Last September came the news, that a graduate student had developed a caring cot that acts as a nanny, checking the temperature and rocking when baby starts to cry. Unfortunately, it was one of those fab prototypes that never land on the market.
But from May this year, Dream Technology in the UK will commercialise the Robopax BabySitter, an electromechanical plastic platform that moves back and forth a few centimetres on hidden wheels. It stands on the floor, waiting for a pram, buggy (stroller) or baby's car seat to be placed on top. Robopax BabySitter then reciprocates at about 66 rocks per minute, in time with a resting heartbeat and the speed at which parents instinctively rock their child.
Via New Scientist.
And, yes, it probably also works for the Pet Stroller.
I can,Aeot wait until both the PSP and the Nintendo DS are released in Europe. I enjoy playing games on handheld consoles the most, mainly because I don,Aeot even need to sit on the couch to play, I can just keep comfortably lying on one. Though, as excited as I am about the two new handheld devices that are about to hit the European market this spring, I can,Aeot say I feel the same way about the Gizmondo, one of the latest entries in the handheld game console market. Maybe it,Aeos because of the not so appealing name, or because of its design that reminds me too much of an ugly version of the Game Boy Advance, or maybe it,Aeos because of its quite expensive price: $399.
The Gizmondo is not just a game console, but a ,AeuSwiss Army Knife among handheld consoles,Aeu (CNET article); meaning that besides being able to play games on it, you will also be able to send text messages and emails, take pictures and play videos. Despite my skepticism, Gizmondo already has agreements with some of the major game publishers in the market like Electronic Arts, Activision, Sega, and Microsoft, and will have 12 titles available at launch.
The Scratch and Sniff panties come in three flavours: the one to seduce the "Handy Man" smells like cedar; the one that smells like BBQ is for the "BBQ Guy" (who else?) and Mower Man smells like cut grass.
Mmmmh, I'm not sure I'd fancy a guy who is turned on by the perfume of grilled sausages.
Battery-less radios and flashlights, powered by hand cranking, have been out for a while now but Hisatomi Electric Ind. Co in Japan has put a new twist on these emergency gadgets. Their new flashlight will also power up a cell phone for about three minutes of talk time after a minute or two of twisting the crank. There are already phone chargers available which do this, like the Sidewinder, but the Hisatomi device is compact and combines the functions of several tools which could be of great use in emergencies.
From Nikkei Net.
Leapfrog, makers of the LeapPad and iQuest, will release a new type of interactive learning toy for kids in Fall 2005. The Fly Pentop Computer uses special "fly" paper for playing games, translating words, and other learning applications. The handwriting recognition will let you draw a calculator on the special paper, and the pen will audibly announce the answers when you perform a function. You could draw a piano and then play the keys. A word can be translated into various languages just by running the pen over it. There is also a journal application.
The Fly Pentop will cost about $99, but applications (Leapfrog calls it "paper software") will be available separately and run from $8 - $30. No word on how much the paper will cost.
Full press release..
The grown-up version: the expensive Logitech io Personal Digital Pen.
Samsung continues to roll out the impressive new mobile phone technologies, in Korea at least. The SCH-S310 uses 3D motion detection as its user interface. Tracing a number in the air will dial the number on the phone. Shaking the phone twice will hang up a call. The phone is also an mp3 player, and the motion detection will work those functions too - moving the phone sharply to the right or left will take you to the next or previous music track. Since it's being released in Korea, the phone will have a 1.3 mp camera, mobile banking features, GPS, and music-on-demand.
The next versions of the 3D motion phone will have even more advanced features such as games controlled by movement of the phone instead of a joystick, and automatic adjustment of photos taken with a shaky hand.
Available in March in Korea, elsewhere unknown.
From picturephoning. Full press release.
Dutch designers Hein van Dam and Carolien Vlieger are behind the designs of handbags showing the outline of a gun, a crucifix or a knife. Developed in response to media reports of growing fear of crime in their home city of Rotterdam, the "Guardian Angel" bags are being sold to women to protect them from robbers.
Their collection also includes laptop-bags with 3D patterns of milk and fruits because "Robbers love your laptop, but they hate milk and fruits".
Apparently many of us eat lunch in the company of our PCs and staplers. Not only does the phenomenon have a name - "workers,Aeo desktop dining" - it has also given way to the designing of dedicated utensils.
Vessel,Aeos Workplace Dish Set wraps up neatly in a desktop-size placemat made to fit in front of a keyboard. This plastic kit packs a personal workplace place-setting, including a plate, bowl, cup, and utensils. Can be stored flat or upright. $39.
Motorola's snow boarding event, to demonstrate I don't know what.
Microsoft's Connected Home presentation which featured Star Search-style dramatic vignettes about refrigerators talking to televisions and garage openers.
Cheapo but cute bendy space man radios from GPX.
Mouse pads from Hong Kong with silicone breast wrist rests.
One of about a million vendors showing projection displays.
TV/DVD players for kids from Changhong.
Fake fur mobile bags from Golla.
Obviously not a part of CES (there is nothing edible in the Convention Center, bring lots of quarters for vending machines), but here is the patisserie in "Paris" near the Eiffel Tower. I think we must have been used to not eating by then because we gawked but we didn't even buy one pastry.
Just last week Samsung announced a speech-to-text phone for the Korean market and somewhat miraculously, the same technology will be available in the US in the next couple of months.
The Samsung SGH-P207 is a tri-band EDGE phone with MPEG4 video recording and voice recognition capabilities that let you text message through dictation. When I talked to some Samsung reps at CES, they told me that like in the Korean models, there would be a version that only worked with canned messages (QuickPhrase) but the SGH-P207 has a dictionary of 50,000 recognizable words. When I asked for a demo, they demurred, telling me that the noise levels in the convention center would make voice recognition impossible. It was of course, a complete circus so this makes sense, but if a little noise renders this useless then I guess I'll be driving with my elbows while I text for a little while longer while they work this out. Kidding, I always try to keep one pinkie on the wheel!
The Samsung ACH-720 does the opposite: it turns text to speech. Again, no demo, but try this one out from AT&T Labs Research to get a feel for the type of messages you might be sending out when you use something like this: TTS Multi-Lingual Demo. Audrey, the female voice from the UK sounds almost human, but the others are pretty funny. And yes I just spent half an hour having this thing say lewd things to me in a variety of accents. Very fun.
Both phones are due out on the Cingular network in early '05. Samsung holds the patents so this type of technology won't be available anywhere else for at least the next year.