Category Archives: Toys

Lego Bridge



In the Germany city of Wuppertal urban artist Martin Heuwold, aka MEGX, has transformed a dull grey concrete railway bridge into a brightly coloured Lego construction.

Here’s the bridge as it originally appeared.

Original Bridge

And here it is after the reconstruction.

Lego Bridge

Of course, the bridge hasn’t really been rebuilt with super-sized Lego Duplo bricks but instead the brick-effect has been painted on. It’s very convincing, though. Regrettably the Lego bridge can only stay in place for four weeks.

Lego Bridge

All pictures courtesy of Martin Heuwold. There are more on his website.


Nanodots Magnetic Construction at The Gadget Show



Nanodots are small but strongly magnetic balls ideal for playing and building shapes. About 5 mm across, they’re incredible tactile and once you start playing with them, it’s very hard to stop. They’re surprisingly heavy, but great stress relievers.

Nanodots

New to the UK, Nanodots come in a range of four colours – original, silver, gold and black – but they’re all the same size and fit together. Purchased in packs of 216 balls, there are enough to make small cubes, pyramids, diamonds and so on, but the fun really starts when you have lots of balls. Here’s a chess set.

Nanodots Chess Set

If you look closely, you’ll see that the chess pieces are on a Nanopad. It’s a magnetic mat that works with the Nanodots to help build structures that would otherwise be impossible (because the balls would slip or skid away on a ordinary surface). There are more amazing Nanodot creations at Dotpedia.

The Nanodots are available direct online and from other good retailers. Listen to my interview with Daniel to learn more.


Veho Mobile Gear at The Gadget Show



Pebble Power PackVeho probably isn’t the first name that springs to mind when thinking about gadgets but they have a sizeable range from miniature video cameras to digital photo frames and Bluetooth headsets. In the UK, their products are sold in the main big boxes – PC World and Currys.

On Veho’s stand at Gadget Show Live, I played with a USB microscope which showed magnified images on the PC screen. Perhaps a little limited with just two magnification levels (20x or 200x) but good fun nevertheless.

In this interview, James Farmer from Veho takes me through some of the Veho range, including their Muvi miniature DV cameras, Pebble portable battery packs and Mimi wireless speakers. I really liked their Pebble range of battery packs as they had a lovely smooth shape, like the original Palm Pre.

 


At The Gadget Show Live



Gadget Show LiveThe Gadget Show Live bills itself as the UK’s largest consumer electronics event and they’re not kidding. While not on the same scale as CES, it still takes over halls 7 through 12 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. It’s also miles to walk from the train station just to get to the entrance…

The Gadget Show

The day started off well….I met Jason Bradbury, one of the show’s presenters in Starbucks and blagged some free mobile broadband from him (thanks!). We had quick chat about the state of mobile broadband and he thought that Three’s MiFi was the one to get.

Jason Bradbury

Inside the show, there was just gadgetry and gaming everywhere. Check out the Xbox zone with row upon row of Xboxes.

Lots of Xboxes

Certainly 3D TVs were popular but I’d say that audio, and wireless streaming in particular, was definitely the flavour of the month. All the big hitters – Bowers and Wilkins, Sonos, Denon, Phillips, Sony were showing off audio solutions in one shape or form. And the single most common product were the portable vibration speakers – I must have seen about ten different variants.

VW up!

Personally, the best “product” was a test drive in Volkswagen’s new city car, the up!. In this particular test drive, I had drive into a wall. No, really…only the car detects the wall and automatically applies the brakes. It’s a low speed system that works up to about 15 mph and is really intended to prevent those minor fender-benders in slow moving queues.

Quite a few car audio specialists at the show too, including Kenwood and this tricked out VW Scirocco. The matt silver paint was eye-catching.

Kenwood VW Scirocco

On a smaller scale, Jumbo were showing off the modern versions of classic children’s games that are now available for the iPad along with complementary game accessories. I’ll be reviewing the games later on.

Goose

That’s about it as a summary of the day – it was a lot of fun but tiring walking around. I have about 20 interviews from a range of companies that I need to get on-line as well, so expect those to trickle out over the next week or so.

 

 


GNC Hits The Gadget Show Live



Gadget Show LiveNext week sees one of the major technology events in the UK with The Gadget Show Live at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Born out of the Channel 5 TV show of the same name, it combines exhibition space with theatrical performances, making it more consumer than business and a great deal of fun.

The show is the UK’s biggest consumer electronics event and there’s now a press and professional day at the beginning of the week. Fortunately I’ve been invited along on Tuesday so I’ll be reporting back on the latest gadgets and technology. Depending on bandwidth, I’ll try some live-blogging and I’m taking along a digital voice recorder too to get a few interviews. It’s the first time I’ve attended so it will be interesting to see how it goes.

There’s a list of exhibitors here though the floor plan is bit easier to handle as it’s split up into various zones – audio, gaming, automotive, photo, home and international. Many of the big companies are here – Samsung, Dell, Canon, EA, Sennheiser, AMD – plus quite a few smaller ones. If there’s any particular vendor that you want me to hunt down, just leave a comment below and I’ll do my best.


World Pride’s Spy Gadgets



Bluetooth WatchWorld Pride is unlikely to be a name that you’ve heard of, but once you see a few of their gadgets in the video, you’ll recognise them from the gadget stores and catalogues. Jeffrey and Jamie chat with Jim.

The team at World Pride visit factories in Asia and try to spot cool gadgets that haven’t yet made it to market in the US. They then work closely with the factory to refine the product for US consumers. On show here are examples of gadgets that World Pride has already brought or will be bringing to the market.

One of the watches in the interview has a Bluetooth receiver and when someone rings your mobile phone, the watch will display the name or number of the person calling. As Jamie mentions, great if you are in a meeting and want to know if you should take a call.

Other gadgets include a pen and a watch with a video camera built-in and finally, there’s a miniature digital camera. It’s only about an inch wide but it looks like a tiny point-and-shoot camera while still taking 5 MP pictures and HD video.

Interview by Jeffrey “Austin” Powers of Geekazine and Jamie “007” Davis of the MedicCast and the Nursing Show.

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Ivee Digit Alarm Clock



Ivee Digit talking alarm clockThe Ivee Digit alarm clock looks like an ordinary bedside LCD or LED alarm clock…but would it be at CES if it was just that? Andy and Courtney finds out what makes Ivee tick.

The Ivee Digit understands natural language and can respond to 35 voice commands and speaks the date, time and temperature. The big sister, Flex, includes a radio as well. You can tell Digit to set the alarm, tell you the time or snooze for another five minutes as you roll over for more ZZzzs.

Here’s a typical conversation with Ivee.

You: Hello Ivee
Ivee: Say a command
You: Set alarm 1
Ivee: Please tell me the alarm time
You: Seven o’clock am
Ivee: Alarm 1 is set to 7:00 am

Aside from the novelty value, it’s great for people who are short-sighted.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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AfterShokz Bone Conducting Headphones



AfterShokz Headphones LogoBruce from AfterShokz shows off their bone-conducting headphones to Courtney at this year’s CES.

Previously the preserve of military specialists and bored long-distance swimmers, bone-conducting headphones transmit sound to the inner ear via the skull bones rather than down the ear canal. This method has several advantages over headphones and earbuds including much improved hygiene and comfort. They’re good for outdoor activities and cycling as not only do the headphones grip firmly, they allow outside sounds in so you hear that truck bearing down on you before it actually hits you.

The AfterShokz headphones are available now in three different models, Sport ($59.95), Mobile ($69.95) and Game ($69.95). The Mobile model has an in-line microphone and jack for use with mobile phones. The Game version also has an in-line mic but connects via USB.

Interview by Courtney Wallin of SDR News.

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Flash Drives….Now in Color



Pantone Orange Flash DriveFlash drives are ten-a-penny these days but these color matched thumb drives from Pantone are pretty cool, especially if you are interested in design. Currently available in fourteen different Pantone colors, the aluminum designed drives can be laser engraved on the front and back with a company logo, web address or simply your name and phone number. Great idea as a corporate gift that includes your design portfolio but fun as your personal drive too.

Capacities range from 1 GB up to 16 GB, with pricing from $12.99 to $49.99.


Sennheiser Brings New Earphones to CES



Sennheiser today announced that it would be presenting its latest in-ear headphones, the IE 60 and IE 80, at CES in January. Extending the Professional line, the new models build on Sennheiser’s experience in the music business and are aimed at audio enthusiasts who want the best possible sound quality from MP3 players and smartphones.

The IE 60 and IE 80 ear-canal phones are ideal for discerning listeners who want to hear music with the finest possible detail,” explained Eric Palonen, senior product specialist for Sennheiser’s consumer electronics division. “Based on the huge success of our earlier models and the overwhelmingly positive feedback from our customers, we developed new models that have an even more innovative design.

The IE 60 has passive noise attenuation of up to 20 dB, with a frequency response of 10 to 18,000 Hz, tuned to deliver modern rock and pop. The IE 80 provides a frequency response of 10 to 20,000 Hz with a passive noise attenuation of up to 26 dB, but its special feature is a unique sound tuning function. By using a miniature rotating control, the user is able to increase or reduce the bass response to suit the music being played.

Sennheiser IE60 Earbuds / HeadphonesSennheiser IE60 Earbuds / Headphones

The IE 60 and IE 80 are available now for MSRPs of $250 and $450 respective, though you can find them online for about half of that. Still, serious prices for serious sound. The full spec sheets (.pdf) are here and here, respectively.