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Monthly Archives: June 2007

Swell .45 Caliber Vase

Swell Vase

By Evan Ackerman

Most of the time, I feel like the significance that modern designers attach to their pieces equates to total bunk, especially when they go on and on about stuff like “the symbiotic formation and destruction of modern society.” But is Blanc&Reed actually making a statement with their Swell vase? Swell is a hollow grown copper container that’s been shot with a .45 caliber slug, turning it into a serviceable flower holder via the exit wound. It’s “an object formed for its deconstruction in the hope of eliciting new beauty.” As much as I hate to admit it, I kinda get what they’re saying here. [Ain’t this a little like when hippies put a flower into the barrel of a soldier’s gun? -Ed.] While far too phallic for my personal taste, you can contact Blanc&Reed if you want to find out how much Swell costs; the price is not otherwise stated. Not recommended for DIY.

[ Blanc&Reed ] VIA [ Core77 ]

Always-On Millipod Micro Tripod

Always-On Millipod (Image courtesy Made Products)By Andrew Liszewski

A slim and light P&S camera is great for slipping in your pocket and taking wherever you go but their compact size does have its disadvantages. That thin form factor makes propping them up for self-portraits or low-light shots very difficult. As a result it’s handy to carry a tripod with you but that tends to defeat the purpose of the camera’s small form factor.

Enter the Millipod which is billed as the “slimmest tripod ever” and they’re probably right. It’s designed to attach to the bottom of your P&S camera without adding much additional weight or size. But when you need to prop the camera up somewhere the Millipod has three small legs that can be easily unfolded providing some much needed stability. It can also be rotated while still attached for getting a specific shot or when you need access to the battery or memory card compartments.

Unfortunately info on availability and pricing has not been released.

[ Always-On Millipod ] VIA [ Image-Acquire ]

ZEM 2cycle – Almost Not Embarassing To Ride

ZEM 2cycle (Images courtesy ZEM)
By Andrew Liszewski

When it comes to alternative fuel sources for powering a vehicle I think pedal power has solar, hydrogen and electric all beat. Besides a bit of sweat there’s no harmful emissions to speak of and the driver and passenger both get a great workout. Unfortunately though pedal powered ‘cars’ usually look pretty dorky but the 2cycle from ZEM (Zero Emission Machines) doesn’t look half bad.

While I don’t recommend if for your daily commute to the downtown core it could make for a nice trip around the neighborhood, retirement village or even campground. Without any passengers the 2cycle weighs about 93 pounds but can support 2 riders with a combined weight of up to 485 pounds. It has 2 independent 7-speed hub gears with reverse gear for all speeds, 4 18 inch spoke wheels, 2 independent hydraulic disc brake systems, a parking brake, 4-point Elastomer shocks, 2 folding bucket seats with safety harnesses and even a large baggage platform.

But at about $4,500 for the 2cycle ‘red’ version pictured above, and about $7,100 for the more advanced ‘silver’ version you just might be better off taping a couple of bicycles together with some old lawn chairs.

[ ZEM 2cycle ] VIA [ ThisNext ]

Photo Violation Parking Meter Will Actually Call You

Photo Violation Parking Meter (Image courtesy Autoblog)By Andrew Liszewski

You know those keychain sized timers that will let you know when the parking meter has run out? Well those could be a thing of the past if a company called Photo Violation Technologies has their way. They’re currently testing a new type of parking meter in cities like Vancouver and Niagara Falls that will call your cellphone when the time gets close to running out.

But instead of dashing out to the street to feed the meter you’ll be able to make a wireless payment using your phone. Of course you can always just let the time run out and get a parking fine instead which not surprisingly can also be payed via the meter. On top of it all the Photo Violation meters are solar-powered and can even be setup as wifi hotspots.

But since parking meters are a great source of income for large cities, particularly when they run out and result in parking tickets I can imagine it will be a long time before something like this catches on all across the country.

[ Photo Violation Technologies ] VIA [ Autoblog ]

TWISTER Alternate Universe Machine


By Evan Ackerman

If somebody were to say to me (as people are wont to do), “Quick! Imagine a machine that transports you to an alternate universe!” I would probably picture something that looks (and sounds) almost exactly like TWISTER. TWISTERTWISTER stands for Telexistence Wide-angle Immersive STEReoscope, which means that while you’re not technically transported to an alternate universe, the machine creates one all around you. In 3D. Without any of those annoying and inconvenient accessories like glasses.

TWISTER is comprised of a four foot tall cylindrical array of 50,000 LEDs. The LEDs spin around the viewer 1.6 times per second (or at about 22 mph), creating one continuous 360 degree panorama. The cool part is that as it spins, the LED array draws a slightly different image in front of each eye, which causes you to see things in 3D. This is called binocular parallax… If you cover one eye, and then cover your other eye, you’ll notice that the world looks slightly different out of each one. This is how you perceive depth, and is what TWISTER replicates.

Needless to say, you can’t get the effect through your monitor, but here’s a video of TWISTER in action:

The cameras inside TWISTER reveal its purpose: making long distance 3D telephone calls. I would love to start speculating on other uses for one of these, but the fact is that it’s ginormous and pretty dangerous looking. I mean, what if you accidentally cause a resonance cascade or something? Talk about alternate universes…

[ TWISTER ] VIA [ Pink Tentacle ]

“Blubber Bot” Autonomous Blimps


By Evan Ackerman

These helium blimps, nicknamed “Blubber Bots,” are fully autonomous robots that gracefully float from place to place, searching for food ( represented as LED lights) and companionship. Created by Jed Berk, the fat and happy form factors of these ALAVs (Autonomous Lighter than Air Vehicles) belies the hardcore wireless brains that are slung beneath them. Their blimp brains are powered by Sun SPOT chips, which are able to sense and react to movement, sounds, lights, and heat. In addition to being equipped with blinking LEDs themselves, they have cell phone vibrators attached to their helium envelopes, and when the vibrators go off, the blimp resonates at a specific frequency, allowing it to “talk” to other blimps, and to you. That’s right, besides interacting autonomously with each other, the blimps are able to socialize with humans via cellphones. You can chose to talk to the blimps as individuals or as a group, and based on your actions, they’ll react with different behaviors. Check out the video to see what I’m talking about:

If you happen to be in the LA area, you can sign up to make your own Blubber Bot (with the help of the designer) for $185.

[ ALAVs ] VIA [ Wired ]

Trey Chair – Transform And Sit!

Trey Office Chair (Images courtesy TreyChair)
By Andrew Liszewski

While the Trey chair website tries to portray it as the office chair of a thousand uses (particularly in this photo gallery) in reality it only has two. The first is just like a normal office chair with all the features we’ve come to expect like built-in height adjustment and seat tilt. The second is where all the ‘innovation’ comes in. The seat portion of the Trey chair can be lifted off and used as a low to the ground rocker seat while the bottom part of the chair can then be used as a foot stool, or small desk.

It’s really not as impressive a feat as the website makes it out to be but I can still see it being handy in a dorm or small apartment setting where space is at a premium. Also until the popularity dies off again you can make that Transformer sound effect every time you reconfigure the chair, so it’s got that goin’ for it… which is nice.

The Trey chair is available for $239 when you choose a standard fabric finish, $269 for faux leather and $299 for premium designer fabrics.

[ Trey Chair ] VIA [ Cribcandy ]

WaterField Designs Updates Their Racer-X Bags

WaterField Designs Racer-X Laptop Case (Image courtesy WaterField Designs)By Andrew Liszewski

San Francisco based WaterField Designs has just released an updated version of their Racer-X laptop bags to accommodate Apple’s 13-inch MacBook. In addition the bags have received a bit of a design update and now have an “easy-to-access” front pocket and a choice of either a single mountain bike grip handle or dual leather handles. And besides your laptop the bags also have extra pockets and compartments for storing other toys.

The Racer-X features two zippered, interior compartments: one that encases and protects the laptop with layers of plush neoprene, foam and impact-resistant plastic; and another for documents and files that includes pockets to store accessories like PDA’s, iPod’s, cables, and spare batteries. A rear exterior pocket for magazines and files has a zippered bottom so it can also be used to slip over handles of wheeled carry-on bags. Each Racer-X comes with a removable Suspension Shoulder Strap that helps make the load feel lighter.

The Racer-X is available on the WaterField Designs website starting at $169 for the 12 inch Powerbook/iBook version and up to $189 for the 17 inch MacBook Pro version.

[ WaterField Designs Racer-X Laptop Case ]

Kingston Photo Loader SD Card

Kingston Photo Loader SD Card (Image courtesy DigiTimes)By Andrew Liszewski

While consumer-level digital cameras have become easier to use I’ve found it’s still a head scratcher for most people when it comes to getting those photos onto their computer as well as photo-sharing websites.

The Kingston Photo Loader SD card makes this process as easy as it can get. It uses a special piece of software developed by MacroPort that will automatically download the photos to the PC when the card is inserted into a card reader. The photos are then uploaded to the user’s Shutterfly account allowing them to be shared with friends and family.

The Photo Loader SD card is only available on Amazon in a 1GB capacity for $12.99.

[ Kingston Photo Loader SD Card ] VIA [ Image-Acquire ]