big deal — if you care about smartwatches anyway — is that it can get online to check notifications by itself, and you can make and receive calls from your wrist without a secondary device. I see nothing in the specifications about a microphone or speaker, for better or worse, thus ruling out the Dick Tracy angle (meaning, in other words, that you might need a Bluetooth headset to make calls).

Samsung’s covering that angle by simultaneously announcing the Gear Circle, a Bluetooth headset that can pair with smartphones (and while the company doesn’t say as much in the press release, one assumes, the Gear S). The Gear Circle’s extras include a magnetic lock that lets it hang around your neck during downtime, and it’ll vibrate to indicate an incoming call or notification.

TIME Crime

Feds Investigating Cyberattack on JPMorgan Chase and Other Banks

U.S. Banks Post Near-Record Profits In Second Quarter Of 2014
Andrew Burton—Getty Images A man walks past JP Morgan Chase's corporate headquarters on August 12, 2014 in New York City.

The motivation is still unclear

Federal authorities are helping to investigate reported cyberattacks against JPMorgan Chase and other banks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Joshua Campbell told the Washington Post in a statement late Wednesday that the agency was working with the Secret Service “to determine the scope of recently reported cyber attacks against several American financial institutions.”

Multiple news outlets, including Bloomberg News and The New York Times, are reporting that the banks were infiltrated by hackers who stole gigabytes of data, including information that would enable them to siphon money from accounts. Both organizations cite unnamed sources.

The motivation behind the attacks and the identity of the attackers is still unclear, though Bloomberg, which first reported the intrusions, reports that at least one of the banks was linked to Russian hackers.

Earlier this month, a U.S. cybersecurity firm said that a Russian crime ring was suspected of obtaining access to a record 1.2 billion username and password combinations.

[Washington Post]

TIME

Why Used iPhones Are Flooding the Market

Here's the reason why

fortunelogo-blue
This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By Philip Elmer-DeWitt

gazelle

The market for used iPhones is a funny thing.

It hums along steadily most of the year until, just before the launch — or, more accurately, the expected launch — of a new model, things go nuts.

This year, more than ever. A few data points:

  • According to a survey by Hanover Research, an unprecedented 48% of iPhone owners plan to trade up to whatever Apple has up its sleeve.
  • Gazelle, a leading trade-in site, saw iPhone offers peak at five per second one day last week before settling down to two per second, up 50% from last year.
  • Another site, NextWorth, saw average daily iPhone traffic jump 350% from the previous month. “That’s up from a lift of 182% last year, or almost two times the acceleration,” NextWorth’s Jeff Trachsel told Computerworld. “There’s tremendous pent-up demand for a larger iPhone.”

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

TIME Companies

Apple Fails Again to Ban Sales of Samsung Phones

Apple Samsung Patent
Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images A Samsung and Apple smartphone are displayed in London on Aug. 6, 2014

The latest in the Apple-Samsung patent war

A U.S. judge on Wednesday rejected Apple’s bid to permanently ban sales of some Samsung phones that had recently been found to infringe Apple patents.

What Apple pitched as a “narrowly tailed ban” on some older Samsung models was denied by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, Calif., who had rejected Apple’s previous request to ban some U.S. Samsung sales in August of 2012, according to Bloomberg.

In its bid, Apple specifically identified certain features on nine of Samsung’s patent-infringing smartphones in order to give the South Korean firm a “sunset period” to alter those features, according to court documents.

But Apple’s latest court denial is perhaps its last as both parties have toned down their multiyear patent war. In late July, Apple dropped its appeal of the 2012 case while also announcing that its quarterly profits and smartphone sales had jumped up from the previous year’s, a suggestion that its iPhone sales went largely unaffected by any Samsung patent infringements. Most recently, both Apple and Samsung agreed earlier this month to drop patent disputes against each other outside the U.S.

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