Three New, Impractically Over-Engineered Technologies – The Twettle, Femtocells & BDXL

With some gadgets, you see them and know exactly how they will benefit your life, and therefore why you should buy them. With others, you appreciate their technology, but know that their creation will have almost no impact on your life. So sit back have a cup of tea and read about three of those, relaxed in the knowledge that your wallet is safe … for this post at least.

Cup-Of-Tea
(Image courtesy of: Flickr user *saxon*)

Twettle
The Twettle offers a solution to what no-one knew was a problem: how do you get your kettle to let you know when it has boiled, electronically?
The Twettle’s answer is simple: the device sends a tweet via a Wi-fi (or wired) connection to alert you as to when your water is boiling. While designers Ben Perman and Murat Multu may have over-estimated the importance of this function in the lives of everyday people, they’ve also added in other functions to make this a must have product. It records just how many times you’ve used the kettle, and how much water you’ve boiled. Although the device is still in the planning stage, the creators are seeking $500,000 to start producing the $115 kettles.

Twettle

Femtocells
The small, internal towers are affordable access points for cell phone networks, meaning that in low-signal or poor reception areas, interested clients can purchase a femtocell to enhance their signal. Aimed primarily at the business user (although home users can purchase them, too), the device is perfect for either rural or built-up areas, where cell phone single sometimes either cannot reach or gets confused with all the other wireless signals. The technology works by routing call information through an internet connection, minimising potential interference. However, for the true 4G experience, one would have to possess a fast internet connection to allow for the data speed offered by a traditional 4G reception. The devices are about the size of a Wi-fi router and will cost between $100 to $150 dollars from mobile phone carriers.

128GB Blu-ray Discs
Alright – Blu-ray usage is increasing every day, and you can almost only buy HD television sets in the UK. Blu-ray is slowly influencing the market. However, this new technology, which allows 128GB of content on each disc, needs both new players and new writers to support it. Expect a slow uptake from the big publishing studios, and an even slower uptake from people who have just bought a player and don’t want to spend any more money on technology that will be obsolete within the next five years!
The new discs come with a nifty name though – the BDXL.

SOWAT portable ashtray

Any environmentally friendly invention has to be admired. We can all realise the use and relevance of the solar panel, the wind turbine and the electric car because it is obvious to even the most lay of planet-keeper that what they are doing is essentially good; that there is worth in their existence. Beneath such obvious examples, there is a whole industry of products being invented by eco-minded individuals desperate to do their bit to help save the world whilst making a sly buck. Thus, it is just as important that we recognise the job that they are trying to do, and that if all these inventions did click and become household names then it’s a bit more likely that we’ll still have a half-decent planet kicking around in 200 years.

SOWAT-Portable-Ashtray

Joining this industry is the SOWAT ashtray a portable ashtray from France. The SOWAT (standing for Smoke Only With AshTray) is basically a plastic holder/clip for your fag packet. You slip your packet in and, running adjacent of the back of the pack is a small pop-out tray. This, in theory is where you stash your smoked cigarettes, which you can then dispose with later in an appropriate place. And therein lies the raison d’être of the SOWAT; it is there to stop the everyday smoker putting their 11 o’ clock fag out in the street. According to the press release, some 7,000 cigarettes are dropped in the Square Mile every day, whilst a mind-boggling 845,000 tonnes of butts are discarded worldwide every year. C2C, the Lyon-based team behind the SOWAT wanted to end this and accordingly, after carrying out what they describe as ‘extensive studies of smokers behaviour’, have developed this wee (1.05 ounces heavy) gadget that will rid our streets and rivers of fag-ends as smokers worldwide do the diligent thing and put their C-Sticks back in their pockets.

Of course, the only problem I can see with the device is that smokers (and bear in mind I am one) are among the most self-centred, most foolish band of brothers and sisters on the planet. They are, lets not forget, regularly doing something that very well might kill them sometime in the not-so-distant future. If they care so little about themselves, are they really going to inconvenience themselves to carry around a little device that looks like its been designed for drug dealers to smuggle their quarry into nightclubs? Of course they’re not. Still, the good people behind SOWAT have created a device that reduces smokers’ damage to the planet and that is no bad thing.

ReboundTag – New lost luggage tracking service

Do you frequently fly with your most treasured memories tightly packed in your luggage? Or are you too cheap to pay for travel insurance that covers your suitcase’s contents? Perhaps you are just paranoid?

If you answer yes to any of those questions, then brace yourself for a solution: the ReboundTag. Using state of the art technology, alongside a barcode, the device stores a personal ID number linked to ReboundTag’s online service, so that if your luggage goes-a-wandering, airlines and airports that use the service can helpfully return your luggage to you.

ReBoundTag

The technology inside of the tags is simply two RFID microchips, that store an a code that identifies ReboundTag as the service provider, an ID to display your user account details, and a spare ID so that airlines can save their own information as well.

The tags also have a printed barcode which complies with the airline standard barcode system, so that even in a low-tech airport, your high-tech solution is ready to go.

The service itself works in much the same way as microchipping a pet – you register the ID to your name, and if it goes missing and then is found by someone with the correct reading apparatus, the tagged item (or animal) can be safely returned – something I refer to as a Good Samaritan Service.

ReboundTag is slightly more technical that chipping a pet, however, as you can not only store your itinerary onto your account, so that your luggage can be automatically forwarded wherever you have disappeared to, but the ReboundTag servers also send out a notification via email or SMS as soon your bag has been discovered.

To work out just how much of a threat permanent bag loss is, we crunched some numbers from the US aviation database. On average, 4.6% of luggage is lost when taking a flight, and 15% of that is never returned to the rightful owner (the rest ends up in a warehouse in the Alabama, sold at auction). This means that on every flight there is a 0.7% chance of losing your luggage permanently.

Whether or not ReboundTag can successfully reduce this number – after all, it doesn’t prevent against deliberate theft – has yet to be proved. However, the service is a mere £19.99 for a three-year membership, or £49.95 for three tags in the Family Pack, and therefore more affordable for the paranoid than a dedicated shipment, or an armed escort.

Sony’s serene, hi-tech alarm clock

If your anything like me you dread the noise that emanates from traditional alarm clocks, my current alarm clock sounds like something from an alien planet – it’s a high-pitched foreign screech – I hate it. But Sony is about to release the serene and soothing ICF-C71PJ (we know it doesn’t sound that serene) but trust me this alarm clock looks to change the world of alarm clocks.

Sony-Alarm-Clock

Gone are the alien alarm noises and taking their place are five built-in soothing sounds from the natural world that provide you with an alternative to those annoying high frequency noises. You can choose from crisp digital recreations of undersea world, waves, mountain brook, rainfall or a birdsong to suit your mood.

The compact brushed aluminium finish will no doubt look great in anyone’s bedroom. It’s the first alarm clock to feature a built-in projector, which will project the time on to your wall or ceiling allowing for comfortable viewing.

There are multiple ways for this alarm clock to wake you; these include listening to your favourite radio shows with the FM/AM digital tuner, or you can plug-in your iPod or any other personal music player into the audio jack and listen to your favourite songs as you welcome in a new day.

Other notable inclusion are a built-in thermometer, which will give you the ambient temperature of your bedroom, making it a valuable way to check whether you have your heating set correctly for a good nights sleep.

This alarm clock dispels the problem of a late night power cuts with a battery back-up, which ensures that you always wake on time every time.

Sony have obviously spent a lot of time thinking about what functions a really good alarm clock should have, and they have decided that you shouldn’t hate you alarm clock – you should love it. And I think you will love this alarm clock, you will almost certainly hate the name, but for everything else it’s serene, thoughtful and full of features.

G.Tec’s intendiX – technology to read your mind

The hugely popular 1960s American sitcom Bewitched, involved a ‘witch’ called Samantha, wriggling her nose and being able to move the article she was focusing on anywhere she wanted. Since I was seven years old and a huge fan of the formidable show, I became slightly infatuated with the idea of being capable of creating movement solely by focusing on an object. This childhood obsession has sporadically come back to me as I fervently type away at my keyboard determined to not miss a deadline, intuitively musing ‘wouldn’t it be easier if my brain could automatically input the text?”

With the spectacular advances in technology in latter years, to be honest I knew it was only an amount of time before such technology was finally born, and after years of waiting patiently, I was overjoyed (and somewhat smug) to learn about the arrival the “world’s first commercial brain computer interface”.

The “Intendix” from Guger Technolgies, enables users to input text by their brains. But before I can throw away my exhausted keyboard, which is so worn out it has some of the vowel keys missing, in replacement for my brain, the Intendix is only intended for people with communication impaired disorders, such as locked-in syndrome.

This revolutionary unit involves the user wearing an EEG sensitive cap, which measures the activity in the brain. A network of letters then appear on the screen and the user simply has to focus on the letter they want to type. When the desired letter lights up, the brain reacts ever so slightly, a movement which is picked up by the Intendix and therefore has confirmation that this is the letter intended to be typed. You may be thinking, “by the time all this has happened I could have written a dissertation”, when in reality as user’s brains become accustomed to the system – a feat which Guger claims takes approximately ten minutes – the Intendix will enable users to type as quickly as one letter per second.

Forget you “Apps” and your “Sats”, as technology, which can literally ‘read your mind’, has to be the frontrunner of the new decade. Although for $12,000 (approximately 7,900 pounds) a unit, perhaps I will be persevering with my key depleted keyboard for a while longer. Although it is comforting to know that Samantha from ‘Bewitched’, my childhood hero, and her unique talents, are finally coming into fruition.

This undisputedly exciting and potentially life changing machine was on display at CeBIT 2010.

Magneat wrangles your cables back to tidiness

We like gadgets, here at Latest Gadgets. They’re sort of our raison d’être. I have our slogan – Life needs gadgets – tattooed on an unusual part of my body. Try to guess which bit; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

This obsession means we also like to look out for things that make gadgets better. A useful peripheral for our computer, maybe. A fancy tripod for our camera, perhaps. Definitely not iPod skins though – this most pointless of money spinner is the technological equivalent of buying an expensive, designer t-shirt and then taking it down to a cheap printer and replacing the pattern with an image of your distorted, manically-grinning face.

Today’s add-on is Magneat. Explained simply, this is a little magnetic button that keeps dangly things like headphones cables from iPods, MP3 players, mobile phones and the like under control. The little nub fixes to your clothes magnetically, meaning no holes in your precious Armani/face shirt, and has space for you to wrap the cord around it, before locking it in the slot on top.

In the words of the creators, the aim here is to “banish cable chaos”, which seems like an awfully strong phrase to use for a loose headphones cable, but we take their point that catching the wire on things (including your own oafish sausage fingers) is pretty annoying.

The single most obvious drawback with Magneat is that, despite its minimalist design, it’ll make you look like a bit of a tool. We’re hoping to get one to try out, but I don’t think I’d just wear it on a jumper or something (although it doesn’t look too bad on someone who’s running, but you can get away with all sorts when exercising, as you make everyone around feel guilty for their laziness). Having said that, I could definitely see myself popping one of these on the inside pocket of my coat or jacket and enjoying the smug satisfaction I would get from my newfound personal organisation.

“Magneat is the brainchild of Preggioni, an Icelandic design team with their ear to the ground …,” according to the press release. This probably explains why they keep getting their headphones caught on things. At least they’re doing something about it.

A Magneat will set you back £7.99 for standard versions, or more for special editions. You can find them here at Firebox.

Further details emerge on Motz Miniature FM Radio

In recent years, one of the main advantages of gadgets that the manufacturers promote tends to be due to their super small or super slim size. Laptops, mobile phones and even hair styling utensils are becoming tinier in size it seems by the year. The latest super small gadget to hit the scene is probably the tiniest radio you have ever laid your eyes on and is made by a Korean manufacturer called Motz.

So how small exactly are we talking? The nifty little gadget is a mere 37mm in length, 26 mm in height (150mm when the aerial is up) and 19mm in width. Yes, this radio is tincy and fits nicely in between your finger and thumb.

From an aesthetic perspective, the miniature FM radio is made of light brown wood and has functions including an LED indicator, an aerial, on-off switch and a button which enables you to change the radio station. On the side of the radio there is also a 3.5mm jack in which you can plug in your I-pod or mp3 player. If you sync up two of the radios together you can also create a stereo sound though I would imagine the quality and level of sound that you would achieve wouldn’t be party-suitable. The novelty is pretty cool though!

The radio also has a built-in rechargeable battery which can be charged with the USB cord that is included when you purchase the radio.

I’m not sure if the miniature radio is what we would call a groundbreaking invention or gadget in the tech industry but it certainly is cute, fun and well, something a little bit quirky and different. And if creating huge sound isn’t your thing then it also avoids taking up too much space – just remember where you’ve put it!

At the moment, the radio unfortunately isn’t on sale outside of Korea and in Korean won it works out as 39,800 which equates to approximately £22 plus postage will likely be added.

For further information, please click here http://tinyurl.com/yef2g7q

Charger clutter? One For All launch universal multi-charger

The explosion in affordable portable technology means that the average person now has more gadgets and gizmos than they do teeth! Okay well that may not be strictly true seeing as I just made it up but  from mobile phones to iPods, and laptops to digital cameras the chances are that you’ve got 3 or 4 power hungry portables on the go at any one time. The problem with all of these mobile thingamajigs is that they need charging and as each item has its own individual adaptor we’re left delving into a snake pit of wires and sockets every time we want to give them some juice.

Thankfully the Universal Multi-Charger from One-For-All is on hand, promising as it does to solve the problem of charger clutter whilst helping out the old environment in the process. The Universal Multi-Charger will charge up to three devices simultaneously, with no messy wires and an LED light for the individual charge slots. Once each battery is fully charged, that slot shuts down automatically and the light goes out – so, as well as saving energy, you can tell the charging process is complete without having to check the device’s display. The device even uses turbo charge technology which can help to reduce charging time by up to 25%

The Multi-Charger works with mobile phones, PDAS, digital cameras, game players and practically any other device that needs regular recharging. The charger comes with interchangeable tips to suit all major brand devices and tips compatible with less popular models can also be ordered online, the manufacturers even claim the device will be ‘future proof’ to as they plan to release new tips as and when products are released.

In the world of wireless charging provided via the PowerMat the Universal Multi-Charger may not be the sexiest product on the market but what it lacks in aesthetics it more than makes up for in practicality. With all of us increasingly aware of our impact on the environment the Multi-Charger even ticks the green box, though coming in at a RRP of £59.99 it’s far from an affordable option for most.