Category: Gadgets

Will Audeo be the Universal Translator?

A new prototype device, called The Audeo was demonstrated recently (see the video below). The Audeo is a neckband which you can train to read your brain signals and speak what you want to say!

Why would you want to do that? Is this just the gimmick for the world’s laziest person?

Well, in the video, the presenter gives two use cases, the obvious one is for sufferers of Lou Gehrigs disease, or similar who have lost the power of speech. The other, less obvious is if you are in a crowded situation and want to have a confidential phone call (as demonstrated).

The device is still a little rough (it is very slow, and has quite a limited vocabulary) but there is no doubt that it will improve over time.

The first concerns I had when seeing this was, do I really want this device telling everyone what I am thinking? But according to the New Scientist article on The Audeo, this will not be an issue:

Users needn’t worry about that the system voicing their inner thoughts though. Callahan says producing signals for the Audeo to decipher requires “a level above thinking”. Users must think specifically about voicing words for them to be picked up by the equipment.

Now, if only they could build translation into it as well, you would have the universal translator. I think in English, and it speaks in the language of my audience! 10 years tops it will happen I reckon!

via Mike

Fancy becoming Telekinetic?

The BBC are reporting today that a US/Australian firm Emotiv has developed a headset which:

reads electrical impulses in the brain and translates them into commands that a video game can accept and control the game dynamically

This is the headset in action:

The headset is due to go on sale later this year for around $299.

I wonder though if there are more worthwhile uses of this technology. I’m thinking particularly of applications for people with disabilities…

Is the iPod Touch the ultimate Internet tablet?

I recorded a video on Seesmic yesterday on why I think the iPod Touch is a spectacular Internet Tablet. It has an amazing screen, great UI, and tiny form factor.

Seesmic now includes the ability to embed videos you record there, so rather than go over it again I thought I’d embed the video here. The quality of Seesmic videos is poor, sorry about that!

A lot of the functionality I’m referring to in the iPod Touch is new and was announced at MacWorld 2008 earlier this week.

Microsoft ruins Christmas!

I decided a while back to treat myself to a games console for Christmas and after some discussion, I settled on an Xbox 360. I would have bought a Wii except it doesn’t have a usable optical drive and we don’t have a DVD drive so I wanted the games console to double as a DVD drive.

I bought a Pro Console with wireless controllers to cut down on the cable clutter. I bought Viva Pinata and Pixar’s Cars which I could play with my three year old son Tomás (Cars is one of Tomás’ favourite movies).

He was very excited he was going to play these games as soon as his papa had set up the new Xbox on Christmas day.

Imagine the tears rolling down his disappointed little face when I had to tell him that he couldn’t play with his new games because the Xbox wouldn’t work with our TV (pdf).

I called Microsoft’s Support line and kudos to them for having it manned on Christmas day but the news wasn’t good. The staff there informed me that I needed to purchase a high def adaptor if I wanted my high definition games console to work on my high definition tv. Obviously.

And it is not that they wouldn’t work in high definition only, no they wouldn’t work in high def or regular.

And where could I get one of these? “At your nearest Xbox reseller” – yeah good luck finding one of those open on Christmas day.

This is completely ridiculous – this is a problem created by Microsoft. There is already a standard in place around high definition cabling. It is called HDMI. HD Ready TVs have a HDMI input, by definition. All Microsoft had to do was put a standard HDMI connector on their AV cable and their Xbox would work on every HD Ready TV out of the box.

But no, Microsoft go with their non-standard cable so they can gouge us for another 30 or 40 Euros.

In our house, Microsoft is not the Borg, Microsoft is the Grinch who stole Christmas.

Thanks a million Microsoft. Your cheapness destroyed my son’s Christmas.

Nokia N70 review

I finally splashed out and bought the Nokia N70 last week and I have been using it since.

I have to say my feelings about it are mixed. I was upgrading from a Nokia 6230 which was a pretty basic handset but it had the advantage of being tidy in size. The N70 is no brick but you wouldn’t call it tidy either.

The biggest issues I have with the phone are:

  • It is sloooow to do anything – the menu system is dreadfully slow (3 full seconds from pressing the Message button to the New Message option coming on-screen)
  • Also, the number of clicks it takes to do anything has increased enormously (combining these two issues means it is often very frustrating to work with)
  • The reception is very poor on the phone and it drops far more calls in marginal signal than the 6230 did. I never lost calls due to low signal on the 6230 but already I know two places where this phone won’t hold a call (one is the Jack Lynch tunnel).
  • It requires re-starts. From time to time I will try to make a call. I will be told “There is no network available”. I re-start the phone and suddenly the network is available once more.
  • The start-up time is inordinate – 31 seconds until you are presented with the Insert Pin dialog and another 10 seconds before it is ready to make a call.

In its favour
Things I like about the phone:

  • The battery life is quite good – (it will almost go two days between charges)
  • It looks cool and
  • The camera is quite good (2 megapixel)

Here’s a pic of my son Tomás taken with the N70
Tomás on Nokia N70

If you are more interested in the camera side than the phone side, I can recommend the N70 but if you want to use it more as a phone, get something else.