Category Archives: Review

The next generation of album art

Brian Eno and Karl Hyde aren’t strangers to the marriage between music and stunning visuals. For their recent collaborative album Someday World, they took that union one step further by teaming up with creative studio Toby and Pete, as well as technology and interactive guru Lukasz Karluk.

By bringing Someday World to life through an augmented reality app called Eno • Hyde, the duo have stumbled into the newest generation of album art.

After downloading the app to their smartphone, the user points the camera at the label in the center of the record. Through the phone screen an interactive universe appears, creating visuals in harmony with the physical physical world captured through the camera. The shiny polygons and colours rotating around the vinyl record respond to the user’s touch.

Someday World features appearances from members of Coldplay and Roxy Music. Check out the album on iTunes.




Meet JIBO, the world’s first family robot

Cynthia Breazeal, an MIT professor and one of the pioneers of social robotics, has unveiled “the world’s first family robot.” Called Jibo, the all-white desktop-sitting robot has more than a passing resemblance to a certain robot from a recent animated Pixar movie. The robot, which will cost around $500 when it’s released, will have a range of abilities that will hopefully make it the perfect companion to have around the house — such as telling stories to kids, automatically taking photos when you pose, easy messaging and video calling, providing reminders for calendar entries, and companionship through emotional interaction.

Jibo is about 11 inches (28cm) tall, with a 6-inch base. He (yes, it’s a he) weighs around six pounds (2.7kg) and is mostly made of aluminium and white plastic. Jibo’s face mainly consists of a 5.7-inch 1980×1080 touchscreen, but there’s a couple of stereo cameras, stereo speakers, and stereo microphones hidden away in there too. Jibo’s body is separated into three regions, all of which can be motor-driven through 360 degrees — and it’s all fully touch sensitive, too, so you can interact by patting him on the head, poking his belly, etc.

Novartis-Google team on lens for diabetes, farsightedness

Google is teaming up with pharmaceutical giant Novartis to develop a “smart” contact lens intended to replace reading glasses for people who are farsighted and glucose monitors for those with diabetes.

For the farsighted, the device would work like the autofocus of a camera, allowing them to focus on close-up things like the words in a book. It will be designed to work as a contact lens that is changed out regularly, or as an intra-ocular lens, permanently inserted into the eye during cataract surgery.

For diabetics, the lenses would replace regular finger sticks designed to read out a person’s blood glucose level. Instead, the lens will “read” glucose levels in tears, sending information wirelessly to a handheld device that will warn patients when they need to eat or lower their glucose levels.

“These are issues that have been unmet medical needs for quite some time,” said Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez.

Novartis’ eye-care division Alcon, based in Texas, will lead the development work, along with Google X, an innovation lab at the information company’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters.

Jimenez, who said he reached out to Google[x] to broker the deal, hopes the contact will be the first of many technologies the two develop together.

“It was very clear that there could be a very nice synergistic value between bringing high tech together with biology to solve some of the biggest health care issues that we’re facing,” Jimenez said.

The work is still preliminary, he said, with first testing in people expected to begin next year. It will be a few years at least before the lens can be considered for regulatory approval and reach customers.

He said a price had not been decided for the lenses, and would not disclose how much the two companies will be investing in the project other than to say that it will be “commensurate with the business opportunity.”

More than 1.7 billion people worldwide have presbyopia, the medical term for farsightedness, and more than 380 million have diabetes, he said.

Sharp’s ‘Free-Form Displays’ with Ultra-Thin Bezels Make New Display Shapes Possible

Sharp today announced its upcoming “Free-Form Display” technology that will allow the company to nearly eliminate the traditional bezel that surrounds LCD displays. As a result, Sharp will be able to build LCD panels in nearly any shape to conform to the display area of the intended product. 


Conventional displays are rectangular because they require a minimal width for the bezel in order to accommodate the drive circuit, called the gate driver, around the perimeter of the screen’s display area. With the Free-Form Display, the gate driver’s function is dispersed throughout the pixels on the display area. This allows the bezel to be shrunk considerably, and it gives the freedom to design the LCD to match whatever shape the display area of the screen needs to be.

As an example, Sharp demonstrates a prototype display for a vehicle dashboard, with the display conforming to the shape of the main instrument panel, but the company also address the possibility of using the technology for “wearable devices with elliptical displays”. 

The concept of non-rectangular LCD displays naturally ties in to Apple’s rumored iWatch, which at least one analyst believes will include a round display, although most recent rumors have suggested the device will use an OLED display. Still, advancements in LCD technology that would allow for non-traditional display shapes open the door to many different possibilities for future devices, particularly as wearables appear set to become an increasingly significant focus for mobile device companies. 

Reducing bezel thickness on traditionally shaped devices such as the iPhone and iPad has also been a goal for Apple, seeking to maximize display size relative to the overall device size. Sharp’s technology could serve to push this effort even further, and issues with devices registering unintended touches from simply holding the device should be minimized as Apple has already developed software solutions for recognizing those touches as part of the development of the iPad mini and iPad Air. 

Sharp has not announced when its Free-Form Display technology will be ready for use, noting only that will enter mass production “at the earliest possible date.”

Watch out, Google Glass

In our always-connected society, our smartphones are often our balls and chains. We’re constantly looking at them, checking for new emails, text messages, missed phone calls, Facebook updates, and weather alerts. But what if you could just leave your phone in your pocket, or even elsewhere, and get your notifications delivered right in front of your eyes? That’s where Matilde’s Fun-iki glasses come in: you wear them like regular glasses, but when a notification comes in on your smartphone, the glasses lets you know with a series of blinking lights.

The glasses connect to your smartphone via Wi-Fi, which means you can still get notification so long as you’re within wireless range. The frames have LED lights embedded into them, which leaves the glasses capable of handling prescription lenses, if you need them. You can set your notifications for specific colors, perhaps blue for Facebook messages, red for emails, or green for text messages.

The glasses work with your basic notifications, but can also be set to work with third-party apps. You can set the light intensity, too, so that you don’t look like a disco ball walking down the street when you get inundated with emails. The glasses also have a mode that allows you to get messages in morse code, so if something urgent comes in, you’ll see the flashes as S.O.S.

Fun-iki glasses also have built-in speakers and a micro-USB port for charging. So far, though, they only come in two colors: white and hipster black. Fun-iki glasses go on sale later this year for the low price of $147. That’s a lot cheaper than Google Glass, but it’s arguably a lot more distracting for you and everybody around you who has to see your glasses flash different colors.

Long Exposure Photos of Budapest Trams Lit Up with 30,000 LED Lights

Although Christmas still feels like something in the vast future (or past, depending on your point of view) it certainly doesn’t hurt to think about the wintry season as summer temperatures continue to rise. One of the most mesmerizing Christmas sights we’ve seen are these trams and local streetcars in Budapest decorated with over 30,000 LED lights. The twinkling lights, when photographed with just the right exposure, creates a marveling image that resembles a futuristic vehicle speeding through time. This beautiful tradition of decorating trams was an initiative by the Budapest Transport Company, which kicked off in 2009. If you want to plan a visit you’ll definitely want to check out their website for routes and tram schedules.

LYVEHOME – Your personal content station

Created by an ex-apple engineer, LyveHome is a new device that allows you to manage and protect all your photos and videos in one place, but is accessible over all your other devices. The wireless device offers 2 Terabytes of storage and an included app can be used to view your entire photo and video collection from any mobile device, with the full resolution originals safe on your LyveHome. via 
watch the video

Learn more from the LyveHome website or purchase now from Amazon

LIX: The World’s Smallest 3D Printing Pen


LIX is the latest contender in the handheld 3D-printing field. Launched just a few hours ago on Kickstarter, the developers say the super compact design is smaller than any other pen on the market and it can even be powered by the electricity from a USB port. After turning it on the LIX takes less than a minute to heat up and you’re ready to start creating vertical illustrations. Via LIX:

LIX 3D printing pen has the similar function as 3D printers. It melts and cools coloured plastic, letting you create rigid and freestanding structures. Lix has a hot-end nozzle that is power supplied from USB 3.0 port. The plastic filament ABS/PLA is introduced in the upper extremity of Lix Pen. The filament goes through a patented mechanism while moving through the pen to finally reach the hot-end nozzle which melts and cools it down. An interesting fact about this light-weight, engineered pen is that these structures can be formed in any imaginable shape.

The LIX pen has a much sleeker form and a finer tip than similar devices we’ve seen like the 3Doodler, though it’s a bit more expensive. See more on their website.