5 USB Flash Drives With a Double Life

Clothes-Peg

With the advent of cloud storage, flash drives aren’t quite the essential items they once were. They still have their place though as a handy means of transferring data or carrying files that you don’t trust to the cloud. But rather than having a flash drive that just dangles from your keyring or sits in your pocket, wouldn’t it be useful if you could have one that had another purpose? Well, you can, we present the top five flash drives with a double life.

Clothes Peg

Not only does this neat little gadget offer you a generous 4GB of flash storage it also lets you hang your socks on the line after you’ve rinsed them out. Okay, so you may not be so desperate to dry your laundry that you’d want to use a flash drive but it does have a practical use. You can clip the drive to your bag or your coat so that you’ll always know where it is, or use it to keep together important papers on your desk.

The clothes peg drive is sold by HDE and is available via Amazon.

Pendant-USB

Necklace

Flash drives often come with a lanyard that you can hang around your neck, but the look isn’t exactly geek chic. For a more stylish alternative what better way of discreetly carrying your flash storage around than in a bit of bling? No one will guess that your sparkly pendant is in fact a 32GB flash drive. Unless that is you plug it in whilst you’re still wearing it in which case you’re going to look a bit silly.

The USB necklace is available from Focalprice.com and there are quantity discounts so you can buy them for all your friends.

S-Memory-

S Memory

The S Memory is a sleek, slim metal device that will slip into the credit card slot of your wallet. Fold out the USB tab and you can plug it into your PC when you need to access the storage. Even better than that it also doubles as a handy bottle opener so not only will you not lose your memory stick you’ll always be popular with your mates when it comes to opening a beer.

S Memory is currently a Kickstarter project and you can sigh up to register your interest and be one of the first to own one at Kickstarter.com

Victorinox

Victorinox Flash

The classic Swiss Army knife has been around for a long time but, since demand for getting stones out of horses’ hooves is not what it was, supplier Victorinox has launched a version for the 21st century that includes a USB drive. It’s available in various versions with 2 or 16GB capacity and the option of extra gadgets including an LED torch and a laser pointer. There’s also a model without sharp objects that’s safe to take on aircraft. You can see the various versions available at swisstool.co.uk Swisstool

Wristband-USB

Wristband

Everybody is familiar with the concept of wristbands these days, they allow you to show off your support for a charity or good cause whilst making a fashion statement and simultaneously getting caught up with your sleeves. The Sinophy wristband incorporates a 1GB memory stick and is available in nine colours making it a practical way of carrying your data around and looking cool into the bargain.

The Sinophy wristband is available from Play.com.

Top 5 Tech Kickstarters

Jambadoo

Kickstarter is making dreams come to life through the power of crowd funding. One of the hottest categories on the site is Technology. Professional and amateur inventors alike are trying their hand at making our lives better, easier or just plain fun. Here are the top five Technology Kickstarters you can contribute to. Don’t delay, though, once funding closes you’ll miss out on perks.

LibraryBox 2.0

This little device offers users a way to share files anonymously in any location, even those areas that do not have reliable internet service. Libraries, teachers and museum around the world use LibraryBox to serve files to wifi-enabled devices. When the next fundraising goal is reached, they’ll enable the ability to transfer files to the LibraryBox via FTP rather than requiring connection via USB.

SunStash Portable Solar Power Charger for Gadgets & Laptops

Want to be able to charge your laptop, smartphone or tablet anywhere, even when you don’t have electricity? This device can store a significant amount of energy that you can use to power your mobile devices. Their customized case properly aims the solar panel regardless of the time of day, giving it 50 percent or more charging efficiency than a panel with no case. It’s portable and powerful.

GlassKap

If you’re one of the lucky few that have Google Glass, this is a must-have accessory. It is a lens cover for the Google Glass to protect the lens and to let the people around you know that you’re not taking pictures or recording them. Because privacy is one of the primary concerns regarding Google Glass, GlassKaps come in a variety of bold colours in order to be highly visible to those around you.

Jambadoo

If you’re like most tech geeks, you have multiple devices but can only connect to one of them via Bluetooth at a time. Until now. Jambadoo allows you and two friends to connect to the same Bluetooth receiver to play music from all three devices. No need to pause any of them; as soon as one hits play, the others pause.

Handibot

If you’re familiar with CNC technology, you’ll know that it involves computers sending designs to machines to be cut into various materials. Handibot works similar to that, except instead of a computer, you use apps on your smart phone, and instead of massive pieces of equipment, you use power tools. They cut into aluminium, wood, plastics and other materials with greater position than cutting by hand.

Grand St: Indie Gadgets for People by People

As we covered when we looked at Makers, there is a small revolution happening in the Internet of Things. Slowly but surely people, not giant corporations are making interesting and useful tech and getting in into the hands of other people. One of the coolest places for small-batch gadgets that stands apart from the mass produced novelty warehouses that dominate the Internet, is Grand St – a market place for creative gadgets. Grand St have recently exited closed beta so we thought we’d check out some of their wares.

Sensordrone

Sensordrone:The Sensordrone adds multi-sensor functionality to your smartphone – functionality that most of you don’t need. But that’s the charm of Grand St – niche gadgets can thrives. The included sensors tell you colour and light intensity, the carbon monoxide levels, humidity, and much more. And it can also be readily expanded – open source hardware if you will.

Blinksteady

Blink Steady: Blink Steady is the perfect bike light hewn from pristinely-machined solid aluminium and hand-crafted in the epicentre of cool Brooklyn, NY. The buttonless bike light will emit a steady blink or beam depending on its orientation, with a visible beam range of 120 degrees. The included accelerometer and light sensors mean that Blink Steady only works when it is supposed to – when it’s dark and your bike is moving.

Touchfire

Touchfire: An iPad keyboard overly that provides tactile feedback as you type, improving accuracy and speed. Snapping into place via the magic of magnets, Touchfire is incredibly lightweight and easily folds away into an Apple Smart Cover so that it’s always with you.

PowerPot

Powerpot: The PowerPot is insane but also insanely useful. PowerPot is a camping mess kit from the future, cast in anodised weatherproof aluminium. The embedded thermoelectric mini-generator creates enough power to charge most USB devices and it also includes 5 LED USB lights that provide enough power for reading.

Waka-Power

Waka Waka Power : If you want to get off the grid take a look at the Waka Waka Power, a solar-powered light and battery backup. You can use it to charge nearly any smartphone, and it doubles as a bright lantern. On an 8-hour solar charge, you can get up to 100 hours of light on low power, 40 hours on medium, and 20+ hours on high.

Lytro: Light Rays and Living Pictures

Lytro-

Photography – especially the mid-range point and click market has been in trouble for some time now. People, for the most part, love to take pictures but a quick glance on Facebook or Instagram shows that they don’t always care about the quality. And when the camera bundle with your phone is “good enough” then why shell out for a “real camera”. What can camera manufacturers do in a world where people are willing to take pictures on iPads?

Enter Lytro – a radical new way to take an experience photography. Lytro brings light field technology to consumers and changes perceptions about what cameras can be. For a start Lytro doesn’t look like a camera (although I’m guess to someone under 14 a camera must just look like a phone). To my eye Lytro looks like a rectangular torch – or a mini telescope and the sleek design features just two buttons – power and shutter – which is a far cry from the knobs and dials of cameras of old. This is not to call Lytro simple – the touch screen controls are intuitive and enable all sorts of control over the images you are taking.




Of course Lytro’s headline feature is a light field sensor that collects the colour, intensity and the direction of every light ray flowing into the camera, capturing fundamentally different data from the scene. What this means is that you can refocus one a photo is taken and shift the perspective in a scene. Lytro excels at taking these sorts of image, although it’s not the best camera for taking a wide range shots.



Bringing smartphone innovations to regular cameras, Lytro also comes with Living Filters, giving one click access to 9 interactive filters. And there is also an app that enables anyone with an iOS device to experience “living pictures”.



Availability and Price
The Lytro camera is available in July through UK distributor Softline, in retail stores Dixons Travel, Harrods and online at John Lewis priced at:
• Graphite, Electric Blue, Moxie Pink: 8GB Lytro Camera- £399.00
• Red Hot: 16 GB Lytro Camera- £469.00

Payleven: Pocket Chip&Pin

Payleven

Cash may well be king as far as investment goes but it’s becoming a downright nuisance in day to day life. Ever handed someone a wad of coins, hard legal tender, yet had to apologise for all the “shrapnel”. Ever struggled to make change? Not wanted to split a 20? Or wandered the streets searching for an ATM? Cash is ubiquitous yet clearly a crazy anachronism in much of modern life.

Payleven hope to change much of that, having developed the first internationally available mobile Chip & PIN solution that enables anyone to take card payments with their Smartphone or tablet. Whilst clearly targeted at more small businesses than the general populace to start with, it’s a step on the road to cashless transactions.

“Not accepting card payments can cause huge problems for UK small businesses in terms of lost sales and unpaid invoices. No matter whether you’re a merchant with a corner shop, a market stall holder or an electrician at a customer’s house. Payleven is the smart way to get paid- it’s mobile, convenient, secure and low-cost with no monthly fees or contracts.”

Ian Marsh, Payleven UK CEO & co-founder

Payleven works via a small bluetooth Chip&Pin device. The interface is chunky and feels like an overweight calculator. But it’s not overly heavy and feels like it could easily be stored in the front of a traders apron at a market. It’s certainly smaller than the giant things they wheel out at restaurants and comes with reassuringly solid rubber keys. It won’t make or break the device, but it puts me at ease popping my card into a device that feels robust. You change the device via micro USB and it hooks up to any Bluetooth tablet or smartphone with the minimum of fuss. There’s a card slot at the bottom for taking payments. The card reader is associated with your merchant account for security reasons so you can’t change them round on the fly – probably very useful for fraud.

Taking payments is quick and easy – it’s just like traditional Chip&Pin except between individuals. This gives Payleven the edge over American rivals Square as the system complies with Visa’s stringent Chip&Pin regulations – a big deal as according to Payleven Visa transactions represent about 80% of all UK debit and credit card transactions. You track payments via the app, which links back to your online account. Payleven is EMV(Europay, Mastercard and VISA) Level 2 approved and compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard’s (PCI-DSS) highest 3.1 level certification. In addition no sensitive data is stored on either on the Chip&PIN device or smartphone/ tablet, and all data traffic is fully encrypted.

Payleven charges purely on a pay-as-you-go basis with no monthly fees, instead charging users a flat 2.75% fee. Depending on your business model this could work out cheaper than working with Square, who charge a substantial monthly fee. The barriers to entry with Square in a way much lower – the Square reader is sent to you free and is a more lightweight device that works directly with your phone/tablet. Payleven’s card reader carries an £89 price of admission. But the lack of monthly fees, added compatibility via Chip&Pin and widespread availability in the UK make it a winning proposition in Europe at least.

For more info check out Payleven

Top 5 Wearable Technology

Google-Glass

Although it is too early to tell whether wearable technology is here to stay or yet another passing fad, hardware manufacturers and software developers are pursuing this latest opportunity in an attempt to attract new customers and generate valuable revenue.

However, even with an increasing amount of time and money spent on exploring wearable technology, numerous critics, commentators and even consumers remain sceptical about its real-world application.

Nonetheless, for interested parties there are a fair few devices already on the market and even more on the way. So here are five wearable technology products that you can buy today or eagerly anticipate in the future.

1.     Google Glass

One of the most talked about product innovations in recent years has also been one of the most ridiculed. Even so, Google Glass has sparked significant interest among industry professionals and technology fans worldwide. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past six months, here is a quick recap.

Google Glass features an optical head-mounted display which projects smartphone-like information right in front of the user’s eyes. Rather than inputting information physically, interaction with Glass is made via natural language voice commands. It is Google’s mission to create a mass-market ubiquitous computer.

Connecting to the Internet via the user’s smartphone, Google Glass can take pictures, record videos, search online content, receive point-by-point directions, translate dialogue into another language and send voice messages. Although the design might not be to everyone’s liking, the display is meant to be an unobtrusive object in the individual’s eye line.

Widespread availability isn’t expected until 2014 though.

Sony-eWatch

2.     Sony SmartWatch

For those who want to obtain some wearable technology today, you might consider the more subtle and indistinct Sony SmartWatch. Available from just £79, this interactive hands-free device won’t break the bank either.

Combing a sleek and crisp design with everyday functionality, Sony’s SmartWatch will certainly be of interest to a fashion conscious on-the-go market. However it’s admirable merits don’t end there.

Compatible with most Android smartphones, users can read text messages and emails, browse Twitter feeds or view Facebook messages, and receive calendar notifications thanks to a gentle vibration. What’s more, music players and fitness apps are available from the Google Play store.

Nike-Fuel-Wristband

3.     Nike+ FuelBand

Nike and Apple have been collaborating together for quite some time, dating back to running shoes made in conjunction with the iPod Nano in 2006. Today, the Nike+ FuelBand is an iPhone connected bracelet that aims to assist fitness freaks with their calorie burning targets.

The band’s accelerometer tracks daily movements and exercise routines like running, football or even dancing. Progress is displayed on the FuelBand’s LED display, which lights up red, yellow or green depending on how well the user is doing. Additional information can be viewed on the connected iOS device, with data about activity patterns displayed in the form of graphs.

If personal achievements weren’t enough, the user can even share their progress on Facebook or Twitter with an optional photo or tagged location. While the Nike+ FuelBand is undoubtedly an impressive motivational tool, its £129 price point is sure to put off even the most dedicated individual.

Pebble-eWatch

4.     Pebble E-Paper Watch

Another connected smartwatch but available to iPhone users as well, Pebble has been financed via the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter. The Pebble features a 1.26-inch 144×168 pixel black and white ultra low power memory LCD screen with backlight, vibrating motor, magnetometer, ambient light sensors and a three-axis accelerometer.

Much like Sony’s offering, the Pebble displays email, text messages, calendar alerts and social media notifications as well as weather forecasts and incoming caller IDs. However, customisable apps for cycling, running and golf in addition to a range of watch faces increases the device’s functionality.

Perhaps the most clever innovation is a modified USB-cable that attaches to the watch magnetically and charges the device, so as not to compromise water resistance.

iWatch

5.     Apple iWatch

Ok, so we know there has been no official word from Apple about the possibility of an iWatch, but a wearable technology product from the Cupertino-based company is looking more and more likely.

Even though Apple recently registered the iWatch trademark in Japan, Mexico, Russian, Taiwan and Turkey, the maker of the iPhone and iPad is already facing difficulties in the US, UK, parts of Europe and China, as other companies have already claimed the name.

Despite this potential setback, sources familiar with the matter have said that around 100 product designers are working on a smart wristwatch. Like other products on the market, it is likely to display notifications, alerts and messages from a user’s iOS device.

With Apple looking to increase its consumer base and rekindle some lost magic after the passing of co-founder Steve Jobs, CEO Tim Cook recently admitted that wearable technology was “profoundly interesting” and was “ripe for us to get excited about.”

iWatch Image courtesy of Fuse Chicken

Olloclip Quick Flip Case Review

Olloflip-Case

I love my olloclip but I also love my iPhone not being smashed into a million pieces so I often cover it with a protective case. Like an overprotective ex-lover this gets in the way of my love for my olloclip as I often have to pop one off to pop the other on (if you’re lost in this simile, don’t worry so am I).

The clever folks at olloclip know this is the case and have come up with a great compromise – the olloclip Quick Flip case.
The Quick Flip has a special hinge that reveals a corner of the iPhone where you can pop on the olloclip. My immediate concern was that the hinge would snap off within minutes of being in my bag, but the robust construction and clever design make this unlikely.

Even cleverer, the corner that flips over becomes a trigger for the shutter release (the volume up button) so you take much more stable photos, reducing camera shake.

The olloclip Quick-Flip case is made of polycarbonate material and as a case it’s functional and merely ok – I’ve a range of amazingly well designed cases to chose from. But the ability to quickly step into the world of more creative photography is worth the sacrifice.

The included Pro-Photo Adapter has two standard tripod mounts and a cold shoe for attaching photographic accessories such as tripods, video lights or microphones. There’s even a special adapter, which allows the olloclip case to be used with the iPod Touch 5th generation.

The olloclip Quick-Flip case for the iPhone 4/4S and 5 comes in white or translucent black and retails for £39.99. The olloclip 3-in-1 quick-connect lens for the iPhone 4/4S currently retails for £59.99 and olloclip 3-in-1 quick-connect lens for the iPhone 5 is available on the market for only £69.99. The olloclip Quick-Flip case and olloclip 3-in-1 lens can be purchased individually or as a bundle at olloclip.com and through major retailers including Apple, Best Buy and Target.

iRobot Ava 500: Enterprise Robotics

Ava-iRobot

The Ava 500 Video Collaboration Robot, produced by iRobot and Cisco, is set to provide an executive remote meeting experience that’s a significant step up from the standard setup of Skype or Google Hangouts combined with a laptop. The Ava 500 can also be used to tour factories, labs, customer service centres and other locations where it’s not possible to be in the flesh.

Built like an all-in-one PC atop a moving platform, the Ava 500 is just about the next best thing to being there. It can be operated remotely via iPad, so you can move between rooms and meetings from the other side of the world, as well as see anything that’s happening on your travels. The large 21.5″ high-definition display means your colleagues can get a good look at you too, wherever you happen to be.

Aimed squarely at the enterprise market, the robot comes with top-grade security protection and interoperability that keeps unwanted interference out while allowing easy interaction with other video collaboration tools. iRobot suggests its latest model could be used for remote team collaboration, executive off-site management, and tours and inspections. Models should start appearing for sale by the start of 2014, though prices have yet to be confirmed.

Ava-500-meeting

Vice President and General Manager of iRobot’s Remote Presence Business Unit Youssef Saleh had this to say: “iRobot is excited to work with Cisco to bring this next generation of telepresence to businesses worldwide. iRobot has been successful in introducing autonomous remote presence platforms to hospitals. Ava 500 will unlock new markets and applications for telepresence in the workplace.”

“Cisco is committed to improving communications, relationships, and productivity by helping people meet face-to-face over distances,” commented Snorre Kjesbu, Vice President and General Manager of Cisco Collaboration Technology Group. “The iRobot Ava 500 is a perfect example of using Cisco’s portfolio of high-definition video collaboration solutions to innovate and expand the reach of telepresence.”

A working model of the robot was demoed at the recent InfoComm 2013 Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida. Head to www.irobot.com for more details about the company’s product line and further announcements about the Ava 500.