On more fun things i’m excited to finally see in person at CES tomorrow ~ Cubelets! The robotic building blocks from Modular Robotics, a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University (they started as RoBlocks). I’ve been hearing so much about this venture while visiting the CMU Computational Design Lab the last few months of random adventures in Pittsburgh, it’ll be nice to finally get my hands on the Cubelets and make some fun robots! But first ~ had to share their hilarious new video introducing the cubes and how they work! Just try not to get distracted by the snake skins on the wall behind the wacky guy in the video… “We shot the video last Summer at Oli’s cabin in Conifer, Colorado. It was an epic day of fliming, Cubelets fiddling, and snacking on Edam.” OK ~ go see it and fun screencaps on the next page!
On things to look forward to at CES… i’m currently lusting after this Samsung Series 9 Monitor. Looking sleek and thin (and matching my favorite super thin Samsung TVs) ~ it’s actually pretty comprable to the Apple 27” Studio display (though definitely need to play with it in person in a few days!) Both tout resolution of 2560x1440, contrast ratio of 1000:1, and viewing angles of 178/178. The Samsung however has a 300cd/m^2 whereas the apple has 375, and the Samsung is priced at $1199 while the apple is $999… though the Samsung has 2x 7W speakers built in as well as this interesting feature: “By linking their Android MHL-compatible smartphone, users can enjoy content from their mobile devices directly on the much larger screen and with the benefit of rich, built-in stereo audio. Users can also keep an eye on their smartphone, seamlessly browse to it and even charge the device for added convenience.” See a few more pics on the next page!
I’ve always had a fondness for the high gloss all in one audio boxes of Swiss Geneva Lab. They just look stunning! And the way the digital displays always illuminate from behind the speaker grill just makes me smile. So of course i couldn’t resist featuring the new tiny clamshell bluetooth, alarm clock, radio speaker ~ Geneva Sound System XS… and when they offered to send one over so i could check out the audio and packaging first hand ~ i couldn’t resist! So full unboxing on the next page… all the tiny design details in the packaging and design…
HA! That’s the first impression i just had unboxing this surprise from Intel that just arrived. Second impression was… wow, someone got to have a lot of fun laser etching! In a big box is tucked a laser etched Intel plastic box… which had what looked like a HUGE laptop in it. I’ll admit it, i was half awake, opened it, and thought, “WTF? I thought this was about super lights!” Then i opened the giant battery-less laptop and literally laughed. They hid the Acer S3 13” Ultrabook INSIDE it. Cute, silly, unexpected, and totally proved their point. Oh, and quickly back to the laser etching fun ~ they etched the screen of the “fake” big laptop… and also the whole cover of the ultrabook!
Anyhow, the 11” macbook air changed the way i work and travel a few years back ~ and i’m seldom far from it. I have loved that i can even pop it in my purse on the go. I never thought i’d convert from 15” macbook pro’s to it! So i’ve been intrigued by the windows machines that started going down the same path ~ and there’s been a lot of buzz floating around the “ultrabooks”, especially the prices sliding down this holiday season (this one actually slides under the 1k mark!)… There’s something fun about grabbing a laptop that feels like a magazine in size practically ~ and having barely touched a windows machine in a while, but needing it for the randomest of tasks lately (including playing with/installing Logitech security systems to monitor the crazy backyard creatures of the night), this is perfect to complement my macbook air… just playing around with it, it feels silly that carrying both of them together still feels lighter than my old macbook pros!
Anyhow ~ while i experiment with the world of Windows ~ take a peek on the next page at the fun unboxing of this Intel package ~ and side by sides between the giant faux laptop case it came in, the ultrabook itself, and my 11” air on the next page!
Of all things i’ve unboxed, the Jawbone UP (see the unboxing here) has lead to SO many questions over im, twitter, facebook, phone, in person lately… and i’ve been doing so much random research, compiling it and privately linking people to it ~ finally decided to just post it. As all the posts come out about people who love or hate their UPs ~ and after many discussions about how long it will take before someone (or everyone) makes the “croc charm” biz model happen accessorizing the UPs… even Brit wrapped her’s in brass wire… which i have to admit makes it feel far more tesla coil than fashion accessory… So what do i ACTUALLY think about the UP?
LOVE THE ALARM CLOCK. It vibrates to wake you (and just you ~ not your neighbors, whoever is in bed with you, etc.) ~ also meaning not jumping up to a jarring noise. It uses its approximation of your sleep cycles to wake you at the best time with in a half hour before your set alarm time. And in all honesty, i’d been sleeping terribly, and have been waking refreshed since i started trying it. Is it a coincidence? I’m not sure, but it’s been a noticeable enough difference that i’m intrigued enough to keep trying it.
I CUT THE RUBBER OFF WITHIN 24 HOURS. I tried to wear it around, but it just didn’t feel good… rubber on the skin 24/7? It was even more comfortable with just its minimal tech guts. Experimented a bit ~ and in the end decided to pull out the old little kid string from friendship bracelets ~ and friendship bracelet-ed it. It’s SO much more comfortable to sleep with now, and far thinner/more discreet than the original (and yes, no longer shower proof, but working great.)
I ONLY USE IT WHILE SLEEPING. The truth is ~ the food part, i’m not really going to take pics of everything i eat. The activity monitoring feels more like INactivity monitoring ~ great to let you know if you need to move more (you can have it buzz to remind you to be more active). And unlikely i’m really going to do the group thing and team up against friends to work out more.
BEST SLEEP TRACKING/ALARM I FOUND. Going through all the other options with my priorities being size/comfort, optimal wake up alarm based on sleep cycle, and vibration alarm ~ even throwing in price… the Jawbone UP is the best option i’ve found. Chart and links to all the others (devices, apps, etc) i looked into on the next page.
Anyhow, i think that answers the questions everyone’s been asking a lot… check out the next page if you want to see the actual guts of it, my experiments, and the comparison chart of other sleep monitoring options on the next page.
It’s mail order season ~ new seasonal UPS/Fedex/USPS guys showing up daily ~ packages on every doorstep it seems ~ lines starting at the post office, and i can’t help but get curious about how people are packing things, how much waste we’re using to ensure our goods are protected to their destination. Well, the Kindle Fire just arrived ~ and i must say, i love how streamlined their packaging is ~ it just keeps getting cleaner and simpler, yet still creates a nice, satisfying unboxing experience ~ creating that perfect element of surprise even when you know what you’re getting as you pull the strip, and lift open the box ~ and the Fire is there presented to you! Take a peek at their nice, minimally designed box and reinforcements on the next page while i go check on whether the updates to it have downloaded so i can play with it.
p.s. Only criticism would be maybe it shouldn’t be SO obvious what’s inside on the outside of the box… the first Fire seems to have “disappeared” somewhere between delivery and ever making it here!
Magical tech filled bracelet that tracks my sleeping, eating, activeness? Who wouldn’t be curious? And with this trend of iOS app driven sleep trackers (see also Lark on your wrist and Zeo on your head) ~ with silent vibrating alarm clocks that dont wake neighbors/bedmates/etc (thinking of the Mute Watch?) ~ a sudden wealth of health data at your fingertips (think fitbit?) ~ this holiday season personal data overload/data visualizations are definitely the hot trend of the moment… and as always ~ when Jawbone jumps in to the game, you can count on gorgeously designed packaging, product design, and user experience…
The Jawbone UP made quite a splash ~ and tonight i couldn’t resist and had to give it a try ~ a week of terrible sleep seemed a good enough excuse to try out the new gizmo. And using MotionX sensor technology it tracks the slightest movements ~ and combined with some discipline on your part ~ you can switch between active, workout, and sleep modes… and the app will have you tracking meals (with pics!), calories, activities, setting vibration alarms and trying to meet various goals throughout the day… you can even compete/share/motivate your friends. Granted this isn’t an exact science by any means ~ it seems that just providing more data and creating more awareness of ones activities might help in ways you didn’t even imagine… or does it? I guess playing around with it for the next week or so will help me find out! For now though ~ take a peek at the initial unboxing and set up on the next page!
There’s something amazing that will never grow old about perfectly hand crafted goods. Also the sound of my Mercedes AMG C63 Coupé engine… it just screams - happy. One of the incredible aspects of AMG is that each engine is hand built by a single person ~ thus, One Man, One Engine. And everyone engine comes out of their beautiful factory in Affalterbach, Germany. While doing things a little backwards, i met the man who built my engine before i met my car! Darius Garbas is the man behind my engine, and so far it seems like he’s done an incredible job with it. What i love is how much pride and passion they all seemed to have at the factory ~ and how nice they all were! There’s a plaque that reads “Leidenschaft, Leistung, und Verantwortung.” along with the signed plaques of EACH engineer building engines ~ and it means “Passion, Power, and Responsibility.” So take a peek into the One Man, One Engine world of Mercedes-AMG and meet Darius (and my engine!) on the next page.
What do you get when you combine a robot arm, turntable, scans and 3D prints of a dancer, music and a light? A modern day zoetrope of sorts! This is 16 Forms by Daito Manabe (direction, 3D data editing, lighting+sound design) + Motoi Ishibashi (robot arm programming) ~ and it was displayed at this year’s DesignTokyo Tide. Take a peek at a video of it in action and more pictures of the installation on the next page.
Geneva Lab now has a portable/travel sized Sound System XS model! Resembling a leather-like clamshell retro alarm clock ~ this little speaker packs in Bluetooth, FM, Alarm Clock, Speakers, and Amplifier. “The digital amplifier and stereo speakers play mid and high frequencies with absolute accuracy. The woofer is capable of producing robust bass response below 80Hz.” This 2.1 speaker system with two 1” tweeters and one 2¼” woofer come in their classic glossy white, black, and red and runs on a rechargeable lithium battery with 5+ hours of play-time. At a mere 6.2” × 4” × 4.5” it weighs in at 1.1 pounds. I can’t wait to check out the sound to see how it compares to my Jambox. See more pictures on the next page…
More fun that just came in via email from my Dad ~ this time after he checked out the Art Center Car Classic over the weekend… i loved this map visualizing where the many post WWII automotive design studios of southern california are. We definitely have no shortage! Take a peek at a bigger view on the next page.
Your keys can do it all ~ how adorable is this tiny lighter? Along with some tiny screwdrivers, mini crow bar, and tweezers. Sure you could replace some of those with an equally tiny and functional tiny multi-tool/key… but not the lighter! See more details of the Kauffman Mercantile EDC Kit on the next page!
I’ve been lusting after the Parrot AR.Drone for years, (remember their amazing outdoor play area at CES in jan?) not sure why i never gave in to it till now, but NOTlabs definitely needs some fun toys… and running around Fry’s, there was one just there… calling to be brought home! So here’s a peek at the unboxing ~ and a few random images from test flights… but to be honest, it’s so fun to fly, it’s hard to remember to take pics of it at the same time, especially cell phone pics since you’re using iPhone/iPad and/or Android to control it! Touted as the first AR Flying Video Game, it’s gorgeous, amusing, surprisingly stable and even has two cameras mounted on it (front facing and downward facing)… so take a look at what’s inside the box on the next page…
p.s. i’m sure Shawn will be coming up with more NOTlabs projects to dronehack this one in to when we’re not busy flying it around the lab/yard. So more to come… and we might need another to properly play each other!
p.p.s. fun to see what other apps people have been developing for it!
Going through the many pics from the last month of euro-madness ~ i couldn’t stop staring at these pics from the Wiesmann booth at IAA. If i were a Batman: the Animated Series character, i’d totally drive a matte metallic GT MF5. It’s so cute. I couldn’t stop staring at the show ~ and looped by the booth a few times for unknown reasons… it just pulled me in over and over. And now i can’t stop staring at the pics, so clearly they needed to be shared! And the jeweled lizard logo is just stunning and brings out the little kid in me too… take a peek at them on the next page…
On my adventure to see where my AMG C63 Coupé (like the one we tried on the track!) will come from, Shawn Sims joined me with his automotive and engineering expertise on the adventure to the factories to learn about the whole process. He rounded up our story in Bremen below for you!
As we raced to the Mercedes-Benz factory along the Autobahn from Hamburg to Bremen, I couldn’t help but wonder what crazy German engineering mega-center we were about to stumble into. We arrive at the campus (more like small town) of the 15,000,000 sqft factory that has over 12,000 people inside. Starting at from the customer welcome center (where the GT5 set up greeted us and where you can pick up your new car directly), we first watch a video overview of how Mercedes’ are produced and get a peek at the people and machines behind them. Then we headed into Building 9; a pristine, lively, mechanical wonderland responsible for the production of the C-class (as well as a few others simultaneously). There are over 8.5 kilometers of assembly lines in Building 9 alone, and the majority are stations for assembly by hand. Each employee on the line is trained in multiple positions so that day to day work changes. Supply trucks are whizzing by, car bodies flying on overhead tracks, robots twisting and turning, all while the seemingly endless hall is filled with the sounds of motors, robots, drills, and presses. We have entered an engineering mecca!
Photos wouldn’t even do the mesmerizing process justice, so check out the great introduction video we saw (the robots really are quite incredible), as well as our pics and videos of the adventure on the next page.