Apr 28 2006 Robotic Mine-Sensing Shoes
Scientists are working on a robotic shoe that detects and avoids landmines. The shoe contains six legs that each have a metal detecting base. As the wearer places a foot down, all six of the legs test the ground to determine if a mine is present. If a mine is detected, the leg over the mine will raise, applying no pressure to ground and preventing the wearer from triggering the mine. Since landmines kill tens of thousands of people every year, these shoes are welcome inventions. With this technology, you'll also be able to effortlessly walk over the homeless people that used to remind you just how cruel and unforgiving the world really is. Plus you'll be like a foot taller!
Apr 28 2006 Eye Jewelry Contact Lenses
Designer Eric Klarenbeek has created new contact lenses that are guaranteed to increase the wearer's ability to frighten small children and animals. Dubbed "Eye Jewellery" [sic], these contact lenses apparently suspend tiny jewels from strands of wire. The jewelry hanging from these contacts supposedly does not affect vision, and it at least appears to make it easier to insert and remove the lenses. There's no word on testing or a release date, so until that day, you'll just have to stick to the standard jewel-encrusted eye patch.
Apr 28 2006 WinePod Personal Winery
If brewing your own bathtub rum has given you more alcohol burns than delicious hooch, you should consider taking a more civilized approach. Enter the WinePod, a product that might actually deserve to have "pod" in its name. The WinePod lets you make your own wine from the comfort of your "home or office," once again improving the outlook of casual fridays. It uses a wireless onboard computer to control the process, and the complete winery setup goes for about $1999. $1999 can buy you a lot of wine, sure, but that wine won't make you happy. Happiness only comes in a glass of wine made with M&M's and Cadbury Creme Eggs.
Apr 28 2006 Appeal: Charge Batteries by Swinging a Rope
Appeal is a new battery charger concept that requires no energy source beyond the simple activity of swinging a rope. The concept charges batteries by tapping the centrifugal force created from swinging the charger around repeatedly in a motion similar to that of a lasso. I'm sure hikers will see this charger as a great way to keep camera batteries charged on long hikes, only to accidently swing the charger into their head, sending their batteries flying into the woods and leaving them as unconscious prey for foraging mountain lions. In the end, I guess that's the secret goal of most electronics, finally putting an end to the terrible scourge of hikers once and for all.
Apr 27 2006 Cell Phone Movie Tickets
MobilRelay, a small midwestern technology company, has developed a technology that can transform your cell phone into a movie ticket. Using an internet-enabled cell phone, customers simply browse to the Mobile Box Office website, choose and purchase tickets for their selected movie and times, and then wait for a text message that contains a barcode relating to the purchase. The usher scans the barcode when the customer enters the theater, and the customer gracefully skips the lines and unmanageable stress usually involved with buying a ticket from an actual person. Also, when you purchase tickets on your phone, only you and the usher will know that you saw Big Momma's House 2 eight times, a secret shame you'll both carry to your death.
Apr 27 2006 Thought-Based Passwords
With the ever-increasing amount of technology that is trying to get inside your head comes the idea to retrieve passwords directly from your brain. The proposed system is based around using brain-wave signatures as "pass-thoughts," which are supposedly unique to each individual. These "pass-thoughts" could be anything from a "snatch of song, a memory of your last birthday, or even the image of your favorite painting." The benefit of this system over that of finger print or iris scanners is that people would be able to change their passwords periodically, greatly reducing the black market value of your severed eye and finger. They are still working on a machine that can comfortably isolate "pass-thoughts" from a distance, so until then, I'll continue to get my passwords tattooed on my lower lip.
Apr 27 2006 Boomer: Tennis-Playing/Trash-Talking Robot
Boomer is a new tennis robot that vastly improves on the current tennis ball machines. Instead of just firing balls randomly at its opponent, Boomer has the ability to serve, return, play out a point, call the lines and the score, rate the quality of shots, and even "talk trash." Using a computer and a camera setup, Boomer tracks the location of the tennis ball in the court. If the human opponent makes a shot that's in, boomer will reply with a "realistic" return. This continues until the human or robot makes a mistake, or when the human attacks the robot for its nonstop insults. Boomer's skill level can be changed from beginner to world champion, and it costs approximately $14,450. If you can't find an actual person to play tennis for $14,450, I suggest you take up a less social sport like solitaire or vandalism.
Apr 26 2006 Robotic Legs for the Elderly
A professor at the Waseda University in Tokyo has revealed his cure-all solution to the nation's growing elderly care problem: a pair of wobbly robotic legs. The two-legged robot is being developed by the university to provide transportation up stairs and inclines for the elderly and handicapped. It stands a unsteady four feet high, and it is controlled by two joysticks on the armrests of the chair it supports. If elderly people have a hard time getting around on their own, wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that they'll have a hard time controlling a giant monstrosity of gears and hydraulics? I'm definitely not looking forward to the day when old people start trampling parked cars and busting through walls. Or am I?
Apr 26 2006 Airport Robots Carry People to Flights
The New Kitakyushu Airport in Japan is experimenting with robots that carry baggage and people to and from their flights. These 'porter robots' are box-shaped machines that move around the airport under the control of the passengers or on predetermined courses. The robots are currently being used on a trial basis, and there are plans of adding arms and heads to the robots before launching them. Remember, this story only applies to the New Kitakyushu Airport. If a robot approaches you and runs off with your luggage at any other airport, it's probably just a homeless guy in a cardboard box robot costume. The difference between the two is subtle, but it's there.
Apr 26 2006 Hard Drive Speaker Modification
If your speaker system fails, why not make some new speakers out of a few spare hard drives? The linked tutorial shows you how to do just that, using modified hard drives to produce speaker-quality sounds. The sound is created from the rapid vibrations of the heads and platters in the hard drives, which are controlled by a simple audio amplifier. The tutorial even mentions that this type of modification isn't limited to hard drives, but rather anything with an electric motor. I suggest you make some speakers out of the motor in your neighbor's Prius. He might be angry at first, but when his car starts pumping some solid party jams, he's bound to cool down and start dancing.
Apr 25 2006 Shocking Arm Wrestling Kit
Do you strive to add more consequences to the embarrassment and shame that accompany your constant arm wrestling losses? If so, you might be interested in picking up the Shocking Arm Wrestling Kit. To use the kit, you simply attach the included glove to your wrestling hand, place your elbow on the pad, and arm wrestle as usual. When the loser's hand and glove hit the table, they're hit with a lethal electric shock. No wait, not lethal. Small. A small electric shock. You might pass this off as a cheap novelty, but remember, the only way to reconnect with your son is to make it into that national arm wrestling competition in Las Vegas. You need as much practice as possible.
Apr 25 2006 Vidstone 7" LCD Panel for Tombstones
Tombstones are about to enter the digital age, my friend. Vidstone is offering the Serenity Panel, a solar-powered 7" LCD panel that can be placed on a gravestone, mausoleum, or columbarium. The Serenity Panel will display a five to eight minute photo slideshow detailing "the most precious memories of your loved one's life" and fully creeping out everyone who happens to pass by on the way to less haunting memorials. The product sounds suspicious, and judging from the picture, Vidstone is actually the ghost of a company that died four years ago. The only ghost companies I trust employ Peter Venkman.
Apr 25 2006 Brain Port Tongue Interface
CNN has an article about a new interface that transmits images directly to the brain through a device placed on the tongue. The interface, known as the "Brain Port," has the potential to transfer data from cameras, compasses, sonar, etc. through electrodes on the device and into images in the user's brain. It is currently being developed for military applications, with an intent to create soldiers with "superhuman senses similar to owls, snakes and fish." At its current stage, the device has helped scuba divers locate small objects in controlled conditions and produced some visual perception for blind testers. Although it would be great for soldiers to have 360° sonar, it's a lot harder to call for help during the next shark, bear, or bear shark attack with giant plastic pacifiers in their mouths.
Apr 24 2006 Sazo GMS Tracking Device
Verify Location, a UK company that specializes in offering tracking services to the public, is now offering the Sazo GSM. About the size of a matchbox, the Sazo GSM broadcasts its geographic location to an internet site where it can be tracked and monitored. Unlike GPS tracking devices like the TrackStick, this Sazo model uses cellular phone frequencies to determine its location, making it feasible for use in enclosed areas. In addition to tracking, the Sazo GSM offers services similar to a cell phone, like receiving calls and sending emergency SMS messages. Unfortunately, the device and service are only offered in the UK, so you'll have to find another way to determine if your girlfriend really spends her nights volunteering at that homeless senior citizen blood drive she's always talking about.
Apr 24 2006 Audi's In-Car Espresso Machine
Audi has unveiled a car accessory that could make your daily arguments with moody teenage barristas a thing of the past. The WMF espresso machine is a coffee machine that sits firmly between the driver and passenger seat in Audi's latest concept car. Although it appears in a concept form, Audi assured that it is fully functional, "provides fresh coffee at the touch of a button," and will only occasionally sprays the driver's crotch with a blistering stream of searing coffee. Combine this espresso machine with some of RoadPro's utensils, and you could rent out your kitchen to a family of nomadic herders.
Apr 24 2006 Ledwrap Treats Crigler-Najjar Syndrome
Crigler-Najjar syndrome is a disorder that inhibits the breakdown of poisonous bilirubin in the body, which can lead to yellow skin and eventually be fatal. To treat the disorder, sufferers are forced to expose their skin to a specific blue light for hours on end, usually in a modified tanning bed. In an attempt to create an easier form of treatment, Philomeen Engels has developed the Ledwrap, a suit made of breathable material with flexible disks of LEDs. The Ledwrap emits the correct color of light necessary to treat the disorder, and it enables a much more fluid and comfortable treatment. The final benefit of the Ledwrap is to give the wearer the proper data files necessary to end the tyrannical reign of the MCP once and for all.
Apr 24 2006 World's Largest 3D Display
Electrical engineering students at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have created the world's largest 3D-display. The display consists of 8,000 suspended ping pong balls that each contain a red LED light. It will be used to play games of 3D snake, 3D pong, and 3D duckhunt, and it will display SMS messages and simple animations. The display will be revealed on April 23, and remain open to the public until a wino inevitably enters and gets trapped in the strands of welcoming light.
Apr 21 2006 Skatesonic Skateboard Instruments
If you thought those thirteen year old skateboarders in your neighborhood were annoying, just wait until their skateboards start blasting whiny emo rock. Skatesonic is a project that places special electronics on the trucks and wheels of skateboards to produce music. The music varies depending on the surface that the skateboard is rolling over and the different way people ride. The skateboards can be hooked up in unison, so a group of skateboarders can each play their own "instrument." If I wake up one morning because a bunch of skateboarders are "jamming" together on the sidewalk in front of my home, I'm going to start pelting them with VHS cassettes of Grind.
Apr 21 2006 TrackStick GPS Tracking Device
ThinkGeek is now selling an clever GPS tracking device. About the size of a USB thumb drive, TrackStick GPS Data Logger will record its exact coordinates every few minutes. It has no display, but when you can plug it into any computer, and it can sync up with Mapquest or Google maps to show you where it's been; the time, date, and altitude of each reading; and its speed and direction traveled. The small form factor of the TrackStick lets you place it practically anywhere, and the battery life will last between 5 to 7 days. Simply place one of these in your pocket and you'll know exactly where you were during that night of heavy drinking, providing you with helpful clues when you try to figure out why you woke up next to so many unconscious transvestites.
Apr 21 2006 Sega Genesis Guitar
The people at MusicThing have found an eBay auction for an electric guitar made from an old Sega Genesis. If early reports are to be believed, this thing "looks cool, sounds cool." Finally, all those hours spent alone playing Sega in your room because no one wanted to be your friend will transfer to all those hours spent alone playing the Sega guitar in your room because no one wants you to join their band.
Apr 21 2006 Motorola's Electric Alerts for Cell Phones
Motorola has patented a new technology that will silently shock you the next time you receive a call. The technology uses a special stimulator pad that is worn on the skin of the user. The phone sends a single to the pad when it receives a call, which activates a set of electrodes on the pad and silently notifies the user. This patent is Motorola's attempt to inform the user of a call in a completely silent manner, as even vibrating alerts make some audible noise. When not used as a call notifier, the stimulator pad can be used as part of a simple ab training routine. Through Motorola's patented technology, you will gain a six pack of abs so strong, you can crack a chestnut on them. Or so the legend goes...
Apr 20 2006 Build Your Own Tornado Machine
Harald Edens has posted step-by-step plans to make your very own tornado generation machine. Before you start planning your path of trailer park destruction, you should know that the vortex it creates is localized inside the machine, and the machine is mainly for visual purposes. The project apparently uses basic parts that you can find in junk yards, and it supposedly doesn't require that much effort to build. One person has even confirmed that it's possible. Although it seems like a neat project, I'm pretty sure that this device will inevitably end up in the pages of those catalogs with other "interesting" products like x-ray glasses that don't work and fake dog poop that ends up being the reason why your dad takes your dog to the vet to get put down. On your birthday. When your grandmother died. I might be speaking from personal experience.
Apr 20 2006 NASA's Robot Surgeon
NASA has been testing a remote-controlled robot surgeon in an undersea laboratory off the coast of Florida. For one exercise, surgical researchers 1,250 miles away sent commands to the robot, which managed to successfully suture a badly damaged vein in the wounded arm of a "patient simulator." With the possibility of human injury on future Lunar and Martian outposts, NASA is hoping that the use of surgical robots and "telemedicine" will delay the need for medical doctor astronauts. The article states that the robots should eventually be able to perform "most operations." I hope "most operations" includes "the surgery required to repair an unfeeling robot doctor's horrible mistakes." Oh, and hopefully collagen injections too.
(Photo of da Vinci surgical system)
Apr 20 2006 Fashion in Motion Contest Winner: Triple Watch
A University of Bridgeport student has won the 2006 Fashion in Motion contest with his design for the Triple Watch. The Triple Watch concept is a cell phone that folds conveniently into a watch-size factor for storage on a wrist band. Calls can be received either when the phone is unfolded or via a speakerphone when the it is on the wrist. The runner-up for the contest was a wedding dress that transforms into a screeching robot pterodactyl... or it would have been, if I had taken the time to enter it.
Apr 20 2006 Japanese Filmgoers to Smell Colin Farrell
A movie theater in Japan will begin pumping different smells into the audience to correspond with scenes taking place on the screen. Using technology developed by NTT Communications, seven different scents are released from a mix of oils stored in machines under the back two rows of the movie theater. The first movie to use this technology will be "The New World" in which a floral scent will accompany love scenes, peppermint and rosemary for sad scenes, citrus for scenes of joy, and new car smell for the scenes when Colin Farrell and Pocahontas tear up the streets of the new world in a bitchin' Trans Am.
Apr 19 2006 Self-Assembling Robot Chair
The D'Andrea Group has developed a robotic chair that falls apart and reassembles itself on command. Remotely activating the chair causes it to break into six pieces: the legs, back, and seat. The seat then sprouts wheels, searches out its fallen comrades, reassembles, and then returns itself to an upright position. Check the video to see it in action. They say that the concept will ease future chair transportation, but it's safe to assume that a lot of other things in the future will assemble and disassemble on their own, like cars, computers, appliances, jigsaw puzzles, relationships, even sandwiches... Especially sandwiches.
Apr 19 2006 HP Hidden Camera Prototype
Hewlett-Packard has designed a wearable camera prototype that is easily concealable in an "ordinary" pair of sunglasses. The camera can capture 1.3 megapixel images at 7.5 frames per second or .3 megapixel images at 30 frames per second, storing the images on a portable hard drive. The system continuously records images, but the wearer has to press a button on the device to store the previous 20 seconds and the following 5 minutes of footage on the hard drive. The hard drive will store approximately 3 hours of footage, which just about covers the length of time you will spend trying to convince people that there isn't a hidden camera in your goofy, oversized sunglasses.
Apr 19 2006 Singapore's Xbox 360 Treasure Hunt
Microsoft is hosting a "treasure hunt" contest in Singapore where they are giving away five Xbox 360s. The "Where is My 360?" contest places 5 webcams at different points on the island which broadcast on the contest's website. Singaporeans can go to the website to view the webcam feeds, and if they can find the exact location of one of the cameras, they will win an Xbox 360. However, if two people find the location of a webcam at the same time, they will fight to the death for the 360 in a televised battle airing on G4 and sponsored by Sprite. Now that's television!
Apr 19 2006 Ants Help Robots Navigate
Scientists are studying ants to help autonomous robots improve their navigation skills. Ants use landmarks to find their way in unknown territory, as well a system known as "path integrator," in which ants continually measure the distance traveled and directions taken in order to determine a straight route back to their home. This system is a reliable way to navigate, and many feel it could be beneficial to robots. Scientists plan to continue to study ants for robot technology, with an eventual goal of having thousands of tiny robots enter my house and start living in my kitchen and ruining all those pop tarts and my cereal and that last piece of cake that I was saving for a special occasion. Those greedy bastards.
Apr 18 2006 Alcohawk Keychain Breathalyzer
The Alcohawk Micro is a $50 electronic alcohol breathalyzer that is small enough to carry on your keychain. The Alcohawk's simple one button operation and quick five second testing make determining your blood alcohol level so easy that even a kid can do it... which is what your kid will have to do when you're busy figuring out why you can't seem to stand up anymore. One AAA battery will last for 150 tests, or the equivalent of a weekend of trips between your favorite drive-through daiquiri stand and the nursing home where you fulfill the mandatory community service obligation from your last alcohol violation.
Apr 18 2006 QRIO Robot Infiltrates Classroom
Sony researchers performed an experiment in which one of their biped robots was placed in a classroom to determine how kids adapt to robots. The study determined that children would spend up to twice as much time participating in activities when the robot was present in the room. The kids also began to care for the robot, helping it up whenever it fell and making conscious attempts to protect it from harm. The researchers said that the purpose of the sending a robot to school was to help improve robot technology, but it's obvious that they are just doing research for the inevitable update of the Not Quite Human series, Still Not Quite Human II Again: The Revenge. Nice try, Sony.
Apr 17 2006 Hamster vs. Human Video Game
A research lab in Singapore has been working on a video game that will allow you to play against your pet hamster. Their project, Mice Arena, places a hamster in a tank with a computer-controlled floor. When a human player begins a game, the floor of the tank shifts and molds to match the landscape of the video game. The player's location in the video game is mapped to a piece of bait in the tank, and the hamster's location and movement in the tank is mapped into the video game. As the player moves and attempts to flee the digital hamster in the game, the piece of bait in the tank moves in a corresponding direction. Although this is a good start, I won't be happy until people and hamsters start facing off in arena combat similar to that of American Gladiators. The eventual prize of those bouts? Complete control of the world's supply of wood chips and exercise wheels.
Apr 17 2006 Bikini-Clad Computer Case
Katsuya Matsumura is apparently a Japanese computer case modder with a penchant for creating creepy female computer cases. The linked page shows the step by step process he used to make his most recent... "creation," a bikini-clad woman referred to as "On the Beach." So, if you've been aching to use the phrase "my girlfriend can run Windows 95," feel free to attempt his complex and detailed process. After all, by completely avoiding the female population, you'll have more than enough time to create a whole neighborhood of girlfriend computers. Just don't forget to name them and knit them clothes and wedding gowns; you need to keep things sensible.
Apr 17 2006 Woofer: Nightmarish Dog Speaker
Dutch design studio Buro Vormkrijgers finally gives you a legitimate reason to have a talking headless dog in your house. The Woofer is simply a cast resin dog with a speaker in its neck. A single dog will provide you with a subwoofer, and a pair of dogs will give you stereo sound. The studio also has plans to create smaller "Tweeter" speakers that apply this concept to birds. Plastic dogs might get the job done, but if you really want high quality sound, I suggest you take your stereo to the local taxidermist. Nothing says "high quality sound" like a bear carcass filled with speakers.
Apr 14 2006 Life Expectancy Watch
Finally, someone has designed a product that never lets you forget death's cold grip constantly firming on your wrist. A patent was filed in 1991 for the "Life Expectancy Watch," which monitors and displays the "approximate time remaining in a lifespan of an individual" by decrementing years, days, hours, minutes, and seconds to your actuarially-determined death date. The watch also has the ability to shift the countdown as the individual ages. This would be a great way to evaluate choices in your daily life. Thinking about jumping the Snake River Canyon in a rocket-powered skycycle? Your watch says you won't die until 2012, so I say go for it.
Apr 14 2006 Wall of Twelve 30" Monitors
Apparently someone named "Crazy Jon" decided to install twelve 30 inch monitors on a wall in his house. The monitors are powered by three networked computers with two 512MB video cards in each, producing a total resolution of 49,152,000 pixels. This project required additional support beams for the wall, an intricate series of 48 fans to keep the monitors cool, and three 1,000 watt power supplies. As to why Jon spent thousands of dollars on the setup, I'm sure it's to watch twelve Ernest movies at one time. No price is too high for that much Ernest.
Apr 14 2006 Cell Phone LCD Projector
South Korean company Iljin Display is working on miniscule LCD projectors that can be placed inside cell phones and digital cameras. The projectors will cast a seven inch, full color display onto walls, floors, and the backs of a large people on the bus. The technology for the projectors is currently as large as a pack of cigarettes, but the company aims to get it down to the size of a matchbox by the end of the year. Unfortunately, enlarging your contact list with a projector won't change the fact that you only have numbers for your mom and Dunkin Donuts. Also, it's been around a half an hour since you last talked to your mom, so you might want to give her a call.
Apr 13 2006 Gold-Plated Golf Ball to Destroy Space Station
The Russian space agency is pressuring NASA to allow a cosmonaut to hit a golf ball from the international space station. A Canadian golf company has paid the Russian space agency and undisclosed amount of money to hit a special gold-plated golf ball into orbit, but they must get NASA's approval before the cosmonaut can tee off. NASA officials have stated that one of the biggest concerns is that the golf ball or the golf club will accidentally hit the space station, which was not designed to withstand golf-related attacks. "We are doing this for the sport of golf, not for the money" a Russian space agency representative said, immediately followed by "I will take off my pants right now for four dollars cash." Or I might have said that. I can't remember.
Apr 13 2006 Intelligent Spoon "Eases" Cooking
Connie Cheng and Leonardo Bonanni have created the Intelligent Spoon, a cooking concept that will force you to use a computer the next time you just want to make some damn pudding. The Intelligent Spoon is equipped with various sensors that calculate a dish's temperature, acidity, salinity, and viscosity. The readings from the spoon are sent over a cable to a computer that will calculate and display the results and offer cooking suggestions. Future plans for the intelligent spoon include adding a sensor that will estimate the number of times you'll ruin that spaghetti recipe before you give up and slap a hot pocket into the microwave.
Apr 13 2006 Bionic Vision Surgery for the Blind
Cheri Robertson, a woman who lost both of her eyes in a car crash, received an experimental new surgery that restored some of her vision. The procedure inserts electrodes into the brain that interact with a camera placed on the person's glasses, allowing someone without eyes to become slightly more terrifying to children. The surgery is only for people who had vision at one point in their life, and at this stage Cheri can only see "two splashes" of light . Not without risk, the surgery's main concern is an infection where the port goes into the head. Although I can appreciate the courage involved in attempting such a surgery, I have to point out that a seeing eye dog has never produced an infection in someone's brain port.
Apr 12 2006 Fashbag pumping USB drive
Flashbag is a USB drive that inflates relative to the amount of data it holds. It's an interesting concept, but doesn't seem practical in actual use. Not only would the inflated drive be annoying to use, it'd also tip off your co-workers as to just how much porn you were storing in there. And I'm talking lesbian porn, my friends. The good stuff.
Apr 12 2006 NASA Moon Missile (Probe)
NASA is taking time off from making orthopedic space mattresses to finally do some real work: launching a missile into the moon. Okay, maybe not a missile missile, but a probe. Probes are like peaceful missiles. In an attempt to determine the possibility of hidden ice on the moon, NASA will fire the probe at the moon's surface, excavating a hole the size of a football field and creating a violent explosion that will be visible on Earth through a telescope. The probe's mother ship will fly through the resulting plume of debris to take samples and readings. If I had known that NASA was all about collisions and violent explosions, I would have focused on getting a job with them rather than shooting for manager at Burger King. I wonder if it's too late.
Apr 12 2006 Weirdest USB Gadgets
Wired has compiled a list of weirdest USB gadgets. The list includes the standard favorites like hand warmers, toothbrushes, and novelty aquariums, as well as adding some lesser-known entries like electric blankets, humidifiers, and the inappropriately corded puppy cam. Pictured is the USB eye massager, which provides "comfort for the weary-eyed computer user." I think we can all agree that nothing is more comfortable than jamming a vibrating plastic finger into your eye. One glaring absence from the list is Dada's MP3-playing shoe. What's wrong Wired? Afraid of a little class and style?
Apr 12 2006 Laser Keyboard Available
ThinkGeek is now selling the fabled bluetooth laser virtual keyboard for $179.99. The 3.5 inch gadget projects a laser keyboard on any flat surface, providing a full qwerty keyboard for your cell phone or PDA. When you type on the keyboard, the device emits simulated click sounds, providing much needed feedback since you are typing on keys of light. How far off is a giant laser keyboard projected onto the floor? I'm sure people would love to recreate that piano scene in Big whenever they attempt to stomp out yet another tedious corporate email.
Apr 11 2006 Ron Mueck's hyper-realistic sculptures
Ron Mueck is an Australian hyper-realist sculptor who makes sculptures that faithfully reproduce minute details of the human body, but plays with scale to make them visually jarring. Check out this gallery in the Washington Post and try not to be amazed. It's what would happen if Michelangelo and Jim Henson each took a hit of acid and then joined forces. And by 'joined forces' I mean made sweet tender love to each other. Because that's how sculptures are made, my friend. Through the magic of sexual intercourse.
GamePro has compiled a list of what they feel are the most controversial video game ads of all time. The list is pretty short and not all that shocking though, making me wonder just how much research they put into this thing. I'm sure the ad for Tetris featuring me having sex with a cow was pretty controversial. And yet, no cow sex ad to be seen. What's the deal, GamePro?
Apr 11 2006 Space Robot Battles
Organizers of the annual ROBO-ONE robot battles in Japan have announced plans to hold a robot fight in space by 2010. The competition, which is designed to increase the progress of killer space robot technology, will take place near a special satellite and consist of grappling matches between two biped robots. The robots must be no larger than 4 inches, and the whole competition depends on unsecured international approval, but I'm excited that there will finally be robots fighting in space. Unless the competition is just a front for a plan to steal service from the HBO satellite, which has been the secret goal of every space exploration mission since 1963.
Apr 11 2006 Jupiter Nanny Robot
Korean robot manufacturer Yujin has released pictures of its upcoming nanny robot "Jupiter." Jupiter recognizes human voices and orders, and it can carry out simple duties like rolling around your house and knocking things over. Jupiter also interacts with people via two main displays, its face and a screen on its chest. Jupiter's face uses electronic facial expressions that display emotions like happiness, confusion, and bone-crushing rage. The screen on its chest is hidden behind a chest plate, and it delivers messages, weather forecasts, news information, and tutoring programs for children. Jupiter also apparently has spikes extending from its side, so you know can feel safe leaving your kids alone under its care while you take another relaxing robot-free vacation.
Apr 10 2006 Toddler-Targeted MP3 Player
Fisher-Price has announced that it will launch the Digital Song and Story Player, an MP3 player that is aimed solely at toddlers. The MP3 player will feature volume-restricted headphones, a basic five button layout, and a screen that will feature simple pictures. Fisher-Price is also unrolling its online music store that will sell only parent-approved songs, stories, and Scandinavian death metal. The MP3 player will be released this summer, and it is only the first in a line of gadgets that will target toddlers, which includes digital cameras, cell phones, and junior electronic breathalyzer tests. Maybe.
Apr 7 2006 Lazy Drinker Mixed Drink Machine
Not everybody can be an talented bartender, spinning bottles of alcohol while simultaneously making out with a movie star girlfriend and preaching the word of Scientology. Or something. I don't know. For those who are unsure of their abilities as a mixologist, pick up the Lazy Drinker, a computer controlled mixed cocktail dispensing device that is housed in a blue cooler. The Lazy Drinker holds 16 ingredients, and it uses a simple computer program to mix over 5000 different drinks. You'll always need a computer nearby, so your trips to the beach might not change, but casual Fridays at your work are about to get a whole lot more casual.
Apr 7 2006 PixelRoller: Computer-Assisted Paint Roller
PixelRoller is a paint roller that paints text and images uploaded to the roller from a computer interface. Designed by Stuard Wood and Florian Ortkrass, the PixelRoller restricts the amount and location of the paint that's released, creating a line of text with every slash of the roller. Although they have also used the PixelRoller to create simple images (see below), they admit that it needs further development before it can be marketed. This seems like a quick and easy way to add another line of text to your card door or rear window. Remember, your car's speed is directly proportional to the number of times you've inappropriately plastered your car's brand name on your car.
Apr 7 2006 Antarctic Research Robot
US scientists and engineers have built a solar-powered robot that should be able to handle the cold Antarctic climate. The one-cubic meter robot has the ability to drive hundreds of kilometers and perform scientific experiments without the aid of human or satellite interaction. The robot weighs around 130lbs, and it can carry a "delicate payload" of around 155lbs. Putting two and two together, it's obvious that the scientists are going to use this for some sort of Antarctic stripper transport, allowing the stripper to burst out of the robot like so many cardboard birthday cakes. With a fleet of five of these robots planned, Antarctica will finally reach the number one spot on the list of sexiest destinations for bachelor parties and spring break vacations.
Apr 6 2006 Lazer Trip Wire Solves Parenting Problems
How many times have you told your kids to stand in one spot while you go out for a night of drinking, only to come back and find that they're asleep on the floor or, worse yet, crying in some corner? Dozens, at least. Get some added help with the Lazer Trip Wire, a basic intrusion detection system that uses "harmless light beams" to keep your kids exactly where you left them. If they break the light barrier, an alarm will activate, notifying you that it's time again to remove dinner privileges for the next few weeks. Now that's good parenting.
Apr 6 2006 Fastest Robot on Two Legs
"RunBot," a robot developed by scientists from Germany and Scotland, has just beaten the record for fastest robot on two legs, walking at a brisk 3.5 leg lengths per second. The speed record was previously held by MIT's "Spring Flamingo," a robot that is much taller, but only manages to move at 1.4 leg-lengths per second. The "RunBot" has very few sensors compared to other two-legged robots, and only detects when a foot touches the ground and when a leg swings forward. On the goal of the project, one scientist stated "we wanted to show that a very simple system with a simple neuronal controller could walk in a natural manner," which actually means "I wanted a robot that could walk down to the liquor store to get me a carton of cigarettes, which is what my kid used to do before my wife got him in the settlement."
Apr 6 2006 RFID Robot Searches Purses
Japanese corporations DNP and NICT have developed an robot that will alert women when they forget to bring something with them when they leave the house. The system is based around tiny RFID tags that are attached to keys, wallets, cell phones, handguns, etc. When you pass the robot on your way out of the house, you simply swing the purse in front of a sensor, and the robot automatically checks the RFID tags to see if you're forgetting anything, and if you are, the robot will tell you what you've forgotten. Too bad you can't use RFID tags on your dignity, which is what you're bound to forget when you are constantly swinging your girlfriend's purse in front of a judgmental robot.
Apr 5 2006 Murderous GPS
Certain satellite navigation systems in England are sending drivers dangerously close to the edge of a 100ft cliff. Apparently when people enter the destination of a small village named "Crackpot" into their cars' GPS systems, they are directed to take a winding cliffside road that is usually reserved for hikers and 4x4s. I can't say that I'm surprised to see GPS systems attempting to murder their feeble human "owners," and I guess this explains why my car keeps telling me to go to that one abandoned meat packing plant that always seems to have its lights on.
Apr 5 2006 Aerodynamic Ski Backpack
NASA rocket scientist Charles Bienz has designed an ultra aerodynamic backpack that will allow downhill skier Henry Egger to reach speeds of around 120mph. The backpack, affectionately referred to as "Emma", is an "optimized shell" made from Kevlar and carbon fiber that keeps Henry in an "aerodynamically ideal position." Emma was tailor-made for Henry Egger after mapping out his body with lasers, and it weighs around 26 pounds. When not on the ski slopes, Emma transforms into a red 18 wheeler, allowing Henry to easily "roll out."
Apr 4 2006 Robot Suit Mountain Climber
A Japanese quadriplegic is planning on ascending a Swiss mountain the way most people do, strapped to the back of a mountaineer wearing a specialized robotic suit. Seji Uchida has always dreamed of climbing the alps, but a traffic accident in 1983 left him completely paralyzed from the neck down. Thanks to the development of HAL, a robotic suit which amplifies the strength of its wearer, Seji finally has an opportunity to completely ascend Breithorn mountain. Seji will be attached to the back of experienced alpinist Ken Noguchi, who will use HAL to carry Seji up the final ascent to the 13,741ft peak. After the mountain trek is successful, scientists plan on using the HAL suit to unlock the mystic powers of the slam dunk, and finally crack the sacred code of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Apr 4 2006 Super Mario Block Hysteria
Five teenage girls ages 16-17 may face criminal charges for hanging seventeen Super Mario Bros. "question blocks" around their small town. When residents spotted the cardboard boxes, they rightly assumed that Batman's arch-nemesis the Riddler was attacking their small Ohio town, and they immediately called the Sheriff's Department, Fire Department, HAZMAT crew, and Bomb Detection Unit. After the fiasco, the five girls claimed responsibility, and probably vowed to use a more recognizable game for their next prank. Like Burger Time.