Remember that old “Animaniacs” segment ‘Good Idea/Bad Idea’ where the narrator would show a similarly themed idea and the good idea and bad idea versions of it? Let’s play that with Apple’s newest iPhone announcement.
The 5S looks to be the most powerful smartphone ever, and everything about it (including the gimmicky, but soon to be standard, fingerprint scanner) fits perfectly in line with the Apple model of releasing a new model that isn’t quite ready to be distinguished as the next build (i.e. the iPhone 6), but represents a nice leap forward when compared to what came before.
Bad idea; the insulting, low down, no good, dirty rotten, laughably greedy idea now known as the iPhone 5C.
You know how Apple usually lowers the price of a previous model of iPhone when the new one comes out? Yeah, well this time they’ve decided to release a “new” and cheaper version of the iPhone 5 called the iPhoneC instead. Though there are some minor differences between the iPhone 5 and the 5C, the biggest ones would have to be the extremely low price point ($99, no contract required), the all plastic body, and the shiny, shiny, colors it is available in.
By itself it wouldn’t be such a bad idea (essentially a really cheap iPhone 5), but what makes its unveiling such a slap in the face is that Apple has also made the decision that they will discontinue the iPhone 5 starting immediately. That means that everyone holding an iPhone 5 right now is essentially dead to Apple, as they are clearly expecting all of their customers who want to retain basic service and be able to purchase accessories to either drop a fresh ton of cash on the 5S, or to purchase the near identical 5C model for an unnecessary $99 fee.
This is simply inexcusable, especially considering that a 64 GB model of the iPhone 5C is not even available like it is for the iPhone 5. While Apple could have released the 5C as a cheaper alternative, they’ve instead chosen to enhance their nefarious image as the absolute greediest company in the tech world, by turning their most loyal (and recent) customers into nothing but suckers who will accept a financial reaming from a major corporation so long as the offending apparatus is in shiny new colors.
In a way I feel bad for iPhone 5 owners, as they are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the new releases given the discontinuation announcement. On the other hand, anyone that submits to this billion dollar cash ploy and continues to give their financial and spiritual support to Apple, deserves to receive the sub-human consumer treatment that Apple has started to package along with every iPhone sold.
Usually reliable Google centric blog 9to5 Google broke the news, saying their sources claim the web giant will be expanding past their occasional Best Buy and special event pop up Chrome stores, and will be looking at a nationwide retail store model similar to that of competitor Apple. The stores would also be used in much of the same fashion as Apple stores, as Google would use them to show off their latest and greatest gadgets, and also offer technical support.
While a reasonable, even sane, argument can be made that Google looking to get into a dying industry late is a costly business failure waiting to happen, the truth is that Apple still does very well at their retail locations, and Google is consistently cited as being at least as popular, if not more so, than Apple is. The real reason this could work though is Project Glass, as Google is set to launch what could potentially be the next great invention, and a physical retail store that lets people practically try it, could be a big draw.
We’ll know more as the rumored holiday 2013 US openings of these stores draws closer, but the one thing we know for sure is that if Google has as much fun designing the stores as they did their offices, we’re all in for a treat.
With necessity being the mother of invention and all that, how the hell has a sink that also dries your hands not been introduced before?
Thankfully the good folks at Dyson are a step ahead of the game and have introduced an all in one bathroom sink called the Dyson Airblade tap that allows for you to wash and dry your hands via one convenient fixture. It’s not exactly rocket science either, as the setup simply includes the traditional motion sensing faucet, only equipped with wing jettisons that also respond to movement, and dry your hands when you’re ready with little more than a simple flick of the wrist in either direction.
More than just a handy case of common sense inspired design though, the hand dryers themselves are much improved over the classic models as they blow cool air which actually disposes of the water naturally instead of evaporating it. Not only that but the air is more purified for less chance of potential germs, and the Dyson powered motor shoots out air at 430 mph, ensuring a drying time of around 12 seconds.
There’s not much more to the new Dyson design, and that is, of course, a big part of its brilliance. Not only does its simple ingenuity help to eliminate the mostly hated paper towel use, but also does away with the incredibly inefficient traditional blow dryer and cuts down on the amount of awkward bathroom lines you’ll have to face in your lifetime.
Truly, for us public bathroom aficionados, this is a case of heroic design.
Between the chilly weather, my fondness of sleeping, and preference to not work as opposed to going to work, It’s been harder and harder to get going in the morning.
Is the problem a lack of motivation and general laziness? No, I’m sure not. Instead it must be my simple alarm clock, which just isn’t capable of besting my urge to stay in bed. If you share that same problem, then allow me to present you some more intense alarm alternatives, all of which have ways beyond an annoying beep to force you to get up in the morning.
Electrifying Alarm clock
Taken in aesthetically, the singNshock alarm is just a well designed and good looking alarm clock, with a soothing music playing wake-up feature, and multicolor LED display. On first glance, it’s actually very welcoming.
But once it’s time to get up, the singNshock immediately ceases all notions of friendliness, and straight up shocks you into waking up. The moment you try to turn your alarm off, the alarm sends a small millivolt (1 thousandth of a volt) electrical charge through your body. It’s not enough to make your hair stand on end, and can actually be turned off, but it will get your attention when it’s most needed, which is kind of a theme on this list.
Gun Alarm Clock
Most of us have aggressive tendencies towards our alarm clocks and, in moments of sleep deprived frustration, you may have even fantasied about shooting it.
Don’t suppress those darker urges though, but rather encourage them with the Gun O’ Clock. Whenever the alarm goes off in the morning, a target pops up from it and requires you to use the light gun accessory to shoot it down via either quick shot mode (5 perfect shots in 3 minutes), a quick draw speed shot, or a random mode. It’s not a beat you over the head school of alarm clock design, but it does require a little hand eye coordination, and provides a bit of entertainment to get you started with the day.
Carpet Alarm Clock
We now get more into the idea of motion based alarm clocks, as the toughest part of any morning is getting out of bed.
The carpet alarm directly addresses that issue, as you are required to stand up and step on the carpet in order to turn it off. There’s even a nice LED pressure sensitive clock built into the otherwise normal rug, bringing it closer to the traditional alarm clock look. While there are quite a number of cheats for this such as placing it right by, or even on your bed, and then going back to sleep, purists will put this on the other side of room and force themselves out of bed every morning.
Rolling Alarm Clock
Like the carpet alarm clock, this one is based on the idea of you moving to wake up in the morning. Unlike the carpet alarm, this one presents few cheats to counter it.
One of the oldest and most effective of the tough alarm designs, Clocky is equipped with wheels so that when your alarm goes off, so does the clock. As it rolls around, you’re forced to chase it down in an effort to turn it off. The clock moves with good speed, and in random patterns, making it an effort to pursue it, and providing you with the necessary amount of motion, and a healthy bit of early exercise, needed to get you going.
Weight Alarm Clock
Then again, if a little exercise isn’t enough to get your day started, you should probably consider an alarm that demands a full amount of reps.
Modeled like a dumbbell, the shape up alarm has no problem turning off in the morning, so long as you are willing to do a few curls. Specifically it requires 30 curls done in succession for the alarm to deactivate, which is a healthy amount designed to make sure that you are using more than a quick motion, or hazy chase down, to try to get moving. Instead it takes a concentrated physical effort to overcome this hardcore alarm.
IQ Alarm Clock
Of course, there are more important parts of your body to work out in order to have a productive morning than your biceps, one of which would be your brain.
In fact, more than your limbs, it’s usually your brain that’s the last thing to start working in the morning, and the IQ alarm knows that. That’s why it ditches the snooze button, and comes equipped with an extremely difficult battery compartment, ensuring that to stop the alarm you will have to answer 1-3 (the required number is changeable) IQ test level questions. It’s a clever design, as it requires you to be equally clever to best it.
Sonic Boom Alarm Clock
When you don’t want to trust to gimmicks and novelties to wake you up, you need an alarm clock that has no interest in, or ability to, play games.
The Sonic Boom is a standard alarm clock in that it displays time, makes a beeping sound, and even has a snooze button. The difference is the main alarm on its top setting can achieve a level of 113 decibels (the equivalency of a jackhammer or rock concert). Not only that, but it is equipped with bright flashing red lights, and a disk that fits under your mattress and shakes your bed with extreme authority until you turn the alarm off. There may be no additional features to assure you won’t roll back to sleep, but the ruthless aggressiveness of the Sonic Boom may just put you into fear of disobeying it by even suggesting you rest your eyes. Such is its authority.
Trying to nitpick, analyze, highlight, and discuss the Consumer Electronics Show with any kind of totality is a maddening proposition, unless you’re willing to devote a significant amount of research time and several posts to doing so. I considered doing just that briefly, before I decided to step back and remember that the CES is really supposed to be fun. And while part of that fun is seeing what we’ll be able to buy in the coming year (and what we’ll never, ever afford), another, more entertaining, part is mocking the most absurd inventions that had no business on the show floor in the first place.
It’s those that I wanted to focus on, and specifically I wanted to find the most ridiculous of them all. For a moment, I thought it would be the iPad training toilet (not only because it teaches kids they don’t need to stop using their gadgets, even while on the toilet, but makes me realize there are kids who can’t even stop pooping their pants that somehow have iPad access and knowledge), or the Motorhead sponsored headphones designed to more or less be dangerously, annoyingly loud.
In the end though, there was only one clear winner.
A fork? Yeah, but of course it’s a smart fork. How can a fork be smart? When it’s designed for stupid people of course.
In this case, the Hapifork (as its known) measures your eating habits (particularly how fast you are eating) and through an app (of course it has an app) allows you to monitor statistics like how long your meal was, how many fork servings you had per minute, and the time between bites. The data is then analyzed to help you find ways to become a healthier eater. It can also provide visual cues while eating to let you know when things are getting out of hand.
Now, I am aware that obesity and over eating are huge problems, particularly in America. However so is stupidity, and it’s frightening to believe there are people speaking of this fork like it is somehow a good idea, or noble weapon on the war against not eating so damn much. It’s neither. It’s a device that attempts to eliminate common sense and reduce personal responsibility in a field (dieting) that requires a great deal of both to be successful.
So instead of considering spending the $99 on the Hapifork when it is released (or put on Kickstarter), allow me to present an alternative. Hire me. Seriously, if you must have an eating tattler, rent me for $5 during your meal, and when I see you attacking a plate of pasta like it violated a peace treaty I’ll say “Dude”. You’ll say “Oh, right” ,slow down, and hopefully, neither you, me, or any of us will have to hear about this smart fork again.
I’m constantly torn between my love of technology, and of the more classic ideas. I couldn’t live without my Galaxy SIII, but refuse to use an e-reader over print books, for instance. I’m particularly adamant about limiting technology when it comes to the kitchen, restaurants, and food in general, where I just think that containing the number of technological advances produces a better atmosphere.
But even I’m finding it hard to not love the e-table designs currently employed in a few restaurants across the world. The most interesting of which belongs to an Asian-Fusion restaurant in the SoHo district of London called Inamo. It looks like a touch screen table, but actually works off of an interactive projection concept that would allow for diners to, among other things, view menus, access a live camera in the kitchen (a somewhat pervy extension of the open kitchen philosophy), play games, change the digital tablecloth, and even project an image of the food onto their plates.
A similar idea from designer Clint Rule places a greater emphasis on social features that would aim to turn the café environment to a much more integrated place with options like voting on music, or sharing what you are reading with others around you and elsewhere.
Neither of these are entirely unique, as this idea has been a popular science fiction mainstay for decades and restaurants here and there for years have employed similar designs. But I believe that one of, or more realistically a combination of, these two ideas represent a real trend that could be seen soon in many more restaurants. Worldwide, eating out is becoming more of a cultural phenomenon than it has ever been as chefs become rockstars, and dishes become worthy of pilgrimage. In that growing environment a certain amount of technological expansion is almost inevitable just as it has been everywhere else. As long as the food remains the draw though, and waiters and waitresses keep their jobs, I see no harm in exploring the benefits and uses of this idea, if for no other reason than it looks pretty damn cool.
One of the bigger stories of 2012 in gadgets was the success of the Ouya. The Ouya promises gamers a new type of game console that will be powered off the Android OS, and will retail for under $100 with free to play games, which could include thousands of titles, and serve as a highly accessible development platform for small game developers everywhere. It sparked a sizable wave of hype, and destroyed Kisckstarter records, as the idea of such a fresh game console took the public by storm, and had them throwing money at their computers to support it.
And now, not long after the release of the initial Ouya development kits, it appears the Ouya’s triumphant burst onto the gaming scene has left a gaping hole for other companies to join the party through. The latest, and most intriguing, is the Game Stick, a project of PlayJam. It’s intriguing, because it’s a console that is essentially just a controller and a USB stick that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port. From that simple set up, you have access to a substantial number of high profile Android based games available through the PlayJam Games Network service, as well as a host of additional titles the company are hoping to acquire from major Android developers.
Currently the creators of the Game Stick are looking for $100,000 on Kickstarter to start production, and are over halfway to their goal with 29 days to go.
2013 is set to be a huge, huge year in gaming, and you can’t belittle the Ouya’s role in that. Even if it achieves nothing greater than its current role as Kicstarter darling, the little system that could is proving that there is a market out there for a cheaper, simpler, open sourced gaming platform. While the Game Stick doesn’t appear to be quite on the same level of the Ouya as far as depth or available titles, it does offer further evidence that the indie and mobile markets are looking for a traditional platform that will allow them to stand shoulder to shoulder with the big boys to see how they measure up. At an expected $75 price point, the Game Stick may not prove to make that impact, but it could be a great way to get Android games on TV’s on a budget, and with minimal set up.
Bartender is a job that still carries some mystique to the common drinker, as the person behind the bar still exists as a figurehead to many patrons. There’s something striking about even a standard server of spirits, and something downright mythical about the one who can create that perfect drink, or control a crowded room like they’re dangling strings over the masses.
It’s not an easy life though, as a truly great bartender must have an eye on every little aspect of the bar, a head full of drink recipes and orders, and the quick hands that put it all together. So while everyone may not be cut out to be a bartender, thanks to a tool called the bar10der, everyone can make mixing drinks a little easier. It’s basically the drinker’s Swiss army knife (the Irish army knife perhaps?), and features 10 tools essential for any good bartender:
- A jigger to measure ½ ounce and ounce pours
- Muddler for crushing
- Reamer for squeezed juice mixtures
- A bottle opener
- A zester for citrus
- A channel knife for fruit twists
- And of course a basic 4” blade
All of the tools are neatly packaged into a less than 9 inch long rubber handle, that comes in multiple colors, and though it is a bit pricey at $49.99, it is really just a fantastic all around device, especially if you’ll soon be hosting a new years eve party.
The Nest may be cornering the market on the future of central air conditioning, but even with such a great innovation, there will always be room for the classic ceiling fan set up. It’s not only the preference of many home owners, but still the necessity in some regions when it comes to cooling down a room. Yet unlike central air’s revolution with the Nest, the ceiling fan has not really had the privilege of new age influence creating a fresh design.
Until the bladeless fan from Exhale Fans that is. Supposedly inspired by the works of Nikola Tesla, the bladeless ceiling fan works much in the same manner as a tradition fan, as it redistributes the existing air in a room and converts it to a cooling flow. The difference is that it’s more discreet, more stylish (available in several colors in fact), extremely quiet, cheaper, and most importantly can provide cool (or warm depending on the need) air evenly throughout a room instead of in select spots like the usual ceiling fan. A great example of this can be found in the demonstration video that shows the fan’s capabilities of complete air flow coverage with the help of a smoke machine.
If you’d like to support the bladeless fan…you’re too late. It’s already achieved its funding goal on the site indiegogo, and will soon go into production and be available via the manufacturer’s website. Should you buy it when available then? Well, it’s not often that you see a device which can improve upon the classic design of a necessary object, and vastly improve the functionality of it as well, so unless you’re aiming for a classic Havana kingpin inspired design for your home, it’s hard not to recommend jumping on the biggest improvement to come to the ceiling fan since…well the ceiling fan.
In the land of sci-fi cops and criminals battles, the technological advancements to the fight usually comes in natural forms (better weapons, better vehicles, incredible computer systems) to the obscure (detecting crime before it happens, anti-graffiti walls, and of course, the above shown half-man, half-machine law enforcement officers).
Oddly one of the most important, and practical, devices that never seem to get much of an update in the fictitious future of film are the handcuffs. Maybe that’s because most of us just view them as simple restraints, that don’t actually need an upgrade past the purpose of keeping a convict’s hands to themselves.
There is a company called Scottsdale Inventions, though, that has a patent in the works that aims to change that perception. With their new design, handcuffs would provide active, non-violent solutions to truly restraining prisoners. The biggest feature in this is their shock capabilities, which can remotely send taser like voltage to a prisoner through the cuffs. This could be accomplished in a variety of ways, including a remote signal, to setting parameters similar to the shock collar on a dog. Items that are also off limits like weapons or door handles could be tagged so that going near them would send a shock as well.
Should the shocks prove to be ineffective, the cuffs have one more trick available, that could allow an injection of presumably pacifying drugs to be administered in extreme situations. This would either be in the form of a liquid or gas injection system.
Even in the early prototype model, there is already a very strong emphasis on safety and prevention. Early examples of this include visual and audio warnings that alert the detainee if a shock or shot is coming. The cuffs will also keep a record of the time, quantity, and severity of shocks and injections, as well as function as a tracking device.
While flying cars and android officers might be the more exciting and flashy images of future law enforcement, it’s devices like these handcuffs that will ultimately provide the real futuristic contributions to the war on crime.