As I was out for a short walk today, I came across this tracked and remote controlled grass cutter working on grassy bank. To be fair, I don’t pay much attention to agricultural news but the last time I saw anything like this, it was looking for explosives in Baghdad.
To get an idea of the scale, it was about two metres long, travelled at a fast walking pace and was powered by a small petrol motor, so it was noisy enough.
I had a chat to the operator and he was saying that they use it on banks and other steep slopes where it would be difficult or dangerous for a person to use a mower. The cutter was controlled by a small RC unit with two little sticks, one for forwards-backwards and another for left-right. It comes from a Danish company called Timan and there’s a gallery of pictures here.
The surprise was when he said how much the grasscutter cost….£22,000 or roughly $35,000. That’s alot of money for a lawnmower.
I sometimes think that between KickStarter and Etsy anything that can be imagined, will become reality…
Today’s funding opportunity from KickStarter are B-Squares, a 3D modular solar powered energy system that connects up using magnetic and electrical contacts. There’s solar cell square, a rechargeable battery square, an Arduino square, an LED square and iPhone charger square. The more squares you have, the more you can do.
It’s a project by Jordan McRae and Shawn Frayne, and it’s already been fully funded after just 5 days. There’s various levels of funding that you can go for, from $15 for a single solar square through to 15 squares for $250. There’s further coverage over at cnet.
If you haven’t already appreciated how brilliant these are, just watch the video. Then you’ll get it.
Dean Heckler of HeckerDesign creates modern space saving home-office furniture out of his studio in Phoenix, AZ. Aimed at those of us who would love a bijoux pad out of Wallpaper* magazine but don’t either have the space or the money, it’s powder-coated steel made to match the latest tech gear. His OneLessDesk is already a classic. It’s also made in the USA.
There’s also a very tasty iPad stand, the @Rest, which I suspect would do for many tablets (perhaps it will fit the HP TouchPad). Comes in a range of colours and a bargain at $59.
Dean’s latest creation is OneLessDrop, a solution to the problem that many of us have…when you unplug your laptop’s power cable it promptly disappears down the back of the desk faster than you can say, “Steve Jobs”.
The OneLessDrop is an H-shaped block of recycled aluminium designed to hold a couple of cables in place at the edge of the desk. You can see it in the picture below. Definitely much more stylish than Sellotape.
To finance this development, Dean is funding the project through Kickstarter. If you haven’t come across Kickstarter before, it’s a collaborative website where entrepreneurs can seek micro-financing from individual backers. In this instance, you can pledge from $25 upwards in return for one or more OneLessDrops plus behind-the-scenes footage as the project progresses. There’s a video and some more pictures on the website.
I’ve chipped in but if you want to get in on the pre-order action, there’s less that 30 hours to go before the order book closes.
Scott gets a demo of Orbotix‘s Sphero from Adam, one of the company’s founders. At first glance, Sphero is a robotic ball remotely controlled from a smartphone or tablet. Yes, I was kind of underwhelmed too, but fortunately, it’s a bit more than that. To start with, Sphero is as much a game development platform as it is a product and second, while you can move the ball as you’d expect, you can also get information back from the ball.
The example given in the video is that two Spheros can recognise when they’re close or touch each other, so tag or sumo games become a possibility. Taking it further, there could be augmented reality games where you move Sphero into objects only seen on screen.
On launch, Sphero will work with iOS and Android devices with ports to other smartphone platforms in the future. Available for the 2011 holiday season for under $100. If you are interested, you can make a reservation for your own Sphero or two.
Todd listens to Mary Semcken, VP of Marketing for Able Planet, which has an innovative technology for reducing the decibel level of headphones without reducing the richness of the sound. Amazingly, Able Planet has won a CES Innovation Award every year from 2006 through 2010.
Mary shows off three new headsets, the first in military-style colours so that you can wear the colours of your team while playing Call of Duty. Camo, desert, navy.
Secondly, Able Planet has developed a Signature series of headphones in conjunction with a number of sportstars. Motocross women’s champion Ashley Fiolek has a pink set with 10% of proceeds going to breast cancer charities and Chris Anderson’s (“the bird man”) Signature set has copies of his tattoos on the phones.
All available shortly from major retailers and direct from Able Planet.
Andy personalises his gear with help from Jed Seifert of MusicSkins. Why settle for piano black or ice white, just because they’re what Apple says is cool? With vinyl skins, you can customise your phone or mp3 player from a choice of literally thousands of skins. Whether it’s Madonna or Muse, Johnny C or Jay-Z, there’s a skin for you.
Skipping the hyperbole, MusicSkins offer a huge range of vinyl skins for a wide range of phones, mp3 players, tablets and laptops and all ages and tastes. All the designs are officially licensed and there’s new licensing deal with MTV to tie in with their media properties. But if you can’t find something you like you can design your own.The skins are easy to apply and hard wearing.
Prices start at $14.99 for a smartphone. Available on-line and in retail stores.
Andy sounds out French auto audiophiles Oxygen Audio and their award-winning O Car integrated head unit for the iPhone. It’s totally awesome – the iPhone mounts into the head unit of the car stereo and then acts as the controller for all the audio functions, including playing from iTunes. There’s even an RDS tuner built into the unit for the radio. Even better, the iPhone can move away from the head unit on a swivel and can be used as normal, running any apps that you want – GPS, Pandora, whatever. Of course, there’s full Bluetooth integration. Absolutely brilliant. Check out the pictures below and you’ll get the idea. Yeah, you want one.
Available now in France and will be shipping very shortly in the USA for around $300. See, I told you…you want one.
Tom interviews Ross from iGo, which will probably be familiar to anyone who’s traveled on business. These are the guys who provide all the portable power equipment to keep your gadgets charged up – I’ve even got a few bits’n'pieces from them – and at CES, they were showing off a few of the their latest toys.
First up was a portable speaker ($19.99) that runs for a couple of hours off a pair of AA batteries and works with any device that has a 3.5mm jack. Next was a folding device stand ($14.99) designed to hold a smartphone or PMP at an ideal angle for viewing video. Then there is KeyJuice keychain battery ($19.99) for emergency charging of your iPhone, iPod or iPad. Also shown were wall and car USB chargers, each with two USB ports. Finally, they offer iPad docks and keyboards, though they’re not shown in the video.
The nPower PEG (Personal Energy Generator) is a kinetic charger that generates electricity through the motion of your body, typically when you are walking or running. It stores the energy in a rechargeable battery which can then be used to charge your mobile phone, mp3 player or other portable device via USB. As a rough guide, a minute of motion gives a minute of mp3 listening on an iPod nano or similar player.
Available for $159.99 soon – it’s on back-order according to the website.
Jeffrey talks to Brian from Movea, a name that you probably aren’t familiar with but you may be familiar with their consumer brand Gyration and the Gyration Air Mouse. On show here is their new MotionPod, a sensor module equipped with three-axis accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers all in package smaller than a matchbox. This can track a full range of motion and transmit the information wirelessly back to a PC or mobile device. The demonstration on the video shows a MotionPod attached to a golf club so that motion of the swing can be captured. Prices for the MotionPods weren’t given but they’re cheap enough to be built into consumer-level products.