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Tag Archives: Technology

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


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


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


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


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.


VIA [ Gizmodo ]

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

SkyBell Doorbell

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 ]

Self-Tightening Bionic Bra Being Developed


It’s a dilemma most men are unaware of: that of what type of bra to wear? Something comfortable will usually not provide enough support at the gym or during vigorous activity. And sports bras will keep your boobs in place, but at the cost of comfort. A two-bra approach is the most common solution, but researchers at the University Of Wollongong in Autralia have spent the last 25 years trying to develop a bra that does well in both situations. It’s only recently, thanks to new materials and 3D printing, that they are starting to see good results. The ‘Bionic Bra’ they’re developing would feature smart materials that tighten when needed, providing extra support when physical activity is detected, and relax when calm returns.

The bra isn’t quite ready for commercial release, but a working prototype seems to have been developed and work is underway. How far away from prime time this is, and at what cost, is a mystery for now.


[ University of Wollongong ] VIA [ DamnGeeky ]

Pizza Hut Is Working On A ‘Subconscious Menu’ That Knows What You Want, Even When You Don’t


Pizza Hut is working with eye-tracking firm Tobii Technology (of Eye Asteroids fame) to develop a menu that scans your eye movements and is able to determine what toppings you’re most likely to want on your pizza, often before you’ve had a chance to formulate the conscious idea yourself. They arrange their 20 most common toppings in a grid on a tablet-style device and watch your eyes as you scan the images; within a 2.5 second timespan the device is able to pick out your favourites out of a potential 5,000 combinations. At the moment the system is claimed to have a 98% accuracy rate, but even so the order won’t go through without your final approval.

Although it’s not available at any of their restaurants at the moment, the company appears to be considering using the system one day and actually calling it ‘Subconscious Menu’.

“We wanted to try a few ideas on the traditional menu format,” Pizza Hut Head of Marketing Kathryn Austin told the Telegraph, “and we’re delighted to have developed the world’s first Subconscious Menu, a unique way to reinvent the dining experience.”

There’s no word on when this might appear on the market.

VIA [ DigitalTrends ]

With The Powerlace, Self-Lacing Shoes Are Finally Here


We’ve all been getting a good laugh these last few years at the fact that many of Back To The Future II’s predictions don’t seem to be coming true. Flying cars? The ones we have are middling at best. However… it’s almost 2015, and would you know it, we’re already seeing a working hoverboard, and how self-lacing shoes. That’s right, a startup in St-Hubert, Canada has created the Powerlace shoes, which use an internal mechanism powered by the wearers weight to automatically lace the shoes at a predefined tension. Simply insert your foot, press down with your heel, and the laces will tighten.

Inserting your foot triggers the mechanism, which locks into place at a tension level set by a pull tab on the outside upper section. The tension in the laces can be adjusted separately, too, by moving the lace lock.

A thermo polyurethane sole serves as support for the mechanism as well as anchor for the lever that unlocks the mechanism, while the tongue opens right out once pressure is released from the laces.

The team has tested the system up to 200,000 lacing cycles, which if it stands up to real-world use would mean the mechanism could operate without a hitch for 68 years if used four times a day

That’s definitely longer than the actual show will last, so you can buy with confidence. It’s a Kickstarter, with a pledge of $175 netting you a pair.


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Nixie Wearable Drone Takes Your Pics, Is Worn On Your Wrist


Imagine this scenario. You go outdoors to do some cool outdoorsy activity, all by yourself. Suddenly you realize you’re doing something awesome and you’d like to immortalize it, so you unclip your fancy wristband… which immediately turns into a fully functional quadcopter drone with a camera. It flies out, takes a few pics or video, then flies right back to you. And just like that, you took a third person selfie, from angles that would normally be impossible. If that sounds too science-fiction for you, be aware that it’s a real product in development. It’s called the Nixie Drone, and the project literally just got wings: it recently won $500,000 through a design competition held by Intel.

That’s right, Intel was holding a MakeItWearable Challenge, aiming to further invigorate the wearables market. Nixie recently got the top prize, giving it enough cash to take the rough prototype much closer to becoming a product you can buy. We’re not sure how far away they are from being able to ship it, but the technology presumably exists to make something like this. So keep an eye out on this space.

Early Prototype

Early Prototype

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