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Monthly Archives: June 2010

Pitrec Business Card Digitizer

Pitrec Business Card Digitizer (Image courtesy King Jim)
By Andrew Liszewski

You’d think by now someone would’ve come up with a digital business card standard so we could all pass our details around wirelessly, instead of on small paper cards. But until that happens, devices like this make the whole analog to digital conversion of contact deets a bit easier. Oddly enough the Pitrec comes from a Japanese stationery company called King Jim, and while it looks like a smartphone, its sole purpose is to scan and convert paper business cards into 1s and 0s.

To digitize a card you place it standing in a slot where a photo is snapped of it with a pop-up camera lens. Then using built-in OCR software the important details like names, phone numbers, titles and email addresses are deciphered and filed away for later access. The database is stored on a microSD card, and a 16GB card can hold about 10,000 contacts, so I’m assuming a photo of each card is stored as well. Hopefully your list of contacts can be exported via some means, so it can be accessed from your phone or email client, instead of just being viewed on the Pitrec’s 400×240 resolution display. As for the price? Well this little unitasker will set you back $300+ when it becomes available on August 6 in Japan, but in the long run it’s probably cheaper than hiring an assistant. Although I guess that’s why interns were created.

[ Pitrec Business Card Digitizer ] VIA [ CrunchGear ]

Air Force Engineers Develop Bat Hook-Like Device That Lets You ‘Harvest’ Electricity From Overhead Power Lines – DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

RAPS System (Video courtesy Armed with Science)
By Andrew Liszewski

Sometimes we like to bring you gadgets or contraptions that you could probably save a few bucks on by building them yourselves. Like the iBox iPad Stand from a few days ago. This however is a different story. In fact, we absolutely do not recommend anyone try to build one of these themselves, no matter how tempting the prospect of being able to charge your cellphone anywhere is. Seriously.

The RAPS, or Remote Auxiliary Power System, was developed by engineers at the Air Force research lab in Dayton, Ohio to be used by military special ops who may not have a reliable power source while on a mission. But, if they happen to be somewhere with overhead power lines, the RAPS can be deployed just like a grappling hook. But instead of providing a secure mount, the RAPS’ head has a small blade that pierces the sheathing on a power line making contact with the live wire inside. The inside area around the blade also makes contact with a second exposed wire that all powerlines have (according to the video below) and safely transmits electricity to an AC to DC converter at the end of the cable. While the system looks extremely dangerous, it’s apparently designed to be safe enough to use even in the pouring rain. But that still doesn’t mean you should try to build one yourself!

[ Armed With Science – The Bat Hook: Harvesting Energy from Power Lines ] VIA [ Popular Science ]

Conquest Wheelchair Motorcycle

Conquest Wheelchair Motorcycle (Image courtesy Mobility Conquest)
By Andrew Liszewski

It’s not uncommon to see a van or even a car that’s been specially converted so they can be driven by someone who’s confined to a wheelchair, but motorcycles are a different story. Until now, it’s been impossible for someone who’s physically disabled below the waist to enjoy the open road experience, but the Conquest, from a company called Mobility Conquest, changes that. As you can see in the photos, it’s not exactly your standard looking motorcycle, but its unique design allows it to be driven by a person in a wheelchair, while they’re still in their chair.

An automatic ramp at the back of the Conquest makes it easy to enter or exit the vehicle, and a simple locking mechanism ensures the driver, and a passenger, both remain secure during the ride. An 1170 CC engine gives the trike a top speed of 105 mph and a 0 to 60 time of 7.6 seconds, and a set of push button Kliktronic controls allow the driver to shift through all 6 gears (5 + reverse) right from the handlebars.

[ Conquest Wheelchair Motorcycle ] VIA [ Auto Motto ]

Time Of The Sky Watch Stresses Style Over Punctuality

Time Of The Sky Watch (Images courtesy Ryohei Yoshiyuki)
By Andrew Liszewski

If wearing a watch is more of a style choice for you, than a means to ensure you arrive somewhere on time, then the vagueness of Ryohei Yoshiyuki and Tomoya Kahimada’s ‘Time Of The Day’ watch would make it a perfect accessory. Instead of hands or even a digital display, the watch’s face changes colors, roughly reflecting what the sky would look like through a 24 hour period were there no cloud cover. Pushing a button on the side of the case also causes the sun or the moon to appear, providing extra clues about what time of day it is. And on a more philosophical level, the watch also serves as a reminder to take a few seconds to look up at the real sky throughout your busy day.

[ Ryohei Yoshiyuki’s Time Of The Sky Watch ] VIA [ designboom ]

JayBird SB2 Sportsband Bluetooth Headphones – Retro Styling, Modern Conveniences

JayBird SB2 Sportsband Bluetooth Headphones (Images courtesy JayBird)
By Andrew Liszewski

Looking for a pair of wireless headphones to complement your super tight jeans? JayBird’s SB2 Sportsband headphones should serve as the perfect tech-cessory for your 80’s inspired hipster wardrobe thanks to their wide headband and small collection of colors ranging from subtle to almost neon.

But what’s that you say? You embrace the 80’s except when it comes to technology? Well you’ll be happy to know that in addition to Bluetooth A2DP support, the headphones also support the newer apt-X Bluetooth audio codec, which is apparently included in Apple’s new Mac Mini. However, if you wanted to take advantage of its CD-quality wireless sound with other gear like the iPhone, you’ll have to pony up an extra $50 for a small adapter. The iSport (pictured above) which is compatible with the iPhone and other iDevices, or the uSport which connects to the headphone jack of pretty much any other audio source.

The JayBird SB2s themselves will set you back $99 for any of the colors, and like with most Bluetooth headphones they include buttons on the side for controlling your music, as well as an integrated mic for making calls.

[ JayBird SB2 Sportsband Bluetooth Headphones ]

Chakra Chair By Karim Rashid Supports You Where It Counts

Chakra Chair By Karim Rashid (Image courtesy dailyfix)
By Andrew Liszewski

Designed by Karim Rashid in collaboration with Raynor Contract, the segmented Chakra Chair is designed to focus on the body’s pressure points. According to Wikipedia, in Indian medicine chakras are said to be force centers or vortices of energy in the human body, with each person having seven major chakras. So that probably explains why the seat on the Chakra Chair is broken up into seven different segments, though it also looks kind of cool.

There’s no word on when or for how much the Chakra Chair might be available for sale since the Raynor Contract website is still under construction, but it was recently on display at the NeoCon show in Chicago, so functional prototypes at least exist.

[ dailyfix – Chakra Chair By Karim Rashid ] VIA [ Apartment Therapy Unplggd ]

Sound Blaster World Of Warcraft Tap Chat Foot Pedal

Sound Blaster World Of Warcraft Tap Chat (Image courtesy Creative)
By Andrew Liszewski

If you’ve ever wished you had an extra hand while playing World Of Warcraft, you’ll be thrilled to know you can now enlist your feet to help as you raise your character to new levels of virtual awesomeness. Available from Creative’s Sound Blaster brand the Tap Chat is a WoW branded foot pedal that can be mapped to take over your push-to-talk key for chatting with other players, or any macro or keyboard combo. They’re $29.99 each, so you’re looking at about a $60 investment because there’s no sense in letting your other foot sit idle.

[ Sound Blaster World Of Warcraft Tap Chat ] VIA [ Kotaku ]

‘Transformable Tomas’ Isn’t Taking Any More Crap From Sir Topham Hatt

Transformable Tomas (Images courtesy FAIL Blog)
By Andrew Liszewski

From the department of unintentionally awesome knock-off toys comes this amazing mashup of Thomas the Tank Engine and Voltron. As a kid I loved both of those shows/toy lines, but when they’re combined the whole is definitely greater than the sum of their parts. I mean friendly steam locomotives coming together to form a giant vigilante robot? That has successful cartoon series written all over it. I just think the smiling face of James the Red Engine on the robot’s chest should be flipped around to reveal angry, vengeful James.

[ FAIL Blog – Product Fail Spree ]

Catcha Beast – All The Fun Of A Pokemon Knock-Off And All The Excitement Of Fishing – Together At Last!

Catcha Beast (Images courtesy thumbsUp!)
By Andrew Liszewski

Given the billions of dollars Nintendo has/continues to make from the Pokemon franchise (roughly twice the number of actual Pokemon FYI) it’s no surprise that there’s still a steady stream of knock-offs trying to cash in on the ‘gotta collect/buy em’ all’ craze. And according to thumbsUp!, the latest is a game called Catcha Beast from Japan. It’s based around these handheld units that feature a ‘Beast Positioning System’ that interacts with the Earth’s magnetic fields to let kids find said beasts hiding in the atmosphere. (Translation: It’s completely random.) And where as Pokemon uses pokeballs to trap your prey, Catcha Beast uses a fishing rod approach requiring you to wind them in with a pop-out crank.

Once captured the same gameplay mechanics as Pokemon exist which include training your beast, earning its trust and then forcing it to compete and battle with your friend’s beasts by connecting two units together. And of course, as they get stronger there’s the chance they’ll evolve into other kinds of beasts, which of course is endlessly exciting. Now since they’re a wholesale outfit thumbsUp! requires you to order 6 units without knowing the price, but Catcha Beast also appears to be available from Amazon UK for just over $10 each. (£6.99)

[ Catcha Beast ]