Last month, Canada's UCIC announced the consumer launch
of the Ubi. As regular readers may already know, Gizmag has been following the progress of this ever-present, always-on, voice-controlled vault of internet knowledge since its successful crowdfunding outing back in 2012
. I was fortunate enough to get invited to join the beta program
, and have now spent the last couple of weeks trying out the new-improved version (and taking a sneaky peek at things yet to come).
A project to create an always-on connected computer that interacts with its user by voice first kicked off in August 2012
. Following its successful crowdfunding bid, the still in prototype Ubi went up for pre-order
2 months later, but it wasn't until earlier this year that the first beta units were ready for early bird testers and developers. Gizmag managed to get on the beta program
and found the hardware pretty much ready for prime time, but the user experience still needing some attention. Ubi's creators have been busying themselves ever since and have now announced that consumer-ready computers are available to buy.
Rating as probably one of the stranger human-computer interfaces we’ve seen, the Sensabubble allows users to receive alerts and feedback from their connected devices in the form of images, text, and smell – all encased in and projected on smoke-filled bubbles. Popping away annoying alerts is viscerally more satisfying than swiping them off, but this isn’t a toy. It's part of research being presented at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems by researchers from the University of Bristol.
The University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom has unveiled a virtual “talking head” that is capable of expressing a range of human emotions. The team believes that the lifelike face, called Zoe, is the most expressive controllable avatar ever created, and could one day be used as a digital personal assistant.
This is one of the coolest toys I've played with in years. LiveScribe's smartpens have the ability to instantly digitize anything you write in a notebook and send it to a tablet or PC as a handwritten note. But here's the cool part: they can also record the sound you were hearing when you wrote those notes, timecoded to each penstroke, so, for example, you can tap on a lecture note and hear exactly what the professor was saying when you were writing it. The latest LiveScribe pen, the Sky Wifi, has built-in wireless connectivity that quickly syncs your notes, audio and all, with the ubiquitous Evernote application so you can read and play them back on your PC, tablet or smartphone. It's a fascinating device that revolutionizes the taking, usage and sharing of handwritten notes. We spent ten days with a LiveScribe Sky 4 GB.
While the Nintendo Wii
and Microsoft Kinect
are largely responsible for bringing gesture control
into the lounge room, a new technology from OMRON promises to make gesture control mobile. Building on the company’s core “OKAO Vision
” facial image sensing technology, OMRON has developed a new hand gesture recognition technology compatible not only with Windows PCs, but also Android and iOS mobile operating systems.
A see-through screen, digital 3D objects manipulated by hand, perspective adjustments according to the user's viewing angle - these are the core features of a prototype computer desktop user interface created by Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group. The prototype uses a "unique" Samsung transparent OLED display through which the user can see their own hands to manipulate 3D objects which appear to be behind the screen.
Nobody likes having to deal with automated telephone services, that say wonderful things like, “You said ‘Beelzebub,’ is that correct?”. Such services may get slightly
less annoying, however, thanks to research being carried out at Spain’s Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and Universidad de Granada. A team of scientists from those institutions have created a computer system that is able to recognize the emotional state of a person speaking to it, so that it can alter its behavior to make things less stressful.
If the horse is not humanity's favorite animal, it should be, as it has served us far better than any other domesticated animal. It has been the predominant form of personal transport for the last millennia, has done more work for us than any animal, and its mastery became the fundamental military technology which helped Genghis Khan build the biggest empire in history. The notion of using advanced technologies to replicate and extend the personality and functionality of the horse gave Honda a wonderful platform to explore in its latest design concept. Part sci-fi and part technology-crystal-ball-gazing, here's what a synthetic Horse V 2.0 might look like 200 years hence.
We've seen a number of weird
musical creations here at Gizmag but we have to agree with the creator of the hipDisk when she describes it as possibly the most undignified musical instrument ever
. This strange interactive sonic system is made up of a pancake tutu-like disk at the hip and another above the waist which cause a sound to be generated when the two disks meet at specific points around the edge. In order to get to those points and create simple monophonic tunes or melodies, the wearer has to twist, turn, bend or stretch so that the two conductive contact points meet.