“Lost” isn’t just a TV show. It’s also a complete, self-contained mythology that taps into the science and technology passions of hardcore nerds. The show overflows with interesting gadgets and gizmos, and with but one episode left, we’ve decided to celebrate our favorites. We created our list from memory, but researched the living bejezzus out of it on Lostpedia, the ultimate depository of “Lost” minutia. And by the way, if you’re interested in owning some of these gadgets, tools and technologies -- all lovingly created by the department of “Lost” prop master Rob Kyker -- you can ready yourself for the auction to be held by Profiles in History this summer.
And now, without further ado, our favorite “Lost” tech gear, in order of increasing coolness.
Researchers at Georgia Institute of technology have devised a new "bottom-up" self-assembly technique to overcome technical difficulties that had rendered more efficient silicon-based anodes impractical. The current crop of batteries only feature anodes made from graphite.
But the new technique uses “nanotechnology to fine-tune its materials properties,” allowing silicon-based anodes to be more stable inside the battery, and thereby paving the way for “a ten-fold capacity improvement over graphite.” Not only will the new technique improve the storage capacity of Li-ion batteries manifold, but such batteries will also last much longer.
"Development of a novel approach to producing hierarchical anode or cathode particles with controlled properties opens the door to many new directions for lithium-ion battery technology," said Gleb Yushin, an assistant professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "This is a significant step toward commercial production of silicon-based anode materials for lithium-ion batteries."
Somebody's feeling a little jealous of Apple's success in the mobile space, and that somebody is Sony. Citing "people familiar with the matter," the Wall Street Journal reports that Sony is readying a plethora of handheld gadgets in an attempt to steal away some of Apple's market share.
Two of these upcoming gadgets include a smartphone capable of downloading and playing games, and a portable tablet-like device that combines elements of a netbook, e-book reader, and handheld gaming systems.
It's important to note that Apple's success has been the result of not only its hardware, but its software distribution model, and towards that end, both of Sony's aforementioned devices are expected to work with Sony's new online media platform, which launches later this month, the WSJ reports.
But can Sony truly tap into Apple's market share?
"That's the vision, but it's still not quite clear what specific steps Sony will take to achieve that, especially when iPad and other highly capable mobile devices are crowding the market," said Nobuo Kurahashi, a consumer-electronics analyst a Japanese brokerage Mizuho Investors Securities.
Leave it to Brando to really talk up a product. The “Rii Mini Wireless Keyboard” is apparently pretty awesome if you take their word for it. It has 26 “dazzling” LEDs backlighting the keyboard. As if that wasn’t enough to sell you, it is designed to be easy to carry; by being small apparently. Then there’s the “notebook trackpad”. If you still have doubts, just remember this: it also has a laser pointer. How can they power all this awesome? Well the Rii Mini Wireless Keyboard has a “Built-in rechargeable more staying power lithium-ion battery”.
In all seriousness though, it doesn’t look like a terrible solution for a media center PC controller. The keyboard layout looks a bit awkward with the trackpad shifting the keys to the left. It uses a standard 2.4GHz wireless radio with a 30 meter range. The price is a little steep at $92. That’s maybe too much until you consider that you get “iPhone style craft, classic style” according to Brando. Get it here, if you wish.
Super bright LED flashlights are already pretty awesome, but slap an integrated video recorder into the mix and it's all over, man. This might be the coolest gadget James Bond never had.
It's called the LED Spy Light HD. The HD nomenclature might be a little ambitious, but you can shoot video in 1,280 x 960 at 30fps. You can also snap photos of your nemesis' secret plans in 1,600 x 1,200, And if all that weren't enough, there's also a voice recorder tossed into the mix.
The Spy Light doesn't come with any internal memory, but you're welcome to shove your own SD/SDHC card into the Spy Light.
Being a PC enthusiast and a gadget nerd go pretty much hand in hand, but have you ever wondered what it actually cost the manufacturers to assemble your army of iPod's and book reader's? Well wonder no longer because marketing research group iSuppli and Business Week have teamed up to tear down over 25 popular gadgets and have come up with what they consider a pretty accurate ball park picture of the manufacturing costs. Some of the results appear to be a bit out of date, particularly when it comes to the consoles, but it still gives a pretty good overview of how much money each product is raking in.
As you would expect most gaming consoles continue to sell at a loss, but many of the popular new smart phones actually make a fair bit of money when you factor in the kickbacks they probably get from the carriers. You can check out the full article to read about all 25 of the gadgets from the tear down, or review our sampling below for some of the more interesting snippets to save you time.
One of the coolest gadgets we saw at CES was Parrot's AR.Drone. This quadricoptor (four spinning blades) can lift off and stabilize itself in the air. But its best feature is the onboard wifi antennae and two cameras that let you control it with your iPhone! A front-mounted 640x480 camera feeds live video to an iPhone app, which you can use to steer the copter, while a downward-looking 176x144 camera assists with stabilization during outdoor use.
The AR.Drone is also programmable to recognize colors and objects for auto-piloting and potential augmented reality games. Parrot didn't announce a release date or price for the AR.Drone, but we want this NOW.
We also saw another flying toy on the show floor that made us drool with envy...
A lot has happened in the last 12 months. At the start of the year, iTunes was still peddling DRM, Yahoo and Microsoft were at bitter odds over the latter’s takeover attempts, Nvidia had the fastest consumer videocard, and the ”cloud” was still a burgeoning concept. Oh, how times have changed. Follow along as we relive and reflect upon some of the most memorable moments, products, and people to impact computer users over the last year.
What was your favorite tech product or event or 2009? Let us know in the comments!
Are you planning to do some travelling or Holiday gift shopping this weekend? There's only one way you can do both at the same time, and that's with SkyMall. It's the catalog for products that didn't quite make it into Sharper Image or BrookStone, and are too expensive to sell on infomercials. We picked up the latest issue on a recent flight, and were astounded to find terrible products on every other page. Here, we've picked out the fifty worst items, including horrendously ill-conceived vehicle accessories, impractical grooming devices, and the most terribly advertised gadgets for sale.
But let's start with the gem of a cover, which apparently breaks the rules of the space-time continuum.
The newly released Chumby One arrived in the mail today, and we couldn't wait to see how it compared to the original digital connected companion device. The Chumby, in case you haven't heard of it, is a multi-function gadget that can serve as an alarm clock, RSS reader, gaming device, or music player. It connects to the internet with Wi-Fi, and runs user-created widgets to do cool things like read your Gmail or send you Twitter updates. You interact with it through a 3.5 inch resistive touchscreen, but it also has an accelerometer inside, since it's made to be held and encourages user interaction.
We liked the first Chumby an awful lot, and the One doesn't look like it's meant to be a successor or replacement for that. In fact, we're not sure not exactly sure how the Chumby One is being positioned in the marketplace. One the one hand, it's a budget model, sacrificing the original's squishy appeal for a significant price cut.
On the other hand, it also adds new functionality that makes it a better device than the Chumby Classic.