Gadgets for Geeks

The Wake Up Call of Cold, Hard Reality

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The Wake Up Call of Cold, Hard Reality

Fig proposes a means of waking one up using the power of cold, hard reality-- the ALARMclock, a retro-style alarm clock promising to "efficiently end dreaming" through the use of personal information.

Following the maxim that "nothing gets you up in the morning like the things that keep you up at night," the ALARMclock connects to a web-based UI via wifi and mobile devices, and gathers user statistics on personal finances, friend numbers and life expectancy. Once sleeping time is over, it provides the coldest of mental cold showers around by instilling fears of financial instability, social insecurity and, ultimately, death.

The actual device amounts to a Raspberry Pi micro-PC packed inside a nice-looking bamboo box. A smoked glass mirror faceplate frames an 8x32 2-bit LED array showing the time and simple (if charming) motivational animations, all in the name of starting the day "unencumbered by fantasy or wishful thinking."

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Livescribe Smartpen Gets 3rd Version

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Livescribe Smartpen Gets 3rd Version

What else can one add to the humble pen after wifi? According to Livescribe the answer is direct  mobile device and app connectivity, as found in the Livescribe 3 smartpen.

The most noticeable difference between the Livescribe 3 and the 2012 Livescribe Sky, however, is looks-- the latest smartpen looks like a writing instrument your average customer might actually want to use, with a sleek(er) black and chrome design more akin to traditional high-end pens instead of a piece of geeky hardware.

The cap features a capacitive stylus tip, while the pen also carries a microphone. Ink comes from Swiss-made "premium" cartridges.

The Livesribe 3 connects to Bluetooth Smart-compatible iOS devices (Android compatibility to follow) and the Livescribe+ app to digitise notes written on proprietary microdot-equipped Livescribe notebooks. Notes written on the paper automatically appear on the app, eliminating the need for PC apps or Evernote syncing.

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The Internet of Things... Kettle

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The Internet of Things... Kettle

Not even the humble kettle is safe from the advances brought about by the Internet of Things-- customers can soon get the iKettle, a wifi-connected kettle one can control via iOS or Android app.

Described as "the world's first wifi kettle," the iKettle does exactly what it says on the box. It boils water, with the magic of app control allowing functionality such as remote control and a Wake mode (switches the kettle on together with a morning alarm).

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3D Control for the Augmented Reality Era

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3D Control for the Augmented Reality Era

As the likes of the Oculus Rift reignite interest in augmented and virtual reality headsets, companies start thinking of controllers complementing such equipment-- such as Singapore-based Intellect Motion with the iMotion device.

Reminiscent of the control gloves donned by Tom Cruise in science fiction film Minority Report (an unsurprising inspiration for the 9-strong team), the iMotion controllers allow for what Intellect Motion claims is "pinpoint-accurate 3D motion control" complete with haptic feedback, creating what amounts to a virtual touchscreen (or "giant motion sensitive space") in front of the user.

The system itself consists of a pair of mouse-sized devices users straps to their palms via velcro. Each device establishes user hand position within 3D space via combination of gyroscope, accelerometer and 3 LED lights feeding x, y and z coordinates to a regular webcam.

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Preorders Open for Gaming Treadmill

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Preorders Open for Gaming Treadmill

Gamers unable to decide between play and getting some ever-so-healthy exercise might not need to choose any more-- with the Virtuix Omni one can control games by simply running on the spot!

Designed primarily for use with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset (even if it still works with "any [PC] game or app that uses keyboard input"), the Omni is a bit of a beast. It is 1.2m tall, weighs 50kg and allows for 360-degree movement complete with walking, running, jumping and crouching through special motion-tracking shoes.

The package also includes a harness, no doubt for safety reasons. After all, the last thing one wants while running and gunning is to trip over!

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Record the Rear Window... in 3D!

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Record the Rear Window... in 3D!

Rear Window would have been a slightly different film if Alfred Hitchcock armed James Stewart with the latest Sony equipment-- such as the DEV-50V, digital binoculars doubling as a 3D camcorder.

Designed for sports, bird/animal watching and travel use, the DEV-50V pairs Sony G lens optics (with a 0.8-25x zoom ratio and 35mm equivalent focal length) and digital camera technology, including x2 20.4 Continue reading...

A Robot to Clean your... Mobile Displays

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A Robot to Clean your... Mobile Displays

Customers complaining about all the man hours they waste cleaning smartphones and tablets? No more-- Japan's Takara Tomy has an adorable mechanised solution with the "AutoMee S."

Looking like a palm-sized Roomba robot, the AutoMee S trundles on 5 tires (3 for maneuvers, 2 for cleaning) over devices, with sensors making sure the little robot does not fall off the edges while performing its duties. Continue reading...

The Next CE Battleground

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The Next CE Battleground

CES 2013 was more than just oversized TVs and smartphones-- "smart" appliances also make an appearance, with vendors insisting that, yes, fridges, ovens and even the humble fork need wifi connections and smartphone control.

Attracting much attention at the show was the latest Samsung take on the fridge, the T9000, a gargantuan 4-door number with a 10-inch touchscreen running on a custom OS. It has a wifi connection and runs a variety of apps, including Twitter, Epicurious and even a Google Calendar client.

It also has advanced coolilng technology (supposedly to keep food fresh for longer while an Evernote app allows the sharing of photos, videos and recipes. From the fridge. Amazing

LG also had a full kitchen range at CES 2013, with smart fridges, washing machines, ovens and robot vacuum cleaners. The unique selling point here is NFC-capability allowing users to check on appliances with a simple tap of a smartphone.

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A Pedometer... For the Dogs

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A Pedometer... For the Dogs

Wearable fitness trackers of the Fitbit and Nike variety are fairly popular, but what if one wants to the track the fitness... of their dogs? Fujitsu offers Japanese customers exactly that with the Wandant.

The Wandant is a piece of CE small enough to fit on a dog's collar. It carries x3 accelerometers and measures the steps taken, shivering motions and temperatures of the canine in question every Continue reading...

Note Taking Gets Wifi-Powered

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Note Taking Gets Wifi-Powered

Handwritten notes get a lick of wifi-powered paint with the Livescribe Sky Wifi Smartpen-- an audio-recording pen saving handwritten notes and linked audio files directly to Evernote accounts.

Like earlier Livescribe smartpens the Sky demands users to write on proprietary physical notebooks (the paper has microdot patterns the smartpen tracks notes and audio with). However the Sky drops USB connection Continue reading...

Coming Soon-ish: On Consumer... Photonics?

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Coming Soon-ish: On Consumer... Photonics?

As the name suggests, electronics are based on bursts of electricity representing 1's and 0's. But what if the devices of the future transmit and process information using much faster pulses of light... Photonics, if you will?

Researchers at the Unversity of Pennsylvania present a potential step towards such a photonic future (one of exponentially faster systems and quantum computers) by creating Continue reading...

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