• Check Out Some Augmented Reality On Your iPhone This X-Mas

    December 17 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

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    Been wanting to tinker with Augmented Reality?  Now you can try it out with your iPhone.  Go to Metaio and try out their Augmented Reality iPhone App for free (and unlike the last AR gadget we linked you to, these instructions are in English).  You can determine his size, make him run around, even print it out on a holiday card so friends and family can see him.  Enjoy!

  • Top Gear Tests Out the Honda Clarity, Says It Will Save the World

    December 16 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Transportation

    Top Gear recently test drove the Honda Clarity in Los Angeles and proclaimed with certainty that this car will be the most important one in 100 years.  The reason?  It runs on Hydrogen.

    It looks like a normal car, drives like a normal car, fills up like a normal car, and its only by-product is water.  They also go on to say how the car may never have to be serviced since the engine has only one moving part.  It's crazy to think how much people are investing in hybrid or electric technologies (meaning plug-in cars) when a hydrogen-powered car will obliterate them all in the coming decade.

    Now if we could just find an incredibly cheap way of making Hydrogen at home from air we'd be set.

  • Reuters Poll Shows Industry Leaders Believe Mobile Phone Sales Will Shrink

    December 16 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Economics

    phonedeath.jpgReuters reports that most leaders in the mobile phone industry see sales plummeting in response to the global economic crisis.  "On average, the poll of 36 analysts shows global market volumes shrinking 6.6 percent next year and 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter -- traditionally the strongest period for the industry due to holiday sales."  The interesting note is that a similar poll in early November saw predictions that the market would grow by 2.6% next year.

    We all know the economy is going to crap, so it's not surprising that people are going to stop buying things they don't really need.  For many, that's a brand-spanking new cellphone.  Our culture has become (or always has been) a sort of throw-away culture where if your technology isn't the latest then you're way behind the curve.

    iPhone after iPhone is thrown away, replaced by a new one ten times better and sexier, only to get replaced less than a year later.  This economic jolt might be what it takes to get people to start sticking to their stuff, quell the need for the latest and greatest, and stop shopping smartly.  Imagine a phone where you could switch out some of the components instead of buy a whole new product.  Like a computer tower, just upgrade the parts instead of buying a whole computer.  Honestly though, I see this as unlikely.

    Image: Tim Psych (Flickr, CC-Attribution)

  • Internet Leaders Predict an Increasingly Mobile Internet Experience

    December 15 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Technology

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    Elon University recently unveiled a series of future scenarios they've compiled from asking industry leaders, analysts and activists a series of questions about major tech advances they expect by 2020.  You can find good snippets from the report here at Pew Internet.

    One thing the report goes over is the increasing use of mobile internet as the method of connecting to the World Wide Web.  "The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world in 2020."  The go on to cite various examples such as the increasing computing power of mobile phones, how applications are increasingly easy to use and operate, and of course the cost of phones drop everyday (anyone heard the rumor that Wal-Mart would be selling the iPhone for $99?)

    On one hand I feel bad for those '$100 Laptop' people who tried so hard to make a cheap laptop and have pretty much failed, but on the other hand we have amazing products that do even more for the same price, and they're small.  While the idea of a third world student dutifully doing their homework on a cellphone may seem strange, by 2020 we'll be seeing developments of amazing heads-up displays as well as the nearly complete removal of the touchscreen as a device.  Infrared beams can replace a touchscreen and rolllable OLED screens will allow for larger displays in much smaller gadgets.

    Check out the links above for the full scoop.

  • Key2SafeDriving is a Great Product For Anal-Retentive Parents

    December 12 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

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    Leave it to people in Utah to invent the most anal-retentive product of this decade so far.  Key2SafeDriving is a prototype made by University of Utah researchers that allows parents to disable their kids' cellphones while they're driving.  The parents can allow certain numbers to be dialed, and of course 911 is still available, but the kicker is the other functions they hope to add into it.

    They hope to include a "safety score" which will be sent each month to insurance companies to compile a driving record of each user.  "The score also could include data recorded via Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites on the driver's speeding, rapid braking or running of lights, which are calculated by comparing the driver's position with a database of maps, speed limits, stop lights and so on."  You'll basically have to drive like a saint (usually the most hated person on the road) or else your insurance company will use that one time you went five miles over the speed limit to jack up your rates like crazy.

    I really don't see this gaining ground among the general public.  The people I see using this are parents of only children, Mormons, parents who home school their kids, and rich liberal intellectuals who feel their kids will see how much they treasure their life through their over-protectionism.  Sorry if I come off as hostile, but this product is so silly it makes me laugh that there might be a market for it.  Check out their totally awesome video after the jump (seriously, you have to see it, I'm still laughing).

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  • Japanese Researchers Close to Recording Your Dreams

    December 11 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

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    Researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have succeeded in partially translating brain activity in humans into images.  "While the team for now has managed to reproduce only simple images from the brain, they said the technology could eventually be used to figure out dreams and other secrets inside people's minds."  They honed the computer to each tested individual by showing them over 400 different images and recording how their brain reacted.  While successful tests have been run so far, the images used in the tests have been fairly simple ones such as the word "neuron."

    Anyone who saw the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within has to remember how the main character was able to record her dreams for later viewing.  And, true to fashion, the images were somewhat cluttered and fuzzy, an excellent representation of where the technology might be in 20 years (due to the erratic nature of dreams and the speed at which they occur, we may never be able to record a dream like we see it sleeping).  And while it may lead to reading minds entirely, the "secrets" the team refers to, this technology is universally wanted by gadget-hounds everywhere.  Controlling things with the mind will always be the end goal for all of these BCIs.

    via Yahoo!

  • Get a Mobile Fuel-Cell Charger For All of Your Gadget Charging Needs

    December 11 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

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    MTI MicroFuel Cells, a division of MTI, has a prototype portable fuel cell battery which it hopes to release by the end of 2009.  "This compact and light weight fuel cell charger comes with a removable cartridge that can be swapped for a new one when depleted. Each additional cartridge gives consumers another 25 Watt-hours of power."  25 Watt-hours of power translates to 10 cellphone charges or 100 hours of video on a portable video player like the iPhone. 

    The device itself runs on 100% methanol fuel which isn't surprising since you can buy methanol for .47 cents a gallon.  The Mobion chip used in the device has a new design architecture that "embodies a reduction in the size, complexity, and cost of fuel cell construction."  With fuel cells currently available at astronomical prices, it will be interesting to see how much they've cut the cost off their product.

    Full MTI press release here.

  • Need WiFi On That Roadtrip? Bring it Along With MiFi

    December 10 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    You've got a laptop, a cellphone, a digital camera and at least one other gadget in your arsenal.  Sadly, only your phone gets internet which costs about $60 a month.  You thought about getting mobile internet for your laptop but that was another $60 plus the cost of the USB drive.  You're tired of hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop looking for internet on trips.  What do you do?

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    Novatel, a company specializing in mobile information technology, will soon release MiFi, a mobile WiFi system run through cellular phone lines.  MiFi acts as your own personal WiFi system which you can link to from any of your mobile gadgets.  On a road trip you can carry it along for any of your passengers to latch onto.  With a 4 hour life-span or 40 hours on standby, business trips might be just that more bearable.

  • MINI Brings Augmented Reality Into Print Ads

    December 10 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    In the video above you are seeing the making of an augmented reality print ad.  If you print out the PDF file here, go the their website here and launch your webcam, a highly-detailed MINI Cabrio should appear on the page which you can manipulate and zoom by rotating the ad.  You'll need to download 3D plugins for the program to work which is daunting enough, but persevere and you'll get a 3D car on your paper.

    You may have read a past article we did on augmented reality pop-up books for kids where people were working towards creating a commercially viable product involving augmented reality.  Although they said development would be years away, seems like MINI has gone ahead and shortened the deadline. There have even been cases where cellphones have been used to display augmented reality projections.

    Using print ads and a webcam is just the first step, next year we'll be seeing goggles which will make the whole experience that much more exciting.

  • Self-Healing Polymer Coatings to Keep Your Stuff Like New

    December 09 2008 / by John Heylin
    Category: Gadgets

    ipodscratched.jpgResearchers at the University of Illinois are working on developing a synthetic polymer which would hopefully self-heal scratches and cracks on items that get constant human and environmental exposure.  "Applications range from automotive paints and marine varnishes to the thick, rubbery coatings on patio furniture and park benches."  In other words, when someone dings your car door it can be good as new in just a few minutes or hours depending on the weather.

    How does it work?

    The self healing polymers are made up of two components: a catalyst and a healing agent.  These chemicals are stuffed into small spheres about 100 microns in diameter and put onto the surface of an object.  When scratched, the small spheres break open and mix, forming a healing agent that repair the surface.  In tests with a steel beam where a scratch was delivered by a razor blade, the steel coated with the polymer was found to be fine while the one without rusted.

    Self-healing products of course have a vast array of possibilities that are useful.  Anything metal rusts, wood gets scratched or chipped, and hard drives can rack up some serious wear and tear if you're not careful.  Self-healing coatings on products could extend the life of your goods for years longer than they should have lived.  Combined with a superhydrophobic surface, our gadgets will look years from now just as good as the day you bought them.

    via EurekAlert!

    Image: re-ality (Flickr, CC-Attribution)