Universal Translator on the Way

Universal translators are a gadget I think will be great. We still are not there, but we keep getting closer. Microsoft, Google and Apple are doing a great deal of work on making this happen.

At the end of this webcast Microsoft demonstrates speaking in English and having that translated and then output in spoken Chinese.

Related: Getting Closer to a Universal TranslatorSony Student Design Workshop: Print Odor on PostcardsComputer Control via Gesture

KudoCase Provides Solar Charging for Your iPad

In addition the KudoCase will help you locate your iPad. If you can’t find your iPad just whistle and it will set off an alarm in the KudoCase.

The KudoCase itself stores power so you can recharge directly from that battery without any light. You can also charge your iPhone via the USB slot on the case.

The device is fairly heavy – 1.7 pounds.

The concept is great. It seems like a product that could use some improvement (based on user reviews) with future versions but it very interesting.

Related: Small Solar Panel for Recharging Your Phone, Tablet, Digital Camera…Amazon’s Android Tablet, Kindle Fire, is Very Attractively PricedPay as You Go Solar in India

The Latest Leap in Computer Control via Gesture

This new device lets you control you computer with 3d movements of your hands. Pre-order leap for just $75.

The Leap technology is 200 times more accurate than anything else on the market — at any price point. Just about the size of a flash drive, the Leap can distinguish your individual fingers and track your movements down to a 1/100th of a millimeter.

Setup is just as intuitive. Plug the LEAP into a USB port. Load the Leap Motion software. Do a quick wave to calibrate. That’s it. In minutes, you’ll be able to interact with your desktop using natural hand and finger movements.

Related: Wearable Computer with Projection and Gesture RecognitionHow Do Wii Game Controllers Work?Low-Cost Multi-touch Whiteboard Using Wii RemoteTry on Clothes and Accessories Virtually

Asus Padfone: Tabet with Plugin Phone

Smart phone from Asus that plugs into a 10.1″ tablet that runs Android. It looks kind of cool but honestly doesn’t seem that special. Still, even just the size of the tablet is good.

Related: Macro Lens Band for Phone CamerasAakash Android Tablet from India: $35 for Indian Students, $60 RetailAmazon’s Android Tablet, Kindle Fire, is Very Attractively PricedThe Newest Kindle DX with New E Ink Technology

Zeo Personal Sleep Manager

The Zeo personal sleep manager monitors your brain wave patterns using a headband. You can also move data from your Zeo to your computer using an SD memory card (like those used in digital cameras) out of the headband and put it in your computer and get a view a graph of your light, deep and REM sleep over the course of the night.

The optional SmartWake alarm feature will look for a “natural awakening point” based on your sleep patterns to decrease the grogginess associated with waking from Deep sleep. When SmartWake is selected, Zeo will find a time to wake you within a half-hour of your set time, never later. The result should be a slightly easier way to wake up.

Related: Gadgets to Mask Noise and Help You Sleep or ConcentrateTry on Clothes and Accessories VirtuallyStoring and Sharing the Photos You Take with Various Gadgets

Celluon Magic Cube Laser Projection Keyboard and Touchpad

image of laser keyboard

Keyboard projected onto desktop using a laser

The Celluon Magic Cube turns any table or surface into a virtual keyboard or multi-touch mouse with its amazing laser projection and motion detection technology. The Magic Cube is smaller than a pack of cards – easy to use, and a great travel companion projection keyboard for mobile, tablet, and laptop devices. Do read the reviews on Amazon, it isn’t so much magic as a bit of cool engineering that might be a bit ahed of ready for prime time. Still if you like to try cutting edge gadgets and are willing to accept the drawbacks they sometimes have, this might be worth looking into.

  • Projects a virtual laser keyboard onto any table and detects keystrokes. The experience of typing on a projected keyboard is different than a standard keyboard. Projects a condensed QWERTY layout. The Magic Cube detects movement just above the surface of each projected key. Practice using included tips is recommended. Devices with automatic keystroke correction, like the iPad, iPhone, and iPod improve accuracy significantly.
  • Acts as a standard keyboard via Bluetooth (wireless) or USB (wired)–no drivers needed
  • Great companion wireless keyboard for tablets and touch phones. Small. Light. Charges via USB
  • Compatible with Win XP SP2+, Mac 10.4+, iOS 4.3.5+ (iPhone/iPod/iPad), etc
  • Mouse mode projects a standard two-finger multi-touch pad (Windows 7 only. Not iOS capable)
  • Related: Self Balancing Enclosed MotorcycleWearable Computer with Projection and Gesture RecognitionResearching Direct Brain Interfaces for Text Entry

Boxee Box – HD Streaming Media Player


The Boxee Box
is quite an excellent media hub. The Boxee allows you to manage your content and connect to the internet (by wireless or wired). You can even try out Boxee before you buy the box.

Download Boxee’s software and try it for free on your computer first, they will automatically import your account when you’re ready to buy a Boxee Box and bring the experience to your HDTV. Get tons of free stuff, and pay for the premium content you want. No monthly bill. No more paying for stuff you never watch.

You need to use you computer or external storage (the Boxee doesn’t have storage in the box) to watch your own content.

photo of the back of a Boxee

Boxee back

Related: Amazon’s Android Tablet, Kindle Fire, is Very Attractively PricedDroid Incredible

Aakash Android Tablet from India: $35 for Indian Students, $60 Retail

Aakash Tablet from Venturebeat on Vimeo.

The Indian government has created a very interesting tablet for students in India. The 7 inch display tablet device is runs Android and is remarkably powerful given the price. Obviously it isn’t as responsive as devices like Amazon’s Fire.
Video on this cheap device from India works very well.

Aakash Android Table Review

The components inside the Aakash tablet are cheap, and easily sourced. For example, the Aakash tablet has a headphone jack and an audio-in jack, but no external speakers — an obvious cost-savings measure. However, with the addition of cheap headphones, and an equally cheap microphone, the owner can make calls on Skype and has the potential to communicate with people around the world.

The screen is pressure sensitive (also called resistive touch) and responds somewhat slowly to gestures. It’s definitely not as dazzling as the high-end tablets familiar to Western audiences, such as the capacitive touchscreen iPad

What makes the Aakash tablet different is that its creators didn’t strive for perfection. Instead, the emphasis was on getting the product into the market quickly so it could be adopted, tinkered with, and improved over time. As Wadhwa said, “to get the cost down, you have to make some compromises.”

The unmistakable impression we all got from using the Aakash tablet was that it is built for performance. Every design choice that might seem like a negative reveals three, four, five — or more — net benefits.

Why does it have two USB ports? So you can plug in a keyboard, of course, and still have a free slot for an external hard drive, or some other device. What about that screen cover that seems like it’s made from laminating material? If the tablet is meant for educational use, it’s probably going to have to contend with some pretty rough handling, dirt, dust and moisture. Better that it should withstand damage than look the extra bit nicer.

I really love to see gadgets aimed at the majority of the world’s population instead of only the rich. Gadgets aimed at the rich are pretty darn cool and fun. And I like them. I just also love to see us looking to create gadgets everyone can use.

Related: What Kids can Learn with Just a Computer and TimeRaspberry Pi: $25 ComputerSub $100 Tablet in 2011

Amazon’s Android Tablet, Kindle Fire, is Very Attractively Priced

photo of the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet

Amazon has unveiled their new Android Tablet and it sells for just $199 for a 7″ multi-touch display. The tablet can use wifi but not cell phone signals to access the internet. Just this week, Amazon, also announced the large amount of content, available to USA Amazon customers only, that subscribe to Amazon Prime. I never really cared about faster shipping but features like a large library of content available for free streaming of 10,000 movies and TV shows makes the package very attractive, I think. The Kindle Fire is another in the long list of innovations from Amazon. I am very impressed with their management, leadership and willingness to focus on the long term and take risks with their investments.

The Amazon Fire has a heavily Amazon modified Android operating system. Amazon doesn’t do a good job of explaining what the limits on their marketing material the share really are. They hide how few people really have access to some features (like saying “18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books” – without mentioning much of that is available to less than 5% of the population). Since they don’t make that clear, it is hard to know what other limitations they don’t make clear so outside the USA (95% of the population) you are on your own to guess what features are really available to you.

It has most of the features you would expect of a Android tablet: the ability to use the internet, app market, etc.

Unlike the previous Kindle options this offers color touch screen. Amazon is keeping the digital ink Kindle’s as their suggested book reading choice. Heavy users of the book reading function will likely keep a Kindle digital ink device. But the new device can also serve as a book reader, there are limitations of the current color technology that mean it just isn’t as great for long hours of book reading.

Amazon is touting the “cloud-accelerated” browser which does sound like a worthwhile innovation taking advantage of their Amazon Web Services cloud (AWS). The Amazon Silk browser is different in a radical new way. When you use Silk, without thinking about it or doing anything explicit, you’re calling on the computing speed and power of the AWS. We’ve refactored and rebuilt the browser software stack to push pieces of the computation into the AWS cloud. This lets Silk do more work, more quickly, and all at once.

Silk browser software resides both on Kindle Fire and on the massive server fleet that comprises the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). With each page request, Silk dynamically determines a division of labor between the mobile hardware and Amazon EC2 (i.e. which browser sub-components run where) that takes into consideration factors like network conditions, page complexity and the location of any cached content.

Amazon EC2 is always connected to the backbone of the Internet where round-trip latency is 5 milliseconds or less to most web sites rather than the 100 milliseconds that’s typical over wireless connections. AWS also has peering relationships with major internet service providers, and many top sites are hosted on EC2. This means that many web requests will never leave the extended infrastructure of AWS, reducing transit times to only a few milliseconds. This is good, latency is an important, and often overlooked technical issue. It also seems a bit misleading, I think the latency your device experiences interacting with the cloud is higher (the technical details Amazon is touting are talking about communication within the cloud – which is good and helpful, just not quite as good as it sounds). The silk browser technology looks to be a very big innovation that will be very useful.

Related: Home Engineering: Reading in BedReally Widescreen Monitor (2880×900)Zappos and Amazon Sitting in a Tree…

The price of the Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet illustrates once again that Amazon is still practicing what Jeff Bezos’ believes: driving down costs to customers and customer focus.

There are two kinds of companies, those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less.

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Raspberry Pi: $25 Computer

image of a circuit board diagram

Raspberry 1 circuit board diagram

One great thing about technology is all the great disruptive innovation it makes possible. And while some gadgets cost a large amount of money it is also great how many really cheap but nevertheless extremely cool gadgets we get to choose from. The folks at Rasberry Pi are creating this computer (alpha boards have been sent to the manufacturer), that just a bit larger than a credit card, and is designed to plug into a TV or be combined with a touch screen for a low cost tablet. The expected price is $25 for a fully-configured system.

The ICs used in the design are an ARM-based application processor (center) and an SMSC LAN9512 USB 2.0 hub and 10/100 Ethernet controller (right and down from center). The SDRAM is mounted on top of the application processor in a PoP configuration.

Following the example of the BBC Micro, we intend to launch both a Model A device (lacking the LAN9512, and with 128MB of RAM) at the $25 price point, and a Model B device (including the LAN9512, and with 256MB of RAM) for a $5-10 additional cost. We remain confident of shipping before the end of 2011.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK registered charity which exists to promote the study of computer science and related topics, especially at school level, and to put the fun back into learning computing.

They are developing, manufacturing and distributing an ultra-low-cost computer, for use in teaching computer programming to children and expect the computer to have many other applications both in the developed and the developing world.

Provisional specification
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