Apr 29, 2013

How Typing on a Smart Watch Might Actually Make Sense

While the prospect of new smart watches from every corner is terribly exciting, few people seem to spent much time working out how to make them, you know, useful. But a researcher from Carnegie Mellon University has, fortunately, been trying to work out if an on-screen keyboard could work on a smart watch—and the here's his solution.

Called Zoomboard, the idea is that a small screen can contain a full QWERTY keyboard by smartly zooming as you type. Press down on part of the keyboard, and it zooms to show keys in just that area; pressing again types a letter. It also uses swipes to help you edit: swipe right to insert a space, left to delete, or up to see symbols.

It's not a complicated bit of technology, but it's neatly executed and could at least allow you to type a short message on your wrist. It better be short, though: in tests, students managed a fairly paltry 9.3 words per minute on the keyboard.

But that's OK, because this is a first step. Smart watches won't be perfect at first, but it's nice to know that people are at least thinking about how to make them work. The software will be presented at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Paris this week, and the source code will be made freely available, too. More here.

Apr 27, 2013

These Are Google Glass’s CPU and RAM Specs

Not too long ago, some of Google Glass's specs got out there, but we were missing two critical pieces: CPU and RAM. Now, thanks to some endeavoring hackers who've gotten their hands on a pair, we now know some of those details.

Jay Lee, with some help from Liam McLoughlin, managed to find Glass's USB debugging setting and hook it up to ADB which in turn spilled the additional specs:

  • Android 4.0.4 - Ice Cream Sandwich
  • OMAP 4430 CPU - Dual Core
  • 682mb of RAM
It's not all the data you might want, however. Lee says he had trouble determining the exact MHz of the CPU, and that Kernel messages suggest the actual RAM might be 1GB with some stolen away for hardware; it's not totally clear. You can dig through all the info here.

But in the absence of any official specs from Google, this is the best we can get for now. And who knows, things could change by the time a real consumer model actually rolls out, but these seem to be the specs for the specs floating around right now and knowledge is power! More here.

Why Did It Take So Long to Make a See-Through Highlighter Tip?

Not since Liquid Paper has there been an innovation in office supplies as awesome as this highlighter's see-through tip that makes it easier to see the text as you're highlighting it.

Cooked up by the Mitsubishi Pencil Company—which sounds like it would have an awesome factory tour—the cheap $1.60 Uni Promark View uses a thinned water-based pigment ink that flows down a channel inside the highlighter's clear plastic tip. The design provides a window so that you can always see the text you're highlighting, and don't accidentally overshoot the end of a sentence. Technically it's not a problem that's ever really cost someone a passing grade, but that doesn't mean it wasn't worth solving. More here.

This Reusable Coffee Cup Blends in at the Coffee Shop

How many coffee cups do you go through in a week? Probably way more than you should. JOCO's 12 ounce reusable cup will keep your guilt at bay. And it looks just like one of the ones you'd be tossing anyway.

It comes in a multitude of of bright colors for $25 a pop. And it's made from glass but it has a silicone sleeve to keep your hand safe from your hot java. Plus, it's splash-proof, so you won't have to worry about spills. Plus, ya know, sustainability and all that good stuff. More here.

Google Glass Has Already Been Hacked and Rooted

Though Google Glass runs Android, it's not exactly as wide open as your typical Android phone. And given its spot as the most futuristic tech available right now, you know hackers want to tinker with Google's specs. Legendary hacker Jay Freeman, famously known as Saurik who created the Cydia app store for iOS jailbreak phones, did just that. He's already gained root access to Google Glass.

How did he do it? Freeman discovered that Glass ran Android 4.0.4 so he modified an exploit from another hacker named B1nary that allowed for root access on Android 4.0.4 phones. He told Forbes:
"It took me two hours while I was having dinner with friends at the time. The implementation from B1nary is for normal Android tablets and phones, I learned how it worked and then did the same thing on Glass…which was quite simple." More here.

Apr 26, 2013

Twitter Will Release Its Two-Step Verification Soon

Wired is reporting that Twitter has a two-step verification system currently undergoing internal testing that Twitter hopes to roll out to its users "shortly". A two-step verification system would help prevent Twitter hacks from happening.

There aren't any details on how the two-step verification system would work exactly but hopefully it comes out soon. It's an embarrassment that Twitter has taken so long in implementing more security layers than just a simple password, especially since so many others (like Google, Apple, Dropbox, etc.) have added their own two-step verification systems. More here.

Apr 24, 2013

Earbuds Under $50 That Actually Have a Hope of Sounding Good

Apple EarPods—or whatever crap headphones came with your phone—aren't the best way to listen to music, but nice gear is expensive. You can't blame people for not wanting to spend a lot of money on something they're just going to lose or destroy. Well here's a $40 alternative to garbage that's almost certain to sound pretty good.

Since its first over-ear headphones came out a couple of years ago, Sol Republic has built its reputation on solid, aesthetically handsome gear that's cheaper than the competition's offering.

The buds have a newly designed drivers, tangle free cables, and your standard three-button remote. While they're not as striking to look at as other Sol Republic stuff, they've got an admirable minimalism—hopefully Sol Republic making sure the guts sound great. More here.

Nokia’s Asha 210 Is a Social QWERTY Phone Two Years Late

Just over two years after HTC released the Status—a QWERTY phone with Facebook integration that never even really mattered at the time—Nokia has decided to roll out its own version: the Asha 210.

Nokia's social phone does at least take into account current trends: in the West and Latin America, it will have a dedicated Facebook button; in the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and Africa that'll be replaced with a hardware button linked to WhatsApp. In fact, the WhatsApp tie-in will offers users free use of the service for as long as they own the device

In terms of the handset itself, it comes with a 2-megapixel camera, dual-SIM slots, and a series of new feature phone apps for photo editing and data transfer. None of which is particularly interesting, but then it does only cost $70 (and will start shipping in the third quarter of 2013). Instead, Nokia is going to be selling this phone on its social features.

At a time when even the cheapest smartphones offers a decent social media experience, though, it's tough to see how Nokia will carve out a market for the phone in the West. It may sell well in other regions, but given that Nokia's feature phone range is what's currently dragging it down, it seems an unlikely route to success for Elop and co. Add to that the fact that HTC already tried the idea with the Status—and saw it flop—and it seems an unbelievably poor move two years down the line. Still, at least it comes in some pretty Nokia colors. More here.

Apr 23, 2013

Building This Bike Is Almost As Easy as Making a Sandwich

The SandwichBike not only sounds delicious in name, it's delightfully customizable. It comes to you in the mail, and you assemble it all by yourself. And though that sounds daunting, it's supposed to be insanely easy.

The Sandwichbike was designed by Basten Leijh, who completely rethought what you'd think of as far as a traditional bike goes. For example, instead of a metal frame, its skeleton is a formed from two weather-coated pieces of layered plywood sandwiched together (thus the name). It comes to you in a flat box that has all the parts inside—the chain, the bolts, the pedals, and everything you need for your foot-powered vehicle. More here.

Put an Entire Galaxy Under Your Office Chair

A floor mat is unfortunately a must-have accessory if you don't want your office chair trampling down carpet, or tearing up a wooden floor. But thankfully you no longer have to just opt for a boring sheet of plastic. Underfoot Media creates chair mats printed with stunning images of the universe, so rolling over to get a printout feels like soaring across the galaxy.

Available in four-by-four foot squares for $185, or a slightly larger version for $220, the mats use awe-inspiring imagery captured by the Hubble telescope or the Spitzer space telescope. You might actually feel bad about putting what is essentially a work of art on the floor and rolling all over it, but on the other hand this is as close as most of us will ever get to enjoying a spacewalk. More here.

Apr 22, 2013

Turn Signal Gloves Vastly Increase Your Chances Of Surviving an Urban Bike Ride

Your average motorist is more used to sharing the road with other vehicles than cyclists. So instead of just relying on your arms to safely signal an upcoming turn, consider these $42 turn signal gloves which let both cyclists and motorists alike know where you're headed.

Usable with an included set of bike gloves or your own pair once they've been enhanced with a bit of velcro, the LEDs are triggered via a thumb-accessible button and can be used to signal a turn, or continuously flash for enhanced nighttime visibility. On a fresh set of batteries they'll flash for 120 hours straight, so you can safely get to and from work for days on end, or manually flash an SOS distress if you find yourself lost after a ride in the woods. More here.

How Canned Food Conquered the World

The BBC has a wonderful dive into the history of canning, tracing its origins from a technology designed to help expand and sustain the British Empire, to a miracle commodity of modern capitalism. And it almost failed before it ever got going.

Though he really stole the idea for canning from a Frenchman, Bryan Donkin is the man who developed the idea to help feed the Royal Navy. He was awarded a patent for the technology in 1813. Canned food was lauded by royalty and sailors alike—indeed, nobody had ever seen anything quite like it before. It made it possible to send familiar British food to sailors overseas, thousands of miles from home.

But the science of canning didn't get off to a perfect start. You see, canning preserves food, and keeps it fresh and tasty only so long as what goes in there in the first place was good. A scandal in the 1850s revealed that a huge amount of the canned "beef" being sent overseas was not fit for human consumption. Much of it wasn't even beef at all. The proprietor behind the operation implicated in the scandal ultimately cleaned up his act—as did the whole industry—and so canning survived long enough to become the supermarket commodity par excellence. Make sure to check out the whole BBC story here.

Apr 20, 2013

Razer’s Honoring Unauthorized 90-Percent-Off Coupon Purchases at a Huge Loss

Razer just said it's going to honor purchases made with a third party coupon that went viral this week, which gave users 90 percent off on the Razer UK store. That's kind of astounding.

The coupon was supposed to be used by a third party company to test Razer's shopping cart, but instead it got out and thousands of orders got through. It only included items on the UK store—so no Blade or Edge—but that's still a crazy amount of orders. Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan said on a Facebook status update that even though it was likely to cost Razer a TON of money, since the items are being sold well under cost, it still wants to do right by gamers. So it's honoring all sales on single purchases, but canceling those ordering multiples of the same item. Those buyers can still pick up one of whatever they ordered. Solid move, Razer. More here.

Apr 19, 2013

Apple Keeps Your Siri Data for Two Years

You thought that time you asked Siri about the weird mole on your toe was just between the two of you? Wrong. According to Wired, Apple hangs onto your Siri data for two years.

Privacy groups have been asking after Siri's info hoarding habits for quite a while, but this is the first time Apple has given out the explicit details. Although Apple does keep your data, it says the snippets it saves are completely anonymous and only used to improve Siri.

Here's how it works: when you talk to Siri, your conversation is sent to Apple for analysis. Random numbers are generated to represent you and the voice data associated with the virtual assistant. This code is different from both your Apple user ID and your UDID, but it's filed with your Siri logs. Once a specific file is six months old, Wired says the number is "dissociated" from the clip, but the clip is still kept on hand for up to 18 months. And if you turn Siri off, all of the identifying factors are deleted. So even though it's all anonymous, perhaps you'll think twice about what you're gabbing with Siri about next time. More here.

This Predator Helmet Can Make Even the Tiniest Vespa Badass

Motorcycle riders don't get a lot of respect from other drivers on the road, but who's going to dare cut you off when you're cruising around looking like an intergalactic game hunter in this awesome Predator helmet. It's built on an actual motorcycle helmet so it's properly safety rated, but has been enhanced with a sculpted outer shell, a dreadlocks mullet, and even a tri-laser scope.

Optional add-ons include a carbon fiber outer shell, tiny metal spears on the ends of the dreadlocks, and even a hyper-realistic airbrushed finish. For $780 it guarantees even Vespa riders a modicum of respect on the road, just be on the look out for highway patrolmen covered in mud. More here.

Apr 18, 2013

Why Do We Cry?

It’s All About the Benjamin Ice Cubes, Baby

Ask for your paycheck in cold hard cash. Your boss will laugh at you. So the most obvious alternative is literal ice in the shape of hundred dollar bills.

They say if you wear enough diamonds your neck will freeze. But if you prefer your currency closer to liquid form, Gamago's new eight cube tray will only set you back eight bones. And as an added bonus, (and main purpose of ice cubes if we're being technical here) the Benjamin cubes will keep your chalice chilled. More here.

Apr 17, 2013

Here’s What’s Inside Google Glass’ Box

Even though we've seen Google Glass be leaked, be announced, be presented, be demoed, be worn, be used and even be mocked, it's always represented some far off future technology that we never were sure if it would ever be real (in a I can't believe it's already here kind of way). But it's totally happening guys. And this is what it looks like. Brandon Allgood got his hands on the Google Glass box and revealed what's inside the future.

It's wonderfully clean packaging that includes two different visors, a carrying bag, a power adapter, a power cord and Google Glass. It looks like people in the Google Glass Explorer program are getting there taste (or I guess sight?) of Glass, the world is never going to be the same! Or something like that. More here.

TomTom’s New GPS Watches Are Easily Controlled With a Large Cyclops-Like Button

A couple of years ago TomTom partnered with Nike for what was one of the first GPS sport watches that didn't look like some monstrous fitness accessory strapped to your wrist. But now the company is parting ways with the swoosh and releasing a set of TomTom-branded watches called the Runner and Multi-Sport for those who like to fanatically track their performances.

Available sometime this summer for a yet to be disclosed price, both the Runner and Multi-Sport feature GPS and GLONASS (the Russian version) satellite tracking for fast and accurate location pinpointing, motion sensors for counting footsteps when training indoors, a ten-hour battery with the GPS functionality enabled, and a relatively slim 11.5 millimeter thick housing. And like the Nike+ SportWatch, TomTom is sticking with a monochrome display that can be used to monitor distance, fitness goals, or a targeted performance pace.

Both watches also feature a large multi-directional button that can be used in wet conditions, or with gloves, to navigate the UI. But TomTom is distinguishing the Multi-Sport version from the Runner with a built-in swimming motion sensor, an included dedicated bike mount, and optional Bluetooth cadence and altimeter sensors. More here.

Apr 16, 2013

Here Are Google Glass’ Tech Specs

Google just released the official specs for Google Glass (after releasing the API too) and the futuristic frames come with 16GB (only 12GB will be usable) Flash memory, 5 megapixel camera for stills, 720p video recording, Wi-Fi b/g, Bluetooth and a battery that can handle "one full day of typical use".

Adjustable nosepads and durable frame fits any face.
Extra nosepads in two sizes.
High resolution display is the equivalent of a 25 inch high definition screen from eight feet away.
Photos - 5 MP
Videos - 720p
Bone Conduction Transducer
Wifi - 802.11b/g
12 GB of usable memory, synced with Google cloud storage. 16 GB Flash total.
One full day of typical use. Some features, like Hangouts and video recording, are more battery intensive.
Included Micro USB cable and charger.
While there are thousands of Micro USB chargers out there, Glass is designed and tested with the included charger in mind. Use it and preserve long and prosperous Glass use.
Any Bluetooth-capable phone.
The MyGlass companion app requires Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher. MyGlass enables GPS and SMS messaging. More here.