Posts Tagged ‘charlie-sorrel’

IStand is a POS Pole for the iPad

It’s a stand for the iPad, and so of course it is called the iStand, but it’s also an elegant piece of furniture. The Danish-designed stand is aimed at POS use (no, not that POS) and holds the iPad at a handy browsing height allowing customers to flip through catalogs, menus or any kind of information. I can imagine these in use both as educational aids in museums and also by clipboard-nazis as they deny you entry to their lame but “exclusive” nightclub.

The iStand has space for a dock-cable and bolts shut around the iPad. It also covers the home button to prevent tinkering, so you’d better be sure you have launched the correct app before you lock it up. It tilts and swivels, too, depending on how you want to use it.

The company behind the iStand, InSilico, also makes companion apps, although these are not listed in the app store. They are pretty self explanatory: They’re called iCatalogue and iMagazine. I’m thinking it would be pretty cool to put a couple of these in Wired’s reception hall showing the iPad version of the mag (or better, tuned to the Gadget Lab page). The only problem there would be in the New York office, where Bureau Chief John C Abell does a lot of his “work” in the comfy reception-area armchairs, and his snoring might scare people off.

Depending on the price of this simple metal pole and mount, the iStand plus iPad combo could be a very cheap way for businesses to get a custom interactive POS system. Knowing what I do about the costs of velvet ropes and stands, though, the iStand is likely to cost more than the iPad itself.

iStand is here [InSilico. Thanks, Kim!]

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Smart Fingers Turn Your Hands into Rulers

You know when your uncle Pete comes back from a fishing trip and tells you about the giant trout he caught? “It was this big,” he says, stretching his hands out in front of him. Well, with the Smart Finger, you’d know exactly how big “this” is, and you could put an end to uncle Pete’s stupid lies and exaggerations right away.

The Smart Finger actually uses two fingers. The pair of plastic tubes slip over your real fingers and measure the distance between themselves. This distance is shown on an OLED display in your choice of unit, in metric or good ol’ ‘merican, and a click of a switch will store it in memory for later transfer to a PC.

It’s a wonderful concept. Just like uncle Pete, we tend to use our hands and fingers to describe size, and measuring length is a natural extension. The gadget itself is also rather nicely designed. The two halves join together to make a single bullet-shaped capsule which slips into a USB charging-dock, and the interiors of each part have a silicon membrane with a hole in the centre to grip any size of finger. Thank God they made it in green, though, as it already looks a little too much like a Fleshlight.

Is it as useful as a tape-measure for a quick check to see if the new fridge will fit in the gap left by the old one? Probably not, but for an extended measuring session, this concept design would work great. And if it gives you chance to shut uncle Pete up once and for all, it’s got to be worth it.

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My Fingers Are So Smart, They Measure [Yanko. Thanks, Radhika!]

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Silicon Strips Shield Sizzling Stove-Shelves

Fun fact: Did you know that if you take a tinfoil-covered item from even the hottest oven, you can remove the foil with your bare fingers quite safely? Just don’t touch anything other than the foil. This handy trick works because the foil is so thin it cools almost instantly when you remove it from the oven.

Of course, this doesn’t work with the oven shelves, but if you upgrade them with these neat Silicone Oven Shields, you can toss the oven-mitts away (don’t toss them too far, though, as you’ll need them to get the actual pot out of the oven). They are safe up to 450-degrees, and because silicone is so non-conductive, they stay cool-ish to the touch.

Even if you don’t want to drag the shelves back and-forth with bare-hands, these shields are a good idea. I have lost count of the cigar-shaped burns I have seared into my thumbs and the backs of my hands whilst turning food or just poking in an instant-read thermometer. These shields would have stopped my branding my hands.

Available in kitchen stores like this one for around $10. And one more thing: in the product picture, somebody is cooking a pizza. Shouldn’t it have a stone or metal tray underneath it?

Silicone Oven Shields For Forgetful Chefs [Oh Gizmo!]

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Camera Strap Buddy Makes Any Camera Comfy

Photojojo’s Camera Strap Buddy is an almost ridiculously simple widget that could change the way you carry your camera. Nothing more than a small metal bracket and a tripod-screw, the Buddy lets you use your existing camera strap but makes carrying the camera a lot more comfortable.

The usual neck-strap is possibly the worst way to carry a camera. If anything heavier than a pocket-camera around my neck, it starts to get uncomfortable, fast. Use a longer strap and sling it across your chest like a messenger-bag and things get better, but bigger cameras can be bouncy, and knock against your hip. The Camera Strap Buddy lets you run a strap from one of the regular strap brackets to the bottom of the camera.

When slung bandolier-style, even a heavy camera sits comfortably at your side, and is kept out of your way but ready for a quick grab-shot. I haven’t tested Photojojo’s adapter, but I have tried others and it’s possible to carry something like Nikon’s hefty D700 around all day and still be comfortable.

Could you make your own? Indubitably, but why bother? The Camera Strap Buddy is just $15. Just make sure you screw it in tight.

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Camera Strap Buddy [Photojojo]

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New iPod Touch Easiest to Open Yet, Says iFixit

With a blast from a heat gun and a quick twist of a plastic spudger, the iFixit team found themselves inside the new, slim iPod Touch. First, the question you’re all asking: how much RAM does it have? The new Touch has just 256MB, the same as the iPad and half that of the iPhone’s 512MB. That means a lot less can be held in memory at once, which in turn means that any apps running in the background will wink out of life much quicker.

The super-slim body is the reason the Touch has such a crappy camera: the iPhone’s 5MP cam is just too big to fit. There are some additions to the case, though: the Touch now has a real speaker-grill, presumably to make FaceTime calling possible, and it loses the little plastic RF window on the back which used to let the Wi-Fi in and out. Now the antenna is near the glass panel.

The vibrator, which was revealed in FCC photographs and also pimped as a FaceTime alert on Apple’s own site, has disappeared like an out-of-favor politician from a Stalin-era photo. My guess is that it was pulled to keep the price down to $229 in the base model.

The other big change is of course the retina-display, which quadruples the number of pixels on the screen. Right now it is unknown whether it shares IPS (in-plane-switching) tech with the other iDevices and recent iMacs. IPS is what gives a screen an almost 180-degree viewing-angle.

It looks like Apple has squeezed a lot inside, while simultaneously boosting battery-life and making the sliver of a iPod even thinner. I have a perfectly good last-gen Touch but, dammit, now I want one of these.

iPod Touch 4th Generation Teardown [iFixit]

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VLC for iPad ‘Next Week’

This is the most exciting iPad app news for a while: VLC, the play-anything video client for OS X, Windows, Linux and more, is coming to the iPad. The application has been ported to the tablet and is already sitting on line in the App Store approval queue. It should be available next week.

VLC is an open-source media-player maintained by a bunch of French school-kids, as well as anyone else who wants to help. The iPad version has been ported by developer Applidium, and will, like other versions of the app, be free.

VLC is the grandaddy of video playback. It will play just about any file you choose to throw at it, supports subtitles and even streaming (if you managed to watch last week’s streaming Apple event on non-Apple hardware, you were probably using VLC). On a computer, it is essential (if only to allow you to skip the ads and trailers at the beginning of a DVD).

An iPad version will let you play XviD, H.264, MPEG4, FLAC, 3GP, MP3, MPEG2 and AVI files on a device that only supports one video format natively. It will most likely be doing this in software, which will mean that your iPad may take a battery hit compared to watching a properly converted movie, but so what? The convenience of throwing any torrented movie onto your iPad will outweigh that.

I’ll have a full review as soon as I get my hands on the app (presuming that Apple approves it).

VLC for iPad [Applidium via Mac Rumors]

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IPhone 3G Left Out of Apple’s Game Center

If you’re planning on showing off your awesome gaming skills with Apple’s new Game Center, you’d better have a nice new iOS device to play on. Apple has released compatibility details for the fancy high-score table, and you’ll need to have an iPhone 3GS or 4, and second-gen iPod Touch or better.

People who have the second-generation iPhone 3G can run iOS 4.1 (including HDR and bug fixes), but won’t get the Game Center. (Also, as with iOS 4.0, it won’t get the multitasking features newer phones have.) If you’re still rocking the original iPhone, you can’t have iOS 4.x at all — but you knew that already, and clearly you don’t care, you pathetic Luddite.

Game Center was demoed by Steve Jobs at last week’s iPod event. It’s kind of a social network for gaming, allowing you to compete against your friends and compare results on the leader-board, and even invite people to play multiplayer games head-to-head. Right now the most common way to taunt your friends is to share your results via Twitter or Facebook, but that requires a log-in for each and every game.

Of course, that old iPod might not have the guts to actually play some of the more demanding games available, but at least you can excuse yourself when you limp in at the bottom of the league-table by blaming your old, weak iPod’s stuttering frame-rate.

Game Center [Apple]

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Modular Cogs Bring Belt-Drives to Any Bike

I’m not writing this post only because the company involved has the awesome name of Schlumpf, but it certainly played a big part. The gadget in question is a new kind of belt-drive for bikes, the Advanced Belt Drive System, or ABDS.

The innovation here isn’t in the belts: the drive uses standard 14mm-pitch belts. It’s in the modular setup that uses a few standardized parts which can be changed around to work with pretty much any bike or belt you like.

Belt drives have a few advantages over chains, the most obvious being cleanliness. The belts require no lubricant, so there’s no dirt-collecting oil to soil your pants. They’re also lighter than chains. But there are disadvantages, too. For regular gearing, the “wrap-angle” around the rear sprocket is not big enough to prevent slippage. The answer has been to tense the belt, making it very tight. This increases wear and also reduces efficiency.

With Schlumpf’s ABDS, the bottom bracket has a gearing system, which means the rear sprocket can be bigger and pre-tensioning isn’t needed. Because of this, a bigger pitch (gap between teeth) can be used. 14mm is the industry-standard, but this is often reduced to 11mm for pre-tensioned systems just to get enough teeth engaged around the small sprocket.

The parts slot together like Meccano, and by combining several thin sprocket “plates”, you can make a kind of laminated sprocket of any width. The “chainline” can also be adjusted by moving around these plates relative to the adapters that hold them in place. And yes, you could even put one on a fixed-gear bike: Schlumpf makes an adapter for track hubs.

Whether belts will ever replace chains is questionable, but they’re getting more and more popular. Hell, even I want to try one out now.

ABDS Advanced Belt Drive System [Schlumpf via Eco Velo]

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Exclusive Gallery: 1983 Nintendo Family Computer Teardown

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Over in Japan, the NES was called the Nintendo Famicom, or Family Computer. Like the SNES, or Super Famicom that followed it, the original Famicom — launched in 1983 — looked a lot different than the one that was sold in the rest of the world.

In this exclusive gallery, shot in exquisite detail by the folks at iFixit, we take a look inside the spiritual home of Mario, part of a series showing off iFixit’s new set of console repair guides.

Originally, the Famicom was white. This aging specimen, picked up by iFixit boss Kyle Wiens, is a rather more dis-colored beige. The hideous burgundy details are pretty close to the original, though.

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Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom) Teardown [iFixit. Thanks, Kyle!]

Captions by Charlie Sorrel and Kyle Wiens

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Marty McFly’s Self-Lacing Sneakers Coming to Stores

Blake Bevin’s awesome home-built self-lacing sneakers are headed to a store near you, thanks to an almost too-appropriate effort to fund the production on the Kickstarter site.

You may remember v1.0 of Bevin’s sneakers, an early version of the Nike boots worn by Marty McFly in Back to the Future 2, with an external Arduino-controlled motor that only a geek could love. V2.0 is now ready, and all the components (servos) have been hidden inside for a way cooler shoe. Take a look at the video. The money-shot is at the end:

I know, right? If you’re like me you let out a little moan when you saw the laces tighten. Bevin is using the Kickstarter project to raise money to further develop the invention and take it to market, and hopefully it won’t fall foul of Nike’s patent of the idea (a patent which is clearly invalidated by prior-art: the movie itself). If you want to, ahem, kick-in with some cash, head over to the site and take a look.

Kickstarter project page [Kickstarter. Thanks, Blake!]

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