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Monthly Archives: April 2011

HipstaCase Makes Your iPhone Retro Too

Hipstamatic HipstaCase (Images courtesy Hipstamatic)
By Andrew Liszewski

Your Flickr feed might be chock full of retro-looking snapshots, but I’m afraid you just don’t look the part when you’re out there taking photos with your high-tech looking iPhone 4. So the makers of the Hipstamatic iPhone app have created an official HipstaCase that makes your iPhone look a little more like a retro film camera.

But it’s not just about looks. The case is semi-functional too since it features a hidden slot on the front allowing you to attach an included tripod adapter. There’s even a set of holes on either side of the bottom allowing you to use an included lanyard and keep your phone dangling from your wrist, ready to snap a hipstery photo at a moment’s notice. Available May 5 for $39.95.

[ Hipstamatic HipstaCase ] VIA [ Pocket-lint ]

Converse Decides It’s Better Late Than Never To Celebrate Super Mario’s 25th Anniversary

Converse Super Mario Chuck Taylor All-Stars (Images courtesy Highsnobiety)
By Andrew Liszewski

Converse Japan has apparently decided to be that one relative who sends you a birthday card months after the date by releasing a set of Chuck Taylor All-Stars celebrating the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. being released on the NES. Which, if you’re keeping score, was on September 13, 1985.

But who am I to turn my nose up at an accessory as awesome as Mario’s Cape Feather even if it’s a little late? The sneaks come in two versions on black or white canvas, and feature an all-over pixelated Super Mario sprite pattern with additional details on the tongue, and the ‘All-Star’ on the side tag turned into an invincibility star. Available starting sometime in July presumably in limited quantities and presumably not cheap.

[ Highsnobiety – Converse x Super Mario Bros. Chuck Taylor Hi ] VIA [ Kotaku ]

EarPlanes Ear Plugs

EarPlanes (Images courtesy Cirrus Products)
By Andrew Liszewski

So maybe there are worse things in life than your ears not popping before or after a flight, but that doesn’t make the feeling of the pressure difference any less uncomfortable. A few years ago we brought you a small pump that could be used to equalize the pressure inside your ear canal after a flight, but to be honest these EarPlanes look like a far safer solution to the problem. As far as I can tell they’re designed to be worn during take off and landing, and feature a ‘pressure regulator’ on the inside that ensures the air pressure inside your ears and the plane’s cabin are always comfortably in balance.

EarPlanes consist of two elements: a hypoallergenic silicone ear plug and a ceramic pressure regulator. The silicone earplug has four circumferential rings which provide an airtight seal between the product and ear canal. The ceramic element is a controlled porosity filter, one end of which is exposed to the external cabin pressure, with the opposite end exposed to the sealed chamber formed when the ear plug is inserted in the ear. Thus, as the cabin air pressure changes, a pressure differential is created across the ceramic filter, thereby causing air to flow through the filter. The filter acts as an impedance to the flow of air into and out of the ear canal.

Since the filters will get clogged over time the EarPlanes need to be replaced every so often, so a set of 4 will cost you $24.50.

[ EarPlanes ] VIA [ RFJ ]

PepsiCo’s New Social Vending Machines

PepsiCo Social Vending Machine (Image courtesy PepsiCo)
By Andrew Liszewski

Not to be outdone by their rival Coca-Cola who was showing off touch-screen equipped vending machines at CES a few years ago, PepsiCo is following suit with their own high-tech sugar water dispensers that will also embrace social networking. The new machines of course let you buy a beverage via a fancy animated UI, complete with swipe controls, but they also let you gift a Pepsi to a friend, or even a complete stranger through “Random Acts of Refreshment”.

All you have to do is enter a friend’s name and cell phone number (I’m sure PepsiCo has NO plans to keep a database of such details) and they’ll receive a txt message with a special code that can be redeemed at any of the interactive machines. You even have the option of recording a 10-second personalized video message that will be played back when they redeem it. Or, you can send a caffeinated gift to a complete stranger in a different city if you’re feeling particularly philanthropic. There’s no specific word on when the new machines will start appearing, though a prototype will be on display from April 27 to the 29 at the National Automatic Merchandising Association’s One Show in Chicago.

[ PR – PepsiCo Introduces Social Vending System, the Next Generation in Interactive Vend Technology ] VIA [ Mashable ]

Alessi Reimagines The Light Bulb – We Like What They Come Up With

AlessiLux (Images courtesy Alessi)
By Andrew Liszewski

Our civilization is pretty dependent on light bulbs when you think about it. But for some reason, as important as they are to us, we go out of our way to keep them out of sight by hiding them behind shades and what not. I personally think they deserve the spotlight, so I like what the Italian design firm Alessi came up with when they decided to re-imagine the light bulb. Their new AlessiLux Foreverlamps turn the bulbs into decorative pieces of art, encouraging you to display them proudly, not tucked away behind a sconce.

The various designs for all of the new LED-based bulbs were created by three artists: Giovanni Alessi Anghini, Gabriele Chiave and Frederic Gooris, and there are styles available to match any kind of decor. From classic to modern to even kids’ rooms. The bulbs are all LED-based too which of course makes them far more energy efficient than incandescents, but it also means they tend to run on the expensive side. Each of the 7 different designs are ~$62 (€42.50) a piece, but keep in mind you’ll actually be saving money in the long run by making the switch, not to mention the improvements they’ll bring to your home decor.

[ Foreverlamp ] VIA [ designboom ]

OhGizmo! Review – S’well Insulated Stainless Steel Bottles

S’well Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle (Image property OhGizmo!)
By Andrew Liszewski

By now we all know that metal reusable bottles are a far better alternative to buying single serve portions of water in plastic bottles. Not only are they better for the environment as most plastic bottles are just discarded, but in the long run they can save you a lot of money by bottling H20 yourself. So if my moving words have finally persuaded you to consider switching to a reusable metal bottle, and as a gadget fan you’d prefer something with a little thought and engineering behind it, you’ll want to check out my full review of the S’well bottle after the jump.

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Connect A Sketch Is An Etch A Sketch With Multiplayer

Connect A Sketch (Images courtesy Andrew Little)
By Andrew Liszewski

The last time I used an Etch A Sketch I spent an entire lazy afternoon painstakingly scraping as much of the metallic powder off the ‘screen’ as I could. Needless to say the toy has lost some of the appeal it had for me when I was younger, but design student Andrew Little may have come up with a new way to make it interesting again. His Connect A Sketch concept features a couple of modified Etch A Sketches linked together allowing both users to collaborate on the same drawing.

I’ve no idea how the internal mechanisms work, allowing two sets of arms to control a couple of points etching away at the screen at the same time, but I feel it would make the act of doodling incredibly aliased circles and curves a bit more interesting. At the moment the Connect A Sketch setup is tethered by a colorful ribbon cable between the two units, but in the future Andrew hopes to make each device wireless, connecting to each other over the internet via a central hub website where users can logon and find other frustrated artists.

[ Connect A Sketch ] VIA [ Ubergizmo ]

ALPHA Bike Is Switchable Between A Fixie And A Freewheel

ALPHA Bike (Images courtesy University of Pennsylvania)
By Andrew Liszewski

If you like the sleek look and minimal frame design of a fixie bike, but sometimes prefer the benefits of a freewheel model (like brakes, switchable gear ratios etc.) then a team of 5 mechanical engineering students at the University of Pennsylvania have just finished work on your dream ride. The ALPHA incorporates the team’s innovative new free/fixed transmission which they’ve dubbed the ‘SWIFT Drive’, as well as a fully internal drivetrain all operated by an electronically-controlled clutch.

According to the ALPHA’s website the team went above and beyond the call of duty when it came to engineering the bike’s subsystems to maximize strength and performance vs. weight, and as a result it actually weighs less than a regular steel-framed bike but can withstand far more. It doesn’t skimp on technology though to keep the weight down. There’s a dynamo built into the front hub which generates power for the onboard electronics which includes rear LED lighting and a host of sensors which provide real-time performance data to the rider via an LCD display integrated into the handlebars.

Of course since the bike is all custom made from materials like titanium and carbon fiber I’m sure the working model is probably worth tens of thousands of dollars. So let’s hope the team can patent and license their new technologies so the ALPHA can one day become a real, and moderately affordable, product.

[ ALPHA Fixie/Freewheel Bike ] VIA [ Josh Spear ]

Flipbac Camera Grips

Flipbac Camera Grips (Images courtesy Flipbac Innovations)
By Andrew Liszewski

Flipbac Innovations first crossed our radar screen a few years ago with their adjustable angle viewfinder that gave cameras without a flip-out LCD display similar functionality. And now they’re back with a new product designed to make P&S cameras with an overly smooth finish easier to handle.

The grips are made of silicone and adhere to the front of the camera via a special 3M adhesive that allows them to be removed and reused without leaving any residue behind. They make using most P&S cameras with a single hand a little easier, and are available directly from the company for just $9.99 in 3 unique shapes. Cheap, functional and reusable, exactly what we like to see in an accessory.

[ Flipbac Camera Grips ] VIA [ The Gadgeteer ]