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Monthly Archives: August 2006

Artificial Muscles Could Vastly Improve Color Displays

RGB Gamut (Image courtesy SMPTE)By Andrew Liszewski

As much as you may love that new LCD screen of yours it’s just not able to display the full range of colors your eye is capable of detecting. Sure that 8-bit graphics card is partly to blame (and even that 10-bit capable card you splurged on is still not enough) but the other issue is that you can only produce so many colors by mixing red, green and blue which is how all displays work. (That triangle region in the image to the right shows the RGB Gamut which is what a display can reproduce compared to the full color spectrum.)

Researchers now believe they can create a display capable of showing the full range of colors the human eye can perceive. Using diffraction gratings which are basically a pattern of very thin, equally spaced grooves on a surface they can cause white light to fan out into the full color spectrum. (The same thing happens on a CD where the pits and grooves of the recording produce a rainbow effect under direct light.)

The fanned out color spectrum could then be specifically angled by using an aritificial muscle membrane to dynamically adjust the spacing between the grooves on the diffraction grating. Being able to angle the spectrum then allows the desired color to be aimed at a screen where it would be isolated and then displayed as a color pixel.

Right now the technology is only in the proof of concept stage but the researchers believe with enough investment it could be seen in consumer products in less than eight years.

[Splitting Light With Artificial Muscles]

Beyond Microwave With Barcode Reader

Beyond Microwave (Image courtesy Smarthome)By Andrew Liszewski

I think a lot of us could easily survive with only a microwave oven for all of our cooking needs. But for those of us who would probably be considered ‘stove-challenged’ even the microwave can be a bit tricky. Guessing the exact cooking time for a perfectly prepared meal can still be hit and miss.

The Beyond Microwave claims to take the guesswork out of cooking times by including a UPC/barcode scanning wand. Just scan the UPC on the food’s packaging and the Beyond Microwave will automatically program the exact cooking time and power-level based on its database of over 4000 UPC codes. And the microwave also has a learning function allowing it to accomodate new items not included in its database.

The Beyond Microwave is available from Smarthome for $149.99.

[Beyond Microwave @ Smarthome]

The amazing ways to use Barcode Software will never cease. Find out the myriad of ways a Barcode Printer or scanner could help your business.

The Hover Creeper

hover creeperBy David Ponce

Anyone who works with cars for a living (or even for fun) will appreciate the Hover Creeper from Davison International. For those of you who don’t know, a creeper is a board with wheels that mechanics use to wheel themselves under cars. The team at Davison International asked themselves: “How can we improve on the creeper?” And the answer suddenly was obvious: make it hover.

Most mechanics already have compressed air in the shop. So the Hover Creeper plugs into the compressed air, and starts floating.

Once underneath, the mechanic can hit a lever, let the creeper fall to the ground and have stable leverage for more torque, something he couldn’t do before. Oh, and the mechanic can still use the compressed air; he just plugs the tools into an air outlet on the creeper. When navigating over the hectic landscape of the garage, he simply floats over cracks, bolts, washers and other debris that would have stopped a wheeled creeper in its tracks. Plus, a tool caddy is built into the creeper body.

We’re not sure how much it costs, but unless it’s astronomic, it sounds like a cool tool for any repair shop to get. The only downside we see is that it would probably get quite noisy from the air rushing out from under, though it’s not like a shop is Serenity Central to start with.

Oh and yeah, why don’t you come inside for a little video of the Hover Creeper in action?

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A Tortoise Footstool

tortoise footstoolBy David Ponce

Who wouldn’t want a tortoise for a footstool? Huh?

I’d love one, if only to look at my guests faces while they make an effort to remain polite and try not ask you “Why?”

Unfortunately, it’s $300, which as far as a footstool goes, is about $290 more than I’d be willing to pay.

[Tortoise Footstool] VIA [BoingBoing]

The DA-4DD3 Will Yield Up To 16 DVI Connections


By David Ponce

So, here we are, pondering about the practical uses of the DA-4DD3, from I-O Data. With the device, you can display a single image/video, on up to 16 different screens. There are four DVI connections at the back of the unit, which can each be connected to yet another unit, for a total of 16 DVI connections. The maximum supported resolution is 1920×1200 (WUXGA), though remember that it’ll display 16 times the same thing, and not one big image composed of 16 screens.

We’re thinking that this might be useful for a store wanting to display their LCDs, kind of like what they’ve been doing for a long time with TVs.

[I-O Data] VIA [Akihabara News]

A Windows Themed House

windows house

By David Ponce

The endless possibilities for Microsoft jokes have caused a serious case of writer’s block. I believe it senseless that I should have spent the best part of a quarter hour looking for something smart to say about this. So, I’ll say nothing more than this: here you have a picture of someone, unidentified, who likes Microsoft Windows so much… he went and added a Windows theme to his house. Yes, we’re aware the picture was in this month’s PC Mag, but we didn’t read it, and we don’t know who this fellow is.

So, there you have it. A Window’s themed house.

VIA []

The IPS-11G Could Give iPods Karaoke Abilities, Drive You Insane

ips-11gBy David Ponce

We don’t condone praying; it hurts the knees and rarely yields measurable results that can’t otherwise be attributed to luck or misfortune. That said, when we read about the IPS-11G, we started praying, and as of this writing, we still are. We are praying that no one within a 100 mile radius of us gets their hands on it. See, the little device has the ability to turn your everyday iPod into a karaoke machine. Simply load some MCG-MP3 karaoke format files into the player, and connect it to the IPS-11G. It’ll then read the files and display them on your TV, for everyone’s auditory torture enjoyment. Other than this particularly sadistic feature, the device can also be used as a bridge between the player and your entertainment center; the iPod’s menus can be accessed through your TV using a remote control, allowing to enjoy your music and videos (hopefully minus your wail-y voiceover) on large screen and large speakers.

The price for this potentially evil device is $230 and even comes with a microphone.

[The IPS-11G] VIA [Gizmologia]

The Moo-Pong Is A Modern Video Kaleidoscope

moo pong

By David Ponce

Here’s another one of those projects where art does the horizontal polka with technology. It’s called Moo-Pong, and happens to be a very modern twist on the old kaleidoscope. The device consists of a series of “balls” and what looks like a bowl. You go out in the wild with one of these balls, put it on a stick, and it becomes a little camera (you’ll understand when you watch the video). Shoot a 10 second clip, and you’re done with that particular ball. Go places, and do this a few times. Then come home, put the balls in the container and enjoy your video kaleidoscope.

The project seems to be the collaboration of a few people at the Okude Laboratory of Keio University, in Japan. It was on display a year ago at Siggraph, so it’s not spanking new, but for some reason, people seemed to have missed it. We think it’s pretty cool. And yes, yes we know: a written description of this sounds terrible. That’s why, as we often do, we’ve included a video for your enjoyment.

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Logitech’s ChillStream Will Cool Your Palms

logitech chillstream

By David Ponce

The last time we lived through a 72 hour gaming marathon, a few things happened. The first was our surprise at finding out the chicks weren’t very impressed by our bravery and gaming fortitude… at all! The second was the discovery of very sweaty, very wrinkly palms. While not much could be done to make us seem more interesting to the fairer sex, at least in the context of bragging about long bouts of gaming, news from Logitech will be taking care of the sweaty palm business. The ChillStream gaming controller integrates a very quiet 40 mm fan that circulates up to 3.41 cubic feet of air every minute, which just may be enough to keep those palms dry.

It connects via USB to any XP-enabled PC, and will allegedly work with the (eventually) upcoming Vista. The best part is that the controller will likely be quite cheap, at $40.

[Logitech’s ChillStream] VIA [Xataka]