Friday Four: Gadgets Galore

Posted by · October 26, 2012 11:27 am

Sometimes the dreamers in our beloved industry go off the deep end in creating gadgets that will contribute to culture and humanity. But sometimes, they get it right. This week, tech developers have blessed us with an abundance of doodads that could have an impact on life as we know it.

From greenwavereality.com

A company called GreenWave Reality has developed a system for wi-fi controlled LED light bulbs. The “Connected Lighting Solution” allows you to control each light individually through an application available for all Android and iOS devices and a GreenWave box that plugs in to your home’s wireless router. The bulbs give off light similar to incandescent bulbs, and are Energy Star Certified. The bulbs cost about $20 a piece, or you can get a whole kit with four bulbs for about $200. I see this as being heavily marketed to sleazy guys with apartments decorated in animal print, anyone looking for an updated version of The Clapper, and lazy people everywhere (i.e., me).

The FTC wants you to create a way to stop robocalls, and they are willing to pay you $50,000 for your solution. Challenge.gov, a website that aims to gather the public and government to solve national issues, solicited innovators to come up with a way to block illegal robocalls on landlines and mobile phones. Even if you’re on the “Do Not Call” list, companies still use the aggressive sales tactic to illegally reach out to potential suckers. “As technology has advanced over the years, so have the number of illegal robocalls,” states the challenge. Solutions can be technical or functional, and there must be proof that the concept is effective.

Researchers have developed a video game with a heart monitor to study and develop methods for children to control their anger. At Boston Children’s Hospital, doctors created a device called RAGE (Regulate and Gain Emotional) Control, which throttles the game controls according to the child’s heart rate. A heart monitor is attached to their finger as they play a game that involves shooting at spaceships. When their heart rate increases, they can’t shoot until they bring it back down to an acceptable level. Jason Kahn, PhD, and Joseph Gonzalez-Heydrich, MD created the game when they observed “children with anger control problems are often uninterested in psychotherapy, but very eager to play video games.” I don’t have kids but I would have guessed that with very little research.

As we discussed in the EE podcast, this week was tablet mania with Microsoft introducing the Surface, and Apple presenting the long-speculated about iPad mini, as well and the somewhat unexpected iPad 4. We polled you to see if you’d pay the new Apple mini tablet, and only two out of 50 respondents said they thought the iPad was worth the $329 price tag. Investors weren’t too happy either; the tech company’s shares dropped $8 when the price was announced. As for the Surface, it could have a million flashy features that won’t matter until some more apps are developed to utilize them.

If you’re overwhelmed at trying to win $50,000 by solving a national problem, you could always try your hand at our contests: solve your tablet needs and win a Nexus 7 or some pumpkin-y swag instead.  Happy (early) Halloween!