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

Monthly Archives: December 2009

Motorcycle With A WWII Fighter-Inspired Sidecar – Why Ask Why?

WWII Fighter Plane Sidecar (Images courtesy Henrik Toth)
By Andrew Liszewski

Sometimes you come across a creation so unique it seems a waste of time to ask “Why?”, but there are a few other questions I have about this WWII fighter-inspired motorcycle sidecar. Like why does Motorcycle News refer to this as a German plane when there’s clearly a U.S. Air Force logo on the tail, and why does its creator, Henrik Toth, own and operate a ‘wild wild west’ themepark/village just outside of Budapest when he seems more like a WWII aficionado? And most importantly, if I buy one does it make airplane sound effects on its own or do I have to provide them, because I’m good either way.

[ Motorcycle News – WW2 German fighter plane sidecar ] VIA [ Gizmo Watch ]

Emotiv Neural Controller Now Available


By Evan Ackerman

We got a hands-on look at Emotiv’s EPOC neural controller back at the Game Developer’s Conference in 2008. The idea is that you put this funny looking thing on your head, and it reads your brain waves and translates them into commands for your computer. In addition to 14 separate sensors, the headset has a gyroscope that can keep track of where your head is pointing. Hypothetically, it can interpret abstract commands (thinking “up” as opposed to thinking “down”) and read muscle commands (like blinking or smiling).

The demo version I used at GDC didn’t work very reliably, and I wasn’t sure whether it was the hardware, the software, my brain, or some combination thereof. When it did work, though, it was incredibly cool. Like, Clint Eastwood in Firefox cool, except with less needing to think Russian. Or, like the Mattel Mindflex, except a lot more sensitive and with many more options.

So far, you can’t do much with the headset… You can play a game or two, or control a virtual keyboard. Emotiv seems to be hoping that they can sell dev kits and someone else will do all the program the interface work, which would be great if it happens, but it’s already been a couple years. In the meantime, though, you can buy yourself your own headset (and download a few programs that work with it) for $299.

[ Emotiv EPOC ] VIA [ Core77 ]

Asus Announces Roomba Killer


When you think of a robotic vacuum cleaner, there’s a good chance that the Roomba comes to mind. That, or Rosie from the Jetsons. Well turn off those old cartoons because Asus (specifically their subsidiary AGAiT) is throwing their hat into the vacuum cleaning ring with the ECleaner.

The ECleaner looks very similar to the Roomba, but has a few tricks up its sleeve that the competition doesn’t. In addition to its vacuuming duties, it also has a 6000-hour UV light to disinfect the area that it is sweeping. If your room could use a little freshening up, it can also spread a fragrance of your choice wherever it goes. There still aren’t a lot of details currently, but we do know that they are shooting for a $150 price when the device makes its debut.

[ AGAiT ] VIA [ SlipperyBrick ]

Modern Minimal Nativity Set

Modern Minimal Nativity Set (Images courtesy Oliver Fabel)
By Andrew Liszewski

Tired of all the commercialism that tends to surround the holidays these days? Looking to simplify your celebrations next year? Well instead of putting up mountains of tacky decorations around the house, you can set up this modern take on the traditional nativity scene. Designed by Oliver Fabel, the set consists of wooden blocks with simple labels designating who Joseph, Mary, Jesus and the wise men are. The set does appear to be available for sale on Oliver’s website for about $35, but you’ll probably have to email him directly if you’re interested in ordering one.

[ Oliver Fabel – Modern Minimal Nativity Set ] VIA [ bored and beautiful ]

Panasonic Home Storage Battery


By Evan Ackerman

If you’re one of those uber-hip hipsters with the solar panels on your roof, I envy you and your free electricity. But until somebody invents a solar panel that generates electricity in the dark, there are always going to be times when you’ve got more electricity than you need (high noon) and times when you’ve got less electricity than you need (low noon, aka high moon). If you’ve been generating excess energy, you’ve probably been selling it back to your energy company at a tidy profit, but that doesn’t exactly help you achieve grid independence… The way to do THAT would be through some kind of energy storage system, which lets you store up excess energy and use it when you need it. This is just what Panasonic would like to install in your house, in the form of a giant lithium ion battery.

This household battery, which Panasonic says should be able to power the average home (whatever that means) for a solid week, will be available sometime in 2011. It will be somehow hooked up to your TV, which will allow you to monitor energy usage. We don’t yet have any information on how much this thing will cost, but I bet it’ll be hard to justify in terms of storage benefits and cost savings (and possibly convenience) versus the up-front cost of the system. As with most micro-energy generation systems, it’ll probably end up being more of a feel-good measure than an actual boost to efficiency, but at least it’ll keep your computer on for an extra week when the revolution comes and there’s no more grid power.

VIA [ Physorg ]

Hackers Break Kindle DRM


By Chris Scott Barr

How many of you actually appreciate having your legally-purchased digital media locked down by DRM? I’d be surprised if a single one of you said yes. The only thing it’s truly good for is aggravating the loyal paying customers. When you take away the DRM, people will still purchase the goods, as proven by Apple with iTunes. Amazon doesn’t seem to think along these lines, at least not with their ebooks. Fear not though, as you can now take those files you download from Amazon and strip them of their pesky DRM.

That’s right, a group has finally cracked the code on the AZW files and has provided the tools to convert them to simple PDF files. If you purchase an ebook, all you need to do is follow their instructions and you’ll have a file that you can actually do something with that doesn’t specifically involve the Kindle. Will this encourage piracy? Perhaps. However I think more people will be inclined to buy ebooks legally if they can actually use them on multiple (non-Kindle) readers.

[ I?Cabbages ] VIA [ Dvice ]

Aunt Clara’s Original Pink Bunny Pajamas

Aunt Clara's Original Pink Bunny Pajamas (Images courtesy Aunt Clara's Creations)
By Andrew Liszewski

I wouldn’t call it the perfect gift no matter who you’re giving it to, but if there’s someone on your shopping list who can’t get enough of A Christmas Story this time of year, you can now cross their name off. From Aunt Clara’s Creations comes the most authentic recreation of the pink nightmare Ralphie was forced to wear on Christmas morning.

The suits feature adjustable ears, matching pink bunny slippers and come “professionally packed and lovingly wrapped by Aunt Clara herself” so whoever you intend to give it to will realize you really do care. Of course since I’m posting this on December 24th there’s no way you’ll be able to get one in time for Christmas short of the jolly fat man delivering it himself tonight, but for future reference they’re available in small, medium and large sizes ranging in price from $89 to $129.

[ Aunt Clara’s Original Pink Bunny Pajamas ] VIA [ swissmiss ]

Toaster Concept Takes Cues From A Printer


By Chris Scott Barr

Your average toaster is a pretty basic kitchen gadget. Put in your toast, select the right setting and push down. As long as you’re making only two (or four depending on the toaster) slices, it does a rather efficient job. Now what if you’re making breakfast for a large group of people? Wouldn’t it be nice to setup a stack of bread and let it do its thing without worrying about it? That’s the idea behind this concept.

The creator obviously had a printer in mind when designing this particular toaster. You can set several pieces of bread at the top, and it will toast them one by one until they are all brown and crispy. Obviously there would need to be a few extra features added before this thing could be marketed to the public. For instance, it looks like there is no way to adjust for different sizes of breads and other toasted goods. Still it’s a cool concept, one that I wouldn’t mind seeing turned into a real product.

[ produktgestaltung ] VIA [ BoingBoing ]

Cipher Glass Concept Knows What You’re Drinking

Cipher Drinking Glass Concept (Image courtesy Damjan Stankovic)
By Andrew Liszewski

Oh man! If these were actually available I’d buy a whole set in a heartbeat! From designer Damjan Stankovic comes the Cipher Drinking Glass which is unfortunately nothing more than a concept at this point. When empty the glass appears to be decorated with a pattern of random colorful squares, but when filled with milk, orange juice or cola the name of what you’re drinking appears on the side.

Cipher Drinking Glass Concept (Image courtesy Damjan Stankovic)

It turns out that random pattern isn’t so random after all, and the different shapes and empty spaces work in conjunction with the color of the liquid to make it seem as if the glass is psychic.

[ Damjan Stankovic – Cipher Drinking Glass Concept ] VIA [ I New Idea Homepage ]