Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Good Thinking

Reclosable Aluminum Beverage Bottles

May 25, 2006 Astonishingly, glass has been with us for 5000 years. It was one of the first luxuries, is incorporated into 99% of all buildings and cameras and phones and has been a mainstay of global beverage packaging for more than a century. Not long ago, most drink containers were glass. With cardboards, plastics and now aluminium offering some advantages, the glass bottle is under threat. Aluminium drink containers were developed and commercialised and are peculiar to Japan, but this week Universal Can Company (UCC) of Tokyo entered into a licensing agreement for its proven, commercial technology with the American Ball Corporation which will manufacture and sell Alumi-Tek aluminum beverage bottles in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The Alumi-Tek offers the added convenience of reclosability to other aluminium bottle attributes, such as long shelf life, tamper-resistance, the ability to chill quickly and recyclability. Looks cool too!  Read More

Desktop device prints six colours on cylindrical objects

May 18, 2006 With desktop colour printers now under US$100, we constantly marvel at what we'll be able to do a few years from now. In recent times we've enthused about desktop cutters, and we regularly write about printers that can print three dimensional objects (here, here and here), and one that can even print metal parts. Well now there's a printer that can print on any cylindrical object. Croatian desktop printer company Azon specializes in printers that print on unconventional objects and materials, such as fabrics and textiles, and fingernails. Unbelievably, the company now offers several models that print on 3D objects such as pens, mobile phones, metal products, acrylic, fomax ad infinitum. Now the company has released a 10,000 Euro desktop printer that will print on any cylindrical object up to 17 cm long and with a a diameter of 2-14 cm for the cylinder. Like a coffee cup, f';rinstance - cool heh! The AZON MICRO CYLINDER uses Piezo inkjet technology with a two-level ink filter system to ensures the printhead doesn’t get clogged and anti-scratch technology ensures an extended life life for the printhead, reducing the cost of printing.  Read More

First commercial use of new glass wine closure

May 11, 2006 Wine has been amongst man’s greatest pleasures for at least 10,000 years, having played a prominent role in the Phoenicean, Greek, Egyptian and Roman civilisations. Initially, the bitterness of wine spoilage was masked by flavouring the wines, and many different methods have been used to prevent spoilage, such as topping wine containers with olive oil, leather tied with vine, clay stoppers, oily rag closures and most successfully, cork. But cork is inconsistent and still has an unacceptable spoilage factor and ever since French microbiologist Louis Pasteur discovered wine spoilage was caused by microorganisms, the search has been on for the ideal closure system. We recently wrote about the Zork wine closure system, and now there’s another. Vino-Seal is a new glass closure developed by Alcoa as an alternative to traditional corks and synthetic stoppers for wine. With a design similar to a decorative decanter stopper, Vino-Seal uses an inert o-ring to provide a sterile seal, preventing contamination or oxidation. Whitehall Lane Winery of Napa Valley will be the first to use the new glass closure commercially.  Read More

The ingenious Keyholding Company

May 9, 2006 Time is a commodity where supply is limited to a democratic 24 hours per person per day, regardless of income, so it makes sense that with working hours increasing, highly-paid people will be seeking to optimize their time usage. One recent report cites British consumers losing 60 million working days a year waiting for delivery drivers and workmen. UK-based Keyholding Company believes this market for time will become increasingly valuable in the future and is offering a range of services so people no longer need to use up valuable free time to take care of emergency or mundane tasks at home. The company has a database of fully-vetted tradespeople and keeps a set of your keys. This means that as well as sourcing a reliable trade's person, they can wait for them to arrive and ensure the works are completed satisfactorily. They can also deliver goods into your home and leave the property secure.  Read More

RFID tag implant for humans DIY kit

May 5, 2006 While RFID hasn’t exactly got a great name in some circles thanks to the technology’s capabilities becoming a threat to privacy, there are some people on the planet who just can’t wait for the technology to develop. Like Amal Graafstra f’rinstance. Graafstra heard about RFID being used to tag cats and dogs and decided he wanted to explore what was possible. He now has two RFID implants - a 3mm by 13mm EM4102 glass RFID tag in his left hand and a 2mm by 12mm Philips HITAG 2048 S implant with crypto-security features and 255 bytes of read/write memory storage space in his right hand. Getting implants meant there was no need to carry an RFID access card around and he could implement his own RFID access control systems instead of buying expensive off-the-shelf products. Amal has now built systems that enable him to access his front door, car door, and log into his computer using his implants, and has written a book called RFID Toys ($US$16.50 here) which details how to build these and other RFID enabled projects and produced a kit of the parts you’ll need (book and kit US$96.85 here).  Read More

The PanelPod - turns a panel into a display

May 5, 2006 With sound and high resolution graphics, computers can now be used to display anything. You just need a convenient place to put the screen. Which makes the Panel Pod kinda handy. It’s not rocket science – just a convenient way to mount an LCD monitor or LCD TV to a tripod. It has widespread application at trade shows, store merchandising, as an adjunct to any vehicle for “tailgating”, backyard barbecues, home entertainment flexibility and experimanetation and corporate meeting rooms. It’ll handle a 20 inch screen with ease, can be set up and taken down in seconds and will handle up to 18 pounds - US$249 gets you the mount and tripod.  Read More

Personal Dashboard from Ambient Devices

May 3, 2006 Ambient Devices is a company which specialises in producing glanceable information displays which allow any customer to have a constant awareness of their important information, without the anxiety of information overload. Ambient's vision is to embed information representation into everyday objects such as lamps, pens, watches, walls, and wearables so the physical environment becomes an interface to digital information rendered in subtle changes in form, movement sound, colour or light.  Read More

Flying Billboard with wireless interactive marketing system

May 3, 2006 As the world of advertising continues to embrace new technologies, we will see some wonderous and compelling new ways to meet people who are selling what we need when we need it. Last week at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas American Blimp Corporation’s Lightship/Lightsign subsidiary unveiled a new advertising platform of sheer genius. We’ve seen a few media concepts of great foresight of recent times, but this promises the hamburger with the lot to advertisers. The A-170 Video Lightsign airship marks a new era of outdoor advertising, one that has been long heralded by scifi writers – flying electronic billboards. It has a high quality colour LED screen measuring 30' X 70' that can be used to broadcast live TV, Internet sites, stock tickers, slide shows or any other media. Indeed, the Lightsign has been designed with such an array of technologies in mind, that it’s really more an integrated marketing medium than an outdoor medium utilizing GPS tracking (changing the message to suit the audience below and the time of day), two-way communication with customers, text messaging and phone tie-ins. Modern materials and technologies now offer what was previously an almost cost prohibitive promotional platform into a very cost-effective, completely portable arsenal of sticky and very effective marketing technologies to target a mass audience or select demographic or any captive audience! Mark our words – this is big!  Read More

The Beerbelly – stealth beverage container

April 28, 2006 The Beerbelly enables you to take up to 80oz. (2.4 litres) of your favorite beverage wherever you wish ... disguised as a beer belly. Primarily designed to avoid the high price of drinks at sporting events, movies etcetera, and to enable the consumption of alcohol where it’s not allowed, the device is still legally applicable to a wide range of leisure pursuits. The Beerbelly uses an insulated neoprene “sling” and a polyurethane “bladder” worn under your clothing for concealment, masquerades perfectly as a genuine beerbelly, and stays cold for hours! The Beerbelly is not exactly a socially or legally responsible and things could get ugly if you are apprehended, but the Beerbelly web site has thought of all this, offering helpful advice should you be challenged with the device in situ. In such situations the web site has a range of helpful and in some cases quite humourous strategies.  Read More

The Doffing Headphone

April 24, 2006 Etiquette is the code that governs the expectations of social behavior, the conventional norm. It is an unwritten code, and as per the famous quotation, means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential. The rapid introduction of new technologies such as portable computers, cell phones and portable music players has created a technologically induced disconnect in how we act - they came upon us so suddenly that people have begun to act inappropriately and in many cases, downright rudely. Fortunately, new social protocols are evolving and we laud designer Synnove Fredericks for recognising this and creating a wonderful new social prop - the Doffing Headphone. It was all sparked off by a gentleman's protest against the decline of manners and etiquette in a mens magazine. Synnove read the article and soon after attended a Mobile Clubbing event in Liverpool Street Station in London. A Mobile Clubbing event is where a group of say 200 or so people gather with their personal stereos to listen to their preferred choice of music, while dancing with their friends. Watching the masses, Synnove noticed that social protocols had evolved so people could signify if they wished to remain inside their musical experience or wished to chat. “I noticed they would take one earpiece off if they were greeting someone but didn't want to stop, and both if they were stopping for conversation. This is similar to the tradition of hat doffing where a gentleman raises his hat is raised off the head in acknowledging someone in the street, or taken off and placed under the arm when stopping for conversation, particularly with a lady. So Synnove hatched an idea to “show how accessories can be used to communicate with strangers in a similar way to historical props, walking sticks, umbrellas, glasses etc.” Ladies and gentlemen, The Doffing Headphone  Read More

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