electronics

Build your own L3-37 droid complete with voice interaction

Posted by | arduino, Droid, electronics, Gadgets, L3, robot, robotics, TC, technology, verizon wireless | No Comments

Robot maker Patrick Stefanski has created a 3D-printed – and animated – model of L3-37, the droid in the recent Solo movie. L3-37 is one of the funnest – and woke – droids in recent memory and this recreation is fun and ingenious.

Stefanski used Alexa voice controls to let the robot head respond to voice commands and he set the wake word to “Hey L3” to which the robot responds with a grumpy “What!”

The version you see above is painted and weathered but you can 3D print your own pristine version from here and then add in a Raspberry Pi and Arduino with a simple servo to control the head motion. In all it looks like a lot of fun and the hardest part will be printing all of the larger head parts necessary to recreate L3’s saucer-like dome.

It could make for a nice weekend project and looks to be surprisingly simple to build. Just don’t be surprised L3 rallies your DVR and air conditioner to revolt against attacks on droid rights.

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Leaked iPhone pics show glass back and headphone jack

Posted by | Apple, apple inc, Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, computing, electronics, Gadgets, iOS, iPad, iPhone, iphone 5s, major, technology, wireless earbuds | No Comments

The headphone jack could still have a future in an iPhone. These leaked pics show an iPhone SE 2 with a glass back and headphone jack. Like the current iPhone SE, the design seems to be a take on the classic iPhone 5. I dig it.

The leak also states the upcoming device sports wireless charging, which puts it in line with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X.

Rumors have long stated that Apple was working on an updated iPhone SE. The original was released in March 16 and updated a year later with improved specs. With a 4-inch screen, the iPhone SE is the smallest iPhone Apple offers and also the cheapest.

WWDC in early June is the next major Apple event and could play host for the launch of this phone. Last month, around the iPhone SE’s birthday, Apple held a special event in a Chicago school to launch an education-focused iPad. It’s logical that Apple pushed the launch of this new iPhone SE to WWDC to give the iPad event breathing room.

While Apple cut the headphone jack from its flagship devices, the SE looks to retain the connection. It makes sense. The low-cost iPhone is key for Apple in growing markets across the world where the last two models helped grow iOS’s market penetration. This is Apple’s low-cost offering and thus suggests Apple doesn’t expect buyers to also spring for its wireless earbuds.

If released at WWDC or later in the year, the iPhone SE looks to serve consumers who enjoy smaller phones with headphone jacks. That’s me.

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The Skagen Falster is a high fashion Android wearable

Posted by | Android, Apple, computing, electronics, fitbit, Gadgets, gps, linux, oled, Samsung, skagen, smartphones, smartwatches, TC, wear os, wearable devices | No Comments

Skagen is a well-know maker of thin and uniquely Danish watches. Founded in 1989, the company is now part of the Fossil group and, as such, has begin dabbling in both the analog with the Hagen and now Android Wear with the Falster. The Falster is unique in that it stuffs all of the power of a standard Android Wear device into a watch that mimics the chromed aesthetic of Skagen’s austere design while offering just enough features to make you a fashionable smartwatch wearer.

The Falster, which costs $275 and is available now, has a fully round digital OLED face which means you can read the time at all times. When the watch wakes up you can see an ultra bright white on black time-telling color scheme and then tap the crown to jump into the various features including Android Fit and the always clever Translate feature that lets you record a sentence and then show it the person in front of you.

You can buy it with a leather or metal band and the mesh steel model costs $20 extra.

Sadly, in order stuff the electronics into such a small case, Skagen did away with GPS, LTE connectivity, and even a heart-rate monitor. In other words if you were expecting a workout companion then the Falster isn’t the Android you’re looking for. However, if you’re looking for a bare-bones fashion smartwatch, Skagen ticks all the boxes.

What you get from the Flasterou do get, however, is a low-cost, high-style Android Wear watch with most of the trimmings. I’ve worn this watch off and on few a few weeks now and, although I do definitely miss the heart rate monitor for workouts, the fact that this thing looks and acts like a normal watch 99% of the time makes it quite interesting. If obvious brand recognition nee ostentation are your goal, the Apple Watch or any of the Samsung Gear line are more your style. This watch, made by a company famous for its Danish understatement, offers the opposite of that.

Skagen offers a few very basic watch faces with the Skagen branding at various points on the dial. I particularly like the list face which includes world time or temperature in various spots around the world, offering you an at-a-glance view of timezones. Like most Android Wear systems you can change the display by pressing and holding on the face.

It lasts about a day on one charge although busy days may run down the battery sooner as notifications flood the screen. The notification system – essentially a little icon that appears over the watch face – sometimes fails and instead shows a baffling grey square. This is the single annoyance I noticed, UI-wise, when it came to the Falster. It works with both Android smartphones and iOS.

What this watch boils down to is an improved fitness tracker and notification system. If you’re wearing, say, a Fitbit, something like the Skagen Falster offers a superior experience in a very chic package. Because the watch is fairly compact (at 42mm I won’t say it’s small but it would work on a thinner wrist) it takes away a lot of the bulk of other smartwatches and, more important, doesn’t look like a smartwatch. Those of use who don’t want to look like we’re wearing robotic egg sacs on our wrists will enjoy that aspect of Skagen’s effort, even without all the trimmings we expect from a modern smartwatch.

Skagen, like so many other watch manufacturers, decided if it couldn’t been the digital revolution it would join it. The result is the Falster and, to a lesser degree, their analog collections. Whether or not traditional watchmakers will survive the 21st century is still up in the air but, as evidenced by this handsome and well-made watch, they’re at least giving it the old Danish try.

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Tokyoflash has created a radar watch that scans the skies (or your wrist)

Posted by | electronics, Flash, Gadgets, TC, TokyoFlash, watch | No Comments

Tokyoflash is one of my favorite watchmakers. Unabashedly analog, the watches pay homage to giant robots and old tech, looking like a cross between something that you could find in the hatch in Lost and a Shinjuku fever dream.

Now the company has launched the Radar LED watch, a clever piece that shows the time with sweeping beams of light that flash across the watch face. The watch features a USB-rechargeable movement and a mineral crystal with silk-screen cross-hairs and markers. Behind the glass are a set of LEDs that either blink when you raise the watch to look at the time or tap a side button.

No step counters or notifications mar the stark simplicity of this strange watch. The time flashes up on the face and disappears just as quickly.

Like most Tokyoflash watches, this thing is hard to read at first. I suspect it becomes an acquired skill. While you won’t be able to scan for bogeys for real on this decidedly unsmart watch, it makes for an interesting – if bold – conversation starter. It’s shipping now for $189.

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The self-contained Fusion electric guitar lets you truly rock out

Posted by | electronics, Gadgets, iOS, iPhone, TC, technology, Video | No Comments

 As a hard-core rocker and roller I find that my gear has to be ready to rock and/or roll at a moment’s notice. There is no telling when I’ll have to lay out a face-melter during jury duty or blast out some Stairway while giving plasma at the local blood bank, and I often note to friends that I enjoy rocking and rolling all night and part of every day. Are you in the same rocking boat? Read More

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India overtakes the US to become the world’s second largest smartphone market

Posted by | Asia, computing, electronics, india, Mobile, smartphone, technology, United States | No Comments

 Move over America, India is now the world’s second largest smartphone market. That’s according to a new report from Canalys which claims smartphone shipments in India crossed the 40 million mark for the first time in Q3 2017 courtesy of 23 percent annual growth. That means that India has overtaken the U.S. on sales with only China ahead of it. Given the huge gulf in populations… Read More

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pi-top outs a new laptop for budding coders and hardware hackers

Posted by | computing, Education, electronics, Europe, Gadgets, hardware, hardware hacking, learn to code, pi-top, Raspberry Pi, robotics, STEM, TC | No Comments

 U.K. edtech startup pi-top has a new learn-to-code-and-tinker machine. It’s another modular Raspberry Pi-powered laptop but this time they’ve reduced the number of steps needed to put it together, as well as adding a slider keyboard design so the Qwerty panel can be pulled out to provide access to a rail for mounting and tinkering with electronics. Read More

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The SpiderMAV does whatever a spider can, spins a web, any size

Posted by | drone, electronics, embedded systems, Emerging-Technologies, Gadgets, quadcopter, TC, technology, unmanned aerial vehicles | No Comments

 Researchers at the Imperial College London’s Aerial Robotics Laboratory have created the SpiderMAV – a robot that stabilizes itself by shooting out multiple strands of rope that can stick to magnetic surfaces. The drone, which is a standard quadcopter, has a built-in rope gun that blasts out little connectors. The drone then pulls against the ropes, stabilizing itself in flight.… Read More

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A chat with the creators of Arduino

Posted by | arduino, computing, Do it yourself, electronics, Gadgets, Internet of Things, Startups, TC, technology, technotopia | No Comments

 On this week’s Technotopia I talked to Massimo Banzi and Fabio Violante, the co-creators of Arduino. This pair of Italian artists saw their little single-board computers as a gateway to high-tech art but they’ve essentially created a world in which anyone – from an 11-year-old hacker to a huge corporation – can make amazing hardware in a few hours.
The pair recently… Read More

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