Gadgets for Geeks

Twelve South Candle Promises to "Inspire"

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Twelve South Candle Promises to

Twelve South follows on last year's "New Mac" candle with a more inspirational "Mac Candle No. 2"-- the "Inspire" candle promises to, well, inspire with "strong notes of bergamot, lemon and tarragon."

The iDevice accessory maker claims the collection of scents will "clear your mind of clutter and stimulate creativity," which might make it ideal for customers using their Macs for creative tasks such as graphic design.

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The Standalone Oculus Go Headset

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The Standalone Oculus Go Headset

Oculus presents what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims is "the most accessible VR headset yet"-- the Oculus Go, a lower-cost headset positioned somewhere between the Rift and Gear VR.

The Go is a standalone VR device, meaning it does not require a smartphone or tethering to a PC. It is built out of a lightweight mesh fabric, held together with a soft elastic fabric and carries a next-generation version of the optics found in the Rift.

The lenses feature the same wide field of view as the Rift, while the display is a "fast-switch LCD" with 2560 x 1440 resolution. Oculus claims the display has a higher pixel fill factor than OLEDs, with a "dramatic effect on visual clarity." Audio is also improved, with built-in drivers promising an integrated spatial audio experience with no headphones required.

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Sony Bringing Aibo Back?

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Sony Bringing Aibo Back?

Sony plans to return to household robots, Nikkei reports-- specifically through what sounds like a sequel to Aibo, the much loved robot dog first launched back in 1999.

The Japanese giant abandoned robot development in 2005, but unnamed sources tell Nikkei the company is bringing together a number of former Aibo team members, such as AI expert Masahiro Fujita. Interestingly, while the robot will act like a dog it will also take the role of an Amazon Alexa or Google Home, allowing users to control smart home appliances through voice commands.

Behind the robot dog is a proprietary OS based on an open platform allowing developers to work additional features, as well as "advanced technologies" ensuring the robot can, well, act like a dog.

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Apple Stores Sell AR Bear

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Apple Stores Sell AR Bear

Apple Stores get a curious exclusive from startup Seedling-- Parker the Bear, a plush teddy bear children bring to life through iDevice-powered augmented reality effects.

The capabilities of the ARKit API found in iOS 11 and the latest iPhones mean Parker does not require additional hardware to interact with digital devices. Instead, it simply uses a free companion Seedling app and a variety of included accessories, such as a doctor's kit, backpack and X-ray bibs, to trigger different AR effects.

For instance, the iDevice acts as an X-ray for more in-depth examination of Parker's bones and organs, while 3D Touch helps Parker take deep breaths for a lung capacity test. The app also includes games and puzzles, while the accessories are made from wood, not plastic or synthetic materials.

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The Golf Ball-Size Sphero Mini

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The Golf Ball-Size Sphero Mini

Sphero announces the smallest version of its app-enabled robotic ball-- the Sphero Mini, a golf ball-sized device users can control using a companion iOS/Android app.

The Mini pairs with smartphones via Bluetooth, and carries a gyroscope, acclerometer and LED light. The app features 4 control options, namely Tilt, Slingshot, Joystick and Face Drive, which uses facial recognition to determine controls based on different expressions and head movements.

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The Baidu Translator/Wifi Hotspot Combo

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The Baidu Translator/Wifi Hotspot Combo

Chinese Google equivalent Baidu looks to make the adventures of Asian tourists visiting the West easier with a portable device able to listen and speak in "several languages," Nikkei reports.

Initially aimed at Chinese tourists travelling overseas, the device accesses deep learning and other such technologies via the internet to translate Chinese, Japanese and English. It promises to be easy to use, with users simply talking to it while pressing a button before it "instantly" provides an appropriate translation.

In addition, the 140g device uses the built-in internet connection to act as a wifi hot spot.

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Bosch Analyses Stains at IFA 2017

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Bosch Analyses Stains at IFA 2017

IFA is traditionally the home of weird and wonderful gadgets, but the winner for the 2017 award for weirdest and most wonderful might be no other than German conglomerate Bosch and its prototype clothing stain analyser.

Dubbed the X-Spect, the handheld device looks like a TV remote and comes complete with a small screen and capacitive touch buttons. It essentially scans fabrics and stains before suggesting how to best wash the garment in question. An IFA demonstration even had the X-Spect paired via wifi with a Bosch washing machine, allowing it to send optimal washing instructions.

That said, the current model can only determine two component materials in a fabric, and is able to read four different types of stains, including chocolate and lipstick. However Bosch plains to increase the number to 16 to match with Bosch washing machine stain-cleaning presets.

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Farewell, iPod nano and shuffle

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Farewell, iPod nano and shuffle

A pair of iconic Apple devices bite the dust as the company pulls the iPod nano and shuffle from its online retail site, three years after it stopped making the iPod classic.

In fact, the dedicated websites for the nano and shuffle now redirect to the Apple Music site with no so much of a word of explanation.

“Today, we are simplifying our iPod lineup with two models of iPod touch now with double the capacity starting at just $199 and we are discontinuing the iPod shuffle and iPod nano,” an Apple statement to TechCrunch reads. As such, the iPod touch is now available in 32 and 128GB capacities, with the 16 and 64GB also no longer available.

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How to Turn the iPhone into an AR Headset

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How to Turn the iPhone into an AR Headset

Virtual reality-focused startup Mira emerges out of stealth with an interesting hardware proposition-- the Prism, an iPhone-powered augmented reality (AR) headset.

Described by the company as the the AR equivalent of the Gear VR or Google Daydream, the Prism is, more or less, an optical visor. The headset uses mirrors to reflect the iPhone display into the wearer's line of sight, while the phone's front-facing camera handles limited positional tracking.

The result is stereoscopic 3D objects "floating" in from the wearer's field of view, as rendered via Mira-enabled app. A companion remote accessory tracks acceleration and rotation, and provides means to interact with virtual objects through a touchpad, trigger and two buttons. Interestingly, iPhone and iPads users can share experiences with Mira wearers, or take pictures of shared objects.

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Can You Smell What the Rock is Selling?

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Can You Smell What the Rock is Selling?

Apple has found a new spokesperson for Siri-- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who stars in a new movie-style advert featuring the company's voice-controlled assistant.

Titled "The Rock x Siri: Dominate The Day," the extended commercial is presented as a slice of the life of The Rock's bombastic on-screen persona, who uses his iPhone and Siri to go through his to-do list. On Facebook Johnson describes it as "the dopest," and promises it will "motivate you to get out there to get the job done."

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The Camera-Equipped Smart Wallet

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The Camera-Equipped Smart Wallet

The Volterman adds a high-tech security twist to the regular wallet-- the "smart" wallet features GPS and 3G connectivity, as well as a RFID protection and a camera allowing it snap pictures of would-be thieves.

The wallet essentially packs the internals of a somewhat dated smartphone, only without the screen. Users can pair it with their phones via Bluetooth 5.0, providing an alarm in case the wallet is lost. The GPS helps in the finding of said wallet, while 3G connectivity turns it into a wifi hotspot.

The aforementioned camera is an optional extra. It switches on when the camera is in lost mode, and snaps and sends photos of anyone who opens the wallet. Powering it are 512MB of RAM and a battery one can also use to charge other mobile devices.

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