ReportFires app Kickstarter campaign – beta testing

Time flies! The 30-day Kickstarter campaign of our ReportFires app will end this week! As of 04-Oct-2020 noon, there are 99 backers and the project is 90% funded! 4 more days to go! Please support and pledge our Kickstarter campaign!

Besides introducing the new ReportFires app to different stakeholders and promoting our Kickstarter campaign, we were spending a lot of time on testing. We have been testing the beta version of the ReportFires app for more than one week.

The app requires iOS 13. The oldest iPhones support iOS 13 are the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. We did many tests on iPhone 6S Plus to evaluate the app functionality and performance.

“Why the ReportFires app supports iPhones only?” some backers ask. The main reasons are the camera system and edge computing. Edge computing enables the app to work without Internet connectivity. Two lines break first in wildfires – the power circuit and telecommunication cable. In order to make the AI smoke detection most useful, we design the app to process the Machine Learning image detection 100% on iPhone. ReportFires will detect wildfire smoke and make sound alert no matter the iPhone is online (connected to Internet) or offline. ReportFires will help you to detect wildfire even if you don’t have reliable network service.

We used some early-stage wildfire photos to test the app. We used different screen sizes to display the images. The app could detect 90%+ of all the wildfire smokes in the photos! Very impressive.

We’re lucky in Hong Kong that we don’t have frequent wildfires in the city. In order to simulate an actual user environment – an iPhone running ReportFires is monitoring the fire-prone forest near home, we tested the app in our partner’s office. We projected wildfire smoke photos on a huge screen and put an iPhone 6S on a tripod. The app successfully detected smoke in the photos.

We had a gathering last Saturday at our colleague’s home. The government has just loosened the COVID-19 social distance requirement. The team could finally have some good food and spend a good time together! The colleague lives in a suburban village near forests. There is a specific term for this kind of residential area, WUI (pronounced woooeeee), stands for wildland-urban-interface. Controlled burns of debris/rubbish are common in suburban villages. We were lucky to see a controlled burn that day! We tested if ReportFires could detect the controlled burn smoke:

It was our first field test. ReportFires performed perfectly!

ReportFires will be available for Free in App Store in October 2020.

Please support and pledge our Kickstarter campaign!

ReportFires: our first Kickstarter campaign

We are on the same journey of global WFH movement, aren’t we?

Working-From-Home is sometimes lonely. Solitude will bring new things.

And it brings us our first Kickstarter campaign! Cool!



Here is our “app journey” summary:

Jan: First Australia mega-bushfires. Then the coronavirus outbreak. The world was never the same.

Feb: Supply chains and transportation were not functioning! We developed the ReportFires web app to help people to mitigate wildfire risks and damages.

Mar: RoboticsCats ReportFires web app launched in Chiang Mai, Jakarta and Hong Kong.

Apr: we evaluated the lesson learned in the ReportFires web app

May: we finalize the ReportFires mobile app scope and design. It is an AI wildfire detection mobile app

Jun-Jul: R&D. We met a few mobile app developers to discuss outsourcing partnerships. Glad to team up with a very experienced development house to build the ReportFires mobile app!

Aug: work in progress! We target to launch ReportFires app in coming October!



What you can get from ReportFires?

  • to help you to fight or flight, respond ahead of wildfire
  • to protect your family and community from nearby wildfires
  • to alert others of wildfires in the vicinity


What is ReportFires? What can it do?

It is a FREE AI wildfire detection app. It can

  • alerts you of nearby wildfire reported by other users
  • detects wildfire near your home
  • helps you report wildfire location easily by map clicks


We build the mobile app because we want to help people to better respond to wildfires. The app will be a good marketing tool to showcase our technologies. Doing both is great!

Software development is now at full speed! Interim deliverables are very promising! We believe it will be a useful and popular app when it launches in October.

A good app is useful if there are people using it. We’re exploring different options to promote the new ReportFires mobile app, to drive adoption, and to help more people to know and use it. The challenge is we don’t have much budget to do it.

We want to market the app to the world. We need fundings. We’re a startup. Why not try crowd-funding? Let’s go Kickstarter!



We studied both successful and failed Kickstarter campaigns. There are a lot of tasks and subtle details to launch a campaign. Significant workloads for an IT start-up. Many tasks are professional activities of different domains. Moreover, mobile app is not a popular Kickstarter category and only about 20% of app campaigns can meet their funding goals!

With all potential challenges, we are committed to moving forward with our Kickstarter campaign. We don’t have all the skills we need, but we have abundant talents from our customers, partners, advisors, and friends who will help us!

Thanks for all the invaluable supports from our friends and advisors in different professions and countries! The coming Kickstarter campaign is only possible with their generous help in graphic designs, copywriting, proof-reading, gift production, online marketing, etc!

It is our common goal to build a better world that brings us to work together. It is our differences which create new great things!


ReportFires Kickstarter Landing Page - Click to Report 2

ReportFires Kickstarter Landing Page – Click to Report 2


After months of preparation, our Kickstarter campaign is going to launch in September. Many moving parts in the project. A few critical tasks are still work-in-progress. We will start promoting our Kickstarter campaign next week. The coming weeks will be very interesting and exciting! The preparation itself is a successful crowdsourcing experience!


What do you think about our Kickstarter campaign landing pages?

The ReportFires Kickstarter campaign will launch in early September. See you then!

It is a fun and meaningful journey. We invite you to join us~


iPhone X review – 3rd party accessories

I shared my iPhone X experience in the last blogpost. I want to add something more. iPhone X hardware is market leading. On the software side, iOS are much more better than Android in many areas:

1. Media playback control is very easy and user-friendly on iOS. I don’t know why I cannot control music or podcast playback on Android lock screen (ASUS Zenfone 3 with Nougat).
2. Speak Screen is another great iOS feature! It is so nice to lay back with closed eyes and listen to great articles found on web. Safari -> Reader -> Speak Screen.
3. Power management. With it and co-processor, we have Listen to “Hey Siri”. It is a heavy duty to listen for instruction around the clock! iPhone X speaker is loud and microphone is sensitive. It is always with its user. If Siri can do more, iPhone X is a better smart speaker than Amazon Echo and Google Home!

Great apps. Overcast, duet, Workflow and Transmit are fantastic!

Besides great apps, third-party hardware makes iPhone a better ecosystem! Especially true in the smart home market (which is my next blogpost topic). Below are some hardware accessories which I am using and I would like to recommend to you:
1. Spigen X Case Rugged Crystal
2. Quad Lock Run Kit. I used last year iPhone 7 Plus version. It was a must have when I ran. The new Quad Lock for iPhone X is improved and it fits even better with iPhone X. With its small footprint, iPhone X is better running companion! Special thanks to the improvement in delivery. I ordered before Thanksgiving and I received it on 1st Dec! Quick!

3. Momax Q.Pad Wireless Charger

4. Lamicall Foldable Stand


5. Lead Trend Z-Dock. I can plug and unplug my iPhone with a single hand.


6. PQI i-Cable Charging and Sync Stand for Apple Lightning Devices. I bought it a few years ago for iPhone 5. Subsequent Plus devices are too big and heavy to stay stable with this stand. iPhone X can!


Transcend JetDrive Go 500 Review

My two use cases for a Flash Drive with BOTH Apple Lightning and USB Type-A ports:
-to transfer file from iPhone to notebook or desktop computers (esp. Windows machines)
-to copy videos/photos from iPhone and to view them on iPad

I travelled to Jiuzhaigou recently. I bought my iPhone and iPad. I believed my iPhone could meet almost my needs but iPad would do a better job for viewing photos. A lot of photos.


Arrow Bamboo Lake, Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan, China


Five Flower Lake, Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan, China


Reed Lake, Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan, China

My iPhone could meet almost all my needs. However I had to print out some travel document on physical paper during the trip. I expected there were Windows PCs with printers for guest use at the hotels. I was not sure the PCs could access cloud storage like Dropbox. I needed a means to easily transfer a pdf document made on my iPhone to the hotel PC – a flash drive with both Apple Lightning and USB TYPE-A interfaces.

I did bought this kind of flash drive two years ago. The objective was to offload photo storage usage from iPhone. It did not work since last year! iOS 9 or later devices cannot detect the drive! It was an expensive gadget and I expected it works for two or more years! It was a unpleasant experience. Dual-port flash drive was a new gadget category at that time and there were not many options. This category is more mature now and we have more choices. My current selection criteria are
1.Apple MFI certified
2.supports USB 3.0
3.physical design with extended lightning connector (for easy plug-in when there is iPhone case)
4.a good iOS app which supports common document formats (pdf, docx, pptx and xlsx, etc.) as well as photo and video. Because of iOS restriction, we need a dedicated app to use the physical flash drive. Lightning flash drive is a two-component product!
5.supports both iPhone and iPad
6.made by company with sound reputation of reliable products
7.good customer reviews/feedbacks

These are my first round selections:
SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive
Lexar JumpDrive C20i
Ravpower iPhone Lightning Flash Drive USB 3.0
Transcend JetDrive Go 500

Based user reviews, SanDisk iXpand and Lexar JumpDrive do not support formats other than photo and video! Both Lexar and Ravpower can be used as charging cables which are useful! However they are a little bit bulky. I wonder if the rubber portions are durable.

Finally I bought a 32GB JetDrive Go 500. It meets all my criteria! It is small, light and tough. The case is made of zinc alloy. There is no moving part. Very handy to carry.


Transcend JetDrive Go 500 is small than AirPod and one gram heavier.

I have been using it for almost a month. It is fast and reliable. Below is a highlight of its spec:
– Ports: one lightning and one USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A
– Maximum data transfer rate: lightning at 20MB/s and USB at 130MB/s
– Dimension: 36.55mm x 14.3mm x 9.01mm
– Weight: 5g
– Warranty: 2-year
– iOS app: JetDrive Go. The app will prompt you asking for your permission to launch the app to access the device when you plug it in your iPhone or iPad.

There is an informative review on Below is another good review, by Tony Mauro Ruiz, on YouTube:

I wish the iOS app will support AirPlay soon.

I will recommend this device to if you have use cases similar to mine. Transcend is a well known Taiwan manufacturer, found in 1988, focusing computer memory and storage products. Transcend products in general are good in terms of performance, industrial design, software, quality control and customer service. Its products work reliably for years! Transcend JetDrive Lite, launched in 2014, is a very popular storage solution for MacBook Air and MacBook Pro (mid-2016 and before).

I hope you find this review useful.

Apple AirPods Review – day 5

Thank Apple again! Many of us get our long-awaited AirPods this week! It is said that many receive early deliveries of their online orders too. Cheers!

General feedbacks about AirPods are very positive. Fortune says AirPods are Perfect!  Forbes believes AirPods is a bigger business than Apple Watch. They maybe the most physically resilient Apple product too!

After using it for five days, I observe a few things and have some comments:
1.AirPods does not support multi-point (connecting the headset to two devices simultaneously) which is a common feature of modern Bluetooth headphones. (One iPhone is better than many non-iPhones. Then why we need this? Because it is strange to speak to the Apple Watch when the digital crown is pressed while AirPods are in the ears.)

2.When remove the AirPods from the case, AirPods will by default try connecting to the last connected device. It requires manual connection on another device if your want to switch the AirPods to the that device.

3.If you switch on another Bluetooth headset/speaker then your iPhone will connect to it and switch the audio source to it.

4.By default double-tap triggers Siri. It can be changed to Play/Pause or Off at iOS Settings > Bluetooth. It is not configurable in Sierra and hence always Siri. Different iOS devices can have different configurations. Say double-tap to trigger Play/Pause when AirPods connect to iPhone, and to trigger Siri when AirPods connect to iPad.

5.AirPods works with non-Apple devices such as Android tablets and Nokia phones. Double-tap can trigger Play/Pause only. Take an AirPod out from ear will pause audio.

6.AirPods connectivity is very very good! They work even if the iPhone is a  different room ten of meter away!

7.AirPods stay firm and comfortable in ears. At least my ears. It is fine to wear it/them the whole day, no matter you are sitting, walking, running, typing, eating or sleeping! It is always on. It is private. We can expect more applications using audio communication and interaction. And yes, it changes behavior!

My wish list items for the next generation:

-Apple Watch complication for Now Playing, to allow one click control of sound volume via Apple Watch. This requires no hardware update and should be easy:)

customisable equaliser Update: from iPhone User Guide: Go to Settings > Music > EQ. EQ settings generally apply only to music played from the Music app, but they affect all sound output. Thank AppleInsider.

body temperature measurement

-optional noise cancellation or reduction

-a physical hole or something on the case. It will be convenient if the case can be connected to keychain. One drawback is will sketch the case surface…

Merry Christmas! Happy Holiday! And I want to share this song with you – Hallelujah by Killard House Special School choir:

Text-to-Speech apps for iPhone 7 Plus

I was lucky to get my iPhone 7 Plus two weeks ago. Thanks God.

How is it? Long story short, it is fast. Every time I unlock the device with its new Home Button, I feel fast!

I do believe we will have more audio interaction with iPhone, especially using iPhone to listen to news and to get information. Apple AirPods are not available yet. However, with the new Stereo Speaker System, iPhone 7 can speak louder and clearer than many other devices!

Overcast, HKEJ, Pocket and Audible are the apps I most frequently listen to. In the last few days a few more apps get more timeshare from me. They are iBooks, Workflow and SCMP.

iBooks has been working with Speak Screen since iOS 8. I find the Speak Screen feature in iOS 10 is more stable. It won’t stop unexpectedly. I can now use Speak Screen confidently to read out iBooks content. iBooks tracks the reading status of each book. It is very handy feature when reading several books. With 3D Touch, I can easily resume reading. (ISC)2’s InfoSecurity Professional Magazine now supports ePub format. It is more iPhone-friendly than PDF. I use iPhone more to read/listen to this magazine.

SCMP, the most popular English newspaper in HK, removed its paywall last April. Thanks to the Alibaba’s acquisition. SCMP is a great app but it does not support text-to-speech. However, Workflow does! There is Workflow action extension “Speak Body of Article”. With three clicks – Share Button, Run Workflow, Speak Body of Article – iPhone will read out the good SCMP content! Workflow’s “Speak Body of Article” works with Nuzzel and Medium too.

I customize the extension to speak Chinese (rather the English), and it works with the Apple Daily app (蘋果動新聞)!

I am listening to news spoken by iPhone when I am writing this blog post on my Mac.

Some iPhone 7 Plus Matte Black users encounter unresponsive Home button problem. Try Reset All Settings and set it up as a new iPhone!

iPhone 7 is gorgeous. Hong Kong Victoria Harbour too.


The iPhone 7 is gorgeous. At the end of “Introducing iPhone 7” video, there is a another gorgeous scene – the Hong Kong Victoria Harbour. There are similar scenes in other iPhone ad…

iPhone 7 ad – Introducing iPhone 7 (2min 6sec)

iPhone 6s ad – The Only Thing That’s Changed Is… (56sec)

iPhone 5 ad – Music Every Day (58sec)





Anker PowerPort 4 Review

You’re looking for a more powerful portable USB wall charger for your coming travel, aren’t you?

My use case for a portable USB wall charger with four USB ports is to charge at once my smartphone, tablet, Bluetooth headphone and Apple Watch. It helps me to have my most-frequently-used gadgets working all the time, especially when I am travelling and I don’t want to have multiple chargers in my luggage.

Anker PowerPort 4 |

Anker is the one the most popular USB wall charger manufacturers on Amazon. I bought an Anker PowerPort 4 early this month and have been using it since then. I am glad to use it. It is my pleasure to share my review with you.


  1. It is powerful! It can output up to 8A and 40W! Each port can output up to 2.4A. iPhone 6(s) (plus) can draw up to 2.1A while iPad Air 1/2 draws 2.4A. So even if you plug in two iPhone 6 and one iPad Air, the charger is able to output another 7W, large enough for Apple Watch or typical Bluetooth headset. It meets my use case.
  2. It is small and light weight. The plug is foldable.
  3. It is Smart and charges faster. By Anker’s PowerIQ technology, Anker PowerPort 4 can communicate with the device being charged and provide it with the highest current it can take. For example, if an iPhone 6 is plugged in any one of the four USB ports, the port will charge it at 2.1A which is the maximum current iPhone 6 can take. If it is an iPad Air, it will charge it at 2.4A. Charging at maximum current reduces charging time and minimises the expense of unnecessary power. Doing so will make the best use of the maximum 40W power throughput the device can support. Because it charges fast, it can charges more devices (e.g. portable battery) in the same time span when compared to other wall chargers.
  4. It is Smart and user-friendly. Some wall chargers (e.g. Arctic Charger Pro 4) require user to plug power hungry device into the right “fast charge” port. Otherwise if you plug a power hungry device into a standard port, it will be charged at 500mA only and hence takes more time. Anker PowerPort 4 does not require this.
  5. It is Smart and works with devices which require non-standard USB chargers. A device being charged can detect what type of charger is being used through specific voltages on the USB data pins. Because of this, some devices only work with their own special chargers. An example is Nokia E6 which does not support charging by “dump” charger via its micro USB port. Anker PowerPort 4 is smart and can manage the voltages at the two data pins in each of the four USB ports.
  6. It provides visibility of charging status. When the PowerPort 4 is “slowly charging” or in standby mode (at an output current of less than 500mA), the LED will illuminate in blue. When the PowerPort 4 is “fast charging”(at an output current of higher than 500mA), the LED will illuminate in green. When you see the blue light, it implies your iPhone or iPad is fully charged. You can then charge something else.
  7. It is safe. Built-in surge protection.
  8. It can be used in many countries. It is Type A plug which is used in China, Taiwan, Japan and US, etc.
  9. It is joyful to use. It is beautiful. Its USB ports align. It shows commitment.


  • It is not available in the retail 3C shops in Hong Kong.
  • It does not support Type G plug used in Hong Kong.




(The following video is for testing purpose.)

When Space was Gray and Rose was Gold

Try to remember the kind of Septermber.

September 2015 was a busy month.

iPhone preorder was better

We had the annual Apple product launch event  on 9th Sep. Then we had the iPhone preordering a few days later. This time the process start at 3pm on 12th Sep in Hong Kong. Last time it was difficult to get an iPhone 6 Plus in Hong Kong and the preorder stock was sold out in two hours. Then at the launch day we had the iReserve process which opened each day at 8am to allow people to register and buy iPhone in store the same day. In order to buy it successfully, many people (including me) used their laptop and iPhone and iPad concurrently to try to access the system. It was one the most popular annual MMOG, worldwide! The iPhone stock was sold out in minutes each day consecutively for a few weeks. Only professional typists, BOTs, lucky and hardworking people could order successfully at iReserve!

This time I didn’t want the new iPhone much because I didn’t want to do much hard-work to get it initially. I might even skip this S upgrade and wait for iPhone 7. 12th Sep was a sunny Saturday afternoon and I was calm and well prepared. Sharp at 3pm I tired to access using my computer, repeatedly pressing command+R to reload the website but failed to do so. The online store was too busy to be accessed, as expected. Unexpectedly I could access the iPhone preorder section of the Apple Store app on my iPad. And I was surprised that I made it! My new iPhone delivery was scheduled sometime between 8th and 15th October. Good. I am happy waiting my new gadget in a couple of weeks.

This preorder process (and success) was a great experience. Many other people also said that they made the preorders via their iOS devices too. I was thinking if this time Apple made a new arrangement: there were more dedicated server resources to support preorders from Apple customers (which are not likely iPhone smugglers) using iOS devices. PC users using browsers and BOTs are competing for another set of online store server resources. It was easier for iOS users to get connected. If so it was a great CRM implementation! Help your loyal customers to do businesses with you!

Next? iPhone Upgrade Program rollout to other markets.

Software update, update and update

iOS 9 was available on 16th Sep, a week after the Apple event. iOS 9 is better, especially the new Slide Over feature which turn iPad a more productive device! We don’t have to switch frequently among apps to do certain tasks (especially writing). A picture tells more than a thousand words:

The new Notifications Center is better too. Sort by time makes much more sense. Search feature in Settings is very useful. We can disconnect connected Bluetooth devices individually at by Settings > Bluetooth. Thanks!

It seems there are changes in VPN and some VPN apps are not working. VyprVPN v2.6.6.2456 works. Thanks!

WatchOS  2.0 was late but available on 21st Sep. I had to turn my Apple Watch off/on to download the new OS. As Ben Thompson said in Exponent podcast episode #53, Third-party Complications should be the most useful and important feature. However, not many watch apps support the new feature. Sleep++ supports it. It was developed by David Smith who also develope Pedometer++, which supports Glances and is very handy and useful.

And, El Capitan is now available!

iPhone 6s Plus is very fast

Surprisingly, in a good sense, my iPhone 6s Plus was delivered today 30th September! Five days after the global launch! Great!

Why Rose Gold? Because it is new. Blink.

The device is very and there are a few reviews. Some more detailed reviews will arrive in the coming weeks. Phonearena found that the iPhone 6s/6s plus battery last longer than previous versions! Amazing!

Below are my sharing the a few hours experience:

  • Touch ID is very fast. I am hardly required to type my lock screen passcode. Great.
  • It is better to hold the iPhone by left hand. It is fine for me to us my left thumb (to use 3D Touch) to press the left edge of the screen to go to app swticher. My right thumb cannot reach the left screen edge. And it is better to use a thinner case which does not obstruct the screen edge.
  • 3D Touch is hard press, not long press. It is about the physical force, not time.
  • Will 3D Touch make the home button obsolete in iPhone 7?…

We had iPhone 5 Space Gray in 2012. We have iPhone 6s/6s Plus Rose Gold in 2015. Huge changes in three years. Both are beautiful.

September is over. Try to remember.