Tech bits: The best new gadgets and apps for small business

  • 20 Dec 2021

The latest must-have tech includes a Covid-19-configured laptop backpack, a brain-powered wellbeing hub and an app to reassure nervous travellers

The latest must-have tech includes a Covid-19-configured laptop backpack, a brain-powered wellbeing hub and an app to reassure nervous travellers.

BrightCarbon BrightSlide

While no one doubts that PowerPoint is an exceedingly useful business tool, varying levels in expertise among staff can slow down the process of putting together a presentation. Free-to-download plugin BrightSlide has been created to help bring everyone up to speed, making creating and editing presentations as quick and easy as possible. 

Conceived with smaller businesses in mind, BrightSlide enables PowerPoint users to quickly align objects, save animation combinations and access advanced typography settings to deliver presentations smoothly and efficiently.

 

Features include live paragraph and character spacing with real-time feedback; a ‘copy/match size/position’ function to place items of the exact same size at the same location on every slide; and the capability to save animations to a local library so they can be applied at any time during a presentation.

RiutBag+

Rendering things Covid-19-free using some form of antibacterial agent has become so normal it’s becoming hard to remember a time when it wasn’t. To this end, business bag specialist Riut has just released the RiutBag+, an easy-to-clean 20-litre laptop backpack that combines an ultra-hygienic design with anti-theft features. 

Constructed from a combination of wipe-clean tarpaulin and PVC, it can hold laptops of up to 15 inches (plus storage for up to two tablets in a double-zipped compartment), and comes with a mask-holder and an attachment for a sanitiser bottle. The zip sits against the wearer’s back, deterring would-be thieves. Expect 
to pay around £129.

MyndPlay MyndHub

MyndHub appears to have stepped straight out of science fiction and onto Kickstarter. This £350 system not only looks after a user’s mental wellbeing, but also enables them to learn to control a range of devices using the power of their brain. 

A headset uses three sensors to measure brainwave activity, which is transmitted wirelessly to a hub to which electrical or mechanical devices can be connected, and then controlled, by the power of thought.

 

 

As well as training one’s mind to switch things like lights and kettles on or off, MyndHub provides users with visible data about their mental activity patterns, as well as feedback to help them focus, relax or even meditate. Pricing includes the hub and the headset.

Sanitiser Sentinel

Even though the practice of hand sanitisation has become second nature to staff in workplaces across the world, anything that prompts employees to stay as safe as possible has potentially life-saving benefits.

Sanitiser Sentinel uses a proximity sensor to trigger spoken and visual reminders to encourage people to wash or sanitise their hands whenever they walk past the machine. Already installed in a number of NHS sites and private practices in the UK, the technology is placed above soap or hand-sanitiser dispensers, and uses flashing lights and up to 26 selectable messages – in up to 20 different languages – to help keep staff safe. Final pricing for the Sentinel has yet to be set, but a guideline of £50 plus VAT has been suggested.

App Corner

SafeStep

After 18 months of avoiding travel, workers may be unused to going out alone. To ease the minds of anxious travellers, developer Ska Train has launched SafeStep.

Users switch on the app at the start of their trip, and if they fail to reach their destination within an allotted timeframe, a designated colleague, family member or friend will receive a text and a link with the sender’s location. Available on Apple and Android for £2 per month.

Companion

The pandemic has made it difficult for small businesses to monitor and help with employees’ wellbeing, as many try to stay afloat with their workforce at home. Companion provides a way to support employees who are experiencing mental health issues.

Based on cognitive behavioural therapy, the app reduces stress and anxiety via tools, guides and interactive exercises. Included in the NHS Apps Library, it is initially available to businesses as a free seven-day trial. Following that, it’s £99 per month per team.

PiPoffice

PiPoffice is a business phone system with an app optimised for personal mobiles. Staff can work from any location with access to everything they’d expect from a desk phone system, including call recording, conference calling, and call monitoring and logging.

 

It comes with a direct dial-in business number, ensures best available call quality, and can distinguish between business and personal calls. Available on iOS and Android, and compatible with Teams, Salesforce, Dynamics 365, Bullhorn and Zoho, it starts at £12 per user per month.
 

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