Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Onewheel Electric Skateboard at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 4:29 PM on April 21, 2014

Continuing the rise of personal electric transportation, on show here is the Onewheel, “the world’s first self-balancing electric skateboard”. Think of it as a skateboard deck with one a motorsport-style slick tyre in the middle. The Onewheel is self-stabilising and it’s simple to control – lean in the direction of travel and the Onewheel will start moving forwards. To turn, it’s like an ordinary skateboard, just lean in or out – apparently it takes a only a few minutes to get the hang of it. With a range of about 5 miles, the Onewheel has a top speed of 12 mph, depending on terrain.

Onewheel

The Onewheel was a Kickstarter project and amazingly raised over $630,000 against a $100,000 goal. Obviously no interest at all but I thought I’d better ask Jack a little bit more about it.

Onewheel Balancing

You can pre-order now for delivery towards the end of 2014 at a cost of US$1500.

 

Voltz Electric Bikes at The Gadget Show

Posted by Andrew at 12:32 AM on April 17, 2014

Personal electric vehicles were very much in evidence at The Gadget Show with bicycles, scooters and skateboards all on show from different vendors. Voltz Bikes covered two of these categories; bicycles and scooters.

First up is the Voltz eTrail, an electric mountain bike which was recently road-tested on The Gadget Show itself. With a range of up to 50 miles, the 1.9 kW motor can give some serious “oompf”, technically speaking. Looking over the bike, the attention to detail and component quality is impressive, which is not entirely unsurprising given that it costs around GBP £8,500, which is not cheap.

Voltz eTrail

Next is the brand new eScoot is a electric scooter with a range of 30 miles and a top speed of 20 mph. A range of accessories will be available including the neat trailer shown in the photo below. Also not cheap at £2000 but I could see myself buying one of these or similar – my job requires me to travel between sites that are usually no more than a few miles apart and a vehicle like this would be ideal for those journeys. No worries about parking either! Both the eTrail and eScoot are made in Britain which is great to see in these economic times.

Voltz Bikes Scooter

Dan, who helps make “awesome fun products”, reviews Voltz range with me at The Gadget Show.

The Gadget Show Live

Posted by Andrew at 4:49 PM on April 9, 2014

Gadget Show LiveThe Gadget Show Live is the UK’s closest thing to CES, but that’s like comparing a boxing match to invading Iraq. Where CES takes over most of Las Vegas, the Gadget Show occupies a couple of halls at the NEC outside Birmingham. Nevertheless I popped over for a day to see the latest and greatest tech on show to us Brits and it was fun. I was there for GNC two years ago and this year the show was definitely bigger with a bit more variety. 3D TV was the thing in 2012, but 2014 is electric vehicles, 4K / UHD TVs and multi-rotor aerial vehicles. That’s not to say there weren’t other niche products and I’ve captured a few in audio interviews that I’ll post over the next few days.

Samsung were demonstrating their curved Ultra HD TVs and all I can say is, “Wow!” The screens were totally amazing – almost more real than real – and the detail was incredible. Even the flat, non-curved, versions were pretty stunning. Although the curved versions still have crazy prices, I can’t help but wonder if flat 4K resolution TVs will only be on-sale for a few short years before curved ones become mainstream.

Curved Samsung Screen

Volkswagen brought along the XL 1, a diesel plug-in hybrid, which surprisingly is not a concept car: it’s for sale if you have a fat enough wallet at somewhere in the region of £100,000. At a more realistic level, VW had a bunch of demonstrator e-up! electric cars, which at a little under £20,000 are much more affordable, though the equivalent petrol version costs closer to £8,000. I took a test drive in one and can report that it’s exactly like driving an automatic car, only quieter and with plenty of low speed torque. Top speed of 80 miles per hour and a range of 100 miles make it a perfect second car for the well off.

XL1 Front

 

XL1 Side

 

XL1 Rear

Sony’s been touting the waterproof features of the Xperia Z2 devices and they put their money where their mouth is at Gadget Show Live with a water-filled tank. Not content to simply leave the smartphone in the bottom, a team of scuba and free divers showed that the Z2 was usable under water to take photos. Outstanding.

Xperia Z2 Underwater

Finally, when I was at the show in 2012, Parrot were showing off the AR.Drone and pretty much had the airspace to themselves. Quadricopters were everywhere this year with DJI‘s mulitrotor devices (below) down to Hubsan’s tiny copters that fit in your hand. The future is three-dimensional but not quite in the way the TV manufacturers were hoping.

Multirotor Aerial Vehicle

There was plenty more and I’ll be putting the interviews out over the next few days – expect content from Sony, Canon, Optoma, Toca Boca, TP-Link, DJI and others.

The Gadget Show Live is on until 13th April 2014.

Ford Electric Concept Car

Posted by Andrew at 9:53 PM on March 1, 2014

Ford LogoTodd takes a look at Ford’s C-Max Solar Energi concept car, which amongst other things, features a solar panel roof that uses a special light concentrator lens similar to a magnifying glass to improve the efficiency of the photovoltaic cells. Ford reckons that a day’s worth of sunshine is enough to charge the hybrid’s battery, which is good for 21 electric-only miles.

This is good news for the environment as it would reduce yearly carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions from the average US car by as much as four metric tons – the equivalent of what a American house produces in four months. This probably assumes a perfect sunshine record and maximum electric mileage each day, but, hey, every little bit helps.

Review by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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The i-MiEV ES 2012 is 100% Electric

Posted by JenThorpe at 10:41 PM on October 24, 2012

Last week, my husband and I got to see one of these cute little cars in person. The Farmers’ Market, in downtown San Luis Obispo, California, set aside one of the side streets for the purpose of displaying electric vehicles. This area gathered quite a large crowd of people, many of whom were asking questions about the vehicles to the salesmen who were standing nearby.

Right now, I am driving a 1994 Chevy Cavalier. I love my car, but I realize that it won’t last forever. It was really interesting to get to check out a few different types of electric vehicles. The one that really caught my eye was the i-MiEV ES 2012 The car is 100% electric, and does not use any gas at all. MiEV stands for Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle technology. It is an integrated management system.

Look closely, and you will see a drawing of an electric plug over what would normally be the part that you would open up to fill your car with gas. Instead of using gas, this car is powered by electricity. You need to plug it in. The car comes with a portable charging cable that plugs into a standard 120V household outlet. The car’s battery can be fully charged in about 22.5 hours. Another option is to purchase a home charging dock, which is wall mounted, and can give the battery a full charge in 7 hours.

The car gets 112 MPGe, or “Miles Per Gallon electric”. You cannot measure electrical charge by the gallon, so this is the easiest way to compare the fuel efficiency of the i-MiEV to a vehicle that uses gas. This electric vehicle can travel 62 miles on a fully charged battery. I work from home, and don’t often have to drive further than the local grocery store, so that could work for me.

The i-MiEV comes in four colors: white, black, silver, and a nice burgundy color that seems a very fitting choice for a car that may be driving around in Central California’s wine country. The flyer I picked up about this electric vehicle when I was at Farmers’ Market has all kinds of financial incentives to encourage Californians who qualify for a rebate to purchase the car. I’m going to have to think about this one a bit more, but I am interested.

MyFord Mobile – The Future of Smart Driving?

Posted by AndrewH at 9:40 PM on June 12, 2012

Adoption of electric vehicles in the United States has been a bumpy road, at best. If it wasn’t cost, it was availability. And if it wasn’t availability, it was functionality. For whatever reason, electric cars can’t seem to get traction.

With a new app announced today, Ford is looking to set the tone for what owning an electric car should feel like. Owners of the 2012 Ford Focus Electric can now download the MyFord Mobile iPhone app from either iTunes or www.myfordmobile.com.

The new app makes owning and operating the new electric Focus seem challenging and fun – a little bit like a game. No longer do the selling points of an electric car have to be contained to economic and environmental advantages (although, those are pretty important, too). MyFord Mobile gives you tools to manage your vehicle – like you would manage your calendar or finances.

“The Focus Electric is a fun car to drive and helps save customers money at the pump; with MyFord Mobile, the enjoyment and savings continue after the vehicle is parked and charging,” Bill Frykman, Business and Product Development manager, said. “This innovative app also offers new ways of sharing your driving experiences to create a “cool” factor while educating new Focus Electric drivers on the perks that come with an electric vehicle lifestyle.”

Among the features of the new app:

  • Users can monitor the battery display for the current charge level and for how long the car will need to be plugged in to get a full charge or reach a desired range.
  • A MapQuest-powered trip planner built into both the app and Web portal enables users to find available public charging stations and plan efficient multi-destination routes.
  • Value charging technology (developed with Microsoft) helps customers charge the vehicle at lowest possible costs based on varying electricity rates depending on location, season and time of day. The app uses Microsoft’s cloud computing platform to check local utility rates and then automatically starts charging after the prices drop.
  • Users can program driving schedules and set a desired cabin temperature.
  • Drivers can learn to be more energy efficient by automatically uploading and processing vehicle data from each trip.

The link between smartphone and car is possible via an embedded AT&T wireless module through which drivers can log in at any time.

Of course, app users can make their Ford Focus Electric ownership a social experience by participating in forums on the MyFord Mobile website – featuring leader boards, achievements and social networking. Driving achievements and statistics can also be shared on Facebook and Twitter – probably leaving your friends and followers wondering why your car is talking to them and possibly eliciting references to 1980s TV classic Knight Rider.

Drivers interested in the MyFord Mobile can check out the site and the app as a guest. MyFord Mobile will also work with the upcoming C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids.

Ford Focus Electric

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 8:37 PM on February 23, 2012

Ford Focus Electric Vehicle Ford showed off the Focus Electric Vehicle at CES 2012. Instead of starting from scratch, they took a vehicle that was both familiar and popular with the consumer and the critics and turned it into an electric vehicle. Unlike many of their competitors electric cars which can take up to 8 hours to do a full charge on a 240 volt system. The Ford Focus Electric Vehicle can do a full charge in three to four hours. The addition of MyFord Mobile allows you to control when your car is charging from your computer. So you can charge your car during off-peak hours and stop and start it when you want too. Another third-party that Ford has partner with was MapQuest. So now you can map your trip on your computer or tablet and send it to your car so it there when you are ready to leave.

It can get from 75 to 100 miles per charge and reach up to 100 mph. Ford has placed two battery packs in the car one behind the rear seat and the other under the floor panel in the rear. This allows for maximum capacity while not taking up room where the consumer may want it, such as the trunk. The batteries are encased in steel and protected by the car itself. Ford did a lot of testing to make sure they were safe in case of a crash. This vehicle is made mostly in the U.S. The Michigan plant that is building the powertrain for the Ford Focus Electric Vehicle also builds the powertrain for other vehicles. Ford continues to invest in technology of the future.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine

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Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle

Posted by Andrew at 12:11 PM on April 15, 2011

The Nissan Leaf is expected to be the first “normal” electric car and by the brief look I had today at Charles Hurst Nissan, it’s certainly not far off the mark.

To start with, it looks like a normal four door family saloon. Perhaps a little on the small side for US folk, but perfectly normal in Europe.

Inside, it’s a gadget-lovers dream – electronic dash, GPS, Bluetooth, the works. If you were expecting an electric car to be frugal with the juice, think again.

The gear stick only has three positions – park, forward and reverse – and is finished in a crystal blue that looks pretty good. In the picture, it’s the object in the bottom left.

The interior is pretty roomy, again by European standards. There’s plenty of space for four adults.

Moving round to the boot (trunk), there’s room to get the shopping in or a couple of suitcases.

That is the portable charger you can see in there. Plugs into any UK domestic 230V 3 pin socket.

Which brings us round to the front of the car. Just below the bonnet (hood), there’s a small flap which opens up to show two charging ports. The one on the right is for normal home or domestic charging, the one on the left is for commercial fast charging. Think petrol station for electric vehicles.

On the roof at the rear, there’s an optional rear roof spoiler with a solar panel which can charge the battery. From the size of the panel, I think you’d be waiting awhile to charge from flat, but I suppose every little bit helps.

Chatting to the salesman, he was using the Leaf as his daily car. He felt that the range of 100 miles was realistic and the regenerative braking was effective in returning power to the battery (and stopping the car!). The torque (acceleration) was good and the car easily kept up with other cars on the round. While he’d only driven it up to 70 mph – that’s the legal limit in the UK – the Leaf wasn’t struggling and would reach its top speed of 96 mph.

I would buy one of these in heartbeat – my daily commute is about 7 miles each way and I perhaps drive another 10 miles in the day visiting other businesses, so the 100 mile range would be no limitation. The only snag is the price. At £26,000, it’s nearly three times the price of my daily runabout when it was new and that’s even with a £5,000 discount from the UK Government for EVs. But with petrol prices being what they are – the UK pays about £1.35 per litre, that’s about $7.67 per US gallon – you can see that it can begin to look much more attractive. If the prices come down, I can see that EVs like the Leaf will sell very well as second cars for commuting and school runs.

Sitting next to the Leaf was another exciting Nissan – the GTR. Slightly different approach to motoring, mind you.

Thanks again to everyone at Charles Hurst Nissan in Belfast.

 

Electric Vehicles of the Past

Posted by Andrew at 5:17 PM on February 20, 2011

A few weekends ago, I visited the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Northern Ireland and in the transport part, I came across some electric vehicles. One was a bread delivery van from 1948, one a milk float from 1954 through to 1986, and finally a Post Office van from 1994. Clearly, electric vehicles are not new and as you’ll read later on, the performance of electric cars doesn’t seem to have changed much in the last few decades.

I’ve reproduced the salient parts from the exhibit placards below each photograph.

Bernard Hughes Bread Delivery Van, 1948. This battery electric delivery van was one of a fleet of vehicles used by Bernard Hughes bakery to deliver bread door-to-door. Drivers had a short regular route as the vans could not travel over long distances. With age, the batteries became less reliable and the sight of a battery-powered bread van being towed back to the depot was fairly common.

Co-op Milk Float, 1954. This battery-electric vehicle delivered milk for the Co-operative Society Ltd. from 1954 to 1986. By the 1970s, it was also being used to deliver cream, yoghurt and fruit cordials. Driving the milk float was a slow but simple task. It had an electric motor, powered by batteries. Each night the batteries were recharged at the depot for the next day’s milk round. The maximum speed was 30 mph (48 km/h). It could travel up to 40 miles (64 km) before its batteries needed recharging.

Electric Royal Mail Van, 1994. This electric Ford Ecostar was used by the Royal Mail to enable Ford to test the effectiveness of electric vehicles for working purposes. About 100 of the vans were produced and they were tested throughout North America and Europe.
This van had a top speed of 70 mph (112 km/h) and its charge would last for about 100 miles. Drivers would connect the specially developed battery to a normal domestic supply and wait between five and seven hours for it to charge fully.

This last vehicle is probably the most interesting because it’s not too far off the plug-in electric cars being promoted today.

Ford Ecostar – top speed 70 mph, range 100 miles and charge time approx 7 hours.
Nissan Leaf
– top speed 90 mph, range 109 miles and charge time approx 7 hours.

Note – the UK domestic supply uses 240 V.

So, in nearly 20 years, all we’ve managed to do is increase the top speed?

Ford Introduces The Ford Focus Electric

Posted by tomwiles at 9:17 AM on February 3, 2011

Sean from Ford introduces the all-electric version of the Ford Focus, which is set to be launched in 19 markets in late 2011. This is simply a remarkable vehicle. Esby takes you deep into the heart of the car to get a full rundown of all the features inside and out.  With the need in my family growing for an additional vehicle I could see the green Electric Ford Focus sitting in the driveway.

Interview by Esbjorn Larsen of MrNetCast.com.

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