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Monthly Archives: June 2006

John Flear’s Fireflies

flear from biteditions

By David Ponce

Anything that combines LEDs, economics, complex simulations of social patterns and art is cool by us. The Fireflies by John Flear is a funky, “retro-futuristic” piece of wall art that was inspired by the work of Economics Nobel prize laureate Thomas Schelling. Each square inch of the 14 by 12 inch installation contains one LED.

The patterns created by these LEDs symbolize digital fireflies that move around their environment to find the ideal temperature for their existence. If it’s too hot they move away from the other fireflies. If it’s too cold they hang out together. This abstraction reflects the way we humans also lead our lives. We move around pulled by emotional forces in various directions.

John’s work explores the emergence of complex collective patterns from simple individual behavior. The Fireflies piece creates an organic and relaxing ambiance, hardly what would be expected from an economic model.

The piece is $770 at BitEditions, though it seems to be on special right now for $350. And if you’re wondering just what this stuff looks like, we’ve included a video after the jump.

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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Toy Now on Sale

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Toy (Image courtesy Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies Pte Ltd.)By Andrew Liszewski

Those that have been following the H-Racer will be happy to hear that the world’s smallest hydrogen fuel cell car is now available for sale. For those who haven’t the H-Racer is basically a motorized toy car powered only by hydrogen. And since most kids probably don’t have tanks of hydrogen gas lying around there’s also a solar-powered electrolyzer available that creates hydrogen from water and can be used refill the H-Racer. No batteries or extension cords are ever needed here.

The whole idea of course is to get kids interested and used to hydrogen as an alternative fuel source in hopes they’ll grow up to be adults who also promote the clean fuel alternative. Perhaps a toy that gets kids interested in getting off their duff and actually walking somewhere wouldn’t hurt as well.

The H-Racer is available on the Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies website for $40. The hydrogen fuel station is available as an add-on for an additional $40.

[Hydrogen Fuel Cell Toy] VIA [I4U News]

The Samsung CX913P Can Point In Any Direction

Samsung CX913P

By David Ponce

Affectionately naming it the CX913P, Samsung has released a 19 inch LCD with 6milisecond response time and a contrast ratio of 1,500:1. That’s pretty neat in itself, but makes for rather bland news. What is only marginally more interesting though, is the monitor’s ability to point itself in just about any angle, though a cleverly designed stand.

We’re a little unclear what the practical advantages of such a feature would be, though we’re thinking along the lines of LCD as artwork. Or something.

It’s Korea only for now, and it’s $511 over there.

[SciFi Tech]

The Urwerk Blackbird, An Expensive Sounding Watch

urwerk watchBy David Ponce

The bastard child of MarketingSpeak and Limited Edition is Expensiveness. Just how expensive is unclear and unimportant. What matters is that the 103 Blackbird from Urwerk is a very special watch. Only 10 will be made. And they’ll be made in a very special way:

The streamlined platinum case is cloaked in an exotic black PE-CVD or Plasma Enhanced-Chemical Vapor Deposition coat that boasts an extremely high scratch resistance.

Accentuating the Blackbird?s powerful visual impact is the black PVD coating on the dial, satellites and orbital cross: the latter crafted from high-tech grade 2 titanium.

A case shape as incredibly complex as the 103 Blackbird is extremely difficult to machine in gold and harder still in the much denser platinum

Yeah, platinum case. Seems they also make it in the relatively cheaper gold.

[Urwerk 103 Blackbird] VIA [Josh Spear]

Pluma, A Redesign Of The Propane Tank

pluma redesigned gas tankBy David Ponce

If the shiny future SciFi writers have been promising us for years is ever to come to be, we need to start paying attention to how ugly some of the items in our lives actually look. When was the last time you eyed your propane tank, thinking “Hey, that thing looks good!”

Yeah, we didn’t think so. So that’s why we’re pleased to see the Pluma, a redesign on the ole gas tank by Portuguese design firm, Brandia Central. This work gave them the packaging design Gold in the 2006 Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA).

Of course, it might take some time before it makes it to store shelves, but it’s a comfort to know that some people are at least thinking about these things.

VIA [Core77]

Viagra Rings

viagra ringBy David Ponce

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the cyanide-pill-hiding-in-a-ring clich?. Well, unless you’re a spy, we think there are better, more positive things to carry around in a ring. Like Viagra.

The company Viagra Ring makes, well, rings with a specially shaped enclosure to carry you favorite blue pill around. Prices start at $50, and seem to go up to $80.

[Viagra Ring] Thanks, Paul!

Tronical PowerTune

Tronical PowerTune (Images courtesy Tronical)
By Andrew Liszewski

The Tronical PowerTune is an auto-tuning system that can be retrofitted to virtually any make or brand of guitar and is typically accurate to within 0.1 cent. (Manual tuning is apparently usually only accurate to within 0.2 cent.)

The system consists of three components that produce minimal cosmetic changes to the guitar but more importantly does not affect the sound. First there’s the TuneControl-Multiknob which serves as the interface and also provides visual feedback on what is happening during a tuning. Secondly there’s the PowerHead-Locking Turners which are basically motors and servos that are used to automatically increase or decrease the tension on the strings and finally there’s the TuneControl-Bridge and Tune-Core Controller which is what actually ‘listens’ to the guitar and calculates how the string tensions should be adjusted in order to tune the instrument.

The PowerTune system should be available at select stores as of April 2006 for about $500.

[Tronical PowerTune] VIA []

Mapion Local Search: Just Point And Learn

gps cellphone directory serviceBy David Ponce

What happens when you combine a cellphone, a GPS module, a compass and an Internet connection? A kickass service from American GeoVector and Japanese CyberMap Japan (aka Mapion), sadly only available in Japan. It’s called “Mapion Local Search”, and allows you to get detailed information about any of 700,000 businesses simply by pointing your cellphone at them. The GPS determines where you are, the compass where you’re pointing; the service digests this information, and spits back useful info about the business in question.

It’s initially being launched on KDDI’s network, and will be available for download to users with the Sony Ericsson W21S. Other models will be added later in the year. The service is free for now, though the companies are planning on adding a premium version soon, with more detailed maps, and more POIs.

[NYT Article] VIA [Sci-Fi Tech]

Also see GeoVector’s Press Release

The nPod V2, A Hand-Made Portable NES

npod v2

By David Ponce

Some of you might have seen this man’s work before, but for those that haven’t, let me introduce you to Benjamin J. Heckendorn, maker extraordinaire. His claim to fame, according to yours truly, is his fabulous ability to make portable NES, and SNES consoles. That’s right, the entire console, with screen, in a device that fits in the palm of your hands.

What you’re looking at, in this picture, is the latest iteration: the nPod V2, an updated version of the original nPod. It has a smaller emulator chip, which allows for the reduced size. It uses 4 AA batteries which “last a long time”. Right now, it’s only a prototype, though Ben seems to be testing the waters of commercialization at $250 a pop, or $300 with extra features such as TV out and such.

[nPod V2] VIA [TechEBlog]