While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.
A company based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, has spent the last 3 years designing, developing, tweaking and building what's described as a new breed of musical instruments. Just when the sonic scientists at Omnipresent World of Wizkids (OWOW) had reached a point where the five "smartly built, but stupidly simple to use" MIDI devices were ready for the production line, they ran out of money. So they've turned to Kickstarter to get the wob, wiggle, drum, pads and scan into the hands of players.
Is it a UFO? Is it some kind of butt-massaging meditation stool? Is it a wok with a damaged lid? No, it's the Oval digital handpan. The light, portable and durable instrument has been designed to have the ergonomics and playability of a hang drum, but with access to a world of almost limitless sonic possibilities.
At about the size of a credit card, the original Makey Makey (now called the Classic) isn't exactly a behemoth, but it's not really something you could wear around your neck or dangle from your ear either. Aiming for portability, the boffins at JoyLabz have redesigned the board, stripping it down to its bare essentials, then adding a magnet (so tinkerers can stick it a fridge door between uses) and some LEDs (for colorful visual feedback), and wrapped it in protective plastic bumpers. The Makey Makey Go is now about the size of a USB thumb drive and, like the original, can be used to turn everyday objects into touch-enabled "buttons" – everything from bananas to someone's ear to jello to a potted plant. So long as it's able to conduct even the tiniest amount of electricity, it's fair game for some Makey Makey magic.
Hong Kong-based Zorloo headed to Indiegogo earlier this year to crowdfund some next generation earphones that integrated a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and headphone amp into the inline controller. By the time the campaign closed on February 22, the campaign had attracted over US$85,000, nearly four times the funding goal. Now, after a slight production delay, backers are starting to receive their Z:ero in-ear headphones and the company's Andy Ho sent Gizmag some to try out.
The Solar Impulse team reports that the aircraft is making an unscheduled stopover in Nagoya, Japan. The plan was to cross a weather front just before Hawaii on solar day 5, but the latest forecasts looked grim so the decision was made to land and wait for better weather conditions.
For its first foray into a crowded earphone space, PSB Speakers is aiming straight for the audiophile jugular with a combination of hybrid dual-drivers and its own Roomfeel technology. When the source audio signal reaches each M4U 4 in-ear monitor, the lower frequencies are directed to a dynamic driver while the higher end head for a balanced armature driver. This hybrid system has allowed the company's designers to add back the acoustic signature of a typical listening room for greater space and true-to-life presentation of recorded music.
Though consumers can make substantial savings by purchasing goods online, the modern shopping experience does have some drawbacks. Chief among those is making sure that someone is home to receive the package. Online tracking tools can help, but Irish start-up Parcelhome reckons that anywhere between 15 and 50 percent of deliveries fail on the first attempt, meaning that the customer has to schedule another delivery or arrange to pick up from a drop off point. The company's Smart Box letterbox is currently undergoing pilot testing in Belgium in collaboration with carriers DHL, GLS and DPD. Once installed, it allows couriers to make secure home deliveries any time without the need for the customer to be there to receive the package, with a companion app notifying the recipient when the delivery has been made.
In a very crowded marketplace, what can a newcomer to the Bluetooth speaker arena do to stand out from the crowd? Well, in the case of Mr. Everything, it's pack as much functionality and usefulness into a portable audio throwing box as possible. The water-resistant speaker comes with integrated emergency lighting, a wireless charging pad and enough stored juice to charge up a MacBook's battery twice or, as mentioned above, jump start a car. It's even got built-in storage. Not the flash memory kind, but somewhere to stow away essentials like protein bars or first aid supplies.
In nature, you're not likely to ever see a bird get a piggyback ride from a cockroach and then take off from its back. But in the world of bio-inspired robotics, such things can and do happen. Researchers from the UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab have successfully demonstrated a cooperative launching system that puts a lightweight ornithopter on the back of its VelociRoACH robotic carpet crawler for a short run before the H2Bird takes to the air.
Many of us enjoy listening to a good tune or two when out and about, and a goodly proportion of that mobile music will likely be sourced from a smartphone or tablet. For those who prefer high quality sounds though, dedicated players like Neil Young's Pono and those from iRiver's Astell&Kern are probably going to be on the menu. The latter has announced a new flagship portable audio player aimed squarely at audiophiles and sound professionals, which is capable of 32-bit/384 kHz bit-to-bit decoding without the need for conversion but comes at a rather high cost.