If you’re a fan of Lego Mindstorms, you probably have the new EV3 on your Christmas wish list. That’s assuming you didn’t buy one already. I haven’t. I have the Lego Mindstorms NXT and NXT 2.0, but not the EV3. Anyway, if you have the EV3 or if you’re going to get one, you should get the new EV3 book. It’s called The Art of Lego Mindstorms EV3 Programming. The book, which was written by software engineer Terry Griffin, offers a beginner-friendly, in-depth guide to the EV3 language. The Art of Lego Mindstorms EV3 Programming (No Starch Press) is available now for $24.99 from Amazon.
I love the AeroMobil. It’s a flying car. For real. Don’t believe me? Check out the video below. The AeroMobil looks great and it can transform from a car into an airplane in seconds. According to their website, as a car it fits into any standard parking space, uses regular gasoline, and can be used in road traffic like regular automobiles. As a plane it can use any airport in the world, but can also take off and land using any grass strip or paved surface just a few hundred meters long.
Star Trek fans will love the new Onyx device, which is made by OnBeep. It’s essentially a Star Fleet communicator. It doesn’t look like one, but you attach the gadget to your chest just like the ones in the TV series. With the device, you can talk to people in your group by pressing a button on the communicator. The Onyx doesn’t actually contact people directly. The clothing-worn communicator uses Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone, which is essentially the base for the device. The Onyx sells for $99 and you can pre-order it now.
Check out the levitating Bluetooth speakers in the photos on this page (via Engadget). They were made by ASWY, and are called Floating Bluetooth Speakers. Currently there isn’t much info about the levitating Bluetooth speakers on the ASWY website. But according to Engadget, the speakers feature three watts of output, five hours of battery life, Bluetooth 4.0 support, 3.5mm input jack, integrated microphone, and a USB port. The speaker includes a powered base to keep it in the air, but the speaker will still work without the base if you don’t need it to levitate.
By the end of next year, you might be doing a double take when you see the new Elio car driving around on a street near you. Why you ask? Well, it only has three wheels (two in front and one in back). And it’s small — about 13′ long and 54″ high. The Elio is the same length as a Honda Fit, but only half the weight. With a starting price of $6,800, it’s also less than half the cost. The car looks weird with only three wheels, but Elio Motors is claiming their car gets about 84 mpg on the highway and 49 mpg in the city. That is amazing.
If you have a router with adjustable antennas, I have a tip that can help you improve your wi-fi signal. Actually, this tip is from Alf Watt. He created the popular iStumbler Wi-Fi utility and is a former Apple Wi-Fi engineer. According to Alf (reminds me of the old ALF TV show), it’s best to point one antenna straight up and have the other antenna parallel to the ground.
According to Alf, the perpendicular placement is best because radio reception is maximized when both client and access point have matched polarization (antennas pointing along the same plane). Some client devices have antennas in vertical orientation, some horizontal. For instance, the current line of MacBook have their antennas in the black plastic part of the hinge in a horizontal orientation. By pointing antennas vertically and horizontally, you’ll maximize radio reception no matter which way your device’s antenna is oriented.
I actually have three antennas on one of my routers. I wonder how I should point the third antenna. I’m guessing it should be pointed at a 45 degrees angle. Anyone know the answer?
Google recently added a new feature to their map service. Now you can use Google Maps to measure distance between multiple points. Right now you can already get distance information when you request driving directions. But with the new feature, you can include detours in your trip or use Google Maps to calculate distance along a walking path like I did in the photo below when I was figuring out the walking distance from OMSI to Saturday Market.
BAE Systems recently released a video on YouTube that showcased their concept Transformer plane. The Transformer is an aircraft that can separate into three small planes. BAE dubbed it the Transformer, but it’s actually more like the Fantasticar in the second Fantastic Four movie. The flexible aircraft system was created by scientists and engineers at BAE Systems. According to the company, the futuristic technologies can be incorporated in military and civil aircraft by 2040.
By now, you probably heard of about the Amazon Fire Phone. You can order the new smartphone now, but it won’t be released until July 25th. The price range of the 32GB Fire phone is $199 (with AT&T phone plan) to $649 (without service plan). The 64GB model is $100 more. From what I’ve read, the phone itself isn’t so special. However, one the features that caught my eye is a physical Firefly button that lets you identify physical objects in the real world and do a quick price check. There are already apps that let you do that, but the button on the side of the phone makes it so much easier.
Remember when I wrote about Facebook’s plan to use drones to connect the world to the Internet? Far fetched, yet true. Now I bring you the story about Google’s plan to connect the world using balloons. You read that correctly. Balloons. If I saw these two ideas in a movie, I would roll my eyes because they sound so crazy. Yet both of these ideas are being tested right now. In the case of the balloons, which is called Project Loon, Google envisions providing Internet access to rural areas via connected balloons hovering high above the earth. Loon is actually a project of Google X, which is a research arm of the search engine giant. Their more famous project is Google Glass.