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

Author Archives: Andrew Liszewski

Magnetic Nail Polish

Magnetic Nail Polish (Images courtesy Nails Inc.)
By Andrew Liszewski

Magnets! I don’t know how they do it, but somehow they find a way to improve every aspect of our lives. From hanging crappy crayon art on a fridge, to keeping baby’s clothes on. I’m sure there are thousands of uses for them, but those are easily at the top of the list. Or were at the top of the list before researchers at London based Nails Inc.—probably jonesing for a Nobel prize—created magnetic nail polish.

Iron powder is mixed into the polish, and before it dries after being applied, you hold the bottle’s cap over your nails for about 15 seconds. An embedded magnet causes the iron bits to align, presumably along its field lines, and once the polish dries you’re left with unique stripes and banding across your nails. And a shimmering metallic effect. The polish is available in 3 different colors all named after famous landmarks in London. Silver Trafalgar Square, purple Houses of Parliament and gold Big Ben. And sell for ~$20 a bottle. (£13)

[ Nails Inc. Magnetic Polish ] VIA [ Cool Hunting ]

Mobile Printing Kiosks Remind Us That The Paperless Office Is Still No Where In Sight

Mobile Printing Kiosks (Image courtesy St. Joseph Communications)
By Andrew Liszewski

The promise of a paperless office where computers, phones and electronic devices completely replace our need for printed documents is certainly tantalizing. But it’s still no where in sight. I might have minimal need for a printer at home, but visit any busy office and you’ll still find copiers and laser printers running around the clock. So instead of trying to sell us on some paperless dream, a PR company called St. Joseph Communications, working with HP and PrinterOn, have developed a public pay kiosk allowing users to print off documents for a small fee.

Printing reports, presentations, maps or travel plans are all handled by a “best-in-class” HP color laser printer. While photos instead come from a Citizen dye-sublimation printer, which probably costs a little more. Documents can be wirelessly sent from a smartphone or tablet using HP’s ePrint app, securely emailed directly to the kiosk from your laptop, or even accessed from a flash drive or memory card. There’s no word on what the service costs, but since most users will probably be using them in a pseudo-emergency type situation, you can bet it’s probably not going to be dirt cheap. But you can find out for yourself if you happen to be passing through Toronto’s Pearson International Airport where the first eight kiosks have already been installed.

[ PR – Mobile Print is Taking Off! St. Joseph Communications debuts its patent-pending mobile print kiosks at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport ] VIA [ The Moodie Report ]

Swatch Decides They Want In On All This Touching Business Too

Swatch Touch (Images courtesy Swatch)
By Andrew Liszewski

Swatch is a brand that has primarily put form before function over the years. Their simple watches are known for having some of the most colorful patterns and unique designs you can find on a timepiece. But as far as technology goes? There’s a reason you don’t see them popping up on OhGizmo! too frequently. A few years ago they dabbled in Microsoft’s SPOT technology, and now they’re jumping on another bandwagon that will probably be around a lot longer than MS’s smartwatch platform.

The new, and uninspiringly named, Swatch Touch eschews any and all buttons for a touchscreen LCD display providing access to 6 different functions via swiping and tapping. The basic digital watch options are all there like date and time displays, multiple timezone support, chronograph, timer and alarms. And the ridiculous font used on the LCD display seems to mirror their rounded plastic case and silicone strap. Available October 1st for ~$157 (£100) and because they’re from Swatch, you’ll be able to get them in 6 colors including camo, pink, purple, black, white and turquoise.

[ T3 – Swatch Touch officially unveiled as touchscreen timepiece ] VIA [ Ubergizmo ]

Listen To A Couple Of Floppy Drives Play The Star Wars Imperial March

By Andrew Liszewski

I acknowledge that this video of a couple of old 3.5-inch floppy disk drives playing the Imperial March theme from Star Wars could be completely fake. But there’s enough evidence—like how the read/write lights on each drive seem to match the notes being played—to make me optimistic that it’s authentic. If it’s not, it’s not like having to sit through John Williams’ awesome Imperial March is a bad thing.

[ YouTube – Floppy music DUO – Imperial march ]

LEGO Life Of George

LEGO Life Of George (Images courtesy LEGO)
By Andrew Liszewski

There’s no shortage of LEGO apps and games available for iOS. But the company’s latest offering, Life Of George, is the first to really take advantage of the iPhone’s unique capabilities. The game actually brings together both the physical and digital worlds, as players compete to recreate what they see on screen in each level, using only the collection of bricks that come in the box. Once they’re satisfied they’ve built it correctly, they place their LEGO model on an included grid map and take a photo of it with their iPhone.

Using “patent-pending brick recognition software” created by a company called EyeCue, the game then scores the creation based on how accurately it matches the image, and how quickly it was built. The character of George seems very similar to the Flat Stanley Project, since the objects you’re challenged to build all come from his travels around the world. So I guess on some level it’s also educational. And if you’re a rebel like yours truly, the game also includes a ‘My Life’ mode which lets you build and photograph your own creations, which are converted into virtual LEGO models and stored in a scrapbook. The game will be available come October 1st for $29.99, while the accompanying iOS app will of course be free.

[ The Gadgeteer – LEGO Life of George – Virtual meets physical ]

Human Powered Walking Robot Exoskeleton

Human-Powered Stable Bipedal Walking Robot (Images courtesy DigInfo)
By Andrew Liszewski

Researchers at the Nagoya Institute of Technology in Japan have created a bipedal walking exoskeleton robot that’s completely human powered. The rider simply has to shift their weight around to get the thing to locomote, but besides that there’s no other source of propulsion. Oddly enough, another one of the researcher’s goals was to create an exoskeleton that didn’t walk with the awkward gait that’s typical of the ones you see in films like Avatar or The Matrix sequels. And while I guess their creation tends to ‘walk’ more naturally like a human. If you take a gander at the video I’ve embedded below, its movement is just about the most awkward thing I’ve ever seen.

The exoskeleton’s secret is a zig-zag triangular design on the three-dimensional metal pipe frames that make up its feet. Imagine that if instead of being perfectly round, a rubber tire had a triangular faceted pattern on its outer surface. So when you rolled it forward, it would tend to wobble from side to side as it transitioned from triangle to triangle. That’s basically the same idea here. Apparently the design makes for a walking gait that’s very stable, though, remarkably slow and cumbersome. The researchers feel it could assist those who can only walk with a shuffle, letting them move about more freely, or battle a gigantic alien queen in the cargo hold of a spaceship.

[ DigInfo – Human-Powered Stable Bipedal Walking Robot ] VIA [ Ubergizmo ]

Craftsman AssureLink Garage Door Opener Now Lets You Use Your Smartphone As A Remote

Craftsman AssureLink Chain Drive Garage Door Opener (Images courtesy Craftsman)

The automatic garage door opener is one of those under-appreciated gadgets that—as far as I can tell—hasn’t gotten a serious upgrade since the mid 70s. Seriously. You show me a cellphone, I can give you a rough idea of how old it is. You show me a garage door opener, and I’d have a hard time knowing if you installed it yesterday, or 30 years ago. So it’s nice to see Craftsman bringing their AssureLink Garage Door Opener into the 21st century, allowing you to open and close it from an app on your smartphone. Instead of a giant, clunky remote that looks like it predates even the VCR.

From what I can glean from the Craftsman website, the AssureLink opener connects to your home’s wireless network using their “MyQ Technology” which appears to provide similar connectivity to other devices around your home. So not only can you use your smartphone to open or close the door, but you can remotely monitor its status, and close or open it while away. If a friend was stopping by to borrow a ladder, you could even program it to open and close the door for a set amount of time. Handy! It’s also got the requisite safety sensors so it won’t come down on something or someone when being closed from afar. So as a tool for tomfoolery, it seems limited. The Craftsman Garage Door app is of course free, while the actual opener is slightly less free, at $275.49.

[ Craftsman AssureLink Chain Drive Garage Door Opener ] VIA [ SlashGear ]

Amazon Kindle Fire

Amazon Kindle Fire (Images courtesy Amazon)
By Andrew Liszewski

Even with an iPhone 5 or 4S probably being announced next week, I think Amazon may have just won the Christmas shopping season this year. They might not be able to keep a product as secret as Apple can, but their new Kindle Fire certainly has what it takes to compete with the iPad juggernaut as far as I’m concerned. If the HP/PalmOS escapade taught us anything, it’s that people are happy to snap up a tablet if it’s cheap, even if it’s not running iOS. But besides the astounding $199 price tag, it looks like Amazon is the first company to finally wrangle Android into a user experience that can rival what the iPad has to offer.

I’ve personally concluded that the iPad is too large for the way I want to use it. But the Kindle Fire, with its 7-inch multitouch, 1024×600 resolution display, sounds just about right. Of course it lacks a camera, GPS, 3G, video out and a lot of the frills that have become commonplace on other tablets these days. But I won’t miss them if their departure is what contributed to the Kindle Fire’s cheap(er) price tag.

It’s powered by a dual core processor which probably means the Kindle, at least this version, can finally handle PDFs with ease. And it even seems like Amazon has put a lot of work into making it great for surfing the web thanks to its new Surf browser which shares the load of accessing and processing a website between the tablet and the company’s cloud computing backend. While its 8 GB of storage might seem a little anemic in this day and age, the Fire is designed to be heavily integrated with Amazon’s Cloud service. So in theory you can keep all of your content off-device, but still access it as long as you have a wifi connection.

If anything, the Kindle Fire is the first non-Apple tablet to be announced that doesn’t make my eyes completely glaze over in utter apathy. Amazon may have raised the white flag when it comes to the tech spec war, but their decision to instead fight the content battle is sure to pay off in the long run. And like I said, if that November 15 ship date doesn’t slip, they’ll have no problem selling thousands of these before the end of the year.

[ Amazon Kindle Fire ]

Amazon Updates The Kindle, Introduces The Kindle Touch, Saves You Money All Around

Amazon Kindle and Kindle Touch (Images courtesy Amazon)
By Andrew Liszewski

It was inevitable that Amazon would at some point update their Kindle with IR-based touchscreen capabilities. Since both the Kobo and Nook have already adapted that technology with great success. But what came as a surprise at Amazon’s press conference today was an updated version of the basic wifi-only Kindle as well, that’s now just $79. For those not keeping score, that’s pretty cheap. It’s also smaller and lighter than the previous generation Kindles, which was made possible by finally letting go of the keyboard that made the original version so distinct.

The new Kindle Touch also bears a striking resemblance to the updated Kindle, minus the set of buttons across the bottom that have been replaced with the aforementioned touch interface. It also sports a larger 2-month battery—compared to ‘just’ 1 month for the Kindle—and a $99 price tag for the wifi only version. Which makes it the no-brainer choice if you’re debating between the two. Of course if you can’t live without the always-on 3G, that’s also still available for the Kindle Touch, though at $149. All of the e-ink display Kindles also come with free storage in the Amazon Cloud. Which when combined with Amazon’s large catalog of content, makes it really hard to recommend anything other than the new Kindles if you’re on the hunt for a dedicated ebook reader.

[ Kindle & Kindle Touch ]