Today, users of AOL Mail can start chatting from within their in-boxes, without having to open the AIM application. If you want to add this feature to your AOL Mail account, then visit beta.webmail.aol.com each time you log in, which will roll the new features into your existing AOL e-mail service. The changes are set to take effect later today. Gmail and Yahoo Mail beta both offer built-in chatting.
As the electronic age continues to consign printed media to the wastepaper basket of history, scientists in Sweden have come up with a novel way of combining for the analog and digital worlds. Talking paper is the brainchild of researchers at Mid Sweden University that makes use of conductive inks and printed speakers to turn billboards--and potentially product packaging--into standalone audio sources.
The technology relies on a layer of digital paper embedded with microelectronic components, which respond to touch to play a prerecorded message. The most obvious application for the technology is in the commercial billboard and posters, but the … Read more
Tonight Gizmoz is launching an upgrade to its service that brings photo face-mapping technology to user avatars. Originally the service allowed users to add voice clips to various pre-existing characters, including celebrities, inanimate objects, and house pets. With this new technology, users can upload a photo of themselves and the service will automatically map their face to a moving, talking character.
Once user faces have been mapped, the service takes on a look and feel a little similar to that of Meez [review] with a build-it-yourself creation tool. Users can adorn their avatar in all sorts of clothing and hairstyle … Read more
As spy gadgetry is concerned, this one isn't exactly 007 smooth. It's quite the opposite, actually, in that talk-into-my-carnation kind of way.
Although this product is presumably meant for covert activities--it's being sold on Spycatcher, after all--these "Spy Sunglasses" are basically a pair of shades with a camera stuck on the side, about as camouflaged as a snowman in a coal mine. It would go perfectly with the Discovery wrist cam in the Department of Glaringly Obvious.
Note to restaurateurs: Eating in the dark does not equate sophisticated ambiance. If not done up right, it's just a nuisance. This nifty invention, I fear, will only encourage the below-candlelight dimness I have been coming across in restaurants lately.
Taylannas, a company out of Miami, has introduced "Menus That Talk." The DVD-size device recites the menu choices at the push of a button. The customizable device uses a different button for each category like appetizers, desserts or salads. The talking menu, which includes Braille imprinted on the buttons, also offers Spanish as an option. There is … Read more
Google pushed out a nice update to the Web version of their Talk application earlier this week. Users can now have more than four conversations at once, embed Flickr slide shows into chat, and my personal favorite, pop out the chat list as its own window.
The Flickr slide show implementation is pretty slick, although I got a little confused trying to paste in the slide show URL, only to get a dead-end. Users need only paste in an album URL, and Google Talk will automatically convert it into a slide show for you. You can shuffle back-and-forth between photos, … Read more
YackPack, the group Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) chat and messaging service we covered last month, has launched a new zero-configuration widget to complement its chatting service. The new widget can be placed in blogs, Web sites, social networking profiles, and forums--practically anywhere embeds are allowed. It's dead simple with a single button you push to talk with others. There's no registration, and no need to install any software--it just works.
The widget has three flavors: one that starts live (meaning you hear others chatting whether you want to or not), an opt-in that requires user input to begin, and a custom URL version that will work across your entire site, no matter how many different pages you embed it in. In all the versions, there's a small number in the bottom right-hand corner that will let you know how many other people are using the widget. If you've had enough of their chatter, there's an X button on the top right to put the widget to sleep.
The Walkie-talkie widget joins YackPack's YackPlayer widget, which lets users embed and share audio messages in a way similar to Jaxtr's VoiceBlast, which we wrote about earlier this week. See also Snapvine.
We've embedded the widget after the break to speed up our page load, so just click "Read More" to begin chatting with other Webware readers. … Read more
Google has released a new module to use on its personalized homepage that retains the look and feel of its Windows-only installable chat application, Google Talk. What's interesting is that the Web-based version ends up having a few extra features you don't get with the desktop client. For instance, starting a conversation with a contact creates a new tab on the top of the interface. You can jump through these like tabs on a Web browser. It's far better system than the Google Talk application, which uses expandable horizontal bars like Microsoft Outlook.
There's also a … Read more
Mirror, mirror on the wall, what's the wackiest home-networking gadget of all? The "Magic Message Mirror" by California-based Themeaddicts would certainly have to be up there. It looks and functions like a decorative wall mirror, but hook it up to a home security system and it verbally provides real-time information about people walking up the driveway, entering the yard, doing a jig on the front lawn and so on.
The device, created by Hollywood special-effects expert Craig Barr, will also theatrically reveal an integrated live camera feed to show the area that's being monitored.
Verbal information … Read more
Jubii is a new service that attempts to provide an all-in-one solution for Web communication and sharing. It combines e-mail, contact management, instant messaging, VoIP, and file hosting into one app. The big question is, whether combining these things together provides a cohesive solution that's better than individual Web services. In short, the answer is no.
Jubii centers around its e-mail platform, which uses a simple tabbed interface with two separate in-boxes. E-mails from people on your approved contact list automatically get sent to your private box, whereas others make their way straight to the public. Creating new e-mails … Read more