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Monthly Archives: December 2010

fischertechnik Robot Sets

fischertechnik Industry Robots II Set (Image courtesy fischertechnik)
By Andrew Liszewski

If you’re looking for a robotic building block set it’s really hard not to recommend LEGO’s Mindstorms and Technic. Not only are they compatible with every other LEGO set on the market, but there’s a massive online community making it easy to find help for whatever you’re trying to build. However, maybe you have a vendetta against the LEGO corporation, or some political reason for shunning their products. If that’s the case, might I introduce you to fischertechnik’s robot building sets as an alternative.

They actually look a lot more technical than even LEGO Technics, but are designed to be educational and teach basic mechanical concepts to kids as young as 10 years old. The robot arm pictured above is part of their ‘Industry Robots II Set’ ($265) which can be used to build 3 different factory models of varying functionality, but other sets teach different concepts like pneumatics or locomotion. If you’re still not convinced, maybe the fact that the 32-bit, 200MHz ARM 9 processor-powered ROBO TX Controller is $300 just by itself is enough to convince you that the fischertechnik kits have the technical chops.

[ fischertechnik Industry Robots II Set ] VIA [ 7Gadgets ]

Tai Chi Chair

Tai Chi Chair (Images courtesy Yuan Yuan)
By Andrew Liszewski

Ironically, while this Tai Chi Chair, designed by Ecole Superieure d’Art de Design De Reims student Yuan Yuan, is supposed to provide relief at the end of a long day by providing handholds and footholds for performing various Tai Chi poses, its flat bottomed seat and minimal support would probably do a real number on your spine if you had to sit on it all day long. So in the long run you can save yourself the pain, and the exercise, by just avoiding it all together.

[ Reflexdeco – OFFICE GYM : chaise Taï Chi Chuan par Yuan Yuan ] VIA [ MoCo Loco ]

Amazon Now Allows You To Loan Out Kindle Books

By Chris Scott Barr

Until recently, if someone asked to borrow a book from me, it took no real effort. I’d simply walk over to my bookshelf, grab the book and hand it to them. If I felt lazy, I’d make them get it themselves. These days, loaning out a book can be a complicated matter. With the rise of eBooks, you’re dealing with the same issues as sharing a digitally-downloaded movie or song. With DRM restrictions, you can’t just give them a copy. Thankfully, Amazon has now enabled their long-awaited lending feature to Kindle books.

Yes, you’ve been able to do this with Nook eBooks for some time, so Amazon is behind the curve. They promised us months ago that we would get this feature before the year’s end. They couldn’t have cut it much closer to the deadline. Books can be loaned out for up to 14 days, and as expected, you cannot read your book while it is on loan. What is strange is that the books can only be loaned out a single time. Also, not all books allow this feature. The decision to enable it is entirely up to the publisher, not Amazon.

[ Amazon ] VIA [ DownloadSquad ]

Lifetone Technology’s iPhonECG

iPhonECG (Images courtesy Lifetone Technology)
By Andrew Liszewski

A month or so ago we brought you a clever app called Pulse Phone that uses the iPhone’s camera and flash to measure your heart rate via your index finger. We found it worked well most of the time, but we wouldn’t consider it anything more than a party trick. In other words, you probably won’t be seeing it used in hospitals across the country anytime soon.

The iPhonECG however is a different story. It uses a slim, low-power sleeve with a couple of electrodes on the back to provide clinical-quality cardiac event readings. You can either hold it in your hands to get a reading of your pulse, or place it on your chest which makes it useful when dealing with a patient who can’t hold it themselves. The sleeve also works wirelessly with the iPhone 4, most likely via Bluetooth, and since it looks like it doesn’t attach to the dock connector I suspect you could get a reading even if you weren’t using it as a sleeve. The iPhonECG will be officially shown at CES next week, and we’ll do our best to hunt it down and get a hands-on.

[ AliveECG ] VIA [ MobileCrunch ]

Deal Of The Day: $1,600 Off On Sony BRAVIA 55-Inch 3D LED HDTV w/ Wi-Fi

By David Ponce

For those of you who were (rightfully) disappointed about last Tuesday’s anorexic $10 deal on the Apple TV, today brings news about a rather pleasant $1,600 price cut on the Sony BRAVIA KDL-55NX810, leaving the set at $1,899. This is a 55-inch 3D HDTV, with 240Hz technology and WiFi. The rebate consists of a $600 in instant savings and a $1,000 coupon code applied at checkout. The offer lasts until January 3rd, in the new year. More on the TV:

The new Sony KDL55NX810 HDTV features ambient sensor & light sensor technology to auto adjust color & backlight based on room’s lighting condition; slim dynamic edge LED backlit , 4 HDMI inputs, 240Hz smooth motion, USB port for photos, Built-in Wi-Fi, music & video, and more.

[ $1,600 Off On Sony BRAVIA 55-Inch 3D LED HDTV w/ Wi-Fi ] VIA [ LogicBuy ]

ZAP Cane Packs A Hidden Punch

By Chris Scott Barr

Whenever you see someone with a cane, you think that they are likely injured or have a disability. With this not-so-innocent-looking ZAP cane, you better make sure you don’t upset whoever owns it or you will be in some serious trouble.  It has a carrying case to make it look ominous (if that’s possible), and a charger to keep it juiced up. This handy ZAP cane let’s its holder pack a bit more punch than necessary…about 1 million volts to be exact.

Though it can be illegal in some states, this is an awesome cane to have on hand. It’ll set you back about 90 bucks and it even has a flashlight so you can see who you’re roasting if it’s dark.

[ BudK ] VIA [ Awesomer ]

Unlike Weebles, Bang & Olufsen’s Beo6 Remote Will Probably Fall Down When Wobbled

Bang & Olufsen's Beo6 Remote (Image courtesy Bang & Olufsen)
By Andrew Liszewski

Disappointingly, while I’m convinced that Bang & Olufsen’s Beo6 remote was inspired by those fat-bottomoed Weebles children’s toys that always remain standing, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t share the same tip-proof qualities. In fact I’m not even sure what the company was thinking when they created this remote which features a touchscreen LCD display perched atop an aluminum ball with its own complement of hardware buttons, including a scrolling volume wheel. It’s of course designed to play nice with Bang & Olufsen’s own AV gear including wifi support, the ability create custom macros and everything else you’d expect from a high-end remote. And as for pricing, it’s not flaunted on their website but you can assume it’s expensive enough to keep Bang & Olufsen fans feeling elite.

[ Bang & Olufsen Beo6 Remote ] VIA [ hypebeast ]

IE-TAG Sticky Notes Are A Clever Improvement

IE-TAG Sticky Notes (Images courtesy Naruse-Inokuma Architects)
By Andrew Liszewski

Not only are these IE-TAG sticky notes, designed by Naruse-Inokuma Architects, made of paper recycled from wood construction waste. But they’re also shaped like tiny little houses so you can turn your desk into a miniature neighborhood. The pointed roof design also turns every sticky note into an arrow for pointing out something specific on a page, and as demonstrated above, they just look more aesthetically pleasing when used as bookmarks.

[ IE-TAG Sticky Notes ] VIA [ MoCo Loco ]

SANYO’s GOPAN Cooker Turns Rice Into Bread

SANYO GOPAN (Image courtesy SANYO)
By Andrew Liszewski

A rice cooker is a must-have kitchen appliance since it makes cooking rice dead-easy and almost impossible to screw up. And while there are recipes for cooking lots of different dishes in them, SANYO is the first to create a rice cooker that’s also able to bake up a fresh loaf of bread, without the need for pre-ground rice flour. Making rice bread with a traditional bread maker has always been easy as long as you had the rice flour, but the GOPAN is the first bread maker/rice cooker that features a special spinning mechanism that can grind regular uncooked rice into flour, as well as mix and knead the dough during the baking process.

And even though it comes with a fairly hefty price tag of ¥50,000, which is over $600, the demand for the GOPAN has been so great in Japan that SANYO has had to stop taking orders until April of next year in order to catch up with production. So not surprisingly they also plan to introduce the GOPAN to other international markets sometime in 2011 as well.

[ SANYO GOPAN ] VIA [ Fareastgizmos ]