Griffin MouthStick Stylus: Touchscreen Technology For All

MouthStickStylus

The near ubiquity of touchscreen technology is amazing but consider the plight of people who have motor impairments or other disabilities that restrict the use of their hands. Well the folks at Griffin know the importance of keeping technology accessible to as many people as possible and have introduced the Griffin MouthStick Stylus.

It’s designed to allow anyone to use touchscreen monitors, tablets, trackpads and even old-fashioned keyboards. Developed with input from medical professionals, the MouthStick comprises a stainless-steel mouthpiece with removable cushioned sleeves, a rubber-covered 12-inch shaft (I won’t tell you again, stop it!) that can be bent to any angle and a conductive rubber tip. The conductive tip allows it to work with the capacitive touchscreens used in most mobile phones and tablets. It’s a well-balanced design allowing it to be held comfortably in the mouth without strain.

This isn’t a new idea of course, similar devices to allow people with limited mobility to use computers have existed for a while. Mostly though they’re in the form of a simple, rigid pointer. What makes the MouthStick different is the flexible aluminium shaft which can be adjusted to allow the operation of a variety of devices whilst maintaining a comfortable distance to read the screen. Combine this with the conductive tip and it can be used on anything from a standard keyboard to the latest smartphone. Replacement tips and mouthpiece sleeves are available from the Griffin website.

Touchscreen devices have become an essential part of our lives and this clever gadget is designed to make them accessible to everyone regardless of disability. Though I can’t help thinking it might have a wider audience of people who find that two hands just aren’t sufficient for all their multi-tasking needs.

The MouthStick Stylus will be available in April from Griffin priced at £19.99.

Gun Stylus Assault Rifle Limited Edition

I have personally never been an advocator of toy rifles, or war gaming for that matter that requires the use of virtual guns, due to the simple reason that they encourage violence. When therefore I read a press release from the creative interactive software developers, Plow Games, about the arrival of the Gun Stylus Assault Rifle Limited Edition, a gun that you point at an iPhone, iPad or other touch devices to control gaming heroics with greater precision and depth, my immediate reaction was “Is Plow Games having a laugh?”

Gun-Stylus

With an ‘attention-grabbing’ headline, “Zombies fear it – Other Stylus want to be it; The Gun Stylus Assault Rifle Edition makes you cool without trying”, introducing the press release, you can understand what why I felt compelled to laugh!

Although I am sure not everyone will share my mockery, as for any war gaming enthusiasts out there, the ‘killer stylus’, that enables you to ‘shoot, navigate, signature, paint and draw’ at your touch device, would be, as Plow Game’s puts it, “A prized addition to every war gamer’s mobile collection.”

The black toy gun made from a durable plastic features several ‘unique’ features that apparently gives it the ‘edge’ over other gaming accessories. One such feature is the Stylus touch chamber, which apparently improves experiences with applications for navigating, gaming/playing and sketching. The limited edition gaming rifle even includes a Lanyard slot, which means wannabie soldiers can keep their weapon at the ready to draw when needed. Although it has to be said, perhaps the Gun Stylus Assault Rifle’s greatest asset is that it will keep your iPhone, iPad, Android or whatever touch device you may have, screen clean of fingerprints!

In priding itself on developing ‘oh-my-gosh-have-you-seen-that’ products, Plow Games certainly have excelled themselves in creating the admittedly highly creative Gun Stylus Assault Rifle Limited Edition.

For more information about the Gun Stylus visit http://www.weaponstylus.com

Wacom’s wireless interactive Bamboo pen tablets

With people posting the view from their office window, their cat asleep on their pillow, or the plate of food they consumed for breakfast, sharing digital images with others has almost become a national obsession. Given this rapid rise in posting to the world our day’s proceedings, no matter how mundane or exciting, technology manufacturers are increasingly looking for ways us to execute our national obsession more effectively, efficiently and rapidly. Heading the way in making social computer users’ quest to bombard their contacts with posts and tweets that will essentially ‘bore the socks off them’, is Wacom, a Japan-based company with a vision to ‘bring people and technology closer’.

Bamboo-ElevFront

Living up to its goals to fuse the gap between people and technology, Wacom has announced an all-new line-up of its market-leading Bamboo products. This range of interactive tablets promise to be colourful, inventive and creative, and include the Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch (small/medium), the Bamboo Pen & Touch (small) and the Bamboo Pen (small).

For those of you with absolutely no idea what I am talking about – myself included – these lightweight, battery-free, wireless and super-portable ‘pens’, enable fast and easy navigation of PCs and Macs. With a multi-touch functionality the new Bamboo range has 1024 pressure levels that allow users to make accurate cursor movements and handwritten notes. Not only can users imprint their own handwriting on their PC, but they can surf the web, scroll through documents, flick through photo galleries and rotate images, with just the stroke of a finger.

So what’s the difference between the Bamboo Pen & Touch and the Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch? The latter being more fun than the former we presume? Well except being silver as opposed to black, the Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch possesses all the same features as the Bamboo Pen & Touch, but also boast an, Wacom inform us, ‘outstanding’ software bundle that includes Adobe, Photoshop, Elements 8 (for small), ad 9 (for medium) and ArtRage 3. The medium-sized tablet can also double-up into a digital canvas with Corel Painter Essentials 4.

It certainly sounds fun and ideal for fine-tuning and editing creative work!  The Bamboo Pen & Touch is priced at £74.99 and the Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch is priced at £89.99 for the small model and £169.99 for a medium model.

Latest Gadgets at the Gadget Show Live 2011

Latest Gadgets made its yearly pilgrimage to the Gadget Show Live in Birmingham to play with the latest and greatest tech that manufacturers had to offer. Fighting our way through the bear pit that is the coffee table in the press room, we emerged refreshed and ran around attempting to see as much as possible before the caffeine wore off.

Batman-Car

Our first stop was Brasso (covered here) who had a little stall set up to clean all our gadgets. As an owner of a filthy iPhone, iPad and pair of glasses it was nice to have someone give them a quick wipedown. Plus there was cake. Orbitsound had their T3 mobile stereo speaker on display – a little iPod classic shaped unit that provides stereo sound on the go – and that can be worn around the neck to create a sound aura. Amazing. Also a potential nightmare if young kids on London buses get hold of it.

Bamboo-Stylus

Wacom had just that day released a Bamboo stylus for the iPad. I’m keen doodler and had a quick play. It feels great to hold – and is very close to holding a real pen. It’s also 25 percent slimmer tip than main competitors as the reps insisted on telling me. The prototype app to accompany it (you can of course use the stylus with all drawing apps) looks pretty fun as well but wasn’t yet ready for final assessment. The stylus should be out in mid-May for about £25.

We waved at the people from 3M who were showing off their MPro 180 wireless pico projector rigged up to a PS3 and an iPad. We had a more in-depth look at it here. The most stylish area was the shiny white Golla zone where lots of beautiful people looked over enthusiastic about a range of pretty looking laptop bags and camera cases. We took a look at some here.

Cyngett-iPad-2-stand

iPad stands were ubiquitous, but the only one that actually caught our eye was Cygnett’s that had copied Apple’s Smart Cover technology (well the wake from sleep functionality) and added a stand that works vertically and horizontally – all in a big (and admittedly slightly bulky) leather case. They were stood next to Henge Docks – a great laptop dock that enabled you to use your MacBook with a Widescreen monitor and pretend you have a full desktop.  We also had a quick look at the PopBox – a self-styled “Apple TV” killer, that streams your HD content via DLNA and its own app store. And we also played with some wireless Jaybird headphones, the Qb desktop USB speakers and FlipVideo who surprisingly said nothing about their impending demise.

Of course this is a tiny fraction of what we had a play with so expect to see a few more in-depth articles over the coming week.

Mini in the Box: Cheap iPad accessories

Useful as iPads are (and before you complain, for the most part they are useful) they can often be augmented with a carefully made accessory – hence the thriving third party eco-system of cases, stands and what have you. But they can be quite expensive.

Mini in the Box, a small company based in China asked use very kindly to have a look at a few of the cut-price accessories they supplied for the iPad and we are a sucker for good manners so we agreed.

Miniinthebox

The rotating iPad stand
A charging dock for the iPad, this stand is a very peculiar contraption. You can insert your iPad in portrait mode and charge it as well as sync with iTunes via the USB connection. The rotating aspect is also curious – it refers to the iPad 30-pin port connector rather than the dock itself. I spent a good deal of time baffled as to how to hold the iPad on the stand horizontally before I realised they intended for you to simply slide the charging connector out of the way and merely rest the iPad in landscape orientation without charging. This feels a little less secure and is a bit of a fudge – but does work. When you plug the stand in, the bottom edge that holds your iPad in glows a futuristic blue, which is reasonably cool although it would be good if this were linked to the charging mechanism somehow rather than just blue all the time. The whole unit is plastic and the build quality is very average – erring on the flimsy side. However, it is also very, very cheap and if you’ve spent all your money getting your hands on an iPad in the first place, an inexpensive iPad stand isn’t the worst idea in the world.

USB/SD card reader
iPad detractors often bemoan the lack of USB or SD card support, and whilst it’s debatable as to whether this should have been built directly into the iPad, rather than merely part of the external camera connector kit, the magic of having the USB and SD ports built into the one dongle is undeniable. As with the stand, the build quality is a little on the cheap side, but it is a useful accessory -especially if you take lots of photos on the road and want to offload them. The USB port also lets you plug in USB keyboards and a seemingly random selection of other accessories. Nifty.

iPad stylus
Small drawing tool if you don’t feel that comfortable painting with your fingers. I couldn’t get this to work doing more than simple lines and it was hard to draw with any degree of subtly. One to avoid.