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27
Aug

After Math: Short and Sweet


It’s been a long week for small events. Engadget editors spent it getting to know new AI assistants, Disney taught a computer to judge short stories and Amazon announced that your Whole Foods bill will soon be shrinking as well. Numbers, because how else will we know how little we’ve got?

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27
Aug

The best cold-brew coffee maker


By Nick Guy and Kevin Purdy

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.

Over the past two years, we’ve looked at 15 cold-brew coffee makers, analyzed dozens of at-home brewing methods and recipes, made concentrate for more than 300 cups of coffee, and served samples to a tasting panel that included expert baristas. And after all our testing, we found that the OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker offers the best way to make smooth, delicious iced coffee at home. It’s easy to use and well-designed, and in our tests it made cold coffee with balanced acidity, a stronger aroma, and a cleaner finish.

Why cold brew

Cold brewing makes better iced coffee than refrigerating hot-brewed coffee. When you add hot-brewed coffee to ice, it slowly dilutes, resulting in a weaker-tasting beverage. Cold brew, which generally starts from a concentrate, is meant to be watered down, so adding ice, milk/cream, and not too much water provides a stronger, more flavorful drink. Additionally, brewing with slow, cold exposure, instead of heat, extracts fewer bitter flavors, so you’ll get a sweeter, milder-tasting coffee that’s better for drinking cold.

Every cold-brew coffee method works the same way: Start with a lot of ground coffee (more than you’d typically use to brew drip coffee), add water, let the mixture sit for eight to 24 hours, and then filter it. What’s left is either ready to drink or, more often, a concentrate that you should dilute with water or milk.

How we picked and tested

We had panelists do a blind tasting of six cups of cold-brew coffee. Photo: Kimber Streams

We began our research by reading editorial reviews from Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required) and the Wall Street Journal, plus one from Stumptown Coffee Roasters. These reviews helped us determine which cold-brew systems to call in for testing. We first tested each system by following the provided instructions to brew a batch of Trader Joe’s Kenya AA Coffee, noting any inconsistencies or complexities and how easy each system was to clean.

Our next step was a tasting panel. For this round we switched to an upscale bean—Joe Bean Mexico Chiapas—and brewed a fresh batch with each system according to the included instructions, which varied in the ratio of water to bean. We invited coffee professionals, coffee enthusiasts/nerds, and casual cold-brew drinkers to rank each sample on a 1-to-10 scale for taste, acidity, and body, as well as to note which was their favorite and why.

Finally, we conducted a second round of taste testing on our top models. We used medium-roast grocery-store beans from Wegmans brewed with a consistent water-to-coffee ratio (4.5-to-1), averaged from all three brewers’ instructions. We let the samples brew for 24 hours each, diluted the concentrate 3-to-1 and had a coworker serve us blind samples. This round’s results closely matched our original testing panel’s findings. It’s the brewers themselves, not their recipes, that make different cold-brewed coffee.

Our pick: OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker

The OXO brewer makes flavorful, money-saving concentrate, looks good on a counter, and is easier to use and store than any other pick. Photo: Michael Hession

The OXO Good Grips Cold Brew Coffee Maker is the best-looking unit we tried, and it has the most thoughtful features for brewing and storing your coffee. It’s easier to clean and store than the other cold-brew makers we tested, and it brings out more flavors from your coffee than other brewers we tried. It uses a metal mesh filter, instead of paper, which seemed to accentuate the flavors. Whether our panel actually liked that bigger flavor is a different story. In our first tasting, two panelists deemed it their favorite, but our coffee professionals were unimpressed and rated it the highest in detected acidity. Evaluating coffee is, of course, a subjective thing, but the OXO model seems to create a brew that was more “punchy” than the mellow, smooth Filtron brew.

The OXO brewer’s vessel is more helpful than most, too. It has extensive volume markings to help you measure water for brewing. It looks nicer than a plastic carafe or a blue-hued jug (as on the Filtron and Bod brewers), has a pouring spout, and fits better on a refrigerator shelf than the tall jug provided with many competing models.

We did experience one snag in brewing with the OXO unit using one of the optional paper filters, which can be placed above the reusable mesh filter to create a smoother brew. In our tests, a silty mudflat of ground coffee accumulated on the filter and blocked the flow of concentrate. An OXO representative and a coworker who uses the OXO brewer both said they’d never experienced a complete blockage when using paper filters.

Runner-up: Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer

The Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer is a little cumbersome looking, but it made great-tasting concentrate. Photo: Michael Hession

The Filtron Cold Water Coffee Concentrate Brewer consistently produced great-tasting coffee concentrate in all our tests, with most taste testers ranking its brew first or second. It’s not quite as easy to set up and drain as the OXO, but still simple, compared with nearly every other model we tested. The resulting concentrate costs less per cup than that of any other maker we tried (if you use the default recipe). And although the Filtron doesn’t look as stylish or pack away as neatly as our other pick, its black plastic is less likely than the white Toddy or the clear-plastic OXO to show coffee stains over time.

The Filtron produced a smooth, mellow cup of coffee every time, regardless of the beans we used. Five of the six tasters in our first-year panel gave the Filtron cup their highest rating for flavor, and three named it their favorite overall. It also received almost no dings for acidity, strength or weakness, or body. Only one barista (who generally disliked the lot) found it to have a “short, ashy aftertaste.” In our most recent tests, it was the runner-up in taste tests, making coffee tasting flatter and more typically coffee-like than the brighter, more exciting brews of the OXO.

Compared with the other methods we tested, the Filtron system is far easier to set up and empty out. (We still found the OXO easier, though). A felt filter and a rubber stopper fit into the bottom of a black plastic bucket with a handle, and an optional (but recommended) paper filter holds the grounds and water. Cleaning it means either plucking out a filter full of grounds or scooping and rinsing the bucket. After rinsing the felt filter, you store it in water in an included container in the fridge to prevent mold. That potential for molding is one of the biggest drawbacks; it’s easy to forget to store the filter properly. The Filtron’s large paper filters make its brews smoother, but are hard to find—they’re not commonly stocked at stores and are held in limited supply on Amazon.

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.

27
Aug

Uber’s key CEO candidate backs out at the last minute


Uber’s choice of a replacement CEO just got more problematic. Former GE chief Jeff Immelt has announced that he has “decided not to pursue” Uber’s top spot despite reports that he was the leading candidate. Immelt didn’t say what prompted the withdrawal, but it’s an unusually open declaration given that Uber hadn’t publicly discussed that he was in the running. However, sources speaking to Recode suggest that he recently fell out of favor — and that his departure is coming at a particularly bad time.

Supposedly, Uber is worried not just about criticism of Immelt’s time at GE (his performance there was mixed), but also former CEO Travis Kalanick’s eagerness to have Immelt take his old position. The investors at Benchmark are worried that Immelt might be too eager to please Kalanick and would give the ousted CEO too much power. The company is eager to prove that it has turned a corner after grappling with its toxic culture, and it may have trouble doing that if the very executive blamed for creating that culture comes roaring back.

Some members of Uber’s board are pushing for HPE chief Meg Whitman to become CEO, since she’s vehemently opposed to Kalanick’s involvement. However, Whitman has publicly and staunchly rejected the possibility of becoming Uber’s CEO, so her chances are slim.

Regardless of who gets the nod, you’ll likely learn about the new CEO in the very near future. Recode hears that Uber is voting for its new leader today (August 27th), and it will tell employees about the choice by mid-week. The company likely won’t waste much time before making its choice public — it wants to show passengers and investors that its dark days are over, and that means picking the person who’ll (hopefully) set Uber’s course for years to come.

I have decided not to pursue a leadership position at Uber. I have immense respect for the company & founders – Travis, Garrett and Ryan.

— Jeff Immelt (@JeffImmelt) August 27, 2017

Source: Jeff Immelt (Twitter), Recode

27
Aug

For the ultimate party boat when money is no object, it’s all about the tech


Why it matters to you

To throw the ultimate party on your superyacht you’ll need the right tech.

When it comes to party boats, all vessels are not created equal. If you want the ultimate party boat you’ll need the best tech and that takes planning at the design stage, reports Boat International.

The bigger the boat the tougher it can be to retrofit with newer A/V technology. If you buy a superyacht or even a biggish yacht that falls a bit below the 24.3-meter (80-foot) minimum superyacht length, odds are pretty good you’ll upgrade your electronics and other onboard niceties sooner than you’ll upgrade your boat. Boat International identifies ten party-focused factors to consider when designing a new yacht or even buying an existing vessel.

Planning and foresight sit at the top of the list, especially for A/V. Boat International quoted Master Yachts management company’s operations director Patrick Moussa to back up the importance of A/V upgrade readiness.

“A/V is a moving target,” Moussa said. “We bring the experts in early. The hardest things to retrofit are additional wires, while a speaker or TV is easily replaced. The experts will know what’s coming five years from now, and may even know how it will be wired up.”

Technology that helps convert your vessel to party mode can be as important as the A/V equipment itself. When you don’t have permanent A/V staff, “… smart software solutions and automation should be at the center,” according to yacht tech specialist company VBH‘s Goran Antonijevic.

Other tips for a party-ready yacht include having lots of self-amplified speakers so you don’t have to blast the sound to reach all areas on the yacht and taking advantage of local A/V suppliers when you want something special.

Making sure you have ample, classy space for a DJ or live entertainment. Sticking a band in a corner and running extension cords doesn’t make for a good time or for good sound. And if the entertainment isn’t happy, your guests will feel it. Treat the DJ like a star and your party will soar.

Dance floors matter, especially when the yacht at the next mooring has a large rotating floor with integrated LED lights. Even if you have to move furniture around ahead of time, give people space to dance.

Lighting on, in, over, and under a yacht, especially when the lights sync with the music, is a sure guest pleaser. And multiple bars are a great idea for superyachts, with at least one bar on each deck. Don’t ignore bar tech, which can include lighting, interactive displays, and automated ordering systems.

Unless your yacht’s dance floor covers the pool, be sure to let the pool play a central role. Guests naturally gravitate to pools and some might even want to dive in. Boat International showcased a clever pool waterfall on a Heesen superyacht: the waterfall acts as a partial privacy screen so people on shore don’t have clear views of party guests.

In the end, having a yacht where you can throw off-the-hook fabulous parties takes planning, the latest tech, and, oh yeah, piles of money.




27
Aug

Learn to use your tablet like pro with these eight iPad Pro tips and tricks


When the original iPad launched in 2010, it was in many ways a glorified iPhone with a significantly larger screen. That’s not to say it wasn’t an amazing product for the time — simply that you couldn’t do a whole lot on it that wasn’t already possible on Apple’s smaller hardware. The idea of a responsive, stylus-free tablet was innovative enough, so things like multitasking support and flashy gesture controls would come much later.

Well, it’s now 2017, and they have. Even if you’re an iPhone 7 Plus user or a MacBook Pro devotee, the iPad Pro is an entirely different beast. Sure, you could use it in much the same way you would an iPhone, but then you’d be missing out on a plethora of shortcuts and tricks designed to better your experience. Thankfully, we’ve assembled some of our favorite iPad Pro tips and tricks here, all of which will help you make the most of your device.

How to scan, sign, and send documents

There are few tasks more agonizing than trying to quickly scan, sign, and send documents. In this day and age, it should be easy — but without a tablet, it can be frustrating booting up your scanner, opening that inadequate trial version of Adobe Reader gathering dust on your desktop, and woefully using a mouse or trackpad to sign on the dotted line with all the grace and elegance of a toddler who’s yet to develop fine motor skills.

Thankfully, if you own an iPad Pro, firing off official documents is a snap, one that takes a fraction of the time you’d spend fighting with your PC. Simply open the Notes app, tap the addition sign in the bottom-right corner, select Scan Documents, and take a picture of the paper. Your iPad will then convert the document into a clear, crisp PDF that you can sign with your Apple Pencil.

How to use the new dock for multitasking

This one isn’t strictly for the iPad Pro — any iPad running iOS 11 will be able to manage multitasking in this way — but it’s a necessary skill nonetheless.

One of the major improvements in the upcoming release of Apple’s mobile operating system is the behavior of the dock. The iPad’s app launcher will now operate much the same way it does on a Mac. You can swipe up on any screen, even within apps, to reveal the dock. Pressing and dragging another app will open it in windowed form on top of your current screen. This allows you to not only view multiple apps at the same time, but reconfigure and even share content between them.

How do you do it? Simply swipe up from the bottom of the display and press and drag the desired app to open it — let’s say Messages in this case. If you’ve got an app such as Photos or Keynote open in the main window, you can send an image by dragging it from there to the text field in Messages. It’s seamless and easy, and it’ll be especially useful on the larger, 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

How to access recent files with the new dock

With iOS 11, you can now skip the hassle of opening apps from the dock just to access one particular photo or document. Simply press and hold on an app icon to reveal recent files. Again, it’s another small change that makes iOS on the iPad a more capable platform for multitasking, one along the lines of a desktop operating system such as MacOS and Windows 10. You can also drag files onto app icons, if you want to open them in other apps.

How to quickly mark up docs and images with the Apple Pencil

Because Apple Pencil touches register differently than your fingers, tapping the lock screen with the Pencil will immediately take you to the Notes app. Doing the same on a recently-taken screenshot in the bottom-right corner of the display will allow you to immediately mark up that image and share it however you like. None of these actions are particularly complicated, but they’re useful reminders that interacting with an object with the Apple Pencil instead of your hands always has the potential to produce more convenient results.

How to easily check the Apple Pencil’s battery life

The Apple Pencil allows you to perform a variety of tricks and shortcuts on the iPad Pro, but it’s not very useful when the battery is dead. Thankfully, it’s easy to keep on top of, thanks to the built-in Batteries widget in iOS, which is located in the Notification Center.

Simply tap Edit at the bottom of the Notification Center, like you would to add any other widget, and select the one labeled Batteries. If you have an Apple Pencil paired with your iPad Pro, its charging level will display next to your tablet’s.

How to draw straighter lines in Notes with the ruler

When sketching in Notes, there’s a handy tool Apple doesn’t really mention anywhere to help you draw straight lines. Simply place two fingers on the screen, and a ruler will appear. You can rotate and move that ruler anywhere around the screen, and drawing over it with the Apple Pencil will produce a straight line.

How to trace with the Apple Pencil

It turns out, even if you slide a sheet of paper between the tablet’s display and the Apple Pencil, the Pencil’s pressure still comes through. This means you can trace anything onto the iPad Pro — though in kind of a backward fashion, where you’re drawing directly onto the item you’re copying, rather than the surface it’s being copied to, almost like carbon paper. It’s not a nifty software shortcut or a breakthrough app, but it’s definitely good to remember. Just keep in mind that your luck may differ depending on the thickness of the paper you’re using.

Navigating with gestures

You can use a variety of gestures to navigate around your iPad Pro more quickly, and some of them are new to iOS 11. For example, you can access the recent apps list and the Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of your display — like you would to reveal the dock — and continuing to swipe all the way up toward the top.

You can also drag multiple items, like photos or documents, to another app while multitasking. Simply press and hold on one of the things you’d like to move, and at the same time, tap on the rest.

Finally, there’s another gesture that’s been around for a while, but is still easy to forget. To return to the home screen, you can avoid the home button by simply pinching with five fingers.

Those are all the iPad Pro tips we have for now, but we’ll update this guide going forward to include all the amazing new things you can do on an iPad Pro with iOS 11.




27
Aug

Samsung is playing on a different level, and now the iPhone is the only competition


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There are tons of companies making great phones. But Samsung only cares about one.

Samsung has a great way of keeping itself in the technology conversation by having dueling flagship phone releases: a Galaxy S around March, and a Galaxy Note around August. It has also had a knack for releasing really great phones over the past three years in particular. From the Galaxy S8 to the larger Galaxy S8+ and now Galaxy Note 8, Samsung has a product set at a range from roughly $650 to $950 in sizes that can appeal to a wide range of buyers.

Many people (myself included, to some extent) panned the Galaxy Note 8 on varying levels for being so similar to the Galaxy S8+ that it didn’t really warrant coming out later in the year or having a bunch of fanfare. But when you look at these three phones as a set, and see where Samsung is in the market, you can understand it. Samsung is so far ahead in terms of sales, market share and above all mind share in the high-end market that it isn’t even competing with other Android companies anymore — it’s going after the iPhone, and that’s it.

Samsung is so far ahead it really only has to worry about the iPhone.

When you look at its potential direct competition from the Android world it’s clear Samsung doesn’t have a whole lot to worry about. At the higher-end segment, LG, HTC, Motorola, Google, Huawei and Sony are all steadily improving and still making good (or sometimes even great) phones. But making one or two good phones in a row isn’t enough to catch Samsung at this point — Samsung would have to stumble (and no, the Note 7 clearly wasn’t a big enough stumble) considerably.

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Samsung, sitting in this extremely high position so far ahead of the Android competition, doesn’t have to do a whole lot — just keep on the same path, and play it relatively conservatively. Rather than go off the wall with new designs and crazy features that may compromise something it already built, it has completely standardized on a common design language and a set of features. For the past few years, its high-end phones have focused on just a handful of things: industry-leading AMOLED displays, waterproofing, wireless charging, expandable storage, a headphone jack and consistently good cameras — all things that can differentiate it from the iPhone first and foremost.

In this market position, with so many things working in its favor, why would Samsung try and go off the wall with something entirely new and exciting in the Galaxy Note 8? This was always going to be a predictably stable and safe phone. Because Samsung doesn’t really have to worry about the flagships from LG, HTC, Motorola, Huawei and Sony — it just has to get as many high-end phones built on this common platform out in the world before the next iPhone is released.

And with that, a few more random thoughts for consideration:

  • I’m writing this on a plane headed toward Berlin for IFA 2017, which officially starts on Sept 1 but for the press gets going on Aug 28.
  • If you haven’t read our IFA 2017 preview you should! LG, Samsung, Sony and others are all lined up to roll out new products. You’ll see all of the coverage from the show on the site.
  • You should also follow us on social media during the show, if you’re so inclined, to see all of the extras and after-hours fun (well, sometimes — usually just a lot of extra work).
  • After my initial review of the Essential Phone, I’ve continued to use the phone — plus a few OTAs — to give it a full review as soon as possible. Expect to see that on the site in the next few days.
  • Just before I left, I picked up a Galaxy S8 Active, which is a definite niche device but one several people have been asking about. Expect a full review in due time, and a comparison to the standard Galaxy S8 as well.
  • To break it down simply, the Galaxy S8 Active is effectively a Galaxy S8 with a flat screen, in a really thick case, with a big battery. It’s kind of hard to describe just how much bulkier this thing is than a regular GS8, but believe me, it’s huge.

That’s it for now — hope everyone heading to Berlin for IFA has smooth travels, and those at home have a great week.

-Andrew

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

  • Galaxy Note 8 hands-on preview
  • Complete Galaxy Note 8 specs
  • Galaxy Note 8 vs. Galaxy Note 5: Which should you buy?
  • Which Galaxy Note 8 color should you buy?
  • All Galaxy Note 8 news
  • Join our Galaxy Note 8 forums

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27
Aug

Apple Accepting Donations for Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts


Apple has added banners to its United States website and iTunes Store in an effort to encourage its customers to donate to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Similar to past relief efforts, users can choose to donate $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, or $200, and Apple will transfer 100 percent of the proceeds to the American Red Cross, which is providing relief efforts for people in the path of Hurricane Harvey. All donations will be processed as normal iTunes purchases through a connected Apple ID.

Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted about the donations early this morning, as rescue workers in Houston and other parts of southeast Texas attempt to help residents trapped in their homes by “catastrophic flooding.” Harvey made landfall late Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane and has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, which is expected to stay in the region over the next few days.

Prayers for Texas and all those affected by #HurricaneHarvey. Join us in the relief effort by donating: https://t.co/QLBMFOjaDG

— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) August 27, 2017

Apple is known to create donation pages across its various storefronts in the wake of natural disasters. In the past, Apple has collected Red Cross relief funds for the British Columbia Wildfire, Hurricane Matthew, the 2016 Louisiana floods, the 2015 Nepal earthquake, and many more.

Tags: iTunes, Red Cross
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27
Aug

Ben Heck’s N64 Portable mod


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After many comments, requests, questions, setbacks and badgering from our impassioned fans, the Nintendo 64 Portable is finally finished. Ben took the device to the Midwest Gaming Classic for help with the hardware. Thanks to our community of followers, the problematic RAM add-on was soldered flat and is now in place. In addition, the case had to be completely redesigned (which is but a small price to pay). Ben makes swift use of his CNC router to create a suitable heatsink for the N64. What do you think of the finished product? Let the team know over on the element14 Community.

27
Aug

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Smart soccer balls, vibro razors, drum rings


At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening 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. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Specdrums — light-sensitive music creation platform

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If there’s one thing crowdfunding sites are good for, it’s helping crazy new musical instruments come to life. Over the years, kickstarter and indiegogo have acted as springboards for just about every oddball noise-making device you could ever imagine: drum pads built into pants, motion-sensitive synthesizers, and even an all-in-one guitar/bass/piano/drum kit. The trend isn’t going away, and the latest addition to the growing list of offbeat insruments is arguably one of the strangest (and most intriguing) yet.

Specdrums, as its called, is a freeform music creation system that relies on programmable, light-sensitive actuators that translate color into sound. To make music with Specdrums, you start by slipping one or more of the system’s Bluetooth-equipped rings onto your fingers (or drumsticks, if that’s more your style).

When the rings tap on a surface, they shine a light on the surface, and a small sensor picks up the color. This color is instantly translated into a corresponding note — which plays through a connected speaker. The sound a given color creates can be assigned with the accompanying Specdrums smartphone app — meaning you can basically turn anything into an instrument that makes any sound you desire. Pretty nifty, right?

Luna Display — Wireless display extender for Mac/iPad

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Ever wished you could use your iPad as a wireless second display for you Mac? Well, good news! There’s finally a decent way to make it happen. It’s called Luna Display, and it’s basically a tiny dongle (roughly the size of your thumb nail) that plugs into your computer’s Mini DisplayPort, USB-C, or USB 3 port. Once installed, it works through an app on your iPad, and connects the tablet display to your Mac via Wi-Fi.

Now, truth be told, this kind of thing has been possible for quite some time, but most Mac-to-iPad display extenders are software-based solutions, not hardware-based like Luna. The dongle approach has a couple big advantages though. Because it’s plugged into your Mac, Luna can tap into its graphics processor capabilities — something no app can do. Essentially, this means that Luna can offer super high image quality, despite the fact that it’s completely wireless.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Luna Display is actually a two-way extension to your Mac, allowing you to interact with your computer directly from your iPad. It literally turns your Mac into a touchable device, allowing pinching, panning and tapping, making it much more than just a second screen.

New Nine — Size-adjustable 3D printer

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3D printers have come a long way in the past few years. It used to be that they were only found in well-funded engineering labs and the basements of uber-geeky enthusiasts — but now they’re available to anyone with $150. On top of that, the range of materials we can print with has greatly expanded in recent years. It’s not just ABS and PLA anymore; 3D printers can make stuff with wood, clay, nylon, and even metal these days.

Despite all the advances we’ve seen lately, there’s still one big limiting factor that’s holding 3D printers back: build envelope. Right now, if you want to make an object that’s bigger than your printer, you’re out of luck — but what if that wasn’t the case?

That’s precisely the idea behind the New Nine — an adjustable, scalable 3D printer that can be resized to accommodate bigger parts, when the job calls for it. We’re not just talking more width, either — the printer’s dimensions can be expanded along all axes, meaning you can make it wider, longer, taller, or any mix of the three.

As if that wasn’t awesome enough, it also has a boatload of high-end features, such as a heated bed, a mass damper to eliminate wobble, and a magnetic screen that can be re-positioned in seconds. Oh, and it’s also completely open source, which is pretty awesome.

DribbleUp — Smart soccer ball

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Smart sports equipment is everywhere these days. We’ve got swing analyzers for golf, tennis and baseball; sensors that measure reps for weightlifters, and a veritable boatload of fitness trackers that analyze your daily activity. But oddly enough, soccer (or football, to anyone reading this outside the U.S.) has largely been ignored in this trend, despite the fact that it’s arguably the most popular sport on the planet. But that might soon change if DribbleUp’s latest Kickstarter campaign finds success. The company, whose first product was a stat-tracking basketball that launched a few years ago, is now working on a stat-tracking soccer ball.

“We’ve reinvented the soccer ball for the digital generation,” Eric Forkosh, CEO of DribbleUp, told Digital Trends. “Our ball connects to an augmented reality app on your phone so you can train anytime and anywhere — in your home, on the field, wherever. The virtual trainer on the app guides through interactive drills with live audio feedback and gives you a drill-by-drill graded breakdown so you know what you need to improve. Even when it’s raining or too dark outside, you can always practice in your room with the virtual trainer and take your game to the next level. Most importantly, our match-ball quality soccer ball has no batteries, so you never need to charge it and costs less than a standard match ball. Why buy a dumb ball when you can get a smart ball for the same price?”

Shaveman — Vibrating razor attachment

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Ever since the practice of shaving has existed, inventors have been trying to re-invent the razor. First it was disposables, with cheap, mass-produced, and easily swappable blades. Then somebody decided to add multiple blades for more cutting power. After that came electric shavers, and now that Kickstarter and Indiegogo exist, there’s arguably more innovation in shaving technology than ever before.

In the past few years alone, we’ve seen everything from laser-powered razors that burn the stubble off your chin, to shavers with sapphire blades that never rust. And now, we can add another one to the ever-expanding list: the Shaveman.

The idea behind this gizmo is pretty straightforward. It’s basically a little vibrating puck that you can attach to any razor you own. Once activated, the Shaveman will vibrate at a super high frequency, which allegedly boosts the cutting power of your blades, and also makes the hairs on your face stand up straighter, thereby making them easier to chop down. We’re not entirely convinced that this scheme will work, but conceptually it’s a pretty cool idea, and is definitely worth bringing to life through crowdfunding.




27
Aug

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Smart soccer balls, vibro razors, drum rings


At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening 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. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting new crowdfunding projects out there this week. That said, keep in mind that any crowdfunding project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Specdrums — light-sensitive music creation platform

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If there’s one thing crowdfunding sites are good for, it’s helping crazy new musical instruments come to life. Over the years, kickstarter and indiegogo have acted as springboards for just about every oddball noise-making device you could ever imagine: drum pads built into pants, motion-sensitive synthesizers, and even an all-in-one guitar/bass/piano/drum kit. The trend isn’t going away, and the latest addition to the growing list of offbeat insruments is arguably one of the strangest (and most intriguing) yet.

Specdrums, as its called, is a freeform music creation system that relies on programmable, light-sensitive actuators that translate color into sound. To make music with Specdrums, you start by slipping one or more of the system’s Bluetooth-equipped rings onto your fingers (or drumsticks, if that’s more your style).

When the rings tap on a surface, they shine a light on the surface, and a small sensor picks up the color. This color is instantly translated into a corresponding note — which plays through a connected speaker. The sound a given color creates can be assigned with the accompanying Specdrums smartphone app — meaning you can basically turn anything into an instrument that makes any sound you desire. Pretty nifty, right?

Luna Display — Wireless display extender for Mac/iPad

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Ever wished you could use your iPad as a wireless second display for you Mac? Well, good news! There’s finally a decent way to make it happen. It’s called Luna Display, and it’s basically a tiny dongle (roughly the size of your thumb nail) that plugs into your computer’s Mini DisplayPort, USB-C, or USB 3 port. Once installed, it works through an app on your iPad, and connects the tablet display to your Mac via Wi-Fi.

Now, truth be told, this kind of thing has been possible for quite some time, but most Mac-to-iPad display extenders are software-based solutions, not hardware-based like Luna. The dongle approach has a couple big advantages though. Because it’s plugged into your Mac, Luna can tap into its graphics processor capabilities — something no app can do. Essentially, this means that Luna can offer super high image quality, despite the fact that it’s completely wireless.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Luna Display is actually a two-way extension to your Mac, allowing you to interact with your computer directly from your iPad. It literally turns your Mac into a touchable device, allowing pinching, panning and tapping, making it much more than just a second screen.

New Nine — Size-adjustable 3D printer

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3D printers have come a long way in the past few years. It used to be that they were only found in well-funded engineering labs and the basements of uber-geeky enthusiasts — but now they’re available to anyone with $150. On top of that, the range of materials we can print with has greatly expanded in recent years. It’s not just ABS and PLA anymore; 3D printers can make stuff with wood, clay, nylon, and even metal these days.

Despite all the advances we’ve seen lately, there’s still one big limiting factor that’s holding 3D printers back: build envelope. Right now, if you want to make an object that’s bigger than your printer, you’re out of luck — but what if that wasn’t the case?

That’s precisely the idea behind the New Nine — an adjustable, scalable 3D printer that can be resized to accommodate bigger parts, when the job calls for it. We’re not just talking more width, either — the printer’s dimensions can be expanded along all axes, meaning you can make it wider, longer, taller, or any mix of the three.

As if that wasn’t awesome enough, it also has a boatload of high-end features, such as a heated bed, a mass damper to eliminate wobble, and a magnetic screen that can be re-positioned in seconds. Oh, and it’s also completely open source, which is pretty awesome.

DribbleUp — Smart soccer ball

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Smart sports equipment is everywhere these days. We’ve got swing analyzers for golf, tennis and baseball; sensors that measure reps for weightlifters, and a veritable boatload of fitness trackers that analyze your daily activity. But oddly enough, soccer (or football, to anyone reading this outside the U.S.) has largely been ignored in this trend, despite the fact that it’s arguably the most popular sport on the planet. But that might soon change if DribbleUp’s latest Kickstarter campaign finds success. The company, whose first product was a stat-tracking basketball that launched a few years ago, is now working on a stat-tracking soccer ball.

“We’ve reinvented the soccer ball for the digital generation,” Eric Forkosh, CEO of DribbleUp, told Digital Trends. “Our ball connects to an augmented reality app on your phone so you can train anytime and anywhere — in your home, on the field, wherever. The virtual trainer on the app guides through interactive drills with live audio feedback and gives you a drill-by-drill graded breakdown so you know what you need to improve. Even when it’s raining or too dark outside, you can always practice in your room with the virtual trainer and take your game to the next level. Most importantly, our match-ball quality soccer ball has no batteries, so you never need to charge it and costs less than a standard match ball. Why buy a dumb ball when you can get a smart ball for the same price?”

Shaveman — Vibrating razor attachment

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Ever since the practice of shaving has existed, inventors have been trying to re-invent the razor. First it was disposables, with cheap, mass-produced, and easily swappable blades. Then somebody decided to add multiple blades for more cutting power. After that came electric shavers, and now that Kickstarter and Indiegogo exist, there’s arguably more innovation in shaving technology than ever before.

In the past few years alone, we’ve seen everything from laser-powered razors that burn the stubble off your chin, to shavers with sapphire blades that never rust. And now, we can add another one to the ever-expanding list: the Shaveman.

The idea behind this gizmo is pretty straightforward. It’s basically a little vibrating puck that you can attach to any razor you own. Once activated, the Shaveman will vibrate at a super high frequency, which allegedly boosts the cutting power of your blades, and also makes the hairs on your face stand up straighter, thereby making them easier to chop down. We’re not entirely convinced that this scheme will work, but conceptually it’s a pretty cool idea, and is definitely worth bringing to life through crowdfunding.




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