I’ve backed an embarrassing number of Kickstarter projects, almost all of them in the hardware/gadget categories, and I’ve been disappointed more than I’ve been delighted. The Slim wallet by Supr however bucks the trend, delivering a front-pocket wallet that finally and truly deserves the honor of actually being carried in that place.
Minneapolis-based Supr Good Co. initially launched the Slim in August, with a funding goal of just $ 10,000 and an estimated shipping date of September for their minimalist wallet design, which essentially is just an elastic sheath measuring only 3mm thick. The U.S.-made wallet still boasts classic good looks despite its simplicity, however, thanks to a striking contrast-stitched “X” front-and-center where the two ends of the elastic material used in its construction meet.
Because of the wallet’s simplicity, a reviewer like myself doesn’t need to mince words: this is pretty much a perfect slim wallet for those who want just the basics in a lightweight, convenient package. I carry just four cards and some bills, all of which tuck into the Slim snugly in a way that leaves me confident nothing is going to accidentally fall out or go missing. It manages to be slimmer than the Fossil front pocket wallet it replaces, and a lot lighter, too. I’ve also varied the number of cards I’ve had in there over the past week, and so far, the elastic shows no sign of excess stretch or an inability to return to holding fewer cards securely.
Supr missed their original shipping target by a fair margin, but they were very transparent about their reasons for doing so, and they did also eventually deliver a terrific product. The online shop hasn’t officially opened yet, but you can register your interest for the Slim when it does start to ship to the general public. Kickstarter may not have the security of ordering gadgets from established companies, but when it works, it results in some amazing stuff that you aren’t likely to be able to pick up elsewhere.
No one would characterize existing factory robots as especially warm and fuzzy: they’re usually disembodied limbs that are more likely to cut you than hug you. Rethink Robotics wants to put a friendly face on those machines, both figuratively and literally. Its about-to-ship Baxter worker robot carries a touchscreen face that’s as much about communicating its intent as giving humans something more relatable. Likewise, it’s designed to be easily programmed by its organic coworkers and react appropriately — you guide Baxter by one of its two arms to tell it what to do, and its combination of cameras and a quad-core processor let it adapt to real-world imperfections. Even the series elastic actuators in its arms give it a softer, subtler movement that’s less likely to damage products or people. While Baxter isn’t as ruthlessly quick as most of its peers, the relatively low $ 22,000 price and promise of an SDK for its Linux brain in 2013 should make it easier to accept than the six-digit costs and closed platforms of alternatives. We just hope we’re not being lulled into a false sense of security as lovable robots invade our manufacturing base ahead of the inevitable Robopocalypse.
[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]
While most of its energy is focused on the XO-4 Touch, the One Laptop Per Child project is swinging into full gear for software, too. The project team has just posted an OS 12.1.0 update that sweetens the Sugar for at least present-day XO units. As of this latest revamp, text-to-speech is woven into the interface and vocalizes any selectable text — a big help for students that are more comfortable speaking their language than reading it. USB video output has been given its own lift through support for more ubiquitous DisplayLink adapters. If you’re looking for the majority of changes, however, they’re under-the-hood tweaks to bring the OLPC architecture up to snuff. Upgrades to GTK3+ and GNOME 3.4 help, but we’re primarily noticing a shift from Mozilla’s web engine to WebKit for browsing: although the OLPC crew may have been forced to swap code because of Mozilla’s policies on third-party apps, it’s promising a much faster and more Sugar-tinged web experience as part of the switch. While they’re not the same as getting an XO-3 tablet, the upgrades found at the source link are big enough that classrooms (and the occasional individual) will be glad they held on to that early XO model.
After proving that a 1080p webcam on USB 3.0 was possible, to the surprise of none, Point Grey’s latest addition is a little more impressive, This “ice-cube sized” camera can pipe 4096 x 2160 images through that capacious USB 3.0 port, using Sony’s new IMX1221 Exmor R sensor. Thanks to its size, the camera is geared toward business-centric applications, including broadcasting and high-resolution optical inspection — which goes some way to explaining the $ 945 retail price. The full technical spec sheet waits in the press release, right after the break.
Replacing a house full of switches and dials with a single remote seems a desirable proposition, but less-than-intuitive setup processes and fees that run far into the thousands make a disconnected home the only option for some. Like other home automation system manufacturers, Control4 has a bounty of offerings that can run up pricing into that out-of-reach range, but if you’re looking to adjust audio and video in a single room, the new Starter Kit should get you going for just shy of a grand, including installation. That price includes a HC-250 Controller, which delivers IR control for up to eight components (via splitters connected to the four IR ports on the rear), serial control for up to two receivers or other systems and IP control for an unlimited number of devices. There’s also an SR-250 ZigBee remote in the box, which offers full control through a television interface (HDMI and component outputs can be found on the HC-250′s rear). You can also have full access through a variety of add-ons, including a $ 999 7-inch in-wall touchscreen with camera, a portable version for the same price, or any Android, iOS or Mac device — access licenses for smartphones, tablets and computers run $ 199 each, or $ 499 to cover the entire home.
The Starter Kit can enable control of a single room, which may be fine for some users — to add additional home theater setups you can bring on more HC-250s at $ 599 a pop. There’s also an option to add ZigBee lighting controls ($ 129 per switch), ZigBee door locks ($ 150 to $ 350) or a door intercom unit with camera ($ 799). All-in, outfitting a large home can be quite pricey, and the Starter Kit is designed to get folks in the door, rather than to deliver a complete solution. We tested the controller with a TV, audio system, a pair of lights on two zones, the door intercom and a deadbolt, and all performed seamlessly without an hiccups. We also took a look at the intuitive drag-and-drop PC-based interface, which owners can use to change macros and add media. Introducing new components to the rig will require a dealer service call (or remote access, if you’re just trying to loop in something like a NAS to serve up content). The Control4 Starter Kit is available through third-party dealers beginning today, including Magnolia Home Theater in select Best Buy stores (in that case, Geek Squad will handle the install). That sub-$ 1,000 figure factors in two hours of labor, and may climb a bit higher depending on dealer rates. Still, if you’re just looking to get your feet wet, this seems to be a solid solution. Thumb through the gallery below for a closer look at the components and interface.
Gallery: Control4 Starter Kit hands-on
If you’re a Google Maps fan living in Hong Kong, New Zealand or Norway today’s your lucky day, as the search specialists from Mountain View, CA have added live traffic condition information to the geographic platform. Those wondering just how dismal their evening commute will be can navigate to maps.google.com, or use the various mobile applications, to see the verdict. Google notes that the information is available for “major cities and highways” and that it is working to expand and improve reach over time. Don’t be shy, hit-up your Maps medium of choice, drop the traffic layer into place and feast your eyes on the manifestation of urban sprawl.
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If you’re one of those worried about the battery on your expensive EV running out, look away now. Envia has unveiled a new cell that boasts a record-breaking energy density of 400Wh/kg (most currently offer between 100 and 150). It’s estimated that when commercialized, this could bring the cost of a 300-mile range EV down to as little as $ 20,000. The performance gains come from a special manganese-rich cathode and silicon-carbon nano-composite anode combination. The battery maker is also partly owned by GM, which unsurprisingly means we’re likely to see these very cells in its EVs in the future. Perhaps with the right choice of upholstery, we might see even better savings? Want to know more? Tap the fully charged press release parked just after the break.
Continue reading Envia’s GM-backed battery delivers huge energy density, lower costs, headaches for competitors
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Benjamin J. Heckendorn is no stranger to game pads designed for people with disabilities, but the macro controller he just whipped up for Patrick Crowley (pictured above) might be his most impressive accessibility hack yet. On the latest episode of his show the modding extraordinaire crafts a breakout box that allows a complex set of commands to be triggered with just the touch of a button or foot switch. The box at the heart of the project is powered by a PIC microcontroller that takes inputs from a series of modular switches (up to eight) and turns them into virtual button presses that are fed to an Xbox 360 through a standard controller. In addition to being able to swap in eight different inputs, each one can be programmed to perform a different macro. We won’t ruin all of the fun — check out the PR and full episode after the break to watch everything from Ben Heck’s holiday epiphany through the final testing.
Continue reading Ben Heck delivers holiday cheer to gamer with modded macro controller
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Developers, start your engines. T-Mobile’s version of the Samsung Galaxy S II was the slowest in the family to get the official kernel source. It’s here now, though, arriving on Sammy’s site a whole four days after the phone’s release; this isn’t an eternity by any means, but its counterparts had the source available no later than the actual launch date. No matter the reason, make your way to Samsung’s official site to dive in and make some magic happen.
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It’s a year since Lockheed Martin won the contract to provide an unmanned cargo delivery system to the US military and now its first K-MAX helicopter is just about ready for duty. The 6,000-pound RC chopper is scheduled to journey to the manifold fronts of Afghanistan next month, where it’ll get busy ferrying its own bodyweight in ammo and supplies to needy anthills up to 200km away. And, if things get too sticky for laptop flying, there’s always room for a brave soul to jump in there and grab the controls. You’ll find a fresh demo video after the break, plus we’ve also stuck in that fancy clip from last year to rotor your memory.
Continue reading K-MAX unmanned chopper delivers Air Force salute to Afghan danger (video)
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