While i’ve seldom had the traditional “family vacation” as a kid ~ talking to NOTlabs director, Shawn, i found out that he knows HomeAway well! Apparently his mom’s been booking everything from houses in the Rockies, French Quarter in New Orleans, and Utah Ski trips on the site ~ and they often associate family vacations with insane jigsaw puzzles and toys… so when HomeAway asked us to share some awesomeness around family travel… adventures at the NY International Toy Fair seemed like a perfect fit! There were SO many random toys in every genre you can imagine, so to narrow it down, here’s a selection of our favorites that are perfect to keep kids (both actually young and young at heart) occupied in the car/plane en route or curled up by the fireplace/dining table when just hanging out! Ready to see some crazy puzzles, fun magnetic building toys, turtles, mazes, paper animals, electronic experiments and more? To the next page!
Entries tagged with: technology
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Flipping through lots of CES pictures, had to share the new world of Belkin. First you can’t miss their glowing new logo and white tree atop their two story “booth”. Their booth was more of a house or visiting various parts of different homes… from the vintage modern living room and office ~ to baby monitors ~ super thin TVs showing the remote garage door camera/openers ~ digitally controlled front door locks ~ kitchens equipped with various ipad stands ~ essentially every room was represented in an awesomely cozy way (when it wasn’t completely packed with fascinated CES-goers)… and there was even an upgraded retro photobooth i had fun in! The new WeMo system they were previewing definitely lead to a fun app controlled home of the near future… take a peek at their world within CES on the next page!
Perfect timing ~ the NEST thermostat just arrived today ~ a chilly LA day in need of heating… that i can control from my phones, laptop, etc. (aka from bed when i wake up and before i get to the shower?) It really is a beautiful object, with an incredibly easy and intuitive interface (spin and push to click!)… and it has gorgeous packaging as well… and the coolest little screwdriver you didn’t even know you needed! While you can see tons more about the ins and outs of NEST on their site ~ the unboxing and installation was too fun not to share… so many details to see! So head to the next page and see the rest…
p.s. should be no surprise that the UI is by Mike Matas (who we’ve been following since icons/delicious library/apple/etc) and ID by Bould Design (of roku and a lot of the logitech squeezebox goodness)…
So, you’ve seen the AMAZING video of the dutchman in the woods introducing Cubelets (if not, you must). Well, i finally had a date with Modular Robotics Cubelets ~ and got to explore and create with them over beers and bruschetta while at CES. Fun part? Building autonomous robots that can drive themselves, run away from me, run to me, spin lights around, and beep away… all while navigating around the place settings and deliciousness. There’s something undeniably satisfying about the way the magnetic blocks snap together and just start DOING things! And their natural ability to pique the curiosity of people of any age to just get lost exploring the possibilities… truth is, you definitely need a table full to properly explore the overwhelming amount of options… and i love that it feels like true object oriented programming ~ in that you literally connect blocks that have various functions… like the light sensor block to the inverse block to the flashlight block and add a battery block and things just start happening!
Anyhow, these fun robotic cubes have been getting written up everywhere ~ but are you ready to take a peek INSIDE? When popping by the booth the next day, the Modular Robotics team broke out the leatherman and let us take a peek inside an inverse block ~ granted it’s one of the less filled cubes ~ but I love the design of how it opens (and is held together with two little screws!)… also if you ever want to hide things in your robotic cubes……… see more pics on the next page!
The first new Urbanears headphone design launched at CES this year was the Turncable which i just showed you. Second ~ Humlan! Interesting part of this design… there is a metal headband (love the detail of the urban ears tag actually being cloth sewn through a slit in the metal!) with MAGNETIC ear-speakers? pads? poofs? what would you call them? The simplicity and the satisfaction of feeling them snap into place and slide to adjust feels great ~ and i supposed when not using the headphones, you could even use it as a headband in their rainbow of colors… or even mix and match the usually monochromatic Urbanears. These are launching in fall of 2012! See more pics of the details on the next page!
On interesting interactive installations at CES, Intel had an interactive lifeform generator called the Connect to Life Experience, which was a 168-foot-wide interactive 3D virtual life simulation designed by Stimulant and Foghorn Creative.
Stimulant explains it as follows: “Conference attendees can use any of six stations around the perimeter of the booth to create a shape using their hands, phone, keys — pretty much anything — and the silhouette of that object will be used to generate a unique bioluminescent lifeform on the massive projection surface overhead. The animated lifeforms interact with one another in playful ways, dancing with one another or chasing other lifeforms around the ecosystem.
The system renders approximately 30 billion triangles per second to deliver a 17.6 megapixel image at 60 frames per second, all powered by Intel Core i7 technology. This image is displayed over a 2200 square foot, non-uniform projection-mapped surface using 24 projectors.”
Take a peek at more of my pictures from the experience on the next page ~ there was something very Flow like about the digital ecosystem created ~ and my favorite part ended up being the structure they built where you input the shape/handprint…
Urbanears always has beautiful color palettes for their monochrome headphones and the most stunning photography/layouts for their lookbooks/displays. This year at CES they showed off two innovative new designs… the first: ZINKEN w/Turncable. These premium over ear DJ headphones have a cable with a 6.3mm adapter (perfect for your turntables/guitars/etc) on one end and a standard headphone 3.5mm plug on the other… and depending which you need, you plug the other into the headphone! Interesting alternative to simply using an adapter to go from 3.5mm to 6.3mm? Take a peek at more pics on the next page…
Unexpectedly fun and addictive ~ the Fling and Fling Mini suction joysticks from Ten One Design for touch screens are great. There’s something unbelievably satsifying about the way the action of the joystick movement feels ~ also the design is ingeniously simple. “Fling is constructed from silky-smooth anodized aluminum, and an incredibly tough, perfectly clear, and unusually flexible engineering-grade resin. It’s nearly indestructible, and will give you years of precision gaming.” Take a peek at more pictures on the next page…
RAM-Mounts are my favorite mounts ever ~ they have the most incredible ball joints and you can piece them together for just about ANYTHING (seriously, check out their line up of modular pieces to pick from). They have the best suction mounts i’ve found ~ and while i’ve dreamed of making crazy sculptures, etc out of them ~ it was awesome to turn a corner at CES and run into a life size johnny5-esque RAM-Mount BOT! Made of HUGE RAM-Mount units! See more pics of him on the next page!
ZIK Parrot by Starck: the Bluetooth touch-activated headset. There are a LOT of headphones (often with celebrities attached to them now) at CES ~ but these actually surprised me! It feels amazing, and i was fascinated by the user experience of it… in a nutshell, you bluetooth pair or NFC tap your phone to connect it to the headset, you swipe the capacitative touch panel (left/right for song flipping or up/down for volume), it pauses the song if you take it off and instantly picks back up when you put it on, has 3 microphones and a bone conduction sensor for your calls and active noise cancelation, and even has an app to control it all. 4 years of work has gone into these ~ and the prototype was surprisingly fun to play with at CES ~ take a peek at lots of design detail pics on the next page!
On fun CES finds ~ love these Inova USB Rechargeable LED Flashlights from Nite-ize. The new Inova X3R and T3R are lithium ion high grade aluminum bodied LED flashlights that have a mini-USB charging port hidden in the neck. By simply spinning the cap to extend it, you expose the usb charging port… and with nearly everything charging via USB these days, it’s perfect for travel, the car, etc… The LED lights feel great ~ take a peek at the latest on the next page!
Did you know Griffin Technology is from Nashville? And turns 20 this year? Those were the unexpected fun facts we learned at their CES booth this year. Their booth has a fun reclaimed wood/found objects painted in uniform colors kind of look to it… and lots of new products to poke at… but i strangely fell in love with some Premium Flat Aux Cables! Pretty, clean, simple, nice colors, and feel great… the design details of the cables (they are flat! and have a really nice transition to the cable heads) as well as the packaging are beautiful! Take a look at it all on the next page!
On more fun CES booth designs, i liked Motorola’s excessive use of tubing to create the surface around their booth… you could pass through the tubes easily, and they served as a huge projection surface. More pics on the next page…
Remember Audi’s 2011 CES booth of overlit white glowiness? Well this year Audi actually took it even further and created an equally stark white super bright booth that not only pulled everyone into the light… but trapped them in their infinite kaleidoscopic florescent tube grid of dizzying madness. Then again to be fair i had just walked the show floor all day and could barely feel my feet anyways. Regardless ~ it makes for awesome pictures ~ and some insane reflections on the many reflective surfaces in the booth…
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!
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!
Wow. The Mercedes-AMG SLS and SLS Roadster have internet browsing built in… and turn into WLAN hotspots… and runs Android… and someday you can even have apps… since it’s on android does that mean we can write our own?
I’ve never seen NOTCOT flanked in carbon fiber… or navigated to on an in car dashboard after we just hopped across the french/italian border and ended up on the top of some hilly lush greenery… granted, they don’t allow you to browse the internet while driving (so i guess no posting while racing around in the Mercedes-AMG SLS Roadster!) ~ this is only one of a series of fascinating options in the “AMG Performance Media” section. But on the internet related side first ~ “AMG Performance Media provides fully-fledged, mobile high-speed internet access: when the car is stationary, the driver and passenger are able to surf the web and install apps.” YES. Your car is a smartphone. Running on Android. You can even scroll through the websites with the usual COMAND Controller (the big dial). This all even turns into a WLAN hotspot! (Which passengers CAN access with their phones, laptops, etc while you’re driving.) Amazing, right? I want my car to come to life with internet! Oh, and in addition, you can also enter Race Mode, have dials showing engine outputs and torque in real time, output your stats to USB, record lap times, and more… It’s 3am sleep time before playing with it all a bit more tomorrow before ending up in Munich, so see some screenshots as well as full details on the next page!
Continuing our exploration of Mini HD Action Cameras (So far there’s the roundup, unboxing the GoPro, and unboxing the Contour+) ~ so here’s an unboxing of the germany based, GoBandit. The packaging is good fun, and they have super playful branding that tells you to Shoot Your Adrenaline! what’s most unique about the GoBandit seems to be its software side ~ tracking GPS, speed, and altitude, there are a variety of skins (perhaps someday customizable?) that can overlay your videos to show the data as well as a map alongside to see where you’ve gone. As far as tech specs, it isn’t the most powerful on the market ~ shooting only 720p video, 5mp camera, 135 degree angle of view ~ but is waterproof up to 1m for 30 min without additional housing, and you can embed your videos complete with navigable maps/altitude/speed graphs! And their GoBandit Community is definitely going for the competitive angle on action cam videos sorting videos by FASTEST and HIGHEST! We’re still playing around with it at the moment ~ but check out the unboxing and details of the camera on the next page!
By far the coolest display i found after trekking out to the farthest hall of all at Frankfurt Auto Show, was BMW’s 7 robot arm displays. Think apple like glossy white and wood and plexi displays with the blue led glow… housing 7 robotic arms and touch screens waiting for you to poke and prod and stare in wonder as they demonstrated their various technologies. Granted, most were being poked by everyone from kids to adults and few had any idea what was being demonstrated, but everyone was trying to see what they could do to get the arms moving… SO beautiful, i have lots of pics and videos of them in action for you on the next page!
There are so many approaches one could take to a mashup ~ for whatever reason mine tends to be start with an evil mwuahahaha kind of mad scientist kind of laugh in my head, followed by trying to figure out what fun items around me might fit together. In this case, 2 of the new Plumen bulbs arrived - “the world’s first designer light bulbs” (So gorgeous! But simply hanging them from a regular light to show off their fun shape didn’t seem like enough!) ~ and i’d been playing with lightbulb fixture connectors/splitter/plugs (and wondering how big of a tree of them i could make with lots of bulbs at the ends!) ~ and there was the Blue Lounge Mini Dock that allows your iphone/ipad/ipod to stay off the ground when charging… and when you put them all together ~ along with a simple ikea lamp base… i ended up with this fun iPhone Charging Lamp! Where the bulbs are as much a part of the lamp as the rest! Something almost antler like about the bulbs viewed this way ~ and rather mesmerizing as it lights up a room ~ perfect little stand to charge the iPhone, light the room, and control my music from it as the phone streams to speakers over airplay… so iphone charging DJ lamp? Take a peek at more of the silliness on the next page!