everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

A bike ride in Paris

This morning, I went for a bike ride around Champ de Mars in Paris. It was a ride of about 4km and the scenery was lovely. I saw the Eiffel Tower up close (I think I even rode under it), some Parisian pups, lots of tourists, and fit looking people running through the park. I saw all this today*, I did…

Bonjour! Off to a nice start...

Bonjour! Off to a nice start…

Lots of lovely pathways, although it did feel a lot steeper than this appears...

Lots of lovely pathways, although it did feel a lot steeper than this appears…

Et voila.

Et voila.

People even appeared to be taking my photo of as I rode past. Obviously, the photo would have just been a blur...

People even appeared to be taking my photo of as I rode past. Obviously, the photo would have just been a blur…

Les runners et les walkers.

Les runners et les walkers.

* OK, so the tracking information in the first two pics, along with the Google watermarks, show that I wasn’t really in Paris this morning. I was in sunny Sydney, sweating it out on my exercise bike, which features a clever black box designed to trick the exerciser into thinking they’re having fun.

This little iFit device links my stationary bike to the ‘live feed’ Google map of the route I am riding, so I can watch the images on my ipad as they update (along with the incline/resistance on the bike) to simulate my progress on a ride on this actual track. Oui oui.

As a gadget geek, I am quite taken with this new toy – I have already ridden through a park in Spain and Central Park is on the schedule too. Of course, looking at photos on an iPad as I pedal doesn’t take away from the pain and discomfort, and it’s not even close to being there in real life (or IRL as the gamers say). And there’s no incentive in the form of a fresh baguette or pain au chocolat at the end of the ride.

But it’s definitely better than staring at this…

Old school.

Old school.

Au revoir!

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Imagine Cup 2012: Over and out

Students always love a blackboard. [EverydaySparks]

OK, promise this will be my last post wrapping up Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2012. I think. There is still so much I want to share from the amazing experience, but I’m a bit worried that it’ll be like one of those times when someone tells you about that dream they had last night. You know, when they’re really into it, so they go into crazy detail about every little aspect and you’re left nodding and smiling and wishing they would just SHUT UP AND LET IT GO. Because it’s never as good in the re-telling. But I’ll do my best with these last few people-highlights of the Imagine Cup worldwide finals.

Maxim (and the drone hovering behind) in full flight. [EverydaySparks]

First, to the Etzoockee team from Kazakhstan. Maxim Kulesh appeared to be their team spokesman and he was quite the salesman – captivating the crowd with his enthusiastic explanation of the team’s software design project, Archangel. According to their Imagine Cup profile, their project is, quite simply, “for changing the world and saving human lives”. Right on, boys in blue from Kazakhstan. How, you ask? With drones. Well, drones that are controlled remotely using a desktop application, to be more precise. Basically, these unmanned flexible and mobile drones can be directed to emergency situations to (a) drop medical or other urgent supplies and (b) record live footage of the crisis with an in-built camera, enabling emergency services personnel to better prepare for the disaster that awaits them. With advance warning of the state of play, the experts will be able to determine how best to access the sites, treat the victims and manage the situation. Very clever. Although, I think Maxim could have sold any idea to the crowd gathered around him – that kid is going places.

Guilherme Savio, a Doer. [EverydaySparks]

And then The Doers from Brazil – in their bright yellow hard hats to show that their project was all about teaching kids to build better cities with their game design Do More. Their message is about people joining together to do more to solve the world’s problems. Their game is a fun way to look at problems facing developing communities – players have to work out how to manage waste, construction and growing populations as they advance through the levels and build bigger cities. Once they have developed their cities, the game looks at issues such as gender equality at work and other problems facing more established communities. Yep, tackling all of these big issues in a game. It really gets you thinking and I can see how kids would be attracted to the graphics and challenge to progress through the levels, while at the same time having to consider real world issues that come with progress and development. The Doers seemed like a lot of fun and when we asked how long they had been working on their project, the answer was many months – but with a break to enjoy their summer holiday. Hats off to the lovely Guilherme Savio and the team for their work/life balance – and they came 2nd in the world in the game design for Windows/Xbox category!

A fruit ninja with his Xight eyes. [EverydaySparks]

Finally, to the Xight team from China – a great idea and a really dedicated team member who sat in the booth playing a bzillion games of Fruit Ninja WITH HIS EYES. Uh huh. You see (pun intended), Xight is an ‘eye tracking system’, which uses the captured images of human eyes to calculate the direction of users’ gazes. This technology can enable people with upper limb paralysis to control computers on their own. So clever and again, such a practical and genuinely useful application of technology.

For more info, you can check out Imagine Cup website here.

Over and out.

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Geek up your jewellery collection

A short while ago, I posted on the phenomenon of ear cuffs, which were fashion news to me. Then as I was browsing through the Think Geek online store (uh huh), I saw it: the Dragon Ear Wrap. Let’s be clear, the Dragon is to the standard ear cuffs what the Kardashians are to the Brady Bunch – bigger, more outrageous and a whole lot crazier. And don’t worry, the Dragon just looks as though it is permanently attached – it really clips to the top of your ear and then you wear the tail like a normal earring. Yes, just like a normal earring.

Or perhaps a scrolling LED belt buckle is more your style. It can store up to five messages, so you might want to pre-program it for a night out on the town and then you won’t have to worry about shouting over that pesky loud music – just point down to your buckle and let your belt do the talking.

For the old school geek, there’s a sundial ring. Apparently it works – although why you wouldn’t wear a watch or check your phone is beyond me. It seems very complicated and presumably much time passes you by as you fiddle with the dial to calculate the time of day. And what if it’s a cloudy day? Or you want to know how long to wait ’til the last bus home in the evening? You’ve been warned, my friends.

Or for less than $20, you could go back to a time when the concept of a wearable device that told the time and could add up the cost of your comics and lollies was MINDBLOWING. Yes, the Casio calculator watch is back and is sure to wow the kids of today. Or at least confuse them even more about that mythical time before iphones and Wiis.

If you would like to check out more geeky gear, then Think Geek is the place for you. There’s a lot there that goes way over my head, but if you’re down with maths and computers, or even if you just like weird stuff, it’s worth a look!

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Shoot the light(s) out

Even if, like me, you don’t like guns or shooting, I think you’ll agree that this is pretty cool. And you’ll like it even more if you’re cranky about electricity prices or you think desk lamps are pathetic or you enjoy threatening inanimate objects.

This lamp was recently featured on Fab.com – it’s made by the clever folk at bitplay, who apparently like to add the element of surprise to the every day. Which sounds good to me!

This is the BANG! Remote Lamp – a desk lamp with a gun shaped remote control. In a nutshell: Fire the gun to turn the light off and as the light goes out, the lampshade knocks to the side, showing that it’s been hit. To turn it back on, shoot it again and watch as the lampshade slowly rises up and turns the light back on at the same time.

But if that’s not clear enough for you, the website helpfully provides a graphic to explain further…

Aha! The lamp retails for around $300, but is not widely available at this stage.  If you’re in the market for a lamp or a gun, why not combine the two with a BANG! (Remote lamp).  You can check it out here.

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It’s a shoe-in

I like shoes. Not as much as Imelda Marcos and Carrie Bradshaw, to be sure, but I do appreciate a nice pair of kicks. I’m not fancy – they don’t need to cost a bzillion designer dollars or elevate me to dizzy heights. And the quirkier the better, I say. Well, that’s what I used to say, ’til I stumbled across Robert Tabor’s shoes on trendhunter.com. Like this cherry pie shoe with a forked heel.

I dug a little deeper and it turns out that Mr Tabor doesn’t really design shoes – he designs “fantasy shoe creations” or “shoe sculptures”. I think that’s code for shoes-so-crazy-not-even-Lady-Gaga-would-wear-them.

From the sandwich thongs (or jandals or flip flops, if you prefer), to the shoe made with hair (relax, it’s synthetic), to the Chinese dragon, to the aqua fish, these shoes scream Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Well, that or Important Meeting at Work. Or Parent-Teacher Night at School.

Granted, most of these boots aren’t really made for walkin’, more for decorating the hall table, but I do think that hair shoe looks kinda comfortable. And I have a red handbag that I think could work well with the dragon heels (it’s the Dragon’s year in 2012, after all). With a plain black dress or suit, of course.

If you would like to brighten up your shoe collection or just marvel at the many shoes of Robert Tabor, you can view the Trendhunter post here or the designer’s website here.

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Say cheese!

If, like me, you’ve ever looked at Maxwell Smart or James Bond or Inspector Gadget and envied their clever spy toys. Or if, like me, you’ve ever suspected that someone is actually stealing the choc chip cookies from that jar at work. Or if, like me, you’ve ever wanted to expose a fraudulent worker’s compensation claim. (Actually, that last one may just be me?) Anyways, if those, then this: The High Definition Video Pen. Tucked into your jacket pocket or left lying on the desk or bench, this clever device looks just like a run-of-the-mill stationery item. But prepare to be dazzled: the ball-point pen actually has an in-built video camera, “capturing HD videos or still images with a click of its button.”

Whatever kind of creeping you’re planning, this trusty “pen” captures up to five hours of video. In colour. With sound. Uh huh. And, according to the experts, the lens and microphone are “inconspicuous enough to avoid detection”. Unless of course there is some malfunction and your pen starts beeping or flashing – in which case, ABANDON THE MISSION. I REPEAT, ABANDON THE MISSION. Be aware that the battery life is two hours, so you’ll need to recharge for your tougher investigations. And of course, you may also want to flick through the relevant privacy legislation for your jurisdiction. EverydaySparks just puts these ideas out there – I take no responsibility for where your “pen” leads you…

Or maybe you’re a jaded gumshoe and think the “pen” is nothing to (ahem) write home about? Then I challenge you not to be amazed by this: The World’s Smallest Camera. Measuring just over one inch in all dimensions, this camera is apparently “reminiscent of devices employed by Cold War-era operatives for intelligence gathering”. Uh huh. With the click of a button, the auto focus provides you with a great shot on your teeny tiny camera. Priced at under $40, this wee camera will make a great (if slightly creepy) addition to your collection. Collection of what? I don’t want to know.

If you would like to find out more about these magical recording devices, you might like to have a look at Hammacher Schlemmer.

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Free fingers

This image caught my eye(s) on Fab.com – it’s kinda creepy that the gloved hands are just hovering there in mid-air.  And typing an email shouting about FREEHANDS GLOVES.  (Who is the email for?  And why the shouting?  WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?)  And maybe I watch too much tv, but those particular gloves look just like the ones that psychotic murders wear (no offence intended, Hand Model Guy).  Apparently Josh Rubin and his “glove-maker-father” developed these so that you could protect your hands from the freezing US winters while still texting and emailing your peeps.  And playing Words With Friends.  They’re sort of like little hoodies for your thumbs and pointer fingers (sorry, I don’t think that second one is the correct anatomical term).  Think about the marketing possibilities…these little beauties are not just a must-have item for geeks-on-the-go, but for nose pickers, outdoor-winter-fingerpainters, freezer-loving-cross-stitchers and those people who insist on frequently applying lip gloss out of teeny tiny pots.  Which probably covers 97% of the population.  Genius idea!

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