Air Type: “keyboardless keyboard” that lets you type on anything, anywhere

air-type_655x438Sick of struggling to type on your phone or tablet? It’s one of the main issues people have with mobile devices and the reason why compact laptops remain so popular.

Certain companies have devised ways to incorporate discreet keyboards into tablet-style devices, such as the Microsoft Surface with its ‘type cover’ or the Lenovo Yoga Pad that folds in half. However, a start up in Texas is working on a prototype that will allow you to type anywhere, without the need for a keyboard at all.

Air Type is being billed as a “keyboardless keyboard” that allows you to type on any surface thanks to a pair of cuff style sensor units that fit around your hands and detect your finger movements. Unlike other virtual keyboards that project an outline of a keyboard onto a flat surface, Air Type will provide no outline whatsoever.

Airtype-keyless-keyboard-innovative-ideaFirst impressions are that it would be nigh on impossible to touch type accurately enough without a guide, but the company behind Air Type claims that you won’t have to, as the cuffs will have adaptive technology that allows them to learn to adjust to your typing habits in much the same way as voice recognition software learns to recognise speech patterns.

Air Type will also come with an app that provides autocorrect and text prediction.

The cuffs are slim and unobtrusive, and to make them even more portable, they will clip onto your tablet when you’re on the move.

It all sounds great in theory but as the project is still in the early stages of development, we’ll have to wait and see whether the team is able to deliver on its objectives.

Could you see yourself using a “keyboardless keyboard”?

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LG announces advanced rollable and transparent TV screens

LG Flex screenPioneers of the OLED TV market, LG has announced two ground breaking new screens, one of which is transparent, and another that can be rolled into a 3cm diameter cylinder.

Various companies have been developing flexible screens, but LG’s latest offering is the most impressive to date. The paper-thin 18-inch screen has a backplane made of “high molecular substance-based polyimide film” rather than plastic, which makes it highly flexible. The screen has a resolution of 1200 x 810, which remains undistorted even when rolled into a tight tube.

With its new transparent screen, which is just as thin, LG has managed to increase transmittance by 30% to provide a much better transparent effect when switched off and has reduced haziness to produce a much clearer picture when turned on.

LG transparent screenLG says it’s confident that by 2017 it will have successfully developed an Ultra HD flexible and transparent OLED panel of more than 60 inches that will have transmittance of more than 40 percent and a curvature radius of 100R.

While 60-inch flexible screens are likely to be prohibitively expensive for the mass market, the technology offers exciting prospects for innovations in other areas, particularly wearables and tablets.

Do you think flexible and transparent TV screens are the future?



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Pavlock: a wearable designed to shock

pavlockFind yourself lacking will power or struggling to kick bad habits? Well, an altogether different type of wearable has been developed to help give you the push you need, by shocking you!

Pavlock is a wristband that’s designed to encourage habit forming by zapping the wearer with a mild electric shock when they don’t comply with certain tasks that it’s been programmed to monitor. For example, you can programme it wake you up by vibrating at a certain time. You’ll have the option to snooze it, but if you snooze it too often, it’ll shock you.

It might sound a bit extreme but the device has been developed following in-depth research into human psychology, which asserts that we respond to negative reinforcement.

pavlokgroupjtHowever, as positive reinforcement and social encouragement are also influential factors, the band works on these levels too. An app will allow you to team up with a buddy so you can monitor each other’s activity. If you fail to complete a task, for example swipe in at the gym or log a run, your buddy will be able to shock you.

Pavlock has been proven to yield results in beta testing, but whether or not people would be prepared to shell out $250 (£146) for what is effectively a torture implement, remains to be seen!

However, the band’s developer, Maneesh Sethi has confidence in his product and plans to launch it for crowdfunding in September with a view to having it on general sale by early 2015.

Do you think there will be a market for Pavlock? Would you try one?

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GOkey: charger, cable, flash drive and locator, all on one small key ring

GokeyBottle openers, torches, USB sticks, supermarket reward cards… you’ll find them all designed to go on a key ring these days. However, none are as smart and useful as GOkey, a key ring that acts as a portable phone charger, USB cable, locator and flash drive all in one small fob.

This powerful little device can give your smartphone up to 2 hours extra battery life when you’re out and about, and also contains a USB cable so you can sync and charge it from any computer. It also comes with either 8, 16 or 32 GB of flash memory so you can store photos, video, music or other files.

If this wasn’t handy enough, GOkey also features a built in locator that uses Bluetooth to help you find your either your smartphone or your keys.

gokey-keyringGOkey comes in either white or black and offers either Lightning or micro USB connectivity so it can be used with either iPhone, Android or Windows devices.

The project has just raised over $1 million through its campaign on crowdfunding website Indiegogo, by far exceeding their goal of $40,000. The additional funding has allowed them to add extra features to the product including a GPS tracking app; USB 3.0 with 5 times faster transfer speed; phone remote, which allows you to operate native apps that are open on the foreground of your phone; and a file manager app that allows you to copy and paste files from GOkey to your device.

The team behind GOkey aims to have the finished product ready for shipping by January 2015. Prices are expected to start from $69 (£40) when it goes on sale in retail outlets.

What do you think of GOkey? Would you buy one?

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Google’s first Android Wear smartwatches go on sale

LG G Watch

LG G Watch

One of several announcements made by Google at its annual I/O developers conference yesterday was news that the first smartwatches powered by its Android Wear operating system have finally gone on sale.

The Samsung Gear Live and LG G Watch are now available to pre-order through Google Play, with shipping expected on 7 July. Those who’ve been holding out for the eagerly awaited Motorola 360, which also runs Android Wear, will have to wait until “later this summer” for it to go on sale.

With its new smartwatch-specific operating system, Google hopes to make Android Wear the ‘go-to’ platform for developers. Analysts believe that part of the reason that smartwatches have failed to take off thus far is due lack of decent apps. However, it’s thought that a standardised platform such as Android Wear will encourage the development of better integrated, more sophisticated and widely used apps.

Another factor that’s deemed to be crucial to the success of smartwatches is the ability for them to be used as passively as possible. This is something that Google has focused on with Android Wear. The user interface is based around Google Now cards, which can be easily navigated using swipe, and press and hold gestures. Voice commands are also an integral feature.


Samsung Gear Live

The £145 LG G Watch measures 37.9 x 46.5 x 9.95mm, weighs 63 grams, and is available in Black Titan and White Gold. Other specifications include a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor; always-on 1.65-inch IPS (280×280 pixels) display; 4GB of built-in storage; 512MB of RAM; 400mAh battery; Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity; and a 9-axis sensor. It is also dust and water resistant for up to 30 minutes in 1 metre of water.

The Samsung Gear Live costs £118 and looks very similar to the Gear 2 smartwatch that was released earlier in the year. It measures 37.9 x 56.4 x 8.9mm, weighs 59 grams, and has a 1.63-inch Super AMOLED (320×320 pixels) display. It also features a 1.2GHz processor; 512MB off RAM; 4GB of inbuilt storage; Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity; 300mAh battery; heart rate monitor and a range of other sensors including accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass.

Both smartwatches are compatible with smartphones running Android 4.3 or above.

What do you think of Google’s Android Wear and the new smartwatches running it?

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Hexo+ aerial drone autonomously films you in action

hexoplus-0Video edits are big business in the action sports industry these days, for both professionals and amateurs alike. While the arrival of GoPro cameras has significantly improved what can be captured, anyone who’s used a helmet, pole or chest mounted GoPro will appreciate its limitations.

If you want more than some shaky footage with handlebars, pole or weird shaped board flapping around in shot, it generally needs to be filmed by someone else, preferably from above. Previously the only way to do this has been to employ a film crew with helicopters or man-operated drones, which is fine if you happen to be sponsored by Red Bull, but makes it unobtainable for us mere mortals.

However, Californian start-up Squadrone System has invented an ingenious aerial drone that will follow you as you move, without the need for a filming partner.

hexoplusThe Hexo+ is designed to carry a GoPro camera and tracks its subject via a smartphone app. The six-rotor device is capable of travelling at up to 45 miles per hour and can track and film its subject within a range of 164 feet. You can also programme the drone to film you from a precise distance and angle.

The device does have its limitations. Firstly, it only has 15 minutes battery life, which means no time for endless retakes. It also has no capacity for obstacle avoidance, which is fine in the open mountains, but might be a bit problematic if you want it to film yourself mountain biking down a forest trail.

However, this hasn’t proved to be a deterrent to the huge number of supporters who’ve already backed the project. Hexo+ was launched on Kickstarter on Saturday (15 June) and smashed its $50,000 target within only 2 hours. At the time of publication it had reached a massive $548,000 of backing with 27 days still to go.

hexoplus-2It also has the some of the biggest names in action sports behind it, including 3 times world champion freeride snowboarder Xavier de la Rue, who like many others, sees it as having the potential to revolutionise the world of action sports filming.

Early backers can get the Hexo+ for $599 (£353) on its own, or $699 (£412) with a GoPro Hero 3 White Edition camera, and are expected to receive the device in May 2015. When it goes on sale it will cost $899 (£530) without the camera.

What do you think?

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Turn your existing watch into a smartwatch with a Glance

Glance-Smartwatch-TransformerWith the smartwatch market set to grow even more in the coming months thanks to hotly anticipated arrivals from Apple and Google, a Toronto based start up is aiming to offer an alternative with a clever little device that allows you to transform your existing wrist watch into a smartwatch.

Glance from Kiwi Wearables is essentially a standalone smartwatch face that can be tucked under any tightly fitting wristband.

As with existing smartwatches on the market, Glance will notify users of incoming calls, texts and emails that are being received by their smartphone. It will also offer the ability to respond to texts at the touch of a button with pre-programmed messages. It includes a 3D motion sensor to track users’ activity, and can be used to control a smart TV or computer with motion gestures. Its Lithium Polymer battery will give it around a week’s worth of battery life with one charge and it will also be waterproof to 5 ATM.

Glance2-300x196Initially Glance will be compatible with Android and iOS devices but the creators aim to eventually extend that to BlackBerry and Windows Phone. It will be available in three sizes and come with a plain leather strap.

Glance is currently seeking backing on Kickstarter and at the time of publication had reached $50,000 of its $150,000 goal with 16 days to go.

With a price tag of only £40, if successful, Glance could offer the perfect solution for those keen to keen to test the waters of wearable tech without having to swap their favourite watch or bracelet for a chunky smartwatch.

Over to you…

What do you think of Glance?

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Sony to release Playstation TV in North America and Europe

playstationvita-tv_2665670bLast week the gaming world descended on LA for the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3. While general consensus was that it wasn’t a vintage show there were still some noteworthy announcements, such as the news that Sony that it will be releasing Playstation TV in the US, Canada and Europe this autumn.

Released in Asia in Novemeber 2013 as Playstation Vita TV, Playstation TV is essentially a cross between a Playstation Vita and a set-top box, which allows users to stream music, film and TV content to the TV, in addition to acting as a mini Playstation. The versatile little box allows gamers to stream PS3 games; download PS1, PSP and PS Vita games; play Vita games straight from the Vita card; and connect remotely to a separate PS4 console, allowing gamers to access it from any TV in the house.

Perhaps most significantly, Playstation TV will be compatible with Sony’s forthcoming streaming service for games, Playstation Now. This service, which has been described as a Netflix for games, will allow users to browse through old titles and play them over a broadband connection.

Playstation TV will be released in in the autumn with the affordable price tag of only £85.

Over to you…

Would you buy a Playstation TV box?

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Amazon launches music streaming service

Amazon Prime MusicIt’s strange to think that not so long ago Amazon was just an online bookstore. These days, as the world’s largest online retailer it sells pretty much everything you can imagine, as well as being a tablet and soon-to-be smartphone manufacturer.

Music streaming is the latest pie for it to get a finger stuck into with the launch of its Prime Music streaming service in the US today.

The service, which aims to rival the likes of Spotify and Beats Music (recently acquired by Apple), is restricted to subscribers of Amazon’s premium membership programme, Amazon Prime. $99 (£59) a year buys subscribers free delivery, e-books and access to an online library of films, TV shows and now music.

Prime Music has no advertising and no restrictions on the number of times users can play a track. Customers will also be able to download tracks in order to listen to them offline. The service will be available through Amazon apps on iOS and Android devices as well as Macs and PCs.

However, with a catalogue of only 1 million tracks, Amazon falls a long way behind Spotify and Beats Music, which each have 20 million tracks, and Deezer, which has 30 million.

Rival services may not be quaking in their boots just yet, but the addition of this latest string to Amazon’s bow is just one more step in its quest for world domination.

Over to you…

What do you think of Amazon’s latest venture?

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Amazon hints at launch of 3D smartphone at June 18 event

amazon inviteAmazon has released an invitation to a product launch in Seattle on 18 June, which is believed to be for a hotly anticipated 3D smartphone. The invitation, which is open to customers and developers as well as the press, was accompanied by a teaser video showing people wowing at the new product, apparently moving it around and making such exclamations as “I’ve never seen anything like this”, “it moved with me” and “it’s very real life”, hinting strongly at the rumoured 3D smartphone.

Rumours of Amazon working on a 3D smartphone have been flying around for a while  and they finally look set to be confirmed. The device will reportedly use four front-facing infrared cameras in conjunction with other sensors in order to create three-dimensional images without the need for 3D glasses.

The cameras, which are located in the four corners of the screen, will be able to track the user’s face and eyes which then allows the phone’s software to make constant adjustments to the on screen elements and alter the perspective of visuals to create the 3D effect.

AmazonOther rumours surrounding the Amazon smartphone are that it will have a 720p 4.7-inch screen, additional front and rear facing 13 MP cameras, and be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM. It would also be expected to run Amazon’s version of Android, Fire OS.

The phone’s name, price and release date are still unknown but Amazon is expected to reveal those details at the launch event on 18 June.

Over to you…

What do you think of the prospect of a 3D smartphone from Amazon?

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