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28
May

After Math: That took long enough


It’s been a big week of things finally happening. Uber’s making good on the backpay it owes its drivers, Target settled its data breach lawsuits and some semen that spent nearly a year in space proves to still be viable. Numbers, because how else will you know how long you’ve waited?

28
May

The best bike lock


By Duncan Niederlitz

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best homewares. When readers choose to buy The Sweethome’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

To find the best bicycle lock, we ordered 27 of the toughest we could find, and then we sawed, chopped, and cut them all to pieces. We learned that almost every lock can be defeated in under a minute, but the Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 is the most affordable lock that will most likely need a power tool (accompanied by a lot of noise) to be beaten. It offers enough of a security advantage over other locks in this price range to keep a modest commuter bike from becoming an easy target for thieves. It has a secure but usable 7-inch length, includes a 4-foot cable to leash the front wheel and accessories, and also comes with a free year of anti-theft protection, upgradable to five years for only $25.

How we picked and tested

Our testing pool after a few rounds of security testing. Photo: Duncan Niederlitz

We spent many hours researching all the locks available from the major brands in the bicycle industry, attending the Interbike trade show to see not-yet-available options, reviewing our previous guide, looking into the most popular locks on Kickstarter, and searching for well-reviewed locks from smaller companies or lesser-known brands.

Manufacturers make dozens of locks in very similar styles. With supposedly different levels of security and proprietary ratings systems, however, it can be hard to decide which locks are comparable with each other, other than blindly going by price or researching the ratings from independent organizations that rate bicycle locks. Unfortunately, these institutions use different rating scales, and not all lock manufacturers submit all of their locks to be tested.

We decided that our only way forward was to order the most expensive locks from every company we could and destructively test them all ourselves in order to set our own baseline for what each company considered its highest level of security. We then ordered the budget locks from our previous guide, as well as some of the upgrades from companies that finished well in our first round of tests, and destructively tested all of those, too. We eventually had a total of 27 locks from ABUS, Altor, Artago, Blackburn, Hiplok, Knog, Kryptonite, Litelok, OnGuard, RockyMounts, Schlage, and TiGr.

We tested each of the 27 finalists using the most common tools available to a bike thief, including lock picks, cable cutters, hacksaws, bolt cutters, and an angle grinder. For more on our testing, and to watch a bike thief at work, see our full guide.

Our pick

Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

The Kryptonite Evolution Mini-7 U-lock comes with a cable and a free year of the company’s anti-theft protection. This model is slightly more expensive than our previous pick, the Kryptonite Series 2, but it has one advantage that’s hard to see: Instead of using just a case-hardened shackle (the big U-shaped loop that U-locks get their name from), the Evolution series uses a harder steel shackle and a hardening process that, though not technically being “through hardened,” still withstood more abuse in our tests than other locks at the same price. Although we could cut lesser locks with only 24-inch bolt cutters, the Evolution Mini-7 withstood even our 36-inch cutters, surviving with just a couple of small scratches.

Proper locking technique: The U-lock goes through your bike’s back wheel and seat stays (the pair of diagonal skinny tubes that connect under your seat). The cable adds protection for your front wheel. Video: Kyle Fitzgerald

The Evolution Mini-7 also uses the more secure disc-detainer locking mechanism. This style of keyway and mechanism is very resistant to picking, requiring specialty tools, patience, and skill to pick. After consulting with multiple lock-picking enthusiasts and experts, we’ve decided that the chances of having this lock picked on the street are very slim compared with the those of some of the other locks we tested.

The only real flaw with this lock is that it locks on just one side of the shackle, using a bent foot on the nonlocking side. When we were confirming some technical specs with Kryptonite PR manager Daryl Slater, he informed me that the new versions of the Evolution Mini-7 and Mini-5, to be released early summer 2017, would have a dual-locking shackle. If that turns out to be the case, and if the price remains similar, it would remove the only flaw we currently see in this lock.

The disadvantage of this feature is that a thief needs to make only one cut, instead of two, in order to be able to remove the lock; the design effectively halves the time it takes to cut the lock. However, the design does offer an advantage, as the bent foot can act as a pivot to help squeeze the lock together when it’s a tight fit.

Upgrade pick

Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

The Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini U-lock is a workhorse. You won’t find any special features or extra frills with it, just a lot of it—4.55 pounds’ worth. It uses a through-hardened dual-locking shackle and extra metal in the crossbar for even more security. The 18 mm shackle has a cross-sectional area twice that of our top pick’s 13 mm shackle, and correspondingly takes twice as long to cut through. And whereas the Evolution Mini-7 needs to be cut only once, the dual-deadbolt design of the New York Fahgettaboudit Mini requires two cuts for a thief to remove it from a bike or rack, resulting in a total time to remove that’s four times that of the Evolution Mini-7.

The only significant downside to this lock, other than an increase in price over our top pick, is that it’s double the weight of our pick, but as our tests showed, a more hardened metal is the key to more security. The New York Fahgettaboudit Mini also does not include any mounting hardware if you wanted to attach it to your frame, and you would need to buy a cable separately.

Also great

Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Whether you have a cargo bike or an electric assisted bicycle with a nontraditional frame, or the best place for you to lock up your bike is to a telephone pole, a chain lock can sometimes be a necessity. We think the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain is the best chain for the money for high-security situations.

The chain uses 14 mm through-hardened links and comes in a fairly standard 39-inch length as well as in a giant, 5-foot version. The chain is connected by Kryptonite’s 15 mm New York disc lock, with a dual-locking shackle and a disc-detainer mechanism.

The only chain locks that took us longer to cut though were the Kryptonite New York Legend and the Artago 69T100E, both of which cost significantly more. If you’re particularly concerned about security, we think spending that kind of money on a stronger secondary lock would be a more savvy purchase and would give you more security for the same amount.

This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Sweethome: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

28
May

How to watch (and appreciate) the Indy 500, the ‘greatest spectacle in racing’


It has been called the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” It’s one of the few races people not familiar with motor sport have heard of. It’s 500 miles of wheel-to-wheel driving on an oval track known as “The Brickyard.” It’s the Indy 500. But what is this legendary race really all about? Buckle up, because we’ve got everything you need to know right here.

The culture

The track

This year marks the 101st running of the Indy 500, but the first 500-mile race was held in 1911, not 1916. Races were cancelled a handful of times because of World Wars I and II. The track itself opened in 1909 and was paved with 3.2 million bricks, which is why it’s still called “The Brickyard” to this day. The bricks have long since given way to pavement, except on the start/finish line.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway was originally envisioned as a test track as well as a racing venue.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway was originally envisioned as a test track as well as a racing venue. In the early days of the auto industry, Indianapolis actually rivaled Detroit and had several native car companies. Forty cars entered the first Indy 500, and today the grid is limited to 33 cars. Typically, there are more drivers than available slots, but for the past two years, exactly 33 cars have shown up.

Indy is a 2.5-mile oval with banked turns, so it takes 200 laps to cover 500 miles. The banking and long straightaways let drivers hit higher speeds than more technical road courses. Modern cars at Indy can top 200 mph, so engineers must carefully balance the reduction of aerodynamic drag with downforce — the use of airflow to help stick cars to the track — which can lower top speed.

The track is actually located in (appropriately named) Speedway, Indiana, a few miles from Indianapolis proper. Besides the oval, Indy is known for the huge trackside pagoda and scoring tower on the front straightaway, and “Gasoline Alley,” the row of garages where teams work on their cars. The track was treated to a $90 million renovation in 2016, including a new upper grandstand, fencing, and front entrance.

Indy 500 primer

The format is similar to other races, with practice sessions, qualifying sessions that determine the starting order, and the race itself. While most races contain all of that in one weekend, the Indy 500 spreads it out over about two weeks, with the main event on Sunday, May 28. Last year’s winner, Alexander Rossi, completed the race in 3 hours, 2 minutes, and .08 seconds. Compare that to Ray Harroun, who won the first Indy 500 in 1911. It took him 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 8 seconds to run the requisite 500 miles.

While the winners of most other major races celebrate with champagne, the Indy 500 winner traditionally downs milk, and is presented with the Borg-Warner trophy. The sterling silver trophy includes the likeness of every winner since the first race in 1911.

The cars: A history of innovation

The evolution of Indy 500 race cars demonstrates how competition can both encourage and stifle innovation. Indy has often been a testing ground for radical ideas. Yet teams still want to win, and sticking with proven designs is almost always a better bet than trying something new and untested.

In the early years of the 500, everything was untested. The race was as much a trial for the then-new contraption known as the automobile as it was a competitive event, and early cars shared many components with production models. The first Indy 500 was won by Ray Harroun in a Marmon Wasp that incorporated two notable innovations: a single-seat design that set the template for most modern race cars, and a rearview mirror.

The evolution of Indy 500 racecars demonstrates how competition can both encourage and stifle innovation.

A diverse group of manufacturers participated in those early races, from Buick to Mercedes-Benz, but they were soon outclassed by one. Miller may be an esoteric name today, but this American firm dominated the Indy 500 in the 1920s and 1930s. Miller cars or cars using Miller engines won every race from 1928 to 1938. Much of Miller’s success came from engines with dual-overhead camshafts, a power-boosting design that wouldn’t be used on mainstream production cars for decades, but is now commonplace.

In the immediate postwar years, a different type of car came to dominate Indy. Known generically as “Roadsters,” these cars had the engine in the front, but offset to one side for better weight distribution, with the driver sitting more or less over the rear wheels. They were built by different race teams, but nearly every Roadster ran an Offenhauser four-cylinder engine. Dubbed the “Offy,” it was actually derived from a Miller design, and was so good it lasted in competition until the 1970s.

Once again, a single car design became the de facto Indy racer, but by the mid-1960s the winds of change were blowing again. At that time, British teams began building mid-engined race cars. Putting the engine in the middle makes for better weight distribution and more compact packaging. That’s why all modern IndyCars — not to mention Formula One cars and supercars from the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini — have engines sitting behind their drivers.

Indy 500 primer

By the end of the ‘60s, nearly the entire Indy field had shifted to mid-engined cars with either Offy or Ford Cosworth DFV engines. That’s not to say teams didn’t try other things along the way. In 1952, Cummins entered a car powered by a massive 6.6-liter diesel engine. In 1967, Parnelli Jones nearly won the race in the STP-Paxton Turbocar, which was powered by the turbine engine from a helicopter (it conked out with just three laps to go).

The last major technological milestone for Indy racers came in the realm of aerodynamics. Cars began sprouting spoilers in the 1970s, and by the 1980s they were also taking advantage of “ground effects,” or the channeling of airflow underneath the car to help suck it down onto the track. The first car to put all of those pieces together was the 1980 Chaparral 2K, nicknamed “Yellow Submarine” because of its Pennzoil livery. Soon, every car on the grid looked like it.

The cars: Today

And so we arrive at the IndyCar machines of today: Lightweight single seaters with mid-mounted engines and lots of aerodynamic aids. That formula likely won’t change anytime soon, as current rules lock teams into using a single car design. That’s supposed to level the playing field, but it also makes things a little less interesting.

Not that today’s IndyCar racers are unimpressive. All teams use the same chassis from Italian race-car manufacturer Dallara, with engines from Chevrolet or Honda. Both are twin-turbocharged, direct-injection V6s that produce 550 to 700 horsepower, depending on the track. During the Indy 500, the cars are capable of reaching speeds of up to 235 mph.

In a bid to differentiate Honda and Chevy-powered cars, organizers also introduced “aero kits” in 2015. While they succeeded in making the cars look different, the kits caused other problems. Honda’s version has made cars much slower than their Chevy counterparts. A low-drag version of the Chevy kit made cars a bit too fast, to the point where some left the ground in some heart-stopping crashes in 2015.

IndyCar is now reevaluating the aero kit rules, and plans to make changes for the 2018 season. Updates are expected to yield a sleeker design that will be applied to all cars, whether they have Chevy or Honda engines.

28
May

Fake it till you make it! How to shoot and edit amateur vlogs that look pro


It’s easy for just about anyone to produce and upload a video, so knowing how to make the content stand out is all the more important. Whether you’re interested in starting a vlog, making tutorial or demonstration videos, or doing your own hands-on product reviews, we’ve put together a few best (and easy to achieve) practices to help get you pointed in the right direction – using digital cameras and smartphones that you probably already own. With a little planning and effort, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the next YouTube sensation (although, we make no promises).

Pre-production


Andrei Zaripov/123RF

First off, start with a script. You may think it’s easier to skip this step, but taking the time to write up a script — or at least jot down your ideas — can save you time later on. We’re not talking about a formatted screenplay here, but rather just a text document that contains everything you’re going to say in your video. Working from a script will help keep you on task when you start shooting, and prevent you from going off on a tangent and needing to shoot way more takes than necessary to get something cohesive.

Don’t underestimate the importance of planning and practice.

You should read through your script out loud a couple of times to get an idea for how it sounds. One often writes in a different voice than how one speaks, and reading out loud will help identify anything that doesn’t sound natural. If you have a friend, roommate, or family member who can provide feedback, maybe ask them to listen to you.

It’s also not a bad idea to time yourself reading your script to get an idea for how long it will be, either. If you’re aiming for a two-minute video and it takes you five minutes to read your script, it will be much easier to make cuts now rather than wait until you’re in post-production with three extra minutes of footage to deal with.

If you plan to shoot B-roll or cutaway shots, you can map those out now to get an idea of where they will be used. This way, you’ll know which lines will be spoken on camera and which will run as voiceover during cutaways, and you can memorize accordingly, saving yourself even more time.

After you have a couple videos under your belt, you can probably skip some of the above steps once you have a feel for the timing, but don’t underestimate the importance of planning and practice.

Recap:

  • Script out what you want to say, or jot down talking points.
  • Practice your script for timing and flow.
  • Make notes of where you’ll cut to B-roll shots.
  • Only memorize your on-screen lines to save time.

Pro tip:

If you are finding it hard to memorize what you want to say, try using a teleprompter app, like Teleprompter Pro Lite for the iPad. Place the tablet as close to the camera lens as possible (without entering the frame), so that you retain eye contact with the camera.

Lights


Philipp Shuruev/123RF

When it comes to the look of your video, light is probably the most important factor. We’d take a cheap camera with good lighting over an expensive camera with bad or insufficient lighting any day. But this doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy an expensive light kit.

Light is the most important factor in the look of your video.

For indoor shoots, windows are your best friend — or your worst enemy. In general, facing a window will result in a nice, even light that makes you easily visible against the background. However, you should always avoid putting a window behind you or having one otherwise visible in the frame, as it may make it difficult to get a balanced exposure.

Also, watch out for mixed color temperatures when shooting indoors. Most light bulbs put out a different color of light than the sun, which can lead to shadows being too blue or highlights being to orange, or vice versa. If possible, turn off all the lights in the area where you’re shooting and rely on sunlight alone.

When outdoors, avoid direct sunlight. Find a shady area or shoot on an overcast day for even lighting. This will also put less strain on your eyes and keep you from squinting in the video.

Recap:

  • Having good light is better than having a good camera.
  • Indoors, windows can be an excellent source of light.
  • Outdoors, avoid direct sunlight if possible.

Pro tip:

  • Auto white balance is often good enough, but if you want to make sure the colors in your shot don’t change, you can set it manually on some cameras. If your camera lets you adjust the Kelvin temperature for white balance, start at 5,600 (daylight) as a base, and then tune up (cooler) or down (warmer). On DSLRs, make sure live view is on when you make these adjustments so you can see the effect in real time.
  • There are plenty of LED lights you can purchase for less than $50. Find one that lets you adjust the color temperature. But rather than splashing the light from your camera’s direction, try different positions and angles, or even using multiple light sources. Even a small, low-powered LED panel can make for a nice catch light that will help bring out your eyes.
28
May

Tips for buying a used smartphone


The best smartphones pack tempting features into stylish bodies, but they don’t come cheap. You can easily spend upwards of $600 on a new smartphone — the Samsung Galaxy S8 starts at $750, for instance — but you don’t have to clean out your bank account to nab a snazzy smartphone. Buying a used device is a tried-and-true method of saving cash on a purchase.

In this guide, we’re going to lay out your options and run through some tips for buying a used smartphone, helping ensure you don’t get ripped off. Not all second-hand smartphones are created equal, so let’s break this down by category.

Buying refurbished smartphones

The best kind of used smartphone to go for is a refurbished phone. These are phones that were returned to the manufacturer for one reason or another. They are fully tested, factory reset, and certified. They also usually come with some kind of warranty. When you buy a refurbished phone, it should be close to the experience of buying a new phone.

If you buy a refurbished iPhone from Apple, for example, it will have a new battery, a pristine outer shell, and a box with all the necessary accessories. It will also come with a one-year warranty, but that won’t be the case if you buy elsewhere. Standards vary, so always check the details carefully. Whenever possible, buy directly from manufacturers, as they have the greatest incentive to ensure the refurbished phones they sell are problem-free.

Before you get too excited about refurbished smartphones, however, it’s worth noting that they’re the most expensive kind of used smartphone around. You can often reap significant savings with little risk, but real bargain hunters will be unimpressed.

If you want to shop for refurbished phones, then check out these stores:

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Best Buy
  • Samsung
  • Walmart

Buying certified pre-owned smartphones

One step down from refurbished phones, you’ll find the certified pre-owned category. Once again, these phones have undergone some kind of testing, been factory reset, and should come with a limited warranty. They’ll be a bit cheaper than refurbished phones, too, though they probably won’t be in as good condition.

Certified pre-owned phones have been tested to make sure that they work properly, but they’re not like-new — these are used smartphones and may have cosmetic damage or internal wear and tear. They also won’t necessarily be re-boxed or presented as new phones, and could be missing some accessories.

Always check the details before you buy, because there may be differences when it comes to the definition of certified pre-owned from retailer to retailer. There will also be differences in the warranty they offer..

If you want to shop for certified pre-owned phones, then check out these stores:

  • Amazon
  • AT&T
  • Best Buy
  • Target
  • Verizon

Buying used smartphones

The biggest bargains are to be found in the used smartphone category, but there are also greater risks in buying a used smartphone. You might be able to secure last year’s flagship with extra accessories at a knock-down price, but you could also end up with a dud and no way to get a refund.

You need to check the seller’s description carefully, only consider listings with photos, and ask questions before you buy. Try to deal with sellers who have positive ratings, if possible. Some services offer listing verification and payment protection in the event something goes wrong, while others don’t. You should look for a return policy and use a service like PayPal, so you have some possibility of getting a refund if your new phone turns out to be damaged or stolen.

If you’re going to meet in-person to buy a phone, always take someone with you and choose a well-lit public place to meet. Make it clear to the seller that you want to test the phone before you buy, and that you’ll be bringing a SIM card to do just that. This will discourage scammers.

Some of the best places to buy used smartphones are:

  • eBay
  • Craigslist
  • Glyde
  • Swappa

The price is right

You should do some research to get an idea of how much you need to spend. Swappa is particularly helpful for this, because it shows a chart of the average selling prices for each smartphone over time. You can also search the “sold listings” on eBay, if you want to see what the going rate for your desired phone is.

Remember that prices for older smartphone models — like the iPhone 5, or Samsung Galaxy S6 — will always fall when a new one is released, as people tend to sell their older devices in order to raise cash for a new one.

When you settle on a target price, be patient. If you’re trying to get a better-than-average bargain, then you need avoid being drawn into a bidding war. There’s a ton of variance on sites like eBay, so it can be smart to wait to bid on items until the last moment. Choose listings that end mid-week, because they won’t attract as many buyers as listings that end on Saturday or Sunday.

Important things to consider

There are several things you need to keep in mind when buying a used smartphone, so here’s a checklist to run through. If any of these things aren’t clear in the listing, then you need to ask the seller before you buy.

Is the phone on your network or unlocked?

Smartphones that are locked to a carrier tend to be a bit cheaper, so if you’re happy on Verizon, for example, go for a device that’s locked to Verizon. Unlocked smartphones, on the other hand, can be used on any network.

Does the phone come with any accessories?

Find out if it comes in the original box, with the charger and cable that it shipped with. You need to know if there any extras being thrown in, such as cases or headphones. The original box is a good sign that the phone is not stolen and a case suggests the previous owner has been taking care of the device.

Has it been factory reset?

You want a phone that has been wiped clean. Make sure the previous owner has removed all personal accounts and watch out for Factory Reset Protection (FRP). It’s a safety feature that Google recently added to Android to discourage would-be thieves. If FRP is not disabled before the phone is sold, then, even after a factory reset, you’ll be prompted to enter the username and password for the last Google account that was registered with the device before you can use it.

Is there any physical damage?

Ideally, you’ll be able to review a good mix of photos before you buy, but it’s worth checking whether there’s any damage that isn’t obvious from the supplied photos. You may also want to ask about water damage before you make your purchase.

Test your phone

When your new phone arrives, make sure you test it immediately and thoroughly. Put your SIM in and make sure it works, insert your MicroSD card (if it accommodates one), try charging the phone, and test the headphone port. You should also watch out for battery problems, especially with older phones. After all, batteries deteriorate over time and may eventually struggle to hold a charge.

You may also want to try a diagnostic app or use service codes. You can find them for most phones with a quick online search, and they’ll allow you to test the battery, screen, and a few other bits and pieces.

If you’re going to find a problem, it’s better to isolate it sooner rather than later. If you have a warranty, then you can quickly make a claim. If not, you can try to return your phone or claim a refund via PayPal. If you’re meeting in person and paying cash, then go to the meeting equipped with a SIM card, cable, laptop, and headphones and perform the tests before making your purchase.




28
May

Take your tunes into the shower with this $20 speaker


Showers can be boring (especially the lonely ones!), and shower thoughts can just end up making you feel way less relaxed than a show should. Some people also happen to sing their best when in the shower — or so we tell ourselves.

Enjoy your tunes when wet for $20 Learn more

Whatever your reason for wanting music in the shower, you need a speaker in your bathroom. Cords probably aren’t the best idea (you know — death by electrocution), so you’ll want a convenient Bluetooth speaker that lets you wirelessly blast your tunes. Not all Bluetooth speakers are created equal, however, so you’ll need something that’s at least water-resistant so that you don’t fry it the first time out.

xxl-speaker-stacksocial.jpg?itok=Xn5cZ2V

Enter the XXL shower speaker, which has a driver twice the size of usual shower speakers, blasting out your music at 3W.This powerful speaker retails for $99.99, but through Android Central Digital Offers, you pay just $19.99, a savings of 80%.

The XXL sticks to any non-porous surface via suction cup, making it perfect for shower tile, glass shower doors, mirrors, and more. It uses Bluetooth 4.0 technology and has a large battery that usually requires charging less than once a month, so you can go a while without missing out on shower tunes. You can even take and make calls, thanks to the convenient microphone.

If you’re looking for a great shower speaker that has a large driver but a compact body, then check out the XXL shower speaker at Android Central Digital Offers. It’s $20, down from $99.99, so you save 80%.

To celebrate Memorial Day weekend, save an additional 15% off when you use the coupon code MEMDAY15 during checkout.

Enjoy an extra 15% off with code MEMDAY15 Learn more

28
May

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Fish drones, bottle gardens, AI longboards


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At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion crowdfunding campaigns on the web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there — alongside some real gems. In this column, we cut through all the worthless wearables and Oculus Rift ripoffs to round up the week’s most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects. But don’t grab your wallet just yet. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project can fail — even the most well-intentioned. Do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Splash Drone 3 — waterproof camera drone

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Flying a drone over solid ground is one thing, but flying it over water is a whole ‘nother ball game. With all manner of electronics on board, an unexpected aquatic landing is almost always a death sentence for your drone, which makes flying it much more stressful. That’s not the case for the Splash Drone 3, however. Recently launched on Kickstarter, this hardy little quadcopter is encased in a buoyant waterproof shell, so it can safely land and float on water without being damaged.

But waterproof components aren’t the only trick Splash has up its sleeve. Beyond the watertight hull, it’s still got an impressive list of features. On its underbelly, the Splash is outfitted with a 4K camera nestled inside a 3-axis gimbal — both of which are completely waterproof. Thus, you can shoot while airborne or submerged. It’s also equipped with an auto-follow function, so it can shoot video autonomously while you play in the water.

Read more here

Read Read — braille-teaching system

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This one is fairly complex, so we’ll let the Read Read team do the explaining. Here’s an excerpt from their Kickstarter page:

“97% of blind adults who cannot read braille are unemployed, yet only 8.5% of blind students receive enough instruction to learn braille. The biggest barrier to braille literacy is a lack or complete absence of high-quality braille instruction. Currently, blind students are unable to learn and practice braille reading independently — all of their learning hinges on the presence of a teacher who knows both braille, and how to teach reading. Thus, the majority of blind students in the US are illiterate.”

Illiteracy in America is a huge problem for the visually impaired, and Harvard graduate student Alex Tavares built something to help. The Read Read, as it’s called, is the world’s first electronic braille teaching system that allows visually impaired students to learn the language independently.

The Read Read uses a system of electronic letter tiles that can be rearranged to form words, like tiles on a Scrabble board. These tiles feature raised lettering and a corresponding braille translation, as well as a touch-sensitive strip that speaks the letter sound aloud when touched. Basically, this device allows people to learn braille without relying on a human teacher.

Read more here

Biki — fish-like submersible drone

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Bored of drones that fly in the sky? Check out Biki — an ROV that swims in the sea. The robotic submersible, recently launched on Kickstarter, can move at a leisurely 1.1 mph for up to 90 minutes on a single charge, with a flapping fish tail that propels it through the water. You can control Biki via the accompanying app or with a physical controller, and if at any point the connection goes down between you and the robot, built-in GPS means it’ll automatically return to base.

You can even program your own routes and swim alongside, or simply let Biki wander off by itself while you stay on dry land and enjoy the footage it streams back to your smartphone or tablet. Built-in obstacle avoidance tech should save the robo-fish from any calamitous mishaps, though it clearly won’t be quick enough to escape the jaws of an angry shark that crosses its path.

Read more here

XTND — AI-powered electric longboard

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Ok so this one admittedly made us roll our eyes a bit when we first encountered it. Do you really need an electric longboard with artificial intelligence built in? Probably not — but after digging a bit deeper, it appears that the XTND does actually have some cool features that might make it worthwhile.

For starters, the XTND collects information on every trip you take. Once it has a bit of data to work with, it’ll start adjust its own settings and adapt to your particular riding style. If you’re new and struggling (like standing incorrectly), the board won’t even move, thereby keeping you safe. Similarly, if you jump (or fall) off a board while it’s in motion, XTND will start braking and prevent itself from rolling forward.

The board’s tracking ability is arguably its coolest feature. Over time, it’ll analyze the route you take and eventually suggest alternative routes that may be more efficient or more board-friendly. That way, you’ll be able to find better terrain, so you can get where you need to go more quickly and with less battery power expenditure.

Read more here

The World’s Smallest Garden — bottle-based hydroponic garden

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Like the idea of having a garden, but don’t have enough space to make it happen? Check out the World’s Smallest Garden — a diminutive cylindrical device you place in the top of a regular bottle, transforming it into a self-watering herb garden in seconds.

Simply place the product into a bottle filled with water, and you’ll create an optimal environment for seed germination, as well as a mechanism through which your plants can water themselves.  All you need to do is make sure the plants are put someplace sunny — or, at least, with access to the appropriate light — and then check on their water levels once a week.

“What makes it so neat is its accessibility,” said Nate Littlewood, co-founder and CEO of Urban Leaf. “From the outset, we wanted to create a product that was easy to use and affordable. There are a ton of other home-hydroponic grow kits on the market already, most of which are in the $200 to $3,000 price range. These are inaccessible and intimidating to most people — and certainly too complicated for the beginner. The World’s Smallest Garden is intended as gateway product, designed to welcome people into the field of home-growing for the first time.”

Read more here




28
May

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Fish drones, bottle gardens, AI longboards


awesome-tech-you-cant-buy-yet-280x75.png

At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion crowdfunding campaigns on the web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there — alongside some real gems. In this column, we cut through all the worthless wearables and Oculus Rift ripoffs to round up the week’s most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects. But don’t grab your wallet just yet. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project can fail — even the most well-intentioned. Do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Splash Drone 3 — waterproof camera drone

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Flying a drone over solid ground is one thing, but flying it over water is a whole ‘nother ball game. With all manner of electronics on board, an unexpected aquatic landing is almost always a death sentence for your drone, which makes flying it much more stressful. That’s not the case for the Splash Drone 3, however. Recently launched on Kickstarter, this hardy little quadcopter is encased in a buoyant waterproof shell, so it can safely land and float on water without being damaged.

But waterproof components aren’t the only trick Splash has up its sleeve. Beyond the watertight hull, it’s still got an impressive list of features. On its underbelly, the Splash is outfitted with a 4K camera nestled inside a 3-axis gimbal — both of which are completely waterproof. Thus, you can shoot while airborne or submerged. It’s also equipped with an auto-follow function, so it can shoot video autonomously while you play in the water.

Read more here

Read Read — braille-teaching system

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

This one is fairly complex, so we’ll let the Read Read team do the explaining. Here’s an excerpt from their Kickstarter page:

“97% of blind adults who cannot read braille are unemployed, yet only 8.5% of blind students receive enough instruction to learn braille. The biggest barrier to braille literacy is a lack or complete absence of high-quality braille instruction. Currently, blind students are unable to learn and practice braille reading independently — all of their learning hinges on the presence of a teacher who knows both braille, and how to teach reading. Thus, the majority of blind students in the US are illiterate.”

Illiteracy in America is a huge problem for the visually impaired, and Harvard graduate student Alex Tavares built something to help. The Read Read, as it’s called, is the world’s first electronic braille teaching system that allows visually impaired students to learn the language independently.

The Read Read uses a system of electronic letter tiles that can be rearranged to form words, like tiles on a Scrabble board. These tiles feature raised lettering and a corresponding braille translation, as well as a touch-sensitive strip that speaks the letter sound aloud when touched. Basically, this device allows people to learn braille without relying on a human teacher.

Read more here

Biki — fish-like submersible drone

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Bored of drones that fly in the sky? Check out Biki — an ROV that swims in the sea. The robotic submersible, recently launched on Kickstarter, can move at a leisurely 1.1 mph for up to 90 minutes on a single charge, with a flapping fish tail that propels it through the water. You can control Biki via the accompanying app or with a physical controller, and if at any point the connection goes down between you and the robot, built-in GPS means it’ll automatically return to base.

You can even program your own routes and swim alongside, or simply let Biki wander off by itself while you stay on dry land and enjoy the footage it streams back to your smartphone or tablet. Built-in obstacle avoidance tech should save the robo-fish from any calamitous mishaps, though it clearly won’t be quick enough to escape the jaws of an angry shark that crosses its path.

Read more here

XTND — AI-powered electric longboard

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Ok so this one admittedly made us roll our eyes a bit when we first encountered it. Do you really need an electric longboard with artificial intelligence built in? Probably not — but after digging a bit deeper, it appears that the XTND does actually have some cool features that might make it worthwhile.

For starters, the XTND collects information on every trip you take. Once it has a bit of data to work with, it’ll start adjust its own settings and adapt to your particular riding style. If you’re new and struggling (like standing incorrectly), the board won’t even move, thereby keeping you safe. Similarly, if you jump (or fall) off a board while it’s in motion, XTND will start braking and prevent itself from rolling forward.

The board’s tracking ability is arguably its coolest feature. Over time, it’ll analyze the route you take and eventually suggest alternative routes that may be more efficient or more board-friendly. That way, you’ll be able to find better terrain, so you can get where you need to go more quickly and with less battery power expenditure.

Read more here

The World’s Smallest Garden — bottle-based hydroponic garden

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Like the idea of having a garden, but don’t have enough space to make it happen? Check out the World’s Smallest Garden — a diminutive cylindrical device you place in the top of a regular bottle, transforming it into a self-watering herb garden in seconds.

Simply place the product into a bottle filled with water, and you’ll create an optimal environment for seed germination, as well as a mechanism through which your plants can water themselves.  All you need to do is make sure the plants are put someplace sunny — or, at least, with access to the appropriate light — and then check on their water levels once a week.

“What makes it so neat is its accessibility,” said Nate Littlewood, co-founder and CEO of Urban Leaf. “From the outset, we wanted to create a product that was easy to use and affordable. There are a ton of other home-hydroponic grow kits on the market already, most of which are in the $200 to $3,000 price range. These are inaccessible and intimidating to most people — and certainly too complicated for the beginner. The World’s Smallest Garden is intended as gateway product, designed to welcome people into the field of home-growing for the first time.”

Read more here




28
May

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Fish drones, bottle gardens, AI longboards


awesome-tech-you-cant-buy-yet-280x75.png

At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion crowdfunding campaigns on the web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there — alongside some real gems. In this column, we cut through all the worthless wearables and Oculus Rift ripoffs to round up the week’s most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects. But don’t grab your wallet just yet. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project can fail — even the most well-intentioned. Do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Splash Drone 3 — waterproof camera drone

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Flying a drone over solid ground is one thing, but flying it over water is a whole ‘nother ball game. With all manner of electronics on board, an unexpected aquatic landing is almost always a death sentence for your drone, which makes flying it much more stressful. That’s not the case for the Splash Drone 3, however. Recently launched on Kickstarter, this hardy little quadcopter is encased in a buoyant waterproof shell, so it can safely land and float on water without being damaged.

But waterproof components aren’t the only trick Splash has up its sleeve. Beyond the watertight hull, it’s still got an impressive list of features. On its underbelly, the Splash is outfitted with a 4K camera nestled inside a 3-axis gimbal — both of which are completely waterproof. Thus, you can shoot while airborne or submerged. It’s also equipped with an auto-follow function, so it can shoot video autonomously while you play in the water.

Read more here

Read Read — braille-teaching system

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

This one is fairly complex, so we’ll let the Read Read team do the explaining. Here’s an excerpt from their Kickstarter page:

“97% of blind adults who cannot read braille are unemployed, yet only 8.5% of blind students receive enough instruction to learn braille. The biggest barrier to braille literacy is a lack or complete absence of high-quality braille instruction. Currently, blind students are unable to learn and practice braille reading independently — all of their learning hinges on the presence of a teacher who knows both braille, and how to teach reading. Thus, the majority of blind students in the US are illiterate.”

Illiteracy in America is a huge problem for the visually impaired, and Harvard graduate student Alex Tavares built something to help. The Read Read, as it’s called, is the world’s first electronic braille teaching system that allows visually impaired students to learn the language independently.

The Read Read uses a system of electronic letter tiles that can be rearranged to form words, like tiles on a Scrabble board. These tiles feature raised lettering and a corresponding braille translation, as well as a touch-sensitive strip that speaks the letter sound aloud when touched. Basically, this device allows people to learn braille without relying on a human teacher.

Read more here

Biki — fish-like submersible drone

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Bored of drones that fly in the sky? Check out Biki — an ROV that swims in the sea. The robotic submersible, recently launched on Kickstarter, can move at a leisurely 1.1 mph for up to 90 minutes on a single charge, with a flapping fish tail that propels it through the water. You can control Biki via the accompanying app or with a physical controller, and if at any point the connection goes down between you and the robot, built-in GPS means it’ll automatically return to base.

You can even program your own routes and swim alongside, or simply let Biki wander off by itself while you stay on dry land and enjoy the footage it streams back to your smartphone or tablet. Built-in obstacle avoidance tech should save the robo-fish from any calamitous mishaps, though it clearly won’t be quick enough to escape the jaws of an angry shark that crosses its path.

Read more here

XTND — AI-powered electric longboard

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Ok so this one admittedly made us roll our eyes a bit when we first encountered it. Do you really need an electric longboard with artificial intelligence built in? Probably not — but after digging a bit deeper, it appears that the XTND does actually have some cool features that might make it worthwhile.

For starters, the XTND collects information on every trip you take. Once it has a bit of data to work with, it’ll start adjust its own settings and adapt to your particular riding style. If you’re new and struggling (like standing incorrectly), the board won’t even move, thereby keeping you safe. Similarly, if you jump (or fall) off a board while it’s in motion, XTND will start braking and prevent itself from rolling forward.

The board’s tracking ability is arguably its coolest feature. Over time, it’ll analyze the route you take and eventually suggest alternative routes that may be more efficient or more board-friendly. That way, you’ll be able to find better terrain, so you can get where you need to go more quickly and with less battery power expenditure.

Read more here

The World’s Smallest Garden — bottle-based hydroponic garden

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Like the idea of having a garden, but don’t have enough space to make it happen? Check out the World’s Smallest Garden — a diminutive cylindrical device you place in the top of a regular bottle, transforming it into a self-watering herb garden in seconds.

Simply place the product into a bottle filled with water, and you’ll create an optimal environment for seed germination, as well as a mechanism through which your plants can water themselves.  All you need to do is make sure the plants are put someplace sunny — or, at least, with access to the appropriate light — and then check on their water levels once a week.

“What makes it so neat is its accessibility,” said Nate Littlewood, co-founder and CEO of Urban Leaf. “From the outset, we wanted to create a product that was easy to use and affordable. There are a ton of other home-hydroponic grow kits on the market already, most of which are in the $200 to $3,000 price range. These are inaccessible and intimidating to most people — and certainly too complicated for the beginner. The World’s Smallest Garden is intended as gateway product, designed to welcome people into the field of home-growing for the first time.”

Read more here




28
May

Sana’s smart sleep goggles for insomniacs will be out in 2018


These sleep googles by a company called Sana Health cost a lot more than your typical mask, but it promises peaceful sleep 10 minutes after you put them on. That’s because they more than just block the light: they have mechanisms inside that chunky, VR-headset-like frame that give them the power to use audio-visual stimulation. This triggers patterns in the brain present in the best natural sleep cycles to induce deep states of relaxation and beat insomnia. The Sana Sleep mask can even monitor fluctuations in your nervous system, so it can personalize the audio-visual stimulation for you.

Richard Hanbury, the company’s chief, worked on the technology as a solution to his chronic pain issues that make it hard to go to sleep. It was put to the test when Bertrand Piccard relied on the technology to make sure he had enough rest when he piloted the Solar Impulse on a round-the-world journey last year. He could only nap three hours a day divided in 20-minute blocks and needed the extra help to make the most of each. At the moment, Sana Health is testing the device on athletes in need of restful nights while traveling.

Sana Sleep isn’t just for pilots and athletes, though: it’s for everyone who’s having trouble going to bed. Now that the company has successfully closed a $1.3 million round of seed funding, it’ll start working towards mass production. Hanbury says you’ll be able to buy the mask by the second quarter of 2018 at the earliest, and it will set you back $400.

Source: TechCrunch

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