APPLE TECH: The Leap Motion Sensor coming soon...

There's something very satisfying about touchscreen technology. I suppose it's that you are the input as oppose to a keyboard or keypad. Using natural hand movements and gestures in just intuitive. If you are used to using a phone with a touchscreen, try playing on one that is not 'touch' and see how frustrating it is.

Desktop PCs are starting to take the leap forward toward becoming fully touchable too. Techsperts at Apple have developed the Leap Motion Sensor, which takes things even further than touch. Rather, the Leap makes your Apple fully responsive to nature hand motions and gestures without the need the leave grubby fingerprints on your screen.

Introducing the Leap Motion Sensor

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_d6KuiuteIA[/youtube]

Here's the Leap Motion Sensor splurb off YouTube:

"Leap represents an entirely new way to interact with your computers. It's more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard and more sensitive than a touchscreen. For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimensions with your natural hand and finger movements."

The Leap Motion Sensor is scheduled to be released next year for just $70 and can be pre-ordered at Leap Motion.

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COMPETITION: Google Science Fair ready for take off

GOOGLE'S worldwide Science Fair competition is calling for entries over the coming weeks. The Science Fair gives teenagers the opportunity to join in a new kind of online science competition that is more global, open and inclusive than ever before. It will also offer them the chance to win huge prizes including a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands or a $50 000 scholarship from Google.

Google's made this cool video to promote the Science Fair - done in the style of a Rube Goldberg machine. Reminds me of The Incredible Machine.

Google Science Fair promo video: Calling all Jr. scientists!

Who can enter?

The competition is open to students aged 13 to 18 from around the world working on their own or in a team of two or three. For more details, visit the Science Fair Rules page.

How to enter the Google Science Fair

  • If you don't already have one, create a Google Account. You will need a Google Account to complete the sign up form.
  • Complete the Google Science Fair sign up form. After you submit the form, you will see a link on the confirmation page. This link will create the Google project submission site where you will post your science fair project details.
  • Plan your science project, conduct your experiment, and write up your results.
  • Complete all of the sections of your Google project submission site.
  • Create either a two-minute video or 20-slide presentation giving an overview of your project and embed it on the Summary page of your project submission. A video or presentation is required to enter.
  • When your project site is done, make sure to submit it by 4 April 2011.
  • Detailed instructions and tips for building your project submission can be found in the Resources section of the website.

Please note: Entries and supporting documentation must be submitted in English. Google Translate is a free tool that may be useful for students who don't speak English as a first language.

Science Fair Judging Process

The deadline for project submissions is 4 April 2011. After this date all projects will be judged by a panel of teachers who will be following the judging criteria. In early May, 60 global semi finalists will be announced and their projects will be posted online and open to public voting for a “People’s Choice Award”. The 60 global semi finalists will then be narrowed down by our judging panel to 15 global finalists who will be announced later in May.

The 15 global finalists will be flown to Google HQ in California, USA for our celebratory Science Fair event. The finalist judging round will take place on 11 July 2011. These finalists will be expected to present their projects before a panel of acclaimed scientists including Nobel Laureates, tech visionaries and household names. A finalist winner will be selected from each of the age categories, 13-14, 15-16 and 17-18. One of the finalist winners will be named the Grand Prize Winner.

The Grand Science Fair Prize: A National Geographic Expedition

The Grand Prize winner(s) plus one parent or guardian per winner will win an amazing 10 day trip to the Galapagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions. Traveling aboard, the winner(s) will visit Darwin's living laboratory and experience up-close encounters with unique species such as flightless cormorants, marine iguanas, and domed giant tortoises.

Google will cover the cost of Economy Class flights to the Galapagos from the winner’s home. The prize is valid for one year from 11 July 2011 and must be booked directly via National Geographic expeditions. It does not, however, included items of a personal nature such as internet usage, laundry or spa services.

A Scholarship from Google

A $50 000 scholarship will be split equally between team members should a team win this prize. This scholarship is intended to be used towards the finalists’ further education.

A Once in a Lifetime Experience

The Grand Prize winner will have first choice of an experience at one of the following partner organizations: CERN, Google, the LEGO Group, or Scientific American.

A Personalised LEGO Prize

  • A package from Scientific American.
  • Digital Access to Scientific American Archives for your school.
  • Digital access for the finalists' schools for a year. This prize is valid up to 12 months from winning the prize on 11 July 2011.
  • A personal LEGO color mosaic (one for each team member, to build her/himself) and 1 personal, exclusive LEGO box - specially made for the occasion.

Finalist Winner Prizes

A $25 000 scholarship from Google, split equally between team members should a team win this prize. The Finalists will have second and third choice by random selection of one of the remaining experiences at one of the above-mentioned partner organizations.

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TOP GADGETS 2010: Top 10 gadgets & tech treats from 2010

It's clear that we are firmly in the age of digital technologies. No doubt each year will bring new and exciting gadgets to the table that will make today’s ones seem so last year, but it’s good to take stock of where we are today and how far we’ve come.

With a quest to develop all-in-one gadgets, the market has become saturated with digital devices that can all do pretty much the same thing. It seems to be more about brand name and style than anything else. What follows is my list of top gadgets 2010.

Top 10 Gadgets: 1. The Apple iPad

Apple iPad - Top Gadgets 2010
Although tablet PCs are not new to the world, Apple tends to take things a few strides further and did so with the release of the Apple iPad. Capable of behaving like a laptop, media player, Internet browser, e-reader, game station, camera, photo album and more, the iPad really is an all-on-one digital device.

Top 10 Gadgets: 2. Apple iPhone 4G

Apple iPhone 4G - Top Gadgets 2010The iPhone was hailed as a revolutionary mobile that not only looked good, but could do more than you could ever ask of a phone. It is certainly one device that will be continuously upgraded and enhanced thanks to its eager fan base. The iPhone 4G boasts the sharpest, most vibrant, highest-resolution screen on the cellular market today.

Top 10 Gadgets: 3. The Garmin Nüvi 1390T GPS

Garmin Nüvi 1390T - Top Gadgets 2010GPS devices may be so last year, but what the latest models can do almost makes one gawk at satellite technology. This particular GPS not only comes with lifetime map updates, but features an enhanced user interface, ecoRoute (which suggests fuel-efficient routes), pedestrian navigation and the new public transit mode, which allows you to navigate using buses, tramway, metro­ and suburban rail systems.

Top 10 Gadgets: 4. Logitech Revue with Google TV

Logitech Revue With Google TV - Top Gadgets 2010Although not quite mainstream yet, at least not in South Africa, Logitech Revue­ essentially allows you to connect your TV and satellite cable with a high speed Internet connection via Ethernet or Wi-Fi to bring you Google TV. Switch between regular broadcasts and online content (specifically Google TV) at will. Use a keyboard to search for your favourite shows or surf the Internet on your TV; or use your iPhone 4 as a TV remote.

Samsung LED 9000 Series 2 - Top Gadgets 2010Top 10 Gadgets: 5. Samsung LED 9000 series

3DTV has boomed this year with the release of several films in 3D as well as newer 3DTVs to enjoy watching them at home. I always speak highly of Samsung screens and this particular 3DTV has got to be one of the slickest on the market. As thin as a number two pencil, this TV will do 3D right out of the box.

Top 10 Gadgets: 6. Panasonic 3D camcorder

Panasonic 3D Camcorder - Top Gadgets 2010With the explosion of 3D films and new 3DTVs this year, it won’t take long before consumers will want to start producing their own videos in 3D. Panasonic has been hailed as the first to bring 3D video to the consumer level with this camcorder, although it will set you back about R150 000.

Top 10 Gadgets: 7. The Nook Colour E-Reader

Nook Color E-Reader - Top Gadgets 2010E-Readers have certainly come into fashion this year, and although one can use an iPad or iPhone as an e-reader, the Nook Colour features a 17 cm touch screen and comes in full colour — perfect for children’s books and magazines, as well as enhanced books and newspapers. The Nook can also be used to surf the Internet, listen to music and play games. It’s an e-reader the whole family can enjoy.

Top 10 Gadgets: 8. Fourth Generation Apple Ipod Touch

Apple iPod touch - Top Gadgets 2010Ipods are not just about listening to music­ anymore. Video chatting, filming and sharing HD video, playing games and listening to music are all doable with the forth, and not last, Apple Ipod Touch.

Top 10 Gadgets: 9. Bluetooth-enabled, iPhone-compatible Meat Thermometer

Bluetooth-enabled, iPhone-compatible Meat Thermometer - Top Gadgets 2010A new gadget for the kitchen, this iGrill meat thermometer will connect to your iPhone via Bluetooth so that you can check the status of whatever meat you’re cooking from any room in the house. With a range of 60 metres and capable of registering up to 200°C, you’ll able to keep an eye on dinner while taking a bath.

Top 10 Gadgets: 10. Kodak PlaySport

Kodak PlaySport - Top Gadgets 2010The PlaySport is a durable camera for the outdoors type. It’s drop-resistant, and waterproof and can be dragged around the world without worry. Strap it to your body before scaling a mountain or skiing down a slope and capture all your adventures in high quality video­.

Sources:
www.logitech.com
www.gizmodo.com
www.digitaltrends.com
www.top100gadgets.com
and Time Magazine’s Top 10 Gadgets

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JONATHAN VAN STADEN

WHY not spoil yourself or someone who you know who has everything with an electronic gadget that will be sure to make a statement this Christmas. The statement might be that you have lost your mind, but it just may make life a little more interesting. There are plenty of devices out there that have been born out of an active imagination. Here is a sampling of some that you will want to have and others you may prefer to give away. Enjoy.

Want Remote

Want Remote

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS: Wand Remote

Do you want things to instantly change with the wave of your hand? Now you can with the wand remote. It will learn commands from your existing remotes and map them to particular hand motions. Flick the wand from side to side to change channels or twist it to turn up the volume. A beam of light will even shoot out as you become the conductor of your electronic symphony from the comfort of your couch.

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS: Popcorn Machine

You just know how much this would make you feel as if you are at the movies or back at the fun fair. No more boring microwave bags. Here you can have salted, hot buttered popcorn until your lips start to wrinkle!

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS: Guitar T-shirt

Guitar t-shirtPlaying air guitar is so last year. Put this shirt on and plug it into the clip on speaker/amp and start playing your favourite music. All the major chords are recorded from a real electric guitar and the magnetic pick allows you to strum like you would a normal guitar. The amp has a tone knob that lets you adjust the sound just like a real guitar. In case you were wondering the volume knob goes up to 11.

Outdoor subwooferCHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS: Outdoor Sub-woofer

Now you can enjoy a full bass sound outdoors. It can support up to 90 kg, so you can use it as a plant stand or a side table. Its durable terracotta finish is paintable to match your outdoor décor. Your plants will be amazed to actually hear the sound of a tuba.

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS: Dog Speakers

Talking of woofers, how about something for the the dog lover. Well, a pair headless dogs sitting at your side may be too weird for you to live with. But on the positive side they do come fully house trained.

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS: Self Stirring Mug

Self stirring mugObviously you are going to be so busy waving your remote around and tucking into your popcorn that you cannot be expected to stop and stir your favourite hot drink you have just prepared. You don’t have to. With this mug all you need is one hand to press the button on the handle and all the ingredients will be stirred to perfection.

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APPLE IPAD REVIEW: Hands-on, touch technology at its best

DIGITAL entertainment technology has a nasty habit of being released onto the market too soon — usually before it can be fully tested, optimised, fine-tuned and sold at a fair price. The Apple iPad, on the other hand, couldn’t have come soon enough, and is the perfect balance between a smartphone — such as the iPhone — and a netbook or MacBook. It is also one gadget being marketed at a very reasonable price.

Apple iPad iBook storeWe South Africans, however, may have to wait a little longer to get our eager hands on iPads and experience them for ourselves. Nonetheless, several bloggers and tech experts have been raving about the iPad since it’s unveiling on January 28; but not all of it has been positive.

Techsperts are arguing that the biggest downfall of the iPad is that it is trying to be the best at everything and failing to be the best at anything. It’s great if you already own a laptop and an iPhone, they say, but perhaps not so great as a stand-alone device.

I would argue differently, and propose that the iPad is perfect for people who own neither an iPhone nor a netbook — or any Apple product for that matter. For starters, you would only be paying for one gadget (it is the cheapest of the three), which is able to do what the netbook and iPhone can … even if not as well.

What is an Apple iPad?
The iPad is a tablet computer. It is a flat, magazine-sized device with a multi-touch screen that allows users to surf the web, watch video content, send emails and read online media and ebooks (electronic books), among other things.

The real technology lies in the high-resolution, multi-touch screen, which is essentially what the iPad is. It requires no input devices such as a keyboard and mouse; everything is performed with the touch or sweep of a finger. A virtual on-screen keyboard appears when wanting to type something such as an email.

The iPad really resembles a large iPhone, but does not have built-in phone capabilities. However, the iPad is not marketed as a phone and it is still possible to web chat and communicate using social media websites and services.

Apple iPad size and specs
The iPad is two centimetres thin and weighs just 0,7 kg. It features an accelerometre, compass, speaker, microphone, headphone jack, dock connector, 802.11n WiFi networking, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 16/32/64GB of storage, and Apple’s brand new, super-fast A4 1GHz processor.

That’s one tight package with a lot of talent. Some iPad models will also feature 3G connectivity to cellphone networks. Battery life is said to be 10 hours during active use and one month during standby.

What does the iPad do?
Apple CEO Steve Jobs punted the iPad’s capabilities as an electronic reader of books, newspapers and magazines. In this way, it operates in a similar manner to the Amazon Kindle; one is able to browse and download ebooks onto the device to be read on the screen. This saw the birth of the iBooks application, which users can use to find, purchase, and download e-books from the iBook Store using their iPads.

Users can also download podcasts and vidcasts or buy music, TV shows, movies and applications from the built-in iTunes Store and App Store. All applications that currently work on the iPhone will run in an iPhone-sized window or in a maximized view on the iPad. Apple’s latest iPad model — the SDK — will allow developers to further customise applications for the larger screen size.

Apple iPad Apps
The iPad comes with several built-in applications, such as Safari, Mail, iCal, Address Book, Google Maps, YouTube, Photos, and Music (to name a few). All these applications (which already existed in the iPhone) have been redesigned and optimised for the large multi-touch iPad screen. Data can also be synchronised with a Mac or PC via USB cable.

Apple iPad features and shortfalls
Jobs showed off various features of the iPad during the unveiling ceremony, which include browsing the web, checking email, working with spreadsheets and charts, playing videogames, listening to music and watching video. That’s a lot to ask for in just one device, yet it still lacks a couple of important capabilities.

Apple iPad - NY TimesSome critics predicted the iPad would become the best-selling electronics device of 2010, while others pointed to its shortfalls, complaining that it has no built-in camera, cannot multi-task, can’t be used as a phone and doesn’t support Adobe Flash.

The lack of Flash support is possibly the major shortfall, as many websites today incorporate Flash for rich media content. Several news websites make use of Flash video and banners, which simply cannot be viewed or accessed using an iPad.

Apple iPad Pros
The iPhone has been hailed as a revolutionary device. Since its release, a huge library of thousands of applications has been developed and made available to iPhone users – for nominal fees, of course.

It is not incorrect to say that the iPhone acted as a sort of testing ground for new applications, as it was the only device that could make first and proper use of them. It is also not incorrect to state that many of the applications were borderline useless and often left iPhone users who had purchased the applications feeling a little ripped off.

The iPad, on the other hand, had the advantage of determining which iPhone applications were most successful and popular, and the best ones have been incorporated, with considerable upgrades to them.

What I would argue is the strongest selling point of the iPad from a consumer perspective is that it is simple and easy to use. Microsoft Surface showed how quickly all types of people can get to grips with hi-end technology by using natural hand gestures to operate it.

The iPad has no right or wrong way of being held — whatever is on the screen will rotate and orientate itself to how you hold it. Clicking on links, playing video content, resizing and zooming in on images, using Google Maps, playing games … is all done intuitively, using your fingers. It is hands-on technology at its best.

Apple iPad Cons

“The iPad isn’t the transformational device so many Apple enthusiasts were hoping for. It won’t turn all the content industries upside down, it won’t be your primary computing device and it’s not even a bigger, better iPhone.” — Mashable.

Without Flash support the iPad is unfortunately not the best web browser, which is what Apple is claiming it to be. However, it is still highly capable and can do a lot more than just web-browsing. It is not meant to be used as your primary computing device and it will not replace your cellphone.

Battery life, however, may be an issue. There seems to be a major focus on making gadgets as small and lightweight as physically possible these days, which can hamper functionality. The Apple iPad is just two centimetres thick. Battery life is said to be 10 hours. I would much prefer a thicker device with a larger battery if that means I can use it for longer.

Yet the iPad’s ease-of-use appeal and links to Apple’s online music, book and applications stores will make it an entertainment gadget that appeals to a broader group of people than previous attempts to market tablet computers.

Apple iPad Prices & Release Dates
Apple has said that the basic iPad would be available worldwide in late March at a starting price of $499 (roughly R4 000). A 32GB version will cost $599 and a 64GB version will cost $699.

All iPads can access the Internet using WiFi, but Apple will also be selling versions of the iPad that connect to high-speed 3G wireless networks. These will cost an additional $130 (roughly R1 000). It is important to note that the 3G versions will also require an Internet data plan.

If sales speak any truth
Steve Jobs said that due to iPods, iPhones, and MacBooks, Apple is the largest mobile devices business in the world today - generating more revenue than Sony, Samsung & Nokia. Add the iPad to that list and Apple seems unstoppable.

PS: I'm hoping to get my paws on an Apple iPad when they are released and write a proper, full review. Until then, watch this space ...

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