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Tag Archives: Concepts

Levitatr Portable Bluetooth Keyboard With Retractable Keys

Levitatr Portable Bluetooth Keyboard (Images courtesy Levitatr)
By Andrew Liszewski

On-screen keyboards are fairly usable when it comes to compact devices like smartphones, but when you’ve decided to swap your laptop for a tablet and need to do some serious typing, a physical keyboard is still where it’s at. So it’s no surprise that with the iPad and plethora of other tablets to hit the market over the past few years, the selection of wireless portable keyboards has also increased. Apple still sells one of the best IMO, in terms of form factor, size and design. But James Stumpf hopes to give them a run for their money, at least in the design department, with his new Levitatr portable keyboard.

It’s wireless, relying on a Bluetooth connection to talk to your tablet or other portable device, and features a 12.5mm thick machined aluminum chassis so it’s rigid and sturdy. But its real claim-to-fame is that the entire keyboard retracts when not in use, sitting flush with the rest of the keyboard’s surface. The idea is to prevent accidental key presses while the Levitatr is being carried in your bag, but it also serves to keep dirt and crumbs out. The keys are backlit, which from what I can tell is the only way to discern what each one does, and the whole thing is powered by a set of 4xAA batteries. It even comes with a simple aluminum kickstand designed to prop up your tablet or smartphone.

You can’t go out and buy the Levitatr just yet, though. At the moment it’s just a Kickstarter project with quite a ways to go before it reaches its $60,000 funding goal. But since the keyboard seems to be popping up on blogs all over the interwebs today, I’m sure it will be getting a much needed boost. If you do think it’s an innovation you can’t live without, a pledge of $79 will effectively serve as a pre-order once they go into production.

[ Levitatr Portable Bluetooth Keyboard ] VIA [ Technabob ]

Elasty iPhone Case Is Brilliantly Simple, Infinitely Useful

Elasty iPhone Case (Image courtesy Yanko Design)
By Andrew Liszewski

Belkin isn’t a completely unknown electronics brand, I’m sure many of you have heard of them and may even own one of their products. But if they manage to follow through with this brilliantly simple concept for an iPhone case, I think they could easily have a best seller on their hands, and gain some valuable notoriety.

The Elasty, created by Yoori Koo, actually won the Korean Belkin Design Awards, and was inspired by wrapping elastics around your iPhone so you can use it to hold things on the back. The problem with elastics though is that they also block your display, so the Elasty case provides similar functionality in a more usable iPhone shell case. The product shot does a great job at showing how and why the case would be useful, but there are probably an infinitely number of other ways you could use it too.

[ Yanko Design – Simple Slits for Phones ] VIA [ Wired Gadget Lab ]

Tube Squeezing Toothbrush Seems Pretty Obvious

Tube Squeezing Toothbrush (Images courtesy Catherine Werdel)
By Andrew Liszewski

What’s most surprising about Catherine Werdel’s tube squeezing toothbrush design isn’t that it took so long for someone to come up with such a simple solution, but the fact that it still hasn’t been made a reality. Well, I guess it’s not that surprising. The two largest toothbrush manufacturers here in North America, Colgate & Oral-B (Crest), both also make toothpaste. So helping consumers get every last drop out of a tube is only going to hinder their sales. Clearly a conspiracy. So until some third-party brush maker steps in to shake up the industry, you’re probably better off just taking a router to your toothbrush and cutting your own groove in it.

[ Tube Squeezing Toothbrush ] VIA [ Fancy ]

Eraser Pencil Eliminates Wasted Wood

Eraser Pencil (Images courtesy Deuk Young Lee)
By Andrew Liszewski

While incredibly simple but highly usable, there are still two big issues I have with wooden pencils. 1) The wood basically does nothing more than make holding and writing with a thin piece of graphite easier. And it’s basically wasted every time the pencil is sharpened. 2) The eraser on the end is never big enough to accomodate my constant mistakes.

So I’m 100% behind Deuk Young Lee’s concept of making a pencil out of rubber eraser material instead. It can still be sharpened like a traditional wooden pencil, using the same office gear, but ends up being more comfortable and easier to hold thanks to the softer material. And there’s plenty of eraser for correcting your mistakes. Admittedly the delete key tends to fill the eraser’s role in my life these days, but as long as grade school kids still have to learn penmanship, I think this design has some merit.

[ designboom – deuk young lee: eraser pencil ]

Concept Umbrella Funnels Water Down Into A Squirt Gun In The Handle

Squirt Gun Umbrella (Images courtesy Alex Woolley)
By Andrew Liszewski

It kind of defeats the purpose of carrying an umbrella on a rainy day to stay dry, but the kid in me (who pretty much runs the show) really likes this more entertaining take on the brolly. The tip of the canopy is actually sunken so it works like a funnel, channeling the rain drops down into a squirt gun that doubles as the umbrella’s handle. As long as you’re the only one carrying around this special umbrella you’ll stay completely dry, while the random strangers you pass on the street won’t know what hit them. It was created by Alex Woolley as a concept piece sadly, and I’m almost certain it hasn’t gone into production. Otherwise there’d be one hanging on my door already.

[ Alex Woolley – Encouraging Adults to Play in the Rain ] VIA [ Fancy ]

Harvesting Power From Broadcast Signals Is Back With The Rectenna

Rectenna (Image courtesy DigInfo TV)
By Andrew Liszewski

A few years ago, at CES2010, we discovered a concept device that RCA was showing off that promised to harvest electricity from wi-fi signals, which could then be used to charge mobile devices. The ‘Airnergy’ charger, as they called it, sparked a lot of discussion about whether or not such a technology was even possible. And sure enough, at CES 2011, the Airnergy devices were no where to be seen at RCA’s booth. We assumed that would be the last we’d hear about the concept, but a Japanese company called Nihon Dengyo Kosaku has apparently picked up the torch.

Their unfortunately named ‘Rectenna’, which is actually a combination of the words ‘rectifying’ and ‘antenna’, is able to convert terrestrial TV broadcast signals, or wi-fi, back into usable electricity. At a recent trade show in Tokyo, where the company was showing off the technology, they were able to harvest about 1.2mV and 0.06µW of power from a TV broadcast antenna located about 3.4 miles away. Not a heck of a lot of juice of course, but there are electronics that can run on just micro-watts of power. So while it won’t be useful for charging your smartphone, it does seem to be a viable way to wirelessly power certain barebones devices.

[ DigInfo TV – Rectenna Converts Radio Waves To Electricity ] VIA [ Akihabara News ]

This Blind Camera Has No Optics – Instead Shows You Other People’s Photos

Buttons - A Blind Camera (Images courtesy Sascha Pohflepp)
By Andrew Liszewski

It’s probably not a concept that Nikon or Canon are going to embrace any time soon, but if you don’t have much confidence in your photography skills, Sascha Pohflepp’s blind ‘Buttons’ camera will certainly appeal to you. It’s actually part of their ‘Blinks and Buttons’ art exhibit, and as you can see in the photos, the camera has no lens, no sensor and no optics whatsoever. Just a faux shutter button that triggers a cellphone hidden inside to retrieve and display a photo from Flickr that was taken at the exact same moment. So in a manner of speaking, the Buttons camera actually takes other people’s photos.

And since the camera was created as part of an art piece, I feel obligated to share the artist’s ‘motivations’ and ‘inspirations’ behind it:

Taking a photo means making a memory. Choosing a moment in time and framing a situation. Archiving it or making it public. Either way, we create a visual item that we have an emotional attachment to through our memory. Photos help us to remember moments in our past. Often they even become a memory in their own right. For many, making their moments public through services like Flickr is already part the process of photography itself, creating archives which contain a vast collection of visual fragments of individual lives.

[ Buttons – A Blind Camera ] VIA [ @ronbrinkmann ]

Soundsitive Gesture-Controlled Speaker

Soundsitive Gesture-Controlled Speaker (Images courtesy designboom)
By Andrew Liszewski

At the moment the technology world is still all caught up in ‘touch’ functionality, but one day it could very well be replaced with even easier gestures, creating a planet inhabited by people constantly waving their arms and hands about in the air. And that would probably be ok with industrial designer J.C. Karich, who created this Soundsitive gesture-controlled speaker as part of the Designlab show in Paris last month.

As you move your hand closer or farther away from the top of the speaker, an outer wooden veneer sleeve raises and lowers, causing the volume to increase or decrease. Or more likely, just serves as a visual indicator that your gesture has been detected and adjustments are being made. And skipping tracks, forward or back, is controlled by simply swiping your hand over the top of the speaker in either direction, depending on whether you want the next or previous song. On one hand it’s nice not requiring a remote or buttons to control the speaker, but on the other hand, the invention of the remote control, and not having to get up to interact with something, is truly what separates us from other species.

[ Designlab – Soundsitive Gesture-Controlled Speaker ] VIA [ designboom ]

Orange’s Sound Charge Shirt Concept Uses Loud Music To Keep Your Mobile Phone Powered

Orange Sound Charge Shirt (Image courtesy Orange)
By Andrew Liszewski

When attending a massive music and arts festival, the last thing you want happening is your mobile phone dying so you miss out on distractions like email, Facebook and Twitter. So once again Orange has cooked up another concept device to be tested at this year’s Glastonbury festival of contemporary arts that lets you recharge your electronics without having access to an outlet. In the past they’ve created devices like the Power Pump and Power Wellies, but this year it’s a t-shirt that will theoretically be providing power to future concert goers.

To be specific, it’s actually a piezoelectric film panel on the front of the t-shirt that generates the power. About the size of a piece of A4 paper, it works like a large microphone, absorbing sound waves and converting them into an electrical charge via interlaced quartz crystals that is then stored in a separate battery. As long as sound levels stay around 80dB, the Sound Charge shirt should produce about 6 W/h of power over the weekend, which is roughly enough to recharge two old-school cellphones, or a single modern smartphone. Not exactly the most efficient solution out there, but it’s certainly eco-friendly.

[ PR – Orange – Turn it up to 11… Orange unveils the ‘Sound Charge’ 2011 ] VIA [ Electricpig ]