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08. 4.2006

Electronic modulation will protect your TV

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Thomson SA, the French parent company of RCA, is proposing a new method for locking our expensive gadgets to a single domicile, and it's a pretty neat idea. The plan is to have a watchdog transmitter modulate the home's electricity supply along a specific pattern, and configure appliances to recognize that pattern as an approved signal.

Electronics check in for the proper pulse pattern when they are plugged in, and refuse to operate without the authorization. A thief that steals a computer would be unable to power it without having possession of the in line watchdog device. This could be a great idea for high security military installations where machines are never meant to be used outside of approved areas.

The system is sufficiently sneaky since the authorization device could be hidden anywhere in the house, or even secreted inside of a ubiquitous gadget like a clock radio. The only way to defeat the system would be to steal everything plugged into the electrical system, or to hack the hardware, providing the thief was aware of the limitation.

From New Scientist's Barry Fox, and SAWF.

Posted by Johnny    Category: devices
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08. 4.2006

Japan Rail's people power

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Traveling around Tokyo by train is quite simply astonishing. The sheer volume of commuters within a station at any given time is terrifying at first glance, but as soon as you witness the frequency of trains and general efficiency of the station, you'll be quickly hopping from station to station with ease. This efficiency has recently expanded toward environmental and cost cutting issues with regard to power. A successful trial at Tokyo's busy Shibuya station has proven the power generating ability of real live people. By using special pressure pads at the ticket gates, electricity is generated by the vibration of commuters trampling through the gates. While not linked into the powering of the station yet, the gates light a lamp on the gate showing that power has been generated.

Via Pink Tentacle

Posted by Stuart    Category: eco
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08. 4.2006

Vin Eau Carafe

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What a charming way to share refreshments. The Vin Eau Carafe has an integrated handle and two glasses which stack easily when not in use. Perfect for a summer afternoon or intimate evening at home, the clean easy lines suggest luxury, leisure, and fun.

Posted by Katherine    Category: home
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08. 3.2006

Happily is a lady's best friend

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Japan is in love with convenience stores, but they've mostly been targeted at men. In a first, Japanese am/pm has rolled out a new chain of convenience stores designed with women in mind. "Happily Lady's Convenience" offers fresh flowers, cosmetics, nutritional supplements, and all other types of necessities and luxuries. Healthy box lunches are available, and grocery items are packed in single serving containers to entice younger working women.

Fun and relaxation are the goal in Happily, and the store boasts lavish powder rooms where all types of sample cosmetics are on display for customer experimentation. Women are encouraged to linger in the store and enjoy the atmosphere while stealing a few minutes respite for themselves during a busy day.

Picked up from Springwise, Web-Japan, and Convenience Store Decisions

Posted by Johnny    Category: current affairs
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08. 3.2006

The Pod Safe has got it all locked up

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I've always wanted to stage a daring daylight raid involving helicopters and machine guns, but unlike my Steve McQueen dreams most gadget robberies seem to be crimes of opportunity.

The Pod Safe is a new iPod case cum lockbox designed to prevent those casual bouts of larceny. The safe is constructed of a strengthened PolyCarbon ABS and featuring a user changeable four digit rotary combination lock. The iPod remains useable while it's all locked up, so it's a good option for locking it to a desk drawer at work.

To repeat: The Pod Safe is not a hardcore lock for protecting your gadgetry, but more of an inconvenience device designed to slow down anyone attempting to abscond with your iPod. In truth, all locks are based upon this principle. Consider the front door of your home; it's a solid slab that will keep random people from walking into your domicile, but most decorative lock sets only take a few minutes to smash with a hammer.

The Pod Safe is available directly from the manufacturer and it's a smooth forty bucks. Please don't get it confused with the other PodSafe from a different manufacturer.

Posted by Johnny    Category: devices
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08. 3.2006

SoniColumn : the music box made new

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SoniColumn is one in a series of works, The MusicBox Project, by artist Jin-Yo Mok. This elegant interactive art installation consists of a cylinder of LEDs, which react to users with both light and sound. You can activate the light and sound by touching the column or by turning the hand crank. Watch the video to see this artist's use of light and sound. The music box metaphor is quite thoughtful, as SoniColumn reveals how the music box is the analogue predecessor to today's artwork which use interactive sound.

SoniColumn is currently on display at Bitforms Seoul.

Via Make

Posted by Ray    Category: design
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08. 3.2006

Accordion Card/Pen Holder

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With the mess that covers my desk, I could use some organizational help. And, if I were to acquire the Accordion Card/Pen Holder I'd even manage to clean up with a little style. When unfolded this organizer can hold pens, pencils, and business cards. And when closed, the entire unit folds into a neat little brick, making transportation or storage easy. Now if only my life were so easily put neatly into place.

Posted by Katherine    Category: home
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08. 2.2006

Sony Cybershot GPS unit

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Over the years, I've gathered a silly amount of holiday photos. So much so that one holiday blurs into the next. "Where was that again?" I frequently ask myself. Not that I'm some amazing world traveler who wakes up in a different country every morning, but I forget little details, like which particular district of a city I've visited. The boffins at Sony have come up with a solution to my problem. That's right, all that time and R&D money spent just to help me and only me. The GPS-CS1 is a little GPS device that records your whereabouts as you travel the globe, or even as you take your dog for a walk. You then go about your normal photo taking process: Smile! Snap snap! After you have transferred all your photos onto your computer, time to plug-in the GPS device. This syncs up the GPS data to the time stamps from your photos, providing you with a little map with markers of where you've taken a photo.

This is an excellent idea that will hopefully be implemented as part of the camera itself at some point in the future. Unfortunately, Sony has continued their usual idiotic Windows-only software policy. Nice work people. The GPS-CS1 will hit the shops next month for $150.

Posted by Stuart    Category: devices
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08. 2.2006

Purses that complement wooden shoes

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Timmy Woods makes purses. Her purses are solid treeware; shaped by hand out of the naturally fallen branches of Acacia trees. These fanciful designs are carved to resemble three dimensional dogs, horses, slot machines, telephones, and more. The sizes and weight are pretty close to solid wood cigar box purses, but with much more vibrant colors!

Kaylene Peoples from Agenda Magazine did a great job documenting the labor intensive carving and shaping process. It takes at least 30 days for a carver to complete a handbag, and the hand crafted character makes each purse unique. All bags come with a registration certificate that entitles the holder to limited edition offerings of short run purses. The company does accept commissions in case you’re wanting a replica of the White House bag that Timmy made for Laura Bush.

Priced from $150 to $2,500 these hard case clutches and shoulder bags are not for the squeamish. These signed works of art are delightfully functional for those occasions when making a statement is required: Sure they’re over the top, but that’s the point. And in an emergency you can probably beat a mugger senseless with one.

Spotted at CubeMe

Posted by Johnny    Category: wearables
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08. 2.2006

What to do with those digital pics

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As digital photography increasingly replaces print photography, the question which begs to be asked is: So, what exactly are we supposed to do with the thousands of photos we are taking?

Digital picture frames seem to be becoming a popular way for viewing photos that are not tethered to desktops or laptops. Using an old laptop, a wireless card and some mounting supplies, Mike Haney has written up some extensive instructions on how to make your very own DIY Digital Photo Frame. It's not as expensive as it seems, because he suggests that you use an old/almost obsolete laptop, which you can often find for free or at very low cost. The laptop doesn't need to be powerful because the images are stored in flickr and displayed via a web browser in flickr's slideshow mode. The added benefit is that anyone can upload photos from any location if they can log into flickr. Ah . . . the power of the wireless network.

Posted by Ray    Category: devices
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