Sunday, January 17, 2010

MD80 video camera - unbelievably cheap spy/helmet cam

MD80 video camera - unbelievably cheap spy/helmet cam
Smaller than a BIC lighter, and just about as cheap: the MD80 mini video camera/helmet cam. Photo: RC RockCrawler.

There's not a lot that's particularly remarkable about the MD80 mini spy camera - it's pretty tiny, it records reasonable 640x480 video in AVI format at 25 frames per second, and it can be set to standby for up to 250 hours until it's activated by a sound, making it a good little spy cam unit. It's pretty similar to any number of helmet cam/mini video cam units but for one fact - it costs less than US$25 on eBay, delivered to your door. For the price it's an outstanding product and the sort of thing you could habitually carry around in your car, recording driving conditions for an instant evidence stockpile in case of an accident or incident. And more broadly it's an example of how Chinese design and manufacturing can get a competitive, quality product to market at a price point that absolutely annihilates the competition, to the point where if you're still concerned about quality, you might just as well buy five of the things in case four break. Which they're not doing nearly so much these days.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tunebug Shake turns your helmet into a speaker

Tunebug Shake turns your helmet into a speaker

The Shake offers the ability to hear your ambient surroundings at the same time as your music and given that you're presumably wearing a helmet for good reason, situational awareness in dangerous situations is an extraordinarily good idea, particularly at just US$120.

If you haven’t previously heard of TuneBug, that’s because it is a new company and although its portable speaker solutions were shown at CES 2009, they are only just now making their way to market. The products are all based on patented NXT speaker technology which generate sound waves that pass through the surfaces the speakers (aka “sound generators”) rest on, effectively turning those surfaces into speakers. Predictably, there’s a desktop solution which sits on your desk. Now there’s also a helmet-top solution which sits on your helmet, giving you a kind of ambient bone dome surround sound like you’ve never had before – ideal for skateboarding, bicycling, skiing and motorcycling.

TuneBug speakers are highly portable sound generators that connect to audio sources via a 3.5mm input or Bluetooth to transform several flat surfaces into loudspeakers. TuneBug Vibe, which uses the 3.5mm input, is available now while the Bluetooth-enabled version, TuneBug Shake, launches January 30.

The Shake is the one which interests us most, as there are plenty of desktop speakers on the market, but a distinct dearth of solutions for listening to music whilst wearing a helmet, and none of them offer the ability to hear your ambient surroundings at the same time as your music. The Shake appears to offer this latter feature and given that you’re presumably wearing a helmet for good reason, situational awareness in dangerous situations is an extraordinarily good idea,
particularly at just US$120.

The Shake is a small attachable device for bike, ski and skateboard helmets which create surround sound inside of the helmet by “exciting” the entire helmet surface which then becomes a speaker.

The Tunebug Shake has a rechargeable battery with about five hours of playtime and charges via the included USB cord.

NXT's technology is also used in the Orb.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Self-assembling solar cells built using ancient wisdom, modern technology

Self-assembling solar cells built using ancient wisdom, modern technology

Alright, so self-assembling electronics are hardly new in and of themselves, and nanoscale tech tends to always come with bombastic promises, but you don't wanna miss how this latest innovation is built. Two professors from the University of Minnesota have successfully demonstrated a self-assembly technique that arranges microscopic electronic elements in their proper order thanks to the absolute enmity that exists between water and oil. By coating elements with a hydrophilic layer on one side and some hypdrophobic goo on the other, they've achieved the proper element orientation, and the final step in their work was the insertion of a pre-drilled, pre-soldered sheet, which picks up each element while being slowly drawn out of the liquid non-mixture. The achievement here is in finding the perfect densities of water and oil to make the magic happen, and a working device of 64,000 elements has been shown off -- taking only three minutes to put together. If the method's future proves successful, we'll all be using electronics built on flexible, plastic, metal, or otherwise unconventional substrates sometime soon.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nuvo's Ritmo Advanced Pregnancy Sound System jacks your baby in to your terrible music taste

Nuvo's Ritmo Advanced Pregnancy Sound System jacks your baby in to your terrible music taste

Nuvo has just released its $130 Ritmo "Advanced Pregnancy Sound System," which is a pregnant belly belt composed of four belly-firing speakers, with a built-in iPod pocket, 3.5mm jack and volume-regulating abilities. You could jack in your phone for a bit of long distance baby conversation, but for the most part you know this belt is going to be inundating your child-to-be with Josh Groban and The Ting Tings. And do you really want that on your conscience? There's video after the break.

RitmoTM - Pregnancy App from Nuvo Group LTD on Vimeo.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Otus Raw DJ controller outed ahead of NAMM

Otus Raw DJ controller outed ahead of NAMM

The big NAMM show's not started yet, but Otus is rolling out its latest DJ controller just in time. The Otus Raw is a controller that can work as one or two virtual turntable decks, depending on your needs, each with a SL-turntable-style pitch slider. Other notable features include mega-sized velocity pads, a layer switch for "virtually unlimited" possibilities, and we've got a feeling that with one of these bad boys, chopping and screwing Ke$ha's never been so mindlessly easy and entertaining. Regardless, the Otus RAW should be available this spring, though we'll have to wait a bit longer for pricing, unfortunately.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

MagicJack femtocell sure to face legal battle royale

MagicJack femtocell sure to face legal battle royale

Despite MagicJack's official announcement last week of an in-home femtocell for connecting carriers' phones directly to its service, tons of questions remain -- including most of the questions we had when we first heard of the idea. Let's recap those questions and where we stand with each of them, shall we?

* Are these guys licensing spectrum from the gub'mint, sublicensing it from carriers, or just going rogue? Going rogue. Historically, this usually ends in an FCC-mandated shutdown -- and since both carriers and the CTIA will undoubtedly be throwing a fit that some company is stealing pricey spectrum for its own purposes, we're sure the pressure on the government to act will be quite high.
* Are any carriers in on this, and if so, why? Nope, none. The company says that "if they were smart they would take [it] on as a partner, because all [it] could do is enhance the value they create for their customer," but presently, MagicJack's all alone.
* If carriers aren't involved, why would they establish roaming deals that would allow carrier-branded phones and SIMs to roam on MagicJack's rogue airwaves? As far as we can tell, they aren't on any roaming deals.
* If they're not working on roaming deals, the femtocells will need to spoof a carrier ID. Furthermore, TDMA femtocells are virtually impossible to design and install for technical reasons, which means these would have to be 3G. So MagicJack's going to offer a UMTS femtocell? It appears to be a plain-Jane GSM femtocell, which is technically interesting considering what we've heard in the past about effectively making a TDMA unit that plays nice with the surrounding network. Considering everything else we know, though, it probably doesn't play nice -- and without a roaming deal in place, they'll need to spoof. That's going to rile up both carriers and the GSMA.
* Do you get to keep your phone number when you roam on the MagicFemtocell, and if so, how? For incoming calls, probably not, unless you forward to the MagicJack number.

Needless to say, both the carriers and the feds are going to have a lot to say about this product -- particularly considering that it hasn't even received FCC approval yet. If it keeps marching toward retail, we could be gearing up for one of the most entertaining legal battles of the year.


Monday, January 11, 2010

USB 3.0 hub

'3-point' USB 3.0 hub is self-referential fun and functionality

Admittedly, at first we didn't get it -- the hub (with actually helpful, twisting ports) was about 90 degrees counterclockwise from the pictured position and we couldn't get past the aesthetic similarities to the Dodge Ram logo. That's when the friendly overseer of the Dun Cheng Technology Corp. booth in the CES International Hall twisted both our minds and the hub itself to reveal an intentionally meta moment -- "3-point," as in USB 3.0. Needless to say, we were very amused.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Stuart Hughes goes low-end with $160k Nokia Supreme

Stuart Hughes goes low-end with $160k Nokia Supreme

Stuart Hughes aficionados take note. The luxury bedazzler is now back with an entry-level alternative to its $3.2 million iPhone 3GS Supreme. Of course, the new Nokia Supreme will still set you back a suitably ridiculous £99,995 (or $160k), which will get you a Nokia 8800 encrusted with 12.5 cts of pink diamonds, some handmade veneers made from 83 grams of platinum, a navigation button topped off with a single 3 ct diamond, and the usual granite box to store it in. Only three have been made, but it looks like today's your lucky day -- it's still in stock.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Smartwatch for BlackBerry

InPulse smartwatch for BlackBerry wrist-on

We managed to track down the guys from Canada's Allerta and got to spend some time with a couple dummy models of the soon-to-be-released inPulse smartwatch for BlackBerry. Design-wise, it's very attractive, with a brushed metal body and a leather band. As a bonus to early orderers, the first 1,000 sold will be custom-milled on a CNC router -- ironically, it'll actually be more cost-effective for them to do it that way while they build up production volume. In terms of functionality, it will launch with support for displaying text messages, caller ID, new e-mails, and BlackBerry Messenger messages (yes, it supports BBM!). It'll give you information on who the message is from and a preview of the message's contents. We couldn't get a hard shipping date, but rest assured we'll let you know as soon as we do -- for now, our hands-on gallery will have to suffice.


Friday, January 8, 2010

The coolest mouse on the block

The Cyborg R.A.T. Gaming Mouse – the coolest mouse on the block

Mad Catz Interactive has unveiled a new range of premium Cyborg gaming mice which will begin shipping in Q2 this year. The new range takes all the same principles normally applied to ergonomic fully adjustable flight sticks, and incorporates them in gaming mice. For the first time ever on a mouse, the key points of contact between the gamer’s hand and the mouse are fully adjustable allowing it to be customized for any grip preference. Cyborg claims they are the most comfortable gaming mice in existence, but who cares, cos they are the coolest you’ll ever see.

The USD$130 top of the range Cyborg R.A.T. Gaming Mouse has specifications to match its looks in that it’s wireless with rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries, fully adjustable and fully programmable, has a 5600dpi laser and has a removable weight system.

The company’s stated strategy is to “develop products that evoke a passionate consumer response” and the Cyborg R.A.T. definitely achieves that goal.

(Source: Gizmag Team)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Touchscreen electronic-paper reader

Touchscreen electronic-paper reader

This week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, e-reading company Skiff is previewing its new electronic reader. At a quarter of an inch thick, the Skiff Reader is the thinnest device of its kind. Not everything about it is small, however; its 1200 x 1600 pixel, 11.5-inch screen is the largest and highest-resolution consumer e-reading display yet.

Perhaps its biggest boast, however, is what that display is made of – Instead of rigid, fragile glass, the Skiff Reader’s display utilizes a thin, flexible sheet of stainless-steel foil. Developed by LG specifically for Skiff, the touchscreen foil-display promises an e-reader that will be much more durable than anything currently available.

In the US, connectivity will be provided through Sprint’s 3G wireless network, although the Skiff Reader will also work with WiFi. Users will be able to purchase periodicals, books and other reading materials from the online Skiff Store. Given that Skiff is owned by Hearst Corporation, a media giant in the truest sense of the word, there should be a lot to choose from.

Skiff has optimized its e-reader for newspapers and magazines, and has been working on ways of supporting the key design qualities of the publications it carries; things like layout, graphics and typography will retain their unique look on its screen, allowing the “personality” of the publication to show through. That, in turn, will hopefully attract advertisers and subscribers. By combining innovative technology with connectivity and advertising opportunities, Skiff is creating an ecosystem that is essential to the survival of its product. “Skiff’s goal is to connect publishers and marketers with consumers,” says Skiff president Gilbert Fuchsberg. "We will accomplish this by delivering engaging reading experiences that consumers will value, and a business model that respects publishers’ needs.”

The Skiff Reader should be available online, and through US Sprint dealers, later this year. There’s still no word on price. Even if you don’t buy the reader, Skiff is working on making its digital store and client software accessible to a variety of other devices, including smartphones.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

First mobile interactive projector

Light Blue Optics unveils Light Touch: a 10-inch touchscreen pico projector based on lasers (video)

Light Touch is an interactive projector - WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity enable seamless device to device communication and applications that connect to the internet for rich functionality such as streaming multimedia and social networking. (Photo: Business Wire)

Light Blue Optics Unveils Light Touch™ - An Interactive Projector That Turns Any Flat Surface into a Touch Screen

**Company launches first mobile interactive projector, opening up new opportunities for touch-sensitive displays**

**Light Touch™ creates a 10” display, incorporates touch technology and runs Adobe Flash Lite, creating an exciting new application platform**

Light Touch™ incorporates LBO’s proprietary holographic laser projection technology (HLP™), creating bright, high-quality WVGA resolution video images that are always in focus. HLP™ enables extremely wide throw angles, resulting in large images being created at close proximity to the projector’s aperture. HLP can also correct for distortion and optical aberrations in software, enabling novel table-top projection. A unique optical architecture delivers a Class 1 laser safety classification making HLP™ and devices that incorporate it eye safe.

Light Touch™ includes an infra-red touch sensing system that transforms the projected image into a virtual 10” touch screen. The user can control the projector and interact with multimedia content and applications simply by touching the projected image. Light Touch™ runs Adobe Flash Lite 3.1, leveraging a large existing developer community and enabling the rapid development of innovative applications. WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity enable device to device communication and applications that connect directly to the internet such as social networking, multimedia sharing and electronic point of sale. Light Touch ™ is equipped with 2GB of onboard Flash memory and has a Micro SD card slot that supports up to 32GB. Light Touch™ can be wall powered or battery operated, with a run-time of 2 hours before recharging is required.

Light Blue Optics’ CEO, Chris Harris said “At LBO, we believe that today’s consumer is no longer a passive viewer of multimedia content. People expect to engage, interact and share content and our first product enables them to do that in new and exciting ways. The opportunities for Light Touch™ extend beyond consumer electronics into retail spaces, the workplace and the home - profoundly changing the way people interact with multimedia content and the built environment. By enabling such diverse and compelling use cases, LBO aims to become the world’s leading supplier of miniature projection systems.”


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Gibson Dusk Tiger: Robot guitar technology moves to v2.0

The Gibson Dusk Tiger: Robot guitar technology moves to v2.0

Gibson is pushing forward in its quest to build the most technologically advanced guitars on the planet, undeterred by many guitarists' disdain for its Robot Guitar technology and recent design choices. The New Dusk Tiger is an evolution of the Dark Fire, and it maintains and expands upon the Dark Fire's ability to tune itself in seconds and produce a huge range of tones. While it's a fully analogue instrument, the Dusk Tiger can be plugged into a PC to change tone, EQ and tuning settings to provide a range of customisation and gig setup options that simply dwarf the capabilities of any guitar that's come before it. Pity, then, that behind that glowing Master Control Knob it's packing a face only a mother could love!

In January 2008, Gibson introduced its Robot Les Paul, the first production guitar to incorporate the jaw-dropping ability to tune itself - and that was followed ten months later by the Les Paul Dark Fire, which updated the robot tuning mechanism and added an inbuilt piezo pickup to give players a broader range of tone options and the ability to produce sounds that range from fully rock electric almost back to the sound of an acoustic.

The latest model to be announced is the Dusk Tiger, which builds on the abilities of the Dark Fire but also concentrates on more intuitive controls. It's more of an evolution than the revolution Gibson's marketing department are touting it as, but it's still a significant step forward from previous models.

Following on from the Dark Fire's promise of delivering "every imaginable guitar sound," one of the Dusk Tiger's new features is the ability to plug the guitar into a PC and create new customised tone presets, blending a range of sounds from all the pickups, including the piezo, and setting 4-band parametric EQ on each pickup to achieve the perfect sound.

All this is achieved using fully analogue signal processing, despite the advanced digital interfaces.

Once you've designed your new tone, you can then assign it to a spot on the Master Control Knob (MCK) and sync it back into the guitar where you can access all your tones quickly and easily on the fly. The same knob also controls the Robot tuning system.

The excellent Robot tuning technology not only lets you tune your guitar within seconds at the press of a button, but allows you easy access to a broad and customisable range of alternate tunings through the MCK. It's as impressive as ever, with a re-string mode to set the tension on new strings, and another mode designed to help you set your intonation in seconds. It's also quicker than on previous models.

The Neutrix combination jack on the Dusk Tiger lets you use either a standard guitar lead or a low-impedance lead, which allows you to run a longer or lower quality cable without loss of signal quality or tone.

New rechargeable batteries

The Dusk Tiger ships with rechargeable batteries similar to those you'd use in a compact digital camera. They last longer than the old batteries (around 500 tunings instead of 200) and can be swapped out quickly if you keep a spare.

Computer Communications

Every Dusk Tiger ships with a tailored copy of Ableton Live 8, a popular live looping/recording package, and the ability to run the guitar straight into a PC or Mac through FireWire or Roland GK-13 compatible Midi cables.

The Dusk Tiger's marblewood/mahogany body and design don't seem to be winning it many new fans at this stage - but design's a subjective thing, and importantly, Gibson seems committed to pushing this usable technology through its top-end guitar range.

At around US$4600 and with a limited run of 1000 expected to be made, the Dusk Tiger is available now at Gibson dealers. More information at the Dusk Tiger minisite:


Monday, January 4, 2010

Sense concept plays with your emotion

Sense concept plays with your emotion

We often think that machines are cold and unfeeling devices, making their decisions based on logic and logic alone (those who watched Terminator Salvation ought to be able to relate), which is why we rely on our feelings to churn out more human-like devices, as in the case of CD&I Associates with their Sense concept.

The Sense concept is a wireless device which is touted to offer a “more emotional connection between users and experiences” using touch and smell. This would mean users will be able to experience haptic, thermal and olfactory sensations whenever they indulge in games, sit through a movie or even shop online, thanks to a tactile hand sheath and flavor-ink printed output.

I’m not too sure about the flavor – would you like to taste your own blood in your mouth after getting pummeled to a pulp by your opponent in Street Fighter IV? How about having a go at Left 4 Dead, only to smell bile and other offending scents which might lead your wife to think you’re secretly harboring a skunk at home.

Still, this concept ought to be commended as CD&I Associates wants to elevate everyday experiences like shopping, gaming and watching media online to a whole new level thanks to their wireless sensory aid.

The system, with its tactile, heated sheath will be able to stimulate nerve receptors in the hand that in turn recreates the pressure, temperature, roughness, softness, or hardness properties of an object that is currently being viewed. Of course, there is a whole lot of work to be done here since the developers will need to encode the smell, touch and taste variations of multiple subjects being viewed, which is an extremely tedious task to say the least.

Half a dozen flavor cartridges will feature in the Sense, where it is capable of mimicking basic flavor types including bitterness, sweetness and saltiness among others. They are also toying with the idea of including seven more wax cartridges with micro emanators to reproduce different types of smell. All in all, the Sense concept looks and sounds like something just for the rich – I would much rather spend my money purchasing an ink cartridge for my printer instead of refilling these flavor and wax cartridges. What about you?