Top 10 Tech This Week [PICS]
By Charlie White, Mashable, 22 April 2012.
Technology turned toward higher-performance this week, where we found faster wireless broadband, computerized cars that will help you drive more safely, a high-performance keyboard for iPad, and a near-miraculous battery that could last three times longer than those in electric cars today.
Even more delightful was the abundance of tech that reminded us of science fiction movies - making it even harder to believe that some of it is available today or someday soon.
It was another jaw-dropping week for tech, and to bask in the best of it, you’ve come to the right place. So sit back and enjoy the latest Top 10 Tech This Week, the most concentrated, efficient and exciting tech coverage on (and off) this planet.
1. Bandra Ohm Tower
Imagine having a pool for a balcony. That's the promise of this spectacular residential building designed by James Law Cybertecture for Parinee Developers, featuring cantilevered pools hanging out on the edge of the wild blue yonder.
Sure, this is a design concept that might have to wait a few years for building technology to catch up, but I'm loving that fanciful design, letting you float in a cool pool as you gaze out on a magnificent view. Maybe someday soon this Mumbai-based design firm might actually build this lovely apartment building.
2. iOptik Display System
Coming in 2014, these high-tech contact lenses have ultra-miniaturized electronics on board, allowing them to work along with a special pair of glasses to give you a head-up display of augmented reality without having to wear a bulky helmet.
The contact lenses focus 3D videos projected from tiny projectors embedded in the temples of those special glasses, a system that might be especially handy for battlefield use. Ah yes, our tax dollars at work. But I'm hoping this will have a civilian benefit someday soon as well.
3. Mercedes Style Coupe
This Mercedes Style Coupé is a gorgeous new design concept making its debut at auto shows this week, but its coolest tech is inside, with apps and diagnostics that stay in touch with the cloud via a wireless data connection.
Beyond its cloudy computerization (which I hope will not be so distracting that people might wrap this beauty around the tree), I'm especially fond of its sleek new interior, taking the idea of undulating curves to a whole new level.
Mercedes is calling this a Coupé, but I see four doors. Never mind, just look at it. Want. There's no availability date announced yet.
4. SoundFreaq Sound Kick
Behold, the littlest and least-expensive member of the SoundFreaq speaker family that lets you wirelessly connect any Bluetooth device for rocking sound: Sound Kick. This US$100 palm-sized pack o' fun runs on AC or its rechargeable battery (good for at least seven hours on a charge) that you can also use to charge your phone.
SoundFreaq Xkick Chamber
Check out the reason why it's called the Sound Kick: There's an "Xkick chamber" that you pull out of the back, expanding just enough to make its bass notes surprisingly strong, sounding many times bigger than its diminutive size.
SoundFreaq Sound Kick
When you're done listening, that expansion area easily slides back into the speaker itself, resulting in a box that's not much thicker than a paperback book.
I've been giving this Sound Kick a serious listen this week, and it's the best-sounding small Bluetooth speaker I've ever heard. This is another notable breakthrough by SoundFreaq, worth a lot more than a C-note in my opinion.
5. Kohler Underscore VibrAcoustic Bath
Leave it to Kohler to create the ultimate luxury bath: The Underscore VibroAcoustic Bath has six strategically placed underwater speakers hidden inside this tub, bathing you in soothing sounds while you drift into relaxation oblivion. You can choose your own music or lay back with professionally composed "experiences" created by Kohler specifically for this bathtub of the future.
Its new digital interface lets you rock your iPod, iPad or iPhone with Bluetooth, and when you're not doing the splish-splash routine, it also functions as a bathroom stereo. Serious professional relaxers only need apply: This kind of watery decadence will run you between US$3000 and US$5000.
6. Novatel Wireless MiFi 4620L
Any time a mobile hotspot calls itself a Jetpack, it has my undivided attention. What's the big deal about this new OLED-screened version of the Novatel MiFi? Now you can hook up 10 of your closest friends to this little unit that's scarcely larger than a matchbox.
Its most dazzling feature is the way it links up to the Verizon 4G LTE network, and in my tests, it gave me quick connectivity: a broadband-like 7.96 Mb-per-second download and 5.79 Mb-per-second upload speeds. That's not quite the peak of 4G LTE's promise, but it's sure a lot better than any 3G Mi-Fi I've ever used.
Special deals are available if you look hard enough - you can get your hands on this hardware free with a two-year contract, but then there's that monthly tariff for your Verizon data plan, starting at US$50 for 5GB of data per month, and US$80 for 10GB per month.
7. IBM 500-Mile Battery
Who wouldn't want a 500-mile battery for electric vehicles? That might be a number that could make electric cars whole lot more practical. IBM is figuring out a way to make that happen with its "lithium air" battery technology.
Using nanotechnology, the battery draws oxygen into its carbon cathode, where it reacts with lithium ions and creates electricity. Then it breathes that oxygen back out again - it's almost as if this thing is alive!
Sound far-fetched? We'll have to wait until sometime between 2020 and 2030 to see this gee-whiz technology come into fruition.
8. iPhone 5 LiquidMetal Chassis
Rumours about the iPhone 5 are already swirling, and now we're hearing the newest model will have a LiquidMetal chassis. The exotic alloy, made of titanium, zirconium, nickel, copper and other metals, is already being used in specialized medical gear.
This is a substance unlike any you've ever touched. It's said to have a smooth surface that feels like liquid, and it's described as "basically metallic glass." There might be some truth to this rumour, because Apple bought the rights to use this stuff back in 2010, dropping US$30 million for the privilege. Expect to see the new iPhone in October.
[iPhone 5 design concept by Federico Ciccarese]
9. Cadillac Super Cruise
Cadillac edges a step closer to the self-driving car with Super Cruise, adding additional driver-assist features to its already burgeoning stable of computerized navigation aids. Now it'll be using a combination of ultrasonic sensors, cameras and GPS map data to keep that Cadillac on a steady keel.
GM tells us this tech might be available in Cadillacs around 2015, this semi-autonomous driving technology will work only on highways at first, bringing automatic steering, braking and lane cantering to those who could use some robotic help.
Just don't depend on it too much, or this robotic assistant might lull you into complacency.
10. Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad
Here's a lovely ultrathin keyboard from Logitech that perfectly matches your iPad 2 or new iPad. It magnetically attaches to the iPad just like Apple's super-cool iPad covers, and when you're ready to type, you just place the iPad in a slot and you have what looks like a tiny laptop.
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover - rear view
I've been typing on this Ultrathin Keyboard all week, and I found its five-row keyboard to be just the right size for quick typing. And when I closed up the keyboard with both my iPad 2 and new iPad, both were scarcely thicker than they were without the keyboard. The only downside I found? It scratches way too easily.
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover
This is an excellent unit, albeit a little pricey at US$99 - but if you're looking to substitute a laptop with your iPad, this will get you there in style.
Logitech Logo Side
Top image: Additional images of iPhone 5 LiquidMetal Chassis (left) and Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad (right)
[Source: Mashable. Edited. Some links and top image added.]