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.
Not so long ago, musicians wanting to record and release an album would need to head to a brick and mortar studio, gather together all manner of technical specialists and disappear for a few months. And probably have a major label bankrole the operation. But powerful and affordable personal computer systems and the general release of pro-level music creation software have put high quality music production within reach of the average working band. However, the learning curve for getting the most out of feature rich suites like Ableton Live, Cubase or Pro Tools can be very steep indeed. For his latest album release, veteran French musician, remixer and producer Joachim Garraud has decided to share some of the secrets of his trade, and provide a limited number of bedroom producers with all the tools needed to lay down some top notch tracks.
It's now over three years since the first cheap-as-chips Raspberry Pi project boards started shipping, opening the door to a torrent of DIY electronics projects ranging from robot bartenders to basic smartphones to touchscreen computers. There have been numerous attempts to steal Pi's budget thunder of late though, and the Raspberry Pi Foundation has responded with a new addition called the Pi Zero, which comes with a US$5 price tag.
Nearly five years ago, Iain Sinclair Designs launched a credit card-sized compact camera concept called the Poco Pro. Though it generated quite a bit of interest, component supply difficulties meant that the project quickly ran aground. Now Iain's son, Grant, has updated the design and launched an Indiegogo to bring the new Poco to production. Built around a Raspberry Pi compute module, the pocket-sized "supercomputer" can be a bike-mounted actioncam, hi-res music player, handheld gaming console and portable web browser.
Back in February, Sydney, Australia-based One Laptop Per Child spin-off, One Education, officially unveiled its concept for a modular laptop called the XO-Infinity. Aimed at being so simple to put together that a 4-year-old could do it, the (slightly renamed) Infinity project has now blossomed into a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to get the colorful portable computer into the hands of school kids around the globe.
Just a few short months after the first ever Russian was crowned Air Guitar World Champion, a new wireless system has launched on Kickstarter that's aimed at giving virtual musicians the chance to play music of their own creation. The patent-pending Kurv Guitar system is made up of a large pick-shaped air strummer and a handheld virtual fingerboard, and combines touch, motion and gestures to generate tunes based on player actions.
At last week's EICMA bike show in Milan, Italy's Piaggio Group unveiled a new range of technology-packed electric-assist pedal bikes designed to satisfy the needs to today's connected cyclist. The Wi-Bikes come in two classic styles, one designed for comfort and the other aimed at sporty types. All models feature a centrally-positioned motor and battery pack for user selectable assist up to 25 km/h (15.5 mph) and a range of up to 120 km (75 miles), the ability to pair with a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone running a companion app, and an always-connected satellite anti-theft system that lets owners know exactly where their ride is at all times.
At first glance, the Explorer X1 has the look of a hip flask. But rather than offer a wee nip to help take the edge off a chilly autumn stroll, the X1 is aimed at satisfying a very different thirst. Echobox is taking aim at the modern audiophile's pocket with a high resolution media player housed in a curvy wooden jacket.
With a few notable exceptions, you'd be forgiven for thinking that laptop audio circuitry is something of a manufacturing afterthought, with decisions on such things made at the very end of the design process when there's very little money left in the pot. Plugging a pair of top drawer headphones into a notebook's (often cheap and cheerful) audio out jack can therefore be a little disappointing, leading many music lovers to look to the USB ports for help. Though some USB digital-to-analog converters and headphone amps can be a good deal bigger than the laptop they're connected to, and have a suitably large price tag to match, smaller options are available. The successfully-crowdfunded ZuperDAC from Zorloo, for example, is about the size of a USB thumb drive and supports audio file resolutions right up to 24-bit/192 kHz. We've spent the last few weeks diving into our hi-res FLAC and WAV vault for some lossless easy listening.
Said to have been inspired by the sight of Steve Vai pulling away a whammy bar from his Ibanez guitar and whacking the strings for some odd solo madness, the Guitar Triller offers players a different way to attack a stringed instrument. It looks like something you might use to assemble flat-packed furniture, but can help bring a hammered dulcimer vibe to a bass guitar, give shredders some new ways to speed-pick or add some expressive tap and scrape power play to ukes.
Though modular synthesizers can be both visually stunning and open the door to almost unlimited digital soundscaping, being able to create music and interact with sonic vaults with the wave of a hand is quite compelling. Team Metanaut's entry into the 2015 Leap Motion 3D Jam offers mid-air touch control of a software synth in a virtual world viewed through an Oculus Rift headset.