For a good number of years there has been a silent force driving engineers to make engineering simpler. Building an electronic prototype takes a matter of hours with Arduino. SaaS (Software as a Service) companies which do the heavy lifting for programmers have dramatically reduced build times. Twilio brought order to our complicated phone systems by building a ridiculously simple API for them. The barrier to entry for engineering is quickly being broken down. What exotic project was normally a fantasy for most is now being realised thanks to this new set of tools with the groundwork done.
Face it. You’ve no idea what the bolts and screws at the bottom of your toolbox are for and you never will. You have two options. You can sell them on Etsy as relics of a departed era. You can cash them in as scrap. Or you can transform them into the little robots known as The Offbits.
Students Florian Born and David Friedrich have designed a machine with the task of relentless calculation.
Everyone wants a projector until they realise how expensive, large and awkward they are. Forget wireless media streaming. ‘Beam’ has recognised this and have developed a sleek device suitable for the modern home.
I was kindly asked by Time Out if I’d like to take part in their running tour of London and try out the Sony Smartwatch 3 and Xperia Z3 Compact to see how they do covered in sweat.
A remote control light was a really good idea when I bought the RF plug sockets. But having to fumble around finding the remote in a dark room was annoying and dangerous (once knocked over a glass of water onto a power outlet). So I decided to hack it and connect a motion sensor. Here’s how I did it.
In terms of mobile phones we all seem to be over the naff and gimmicky. Phones with inbuilt Rubix cubes and pencil sharpeners are things of the past, replaced by the chic and minimalistic. This is why I tend to roll my eyes when I hear about oddball features stuck onto phones. But then I got my hands on a YotaPhone.
I’ve been playing around with the CMUcam5 Pixy and it’s an amazing board capable of picking out coloured objects at high speed. Using it with a robotic platform is easy and we made a seeing robot really quickly. OpenMV Cam is very similar but goes far and beyond in terms of features.
It’s pretty amazing how terrible bicycle security is at the moment. A bike can be stolen within minutes and once it is it’s gone forever. Bike Hawk will help you fight back.
You might be able to cobble together a basic smartphone app for your Arduino project with Phonegap. But if you don’t have the knowhow or patience you’re about to have another option.
“Ring” is probably one of the coolest gadgets at CES at the moment, and surprisingly not a concept. The ring can detect the tiniest finger movements, allowing the user to draw gestures in the air to trigger specific tasks through their phone.