Archive for January, 2013

Amiigo Bluetooth low-energy fitness device

Do you have trouble trying to live out the resolutions that you made when the clock struck midnight on December 31st last year? Right now, we are already in the last day of the first month of 2013, and if you have already broken your New Year’s resolution(s), take heart, there are still 11 more months to make amends for your past failures. Assuming you want to focus and pay more attention to your workout sessions, perhaps it would be good if you had some kind of device to help you out here. Utah-based entrepreneurs, Amiigo, have come up with what they call the Amiigo Bluetooth low-energy fitness device, where it is touted to elevate an ordinary workout experience to the next level.

To put it in a nutshell, the Amiigo is actually a sweat-proof fitness bracelet (as it should be, considering the bucketloads of sweat that you would end up shedding whenever you indulge in a vigorous exercise session), where it is accompanied with a shoe-clip, and is “smart” enough to identify just the kind of exercise that is being performed at the moment, in addition to detailing your body’s physiological response. Having picked up more than the amount required to make the Amiigo a reality on crowd-funding site Indiegogo, you can now place a pre-order for the Amiigo.

Dave Scott, co-founder of Amiigo, said, “Athletes are always working to enhance and elevate their workout experience. We wanted to develop an easy-to-use device that helps people personalize their workouts, share data, and even compete with friends. Our fitness bracelet and shoe-clip does it all, and we’re confident you’ll work out better and harder with it. Push yourself and be great with Amiigo.”

I find it interesting that the Amiigo is able to tell the difference between running on a treadmill and using an elliptical, thanks to integrated sensors within which correlate with upper body exercises and sensors located in the shoe-clip that obviously, focuses on the lower body. These will “talk” to an iOS or Android device via Bluetooth, and the Amiigo will also be able to track heart rate, blood oxygen levels, skin temperature and amount of calories burned. Shipping of the Amiigo commences sometime in June this year.

Press Release
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Spaceman VFO Hand Sensor Electric RC Helicopter UFO

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nah, it is neither, but rather, chances are your neighbors and kids in the vicinity would be looking at the $14.95 Spaceman VFO Hand Sensor Electric RC Helicopter UFO. I am not quite sure just how true the claim of this being “the most advanced RC toy ever” is, but basically, it will be able to float around in a stationary manner just like that of a UFO as depicted in popular culture.

Well, the Spaceman VFO Hand Sensor Electric RC Helicopter UFO does not need you to have any kind of piloting credentials, as all you need to control it around would be the up and down movement with the IR transmitter. Of course, as its name suggests, you too, will be able to erly on the palm of your hand to control it, where placing your hand under the hovering helicopter in ‘sense mode’ will see some kind of modern day magic at work.

If you are feeling rather adventurous, then just turn off the lights when dusk falls, and you will be treated to a light show. Those who do not know that you own the Spaceman VFO Hand Sensor Electric RC Helicopter UFO might actually call the cops and say make a report of a UFO being in the neighborhood! It runs not on an alien energy source, but rather, will rely on old school AA batteries to keep it going.

[ Spaceman VFO Hand Sensor Electric RC Helicopter UFO copyright by Coolest Gadgets ]

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A Smartphone’s Sensing Companion

Ever run into a product and just say “I wish I was smart enough to think of that”? Yep, found one. Aside from lacking any knowledge about the topics, experience with NASA and a doctorate in who knows what, perhaps you or I could have come up with this innovation. But George Yu and Variable Technologies beat us to it. As our smartphones continue to control and guide more parts of our lives it makes sense to incorporate necessary job functions and even life-saving functions into the phone’s capability.

Meet NODE, a device that enables its attached, state-of-the-art sensors to communicate with your phone. Via conditional Bluetooth or Bluetooth 4.0 Low-Energy, information from the variety of sensors available is sent to a NODE app or – down the road perhaps other likeminded apps – on your device. Six different options exist for what you can measure with NODE and its modules:

  • Kore ($149): required for any module, it serves as the heart of NODE. KORE contains a accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope to measure motion and space.
  • Chroma ($75): color matching and sample collecting module.
  • Therma ($75): measure temperatures at a distance or where you are via IR.
  • Clima ($50): Senses barometric pressure, ambient light, temperature, and humidity.
  • Luma ($25): Use up to 8 LEDs provide a flashlight or even a camera flash.
  • Oxa ($149): Provides an industrial grade Carbon Monoxide gas sensor. Other gases can be requested.

The professional and personal uses of NODE and the modules are really endless. Quality control on a production line can be aided by confirming the proper paint color of your product. Maybe you conduct house inspections. You could easily measure temperatures and humidity to detect faults. If you are a hiker or biker stop to read the climate and understand if adverse conditions are coming. Check CO2 levels even in your own home – while switching modules to make your picture hanging a level process. There are plenty of professions that require a variety of these measurements too. With NODE plus the applicable modules you save yourself multiple devices. I think you get where I’m going with NODE.  Presently, NODE is compatible with iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPod Touch 5th Gen, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Mini, Macbooks and Android devices. Yu made it a point to leave the possibilities out there with open firmware & open API. And they will provide Arduino source code as well as iOS & Android source code so programmers can then create the applicable app for the measurements of their users. NODE is rechargeable via micro USB and is FCC and CE certified. Sure, it may be more expensive if you only have a need for one particular sensor. But I think most of us could easily find uses for NODE in a variety of places in our lives.
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Tanks for the Charge

You know you did it. You woke up today and said “I need a one-of-a-kind iPhone charger that will run me a couple hundred bucks.” OK, maybe not. But after you see this custom iPhone Tank Charger you may change your mind.

First you need to know about Phu – a “Phuturistic” 3D artist who creates works through vinyl, fiberboard and other materials, often recycled.  His motto says it all: deconstruct/reconstruct. Phu’s materials have been shown worldwide for over 7 years and he has created quite a following. In the vein of recycled materials, unique design and sort of industrial inspiration, Phu created the iPhone Tank Charger for Four Corner Store. Available for iPhone 4, 4S and 5 this charger will set you apart. Tanks are constructed of found items and reassembled as futuristic looking devices that elicit thoughts of Wall-E. Chargers are included too. Stock versions of the charging tank are available for $395. Or you can contact Four Corner Store to discuss a custom charger based on your request and Phu’s imagination. He can even do iPad stands too. No word yet on USB or Android options. For the person who has everything this tank seems an easy choice to stand out. For the rest of us, we can keep wishing.
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bēm wireless speaker trio starts to ship

I know that the above title does seem to have its fair share of typos, but that is because the official names of the company as well as the device itself does not sport any upper case letters. Yes sir, bēm wireless did announce that they will start to ship the speaker trio, having unveiled the bēm wireless speaker trio at the recently concluded CES 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The name of the speaker trio itself gives the game away, where it will comprise of three different speakers which share a common wireless connection to its base. Basically, you can say that the speaker trio is an audio product which was specially designed to enhance the user’s lifestyle, where it delivers pounding, pulsing beats to different rooms with the help of the control of a solitary Bluetooth device.

Bryan Katzel, Director of Marketing and Product Development for bēm, said, “Elevating our consumer’s lives to their highest potential is our top priority at bēm. From conception to execution, we crafted the speaker trio to help eliminate wires with a simple interface that allows users to forget about complicated audio gear and just enjoy their music.”

You will be able to place all three speakers in multiple rooms, where it will enable you to simultaneously ramp up the tunes the next time you host a party at your pad. The wireless connection that each speaker shares with the base will enable the user to control music from a single device, be it the same iPhone, iPad or other Bluetooth-enabled device. Of course, it will be limited in terms of range due to Bluetooth’s specifications, leaving it to approximately 120 feet of wireless connectivity. Once the party is done and over with, all you need to do is return the speakers to the base and they will be able to enjoy an easy, wire-free recharge experience. The speaker trio can be yours for $299.99 a pop.

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Feel that Touch Screen Keyboard!

Raise your hand if you went from Blackberry to iPhone or Android devices. The only regret I found after the switch was the lack of tactile keys on the keyboard. You probably knew – or were – a finger keyboarder that could put full keyboarders to shame. Ever see someone type while looking up. Yep. RIM really taught us all the art of tactile mini-keyboard typing. By now typing on the screen we tend to lose that speed. I’m guessing that spell check is the smartphone manufacturer’s way to combat the lack of tactility.

What would it take to make our Galaxys, iPhones, Kindles and the like have this one missing feature? A smart company called Tactus Technology, that’s what. Tactus invented a technology that will take the place of a manufacturers top display layer, things we commonly call the lens/window/cover glass. When the device calls for a keyboard the Tactus Tactile Layer™ Technology injects a proprietary fluid into said top layer enabling raised surfaces to appear over the keys on the display. Using this technology will not interfere with other touch functions on the screen and uses minimal power. Buttons do have some resistance – just enough to prevent the accidental touch from typing a character. Tactus is creating the technology for a variety of screen sizes and types. So expect to see it in phones, tablets and phablets. At this time, OEM is their strategy, rather than producing consumer overlays. No plans have been announced on where you may see Tactus Tactile Layer Technology in a device. But it seems imminent.

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SafeSound announces Airbudz

SafeSound Products might not be a name that resonates with many of you out there, but just for the record, they are the designer of innovative accessories for active consumers, and have just announced the availability of Airbudz. Just what the heck is Airbudz? Well, they are the first-ever alternative earbud solution in the market that will let ambient noise in, so that you can hear what else is going on around you without remaining restricted to your own world. Of course, some folks out there might dispute SafeSound’s assertion here at being the “world’s first” (we ourselves are wary of that kind of claim always), so leave a comment if you know some other company that beat SafeSound to it, otherwise forever hold your peace.

It has been said that in the past half dozen years, pedestrians who sustained injuries sustained while listening to earphones have more than tripled, and the entire goal of the Airbudz by SafeSound Products is to focus on safety even when one is making use of technology in every aspect of one’s lives. It does not mean that you are plugged in and have no say in being tuned out, as Airbudz lets you enjoy your favorite tunes safely without having to opt for blocking out car horns, sirens, a warning scream or safety hazards.

The Airbudz is best described this way – they are alternative earbud attachments which are used when listening to music in environments where it is necessary to be far more aware of your surroundings, such as when you are jogging or taking a walk in the park, just to be safe. Of course, other activities such as running, biking, skiing, skateboarding, and even riding on public transportation would also be ideal for you to take advantage of Airbudz.

You can pick up the Airbudz for $14.95 a pop, and if you prefer a glow-in-the-dark version, it will cost you $15.95

Press Release
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SOUL Electronics offers Party in a Box

I am quite sure that all of you readers who grew up in the late 1970s and early 1980s would have had fond memories of boomboxes as you hung out with the rest of your mates, generally subjecting yourself to corny music (in retrospect, as always) and even more outrageous fashion. That happens all the time to me, no worries, but in this day and age, if you were to dust off the best boombox of yesteryear and have an ample supply of D batteries, it will still not be able to get the party started with this iPod and MP3 generation. Taking more than a year of research and development, SOUL Electronics is pleased to announce the portable, wireless entertainment system known as “Party in a Box P910”.

Touted to offer superior performance that is second to none, the $999.99 Party in a Box P910 is said to be the first of its kind that boasts of a variety of functions that have been rolled into one sleek package, and will comprise of an all-inclusive indoor/outdoor portable sound system with Bluetooth, Aux input, Apple dock and HDMI connectivity, now how about that to keep up with the times?

Lan Kennedy-Davis, CEO of SOUL Electronics, USA, said, “We [SOUL] want to take partying to another level so we invented a sophisticated system jam-packed with features that you cannot find in one single audio system anywhere, and you can take it with you in your car, to the beach, poolside, basketball court, fraternity house or the next party. The Party in a Box P910 is the first of its kind, and we are confident it will blow away all your party guests. It is also a surround sound home theatre audio system. The sound is so crisp that you will likely hear words in a movie that you have never heard before if the movie is played through the Party in a Box.”

You know what? It sounds too much like a dream, and the only real way of finding out whether it works as depicted would be to purchase one and give it a go.

Press Release
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A Jetsons-like Table

Very quietly the Jetsons turned 50 years old at the end of the year. What is your favorite technology in the Jetsons? Some of it has actually come to life! Flat screens, portable tv sort of things and the like obviously came to fruition, but plenty has not. I kind of like the pills that they eat for food. Or maybe getting on the conveyor belt to get clothed and prepped in the morning. That would be nice on some days.

One concept that looks like it came straight from the Jetsons is featured on Yanko Design. Yana Christiaens concepted a levitating table, yep levitating. The design of the table immediately says ‘future.’ Using the inspiration and principles that power the Maglev Train, magnetic levitation, the table would hover above a steel plate. The electromagnets on the table are pointed towards the plate to maintain the force. This of course means you could change the height of the table by adjusting the magnetic field. Can you imagine taking your table down to kid size when they want to play and then raising it up to belly bar size when you have a party? How cool! Well, at least until the power goes off. And who knows what electromagnetic forces may do to our health. Don’t get your hopes up too high. The piece is still just a concept.  But perhaps when some of the other Jetsons-like technology arrives this table will too
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Audi’s “Lighting Technologies of Tomorrow”

As previously mentioned, automakers unleashed some tech-y concepts at CES. The autonomous/self-driving cars were a hit. Announcements about the future of in-car technology gave hopes of integrating smartphone-like features into our cars. Audi made a splash with their lighting concepts too. If the picture included above makes you curious, please read on.

Audi was the first to use full LED headlights and have since made them more distinctive looking. Drive towards a current Audi model at night and you can’t mistake their headlights with that sort of ‘angel wing’ look. This year they will launch their Matrix LED headlights – which sub-divide each LED beam enabling more lighting or dimming per situation and also incorporate a camera. Imagine the car sensing an oncoming car and automatically dimming the headlights. The Matrix LED lights will make it happen.

With continued advancements in LED technology and even OLEDs you know Audi has some things on the drawing board too. Shown at CES was the concept car above. Not only do the lights look cool but more importantly can provide more safety. Audi is working more and more to enable lights to react to surroundings and be controlled electronically. By enabling lights to react to circumstances theoretically they will be seen further away and through elements the and safety will be increased. See the video below for an example: an OLED-Laser beam tail light. Another OLED technology shown incorporates a thin film of them on the surface which could light up under various circumstances. Maybe as the driver gets near it lights your way to the door. The Swarm (right) will also offer a ‘uni-light’ concept on the rear lights where the lighting sort of swims based on the cars action. Left turn means the Swarm piles to the left for example. Quite a concept for sure.  Face it, right now the lights just look cool, but if safety and practicality come into play they may be onto something. Stay tuned to see where Audi takes their creative automotive lighting.

Thanks: FastCo Design, Inhabitat
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