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Geeky Gizmos

  • Phase-changing material edges shapeshifting Terminators closer to reality

    Robots will soon be everywhere, and we all (just like Will Smith) will have to deal with it. But for now, the rigid, metallic materials used in robotic construction don’t allow them the ubiquitous freedom they crave. But this may soon change. Researchers from MIT have now developed a new phase-changing material that could allow future robots to shift between soft and hard states. Developed by Anette Hosoi, along with Nadia Cheng, robotics company Boston Dynamics and DARPA, the new material is a low-cost breakthrough for the robotics industry. Just like an octopus or a mouse, or if you love movie references...

  • Russia’s R1 super-tram will ‘integrate into any landscape’ and it has USB 3.0

    Only in Russia, say the memes, but in this particular case, it certainly rings true. Recently debuting at Innoprom 2014 was the Soviet nation’s most elaborate, and certainly tech-drenched tram the world has ever seen. Dubbed the Russia One (or R1), the high-tech transport looks a bit like a snail, and one wouldn’t be misled to think of a tram as an overweight piece of wood with a few rails beneath. But Yekaterinburgian creators (yes, that’s a real place) of the Russia One, UralVagonZavod (UVZ) have certainly removed the stigma with one fell swoop. The bi-directional R1 has a forward-slanted windshield, that provides...

  • Knomo’s Knomad will get and keep you going

    Carrying around more and more cables, gizmos means finding items can be annoying and tangles are a daily occurrence. Showing they are more than simply a luxury bag maker, Knomo is fixing this and venturing into the electronics market with a battery collaboration (via CasePower) for its forthcoming product “Knomad” — a portable organiser. Made from cotton canvas with brass fixtures and a raw leather touchpoint trip (no mucky hands to ruin it!) this is one durable bit of kit. Not waterproof but splash-proof for sure – it’s meant to be taken out, used and lusted...

  • Sweetened Raspberry Pi B+ features four USB ports, lower power drain

    Coming under increased pressure from the likes of the BeagleBone and the HummingBoard in the battle of the micro-computers, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has launched a refreshed model dubbed the “Model B+”. The original Model B has been roaming the wild for a good two years now without so much as a change of clothes, but finally the Cambridgeshire-based firm has pushed what it deems “the final evolution of the original Raspberry Pi.” For those expecting a beefier hardware upgrade, cue disappointment. Although it will remain at a highly competitive US$35, the Model B+ now features double the USB ports, a...

  • I know what you’re thinking: Google Glass, now with mind control

    Google Glass doesn’t exactly have a wonderful public image, nor the people who use it. The US$1 000 device has come under some scrutiny for its privacy pervasive nature in a post-Snowden world. But a new appendage may just change this perception, or involuntarily, make it worse. NeuroSky, manufacturers of brainwave harnessing biosensors, had its MindWave Mobile fitted to Google Glass, allowing the wearer to control the Glass using nothing but brain function. While the Glass fits around the ears, the MindWave is mounted on the forehead. No touch, motion or speech is needed at all, just thought. The EEG and Glass...

  • 9 gadgets that scream ‘America!’

    When John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence back in 1776, the term “technology” probably encompassed what was then bourgeoning stream engine technology and the quill used to sign the parchment. Nearly 350 years later though, as Americans gear up for the celebration of this day, technology is an integral part of their and the world society in general. As the homes and streets from New York to Los Angeles are painted red, white and blue, why should techology not follow suit and take part in the celebrations? Here are nine of the most patriotic, America-loving, Fourth of July-celebrating gizmos...

  • Powerful $45 HummingBoard mini-PC becomes latest Raspberry Pi-eater

    The Raspberry Pi has sat atop the single-board computing throne for a long while now, without so much as a challenger in sight. But an Israeli-led company, SolidRun, is now taking orders for it’s Pi-eater — the HummingBoard. Sparked into creation by Kossay Omary and Rabeeh Khoury in 2010, SolidRun has previous experience in building home media devices, most notably the CuBox series. The HummingBoard takes this philosophy and strips it ever so lightly. Although the single-board, scalable computer is slightly wider than the Pi, it has everything one should expect from its competitor. There are three models currently available, starting...

  • Tetris-playing T-shirt brings games and garments together

    Tetris has been around since the mid-eighties, but has never been played quite like this before. Marc Kerger, a techie hailing from the tiny state of Luxembourg has created the wearable-to-end-all-wearables — a Tetris-playing T-shirt. Paying homage to the game’s 30th anniversary, Kerger placed 128 LEDs onto a 3D-printed custom housing, some soft material to pose as buttons and a set of Adafruit Matrix controllers to govern all the lights. These components are then mated to an Arduino Uno microcontroller and powered by some rechargeable AA batteries. The result? A working, wearable and fully portable Tetris game that can be played...

  • Ai.Frame is a motion-controlled mini-robot that moonwalks its way into your heart

    For those who remember the original Transformers or Go-Bots brand of toys, this Kickstarter project will perhaps conjure the fondest of memories. Shenzen-based project, Ai.Frame creates miniature humanoid robots, fully customisable and open-source, fit for tweaking. It’s also the next big hit on Kickstarter. Started in 2012 by Chinese innovators Jiaqi Hu and Zebo Sun, Ai.Frame has blown past its initial funding goal in just two days with five weeks to go. The most affordable robot is available for backers at just US$179. “There are many great robotic inventions on the market,” notes the developers, “but in the meantime, for most people,...

  • Netgear’s Nighthawk X6 first 3.2Gbps Tri-Band router

    Netgear, the maker of all things networking, has launched what it claims is the world’s first Tri-Band WiFi router — the US$299 “Nighthawk X6.” With a name like that, it could easily be mistaken for an actual gaming console, or the eponymous aircraft made by Lockheed, rather than a router. It’s apt as well, as the Nighthawk is powered by a 1GHz dual-core CPU, with three offload CPUs spreading additional load. While supporting the 802.11ac standard, the router houses five ethernet ports, six antennas and three wireless transmission bands — two 5GHz and one 2.4GHz — while “Smart Connect” technology places...

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