For behind the scenes pictures, stories and special contests, follow us on Facebook!

Monthly Archives: January 2009

This Week On BotJunkie


By Evan Ackerman

We started off this week on BotJunkie with a cheap little Wall-E-esque bugbot that you can build yourself, got some details on the SmartMow robotic lawn mower and the Husqvarna Automower that we saw this year at CES, met a little robot called Forknife that is controlled with a cellphone running Android, found out that Boeing now has a mobile system that can shoot down UAVs with lasers, were slight grossed out by a robot that sweats, tried to guess whether an opponent was a bot or not in an Unreal Tournament artificial intelligence competition, watched a multifunctional robot called STAIR fetch a stapler on command, admired some colorful and totally weird bio-inspired robot sculptures, found out that UC Berkeley now has fully armed and operational radio controlled Rhinoceros beetles, were slightly worried after a toy robot injured 14 children in Japan, were even more worried by a new toy robot gorilla that can outrun your kids, met a guy in Vermont who has decided to build his own giant robot hexapod, and finished out the week with a video of (another) gorilla robot chasing a Puegot.

[ BotJunkie ]

Anakin’s Lightsaber Flashlight

Star Wars: Anakin's Lightsaber Full Size Torch (Image courtesy
By Andrew Liszewski

Dropping half a grand on a replica lightsaber from a company like Master Replicas isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve got a Star Wars itch to scratch this cheap lightsaber flashlight could do the trick. It’s a full size replica of Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, but instead of a blade, it’s got four blue LEDs on the end allowing it to be used as a flashlight. (Or however you see fit to use it.) It also plays authentic lightsaber sound effects when turned on and off, but you’re welcome to ad-lib your own, and instead of ‘focusing crystals’ it’s powered by 3 AAA batteries. So just skip all that Jedi training crap and head over to where you can pick one up for about $14.

[ Star Wars: Anakin’s Lightsaber Full Size Torch ]

Digital Transition Back On Track For February 17

By Luke Anderson

The other day I was pretty harsh on the Senate’s decision to delay the transition from analog to digital TV. I still stand firmly by my opinion, and am happy to report that the United States House of Representatives shares my stance. The bill failed to gain the two-thirds majority of votes that it needed to pass.

This isn’t the final nail in the coffin, as it is still possible for the bill to be brought back to the floor under the rules of a simple majority vote. What I find interesting is that the other day we were talking about 20 million people being unprepared, and now we’re hearing a 6.5 million figure. Honestly, if that’s all we’re talking, I don’t think it will take long for the 6.5 million people to get things sorted out once their TV stops working.


showTIME Connects Your iPhone To Any TV


By Luke Anderson

Did you ever have that relative that cornered you one evening and decided to show you a slideshow of their summer vacation? Thankfully I’ve never had the pleasure of such an occurrence, and with technology moving as it has, it’s probably not going to ever happen. Not with actual slides at least. If you’re the type that loves to show off pictures (or even video) to everyone you meet, you’re going to love this new iPod/iPhone accessory from Scosche.

I don’t usually go around showing of dozens of pictures on my iPhone to friends and family, but if I did, I might look into one of these showTIME adapters. This cable is pretty simple and straight-forward. Just plug one end into your iPhone or iPod and the other goes into the RCA inputs on a TV. You can then control a slideshow of your favorite pics, or even show off a video or two if you like. I can think of a few practical applications for this, but wouldn’t it be more fun to bore your relatives with a 2-hour documentary of a boat trip you took last summer? The showTIME will be available sometime in the near future for around $40.

[ Scosche ]

Bandai’s Digital Living Gallery – A Digital Photo Frame With An Artistic Twist

Digital Living Gallery (Images courtesy Bandai & CScout Japan)
By Andrew Liszewski

So you got one of those useless fancy digital photo frames for Christmas, but do you really want to spend your day looking at photos of your family? Of course not! Thankfully Bandai is the first company to come to that realization, and their new Digital Living Gallery line of digital photo frames reflects that. Instead of a cheesy plastic frame, the LCD is surrounded by a traditional, and tasteful, wooden frame like you’d find on a painting. And since that would probably seem out of place while the frame was cycling through photos of your trip to Carlsbad Caverns, Bandai will be pre-loading the frames with highbrow content.

At launch, the Digital Living Gallery will be available in a Pierre-Auguste Renoir or a Vincent van Gogh version that each come with 30 high-quality digital versions of classical works from each artist. And Bandai will be selling SD cards with works from other artists as well, so you can continually expand your frame’s collection. While you’re not going to fool anyone into thinking that’s a real van Gogh you’ve got propped up on your desk, something like this would go a long way to classing-up your cubicle, once you get rid of all those Halo figures.

The Digital Living Frames will be available starting January 30th for about $580 (52,290 Yen) while the SD cards will sell for about $55 (4,980 Yen) each.

[ Bandai Digital Living Gallery ] VIA [ CScout Japan ]

Motion Controlled MP3 Player

By Evan Ackerman

This prototype MP3 player was designed and fabricated by a Japanese engineer. It’s controlled entirely through an accelerometer, which measures things like movement and impacts. If you want to skip a track, for example, just give the MP3 player a tap on one edge, or tilt it over to alter the volume.

“The MP3 player does not have any buttons nor dials that shown in right photo and it has an acceleration sensor instead of the mechanical switches. Therefore all playback commands to the player are given in defined motions, such as inclination, tilt and shock. The player detects the motion with the built-in acceleration sensor and recognize it as a playback control command.”

There are all kinds of devices with accelerometers now, including most higher-end cellphones. Often, the user interfaces are cluttered with options and menus and buttons, and it would be a cinch (wouldn’t it?) to enable some sort of accelerometer control. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive or complex; for example, just being able to tap the case of my iPhone and have it pause and play while it was in a coat pocket would be incredibly handy.

::cough:: Hint hint…

VIA [ Hacked Gadgets ]

The Auto Moto Could Be Your Next Ride

Auto Moto (Images courtesy
By Andrew Liszewski

In today’s uncertain financial climate (I’ve really no idea what that means, I just heard it on CNN this morning) it might not be the best time to buy that new car you’ve been dreaming of. But you’ve still got to get to work somehow right? Why not give the Auto Moto a shot? It falls somewhere between a motorcycle and a car, but thanks to its 150cc high performance GY6 engine, it gets somewhere in the neighborhood of 83mpg. And unlike a scooter, it comes with a windshield and wipers providing you with a bit of protection from the weather. (Though not the temperature.)

Auto Moto (Image courtesy Crave)Given its compact wheelbase, I’m tempted to say that the Auto Moto looks like it’s ready to tip over at the slightest turn, but it features a unique tilting “rocker system” that ensures both rear wheels remain firmly planted on the road at all times. I was a bit skeptical of this claim, but the Auto Moto website features a video of it careening all over the road at relatively high speeds without it even coming close to tipping over. So I’m sold.

The Auto Moto will be available in the U.S. sometime in 2009, and since it’s technically not a motorcycle, you only need a standard drivers license in order to operate one. It also comes in your choice of nine different color schemes, features a sound system with MP3 player hookups and 4 speakers and has an MSRP of just $3,800.

[ The Auto Moto ] VIA [ Crave ]

3D Star Wars Kites

3D Star Wars Starfighter Kites (Images courtesy ThinkGeek)
By Andrew Liszewski

It’s about as far as you can get from kite flying season where I live, but these impressive Star Wars-themed flying contraptions make me wish it was Spring already. Three of the more recognizable ships from the Star Wars universe are represented including the TIE Fighter, the X-Wing and the Millennium Falcon. So with enough string you could probably also make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, or just hope it doesn’t get stuck in a tree.

The kites are currently listed on ThinkGeek’s site for $39.99 each, but they won’t actually be available until early April.

[ 3D Star Wars Starfighter Kites ] VIA [ TheForce.Net ]

Leyio Personal Wireless Sharing Device


By Evan Ackerman

Leyio’s new portable flash drive adds something a little bit extra to the mix, with a bunch of slightly unusual but potentially useful features. In addition to 16 gigs of storage, it has a fingerprint reader on top to keep all your naughty stuff secure. It’s also got a little screen, and a USB port to plug in other flash drives to transfer data.

The big draw, though, is the integrated ultra-wideband radio, which can transfer data between Leyio units in close proximity at about 10 mbps. It’s designed to be a sort of social file sharing thing, but with integrated PC syncing software, it would just be nice to be able to carry it around with you and have your files sync whenever you’re near your desk. It’s not that easy, of course, since you have to plug a little thing called a “shuttle” into your computer to make the UWB wireless connection possible, which means it’s not currently possible for Leyios to wirelessly communicate with anything besides other Leyios.

I guess what it comes down to is that the Leyio might be kind of neat if you and a bunch of your filesharing friends all had one, but otherwise, it might be a little too big and not enough of a convenience to pay for. There’s no price yet, but I bet it’s not going to be cheap.

[ Leyio (exceptionally useless flash website) ] VIA [ Tech Digest ]