Nov 14, 2010

PLUG Hearing Aid Concept Stretches Your Earlobes for Better Sound

Occasionally I cover my ears and sing "Lalalala, I'm not listening to your concept description." Today I'm covering them and begging "No! Don't punch holes into my poor earlobes and make me use this hearing aid when I'm old! Please!"

I understand that it's a gradual process to stretch out one's earlobes and wear jewelry that looks like the PLUG hearing aid concept—it's even trendy to some—but that doesn't mean that I could imagine a lot of people actually using this hearing aid if it ever turns into a real product.

Funky Lights To Complement Your Tunes

Tired of the same old opaque single tone band on your headphones, an OLED panel might just be the thing to spruce up boring monitors

The Transparent OLED Headphones by designers Min-guk Ji & Hong-joo Kim & In-oh Yoo might be onto the coolest headphone invention yet. A headphone band is usually a piece of black or white plastic, but by using a transparent OLED panel for a headphone band, colors and patterns could be changed on a whim.

They could show off a custom design, a dynamic pattern based on whatever track is rocking at the time, and they can scroll text too. The headphones are fully wireless too with touch controls along the sides for volume and lighting effects. Lights have been used to make laptops and mice shinier and "oh wow", why not headphones too.

Your Frantic Jumping Energizes This E-Rope Battery Charger

This concept from over at Yanko Design would charge batteries using a traditional jump rope action.

The charging mechanism would be placed in the handles, with the charging itself taken care of by the spinning rope. Just a few hundred hops, or 20 minutes worth, will charge the batteries 100%. Whether you'll have the energy required to do whatever it is you were trying to use after your marathon charging session is a question best left unasked of this concept.

Nov 13, 2010

Cheeseburger in a Can is Both the Best and Worst Thing I've Ever Seen

This is a cheeseburger. In a can. It's a cheeseburger in a can.

I honestly can't figure out how I feel about this: is it the greatest achievement of mankind thus far, or is it an abomination of foodstuffs that deserves to be hucked back into the gaping maw of whatever food processing plant it was spewed from? I just don't know what to think anymore. Would you eat a cheeseburger in a can? Keep in mind that it'll look nowhere near as delicious as the example above when you pull it out of the can.

Canon's X Mark I Mouse Is Also a Calculator

Is it a mouseulator? A calcouse? Whatever you call this bastard child of a mouse and calculator, it's Canon's first model in its legendary X-series of calculators. Can I hear some love from the accountants, please?

The laser mouse is wireless, connecting to Windows and OS X machines via Bluetooth 2.0, and has three click-buttons plus a scroll-wheel. It's pretty much the antithesis to Apple's Magic Trackpad, but that just makes me love it more.

You're probably wondering the same thing I was, when I first saw this mouseulator. The number buttons can be locked when not in use, to avoid accidental equations by a heavy-of-weight palm. And, if you've already got a mouse that you can't bear to part with, the X Mark I mouse can also double up as a numeric keypad, with the mousing-function switched off.

Available in black and white for £40 / €49.

Charge these Super Future Boots via USB

Omni-Heat Thermal Electric Boots: These boots aren't just cool-looking—they use electric powered thermal technology. Which means you literally have the power to get warmer with the push of a button. State-of-the-art heating elements and electronics are protected from the elements and easily operated by waterproof control switch, and pressing that baby will give you heated boots from 4-6 hours. The lithium-ion polymer battery units are removable and rechargeable via USB connectivity. (Duration of heat depends on the model of boot and user-selected heat settings.)

Nov 12, 2010

The World's Smallest Full HD Display

The iPhone 4's Retina Display is 3.5 inches, with a resolution of 960x640 and a pixel density of 326ppi. Pretty much everyone agrees it looks great. So how incredible must ORTUS's new 4.8-inch, 1,920×1080, 458ppi display look?

ORTUS, a collaborative venture between Casio and Toppan Printing, announced the Hyper Amorphous Silicon TFT (HAST) display today in Japan. The company claims it's up to 30% brighter than other TFT displays, capable of producing 16.8 million colors and has a viewing angle of 160 degrees.

But if the Retina Display, as Apple claims, is pushing up against the threshold for the human eye, is ORTUS's added pixel density really that important? I'm reserving judgment until I can watch Dark Knight on the thing.

Can a PC Be Upgraded Forever?

This little aluminum computer has one big goal: To be the last PC you will ever need. That's what the manufacturer claims—"The Xi3 Modular's three boards will allow you to upgrade it forever." Maybe. I just like the color.

The tiny Xi3 Modular has one board with two AMD Athlon 64 processors and the RAM, while two I/O boards handle all connectivity and input/output requirements. They say that, by changing these boards you can "upgrade this computer forever" to save money and resources.

Still, it's a nice little computer which is designed to be mounted anywhere. It comes with dual display support with 1080p DVI, VGA, HDMI, LVDS and DP output, plus 6 USB and 2 SATA Ports, Xi3p and PCIe, and it's available in limited quantities for $849.

Emergency MicroSD Card-Reading Situations Are Catered For in ThinkGeek's Watch

True nerdlingers probably use the time display on their TI graphics calculators, but one level up from those people would have this microSD card-reading watch strapped on at all times. Available now for $16.

Nov 11, 2010

We're Running Out of Chocolate

At the rate we're going, chocolate is going to be a rare—and extremely pricey—commodity within the next twenty years. Somebody needs to light a fire under those Oompa-Loompas, stat.

The problem's easy to explain, and much harder to fix. According to the Cocoa Research Association, we're consuming more chocolate than we're producing cocoa. Which means, eventually, we're going to run out.

Cocoa's notoriously difficult to harvest, meaning more and more small-scale West African growers—who make an average of 80 cents per day—have little incentive not to turn to more lucrative crops, like rubber, or give up farming altogether in favor of more stable opportunities in cities.

What will the shortage mean? $11 Snickers bars, sooner than you think. Pretzels given out for Halloween. Or more candy made from carob, a poor substitute for the sweet and sticky real deal. And a tectonic shift in how we view our mochas, according the Nature Conservation Research Council's John Mason:

"In 20 years chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won't be able to afford it."

But don't lose hope! Both Hershey and Mars, Inc. have sequenced the cacao genome, meaning more resilient trees could be in our future. And 20 years seems like enough time to figure out how to incentivize farmers appropriately.

Still, though, just in case, my Cadbury Cream Egg stockpiling starts now.

The Power of an Earthquake Turns Train Tracks to Spaghetti

This past September, a quake rocked Canterbury, New Zealand. But rather than scenes of destruction and rubble, the tremors left behind some bizarre scenes—like these warped tracks atop pristine countryside.

Dave Petley, blogging at the American Geophysical Union, isn't exactly sure what caused the strange deformations, but speculates that "The compression on the very strong railway line was accommodated when a weak point was found, leading to a comparatively rapid deformation to form the main buckle on the left. This then concentrated stress on both sides of the buckle, allowing the other (right side) bends to form." Hm! Either way, it is a reminder of just how incredibly powerful the physical forces underneath our shoes are.

The Ultimate La-Z-Boy

The reasons I like this chair are quite simple: it looks comfortable, it massages you and, most importantly, it's fitted with some badass 180-degree screen that looks multi-tasking friendly (and far more ergonomic than any tablet or laptop).

Now if only the chair were any more attainable than the life of rest and relaxation. Like parking your prop plane on a sandbar for lunch, the Galatea Spa chair is little more than a fantasy.

Nov 10, 2010

Jaybird's SB1 Sportsband Bluetooth Headphones Should Be Taken Literally

Nothing remarkable to see here (for audiophiles anyway), but the design is undeniably sleek, sexy and slick. Called the SB1 Sportsband, these Bluetooth headphones are literally a simple band that wraps your head with about eight hours of wireless audio.

And a bonus, for those of you who get a bit, well, heated while listening to your favorite tunes: The controls are moisture-protected. For you perceptive no-nonsense folks, that also means they're handy in a rainstorm.

Available now for $89, which includes call and Skype support.

Sanwa Throat Mic, For Your Very Tactical Cellphone Conversations

Special forces may use throat mics to coordinate near-silent attacks on enemy bases, but Sanwa wants to bring all that convenience to your next supermarket run.

Sanwa's hands-free throat mic looks like a military headset, but it's made for use with your cellphone. Good for noisy environments and just those times you don't want the cabbie to know about your ass rash, Sanwa's system should be available for import soon.

The Eminently Washable Clean Bottle Unscrews at Both Ends

The 22-ounce bottles are available in retailers and on Clean Bottle's website for $9.95, with 10% of proceeds going to eco-friendly charities. For a problem I've encountered for years and years, it's the best kind of solution: an incredibly simple one.

Nov 9, 2010

The White House Has a Flickr Stream

If you can't get enough of your Obamas and presidential dogs, look no further. If not, look at little further.

Also, if you've got one of those digital picture frames with Flickr support, you can probably hook up your frame to directly feed photos from the White House stream and pretend you're some kind of secret agent or witch, being able to see their every move. The White House Flickr Stream

Spoonachos Are The Holy Grail of Chips

The Tostitos Scoop was a momentous moment in the history of dipping. But it has one glaring flaw: your thumb takes up half the scoop. Spoonachos, however, have a handle. Brilliant. My salsa to chip ratio just got WAY better.

I'm saddened to say Spoonachos are only a concept at the moment, designed by Denis Bostandzic. But I have high hopes that this ingenious, marvelous development in chip and dip evolution will see its way onto market shelves in the not-too-distant future.

Crank This Battery To Charge Up

The Wind Up Battery is a rechargeable battery with a little pop-out hand-crank to power up using some good ol' fashioned elbow grease. I'd probably looks like an idiot using it, but better than suffering without a AA.

Designed by Qian Jiang, the concept is actually rather brilliant since it wouldn't require an additional gadget to recharge your batteries and depending on how many recharges it would allow for, it might be a rather good deal too. Since this battery is still a concept, he claims that it could be fully charged in 20 minutes, but that would be fast enough for most of us. Those of us who haven't got the arm muscles of a noodle that is.

Nov 8, 2010

A Cylon Mated with KITT, and Out Popped This MK 2 Circuit Watch

Worthy of a sultry Number Six, but priced at a more commonfolk level, the MK 2 Circuit watch from Storm of London is one of those rare gadgety watches that actually displays the time in a meaningful manner.

There's no chronograph, or really anything else other than time and date, but it's got a slick look that can no doubt be read in the dark, in a black Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am, or in the blackness of deep space amongst the gods.

A somewhat hefty $200 and this new release is yours.

Super-Thin Waterproof Speakers Are Swimming Their Way To Cellphones

As you can tell from the picture, these speakers are dead skinny. 0.9mm thick, to be exact, making them perfectly-sized for cellphones, cameras and other portable gadgets which may require all the parts to be waterproofed.

Murata, based in Kyoto, Japan, created what they're calling the world's first "ultra-thin waterproof piezoelectric speaker," which is said to be cheaper than the usual waterproof speakers found in Japan, thanks to the way the output holes have been waterproofed. Normally speakers are covered with waterproof "sheets," which cover the output holes—understandably reducing the sound quality, but also proving costly to create. Murata gets around that problem by getting rid of the waterproof sheeting altogether, instead redesigning the speaker holes entirely.

Waterproof phones are pretty popular in Japan we hear, with Murata claiming that around one in four phones released in Japan last year were actually immune to moisture. They're on sale to manufacturers now, at around 250 Yen ($2.70) per unit.