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

Monthly Archives: February 2012

Optical Illusion Friday: Here’s What An Acid Trip Could Look Like

By David Ponce

Stare at the centre of this image for 30 to 45 seconds, and then look around you.

You’re welcome.

Repeat at will. Experience no withdrawal symptoms when you stop.

ZBoard Electric Skateboard Doesn’t Need Handheld Controller

By David Ponce

That headline right there pretty much sums up why the Zboard is worthy of mention. But don’t take that lightly. If you’re going to opt for the electrically powered four-wheeled-wooden-board locomotion, controlling the throttle with a knob in your hand is a decidedly inelegant way to go about it. The ZBoard instead opts for two pressure sensitive pads located in front and at the back of the board; lean forward to go, and back to slow down. There’s even regenerative breaking for greater efficiency. The 400W motor on this little board will take you up to 17mph for about 10 miles, and if the video is any indication of real life performance, it looks like a lot of fun. There are two versions, the Pro and Classic. The prices are $749 and $499 respectively, while the differences seem to amount to the type of battery used: Li-Ion in the Pro and Lead Acid in the Classic. This ekes out more performance out of the pro, so the Classic’s top speed is 15 mph and has a range of only 5 miles.

You can pre-order now, with shipping in mid March.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Product Page ]

Pretty Humidifier Is Pretty

By David Ponce

Humidifiers are older than the world (not really). And humidifiers are ugly (yes, they are). Why should they be pretty, seeing as they’re essentially just functional devices, meant to stop your throat turning into parchment? Designers Youngduk Song, Sunman Kwon and Sungmin Kim don’t quite see it that way. If something is going to be in your house, why should it not be aesthetically pleasing? And this humidifier certainly is that. It is powered by either a retractable USB cord or a conventional 100V/220V plug, contains half a litter of water and can last up to 13 hours before needing a recharge. We don’t know how much it’s supposed to cost, but there appear to be plans for release in Japan this July.

Hit the jump for more pictures and links.

Continue Reading

How To Brick Your Tesla

By David Ponce

So this story is a little shocking. It turns out that if you let your Tesla’s battery fully discharge, it becomes essentially destroyed. At that point, the car is one large brick. Nothing will work: you won’t even be able to turn the wheels so it can be towed conventionally. But it gets worse, much worse. If this happens, Tesla charges you $40,000 or so to get a new set of batteries. “Oh, but the waranty should cover it!” you’ll say. Nope, it specifically doesn’t. “Ok then, insurance will take care of it.” Wrong again. Insurance companies specifically do not cover this. Let the batteries go empty = $40,000 out of your account. “Ok, well, shoot… but maybe Tesla will let me finance that…” Wrong. Again. You pay in full, or you’ll be asked to get your expensive brick out of the dealership.

For something like this to happen isn’t that hard. Drive the car around so that it’s at, say, 50% charge and leave it at the airport for a week or so. Or park it in your own garage, but use an extension cord (as opposed to proper charging cables). Heck, you can think of a number of ways this could happen. And happen it did, to at least 5 devastated clients.

Tesla at the moment is in a bit of a predicament as it has to walk the fine line between aggressively warning its customers of the potential danger, and talking about it too much and risk spooking buyers off. And it’s even doing some potentially shady things (like remotely activating a GPS module in order to physically go plug a dying car in) to do what looks like some damage control. In official comments on the issue, representatives liken the problem to “making regular oil changes” and “maintaining a proper level of care”. Batteries, similarly, should never be allowed to fully discharge.

Well, we don’t know. Maybe this is a new class of problems that a new class of vehicles brings with it. Whatever the case, you should read the longer article at the link below. It’s pretty interesting.

[ How To Brick Your Tesla ]

MEEP! Tablet Is Exactly The Tablet Your Kids Don’t Want

By David Ponce

Let’s start with the name. “MEEP!” Really, Oregon Scientific? MEEP?? Well, ok, they’re kids right? What do they know?… Well, here’s the thing. Kids are funny. For one thing, they’re going to go to school, and they’ll see all their classmates toting iPads around. Because that’s what parents are buying their kids: iPads. So they’re gonna go to school, and what do you think they’re gonna want? A MEEP! tablet? Let’s get real. It doesn’t matter that “it runs on Android 4.0, features a 7-inch Neonode zForce touchscreen display encased in toughened housing with a silicon rubber sleeve, and is Wi-Fi-enabled.” It doesn’t matter that parents might be happy that it features controls that can remotely block whatever it is the kids want to be looking at. Nor does it matter that it’s supposed to retail for $149, sometime in August.

No… Sure, some parents will be sensible and will buy this with thoughts of cost savings and greater control and oversight… but these parents’ lives will be miserable because kids will use it as much as cats use overpriced cat beds.

Or maybe it’ll be a hit among the 6+ year old club. What do we now about kids?

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Gizmag ]

Magnic Bike Light Makes Power Without Touching Your Wheel

By David Ponce

Having a bike light is always a good idea, lest you meet a much larger vehicle at night for a decidedly unpleasant collision. Now, there are those lights that require batteries to operate. And there are those that use contact dynamos to power the light. But the Magnic Light, currently on Kickstarter, does away with contact altogether. And it doesn’t require you to install magnets along the rim (which produces inconsistent light):

Magnic Light works with all kinds of metallic rims (normally aluminum, steel or magnesium). While aluminium and magnesium are not magnetic (but paramagnetic) they are conductive. Relative movements of magnets and neighboured conductive material induce eddy currents in the conductive material – in our case the metallic rim. These eddy currents have their own magnetic fields (see Wikipedia) which are absorbed by the Magnic Light generator kernel and by this way produce electric energy. Although there is no friction the absorption of magnetic fields has a minimal braking effect, so we don’t get energy for free. Magnic Light contains the most efficient LEDs currently available (CREE XM-L T6) to get maximal light from minimal energy.

So, it looks pretty nice, doesn’t touch your bike and lights up your path. What’s not to like? Well, the price for one. The back light is $85 while the front is $130. And… well that’s it really. Maybe if the little bit of innovation were seeing here is your thing, hit the link and pledge away.

[ Product Page ]

Braille Mobile Phone Concept Should Become Reality

By David Ponce

Very few of you reading this website right now are blind. It’s hard to imagine how hard life can be for the visually impaired and as a tech writer, I can affirm that tech made specifically with them in mind is rather rare. Especially when it comes to smartphones, there really isn’t much. The DrawBraille Mobile Phone concept that Shikun Sun envisions can only be used by the blind, or anyone that would have taught themselves to read Braille. Almost any piece of computing tech requires inputs, which are then manipulated by the software and output in a manner that the user can interpret. In this case, the flatter section is the input area of the phone, where a braille user can form letters and digits. And the other half is obviously the output, where a matrix of six-dotted regions can physically change to produce words the user can touch and read.

But sadly, the above is nothing more than a concept. We hope that some manufacturer could one day make this, although we’re doubtful as making a cellphone is a costly enterprise and the visually impaired are a demographic unlikely to make a good ROI.

Still, hit the jump for a series of renderings and a video.

Continue Reading

Nikko VaporizR Is Amphibious RC Toy

By David Ponce

With a hip, trendy name like that, the Nikko VaporizR is sure to sell like hotcakes. Just as it’s too cool for the letter “e”, it’s also too awesome to let itself be confined to just one terrain. The oversized wheels on this remote control car act like paddles when floating in a body of water, and provide some additional grip when treading snowy ground. Powered by two electric motors, it’s a true 4 by 4 and is even able to do 360 degree spins. Reaching a top speed of 9mph on ground, it grinds to an alarming crawl in water. But so what? At least it doesn’t sink and short circuit like pretty much any other RC toy out there.

It’s £40 or about $63.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Technabob ]

Smartguard iPhone Case Packs Some Pepperspray

By David Ponce

Leaving the home with your keys, your wallet and your phone is usually all you need. But what if you worry about your own safety. Muggings happen, and they’re not usually as entertaining as when it happened to that girl in that TV show with the city and all the fashion and stuff. Packing some pepperspray is never a bad idea, and the SmartGuard case for the iPhone features a special compartment to do just that. A specially shaped can of Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) fits right in there, and a special plastic tab prevents accidental discharge. As soon as you take the can out of the case, it’s ready to shoot 6 half second bursts of OC, at up to 5 feet away.

This unfortunately appears to be available in Germany, Switzerland and Austria only. It’s €37.50 for the case, and additional pepperspray bottles are €20.

[ Product Page ] VIA All Over Teh Intertubes