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Monthly Archives: September 2007

Tesco StickPhone Offers Global USB VoIP

TescoBy Evan Ackerman

Every time I go to the UK, I fall in love with Tesco all over again. All those tasty and cheap and sorta kinda healthy pre-made sandwiches… Mmm mmm good. But Tesco is good for more than sandwiches (and cheap wine); they’ve just launched the Tesco Internet Phone, which is a USB stick with a mic, earphone, and some VoIP software. You can use it to make phone calls from any broadband connected PC in the world, which I guess means that the software is all internal to the USB stick. The hardware is £19.97 (which includes 1gb of storage on the stick itself), and unlimited worldwide calling and voicemail is £8.50 a month. A UK phone number is required which could be a good thing if you’ve got annoying friends. Oh, and Tesco is set to open their first US stores in California and Arizona by the end of this year, hooray!

[ Tesco Internet Phone ] VIA [ Ubergizmo ]

Sim Card Spy Ear Remote Listening Device

Sim Card Spy Ear (Images courtesy
By Andrew Liszewski

Another day another covert gadget designed for spying on friends, family, co-workers and anyone else you just don’t trust. The Spy Ear though doesn’t require years of special spy training at MI6 to use. All you have to do is stick your SIM card into the device and call it from another phone. Once you’re connected you can just sit back and listen to what’s going on in the room where you’ve secretly planted it.

In theory since it relies on the GSM phone network the Spy Ear should work all over the world as long as the rechargeable batteries hold out and it’s in the range of a cell tower. Of course if you do plan to use the device internationally you might want to make sure you have a good roaming plan.

The Spy Ear is currently available from for $85.

[ Sim Card Spy Ear ] VIA [ GadgetMadness ]

NEC Portable DNA Tester For The CSI On The Go

NEC Briefcase DNA Analysis System (Image courtesy NEC)
By Andrew Liszewski

Besides what I’ve seen on CSI when it comes to DNA testing I’m no expert. As far as I know a DNA test takes about a day to complete but NEC claims to have reduced that time to only about 25 minutes. They’ve also managed to shrink everything you need for a complete DNA analysis system into a package that’s about the size of a briefcase. That includes all the tools needed for both the extraction of the DNA and the analysis itself.

The device will be shown at the International Symposium on Human Identification in Los Angeles in a few weeks time but is not expected to be released until sometime in 2008. And even then odds are it will only be made available to law enforcement officials. Once it becomes widespread though I’m sure you can pick one up for your own needs.

[ NEC Portable DNA Analysis System ] VIA [ Mobilewhack ]

HotelMóvil – From Tractor Trailer To Luxury Hotel With The Push Of A Button

HotelMovil (Images courtesy HotelMovil)
By Andrew Liszewski

Tired of trying to hunt down a decent 5-star hotel while traveling? Well why not just bring your own next time. While cruising down the highway the HotelMóvil looks like your standard 18 wheeler (well maybe with a few more wheels) but once you arrive you simply detach the cab from the trailer and hit ‘Play’ on a remote control. After a 30-minute hydraulic unfolding process you’re left with a 2-story mini hotel complete with 11 bedrooms, private bathrooms and an outdoor terrace on the second floor.

The HotelMóvil can also be custom-built for a variety of other uses including a mobile hospital, a portable film studio and even a school. Optional amenities include heating and air conditioning, flat-screen TVs and internet access via Wifi.

A HotelMóvil with a standard configuration will run you about $500,000 but if you don’t need it all year round they can also be rented for around $8,000 a weekend. And unless you have your truckers license you’ll also need to hire yourself a driver before you hit the road.

[ HotelMovil ] VIA [ bookofjoe ]

Thumtronics Thummer Looks Slightly Cooler Than An Accordion

Thumtronics Thummer (Image courtesy Thumtronics)
By Andrew Liszewski

The accordion has never been considered a ‘cool’ instrument and if someone like Weird Al can’t make it popular I don’t think anyone can. But while the Thummer appears to take some of its design cues from the accordion that’s where the similarities end. Besides being far easier to learn and play the Thummer also includes a couple of joysticks that look to have been salvaged from a dual-shock controller. If you’re looking for a way to encourage kids to play an instrument this is probably a clever way of doing it. But the joysticks also provide some very useful functionality when it comes to playing the Thummer.

The thumb-operated joysticks have similar mobility to the human shoulder and wrist. Each thum-stick has two DoF- technically, that’s four degrees of freedom. The left thum-stick controls brightness (muting/muffling) and expression (instrument volume). The right thum-stick controls portomento (sliding between two notes), modulation (a quavering or pulsating effect produced in an instrumental by minute and rapid variations in pitch) and pitch (which can be bent up or down).

The Thummer is still under development and isn’t available for sale as of yet but if you’re curious as to how it sounds I’ve included a video of it being played after the jump.

[ Thumtronics Thummer ] VIA [ GadgetMadness ]

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Deluxe Prism Glasses

Deluxe Prism Glasses (Image courtesy SkyMall)By Andrew Liszewski

I have a theory that breathing the re-circulated air while flying on a plane makes items in the SkyMall catalog seem more useful than they really are. Take these Deluxe Prism Glasses for example. I really have no idea what makes them ‘deluxe’ but they’re designed to fit over your regular glasses and allow you to read a book or watch TV while lying flat on your back.

But besides facilitating the super-lazy who can’t even be bothered to sit up the glasses are apparently quite useful for people who’ve had to endure MRI scans. They allow the patients to see out into the room during the scan which makes the whole experience a lot less claustrophobic.

The Deluxe Prism Glasses are available from SkyMall for $49.95.

[ Deluxe Prism Glasses ]

FreeCharge Weza Pedal Powers Your Gadgets

By Evan AckermanWeza

If you’re someone who likes riding bikes and you often find yourself away from a ready source of electricity, the Weza Portable Energy Source could be for you. Charged entirely by step action, it’ll pump out between 25 and 40 watts depending on how buff you are. That’ll power, like, a third of my laptop. Damn. Or, you can always cheat and plug it in to the wall (or your car) to recharge the 7 amp-hour internal battery in about 8 hours. It’s able to jump-start cars and boats, and has little LED indicators to make fun of your skinny legs as you struggle to eke out an extra watt or two. It would be awesome if someone could build one of these into an actual bike to give you the option of either getting somewhere or generating electricity, but with a lead acid battery inside, I guess it wouldn’t be the most practical thing to do. And if you’re wondering why it’s named “Weza” (boy, I know I was), turns out that it means “power” in Swahili. Cost: $269.99.

[ Weza Portable Energy Source ] VIA [ RFJ ]

Digital Hamster Pedometer: Your Hamster Works Out More Than You Do

Hamster Pedometer

By Evan Ackerman

If your hamster (or gerbil) likes hardcore cardio, he or she would probably appreciate this little pedometer. It hooks up to your pet’s exercise wheel and keeps track of the number of revolutions, easily translatable into miles or light years (depending on the energy level of your fuzzy little friend). If any of you speak Japanese, I’d really really like to know what’s in the hamster’s thought bubble on the packaging. Looks like it might be for sale, but I wasn’t able to find exactly where or for how much.

VIA [ TokyoMango ]

CrustaStun Provides A Humane Way To Kill Crustaceans – Lobsters & Crabs May Disagree

CrustaStun (Image courtesy CrustaStun)By Andrew Liszewski

While a boiling pot of water is one of the easiest ways to kill a lobster it’s probably not the most comfortable way for the crustacean to die. But since living without sweet, sweet lobster or crab meat is not an option it’s nice to see someone has created a far more elaborate solution to the problem with the CrustaStun.

The restaurant-grade stainless steel contraption has a steel plate resting in a shallow bath of brine where you place your lobster or other shelled delicacy. Inside the lid of the CrustaStun is where all the magic happens thanks to a specially molded electrode. Once it’s closed you simply press a button and the required duration of electric current is delivered to produce an instant anesthesia and eventually death.

While it may be more humane than death by boiling water the CrustaStun can apparently take up to 10 seconds to kill a crab which is a pretty long time when you think about it. That’s why I suggest waiting for my own crustacean-killing inventions like the CrustaHammer, the CrustaCyanide Pill and of course the CrustaGun.

[ CrustaStun ] VIA [ Shiny Shiny ]