The real world just got a little more Zardoz
thanks to Tobita Hiroaki and his colleagues at Sony Computer Science Laboratory, who’ve built a telepresence
blimp that projects the operator’s face across its meter-wide surface. The looming, translucent face can float about like any other blimp; an interior camera allows the user to see where it’s going. The whole thing is ominous in a completely different way from, say, a tiny googly-eyed robot perched on your shoulder
, but something about its nearly silent movements still gives us the creeps – and unlike the Anybots QB, it’s not going to pick up your scone from the caf
, floating avatar
, video conference
That Android 3.1 update that Google announced during I/O is slowly rolling out to 3G Xoom owners as we speak. How’d we know such a thing? Why, it just landed on our in-house Xoom, of course! Most of the changes to Honeycomb are happening under the hood — better HTML5 support, faster performance, and USB host functionality for connecting peripherals like game controllers and mice — but there are some improvements that will be a lot more obvious to the user. Perhaps our favorite is the addition of resizable widgets. For the moment only the email and Gmail inbox, calendar and bookmarks widgets can be stretched or shrunk, but we’re sure others will follow. We’re particularly appreciative of the expandable calendar widget, which always felt a tad cramped. The task switcher also received a much requested upgrade and now lets you scroll through your last 18 launched apps, instead of just the five most recent. Lastly, the Android Market now offers movie rentals, alongside books and apps, which range in price from $1.99 to $4.99 for 24 hours of playback. There isn’t a ton of revolutionary stuff going on here, but it’s certainly a welcome and worthwhile update. Check out the video after the break to see Android 3.1 in action.
Continue reading Android 3.1 on the Motorola Xoom: hands-on (video)
Android 3.1 on the Motorola Xoom: hands-on (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 13 May 2011 19:33:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
, hands on
, motorola xoom
We’ve been generally satisfied with the chiclet-style keyboards that have become omnipresent in laptops and Apple’s latest generation of desktop keyboards, but Cupertino feels that these thinner, lower-profile input devices limit tactile feedback. A patent application from Apple, filed in 2009 but only now revealed, aims to improve the user experience by “expelling air from the input device proximate the key when user selection is imminent.” That’s right — your keyboard could blow on your fingertips as you blow our minds in the comments. Another solution in the patent would function like a vacuum to pull keys away when a proximity sensor detects that you’re about to type, providing simulated feedback. If this concept takes off in the future, your next MacBook Air could really live up to its name.
Apple patent application shows keyboard that doesn’t require contact, blows air originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 13 May 2011 10:51:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
As the resident Engadget home automation nerd, Google’s Android@Home announcement rocked my little low-powered RF world yesterday. Seeing a brand like Google get behind home automation is the stuff I’ve been dreaming about ever since Nokia dipped a toe into the tepid Z-Wave waters back in 2008. Unfortunately, Nokia abandoned its Home Control Center ambitions shortly thereafter, leaving the industry in the hands of such consumer powerhouses as Zensys, Sigma Designs, ExpressControls, AMX Corp, Control 4, Echelon, and Jung. Heard of them? No, no you haven’t, and that’s my point.
Home automation has long suffered from the lack of a consumer-centric approach. Consumer electronics companies have almost universally come around to the new mantra of user experience. Most companies have finally awoken from their deep eighties slumber to realize that a single product can no longer dominate an industry on its own — the age of the Walkman is over. For success, a product must encompass great software, great services, hardware that just works, and stellar support when it doesn’t. In short, the user experience is what sets the product apart. Home automators have yet to realize this but Google’s announcement could force the issue.
Continue reading Editorial: Android@Home is the best worst thing that could happen to home automation
Editorial: Android@Home is the best worst thing that could happen to home automation originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 11 May 2011 08:51:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
, google io 2011
, home automation
A team of UK scientists has developed a headset that can bring voices back to those who have lost their speech due to injury, cancer, stroke, and other maladies. They hope the prototype — which uses magnets positioned in the user’s mouth or tongue — will take the place of low-tech solutions like throat valves, which have the tendency to get clogged. When he or she speaks, changes to the magnets’ movements are detected by the device, which associates specific facial movements with corresponding words (the device currently has a vocabulary of about 50). The whole thing is still pretty clunky, as evidenced by the image at right, but the researchers are working on cramming the technology into a device roughly the size of a Bluetooth headset. They’re also working on a way to implant magnets into the tongue of the wearer — positioning the magnets in the wearer’s mouth is proving to be one of the largest difficulties in implementing the technology.
External voice box prototype helps cancer, stroke sufferers regain speech originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 20 Apr 2011 16:04:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
, university of hull
We awoke this morning to a deluge of hype surrounding Tweetbot, the version 1.0 Twitter client from Tapbot. So we sucked down some legal stimulant and ponied up the entrance fee to give it a go on an iPhone 4 (the app requires iOS 4.1 or later). Granted, we’re still in the honeymoon period but we’re definitely impressed. The design elements, animations, and audio tones are slickly implemented and the functionality is rich and intuitive. We’re especially smitten by the right and left swiping actions used to reveal conversations and replies, respectively, and the customizable tab bar that gives quick access to lists and retweets. In fact, the list integration is so good as to finally make Twitter lists useful on a smartphone. We also applaud Tapbot’s plucky release in light of Twitter Inc.’s preference that developers stop reproducing the Twitter client experience
, especially since the result is superior to Twitter’s own free
iOS app. Sure, the user interface can be a bit overzealous at times (think HTC Sense vs. Windows Phone 7) but it’s more fun than it is distracting, especially during these early hours. At $1.99 it’s definitely worth a look — just promise to view the video overview after the break first, ok?
Continue reading Tweetbot might replace your iOS Twitter client (video)
Tweetbot might replace your iOS Twitter client (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 14 Apr 2011 08:16:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
, twitter lists
The Nintendo 3DS has a slider in its side. A slider that adjusts its namesake feature, three-dimensional imagery, up and down in intensity relative to the user’s preference. Now, although the 3DS’ screen doesn’t force glasses on you, it does demand that it be held just right in order to get the most out of the 3D effect and we can imagine plenty of people might neglect its extra dimension in favor of old-fashioned 2D (not to mention those who can’t tolerate the third D for health reasons). It’s encouraging, therefore, to hear that Nintendo has taken the stance that no game should require 3D as part of its gameplay mechanics. That’s the word from Hideki Konno, one of Nintendo’s veteran producers, who says the company wants all of its 3DS games to be playable in 2D, essentially reducing the 3D aspect to an aesthetic enhancement. Some might argue that’s underusing the portable’s hardware potential, but Nintendo has always been in the business of pleasing the mass market — there’s nothing preventing some daring developer from making a game entirely dependent on a three-dimensional perspective.
Nintendo ‘moving away’ from insisting on 3D to play 3DS games, wants them all playable in 2D originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 24 Mar 2011 09:05:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
, hideki konno
Announced at BlackBerry’s 2010 Developer Conference last fall, BBM Social Platform has just become available to interested third-party devs in beta form. Of course, you might be hoping that it opens BlackBerry Messenger to other (read: non-BlackBerry) platforms via API… but yeah, that’s not happening quite yet. Instead, the SDK allows folks developing for BlackBerry OS to integrate BBM capabilities into their own apps, and the list of capabilities is pretty extensive: you’ll be able to read and update user profiles, embed BBM chats inside your app, and transfer files, just to name a few of the big ones (with the user’s permission, of course). The current beta works for Java apps, while RIM’s hard at work crafting a new version for release in April that’ll add WebWorks web app compatibility.
RIM’s BBM Social Platform goes to open beta, lets devs bake BBM into BlackBerry apps originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 15 Mar 2011 17:08:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
, blackberry messenger
Now that you’ve had ample time to get through a few novellas, we’re keenly interested in finding out how you’d change Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color if given the opportunity. For an e-reader, it’s deliciously hackable, giving you a way to blow off steam after a hard day’s night… of soaking up information, that is. We found it to be amongst the top of its class when we reviewed it back in November, but this space is all about you. Would you overhaul the user interface? Ship it with a fancier build of Android? Boost the battery life? Go on and get opinionated in comments below — we promise we won’t judge.
How would you change Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color? originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 11 Feb 2011 22:33:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
, barnes and noble