What if your toothpaste could tell you whether you needed to leave the house carrying an umbrella? Or how hot the day was going to be?
Odd as it may sound, David Carr of MIT's Media Lab is working on just such a prototype product, "Tastes Like Rain."
Carr and his colleagues are focused on super-mechanicals, or the idea of taking a basic object and giving it dynamic properties (consider, for example, the Proverbial Wallets, also out of MIT's Media Lab, that know your financial state).
In this case, toothpaste is modified to dispense one of three flavors depending on the weather. If it's mint, you know it's colder out than yesterday. Cinnamon means it's hotter. Blue stripes indicate tartar precipitation.
The prototype is currently hooked up to a small Linux computer that pulls forecasts, using custom software to compare previous and current temperatures and divvy up the flavors.
Then, linear actuators squeeze out the proper variety of toothpaste through a heavily modded Mentadent dispenser. … Read more
The Obama administration today launched of an energy efficiency program that will provide consumers with a home efficiency rating.
Vice President Joe Biden, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and other officials announced that the initiative, called the Home Energy Score program, is now in pilot phase in ten communities. The DOE also announced a set of guidelines for home efficiency workers which provide specifications for high-quality work.
The program is designed to encourage homeowners to make energy-saving upgrades and to jump-start the industry for home energy retrofits, Biden said in a statement. It will also include financing for homeowners and software … Read more
Jack White (White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather) has a cool video demonstrating his "triple-decker," three-records-in-one 12-inch single, "Blue Blood Blues." You have to watch the video to see exactly how the technology works, but let's just say for now it's a 7 inch 45 rpm single glued to one side of a 12-inch single; but the 12-inch can be pried open to retrieve another 45! It's a limited to 300 edition so I'm sure it'll sell out quickly. The Triple-Decker Record is a Jack White invention; and it's assembled by … Read more
The federally funded weatherization program has been expanded to cover comprehensive home energy retrofits, rather than only traditional energy audits.
The Department of Energy on Thursday announced that is has been funded with an additional $120 million and that participating energy service providers have weatherized 31,600 homes in the U.S. as of June.
Of that total, $90 million is being made available to home efficiency providers to offer installation of on-site solar power, efficient appliances, and home energy monitoring tools.
Traditionally, home weatherization providers do an audit of consumers' homes and recommend ways to save energy through air … Read more
Getting more accurate forecasts about space weather may not help you decide whether to water your garden, but it could soon clue you in better to when events in the solar system may be putting a damper on your electronic activities.
Johns Hopkins University, Boeing, and Iridium Communications announced on Wednesday that they have launched a new space-based service that they say will help scientists monitor magnetic storms around Earth.
Dubbed the Active Magnetosphere and Planetary Electrodynamics Response Experiment (AMPERE), the system utilizes commercial satellites orbiting Earth to take magnetic-field measurements in real time. The result is output that gets … Read more
I'm a city boy, so I don't relate to the "outdoor" speaker category all that well, but I certainly acknowledge the need for such things. For me outdoor audio is limited to my iPod and whatever headphones I'm reviewing. Geoffrey Morrison over at Home Entertainment magazine sees the bigger picture so he reviewed the Polk Audio Atrium Sat30 satellite ($150 each) and Atrium Sub10 subwoofer ($300), and came away pretty impressed by what he heard.
It's a plus that Polk managed to avoid the usual styling gimmicks that most outdoor sound systems rely on, … Read more
If you want to know what the weather is, the saying goes, look outside. MyFreeWeather allows users to do just that, without ever having to get up from their computers. This attractive weather program lets users view illustrated versions of the sky in their selected location, with both the time of day and weather accurately portrayed. With features typical of other weather software and the nifty sky graphics to boot, we think MyFreeWeather is a nice choice for a go-to weather program.
MyFreeWeather's interface is sleek and intuitive, with the sky illustration filling the upper third or so and … Read more
We're always on the lookout for a good weather app, something that provides accurate information and is easy to access without getting in the way. AniWeather for Chrome is a great Chrome add-on that presents information from the Weather Channel in an attractive, well-integrated interface.
The add-on appears to the right of Chrome's address bar, displaying an icon representing current conditions along with the temperature. Click the icon and the five-day forecast will appear. The Ani in AniWeather refers to the program's animations, which we really liked; they're subtle, but they make the forecast a little … Read more
I've now been an iPad owner for exactly four hours. First impressions? It's heavier than I thought, and I'm furious with iTunes for hanging--repeatedly--during my initial sync attempts. (Weird workaround: After successfully syncing my iPhone, the iPad started syncing normally.)
Newspaper apps? Fantastic. JamPad? Dazzling. Netflix? I think a tear escaped my eye. But you know which app I'll probably end up using the most? The ingenious 99-cent Desktop, which divides the iPad screen in half so you can run two apps at once.
Well, OK, not apps, but any of the 10 "applets" built into Desktop. These include a Web browser (complete with thumbnail-enhanced bookmarks, a nice touch); an e-mail composer; Google Maps; unit and currency converters; a calculator; a dictionary; and a weather monitor.
So think of it: when your iPad is pulling desk duty (resting in one of these five cheap/DIY stands, no doubt), you can keep, say, a browser and calculator running all the time. Or a unit converter and iPad stat monitor. It's your choice, and Desktop gives you the option of dividing the screen side-by-side or top-to-bottom. (You can also run any tool full-screen if you prefer.)
Great idea, right? Just one problem: Desktop lacks a few tools it desperately needs, and a few of the tools it has aren't fully baked.… Read more