Wiredness 14 December 2008

inno1-141208Horseradish spells alarm
If you are familiar with Japanese cuisine you will know what a punch that little blob of green wasabi paste served with sushi and sashimi can pack. The source of the fiery condiment, the gnarly horseradish root, has been used by Japanese medical equipment manufacturers to develop a new type of fire alarm which can warn people with impaired hearing. They have developed a technology which extracts components of the powerful odour of horseradish and seals it in a can. Scientists at Shiga University of Medical Science Hospital carried out experiments to determine whether the smell  of horseradish could wake people from a deep sleep. 13 out of the 14 subjects woke up in less than two minutes after the smell reached their noses.The makers intend to put the fire alarm on the market in two years.

Stick it to Gmail
According to the Official Gmail Blog (gmailblog.blogspot.com), Gmail, the very popular by-invitation-only-online-email-application-that-everybody-has now offers a decidedly low-tech add-on. Send, via snailmail, an SSAE (that's stamped, self-addressed envelope for the uninitiated) to P.O. Box 391420, Mountain View, CA 94039-1420 and Google will send you a pack which includes a glitter version of Gmail's m-velope (see pic) and a set of Gmail shortcut stickers which can be stuck to your keyboard.inno2-141208

Homeless shelter pops up
The inventor of this novel temporary solution to the worldwide problem of homelessness, Hollywood movie producer Peter Samuelson, says the EDAR (which stands for Everyone Deserves A Roof) not only gives people in homeless shelters a private space within those impersonal and often desperate places. It also gives the "shelter-resistant" a portable, waterproof abode which can be easily erected in any location. While some argue that the EDAR  enables vagrancy and is thus a regressive technology, inno3-141208Samuelson insists that his home in a shopping trolley is "infinitely better than a damp cardboard box."

Wiredness 7 December 2008

inno1-071208Underwater mp3's
This is Boing Boing TV's Joel Johnson reviewing Freestyle Audio's new underwater mp3 player. Johnson took the player into the shower with him to test it for possible malfunction. While he notes that the player does play underwater, he is not impressed with its design – an LCD interface, which he says looks like older model players – or with the price (around $900).




Great expectorationsinno2-071208
As a mother of two I have it on good authority that in the absence of wet towellettes or a tap, a little saliva dabbed on a chocolatey chin can do the job just as well. In the absence of a mom or when you have a dry mouth, you can get the bottled variety called momspit, a no-rinse, alcohol-free cleanser that also mousses and moisturises. Momspit "works like magic" and "smells like heaven" (but is unscented) and is "inspired by the original" (although, at $7.00 a pop is not as cost-effective). Momspit is available on amazon.com.  


















Office in an office
I'm guessing that the aim of splitting a keyboard in two is to make it more portable, because I cannot think of any other reason to reinvent something to which we have become so accustomed. The piece on the left ends with the T so that you have QWERT on the one side, punctuated by the Del, Tab, Ins and Enter keys, which have been moved to the middle. The space bar has shrunk somewhat and is now on the left of the keyboard. μTRON hails from Japan, costs around $500 and is recommended for those who have the time to learn a new way of typing.


Musical Doodling
Adafruit has created an analog synthesizer circuit that you can attach to any ordinary soft-leaded pencil to make the act of sketching into a musically interactive one. Drawdio uses the conductive properties of the graphite in the pencil to transform it into a sort of musical instrument. Regrettably, Drawdio does not produce anything very tuneful, but with  enough practice one might be able to compose a simple ditty. You can view the product video at www.adafruit.com.inno4-071208

Wiredness 7 September 2008

Jobs not really dead
In a slip of the mouse, Bloomberg accidentally ran a pre-packaged obituary of Steve Jobs, the man who, according to Forbes.com "made the computer as easy to use as the telephone, remade animated films, hooked the world on digital music and turned the phone into a truly smart, pocketable computer". Jobs is of course very much alive, but just in case he forgets, Forbes has compiled a list of Five Things Steve Jobs Should Do Before He Dies, after the book 100 Things to Do Before You Die, by Dave Freeman, who as it happens, died this week at the tender age of 47 after hitting his head. Freeman had only got to half the things he had listed in his book. Forbes wants Jobs to do: a tablet computer, a TV, a remote control, a digital book and another take on the PC.

IE gets Chromed, or does it?
Just over a month since upstart Cuil tried to challenge Google with a new search engine, comes Chrome, Google's take on the browser, which some say threatens to reignite the browser wars of the late 1990's which saw Netscape get swallowed up by Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Chrome is still in Beta, a kind of test version for new online applications, but is already showing promise. Although I have not had a chance to test it myself (there is no version for Mac yet) there is more than enough documentation to give a clear idea of what it aims to do. According to the Google Chrome page (www.google.com/chrome), Chrome acknowledges the fact that people are doing different things with their browsers now than when browsers were first created. Back then, people were not uploading videos and playing online games, which is why the browser must evolve. While some have high praise – Vincent Maher, portfolio manager for social media at Vodacom says he has "the loyalty of a rented snake" and after trying it out set it as his default browser, Peter Svensson reports that the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE 8) outdoes it. Svensson's article "Chrome lacks polish under the bonnet" (available on iol.co.za) provides some interesting insights into what makes one browser better than the next and is worth a read. Google's Chrome page also features a walk-through in comic form. You be the judge.


Wiredness 2 November 2008

Crossing the Rubik's Cube
What do you get when you mate a Rubik's cube with a Pantone booklet? You get a new and funky way of mixing and matching colour called the Rubitone. Although industrial designer Ignacio Pilotto created the cube purely as an artistic concept and not a commercial product, it is clear from the comments left on his blog (ignaciopilotto.wordpress.com) that this toy is infinitely desirable.                                                             

Typing rainbowsinno1-021108
According to Keyright (keyright.com), the company who came up with this novel way to learn to touch type and brighten up your workstation at the same time, this Look and Learn keyboard will have you typing like a pro in 6 hours. Each colour inno2-021108represents the correct zone for each of your digits: red for left hand pinky, pink for right hand pinky and so on. Keyright claims that your brain automatically makes colour associations when using their keyboard so that you will "develop the correct motor skills, muscle memory and hand-eye coordination for fast, accurate and safe typing". Safe typing?

Make your Halloween Mark
In the past few years South Africans have, thanks in part to mega-doses of American television, caught on to the distinctly un-African celebration of Halloween. Large carvable orange curcubits are now available (at about five times the price of our humble local varieties) at many supermarkets, ready to seduce our kids with promises of jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treat fun. If you are someone who likes to enter into the spirit of things, Japanese company Kyouei has created this icky liquid bookmark – in milk, ink and blood flavours – just in time to enhance your All Hallows experience.   

Dry umbrellas
It is an immutable technological fact of life that umbrellas are made to get wet. Gadget Lab writer Brian X. Chen takes a moment to reflect on the ability of the Japanese to produce so many "mildly useless" gadgets every year before introducing The Rain Wipe, a device that removes excess water from umbrellas by soaking it up with super-absorbent cloth.  ANNON, the company who invented the device which can dry 3000 wet umbrellas before the tray which collects  the water has to be replaced, argues that the device helps the environment because it eliminates the need for un-green plastic umbrellas.inno3-021108

Wiredness 19 October 2008

inno1-191008Get your own back
Free online gaming site, Mousebreaker, has launched a new game that gives financially-damaged individuals the chance to vent their anger on virtual bankers with the launch of a Spank the Banker game. Users can knock fat cat financiers off a perch with a click of the mouse. The harder you click, the further they fall.

Water for pets. In bottles.inno2-191008
Inventorspot.com has a post showcasing five brands of bottled water for that special animal in your life. Fortifido comes in four flavours: peanut butter for healthy bones, spearmint for fresh breath, lemongrass for healthy joints and parsley for healthy skin. Our Hero's "Enhanced Dog Water" specialises in dairy and vegetable proteins, and nutraceuticals. Apparently, dogs love the scent of pure water so the company doesn't add any additional flavor to it. But Molli's Choice goes Hollywood with their flavours: Grilled Chicken, Roast Turkey, and Bacon. PetRefresh's Grandma Duffy's Flea and Tick Repeller is formulated from water laced with natural apple cider vinegar, garlic, and Brewers Yeast. Epetwater's Pet Friendly Spring Water claims exactly what bottled water for humans does – the bottle says it comes from an underground spring. Probably costs more though.

Bum genius
With this award-winning all-in-one washable cloth nappie you no longer have to worry about clogging up landfills and poisoning the earth with piles of disposable diapers. It is astounding that no one thought of this simple way of containing baby waste before, considering the state-of-the-art technology that one finds in the average disposable nappie. Bum Genius has  stretch tabs made from Velcro (invented in 1941 by Swiss engineer, George de Mestra) that dispel the ever-present fear of stabbing your child with a safety pin. Bum Genius comes in a variety of gorgeous pastels: Blossom, Butternut, Grasshopper, Twilight and yes, white, if you really want it.


Wiredness 18 January 2009

All the usual gadget sleuths were away in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show for much of last week. This week they were back and had plenty to report. Here are a few gems.

inno1-180109No, it's not an iPod
The best thing about this digital-analog measuring tape, is that it gives you a way of checking your analog measurement against a digital display that appears on top of the tape measure when the blade is extended. The eTape, made by Taiwanese company San Tyau can also memorise measurements, adjust case lengths, and convert measurements between standard and metric. Wired writer Charlie Sorrel notes that it takes design inspiration from the iPod (he is actually accusing them of plagiarism disguised as an homage) and wonders whether the $25 price tag means that it will be able to withstand the rigours of a building site.

Pee Power
NoPoPo's aqua-powered batteries can be powered with a little bit of water – or anything water-based, including coffee, juice, or, in the absence of any of these, urine. When you drop the battery into liquid a reaction is generated between magnesium and aluminum creating a charge big enough to power low-wattage devices such as a small light or clock.inno2-180109

A BUG life

BUG Labs (www.buglabs.net) envision a world where "mashups" applies not only to web services but to hardware as well and the C in CES stands for  community, not consumer. Their BUG is designed so that users can invent their own devices from a range of modules which are attached to a base to offer a variety of functions which include motion sensing, video and GPS. Pair BUGmotion and BUGcam and you get a spycam or combine BUGlocate and BUGview and you have a GPS.

Strap your cellphone to your head?
While CES 2009 was flooded with some mind-blowingly awesome innovations, there were some inventions that did not quite make the grade. This year, gearlog.com gave the Stupidest Accessory at CES Award to Cellmate, a piece of metal and Velcro that clips your cell phone to your head. Gearlog says it does not even qualify as a poor man's handsfree. They call it the "poor, poor dork's handsfree". The web page, if you're interested, is located at www.cell-mateus.com.


Wiredness 25 January 2009

inno1-250109Pimp my shoe
The shoes featured on pleaserusa.com are admittedly low tech hacks of a technology that  has been around since people had feet, but they are innovative in an in-your-face look at me I'm sexy kind of way. The shoe in the picture comes from the men's section of the online catalogue. Susannah Breslin of thefrisky.com asks whether you would date a man who wears shoes like this. They are called "The Pimp".

What's the opposite of Lego?
Imagine the delight on your child's face at the sight of this Lego camera! Not. What makes Lego an enduring staple of the toy box is that it can be taken apart and reassembled at will and according to the user's imagination. Digital Blue's camera, just one of the toys in the range which includes MP3 players, walkie talkies and USB drives, is designed to stay in one piece. The bricks are fake. (digiblue.com)

Protection couture
Much has been said and written about the new US president's custom-made Cadillac limousine.  Dubbed The Beast, not only for its brutish looks, but also for its ability to withstand any kind of attack, even landmine detonation, Cadillac One (dailymail.co.uk has an excellent cutaway graphic showing the extent of the reinforcing) is Obama's first line of defence against just about any attempt on his life. So how is it that on Tuesday the soon-to-be president left the confines of his bunker-on-wheels shortly before taking the oath behind a bullet-proof screen and walked unprotected through clean air? The answer is that he was wearing bullet-proof clothing – not just your run-of-the-mill kevlar vest, but an actual tailored article like the ones engineered by Colombian designer, Miguel Caballero, the "Armani of Bulletproof Apparel" who, some have speculated, is the source of Obama's designer protection. Caballero weaves the kevlar, a synthetic fiber five times stronger than a piece of steel of the same weight, into a variety of garments designed to protect his clients, which include Prince Felipe of Spain, actor Steven Seagal, Presidents Álvaro Uribe of Colombia and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and other paranoid individuals.


Wiredness 11 January 2009

inno1-110109Powerful solutions
For a veritable feast of innovation, have a look at toxel.com's post on electrical outlets and power inno2-110109strips from all over the world. While many of the examples featured in this marvellous gallery may look a little odd to South Africans, there is no reason they should not be adapted to accommodate our own connections. My favourite is the gorgeous WirePod by Arctecnica (artecnicainc.com) which combines function and style to turn usually unsightly electric cables into a work of art. WirePod is made from thermoplastic rubber and has four plug outlets. The whimsical Electroman (whatonearthcatalog.com) features four grounded sockets, each with a switch, and little red indicator light where Electroman's heart is. With the modular E-rope power strip (erope.net), which won Bronze in the 2006 IDEA Awards, you will never run out of sockets. Each socket that you add can be rotated through 180 degrees so that adjacent ones are not blocked. When electrical devices are not in use, the socket section can be turned 90 degrees to disconnect the flow of electricity to prevent that energy sucking phenomenon called vampire power, something which the creators of the Power Aware Cord want you to visualise. Their cord lights up and pulses to show the inno3-110109flow of energy.









Wiredness 4 January 2009

Want big, shiny eyes like the girl characters in Japanese animations? There is no cosmetic surgery procedure that can increase the size of your iris, but you could invest in a pair of contact lenses that will make you look as if you are a creature from a Japanese anime. The sales copy on shop-crazy.blogspot.com reads: "Wanna get big, watery shiny eyes without any surgery? CRAVE AND ENVY NO MORE!" The lenses, which cost between R300 and R500, can be made to order according to a prescription. To complete the effect you can also buy a pair of nose clips, designed, I'm guessing, to transform your schnozzle into a mere hint at a nose.inno2-040109

Reining in the web
Britain's Secretary of Culture, Andy Burnham says he is planning to team up with the incoming Obama administration to slap cinema-style age ratings on internet sites as a way to monitor and limit offensive and harmful online activity. The Telegraph reports that the Cabinet minister says he wants internet-service providers (ISPs) to offer parents "child-safe" web services. Burnham, who is poised at the chance to take advantage of the change in the US administration says he is seeking to establish an international norm:  "There is content that should just not be available to be viewed. That is my view. Absolutely categorical. This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people. We have got to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it."

iPhone app boobs
Apple's application store has rejected iBoobs, an application that allows iPhone users to wobble a pair of breasts. Apple said the application would not be allowed because of "objectionable content", but added: "If you believe that you can make the necessary changes so that iBoobs does not violate the iPhone SDK (Software Development Kit) Agreement we encourage you to do so."


Wiredness 1 February 2009

Your toast winno1-010209ants to fly
Dutch designer Ivo Vos has created a series of products called The Brunch, designed to push the limits of what everyday objects like teapots, placemats and sugar bowls can do. His catapult toaster, for instance, can be adjusted to fling your slice in an elegant arc that will see it land precisely in the middle of your waiting plate. According to ivovos.com, this brings "knowledge, skill and anticipation to the toasting of a slice of bread".

WiFi beater
According to a recent report in New Scientist, keeping your computer network safe from roving wireless hackers (who often mark the position of a signal with graffiti as a sign to fellow freeloaders) is becoming more and more difficult as the frequencies at which wireless data is sent increases. Commercially available wave absorbing equipment typically blocks transmission up to around 50GHz, but the latest wireless communication devices employ frequencies of over 100GHz. Japanese inno2-0010209researchers have come up with a distinctly low-tech, cheap solution to the problem – paint. Although oxide coating has been used for this purpose for a number of years, its ability to absorb electromagnetic waves at higher frequencies is outstripped at about 48GHz. Shin-ichi Ohkoshi's team at the University of Tokyo has identified a new aluminium-iron oxide that can be incorporated into anti-wifi paint to shield electronic equipment from frequencies up to 182GHz. Unlike other high-tech solutions, like Faraday cages, energy efficient windows and encryption, the paint, which costs about R140 a kilogram to manufacture, is much more cost-effective.

Best office chair in the world?
Just looking at a picture of the Zero Gee workstation makes me feel more relaxed.
Forget sitting upright on a pilates ball giving your thighs and abdominals a workout or perching on a kneeler to take the strain off your inno3-010209back. Zero Gee lets you recline virtually supine and brings your work to you, instead of having you adopt all sorts of unnatural positions so that you can see your monitor and type on your keyboard. Zero Gee is defined as an "ergonomic Computer/gaming work station" on www3.jetro.go.jp, the Japan External Trade Organization.

Wiredness 8 February 2009

If you live in a city, charging your cell  phone is a doddle: plug your charger into the nearest socket, attach your phone, and wait. If you live in a remote village in Uganda, it is a little more complicated. Mrs Muyonjo was forced to ride her bicycle about 32 kilometres to the nearest town to perform this simple task, because her village does not have electricity.  After the  guys at the battery charging depot did her in by exchanging her new cell phone battery with an old one which could hold a charge for no more than a day, she took matters into her own hands and fashioned a home made charger from five D sized cells (the ones used in torches) which she attached to her charger by stripping the wires and attaching them to the battery terminals. "I looked at what was readily available to me and came up with my own charger. I devised this method to enable me charge my battery every day. It works perfectly," says Mrs Muyonjo. (www.wougnet.org)



Underground parkinginno3-080209
Website freshome.com features this car storage solution for those who have small front gardens. A west London resident has converted the space in front of his house into a space that double as an underground parking garage hidden from site by a beautifully sculpted garden.









Sack of what?
Much press has been given to the launch of the Sakshat, India's $10 answer to the $100 laptop. Reporters don't have much to go on though, and in many cases have been reduced to making puns on the machines unfortunate name, which translates as "before your eyes". Engadget writer Paul Miller says that while the laptop has officially been unveiled, there is actually very little unveiling going on since there is no picture available of the gadget, or any information about the screen size, RAM or processor. The price tag is also not quite as little as previously stated; it costs around $20 to produce, which some say is not even enough to cover the production of an LCD monitor. According to Fast Company's Kit Eaton, the Sakshat is nothing more  than a storage hub loaded with educational material which must be downloaded onto a real computer to be viewed or printed out.



Dual delight

Once, computers were big enough to fill a room. Over time, with the announcement by Bill Gates that each home would house one, they got smaller. Then, wireless, they evolved into the portable wonders that we nonchalantly pop into our work luggage and carry around – a necessary accessory. Are they about to morph once more? The specs for GScreen's rugged notebook were apparently provided by the US Navy, but that is not what makes it extraordinary.  What sets it apart is its so-called dual screen, which makes it a little heavier and thicker but nevertheless saves you having to carry around an extra monitor. Wired's Charle Sorrel is very keen on the setup, but notes rather mysteriously that when he reviewed it he detected a "whiff of vapour". Presumably something to do with the LCD technology?


Be my e-Valentine

inno1-150209Wired.com's Danny and Steven have posted a very useful video guide on what pink and red gadget things NOT to give for Valentine's day. If you've already splashed out on Sony's Limited Edition Harlequin e-book reader which comes encapsulated in sensual red leather and ready loaded with a copy of a romance novel called Secret Fantasy it's probably too late to tell you that the reviewers agree that a gift like this would give good reason for a break up. Danny says: "If I gave this to my girlfriend I would totally expect her to break up with me." They also warn against MSIs Love Edition Wind Netbook which, apart from being pink, is utterly unremarkable. Steven says that if he gave his wife this "girly gadget", she would most likely hit him with it. The message is clear: pink just doesn't cut it anymore, especially if you're proffering your love to a tech-savvy sweetheart who knows that one gig of ram is pretty small. There's always next year – if she's still around.

Yo! Busted

Facebook has had to deal with issues of personal privacy in the past and has managed to fix damage to egos with a minimum of fuss. But the latest controversy involving the multi- million member social network has Facebook execs seriously up in arms. A website called YoBusted apparently posts embarrassing pictures of people, often lifted off Facebook by their so-called "friends" on their website. To have a picture removed one has to pay a $20 membership fee, while those who submit the offending photos get a $10 cut. According to a report in Business Week, Facebook has contacted the FBI to investigate allegations of blackmail and believes YoBusted, who it says is misusing its content, could well be prosecuted for extortion. YoBusted says they are simply playing paparazzi-paparazzi and have stated that it is all in  fun.

Using light to "read minds"

Researchers at the University of Toronto recently conducted an experiment which shows that it may be possible to read minds using light. Using headbands fitted with fiber optics to shine a near-infrared light into the pre-frontal cortex of their subjects' brains, they were 80% successful in predicting which drink they preferred, according to the amount of light their brains absorbed when they were shown pictures of eight beverages. Apparently, brain activity is accompanied by an increase of oxygen in the blood and the more oxygen there is the more light is absorbed. According to Sheena Luu, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering at the university, some people experience a rush of blood when they like something and others have the same reaction when they don't. Either way, the technique could someday be used to help people suffering from "locked in" syndrome, a disorder where the brain is fully functional but the body is unable to move.








A light matter
Designer Abhinav Dapke's green lighting solution looks like a cross between a deck chair, a clothes rack and an ironing board. The Go Rack combines simple fold-up design with a very high tech fabric composed of flexible OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) displays and solar cells to capture energy from the sun. Once charged, the Go Rack is brought indoors, folded up and placed on a stand. Energy is conducted through the aluminium legs to the OLED display, and light is produced. Detractors on the Wired Gadget Lab blog say no one wants to carry their light in and out of doors all the time and that it would be simpler to install a solar cell on the roof, but clearly Dapke's solution might work for those who need a cheaper alternative to solar panels.inno3-220209

Wii surf Google Earth

Take one infinitely hackable Wii balance board, use its wireless capabilities to hook it up to your computer and, as Simon Bergweiler of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence says, in a clipped German accent, this will allow you to "generate events on any interface connected to the software". In this case, the balance board becomes a surf board with which you can traverse Google Earth. The ingenious hack was pulled off using C# software. More details, and a video, on www.dfki.de.


Wiredness 22 March 2009

inno1-220309Recycle your office
In the spirit of Gaia, ecological correctness and poetic licence, Dutch advertising agency Nothing has constructed an office space from cardboard. Agency chief Michael Jansen says it is a metaphorical statement: "Nothing is about the power of ideas, about how a single idea can transform nothing into something. Using a cheap, throw-away material to build a unique and memorable work space seemed a good way to materialise this thought."

Is the mouse dead?inno2-220309
The trusty computer mouse has been around since Doug Engelbart first demonstrated his wooden prototype at the Fall Joint Computer Conference (FJCC) in December 1968, But new technological developments show that its end is very close. While Microsoft is exploring new interfaces for its display with something it calls Surface, it has sworn its allegiance to the mouse, a habit which, says BBC reporter Chris Vallance, might leave it with some catching up to do. At this year's South by Southwest conference (SXSW) there were unmistakable signs of an imminent coup: the mouse's position is likely to  be usurped by a "Minority Report" style gesture-interface or better still the still theoretical Make it So, which uses electrical activity in the brain to control computer systems. In 20 to 40 years time, carpal tunnel syndrome will be gone and forgotten.

Blog uninterrupted
Brian Lam is a perpetual blogger. His job is to update Gizmodo, an "online review dedicated to gadgets, gizmos, and cutting-edge consumer electronics". Lam must stay ahead of the game in the cutthroat business of reporting on the ever-changing techno-environment. Lam has a plan. He showed his secret blogging weapon to Wired reporter Brian X. Chen at the iPhone 3.0 event, where they were jostling for pole position, My guess is that the more mobile Lam, able to stand and blog,  won.

inno3-220309USB gets the finger
A Finnish computer programmer who lost a finger during a motorbike accident has found another use for the prosthesis that he wears in place of the lost digit. Jerry Jalava has incorporated a two gigabyte flash drive into the rubbery replacement, an idea inspired by the doctors who treated him, when they quipped that as a software developer, he should have a USB "finger drive". The finger is not permanent, so it can be taken off and left in his computer when  necessary.

USB goodies

When computers began shipping with lots of handy little Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports, it prompted the invention of many so-called non-standard devices or USB "decorations" like fans, mug heaters, mini vacuum cleaners and battery chargers, which use the 5V power supplied through your computer but do not actually network with it. Here are some of the stranger ones:

inno1-051008Eye candy
This USB thingamabob is almost certainly a joke. According to the Kontrast blog (kontrastblog.com) where I found it, you plug the Eye Candy, which is shaped like a lollipop, into your computer's USB port and then put the "lolly" in your mouth. Depending on which flavour you choose, (yellow for assert, pink for relax, green for meditate) Eye Candy will transmit data from the tongue to the brain via the "resonators" on its surface and you will see "vivid pictures". The pink "Relax" box says you should "Expect to see soothing fish". Kontrast, whose aim is to "bring the creative ideas of Southeast Europe to everyone with a passion to know", says Eye Candy is a "revolutional" gadget which changes your feelings by using "Sensory Substitution Technology". Oh, and don't be alarmed by the "pleasant sensation of soda bubbles" on your tongue; it's just your mind decoding the information. One reader's response: "Is this actually real? Are these reusable? At $90 a candy, it had better be darn well worth it!"
Geiger Counter
The tech.nocr.at website has instructions on how to make your own USB Geiger Counter, should you ever feel the need to measure the radiation in your immediate surrounds. Actually, since the mobile devices that run our lives have the potential to fry our brains, this might not be such a bad idea.inno2-051008

Self destruct
You discover that your office is awash with gamma rays and you are unlikely to ever be the same again. You don't want to be The Incredible Hulk or die a slow and painful death. Now is the time to use your USB Self Destruct Button which doubles as a hub and ironically hails from Japan, the home of ritual suicide.

The eyes get it
This "latest-designed health care Product specially for the Person which long time use their eyes, Such as the Computer operator" looks as though it might blind you before it fixes  weary eyes. And that finger configuration is more like something that would come in handy when you're feeling frustrated at your boss.


Have your toast and read it

Designer Sung Bae Chang has come up with an invention guaranteed to make your breakfast more interesting. According to UK website Register Hardware, the Scan Toaster connects to your PC via USB, downloads anything, from the latest headlines to your own photoshop creations, and then burns it onto your toast  via a network of toasting “modules”, each heated by a hot wire. As yet there are no plans to manufacture the toaster on a large scale.


Bright idea

Researchers at Boston University are investigating ways to transmit data using light instead of a traditional Wi-Fi router. The technology uses LEDs which flicker at impercebtible speeds so that they can network with other devices at a rate of up to 10 megabits per second. While this is slow compared with the current connectivity speed of around 54 megabits per second, it is hoped that the technology will bring us closer to the ideal of a wireless household where we will be able to network with the lowliest of appliances and free us of the clutter of hubs and wires.