Best Tech Devices to Have During a Quarantine

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all doing well as we ride out this coronavirus pandemic. I know that this has been a difficult time for many of you, and large parts of the country are sheltering in place to practice social distancing.

Here in Kansas City, we have been under our mayor’s shelter in place order for weeks, so I thought this would be the perfect time to check in. With all of this time spent inside, it got me thinking about the perfect things to have on hand in the middle of a prolonged quarantine.

As an avid tech connoisseur, I’ve prepared a small list of essential items that might make your time at home a little easier. Check out my list below.

Firestick

With all of this time spent inside, you will definitely need a way to catch up on all of those shows everyone is talking about, including the ever famous “Tiger King.” The firestick plugs directly into your smart TV and grants the user access to thousands of apps and streaming services.

This little device will give you access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and more. With all of these options, you could last months or maybe even years without ever running out of options. And while tempting and somewhat understandable given the circumstances, I would not recommend spending more than a day or two binging on programs. It is important to maintain balance, even during a quarantine.

Ring Camera

Not everybody is staying at home during this quarantine. Criminals know that all of us are ordering products online and many of them are out patrolling neighborhoods looking for packages that sit on front porches/driveways.

Ring cameras help protect you from these predators – now during the quarantine, and throughout the rest of the year. These are tiny cameras that you fit on your front door that show a real-time feed of your front yard and record footage for later watching. Most notably, they can be linked up to your mobile phone, so you can view from anywhere you happen to be. In the event of having any packages stolen, or if you have unexpected visitors that you’d rather not greet at the door, this is a perfect option to have.

They also have a number of smart products like security cameras, smart lights and cameras you can use specifically for businesses.

WIFI Extender

Being forced to stay home doesn’t mean that you should be forced to sit in one room because of a weak WiFi signal. WiFi extenders boost your home’s internet access area so that you can get online from anywhere on your property. This is especially helpful if you have a hard time accessing your network in upstairs locations or from outside.

With a WiFi extender installed, you can move your home office to any part of the house where it might be quieter and easier to get work done. Or, you can lounge outside in your back yard and soak up some sun while still listening to your favorite music.

Kindle

How many times have you put off reading a great book because you just never had the time to sit down and read? Well, with a quarantine underway and with everything closed – all you have is time. That’s why a Kindle is the perfect companion to have with you while we ride this out.

Amazon’s Kindle gives you immediate access to digital versions of virtually any book you could want. Simply purchase them from the Amazon store and it will download onto the device for instant reading.

The Kindle has been perfected over the years to be intuitive and fun to use, so even if you enjoy physical books, this is a great option.

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Well, that’s all for now. Hopefully, you can use some of these items to make your quarantine a little easier over the next few weeks.

Please, stay home and stay safe.

Even if you don’t think you have anything to worry about, you could potentially spread something to someone who is vulnerable. Let’s all do our part to get through this together and we will return to our normal lives in no time.

Take care

~ Michael Gortenburg, CEO and Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, Missouri.

Interesting Features at CES 2020

Hey everybody, Michael Gortenburg here.

I just got back to Kansas City after attending the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). For those who might not know, CES is an annual tradeshow that features the latest consumer technologies making their introduction into the consumer market, from wearable technologies to smart house devices.

The show attracts some of the most brilliant minds in technology and innovation from all over the world, and this year certainly did not disappoint. While I cannot begin to cover all of the exciting features that were present, I thought I would share just a few highlights from the show.

Quasar System

Through my work at Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) in Kansas City, I always keep a steady eye on the real estate industry and try to keep up with any technologies that can improve or add value to homes. This is one of the reasons that Wallbox’s Quasar System was a standout item this year.

The system is used in conjunction with power stations for electronic cars and allows users to convert the energy that would otherwise go toward their vehicle into powering their home. The Quasar System is built to “plug in” to a home’s electrical network and transfer energy into running everyday things like lights, air-conditioning, etc.

Not only is the engineering aspect of this system a marvel, it even allows the user to SELL the excess source of power back to the grid. Needless to say, this is an exciting idea for homeowners and property managers alike, and it will be very interesting to see how this technology develops in the years to come.

Hydraloop

Hydraloop was another addition that definitely impressed me. The Hydraloop is an automated water recycling device that has the ability to cleanly recycle water throughout a property.

It’s about the size of large freezer and is installed into the water system. Once installed, the system uses a series of brilliant engineering methods to treat and re-use water throughout the house – conserving a substantial amount of water and saving the owner money on their bill (after an initial investment of around $4,000). Another great aspect of this device is that it is largely self-automated and requires very little maintenance. The designers wanted to create a product that homeowners would actually want to use and know how to operate with ease. There is even an app that the user can download to gauge performance.

These devices are currently being used in places around the world where water conservation is a serious issue, but as we all look toward solutions for sustainable living, there’s a safe bet that this type of technology will expand greatly in the U.S. market.

Ballie – the Smart Home Robot

When robotic vacuum cleaners came out years ago, it was easy to see that domestic robot devices were going to be huge – and we are witnessing the expansion of this technology with the introduction of products like Ballie.

Created by Samsung, Ballie is a cross between a nifty pet and a tool for managing a house based on your lifestyle. It’s a ball-shaped robot that can fit into the palm of your hand, but you won’t have to carry it around. Ballie is equipped with a camera and uses advanced AI programming to roll around the property, where it begins to recognize and learn your behaviors to help you fulfill basic tasks around the house.

It’s designed to work with other smart devices from the Samsung line such as vacuum robots, smart TVs, smart windows and more. Once Ballie has gathered enough information about its owner, it will respond to commands and use its AI programming to help you with daily tasks. For example, if Ballie notices that it’s time to clean the house – it will send a notification to the vacuum robot to automatically start working. Ballie is even designed for home protection, as it can detect unusual activity around your property and send notifications, pictures and videos to your phone.

This is a really exciting area for smart devices and robotics. Unfortunately, the concept is still under design and Samsung hasn’t released details for when it will be released or how much it will cost; however, it is certainly worth keeping an eye out for its debut.

Sony Vision-S

As you know, I am a car enthusiast. As such, I was surprised to see Sony introduce their take on electric cars. The Vision-S was a big item at this year’s show, and for good reason.

To start, the car simply looks great. Designed in a sporty/sleek fashion, the car comes equipped with 5G WIFI capabilities and replaces the dashboard with a wall of panels that can be used for things like navigation apps, music control, climate information and more. It also comes with 33 sensors in total that help drivers navigate the road in a safe manner and promises to improve driving performance.

Consumer Technologies at Their Best

These are just a handful of the amazing products and concepts that I saw this year at CES 2020. If you’re interested in consumer technologies or if you’re just curious to see where the minds of the world’s greatest thinkers are heading – I would encourage you to do a little research on the full lineup from the show.

I can’t wait for these products to hit the market and to see how they perform in day-to-day use. Not only are these developments in tech great investment opportunities, but a large portion of them stand to change the way we live our lives for the better.

Until next time,

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)

Living in a Plastic World

Whether you love spending time in nature or rarely see the light of day, one thing that we can all agree on is that it’s important to preserve the environment. It’s a hot button issue these days that weighs on almost everyone’s mind, and for good reason. As the world advances industrially, we’ve began to notice just how much pollution we are putting out on a global scale and it’s a tragedy.

Perhaps the biggest culprit of global pollution is the use of plastics. Piping, bags, electronics, containers, straws, plates, bottles, wrappers – almost every industry and aspect of modern convenience makes use of plastics. It is the go-to material for industries like packaging and manufacturing because of its cheap production costs and general usefulness.

But no matter how convenient plastics may be for our lives, it is affecting our environment in ways that are hard to imagine. As most plastics are non-biodegradable, it poses a very real problem for future generations, wildlife and natural ecosystems all over the planet. Plastics collect and destroy marine life when they reach oceans, they clutter and contaminate rivers, they endanger land animals. Plastics also commonly contain toxic chemicals that seep into the soil and water of our neighborhoods. On top of it all, nothing ruins the beauty of our world more than piles of multi-colored junk.

The threat of ocean pollution from plastics is so high, that some experts believe that we may eventually have more plastic in the oceans than fish.

This problem doesn’t just come from the United States – in fact, most ocean pollution can be contributed to manufacturing powerhouses like India and China. We are experiencing a global crisis that will require a global effort to address.

Shifting to Other Materials

As mentioned above, the heavy reliance on plastics in almost every industry can largely be attributed to the low cost and flexible use of the synthetic material. Companies can create gadgets, furniture, or other items for an inexpensive rate – then upsell the product for a profit at the market.

But while this may be the most profitable move on the part of businesses, it simply is not worth the long-term cost to our planet. One approach to addressing the crisis is to shift manufacturing towards natural and eco-friendly materials, like wood, glass and metal. There are many advantages to switching to these types of materials. They’re more natural, easier to recycle for multiple uses and easier to dispose of.

Of course, we also have to be responsible in regard to maintaining our forests – but preparing and maintaining forests is easier than sending the world into a plastic death spiral. Additionally, there will be an added cost to products as businesses will have to spend more in manufacturing their products, but that is a reality that we will all eventually confront one way or another.

If we have to rely on plastics, there are in fact eco-friendly synthetics that we can use. There are ways to manufacture plastics out of natural materials like corn, instead of relying on petroleum. They too might be a little more expensive and harder to find, but as consumers become more environmentally conscious – businesses will likely adapt.

Recycling

The other immediate alternative is to encourage sweeping recycling efforts. The good news is that this process has been underway for a couple of decades and is only getting stronger as younger generations are waking up to the issues that will affect their world. Most kids these days are being taught about the importance of recycling in their schools and the effects of plastic on our environment.

This education is slowly starting to emerge. It’s now commonplace to see paper bags being used at grocery stores and cities are making an effort to make recycling a more convenient option for their citizens with increased recycling centers and organized programs.

Industries of all types are also starting to switch from paper to digital solutions for their day-to-day needs. Sure, many of our electronics rely on limited natural resources and still make use of plastic – but the digitization of our workspaces saves a lot of plastic from being used.

Continued Education

Ultimately, it will require a continued effort in education to raise awareness about our environment and its long-term health.

And there are actionable steps that we can take. You may consider joining or donating to reputable organizations that seek to make a difference. You can also talk with friends and family to encourage them to take action in their lives in practical ways. Just maintaining an awareness of the issue will naturally inspire change and every little effort adds up to build massive results.

We all want the same thing: a clean, beautiful and natural world that can sustain generations to come. Together, I am optimistic that we can achieve that vision.

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Group (18CG)

Cool Tech Gadgets Worth Checking Out in 2019

As someone who grew up working in auto shops and as an investor – I’ve always been fascinated by all types of technology. And since the internet’s big takeoff in the 90’s, we’ve seen an explosion in the tech sector, changing everything from how we listen to our favorite music to navigating traffic.

Today, I thought we would take a look at some of the coolest gadgets that I’ve seen recently. Some of them make great gift ideas. Others are just interesting as a concept and could become game changers on a larger scale.

Wireless Charger

When I first heard about wireless chargers – I saw them as more of a novelty item for tech geeks to display on their desks, or for the laziest among us to just charge their phones. But they have drastically improved over the last couple of years.

I recently tried one out at a store and immediately saw the appeal. You simply lay your phone down directly on the charger and it effortlessly begins to charge. Sure, it may not be entirely necessary, but it is satisfying.

Sleep & Wake Therapy Lamp

Like most people, I love to catch up on my sleep. Things can get busy very quickly running Eighteen Capital Group (18CG) here in Kansas City, so it is vital for me to get a decent rest everyday. And nothing is worse than being woken up by a blaring alarm clock and hitting snooze over and over.

Well, somebody has come up with a solution. I recently discovered the perfect to start the day – it’s called a “smart lamp.” The lamp is designed to mimic the gentleness of a natural sunrise, helping the sleeper come alive at a slower and less startling pace. It’s very different than waking up with a jolt.

AirPods (or similar items)

We’ve all seen them – Apple’s new AirPods that seem to be sweeping the nation in popularity. Everyone is jumping on board of this craze – making the speculation alone reason to give them a try. What’s more is that everyone who tries them says that they are the greatest Apple product since the iPhone.

It may be trendy, but if that many people swear by them, then it might be worth checking out. The one thing that might be stopping some people from jumping on board the bandwagon is the hefty price tag, but being able to talk and listen to headphones handsfree might be worth it.

Touch Screen Gloves

It’s not uncommon for temperatures to dip into the freezing category in Kansas City. Everyone wears winter clothes to protect themselves, but that can be a problem as gloves make it hard to use touch screen devices. Luckily, they make touch screen gloves.

They’re very inexpensive and come in some nice designs, like the all leather driving-style gloves. With these, you could keep your hands warm in the wintertime, actually use your phone or other electronic device and look stylish all at the same time.

Dog Door Collar

Tech doesn’t just expand to us humans – now even our pets are getting in on the convenience. One thing that I would recommend for dog lovers out there who have inside dogs, is the automatic dog door collar.

The door itself may require installation, but once everything is setup, the dog is able to let themselves in or out as often as they’d like, whenever they’d like. The dog simply approaches the door and the electric scanner picks up the signal and lets them in or out. This gadget is definitely a game changer for dog owners who are tired of having to monitor them all day.

Drones

Not really a “tech gadget” for the average person per se – however, a great invention and fun toy nonetheless. When drones first came out, they were large, expensive and it took dedication to learn out how to operate them. But as the years have gone on, these aspects have improved.


Today, you can purchase a standard camera drone for $70 at your local Best Buy. They’re outfitted with great cameras and have a user-friendly design that most people can use intuitively. They are extremely fun to play with to get a birds’ eye view of locations, and even have professional uses in real estate. If you have the chance and the curiosity, I would highly recommend checking these out.

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So there you have it, a handful of tech gadgets that are useful, interesting and attainable for the average person. Do you have any that you’d like to recommend? If so – let me know in the comments section below.

Until next time!

~ Michael Gortenburg Kansas City, Founding Principal of Eighteen Capital Groupl (18CG)