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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Acoustic Alarm Provides An Ever So Slightly Less Annoying Way To Get Up In The Morning

Acoustic Alarm (Image courtesy Jamie McMahon)
By Andrew Liszewski

Not only is it oozing with charm and retro appeal, but Jamie McMahon’s Acoustic Alarm also provides a subtler alternative to annoying electronic beeps, or local radio DJ banter, when it goes off in the morning. A simple pair of dials make setting the alarm time dead easy, while a toggle switch on the opposite side is used to activate, and presumably deactivate it, once you’re awake.

When the Acoustic Alarm goes off, a mechanism inside its sound hole gently strums a set of 4 guitar strings. It does sound a lot like the traditional electronic beep we’re probably all accustomed to, but considerably more pleasant. And if you’re not happy with the sound, like on a guitar the strings are connected to tuning pegs allowing to adjust the notes until you find something agreeable for your morning self.

[ Acoustic Alarm ] VIA [ Fancy ]

Rocketfish PadPivot Turns Your Thighs Into A Desk

Rocketfish PadPivot (Image courtesy Rocketfish)
By Andrew Liszewski

Adding to a long list of similarly designed contraptions, the PadPivot from Rocketfish—one of Best Buy’s in-house brands—is supposed to solve the issue of comfortably holding a tablet for long periods of time. Like the thigh pocket on a fighter pilot’s flight suit that holds a map, the PadPivot tethers to your upper thigh, supporting the iPad, or any tablet or device with a flat back, via a mount and ball and socket joint. It seems flexible enough to make using a given device fairly comfortable, while a tether strap ensures it’s not going to fall off if you shift your position.

The device is attached to the PadPivot via one of those non-permanent sticky panels that you need to keep free of dust and particles for it to properly do its job. But a rinse under the tap and a few minutes of air drying is all it takes to refresh its tackiness. The whole thing folds down to a smaller form factor which makes it easier to carry and use away from home, and is available now, from Best Buy of course, for $39.99.

[ Rocketfish PadPivot ] VIA [ Ubergizmo ]

TAG Heuer’s Mikrotimer Chronograph Concept Measures To 1/1000th Of A Second

TAG Heuer Mikrotimer Chronograph Concept (Image courtesy Hodinkee)
By Andrew Liszewski

As far as concept watches go, TAG Heuer’s new Mikrotimer doesn’t look like something from the distant future. Or even some crazy LED-enhanced lightstravaganza from the likes of TokyoFlash. It might even look a little boring to some of you, until you see it in action. The Mikrotimer is a chronograph designed to measure down to 1/1000th of a second. To do this, the watch’s caliber—or its internal movements—run at 500 rotations per second, or 500Hz. That equates to 3.6 million beats per hour, and as you can see in the video embedded below, when operating as a stopwatch the sweep hand is moving so fast you can barely see it in motion.

At this point the Mikrotimer isn’t quite ready to leave TAG’s R&D department just yet. But as Hodinkee points out, it’s important for any company to foster this kind of development and innovation in their field, to push their industry ahead. Also, for anyone who’s still a fan of analog watch technology, seeing it in action is pretty amazing.

[ Hodinkee – Exclusive Hands-On ] VIA [ TechCrunch ]

iOS Controlled Rover Spy Tank Apparently Has No Idea What Spying’s All About

Rover App-Controlled Spy Tank (Image courtesy Brookstone)
By Andrew Liszewski

It’s been a while since we brought you a good piece of spygear. And that’s probably because 99% of the spy gear consumers can get their hands on is complete rubbish. Case in point, this Rover Spy Tank. Effective spying requires cunning, stealth and speed. And I’m sure this thing possesses none of those attributes. Like most RC toys, its collection of plastic gears and components probably makes it easy to hear coming from a mile away. And there’s a reason bears that live outside of a polar region don’t rely on white fur for camouflage.

I’m also fairly certain the Rover’s built-in video camera suffers from Strabismus, or lazy eye. Because while the live video feed clearly shows that dog in the center of the iPad’s display, the tank is actually looking off to the side. I’m afraid to say it, but if James Bond had a similar condition, he’d be yanked out of service in no time. As a novel way to harass co-workers, siblings or even the family dog, the Rover does have some merit. It creates its own wifi network which allows you to connect and control it with your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. While both audio and video are beamed back in real-time, allowing you to control it from afar. It can also be steered via on-screen controls, or by tilting and rotating your iOS device and letting the gyros translate your movements. $149.99 from Brookstone, while the accompanying app is free.

[ Rover App-Controlled Spy Tank ] VIA [ The Green Head ]

Cherkees – Potato Chips Meet Beef Jerky

Cherkees (Image courtesy Rowan Lane)
By Andrew Liszewski

It turns out I can scratch ‘Invent a snack that will be the end of mankind’ off my bucket list. Because a company called Rowan Lane has beaten me to it. As a product name, Cherkees doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue like, say, Ruffles or Doritos. But it makes up for that marketing shortcoming by being possibly one of the most amazing snacks man has ever created. Regular beef jerky isn’t the easiest thing to snack on outside of a survival situation. And beef jerky flavored chips never taste as authentic as the real thing. So in a move that would probably baffle even Einstein, they pushed mother nature aside, threw caution to the wind, and combined the two together.

Each bag of Cherkees contains over a quarter pound of lean beef combined with traditional potato chips. And since they’re not fried, they have about 1/3 as much fat as your typical bag of chips. With loads more protein. At the moment they come in two flavors—Cracked Pepper and Hot Pepper—with Teriyaki and Smokehouse being available sometime in the future. And even though they’re a bit more expensive than a traditional bag of chips—$4.99 for 2.8 oz. and $9.99 for 5.8 oz.— they’re still currently sold out due to the demand.

[ Cherkees ] VIA [ Werd ]

LOCAL Bike Was Designed To Handle All Of Your Neighborhood Chores

LOCAL Bike (Image courtesy fuseproject)
By Andrew Liszewski

In the same way a pickup truck probably isn’t going to put you on the podium at Le Mans, don’t expect to be winning any races, or securing the Tour de France’s yellow jersey, with this LOCAL Bike. Like a pickup it stresses function over form, but that’s not to imply it’s an eyesore or anything. In fact, Yves Béhar’s San Francisco-based ‘fuseproject’ has spent months designing and improving the LOCAL to the point where they’re happy to declare it the “perfect Neighborhood bike.”

Local Bike (Image courtesy fuseproject)

Is it ideal for riding off into the sunset on a multiple day bike trip? Certainly not. But as cargo bikes go, it’s designed to hold everything from groceries, to pets, to kids, to even lumber and surfboards while still being light, nimble and maneuverable. The LOCAL’s also got integrated lighting and locking systems so it’s ready for use in a busy urban setting. And even its own sound system, courtesy of a wireless Jambox strapped to the canvas panel located just below the rider. Pricing, availability and all that important stuff that lets you know this will someday be a real product haven’t been announced. So here’s to hoping the LOCAL just isn’t some design exercise.

[ LOCAL Bike ] VIA [ designboom ]

Deal Of The Day: $100 Off On Apple iMac

By David Ponce

Well this has got to be the first time we’re featuring a deal on a product from Apple. The iMac is usually a fairly pricey item, but of course that drops once the newer generation comes out. This particular Core i3 3.2GHz model (the MC510LL/A to be exact) is not current, therefore is seeing a nice $100 price drop. So for $1,299 you get a 27-inch all-in-one from the boys in Cupertino. Shipped for free, of course.

[ $100 Off On Apple iMac ] VIA [ LogicBuy ]

Forte Table Stylishly Turns Your Casio Keyboard Into A Baby Grand

Forte Table (Images courtesy 45 Kilo)
By Andrew Liszewski

Just because you don’t have the cash to spring for a Steinway grand piano in your living room, doesn’t mean you still can’t feel like you’re playing at Carnegie Hall while tickling the ivories—err, plastic—keys on your Casio keyboard. 45 Kilo designed this Forte table which is styled after a large, classical piano—but with modern accents. Like the web of welded steel rods underneath providing support and the effect of the piano’s strings falling out the bottom. But of course there are no strings. Just an angled work area (complete with power strip) where you can place an electronic keyboard, drum machine, synthesizer or just your laptop. It’s a pity it doesn’t come with a matching bench. But since the Forte doesn’t actually seem to be available for sale, I guess it doesn’t really matter.

[ Forte Table ] VIA [ Fancy ]

Super Mario Bros. Continuous Sound Figures

Super Mario Bros. Continuous Sound Figures (Images courtesy Amazon)
By Andrew Liszewski

I’m not a particularly mean chap, but I have been known to get some level of enjoyment out of annoying people. And if I were to find myself in an office setting again, dealing with uneasy tensions between co-workers, I do believe I’ve found the perfect tool for the job. These Super Mario Bros. collectibles walk the line between being figures, sculptures and sound toys. They each showcase Mario in a recognizable scene from his games, animated in an endless loop complete with authentic sound effects.

The one on the left sees him continuously entering and exiting a warp pipe, while the other recreates the classic ‘green shell on stairs’ 1-UP trick. I suspect the latter one is particularly annoying if left running for hours—or probably mere minutes—so you’ll probably want to use it with caution lest it take an unplanned trip through the office shredder. Sadly both of these $10 (¥777) figures popped up on Amazon Japan, who don’t seem too keen on shipping them worldwide. But if you’re ok with dealing with the hassle of a proxy, getting your hands on them isn’t completely impossible.

[ Super Mario Bros. Continuous Sound Figures ] VIA [ Game Swag ]