I appreciate the benefits of solar power, wind power, hydropower, and other alternative energy sources, but do I really understand how they work? To be honest, no. Of course not. This little Loopwing Wind Power Generator Set, by Tamiya, Inc. is a great idea for ignoramuses like myself who want to see with our own eyes how one harnesses and converts wind into energy. The wing catches the breeze, converts it to electricity and powers the little model car, which you can then watch in action.
Available for $46.49 at Amazon.
Aurvana is nirvana, as least for the audiophile. The brand-new high-end noise-canceling headphones from Creative Labs use the latest technology, X-Fi (Xtreme Fidelity), which, in case you aren't familiar with it, makes your MP3s sound better than the original CDs by intelligently restoring the details that are lost during compression. With three switches, you get the optimal choices: one is to turn the noise-cancellation feature off, the one in the middle is the "crystalizer" that enhances your MP3 playback, and the last button is a CMSS-3D that provides virtual surround sound for movies or playing games.
After trying different combinations, I found the best for music is when both the noise-canceling AND the Crystalizer are activated.
The Aurvana will be released mid-September and will retail for approx $299. Currently, there is no pre-order available but check back with the Creative Labs site.
When great design meets great utility, a product like the Solar Bottle is born. The Solar Bottle is the brainchild of Italian designers Alberto Medo and Francisco Gomez Paz. The designers were introduced to the SODIS (Solar Water Disinfection) system at Milan's International Furniture Fair and were inspired by this effective but inexpensive method of purifying household drinking water.
The SODIS system is based on the fact that when water is filled into transparent PET bottles and exposed to six hours of sunlight, the UV-A radiation and increased temperature from the solar energy will effectively kill disease-causing pathogens in the water. In an effort to design a container that does maximum justice to this technology, the duo created the award-winning Solar Bottle (still a prototype).
It's not quite as cool as a Bat-Signal clock projected onto a wall would be, but this collapsible Batman clock ($45) is still plenty trendy in an eccentric Comic-Con sort of way.
It measures four inches when closed and sports a "high polish finish" that's sure to complement a nicely rubberized Batsuit.
Via The Uber-Review.
After two years of speculation, the 6th generation iPod was formally announced today. For me, the only question I needed answered was "did I get screwed buying a $600 iPhone just two months ago?" Yes, yes, yes!!!!! But also not really. Yes, there is a new iPod, the iPod Touch, which has nearly all the features of the iPhone (big touchscreen, wifi) but it doesn't have anything addititional which would make new iPhone owners want to throw their instantly antiquated phones through the windows of the nearest Apple store. But...the prices of the iPhone (still the same iPhone, relax, no 2G upgrade announced yet- stay tuned in January...) dropped significantly. The 4 GB model is now, $299 (while supplies last, and then gone completely), down from $499, and the 8 GB model is also $200 less, at $399. Bummer for the losers like me who rushed to get the iPhone, but great for holiday gifting and the smart people who waited just a bit.
This story makes me so sad. It reminds me of the scene in Artificial Intelligence where the robot child played by Haley Joel Osment is sent out into the woods to fend for himself by his human mother; it reminds me of all the God-fearing Cylons hanging onto dear life in Battlestar Galactica.
We wrote about wakamaru about a year and a half ago, when Mitsibushi first introduced this domestic robot. But, as reported in The Nikkei Weekly, consumer response has been less than enthusiastic since then. It turns out that wakamaru just doesn't do enough, and is rendered somewhat useless in homes with multiple stories and homes without Internet access (query: why would someone who doesn't even have Internet access be purchasing an expensive robot?). Users found its voice-recognition capability too narrow, yet its body too big for small Japanese homes (yes, and some people wish their kids were smarter and a few inches taller).
Some families did get attached to this little guy, however, and threw farewell parties at the end of its functioning life this past spring, when Mitsubishi pulled the plug. Sigh.
Though a long way from being commercialized, the new battery developed by Sony generates electricity using glucose, which is chemically broken down with enzymes. Apparently, you can power small electronics endlessly through a supply of glucose solution which you pour into the battery (I'm sure airline security will love that). While glucose-powered batteries are more environmentally friendly because they don't emit carbon dioxide, at this stage of development, they're not yet very practical. The output of a single glucose cell is 50 milliwatts; in the photo above, four cells are linked together to generate sufficient power to operate an MP3 player.
Via The Nikkei Weekly.
Do you remember how amazing your imagination was as a kid? You could probably create entire worlds around your tea-set, or from your tree house. You were Mary Poppins making magic to transform your surroundings. Can you believe that today's kids are now consumers of "green screen" technology, able to truly make their wackiest visions come true?
The Rip Roar Creation Station is an awesome gift to give the tech-savvy kids in your life (best aunt, mom, sister, babysitter e-v-e-r!). The Creation Station allows the user to capture video, then edit and share it instantly with the world. Using the included green screen, integrated software, and single-click upload, almost anything can happen! The producer/director can instantly make it look like the actors are climbing mountain tops, talking to animals in the forest, or fishing at a beautiful lake with their friend the black bear.
Digital image editing has always been a challenge; it's difficult to transform a 300x600 image to 100X500 image without cropping out something important or distorting the original image. The ingenious Shai Avidan and Ariel Shamir have created an amazing digital photo editing tool that is content aware. Using a process they call "Seam Carving," the tool preserves the most vital parts of an image and removes the unimportant parts when you resize it. Their method was presented in a paper at SIGGRAPH 2007. An online demo video has the blogosphere whipped up in geeky excitement, and is definitely worth watching. Adobe just hired Avidan along with a couple of other digital imaging innovators, which has Photoshop users ecstatic with the prospect of this feature being included in a future version.
If you're a fan of Project Runway, as I am, you remember Chloe Dao from season two. Spunky and talented, she beat out Santino Rice and Daniel Vosovic to win.
I wondered what she'd been up to but refuse to watch "WEAR Are They Now," the re-hash-the-season show, just a blatant attempt to squeeze more ratings out of a reality show. As it turned out, she found me through one of my favorite companies, run by one of the smartest women I know, Alexandra Elliot of Pacific Design.
Chloe just parterned up with them to create stylish cases for laptops, DVD players, iPods and cell phone cases, in bold patterns and vibrant colors. The retro patterns are fun and playful and most importantly, functional. My spoiled iPhone is sporting the blue/gray pinstripe, with its versatile dual design so you can use the iPhone with the flip cover or detach for use as an open face case.
I recently had a chance to interview the busy designer via e-mail: