BeeWi Combat Toys

BeeWi LogoTodd and Don have some fun with Tobias Schoeler from French wireless specialists, BeeWi, and on show at CES are Bluetooth battle robots. Controlled from a smartphone app, the robots can fight against themselves or other BeeWi remote controlled toys including helicopters. Very cool and lots of fun.

The robots will be available in the first half of 2014 priced at US$35 and will be supported on Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices. More information and more toys at www.bee-wi.com.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor, and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Syma S107G Helicopter Review

According to the packaging, the Syma S107G is an “alloy infrared remote control helicopter ” with “3.5 channel gyro system” but all you need to know is that it’s an easy-to-fly toy helicopter, tremendous fun and very inexpensive. Anything else is superfluous.

In the box, there’s a helicopter, a remote control unit, a USB charging cable and few spare blades to help with the odd accident or two. The ‘copter measures about 22 cm from nose to tail, with a similar rotor diameter. If you haven’t seen these toys before, they have contra-rotating main blades which keeps the helicopter stable in the air and the rear rotor controls forwards and backwards, rather than rotation. There’s no cyclic pitch here, fortunately.

Syma S107G

The remote control unit is designed to be used with both hands. The throttle lies under the left thumb and directional control is looked after by the right, with action for forwards, backwards, rotate left and rotate right. A knurled knob in the middle of the unit adjusts the rotational trim. Six AA batteries power the handset which may seem like overkill but a small cable stored in the unit can be used to recharge the helicopter’s battery. The S107G’s battery can also be recharged via a supplied USB cable and recharging typically takes around 40 minutes.

Remote Control Unit

The helicopter itself is largely of metal construction, with a plastic nose-cone. After surviving a number of horrific crashes, my opinion is that the S107G is pretty sturdy, especially for the price, but it is eventually going to break. Spare rotor blades are provided in the box but as yet I’ve not had to use any of them and the included instructions suggest that a range of spares can be ordered too. A slider switch turns the ‘copter on and off, and a small charging port takes the recharging cable.

Flying the helicopter is easy as long as you have some level of sensitivity and hand-eye co-ordination. With a little throttle, the helicopter will take-off and hover. Too much throttle and you’ll be hitting the ceiling. Just take it gently. Once the up-and-down has been mastered, rotating left and right will turn the helicopter on the spot. Finally forwards and backwards completes the range of motions but it’s a little trickier to master. Providing you have a sufficient space, you’ll be flying figure 8s in no time.

The S107G is definitely an indoor toy as the helicopter is light and any wind will overpower it. My attempts to fly the S107G outside usually ended up with the chopper in the hedge. Even within a room, flying close to walls and ceilings will affect the flight from reflected air currents, making it much more challenging to fly. Overall the ‘copter is very easy to fly and control, especially in a larger room and in terms of flight time, you’ll get a little over five minutes of flying before a recharge is needed.

S107G Blades Whirring

But this is all irrelevant. All you need to know is that flying the S107G is easy and enormous fun. My daughter and I had a great time with my helicopter chasing her remote control car round a room, or rescuing Lego people from an imaginary disaster.

The S107G is available in three colours from Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com for just £13.50 / $20 which is a ridiculously cheap price when you consider the technology inside these devices. Indulge your inner Airwolf.

(Disclosure – the Syma S107G was a personal purchase.)

The Royal Baby

With the world going ga-ga (or goo-goo) over the Royal baby, it’s inevitable that memorabilia and souvenirs will start appearing in short order. However I was somewhat surprised that my first promotional email, received just a scant two hours after the announcement, was not a medallion or plate but a toy from The Early Learning Centre, a children’s store. Check out this commemorative set, the HappyLand Royal Baby Set.

HappyLand Royal Baby Set

Congratulations to the ELC’s marketing team for their rapid response to the happy event.

 

The My Learning Table by D-Redshop

My Learning TableD-Redshop introduced their newest learning device for children, the My Learning Table. They took the idea of the old fashion learning table by Fisher Price and brought it into the twenty-first century. The table works in conjunction with the My Learning App available on the iPad which goes in the middle of the table. The My Learning App has different games to play depending on the learning level of the child. Each game helps the child to learn something like the alphabet, numbers, color matching, eye-hand coordination and more. It is based on the award system. The idea is to integrated touch with physical interaction. Children learn while have fun at the same time. The My Learn Mini is similar to the My Learning Table, expect that the mini is separate from the tablet. Great for times and circumstances when the My Learn Table is not practicable. It works with the My Learning Mini App on the iPad.

The My Learning Table should be available for around $100.00 at various retail stores. D-redshop the maker of the Learning Table is looking for developers to develop apps for the My Learning suite. Further information about developing for the My Learning suit is available contacting D-Redshop.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net and Daniel J. Lewis of the The Noodle.mx Network and the Audacity to Podcast

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Sphero Meets Sharky the Beaver

Sphero LogoGNC first saw Sphero at CES last year and it’s a really cool toy: a rugged waterproof ball controlled from a smartphone or tablet. So what has Sphero been up to in the past year…Todd and Don find out from Ian Bernstein, CTO Founder.

While the  hardware is unchanged from last year, Sphero has grown the number and type of companion apps from around 5 apps to over 20 with several produced by third parties. New on the scene is a mixed reality app which uses the tablet or smartphone’s camera to track Sphero and overlay Sharky the Beaver on the device’s screen. It’s particularly fun as the real-world interaction with Sphero creates a relationship with the cartoon character which makes it that bit more believable.

Sphero works with both iOS and Android devices, and retails for around $130. Lots of fun and there’s an SDK if you feel like rolling your own (sorry!)

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor and Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Parrot AR.Drone 2.0

Parrot AR.DroneRemote control vehicles are fun and remote control aircraft doubly so. Imagine then how much fun a remote control quadricopter is, especially when it’s controlled by wifi from your smartphone. Todd takes flying lessons from Parrot’s Julian.

The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 is an update of the original AR.Drone, with the main difference being an HD camera on the drone which streams video footage of the flight back to the device so the operator can see what the Drone is seeing. The AR.Drone 2.0 is controlled via wifi from either an Apple or Android  tablet/smartphone.

There’s some pretty sophisticated technology in the AR.Drone. For example, it has a downward-facing camera that the Drone uses to track motion over the ground. On a windy day, the Drone can hold position over a spot by using this camera to detect wind-blown motion and then compensate for it. Very clever and cool.

The AR.Drone is pricey enough but not unaffordable at $299. Available now from good retailers worldwide.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Daniel Lewis of The Audacity Podcast for the TechPodcast Network.

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Combat Creatures Attacknid at CES

Combat Creatures' AttacknidThe mechanised carnage and wanton destruction of Battlebots and Robot Wars is great fun but you need some serious robotics chops to build that level of machine. The Attacknid is an affordable toy alternative from from Combat Creatures – Andy McCaskey finds out more.

The Attacknid is a remote-controlled insect-like robot with a modular gun that fires discs or balls. The premise is simple…you and a friend (or friends) control the robots, shooting at each other’s machine. Three hits to the “battle brain” of the robot and it’s dead. Lots of fun and I can imagine this will be a great Christmas present.

Available in the UK now and will be coming to the USA in the fall for around $100.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News for the Tech Podcast Network.

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Space Invaders

Wind up Space InvadersSpace Invaders marched into the arcades in 1978, making the pixellated alien an instant classic, daa-da-ing his way backwards and forwards across the screen. Designed by Tomohiro Nishikado, Space Invaders brought video games to a worldwide audience.

The National Media Museum in Bradford, England, is offering a range of Space Invader-themed novelty items that would make great stocking fillers for old and young geeks alike. There’s an ice cube tray full of Space Invaders (£6), a Space Invaders-themed iPhone cover (£6), a pocket Space Invaders game (£8) and a wind-up Space Invader (£8). With the 80s being particular in vogue at the moment, anything Space Invaders is undoubtedly cool.

Space Invader Ice TraySpace Invader iPhone Cover

Somewhat bizarrely, you can’t order these on-line and you have to actually phone up to place an order. It’s probably taking the retro experience a bit too far but there you go. Order from the Museum Shop to beat the Christmas rush on 01274 203448 for our UK readers.

While reviewing the Museum of Media’s website (vainly looking for the on-line store), I also discovered that the Museum has a Videogame Archive, dedicated to consoles long forgotten such as the Nintendo Famicom. There’s also an Internet and Home Computing collection, with several items looking very familiar, including a BBC Microcomputer.

Worth a quick browse on-line or a real-world visit if you are in the neighbourhood.

CarBot : An RC Car You Control With Your Phone

CarBot is the world’s first micro-robotic toy that you can control with your iOS or Android device. It is made by Desk Pets International. To make CarBot go, you must get a free downloadable app and a SmartPhone adapter (which is included with the purchase of a CarBot). The adapter plugs into your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android device. The micro-robotic car has a built-in battery. It also has a USB flip down charger.

There are several different ways to play with CarBot. You can navigate it through a maze, or you can find a way for it to get around obstacles. Race your CarBot against your friend’s or sibling’s CarBot. It is also possible for two CarBots to battle each other.

Desk Pets International has been named an International CES Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree for CarBot. You can check out CarBot in person if you attend CES 2013. Desk Pet’s CarBot will be on display in The Venetian at the 2013 International CES, from January 8, 2013, through January 11, 2013. The event takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada.

All Honorees of the International CES Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Awards will also be displayed at CES Unveiled: The Official Press Event of the International CES. You can see CarBot in the South Seas Ballroom C at Mandalay Bay on January 6, 2013, from 4:00 p.m. through 7:00 p.m.

Image by Desk Pets International

Powered Bodyboard

Design Icon out of Kowloon, Hong Kong, has created this great concept for a powered bodyboard. Driven by three electrically-powered propellers, the board’s deck has embedded solar cells to extend the battery life, while adjustable buoyancy lets the board both ride the waves and go completely submerged. I want one.

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept Deck

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept

Design Icon Bodyboard Concept Snorkeller

All images courtesy of Design Icon.