Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Darren Quick

The HazMatID Ranger handheld chemical identifier with detachable PDA

It may be a sad reflection of the times we live in, but there’s a growing worldwide demand for devices capable of detecting chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRNE) threats. Detecting such threats in a laboratory environment is all well and good, but to really save lives such detection needs to be carried out at the site of the threat. That means a detection device that offers lab quality results with a portable form factor - both qualities that Smiths Detection promises in its range of threat detection systems now being rolled-out worldwide.  Read More

A bike retrofitted with the Gruber Assist - you wouldn't know it was there would you?

There’s a few reasons why cycling has remained a popular form of transport for over a century. It’s cheap, keeps you fit, is environmentally friendly and it’s fun - usually. Unfortunately it can get a little less fun when you hit a steep hill or have neglected your fitness for a while. This is where electric assist devices such as the Gruber Assist can come in handy. It still lets you do most of the work, but helps to make the job that little bit easier. Whereas electric bikes such as the E+, the eneloop and the Gocycle require the purchase of a complete bike to get some electric assistance, the Gruber Assist can be retrofitted to practically any bicycle provided it has a seat tube with an inner diameter of 31.6mm.  Read More

The Socialthing logo to keep an eye out for on participating sites

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are designed to make keeping in touch with friends and family easy, but as the list of such sites continues to grow, the task of keeping up to date with all that data can quickly lead to information overload. "Lifestreaming" applications designed to simplify the process by aggregating data from multiple sources are now emerging. AOL's Socialthing is the latest lifestreaming app to join the ranks of FriendFeed, Tumblr.com and the recently announced Vine from Microsoft.  Read More

Not unlike a Volvo, the Oshkosh M-ATV is boxy, but it's good

The success of MRAP (Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected) vehicles in saving lives from IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and ambush attacks has seen the US Marine Corp scrambling to accelerate the rate of production by awarding contracts to multiple companies. Oshkosh Defense has now delivered three production-representative MRAP All Terrain Vehicles (M-ATVs) to the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland for military evaluation.  Read More

Samsung's SMX-C14 and SMX-C10 camcorders opt for a horizontal hold over a vertical grip

The unabated miniaturization of technology has seen camcorders quickly shrink from bulky, shoulder-supported behemoths to tiny feature-packed devices that fit in the palm of your hand. Samsung’s latest SMX-C14 and SMX-C10 camcorders reject the pistol grip design that some manufacturers have embraced in favor of a horizontal body with the same shiny Touch of Color (ToC) finish as the company’s latest TVs.  Read More

Say hello to cheaper calls with Skype for iPhone

Up until recently iPhone users wanting to cut their phone bills by using Skype have been forced to use third-party solutions, such as fring or IM+ for Skype. But with the official Skype for iPhone app now available free, such third-party offerings are likely to become less popular. Skype for iPhone does pretty much what you think. It lets Skype users make free calls to fellow Skype users, using a Wi-Fi network, as well as allowing the use of Skype accounts to make reduced-price calls to traditional landline phones.  Read More

The Genius G-Shot HD520 is easy in the pocket, easy on the pocket

If you’re in the market for a camcorder that isn’t too hard on the pocket when it comes to both size and cost, then the Genius G-Shot HD520 could be just the thing for you. Capable of capturing 11-megapixel still images or 5-megapixel video in MPEG-4/H.264 format, the camcorder has a pistol-grip form that is compact enough to slip into a pocket and carries a comfortable USD$149 price tag that is sure to appeal in these economically uncertain times.  Read More

Panasonic's prototype 8.8mm thin 50-inch plasma

Panasonic is giving Australian consumers a glimpse of future plasma display technologies first showcased at CES 2009. The two 50-inch prototype plasma TVs demonstrate next generation improvements to materials and processes, cell design, and circuit and drive technology, resulting in less energy consumption and twice the luminous efficiency of earlier models, all in an ultra-thin 8.8mm thick package.  Read More

Hearing it on the vine: Microsoft Vine's widget-based dashboard

With the Facebook and Twitter social networking juggernaut rolling ever onwards, Microsoft is looking to jump on the bandwagon with its new social web app called Vine. While sites such as Facebook and Twitter use the global span of the internet to let users connect with people from all corners of the globe, Vine makes its focus local, concentrating on keeping users in touch with family, friends, activities and major events in their community, including disasters and emergencies.  Read More

The low power nanoWatt XLP microcontrollers

Employing a sleep mode to cut power consumption and prolong battery life has become a standard feature in electrical devices that need to run constantly, but there is always room for improvement. Microcontroller manufacturer Microchip Technology Inc. has set what it calls a "new industry benchmark" with its nanoWatt XLP eXtreme Low Power Technology providing sleep currents as low as 20 nA.  Read More

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