Are Interactive Restaurant Tables the Wave of the Future?

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.

  

The Game Stick: A Small Console that is Part of A Big Movement

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.

  

The Bar10der. One of the Few Times Alcohol and Technology Should Mix

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

–          Stirrer

–          Corkscrew

–          Muddler for crushing

–          Reamer for squeezed juice mixtures

–          A bottle opener

–          Strainer

–          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.

  

Bladeless Ceiling Fan To Redefine Home Comfort

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.

  

New Handcuff Design Is Worthy of Robocop

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.

Still….