Jan 31, 2013

This Smart Mirror Lights Up at Your Very Presence

You're so beautiful. That is, at least according to Simple Human's newest sensor mirror that automatically lights up when it sees your face.

That's kind of poetic, but don't get all narcissistic weirdo and fall in love with a cordless electronic looking glass. Not after what happened last time. Still, the USB-charging, $200 sensor mirror makes for a quirky addition to your bathroom vanity, with a system called tru-lux that mimics natural light, so you don't look as ghastly as you might under harsh fluorescent bulbs. Besides, it's ok to be a little bit into yourself. This is just extra validation. More here.

This Sleeping Bag Is Every Sub-Zero Camper’s Dream/Nightmare

Whether you prefer to spend your summers in the Arctic or simply miss the suffocating warmth of a mother's womb, Nemo's newly launched Canon -40 sleeping bag may just cure what ails you (unless it's the latter in which case please seek professional assistance).

The 850-fill goose down sarcophagus features two vented "gills" on the front of the bag along with zippered arm hole openings on either side, which could come in handy when cooking, moving around base camp, or escaping from your heat-smothering nightmare.

The PrimaLoft insulated Stove Pipe hood design, however, is really what sets the Canon -40 apart from other sub-zero sleepers. Nemo apparently looked towards the Inuit communities of the high north for inspiration, and the questionably sufficient air hole mimics their centuries-old design by essentially pre-warming the freezing air before you inhale. Given the all-encapsulating design, it's hard not to wonder how someone prone to tossing and turning would fare and/or live to see morning. We'll be left wondering for a while longer, as the Canon -40 won't hit the market until fall of 2013 for a cool $1000 a pop. More here.

A Heart-Shaped USB Hub Is Full of Love and Ports

Hearts are cheesy, sure, but they're also fun and adorable—especially this time of year. Buy into the silliness of Valentine's Day with these cute little USB hubs.

They're made by GreenHouse, which you could surmise is a Japanese company, based on the fact that the hubs are so kawaii! Each one has four USB 2.0 ports a piece and come in pink, red, and gold for $26 a piece. They might be girly and sappy, but don't lie, you want to embrace that part of yourself. More here.

Jan 30, 2013

The 64GB Surface Pro Will Have Just 23GB of Usable Space

The Verge has learned that the 64GB version will offer up just 23GB of space to the user.

It seems the Windows 8 install, built-in apps, and a recovery partition will consume 41GB of the total storage space, leaving just 23GB—that's 36 percent—of storage for the user. Perhaps it's time manufacturers started quoting available storage space in their ads, too? More here.

iPhone Owners Run Up the Biggest Bills

A new report by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners reveals that iPhone owners run up the biggest cell phone bills—spending far more than other smartphone users.

The report reveals that 60 percent of iPhone users—or at least, those who were polled—spend more than $100 per month on their plans. Above that, 10 percent spend $200 or more—and only 6 percent spend $50 or less. Compare that to Android, where 12 percent pay less than $50.

So, why do iPhone users spend more? It's almost certainly down to the fact that, through necessity, iPhone users tend to be on more expensive data plans to begin with. More here. 

Jan 29, 2013

A Beautiful Look at the Galaxy that Will Collide With Us In 4 Billion Years

In four billion years, Andromeda will collide with the Milky Way. That will be an amazing view—but until then we have to look at it from a distance. This new photo by the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory shows a beautiful view. From NASA:
The glow seen here comes from the longer-wavelength, or far, end of the infrared spectrum, giving astronomers the chance to identify the very coldest dust in our galactic neighbor. These light wavelengths span from 250 to 500 microns, which are a quarter to half of a millimeter in size. Herschel's ability to detect the light allows astronomers to see clouds of dust at temperatures of only a few tens of degrees above absolute zero. These clouds are dark and opaque at shorter wavelengths. The Herschel view also highlights spokes of dust between the concentric rings.
I just can look at these space images all day long. More here.

The 128GB iPad Is Real and It’s Here

As expected, Apple let a 128GB iPad out of the bag today. And there's almost zero chance you should buy it.

The new iPad has the same retina display as its brothers, and the same design, and the same guts, with one notable exception: a metric crap-ton of storage. More storage than any decent or sane human being could ever want from a pure tablet, at a cost—$800 for Wi-Fi only and $930 for 4G—that no decent or sane human being could ever want to spend on one. Do you know how much laptop that kind of money can buy you? You're almost at Surface Pro/MacBook Air levels of expenditure for an A6X chip and Temple Run 2.

Even if you're the type of person who flocked to the mega-storage iPods of yore, don't be lured in by Big Poppa iPad's siren song. Unlike the heady days of 2007, your music and movies andDon't Trust the B— downloads live in the cloud now, not on your device. That's where Apple and everyone else has been pushing people for years, precisely because gigundo-storage devices are expensive and absurd and absurdly expensive for the common man.

And that's okay! Apple doesn't expect you to buy a 128GB iPad, not unless you're a professional-grade buyer, like an architect or a supervillain, with all the resources and massive AutoCAD storage needs that implies. The 128GB iPad is like a $300/head steakhouse dinner. It goes on the corporate account.

Like all the other iPads, the new kids come in black and white, and you can buy them starting next Tuesday. Or rather, your IT manager can. More here.

Jan 28, 2013

Does Apple Have a Fancier iPad 4 Up Its Sleeve

Scraps of evidence are appearing across the internet, so 9to5mac claims, that point towards Apple maybe, possibly, perhaps readying an update for the iPad.

9to5mac has reported that devs are finding code in the soon-to-be-released iOS 6.1 that point towards a new device, featuring 128GB of storage. Adding some fuel to that fire is a new set of SKUs, leaked by a "high-profile U.S. retailer", which point to a new "ultimate" version of the iPad.

In the past Apple has referred to its storage options as "Good," "Better," and "Best", so the use of the "Ultimate" signifier could suggest a premium iPad is waiting in the wings—potentially offering up that rumored 128GB of storage.

It's possible, then, that Apple is adding an extra model to its existing iPad range—perhaps for special customers or internal use, given its large capacity, which is expensive and doesn't fit with the growing trend of migrating to the cloud. Another possibility is that Apple is giving its whole iPad range a light spring-time spruce up—though that seems rather less likely.

The final option, of course, is that it's all speculation that amounts to nothing. We'll have to hold on and see. More here. 

This DSLR Really Is Good Enough to Eat

Valentine's is just round the corner, and what better sweet treat to get your gadget-loving partner than a full-size replica of a Canon D60 made from chocolate?

Nothing, that's what. This amazing model was made by Etsy seller Hans Chung, who has hand-crafted a mold in the shape of a D60 so that he can make solid chocolate versions of the camera. It's intricately detailed; an amazing likeness. So far he's made three of the things for friends and family—one has already been eaten—but he plans to make a further five and sell them as a limited-edition run.

The limited edition chocolate cameras will be maufactured in the buyer's choice of chocolate from the Guittard Chocolate Company product line, and come presented in an acrylic display case. They'll also be chilled while they travel by FedEx—or if you live in San Francisco, you can pick one up in person.

The only downside: the chocolate cameras will cost a cool $500 each. For which you could actually buy quite a nice real camera. More here.

Jan 27, 2013

You Can Run Android 4.0 in Its Entirety Right on Your PC

Running certain Android apps on your desktop is nothing new with Bluestacks, but now you can get the whole dang OS running on your PC as a native application thanks to a little program called WindowsAndroid.

Developed by a start-up in Bejing called SocketeQ, WindowsAndroid not only lets you mess with Android apps on your computer, but emulate an entire 4.0 ICS device on there, complete with all the settings and everything else. It's available for download from SocketeQ's site, if you'll give them your email address and—as you should be able to guess—it runs on Windows Vista, 7, and 8 exclusively.

WindowsAndroid will also make good use of the computer it's running on. It supports big resolutions, cranks up performance using your PC's guts, and can make use of your mouse and keyboard in addition to a touchscreen monitor if you have one. You can also side-load apps by dropping the .apks in the right folder. But for the moment, that's the only reliable way to get fun stuff on it, because Google Play doesn't recognize the hardware. More here.

Jan 26, 2013

This Tiny Pet Quadcopter Could Be Your Own Personal Cameraman

Who doesn't want to be the star of their own reality TV show? Well OK, sane people. But if you count yourself among the former, there's good news for you. A new, tiny quadcopter called the MeCam is just begging to be your ever-present cameraman. And you best take it up on the offer, there's no way you could find a human that willing.

MeCam is an upcoming product from the San Francisco-based company Always Innovating, and it promises to change self-centered video documentation forever, potentially. The copter would have a battery of 14 sensors to keep it from running into walls and other people, and would be voice controlled. You could shout at it to go "up" or "down" or just tell it to follow you like a flying, robotic member of the paparazzi (or a flying puppy), and call it a day. During its acrobatics, it'd be recording you, of course, and you could beam that footage to your smartphone and have it stream there, or shunt it over to YouTube or Facebook if that's your cup of tea.

There's no word on what kind of camera the MeCam would have, but that's probably because Always Innovating doesn't plan to build them itself, but rather to license out the technology to others. Still, when all is said and done, AI expects that the little guys could be as cheap as $49, which is frankly a steal for a pet quadcopter that doesn't constantly film you. The video is almost just a bonus. It's a little way off, but AI predicts the first licensed copters could hit shelves in 2014. Does it sound a little to good to be true, especially at that price-point? Sure. But here's to hoping. Who wouldn't want a pet quady, right? More here.

Researchers Will Restore Damaged Depth Perception with Electronic Eyes

Our depth perception doesn't work without two eyes. However an estimated 285 million people worldwide suffer from some form of visual impairment in at least one theirs. The loss of sight in just one eye also means the loss of one's ability to accurately judge short distances. However, a team of researchers have devised an ingenious solution to restore binocular vision.

With natural binocular vision, our eyes view objects at slightly varying angles from one another to produce a pair of distinct perspectives which our brains then interpret as a single 3-D image. The Mono-glass system, developed by a team from the University of Yamanashi, replicates this process using commercially available components as stand-ins for the non-functional fleshy bits.

The current design iteration of Mono-glass relies on Wrap 920AR augmented reality glasses, normally used for working in Autodesk 3ds Max, to act as artificial eyes, generating images with a pair of integrated cameras. The team's custom software then processes this information to calculate the relative distance of each item in the field of view and synthesize the data into a single image. This image is then displayed in the patient's good eye with close objects appearing in focus while progressively distant items grow increasingly blurry, like the one below. More here.

Jan 25, 2013

A Wearable Sleeping Bag That You Might Actually Wear

This wearable sleeping bag isn't the first time someone's designed bedding you can stay in all day long—that honor probably goes to Selk. But it is the first sleeping bag you can wear that doesn't make you look like you're wrapped in a ridiculous puffy spacesuit.

At night, Doppleganger Outdoors' wearable sleeping bag entombs you in a cocoon of fiber filled polyester, keeping the cold out with sealable sleeves and a bag that wraps around your legs and feet. But the bottom half of the $130 sleeping bag can actually be removed in sections, turning it into a long winter coat, or a shorter jacket when you need the freedom to move around. Not only is it a more comfortable approach, but you can also roll up and compress the bottom section so it's small enough to stash in a pocket, helping keep your camping kit as minimal as possible. More here.

An All-Wool Beanie Makes Single-Digit Temps Almost Bearable

It's so cold you have to duck when you walk down the street to block the wind from freezing your face. Oh wait, then your head's iced over. You know what'll keep it warm? This all merino wool knit cap from Best Made.

This cozy hat gets its cred from tests on the frigid streets of New York City and snowy mountains of St. Elias National Park in Alaska. Both cold places, both places where you're screwed without a some head protection. A hat makes you instantly warmer. When you're comfortable and toasty, nine degrees with a wind chill isn't as bad. More here.

Jan 24, 2013

You Can Squeeze 2.2 Petabytes of Data Into One Gram of DNA

Scientists from the European Bioinformatics Institute are squeezing unparalleled amounts of data in to synthetic DNA, and now they've achieved something absolutely amazing: they can store 2.2 petabytes of information in a single gram of DNA, and recover it with 100 percent accuracy.

The researchers have encoded an MP3 of Martin Luther King's 1963 "I have a dream" speech, along with all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets, into a string of DNA. Scaled up, that represents a storage density of 2.2 petabytes per gram. What's amazing, though, is that they've managed to achieve that whilst also implementing error correction in the complex chains of molecules, allowing them to retrieve content with 100 per cent accuracy.

The technique uses the four bases of DNA—A, T, C and G—to achieve the high information density. It is, understandably, still incredibly expensive: creating synthetic DNA and then sequencing it to read off the data is getting far easier, but it's still a time- and cash-consuming business. Keep hold of your hard drives for now, but DNA could represent a viable storage solution in the future. More here.

Would You Wear These Crazy Shoes?

These sneakers are, according to Reebok, the "the first all-terrain athletic shoe". They're supposed to echo the utility of an all-terrain vehicle, and take mud, snow, grass, and sand in their stride. But let's not ignore the fact that they look completely and utterly weird.

In many ways they have all the trappings of a normal sneaker: padded tongue, supportive collar for ankle protection, nicely breathable upper and... oh my God look at those lugged soles.

These things seem to be designed to make the wearer look like a clown. Or a space explorer. Perhaps even an alien. They were certainly not designed to make you look normal. More here.

Jan 23, 2013

It’s Impossible To Wake Up Grumpy With This Sunny Silicone Egg Mold

No matter how bad your morning is going, this adorable $12 Sunnyside egg mold is sure to brighten your day—unless you're some kind of monster. Its clever design traps and holds an egg's yolk so it cooks in the shape of the sun, while the egg whites are free to flow and solidify into the shape of a fluffy cloud.

Just add some bacon seagulls, and maybe some hash brown mountains, and you've got yourself a picture perfect breakfast. More here.

Nobody Would See You Coming on This Beautiful Transparent Bike

From certain angles you can barely see this beautiful bicycle—because it's made from the same strong, lighthtweight and transparent plastic used in fighter jet canopies. It's the perfect stealth bike.

A concept put together by Designaffairs, this bicycle—aptly called Clarity Bike—is built from a polymer called Trivex. First used in helicopter windscreens and then in fighter jet canopies, the material is incredibly light but can withstand major shocks. It's also resistant to extremes of heat and cold, and can be injection moulded—so it would be perfect for making a bicycle.Designaffairs explain:
We believe that the Clarity Bike could be a giant leap forward in bicycle frame engineering and production. The design takes advantage of an advanced polymer which combines high impact resistance, lightweight properties and a gentle flexibility that usually would only be expected on an old Italian steel frame.
If this thing could be made affordably, they could sell an absolute ton—and I, for one, would be at the front of the queue. More here.

Jan 22, 2013

The Mathematically Most Efficient Way to Sort Socks

Computer scientists around the world have been stumped by a vexing mathematical problem for ages: How does one go about sorting a large pile of socks when said socks are different? How does one model the plane of possibilities? The solution has arrived, and it's much simpler than you think.

Mr. Kottke reports the findings of his own personal study, which it turns out is simpler than anything science has otherwise come up with. More here.
1) Throw all your socks out.
2) Go to Uniqlo and buy 15 identical pairs of black socks.
3) When you want to wear socks, pick any two out of the drawer.
4) When you notice your socks are wearing out, goto step 1.

Suction Cup Viewfinder Makes Your iPhone Slightly More DSLR-Like

If you're a professional photographer who's reluctantly embraced the iPhone as an occasional alternative to your DSLR, you're gonna love Photojojo's latest smartphone accessory. It's a suction cup viewfinder that sticks your iPhone's display letting you block out all the distractions around you and frame your shots the same way you would with your full-sized camera.

For $30 it includes a complementary app that generates a smaller preview window on the iPhone's display that the viewfinder is designed to cover, as well as an easy on-screen guide so you know exactly where to position it. It even works with iPads, as long as you're willing to deal with everyone around you shaking their head in disbelief while you hold your giant tablet up against your face. More here.