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Future Shock

This is a blog about emerging technology, new gadgets and future culture
Written by Brian Northway

Friday, December 29, 2006

Abrasive Water-Jets

Using a stream of water, laden with diamond particles, to cut through almost any material is nothing new. However, using abrasive waterjets to transform consumer electronics into sculpture is. Check out these photos to see the X-Box in a whole new way.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Body Powered Pacemaker

Pacemakers may be one of the 20th century's greatest contributions to human health but now the miracle device is getting a 21st century update. Rather than going under the knife every 7-10 years, for a battery replacements, users of this new generation of pace-maker have the advantage of kinetic microgenerators to create electricity with their every movement, eliminating the need for surgical battery replacements. Now if these microgenerators could power a heart pump, we'd really be getting somewhere.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Automotive Black Box

Similar to the blackbox flight recorders on commercial airliners, the RoadBox driving recorder makes a video record of the 14 seconds before an accident, as well as 6 seconds following the impact. The speed and acceleration data used to trigger the recording are also logged during this time. Since the RoadBox is designed to mount on the backside of a vehicle's rear-view mirror, it would most commonly record the driver , at fault, running into something. You may not want to run out and get one of these yourself, but you should expect to see these installed in cabs and rental cars soon.

This week's Special News pick:

An unbelievable Christmas gift from Shannon Claus...
Take $20 off any repair when you use coupon code "MAC20"

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Pipe Platelets

Brinker technology's breakthrough biomimetic Platelet technology enables pipes to seal their own leaks with clotting globules that flow along with with the host fluid. Platelets are already being employed to create self-sealing oil pipelines and this astonishingly effective technology is currently under review for use in water pipelines. Check out the video to see this self-healing pipeline in action and the animation, to see how it works.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Clock & Roll

Do you have trouble waking up? Is the snooze button too convenient to be effective for you? The Clocky robotic clock is designed to remedy this situation by jumping off your night stand and running away after the first press of the snooze button. However, the fun doesn't end there, Clocky continues to run around your bedroom, randomly, until you get up and capture it.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tree Life Support

Once a tree is sawed off at the trunk, it fate is sealed - however, like a plucked flower, the tree will survive better in water. This is where the Christmas Tree Pond comes in handy. A remote watering tank, disguised as a gift, resides in a convenient location, out from underneath the tree, so that you can lift the lid and add water without disturbing your fragile orniments and scattering pine-needles everywhere. This handy holiday apparatus goes for $22, tree-stand not included.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Merry X-mas!

Fans of OS X, I wish you (and all of our unenlightened cousins) a very merry X-mas! Since the new nano cases are too small to fit on the branches, here's a photo of last year's tree, decorated with iPod mini cases.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Green Snowmobile

The Ktrak system turns your mountain bike into a pedal-powered snomobile! Available for adults and kids, as an upgrade kit or a complete snow bike, this half-track snow transport solution is a must for fans of self-powered transport in cities that get more snow than San Francisco. Now, when can we expect a -20ยบ F Critical Mass ride? Fun seekers and Xtreme sports geeks will also appreciate this mod/ride - check out the video's on Ktrak's site to see why.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Laser Squash

If the crystal in your palm has gone black, report to the game grid immediately for Laser Squash. Gamers block randomly placed laser beams, with their Laser Stick (rather than hitting a ball with a paddle). Since quicker response times earn more points, a good game will look and sound like a frantic Star Wars shoot-out. Check out the video to see for yourself.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Car Talk

DaimlerChrysler has developed an in-car communication system that transmits and receives warnings about hazardous traffic and weather conditions in the immediate area. Rather than relying on a centralized information hub, the WILLWARN warnings are generated and sent from car to car, in an ad-hoc wireless network. Data that determines the need for a warning comes from sensors within each car, such as the anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic stability program (ESP), steering angle sensors and outside thermomiter. 'Chrysler says that it will make it's technology available to all auto manufacturers in order to strengthen the network, making the system more effective - though it would be nice to think that they're sharing for the benefit of all, since we paid to bail them out in the '80s.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Photo Carpet

Custom carpets made from digital images is news enough, but the design of the floor in this airport hall is absolutely brilliant! Walking the length of this aerial photograph carpet is sure to induce the sensation of flying. Personally, I plan to carpet my entire house this way.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Underwater Logging

Triton Logging is making friends in the tree-hugger community by clear-cutting trees, with out damaging animal habitats. The Sawfish is a 7000 lb remote tree cutter designed to access trees submerged under human-made lakes. Equipped with a 4.5 foot chainsaw and 50 reusable airbags, the logging robot swims lithely through underwater forests, like a sentinel from the Matrix, cutting trees and floating them to the surface. Eliminating the worry of logging roads, forest preservation or even gravity for that matter, the Sawfish is a logger's wet dream!

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Monday, December 11, 2006


A textbook example of biomimetics, these mine seeking lobster robots are modeled after not only the morphology of their namesake but also the neurophysiology of their crustacean cousins! Both body and behavior are perfectly suited to the coastal environments where these underwater robots are being deployed for minesweeping. The lack of video footage showing these things in action must have to do with the dangerous job that they do.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Rad Watch

In a world where threats of dirty bombs are commonplace and radioactive poisoning is in the news, the GammaWatch offers some peace of mind. This personal radiation detector protects you from the invisible threat by displaying minute changes in bacground radiation and notifying you when preset levels of radiation levels of radiation are detected. For $250, this stylish watch is definitely a must-have gadget for anyone who lives near a nuclear reactor or plans to visit a city like Hiroshima or the Trinity Nuclear Test Site. In fact, with the rumors of the possible presence of non-conventional ordinance involved in the 1944 Port Chicago explosion, just down the road from us, I'm thinking that we could use some of these at the office.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Clear Wheels

D'Vinci Forgiato's clear, polycarbonate, rims and wheels are the latest way to pimp your ride 21st century style. The effect of Clear Wheels is especially stunning on motorcycles.

This week's Special News pick:

TinyD Ultra-Portable, USB 2.0, 5Gb Hard Drive

Normally $49.99, get this little drive for just $44.99 when you use coupon code "TINY5"

These tiny, metal drives are super slick - smaller than an video iPod, more space than a flash drive (and cheaper than either). The TinyD is perfect for sharing music and movies with a friend. Why burn a data DVD or a hand full of CD-Rs just to move some bytes? Do your part to save the environment by breaking your addiction to plastic!

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

100Gb iPod Drive

Toshiba's announced the release of a 100Gb 1.8" hard drive today. This basically guarantees that Apple will announce a 100 gig iPod in January, at MacWorld (with or without a touch-screen interface). Naturally, other digital audio players, such as the Microsoft Zune, are sure to see a capicity increase as well.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Inverted Christmas

While at first the idea seems laughable, the practical advantages to the Upside Down Christmas Tree are impossible to deny. It's smaller footprint means less chance that pets will eat ornaments, more room for gifts and easier access to said gifts when they're under or behind the tree. Also, if you have any of those long icicle ornaments, they can hang unobscured and unencumbered by the branches below. As it is, if you're sporting an artifical tree, you can hardly argue the fact that it's all about the lights and decorations anyway.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Soft Skies

Our friends at Sound Spectrum (makes of the G-Force and Whitecap iTunes visualizers) have come out with another amazing way to enjoy your music. Soft Skies is a radically different take on the throbbing, abstract, pixel mosh that has characterized their audio visualizations until now. No longer is audio visualization the exclusive domain of futurist house DJs. Imagine watching clouds appear in the sky and change size, in time to your music (or recall sky gazing memories from a fungi-fueled shamanic voyage). The natural motion and imagery creates a soothing ambience equally suited to jazz as it is to trance, or any other non-aggro genre. As you've gathered by now, the effect is hard to imagine, so I recommend the free download.

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