April 29, 2011

Pepsi unveils its new Social Vending program

Pepsi has figured out a way to tie-in social networking with their product once again with their Social Vending program.

I believe that this idea actually requires some special soda vending machines that have touchscreens and have to be connected to the Internet or a phone line of some type. Not only will these new machines let you buy a Pepsi product, but you will be able to send one to another location.

All you need to do is enter in your friend’s cell phone number, and soon a text message will appear on your friend’s mobile device that will contain a redeemable code to be used at one of the aforementioned special Pepsi machines. You can even send a 10-second video message, or even send a Pepsi product to a complete stranger at random. I’m not sure precisely how all this works or is supposed to work, but you can see Pepsi’s video presentation of this service after the jump.

April 22, 2011

Alienware unveils M18x gaming machine

Dell, when they bought over the Alienware brand some years back, had many people wondering whether this is going to be the start of the brand going downhill since Dell doesn’t really know much about dedicated gaming notebooks as their lineup had been more of the casual user types. Well, we’re rather pleased to say that Dell has done a pretty good job thus far, leaving Alienware intact in terms of branding without really interfering on what’s going on, so most users would not really be able to tell the difference in the newer Alienware offerings.

Well, Alienware is proud to attempt to redefine mobile gaming yet again with the M18x gaming notebook, and is proud to announce that said machine is the “most powerful 18-inch gaming laptop in the universe”. We’ll see about that in the extended post as we pore over its specifications, so make sure you’ve got a tub of chips ready just in case there is more than a pinch of salt in that claim that you might want to season those chips with.

The M18x is touted to deliver dual-graphics technology, making it the industry’s only Intel Core i7 Extreme CPU option that has been factory overclocked to 4GHz. With optional wireless HD audio and video that delivers latency-free streaming to larger displays, you will also find that HDMI 1.4 connectivity will be able to send over 3D images and video – over to 3D-capable HDTVs, of course.

Apart from that, SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports ensure you will be able to enjoy up to 10x the speed of USB 2.0 connections, making data transfer a snap even for super large files. Some of the features and specifications of the M18x include :

  • An 18.4-inch FHD WLED 1080p display for the best visuals possible
  • Powerful Dual GPU options with the fastest graphics memory (GDDR5) on all graphics options
  • Both AMD and NVIDIA graphics options, in Crossfire X and SLI, respectively
  • New Intel “Huron River” Architecture with a new factory overclocked Intel Core i7 Extreme Quad Core processor up to 4GHz
  • Upgradeable to up to 32GB 1333MHz memory
  • HDMI/Display Port output & HDMI-in
  • Wireless HD & 3D output options, delivering low-latency high-def content wirelessly or output to 3D displays

April 20, 2011

9 Tools to Help You Stay Green on Earth Day

Earth Day is this Friday. And it's always good to take a moment to think about ways to screw up this planet a little less. Realistically, we're not going to give up our gadgets (which aren't always environmentally friendly), but we can at least come up with ways to make them less destructive, ya know?

Belkin Conserve Socket: Belkin's Conserve line has an array of eco-friendly surge protectors and power strips, but our favorite is the Conserve Socket. Some devices will continue to suck power, even if they're not turned on. The Conserve Socket will cut power to any plugged-in device after a set interval of time. $10.

Naturemill XE Compost Bin: Often thought of as an outdoor activity, composting is a frequently overlooked way to deal with waste. However, Naturemill makes indoor composting units which will take your biodegradable trash (up to 120 pounds a month) and break it down into nutrient-rich soil in as quick as two weeks without making your house smell foul. $300.

Nissan Leaf Electric Car: The Chevy Volt may have come out first sponged up the early accolades, but the Nissan Leaf is actually the greener car of the two. With an equivalent fuel efficiency rating of 99 miles per gallon, the Leaf bests the Volt by 6 mpg. Plus it has an awesome dashboard which pits your own efficiency stats against fellow Leaf owners. It's currently only up for pre-order, but will be eligible for a $7500 tax credit, bringing the sticker price down to the $25,000 range.

Solar Joos Portable Charger: Like its name implies, the tablet-sized, polycarbonate forged Solar Joos will catch a few rays, and turn that into battery life for personal gadgets, like your phone and laptop. For every hour you let the Joos sit in the sun, it will give you two hours of 3G talk time. Plus you can plug it into your computer and keep track of how much energy you've generated. $100.

Smart Faucet: The Smart Faucet may look simple, but this little on/off mechanism for sinks could save you upwards of 5000 gallons of water a year. The time it takes for you to turn a sink faucet on, fill a glass or rinse a dish, then turn the faucet off will always result in wasted water. The Smart Faucet only turns on when you hold an object against it, and immediately kicks off when you move that object away. $29.

Eco Media Player: The Eco Media Player lives up to its name by using a hand-crank for power. Spin the dynamo for a minute and it yields 45 minutes of playback time (you can also charge it via USB for 55 hours of playback time). And it works nice with all the major file formats including MP3, WAV, WMA, AAC and OGG, storing files on SD card or on the 4 gigs of internal memory. ~$165.

PolarMax TransDry Cotton Shirt: LED and CFL bulbs are cool and more environmentally friendly, but they don't offer the same warmth of light as a traditional incadescent bulb...except one. The 12.5W Philips AmbientLED last 25 times longer (around six years) than standard bulbs and uses 80% less power, while giving off that beautiful warm glow. And it's dimmable! $40.

Samsung Reclaim Cellphone: We all switch cellphones so often (relatively speaking), that components and batteries are just piled up into unrecyclable waste. The Samsung Reclaim is made entirely from recycled components, attempting to put those parts to good use. Plus, Sprint tosses a couple of bucks from every phone purchased to an environmentally-focused charity. Free (with 2 yr. contract).

Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard: In the age of living room PCs, and tablet devices, we're beginning to love the wireless keyboard more and more. But Earth hates the endless flow of disposable and lithium-ion batteries that these devices use. That's why Logitech's solar-powered wireless keyboard is a happy compromise. $60

April 19, 2011

Check out this the HECTOR spider robot

This spidery looking robot is designed by the University of Bielefeld’s Department of Biological Cybernetics, and it is the HECTOR, which is a weird quasi-acronym meaning the HExapod Cognitive auTonmously Operating Robot.

This mechanical arachnid is about a meter long, and weighs in at 12 kilograms, with 13 percent of it being the exoskeleton. I’m not certain what percentage of a real spider’s weight is its exoskeleton, but it does have joints on its legs that allow for 20 degrees, just like a real spider.

This is one of those robots that I would like to see made, if it didn’t creep me out so much. I think that there is something about spiders that tend to freak people out. Perhaps that is why there were these mechanical spiders hunting Tom Selleck in the movie Runaway. Man, going back in time for that reference!

Here’s a more recent reference, as HECTOR looks a little like the IC Hexapod that we reported on three years ago, which bore a strong resemblance to the probe droid from The Empire Strikes Back.

April 18, 2011

If You're Not On Facebook, It's Time To Get Over Yourself

Oh, yeah, I'm not on Facebook. Like, it's so invasive. If you've said anything like this, I feel bad for you.

Facebook has over half a billion users. Almost everyone I know uses it. I use it. You probably use it. But ubiquity isn't equal to universality. Everyone knows one of those self righteous Facebook abstainers. Social media luddites. Pushing aside modern society in favor of a purer lifestyle, devoid of pokes, tags, and feeds. Defenders of something more natural and independent than Zuckerberg's friendship hive

Except really, these people aren't defending anything except antisocial, extremely annoying behavior. And if you're one of them—you need to stop.

I will grant you this: Facebook, much like Twitter, has a lot that sucks about it. A tremendous amount. You're exposed to inane human behavior on a scope and volume unprecedented in the history of mankind. And yes, there are privacy eyebrow-raises that are warranted—it's a little weird that people I barely know anymore see where I work, where I live, and who I'm talking to. And there's plenty of crap. Pokes from creepy people. Photos of idiots. Moronic comments. Racism. All the worst parts about our species, sandwiched between poorly-targeted banner ads.

And yet, Facebook is a spectacular tool.

Facebook is the most important way we touch our friends online, period. Birthdays, parties, Passover seders, graduations—they're all organized on Facebook. Wedding photos, baby photos, stupid college parties photos you're nostalgic about already—they're all on Facebook. Everyone you might still care about in your life, despite distance, work, stress, money, and time—they're (mostly) all on Facebook. And all there to grasp, with the most minimal of effort. Really. Just click a bunch. If you care about any of these things—socializing, memories, friendships—you should be using Facebook, in spite of all its sour, vexing flaws.
Basically, if you don't like Facebook, it sounds to me like you don't like your friends. And what kind of terrible person doesn't like friends? Even Hitler had friends.

If you don't believe me, believe history. Remember those self righteous morons who took such groundless pride in not having a cell phone? Ten years ago, those people were left behind. Sure, we liked them. But they became annoying to get a hold of, forcing you to go out of your way to be friends with them because they labelled some new technology as beneath them without even taking the time to understand it. They didn't want to learn how modern friendship had evolved. They choose to look at a brand new social tool as a hindrance rather than a convenience. This is all happening again, but with Facebook.

So, don't be that grouch in 2011 who misses out on connecting with the rest of the world because you'd rather sound like a 21st century rebel; some sort of obnoxious pseudo-Thoreau, whose Walden is just an empty computer and a lonely life.

Use Facebook. Even sparingly. And not because Facebook doesn't suck. But because your friends are completely awesome.

Illustration by Gizmodo Illustrator Sam Spratt. Become a fan of his Facebook Artist's Page and follow Sam on Twitter.

April 17, 2011

To Kick Ass at Video Games Just Zap Your Brain with a 9V Battery

Scientists, already adept at using magnets to screw with the brain's ability to generate speech, are now sending direct current into people's brain matter to help them master video games.

Neuroscientists at the University of New Mexico asked volunteers to play a video game called "DARWARS Ambush!", developed to help train American military personnel. Half of the players received 2 milliamps of electricity to the scalp, using a device powered by a simple 9-volt battery, and they played twice as well as those receiving a much tinier jolt. The DARPA-funded study suggests direct current applied to the brain could improve learning.

DARPA! Of course! What aren't they doing in the mind control field these days, amiright?

While controversial and even a bit dangerous, this manipulation, called transcranial direct current stimulation, could actually be used to treat certain neurological disorders in the future, should it prove safe over long periods of time.


April 16, 2011

T3 Motion three-wheeled vehicle, the R3

What you see here is the R3 from T3 Motion, and it is a three-wheeled vehicle that is not a car, but a motorcycle. At least, that is its classification.

The R3 is a full electric vehicle that has a range of 80 to 100 miles after a full charge, and a top speed of 70 miles per hour. You can see a video of it after the jump, but there isn’t any sound.

It has another feature that makes it very interesting, which it has a place to mount a Galaxy Tab. In all honesty, I believe that most models of cars in this decade should have something like this. Most newer cars are already iPad compatible, and if there is a place to put a tablet PC, then the tablet can be charged as well as running apps that will help you as you drive, like a GPS.

I’m sure that we all once thought that cars of the future would look like the R3. They look like smaller version of the cars seen in Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Whatever the case, it doesn’t look like this would be a mode of transportation for a long distance trip.

April 15, 2011

Control your cell phone with a ring with the Nokia Nenya

When I saw this particular concept product from Finnish cell phone giant Nokia, I thought I was looking at some delayed April Fool’s Joke like the Google Motion. That, or someone really can’t wait for the Green Lantern movie (coming this summer).

Nokia’s Nenya ring allows the user to control their cell phone with a twist of the ring, like a magician. Speaking of magic, the name Nenya apparently is derived from a ring of power that was wielded by Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings.

Of course, there is no magic involved. In fact, the technology is as simple as mounting a magnet inside the ring. The ring can be twisted at 45 degree angles, which allow commands for about 8 different functions. So if you want to change tracks on your music program, or pause them, just give it a twist.

April 14, 2011

Holocube HC70, 70-inch holographic projector

Sometimes, I have a video of the product that I am writing about, and I usually put it after the jump. It’s put there in case you the reader want to know see it in action, and I highly recommend you hit the jump and check it out now.

This a display of the Belgacom Holocube HC70, and it is a bigger version of the Holocube that we have reported on before.

The HC70 has a 70-inch transparent screen that can be viewed from both sides. It is powered by a Windows 7 Embedded machine with 40 GB of flash storage which allows it to loop eight to eighteen hours worth of three-dimensional footage with a 1080p projector.

The video shows some interesting things in 3D. These are things that I usually see before in these holographic displays like a cell phone, and a cute little kid that looks like she is in free-fall. They never seem to have what I would like to see in hologram mode, like the entire Star Wars trilogy, for example.

April 13, 2011

DARPA augmented reality goggles

For some reason, whenever I hear DARPA, I always associate it with some nifty technology that may or may not exist.

DARPA is now working on some holographic augmented reality goggles for soldiers. It is apparently designed for those who need constant air support. Apparently, if soldiers need to get that, they have to go through all sorts of radio links, and then some sort of bureaucratic nightmare until it actually comes.

Imagine if a solider could wear this special helmet and see a triangle that represents an F-16. The soldier can then just contact the plane directly, and, depending on the ordnance that the plane is carrying, air support might be given right away. Other information might be given with the help of augmented reality.

DARPA is working with several companies like Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and Vuzix to make these goggles. I don’t know if you have heard of Vuzix, but they make these viewing goggles like the VR920. Vuzix plans on making these goggles about 3mm thick.

April 11, 2011

Stealth.com Introduces a Mini PC

Stealth Computer, a leading manufacturer of specialized computers and peripherals, just released their most powerful and advanced mini PC ever. Please meet the very tiny, LPC-670 LittlePC. This brand new Stealth small form factor PC offers tremendous power in a teeny package that measures around 6.5″ x 6″ and less than 2″ in height. Heck, thats smaller than my checkbook. This micro machine has the power and performance of computers that are a whole lot bigger.

The LPC-670 mini PC features a multitude of I/O connectivity built into its impressively small design such as; Gigabit LAN, Wi-Fi 802.11g, 4-USB 2.0, Serial, DVI-I, Audio and HDMI ports. The LPC-670 supports up to 8GB in DDR3 memory and has a built-in 2.5″ mobile hard drive with up to 750GB’s of storage space for archived data. Not too bad for a mini!

April 10, 2011

Hexapod Robot Manages to Make Innocent Little Waves Looks Six Times More Creepy

New for Spring! Creepy pseudo-arachnid robots—great for going into even creepier, crawlier places so you don't have to! Also, check out that cute little wave it does in the video! Aww.

I say "pseudo" of course because this beastie boasts but six legs. As all arachnologists worth their salt know, spiders have eight wonderful legs, of which all eight are used in tandem to crawl into your mouth while you sleep.

But this big guy won't do that. Instead, he'll use his six legs and realistic spider walking motion to explore treacherous terrain or school desktops. For now this is aimed at hobbyist and educational markets, but it's only a matter of time before DARPA or some other agency weaponizes this for the inevitable Moon Wars of 2043. Won't those be fun.

April 9, 2011

Sticky Light is the coolest thing you will see all day

You know how cats like to play with the ball from the laser pointer? This is Sticky Light is a laser ball that people can play with.

The Sticky Light is designed by people at the University of Tokyo’s Ishikawa Hasimoto Laboratory, and it uses a laser diode, steering mirrors, and a non-imaging photodetector in order to perform its amazing ability that you have to see.

If you want to skip whatever I want to write about the Sticky Light and go to the video clip after the jump, I would not blame you at all.

I might as well spoil it for you. The Sticky Light is so named as it can somehow attach itself to whatever it is pointing to. You will note how it goes around the heart, and a Sharpie marker makes it go in different directions.

April 8, 2011

Skataz motorized skates

It seems like I have written on a lot of motorized skateboards and skates, and I suppose I might as well add to the mix with the Skataz.

Anyone know how to pronounce this? Is it just like “skates”, “ska-tazz” or “skate-azz”. I believe there is a video below that has the answer.

Anyway, it is powered by a 350 watt motor, which is good for about 13.5 miles per hour. The user controls the speed with a wired remote.

The thing about Skataz is that it is not an electric skate, but it is a culture. Skataz is trying to sell their skates, and they are also looking for investors for creating skate parks for the Skataz. I guess that would be Skataz parks.

I’m sort of wondering if we are looking at a future where all skateboards, skates, and any other wheels that go on the feet will all be motorized. Isn’t that going to be a strange time? I wonder if there will be diehards that will insist on going around without any motors.

April 7, 2011

BrainDriver allows you to drive with your mind

Imagine getting behind the wheel of your car, and no hands were required on the wheel.

This is the technology of BrainDriver which is under development at Freie Universität Berlin by professor Raul Rojas. BrainDriver uses a head cap with 16 sensors that allow the driver to have control over the wheel.

This is electroencephalography in action, and it is technology that is getting better every day. We have reported on computers that can do this, and all BrainDriver does is create a system for guiding the steering wheel. There’s a video after the jump so you can see how it works. You will note that they aren’t testing this on the real road with real traffic yet.

You’ll also notice that the driver seems quite young. The first thing I thought was “I am surprised he has his license”. Speaking of thoughts, I’m not certain whether or not thought driving is such a good idea. I mean, when I drive, I think an action and then I do it. This Braindriver had better be able to discern when I am thinking about making a turn and when I definitely want to make a turn.

However, if this young guy can figure it out, then I think I could probably figure it out. I guess it would be like having a limo with my brain as a driver. Perhaps this is just one stepping stone in our goal of completely autonomous vehicles.

April 6, 2011

LockCracker picks any combination lock!

Have you ever been blocked from something by a combination lock that you didn’t know the combination for? I once had a locker in junior high school that someone put a combo lock on. Not one of my better days.

I’m guessing that something similar happened to this team of students at the Olin College of Engineering. They have created the LockCracker, which has the ability to pick any combination lock if one, two, or three of the numbers have been forgotten or not known.

You can watch a video of how it works after the jump. You will see that a clamp holds the lock in place while a solenoid yanks the loop. There is a stepper motor that turns all possible combinations, and I believe that the process takes a few hours before it will pop, assuming that the first few tries don’t do the trick.

That is something that we all might need at one point in time, but I am wondering if the LockCracker setup can accommodate a real-world situation where it would be needed. In other words, they might have to make a version of a LockCracker that works on that aforementioned situation when someone puts an unwanted combination lock on a locker. As of now, it looks like an apparatus that only works on singular combination locks

April 5, 2011

H2O Water Powered Shower Radio

This shower radio's making a wave

It is what it says it is – a water-powered radio that you can listen to in the shower. And it's the first of its kind in the world!

The shower radio that runs on water

Shower radios are popular – problem is, you need to keep replacing the batteries. Well, not with the H2O Water Powered Shower Radio… this ingenious contraption uses water to power it, enabling you to listen to your favourite radio stations while you shower.

The shower radio is easy to use and it can be installed by anyone, so you can put that dusty toolbox away again. Simply fit the radio in line with your shower hose to allow water to flow through the H2O micro turbine. This then drives a generator that produces energy, giving life to your radio while you shower.

April 4, 2011

You have got to like the SWITL spatula

Sometimes it is the simple things in life that you appreciate the most. For example, something that can clean up a ketchup or mayonnaise stain without leaving any trace evidence (for lack of a better word).

This is the Furukawa Kikou SWITL robot hand, and I have a video of it after the jump removing an ugly stain. What makes it really interesting is how that it is able to put the stain back, as if the stain was never removed in the first place.

Yes, I don’t really see the value of a robotic hand spatula that can move a stain. Especially when I couldn’t help but notice that it looks like the stain was put on some Teflon coated surface. If this is just your ordinary kitchen counter, then it is worth building the rest of this robot’s body to go with the hand if it can do these speedy clean-ups. This is assuming that the robot hasn’t already been built just yet.

April 3, 2011

Smart Spectacles – “See” the World Through the Eyes of a Gamer

Welcome one and all, to the future, the days have arrived where the cheesy sci-fi movie scenes of yesteryear are actually coming true. Case in point, check out these new eyeglasses, you’ve seen them before, they just weren’t a reality, until now…

This SmartVision product consists of a pair of spectacles incorporating EnahancedView technology which can actually be linked to most commonly available IT sources like your mobile phone, PDA, portable DVD Player, Laptop or Netbook, and… wait for it… Video Game Consoles. Hence, these glasses let it’s users dispense with a monitor altogether, the view is in the glasses!

Soon, you might be able to cut our computers loose from monitors completely and be able to project graphical information onto your world by augmenting reality, does it get more sci-fi than this?

Later this year, Laster Technologies based in a Paris suburb, says it will be releasing its first-generation SmartVision spectacles, which will project VGA-resolution color images on the INSIDE of the glasses, powered by a smartphone or a tablet computer and connected via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

With ad-ons like gesture and voice command, cameras and object recognition I can honestly say I’ve seen the future… and it’s looking right back at me.