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Tag Archives: Technology

This Smart High Heel Shoe Features An e-Ink Display

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Imagine a pair of high heel shoes that can change appearance to match your outfits. The Volvorii shoes are just that. Featuring an e-Ink display and a Bluetooth module, they can change their look to some degree at the touch of button. Just… connect your shoes to your smartphone and pick from any of the available patterns that might best suit your outfit that day. Granted the panel is in black and white, and it’s not the entirety of the shoe that’s covered, but still. Being able to switch up your footwear’s look in a couple of seconds is functionality you don’t find elsewhere. The shoe even comes with two fasteners (one in front, the other in back) that allow you to further customize the look, allowing you to add ankle straps or a monogrammed plate or jewelry. It’s a really cool concept, but one that will cost you a $249 pledge with a December delivery date… if the project is successful, which it is far from being at the moment.

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Goodyear Is Developing An Electricity-Generating Tire

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Think for a minute about how much energy is wasted in a car. All that gas it burns to get it rolling is almost entirely dissipated and lost as heat in the brakes as it slows back down, while the rest goes to combatting air resistance and drivetrain inefficiencies. By some accounts “only about 14%–30% of the energy from the fuel you put in a conventional vehicle is used to move it down the road.” Newer electric vehicles have started harvesting some of that energy back through regenerative braking, but Goodyear is taking things a couple of steps further by developing a special tire that itself generates power. The concept is called BHO3, and it takes both the friction heat as well as the deformations the tire undergoes while driving to generate an electric current, which is then presumably fed back into the car’s batteries.

To do this, the BHO3 is lined with a fishnet pattern of thermo/piezoelectric material. This net turns the heat into electrical current, and its piezoelectric properties also allow it to harvest energy from the tire as it deforms during driving. To keep the tire from overheating, there’s also a cooling system in the sidewalls.

It’s only a concept at the moment so don’t expect to see it on the road any time soon. But it’s nice to know people are constantly working to wean us off fossil fuels.

[ Press Release ] VIA [ Gizmag ]

Aeryon HDZoom30 Camera Can Be Mounted On A Drone, Spots Faces From 1,000 ft. Away!

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Privacy will soon become a concept taught in history class, considering we’re constantly developing better technology at least partly designed to take it away from us. The Aeryon HDZoom30 Camera is a 620g camera with 30X optical zoom and up to 60X digital zoom on a 20MP sensor, which means it can focus on objects as far at 1,000 ft. away with enough sharpness to recognize a face. It’s mounted on a 3-axis stabilized gimbal which makes the video pretty smooth even from that far away, and since it weighs barely more than 1 lb., it can easily be mounted on a drone. The image below, for instance, pictures the HDZoom30 on Aeryon’s Skyranger drone. And if you want to get an idea of just how mind bending the zooming abilities are, we recommend watching the video.

We’re not sure how much it costs but it’s probably not cheap. Then again, it’s probably incredibly less expensive than the traditional stabilized telephoto lenses mounted on helicopters that law enforcement have been using for years. And that means that soon enough you’ll probably be able to buy one at your local Best Buy.

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Grasp Can Perch An Instructor On Your Shoulder, Enables Easy Remote Coaching

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Let’s say you have to learn some complex manual task, like rebuilding an engine. There are many ways you could go about doing this, from being taught in person, to reading myriad steps in a specialized manual. With Grasp, you can add yet another: remote instruction. This device perches on your shoulder and beams your activities to an instructor, who could be anywhere in the world. “It has a mic, a camera and a laser pointer, all powered by an Arduino Yún board, to make real-time remote teaching more hands-on.” Created by Copenhagen designer Akarsch Sanghi, the concept behind Grasp “provides the mentor with a real time insight into the learners environment through the coupling of a first person point of view and an instructional laser pointer. Therefore, the mentor can communicate to the person learning via the device and instruct using the laser pointer. It is the idea of having a companion looking over your shoulder and instructing you while learning something new irrespective of distance.”

It’s a novel idea, and one which could have many applications in an educational setting. Unfortunately, there appear to be no solid commercialization plans at the moment. You can, however, follow Akarsch’s work on his website.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Engadget ]

Tactus Phorm Brings Magically Rising Buttons To The iPad Mini’s Keyboard

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Hearing people cry about the lack of physical feedback when typing on a touchscreen used to be a familiar thing five years ago. Now it’s not as common, since most people have adjusted, but there apparently still are enough out there to warrant creating products like the Tactus Phorm. It’s a special case that wraps around your iPad Mini and that normally looks like any other old case… but toggle a switch on the back and, just like that, you’ll see physical buttons magically morph on the screen! The transparent shield on the product is filled with a special liquid that semi-solidifies on demand, creating an optional physical keyboard when you feel you need it, and disappearing when you don’t. Users have reported a moderate increase in typing speed, but a definite improvement in typing satisfaction. The better part of this story is that despite the use of pretty innovative technology, the Tactus Phorm isn’t phenomenally expensive: $99 as a pre-order right now, or $150 when it hits retail this summer.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Engadget ]

Laser-Powered Earphones Glow To The Beat Of Your Drums

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Call it a gimmick, but it’s an interesting one. Glow earphones features cords that are wrapped in Corning’s special Fibrance material, which diffuses light and allows for a single strands to become wholly illuminated with a single source at its base. This means the cords on the Glow earphones will light up in multiple colors, and will pulsate to the rhythm of your music. Seeing as this is a crowdfnded project, the makers will add a glow-to-motion features if they reach $750,000 in funding, and a pulse-to-heartbeat function if they reach $1M. Currently sitting around the $350,000 mark, Glow earphones will pulsate to your music only, although you do get a few additional features, like a mic to take calls, as well as a small puck-shaped controller to summon Siri, trigger the shutter on your camera, and quickly respond to texts.

It’s not exactly a revolutionary offering, but it’s Tron-like feel might be enough to justify the $149 asking price to some. Granted there’s no promise of excellent sound quality from these as-yet-to-prove-themselves manufacturers, but those of you with a penchant for the novel and more disposable income might consider them a good purchase.

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Put A Literal Spring In Your Step With The Enko Shoes

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Most running shoes feature a design that incorporates a rubbery, somewhat bouncy sole. The idea is to return some of your own kinetic energy back into your step, and help you propel yourself forward. Except rubber soles aren’t quite as efficient at maintaining and transferring this momentum as actual metal springs. And that’s exactly what we find in the Enko Running Shoe. Each pair is outfitted with a special hinged sole, and an actual metal shock absorber whose spring rate is matched to the wearer’s weight. The spring will compress when your heel touches the ground, and release the stored energy as you roll your foot forward and carry on with your stride. There is even a “Run – Walk” toggle switch that changes the absorption dynamics depending on the activity you’re doing.

It’s an intriguing design, but considering they’re in the crowdfunding phase of the project, there aren’t a ton of real-world reviews to speak about the shoes’ comfort, arguably the most important aspect of the product. Still, if you’re interested, you’ll have to pledge $290 on Indiegogo to get your pair delivered in August. And that’s the Early Bird pricing; after 100 of these are sold, it moves up to $390, so act fast.

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[ Product Page ] AND [ IndieGogo ] VIA [ Gizmag ]

Blocks Smartwatch Lets You Customize The Hardware To Your Heart’s Content

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Modularity is all the rage these days. Just look at the excitement over Project Ara, the modular smartphone, for proof. And why shouldn’t it be? Modular gadgets mean that we can reconfigure them to our liking, adding more of the hardware elements that we want, and less of the ones we don’t care about. Blocks, the modular smart watch being discussed in this article, is a project by the same people who were initially behind Project Ara, before Google got involved. They’re now trying the same approach with a timepiece where each link in the wristband can be a different hardware component. Modules can be dedicated extra batteries, GPS chips, contactless payments, SIM cards, and even heart-rate monitors. Don’t care about heart-rate monitoring? Swap that link for an extra battery!

It’s a great idea, but the success will depend on execution. Early prototypes, as shown in these pictures, look chunky and unattractive. The team is planning a Kickstarter for Q2 2015, so hopefully by then they’ll have refined their hardware enough to make it visually attractive. Pricing starts at $150 for the watch face itself, plus $20-$40 for each module. If you want the whole thing decked out, you’d be looking at $330.

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VIA [ Gizmodo ]

SkyBell Doorbell: See Who’s At the Door Without Even Getting Up

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Sometimes, the doorbell rings at the worst moments– when you’re still in bed, in the shower, playing a video game, or watching a particularly interesting football match. It gets easier when you have Skybell, though. It’s a doorbell that functions as a virtual sentry of sorts by letting you see who’s at the door without even having to get up and open it.

Skybell hooks up to your WiFi connection so you can see who’s at the door by checking your phone. You’ll also be able to communicate with visitors through Skybell (and turn away salesmen) in the comforts of wherever you currently are when the bell rang. What’s more, you’ll get an alert on your mobile if it senses someone loitering by your door, even when they haven’t pressed the button.

It’s available online for $199.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Gear Hungry ]