Acton’s RocketSkates – first smart electric skates

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RocketSkaters by ACTON are the newest on-shoe skating option. Take roller-skates, add electric engines and balancing technologies and you get RocketSkaters! They may sound simple but it took a lot of research and hard work for the founder of ACTON to rocket the SpnKix prototype to the next level.

After a successful campaign on Kickstarter, ACTON is preparing itself to launch its electric roller-skates into the 21st century. Created for the street, there are 3 different models that are all capable of a maximum speed of 12mph and are remote-free. The 1st option has a battery life of 45min that has enough juice for about 6miles, the 2nd set have a battery life of 70min that will do 8miles and as for the 3rd it can last up to 90min and carry you about 10 miles – much easier than walking. All three models model weigh in at about 3kg and have strap in design that let you choose the shoes you’d like to wear with them – within reason that is!

To start you will have to choose your leading foot, like you do for snow-boarding. This foot will wear the leading skate even if both are motorised – one foot will lead the other and tell the follower skate what speed to go at as they are both equipped with microprocessor.

The RocketSkaters are water resistant but not waterproof, so make sure to avoid deep puddles – the tractor version is not yet available! A good point is that you can walk as well with them, no need to take them off to walk. However, walking with two 3kg weights on your feet may not be particularly easy!

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The skaters include a dashboard giving you simple information like distance travelled, battery power, and skate diagnostics. It doesn’t stop there either, the skates are equipped with Bluetooth and drivers apps have been developed so you can tell your skates to come to you or send them on a spy mission with a camera. A route mapping app is available too, allowing you to plan your journey. You can also use this app to team up with the RocketSkates community and meet up for races and events.

ACTON plan to start shipping RocketSkates in October 2014 in the U.S and should start in Europe and Asia by November 2014, with no word on pricing as yet.

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For more information visit ACTON.

Onewheel, the self-balancing electric skateboard

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There were, by all accounts, plenty of innovative and interesting toys on display at this year’s CES. As attending technology journalists were busy scribbling down the wondrous worthies of the best innovations, one of the most saturated desks had to be that displaying the Onewheel – even the non-technological, mainstream press have cottoned on to this one.

This self-balancing, single-wheeled electric skateboard uses gyros, accelerometers, proprietary algorithms and a single rubber tyre to give passengers a smooth, self-balancing ride, which apparently mimics snowboarding or surfing on dry land. It has to be said, the Onewheel has certainly got editors’ radar buds raving as there is literally a myriad of reports and videos surfacing on the web dedicated to the fun you can have with the Onewheel.

“It’s hard not to do a double-take when first laying eyes on the Onewheel,” writes Engadget. In fact it was Engadget which was responsible for the Onewheel being displayed at this year’s CES. As the report proudly states, the device’s creator, Kyle Doerksen, brought a prototype by the Engadget trailer to CES. With its metal frame, wooden deck and chunky go-cart wheel, aesthetically, Engadget were not balled over by this heavy-duty (25 pounds) machine. In terms of speed, the Onewheel can go as fast as 12mph, although acceleration is software-limited to allow for better balancing. On a lithium battery this dryland skateboard-esque device can go from four to six miles on a single charge or for 20 minutes with an “ultra” charger. Unfortunately, writes Engadget, the machine only has approx. 20 minutes worth of ride in its battery, which varies depending on the terrain and personal driving style.

The BBC was quick to try out the Onewheel. BBC Click’s Spencer Kelly took a ride on the ‘half-skateboard-half-unicycle’ at the CES. We have to admit, Kelly’s video, which can be viewed here, isn’t too inspiring, and merely involves the BBC reporter travelling, albeit slowly, down a street in Las Vegas on what essentially resembles a skateboard before stopping a several metres down the road.

The Onewheel, close up
The Onewheel, close up

Big kids the Daily Mail didn’t want to miss the opportunity to try out the latest transport toy. With a headline stating a device that makes you feel like you’re flying, the Daily Mail are certainly excited by the single air-filled tyre taken from a go-kart, which can reach speeds of up to 12mph and turn 360 degrees within the length of the board. The Daily Mail also points out that all this happens while the board balances itself using the same motion sensing technology found in a smartphone. Seemingly obsessed by the Onewheel’s flying merits, the Daily Mail quotes the company behind the device, Future Motion, saying it “Lets you fly over pavement on only a single wheel.”

Veteran skateboarder Sam Sheffer of The Verge, who apparently rides a skateboard every day to work and back, was naturally eager to give the Onewheel a whirl. Admitting he was soon easily cruising around the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot, Sheffer says that despite its bulky and unwieldiness, the Onewheel, alongside the E-Go Cruiser are the closest he’s come to his ideal of an electrical skateboard. We have to admit, The Verge’s video of a trial ride on the Onewheel is a lot more exciting, speedy and ‘pro’ than the BBC’s version.

To try out the Onewheel for yourself, you’ll probably have to buy one, which will unfortunately set you back $1,300. Would it be worth it? Naw.

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.

UrbanHello: Giving the home phone some smarts

Adding “smart” to the home phone seems like an obvious leap, especially since the proliferation on clever mobile phones has been so succesful. Then again with such wonderful mobiles and with companies such as ePure replicating the home phone experience on the mobile perhaps the home phone is a thing of the past?

UrbanHello, a young French start-up begs to differ and has taken CES by storm with its Innovations Award-winning UrbanHello home phone.

UrbanHello-Home-Phone

Beautifully designed (the company liken it to a bouquet of flowers) the Home Phone is also designed with simplicity in mind and comes in a range of colours to blend with interior decor if that sort of thing matters to you. But what about the tech?

The Home Phone’s mechanical keyboard is stripped of all superfluous functions unlike previous attempts at home smartphone that have tried to unnecessarily cram the whole Android experience into a home handset. The Home Phone has a Less is More take and only features the essential buttons with only one single obvious function per button. Two discrete OLED displays are located on the top and at the bottom of the handse and self activate only when in use to reduce power consumption.

The Home Phone has HD sound so your calls should be much clearer. It’s also context sensitive and knows when it should be a loudspeaker for conference calls or multi-person chats. The telephone automatically switches to hands-free and transmits 360° High Definition sound. The inbuilt 360° speaker reproduces deep bass sounds and transmits a natural, profound and clear sound. This ease is supposed to encourage shared conversation.

“The Smartphone was conceived for the individual. The Home Phone was designed for the whole household.”

Hervé Artus, Founder of UrbanHello.

It should also be plug and play in most households – the UrbanHello handset is 100% compatible with any standard DECT-GAP base station and with any advanced internet gateway with the CAT-iq standard.

UrbanHello has launched a campaign on KickStarter. The first UrbanHello products are available for pre-order from $85. For more information check out UrbanHello.

Gamestick: the “most portable” gaming console

GameStick

Used to be that you’d have to fly out to CES to catch a glimpse of the future. Fortunately now you can save on your carbon footprint and simply head on to Kickstarter and marvel at what could be. Even better you can actively make a difference and bring amazing technology, art and music into the world. After endless whining in the 2000s about the internet and consumers killing these things it’s great to see people banding together to produce something like The Thrilling Adventure Hour.

For those interested in the possible future of gaming PlayJam – a SmartTV casual gaming platform have launched a Kickstarter campaign for GameStick – their dedicated games console. If you’ve ever played Game Dev Centre you’ll have a glimpse of how difficult a venture this is (you’ll need an elusive Hardware Engineer for a start).

GameStick is a small yet powerful, dedicated games console that plugs directly into a TV’s HDMI slot and comes with a fully featured Bluetooth controller – ready to go right out of the box. When on the move, the two combine into a single unit, putting big screen gaming right into the pocket. The device will be compatible with other Bluetooth controllers enabling multi-player functionality yet priced at just $79.

“We wanted to create a games console that helped further our overriding mission to bring affordable gaming to the big screen. Not only that, we wanted to push the boundaries of what has been achieved up to now by packing sufficient power into the most portable of devices, enabling users to carry that experience with them wherever they go.” – Jasper Smith, CEO PlayJam

GameStick will feature a purpose-built game store through which users will be able to browse and download content. 100s of high-quality Android games will be available – at Android game prices so your over spend will stay pretty low, whilst your levels of enjoyment should run pretty high.

Update: 1000+ Kickstarter backers pushed the team over their $100,000 funding goal in just 30 hours. In a press release celebrating their success the team also added that they’ll be providing XBMC and DLNA support to the console so home theatre enthusiasts have a whole other reason to rejoice.

Update 2: Check out this GameStick unboxing video

 

Jorno: Kickstarter Bluetooth keyboard

Maybe it’s one of those signs that I’m no longer as young as I think I am, but I can’t type for extend periods on my phone. I just feel dumb if I’m thumbing my touchscreen for more than two minutes. I know youthful figures in Japan have written whole “keitaishosetsu” or novels on their mobiles but surely it would be nice to type on some keys?

Jorno-Keyboard

Fortunately like Olive I am not alone (although there aren’t a lot of people making Olive references these days). Jorno have developed a foldable pocket Bluetooth keyboard that works perfectly with smartphones and tablets. This is by no means the first foldable keyboard – there is already for example the Geyes Foldable Stow-away Mini Keyboard – but Jorno are hoping to be “the best”. They’ve already garnered a number of prestigious industry awards, including an Engineering Design and Innovation Award from the Consumer Electronics Show.

Jorno folds down to a palm-sized square (7.6 mm) that can pop in pocket or handbag so you can set up camp and have a mobile office anywhere. Even better the keyboard is only 15% smaller than a regular one, so you won’t suffer the indignity of cramped typing on small keys.

Jorno also comes equipped with a detachable cradle so you can pop your phone or tablet in portrait of landscape and type away. It’s Bluetooth so it’s relatively device agnositic and the built-in rechargeable battery should last an entire month.

“We are incredibly excited to introduce a mobile keyboard to the market, which offers such a unique and essential design that has yet to be created. We are passionate about this innovation and are certain it is the next big thing in the mobile productivity arena.

Scott Starrett, CEO and Founder, Jorno.

Jorno is live on Kickstarter. They have recently announced compatibility with QWERTZ and AZERTY formats, reintroduced the early bird special (offering it for $79 vs the MSRP of $119) and released three color option: Red, Green and Blue.

Smart watches: A lot of technology in a little package

Smart watches have been around for a few years now, and they seem to be on the up and up. As if the mobile market wasn’t crowded enough already, smart watches put an interesting twist on the concept of mobile technology, making our mobile handsets almost – but not quite – redundant.

Since the first digital watch several decades ago, watches have been changing and developing. Admittedly, their growth spurt has been slower and less life-changing than the mobile phone to smartphone transformation. Watches, however, seem to be catching up – with a little help from some of our most-loved technology.

What’s so smart?

Smart watches are very different to the digital and analogue watches we’re used to. These handy gadgets are more than just a timepiece: you can use them to connect to your phone, transmit data to the cloud, and even check your Twitter feed.

Most smart watches are tethered to your phone – usually via Bluetooth. This is why, although smart watches provide a more convenient way of checking your mail or catching up with the latest social media gossip, our mobile handsets aren’t on the way out just yet.

The variety of activity possible with a smart watch, however, is impressive. Not only can you read your mail and social network feeds as above, but you can also use certain smart watches and a personal trainer stand-in, check the weather, and see who’s calling or texting you.

Competition is rising steadily in the smart watch market, so here are a run-down of 3 current and upcoming devices:

I’m Watch

I’m Watch bills itself as the world’s first smart watch, and it doesn’t disappoint. Users can connect the watch to their mobile using Bluetooth to have calls, texts, emails, notifications, music, calendar appointments, the weather forecast, images and more sent to the device. I’m Watch uses a customized version of the Android platform. Prices start at 299 Euros.

i’m Tech

Pebble

Pebble is an upcoming e-ink smart watch that has generated a lot of buzz. The company are set to miss their September shipping date, but so far over 85,000 people have pre-ordered the device. The watch is fully customizable and connects with both iPhone and Android smart phones. The Pebble retails for $150.

Sony-Smartwatch

Sony SmartWatch

The Sony SmartWatch is an Android watch that tries to make as many activities hands-free as possible. As well as giving users the ability to check their mail, view social networks, and listen to music, the Sony SmartWatch is also a fitness companion that can track your running distance and time. The watch comes with Google Play pre-installed, so you can download compatible applications and improve the functionality of the watch even further. The Sony SmartWatch starts at £109.99.

SmartWatch Android watch front view.

Cameramator: The Photographer’s New Best Friend

If tethered photography is getting you down, Cameramator could be the answer you’ve been looking for. Currently in the developmental stages, this new technology takes tethered photography to the next level, and turns it wireless.

Cameramator

When in use, Cameramator will allow you to control your DSLR and preview images directly from an iPad or iPhone without any wiring. It provides photographers with a range of new possibilities, making it possible to preview and share photos outside of the camera’s viewfinder. Tethered photography usually requires photographers to connect their camera to a device, such as a laptop or tablet, using USB or firewire. Cameramator ditches the cables, reduces the fuss, and lets you get on with the job.

When launched, Cameramator founders expect users to be able to utilise the following features at a minimum:

  • Photo sharing
  • Self-timer
  • Camera control
  • Instant image review
  • Intervalometer
  • HDR Bracketing

The Cameramator package will consist of a Cameramator unit and an app for iPhone and iPad. The unit attaches to a DSLR camera and lets you control the camera through the iOS app. The only requirement is that both the Cameramator unit and the device are on the same wireless network.

Using the app, you can edit images as soon as you’ve captured them, speed up a photoshoot, and obtain hard-to-shoot images with more ease. In a nutshell, Cameramator helps save photographers time, money and effort.

The project’s founder, Usman Rashid, was inspired to create the Cameramator during a trip to Florida in 2011. While there, he tried to connect his DSLR to his iPad and transfer his images in real-time, but discovered there was no way to do this. In February 2012, he exhibited at the WPPI LaunchPad event, and became convinced that a device like the Cameramator was a much-needed addition to the photographer’s toolkit. In collaboration with another developer, Rashid now has a prototype that works with all major cameras and is ready for production.

For more information on Cameramator’s technology, check out their website, or view details of their Kickstarter campaign. The campaign has a $80,000 goal to reach by 5th September 2012.