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mwc-hola-big.jpgSo MWC is over for another year! And the world's mobile bigwigs have left the tapas bars and headed home. But what caught our eye at this year's exhibition? Here are ten things we learnt this week.

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1 By far the sexiest item at the show was the Samsung Gear Fit - With its curved AMOLED screen this is how I'd imagine that the iWatch will look. It also works with any Samsung Galaxy phone which potentially gives it a very wide reach. The jury is out though on how useful it will be. It is not as highly specified as the Galaxy Gear 2 or other fully specified smartwatches, so you can read messages but not respond to them. For fitness types the heart rate monitor and its accompanying software is handy, though annoyingly it doesn't measure your heart rate on a 24 hour basis. So Samsung have created a stunning design, but the rest of the Fit is a bit of a work in progress.

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2 The Sony Xperia Z2 has an amazing screen - Sony's next generation smartphone has a significant wow factor in the clarity and resolution of its screen. That camera looks very impressive too. More on it here.

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3 Nokia's X Series cheapo Android phones might do surprisingly well - Kudos to the company for doing that it perhaps should have done a year ago and launch Android phones. The new mobiles, the X, X+ (which both have a four inch screen) and XL (five inch screen) should appeal to the millions who still have a soft spot for the Nokia brand but can't afford larger and higher spec phones. The Windows style tile system makes it easy to use too, and that price, shame though about a relative iffy camera.

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4 Samsung's Galaxy Gear 2 watch has a great camera - The jury is also out on the new Samsung Galaxy Gear watch, but this time it works with any Galaxy phone - the original was Note 3 only - and the camera is actually rather good for a two mega pixel jobbie. I bet this fella fancies one.

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5 The cheesiest ad of the week winner is this... - Just what is he doing with his hand?

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6 Samsung are being a bit over protective of the S5 - Rather odd really as the phone didn't appear at the main show and was only available for viewing to the privileged few behind closed doors.

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7 Curved screens, you can keep them - LG seem to be fighting a losing battle in convincing punters and the industry of the merits of curved screens as featured on its G Flex six inch screen mobile. They might apparently be much better for viewing video with superb colour saturation, but no one seems too interested.

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8 Ford are doing some very clever things with the car dashboard - Its AppLinks platform is starting to roll out across Europe and there just huge potential to customise phone apps so that make getting information or entertainment easier for the driver. The voice controlled Spotify app works very well and Glympse could prove to be highly useful.

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9 The smartphone might just be about to hit an innovation buffer. We have now had innovative apps, bigger screens, ever higher quality cameras. However a lot of the secondary brands launches Huawei (whose seven inch phone/tablet hybrid the MediaPad X1 is pictured), Lenovo etc at MWC had a decidedly similar feel to them. And how much of leap is the Samsung Galaxy S5 on from the S4? Maybe smartphone tech is hitting an innovation wall.

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10 MWC is still The Olympics for petty criminals - All those phones and tablets, all those industry types on a bender down the Ramblas, and half of the best pickpockets from southern Europe. Barca's police must really hate MWC.

MWC 2014 - Creoir re-invents the smart watch

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Mobile World Congress is surprise surprise awash with wearable gadgets including some biggies from both Samsung and Sony One smaller company though that has been creating a bit of a buzz in the wearable space is Finnish firm Creoir. It has developed a smartwatch that is built on the Android operating system but resembles old school watches.

It has a custom user Android interface but the watch which also sports a touch screen display ,is also compatible with iOs devices too. also on board is Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, an accelerometer, e-compass and an ambient light sensor and USB connectivity.

It certainly looks stylish too with build includes stainless steel and crystal finish. There's no news yet on a potential launch.

hexstyli.jpgStyluses are usually used by people who have gigantic fingers, unable to use touchscreen-based devices without accidentally ending up on a malicious website, which reminds me of a certain person that I know...my father. OK, I'm not going to bitch about him here, but I am going to tell you about a new stylus that I think he, and you, the readers, would like - the HexStyli from MobileFun.

What it does

The HexStyli, which has been built for use with capacitive touchscreens, sports a built-in ballpoint pen, spirit level, ruler and two screwdriver heads.

Design

In terms of design, the HexStyli looks very striking. It has been constructed out of metal, giving it an executive and somewhat prestigious feel.

As for the weight, it's pretty light, though feels very sturdy too.

Usability

I put the HexStyli to the test by using it with my fourth-gen Apple iPad, and the results were excellent. Unlike other styluses that I have reviewed in the past, the HexStyli didn't leave any marks on the screen of my iPad. And you don't have to press hard to get the results that you expect. When using my artistic talents in a doodle app, the precision was excellent - my drawing looked amazing. Maybe the tip of the stylus is a bit too squishy for my liking, but no major issues.

Verdict

Styluses are pretty much a matter of preference: you'll either love them or absolutely hate them with a passion. I personally don't mind them, and think the HexStyli is the perfect gadget for anyone who owns a tablet PC or smartphone with a capacitive touchscreen - most people nowadays.

As well as plenty of other awesome styluses that MobileFun offers, you can get the HexStyli HERE.

Ford watch.jpgOnce Ford just made cars. Now it seems the manufacturer is branching out into all sorts of other areas to show off its design credentials. 

Shown to journalists including Shiny Shiny who visited its race track in Lommel, Belgium recently was a designer lamp, a leather chair and this watch. All formed part of a collection unveiled at a prestigious furniture design show called Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan. 

Hand-assembled in Germany, the design includes Swiss-made ETA 7750 automatic chronograph , a tailor made leather strap for every customer as well as calendar and stopwatch functions. Only 100 of these designer watches are being made available making it the perfect Christmas gift for the Ford aficionado.

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Feeling eeeeeeevil? *scary scream*. Here's our top scary outfits and assorted scary stuff for this extra creepy '13 Halloween.....Whoah-hah-hah-hah-harrrrrrrrrr! (coughs)

proporta-custom2.jpgThis seems like a lovely idea. Proporta is offering people the chance to create their own customsied iPhone and Samsung Galaxy cases.

It seems easy to do, isn't too expensive with prices starting at £19.95 including delivery and users can incorporate existing Proporta designs from the likes of Ben Allen and the V&A into their finished product.

The phones that the case are compatible with include the iPhone 4/4S, 5/5S and Galaxy S3/S4.

More here.

Top Samsung Galaxy S4 Cases - for her

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Bought yourself a Samsung Galaxy S4? If you feel that it is a little under dressed then maybe you should take a peek at this selection.

Eight stylish Apple iPhone 5C Cases

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Well that didn't take long. As soon as the wraps came off Apple's budget new iPhone the accessory mob piled in with new cases for the phone.

This time they do have a bit of competition with Apple's own take. But if you don't fancy that then here are some others that are worth taking a look at.

rhinoshield.jpgWe have all been there. Watched as a smartphone has tumbled from our bag or pocket only to land screen facing down on concrete. If you were unlucky you would have then been looking at a cracked screen and a replacement bill of around £50.

Which might make the £17.99 Rhino Shield, iPhone screen protector pretty good value. The .029cm thick uses self-adhesive silicone to stick to your screen and then apparently absorbs 5x the impact of the phone's Gorilla Glass.

The company says that is you stick it properly it keeps the slimline aesthetics of the phone and should be free from air bubbles.

Here's the Rhino in action.

More info here.

Wearable tech goes vintage, well that is kind of the concept that designer Sean Miles had in mind with this collaboration with 02. He has basically created a collection of vintage fashion accessories made from recycled mobile phones, which have included Christian Louboutin heels, a pair of vintage Miu Miu gloves and an Alexander McQueen clutch bag.

The cool part is that all of them double as mobile phones.

The items, which 02 is billing as the O2 Recycled collection, was unveiled to coincide with the end of London Fashion Week.

Sean Miles said:

"We wanted to showcase the possibilities of wearable technology - from shoes to gloves to bags - and how fashion and technology can go hand in hand. Further, the hope is that all the creations for this innovative project will get people to notice what can be done with mobile phones rather than just sending them to landfill. If we can combine the best of fashion whilst also recycling gadgets we can be trendsetters in more than one way. This has been an amazing journey for me and really has opened up my eyes and wardrobe to new things!"

The creations included

"Walkie Talkies" vintage footwear (including a pair of brogues, Nike Air trainer, Hunter Wellies and a Christian Louboutin high heel shoe which all can be used as phones.)

"Talk to the Hand" vintage Miu Miu and Pineider gloves which had an old mobile phone's speaker unit embedded in the thumb and microphone built into in the little finger of the gloves while they chat through Bluetooth connection.

"The Bags That Talk" a vintage Celine box handbag, a Chloe shoulder bag, and an Alexander McQueen clutch bag, with old Nokia and LG handsets integrated into them.

gooey1.pngThere are times in life when you really do need an extra pair of hands, especially when you are holding your smartphone, Well a brand new gadget accessory aims to make your life a tad easier.

'goo.ey' which is the brainchild Sydney born entrepreneur Rachel Verghis is add on for your smartphone that enables you to stick your mobile on to smooth surfaces like windows, mirrors or even your fridge

The £15 Goo.ey which works with the iPhone 4 & 5, Samsung Galaxy S2, S3 & S4, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, iPad Mini and iPad (all generations) uses an adhesive polyurethane epoxy which you place on the back of your phone. Then when you push it against smooth surfaces it sticks tightly - until you pull it off that is. The rest of the time the material feels smooth to the touch.

So it could enable your phone to work more effectively as a sat nav in your car, attach to your fridge to help you to read a recipe or stick to your bathroom mirror so you can entertain yourself with a quick video while you clean your teeth.

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backtrack-breathalyser.jpgNeed to know how much alcohol is in your body after a bit of drinking session? Well there's an app that's admittedly paired with a device for that. Firefox has unveiled the BACtrack iPhone Breathalyser . which it claims is the first Blood Alcohol Content trackers that works with a mobile phone. It basically measures how inebriated our area from a single breath and then via Bluetooth sends the details to your IPhone or iPad.

So why do you need this? Well if you are driving anywhere you really ought not to go near the sauce, but I guess if you want to monitor your alcohol consumption and the impact that it is having on your body then this is a useful system. The app apparently not only gives you an insight into your alcohol levels it stores your readings allowing you to track you BAC levels over time and to view your habits throughout one particular night, or the past few weeks.

You can also let the world know you have been drinking via Facebook and Twitter, updates that I assume your boss will find fascinating should you be drinking on a 'school night'

It is yours for £150 from here.

happyplugs-gold.jpg I don't know about you but i am always losing my earphones! If I had these beauties though I guess I'd be a bit more careful with them because Happy Plugs' latest set of in-ear phones are finished in ulp, 18-carat solid gold.

Made by a Swedish goldsmith in Stockholm who creates the headphones by hand from 25 grams of gold they can be ordered from September 6th for a price of a price of 11.000 Euro ($14.500 USD). Around £10k...

If that's is bling it a little too much you can opt for metallic colored headphones in gold and silver for a slightly more affordable 24.99 Euro ($29.99 USD) and 34.99 Euro ($39.99 USD) respectively. I think the dog costs extra.

More here.

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vrase-main.jpgHere is quite a novel idea. Build a smartphone case compatible with the Apple iPhone 5 and HTC One among others and then turn it into a wearable device which delivers a big screen that's optimised for movies, gaming and more and is compatible with 3D and Augmented Reality software.

That's the plan behind the vrAse which debuts this week on Kickstarter. The Scottish company is hoping to raise £55k to make its project a reality.

Essentially the concept is a case which incorporates a pair of specially designed screens which sit in front of your smartphone and then magnify the images to give you that big screen style experience.

The idea is that the vrAse will in the future be compatible with any phone that you own so you won't need to upgrade it if you change your handset.

It sounds like an innovative concept, it'll be interesting to see if they get their cash. Prices start at £48.

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yanko-iwatch.jpg We are only months away from an almighty battle for the smart watch market. Apple is rumoured to be beefing up its iWatch team, Samsung is working on a similar device and Sony has been in the market for a while with its range of watches. Might however the smart watch be a small blip on the road to something more meaningful like smart textiles or maybe even smart implants?

We spoke to Oliver Stokes, Principle of Design and Innovation at agency PDD who has worked with a number of clients on wearables and new technologies and especially how humans can interact with them in a natural and seamless way. He has some forthright view as on smart watches but thinks the days when get 'chipped' might be a few years away yet.


Do you think there is going to be a market for smart watches? Or will they just be a intermediary device with a short shelf life?

The whole concept of the smart watch is an interesting one. We've seen previous attempts through products such as the LG GD910 or Sony LiveView SmartWatch, neither of which in my understanding have seen wide adoption. So it's unclear what a potential Apple or Samsung offer could bring that would inspire people to become more involved. It would seem that much of the functionality is focused on the device becoming effectively a second screen to your smart phone and that I believe is not sufficient, there has to be a greater insight to pull people in. Certainly if Apple were to launch a fully flexible, wrap around screen that we've seen in some hypothetical concept renders online then that might 'persuade' me to invest!

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Do you think that there is a type of wearable gadget that will succeed in the long run?

I feel for true 'wearables' to succeed in any category we as consumers need something that is more naturally fitting with our bodies than a clunky box. The product should also be part of an eco-system that can provide sufficient value to us so we're not moved to forget it.

Explain why you think smart textiles will be more successful that wearable tech? Is it all about the fact that we have to wear clothes, but don't need to wear glasses or watches?

There is something more discreet about a smart textile compared to an object (Watch / Glasses). Therefore I could see this being an easier category to adopt for us consumers in the social context - if the garment / product is able to provide simple feedback, process tasks without being impacting others then that is potential a more compelling offer.

In the reality of today, an object that you need to interact with and is overt to others, such as Google Glass is really pushing people to rethink about their self-image / body language. We as humans are used to intuitively or through association understanding the cues of body language and interaction. Whether that is facial expressions or the tell-tale white cable that we've grown to associate with someone listening to music or talking hands free. We have learnt and built these cues, adapting them to social context, but the reprogramming of this language to suit voice control or the act of 'staring' with Google glass may require greater time to become the 'new normal'.

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Are smart textiles mainly about health monitoring and fitness? What are the more consumer focused/fun uses for them?

The great rise in sensor technology and reduction in price, plus the natural role of a smart textile in apparel lends itself more naturally to health and fitness - it's an obvious link. But as technologies develop we can see that the role or opportunities for smart textiles start to broaden. Imagine in the future a fabric that could change colour or pattern and the impact that could have on fashion (both visually and commercially) - concepts like that would really start to push smart textiles away from just monitoring / reporting on your physical performance

Might textiles also be an intermediary technology as we one day are embedded with chips in our bodies? What might need to occur to make this happen?

'Implantables' have been around for over 10 years, with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) having approved certain RFID technologies back in 2003/4. So the idea of having some implanted is not that new or outlandish in certain sectors especially when you think of how long pacemakers have been around. But to imbed a technology for consumer application opens up a whole new area of challenges and opportunities. Already 'life hackers' are self-imbedding RFID tags in their hands so they can automatically open their car or house. But when you consider the rapid pace of technology at present, that I change my phone every year and could change every three months if I were to hop brands to keep up-to-date. Then you start to wonder if 'injectables', 'implantables' that may need 'upgrading' each year is realistic in the short term. 'Ingestables' on the other hand could be a different again. As Motorola presented at D11, the passcode pill that lasts day to authenticate your life is potentially interesting as are sub dermal circuit boards that dissolve over time. So on that basis, maybe there is an opportunity for these products to have a limited life span. Ultimately the age of the human cyborg is maybe still many social debates and years away!

I am particularly interested in how smart textiles can interact with machines. is there an example of how they might work with say cars in the future?

I'm not aware of any major projects that involve smart textiles in cars, but the BMW GINA light visionary model of 2008 or 'shape shifting car' is an interesting concept that could be combined with a smart textile to allow shape and colour change (Exterior and Interior). The automotive sphere is certainly one where smart textiles could play an interesting role once they become more developed.

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Can you give me a timespan for when you think smart textiles will be mainstream?

I see many programmes in the public domain that are exploring smart textiles and I'm sure there are many more behind closed doors, but I would propose that smart textiles are probably still 5 years away from real commercialisation

Are there going to be very real savings in health care using smart textiles?

Without surmising an application, it's tricky to know what benefits they could offer. But certainly healthcare has commonly been an early adopter of new technologies in terms of investment to develop and application. So once we understand more about how they could be applied I'm sure developments of smart textiles in health care will come.

Who are you working with for PDD on smart textiles?

PDD has a history of working with companies across a number of sectors on wearables and other new technologies. But I'm not able to disclose who we are working for and in what areas due to strict confidentiality ethics. You can see a sample of who we have worked with and some examples of our work on the website.

Five of the best - Waterproof MP3 Players

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Time for a dip, and if you want some musical accompaniment check out these waterproof players.

maplin 3d printer.jpgYesterday High Street Electronics store Maplin announced some pretty significant news. It confirmed it was going to become the first retailer to sell a 3D printer in the UK from its stores. Up until now they have been available but via the web.

It is offering the Velleman K8200 for just £700, which is way cheaper than any of its rivals.

So it sounds great, but what exactly are you going to use it for?

Well first up, here's a quick resume on how it work? First you you have to use PC software to design what you are going to print. You then send this data to the printer which then builds up the layers in plastic.

After a while the printing is completed and you have your object. It can produce basic things in less than 30 minutes. More complex stuff can take hours.

Maplin is selling the printer with five metres of polylactic acid (PLA) -- the 3mm plastic wire which is used to create the objects.

Ok, so what can you make? Well the headline story has always been about engineering a gun and there are examples of how this has worked, and how it has gone horribly wrong.

You can create mobile phone covers, ornaments and more, but I suspect that it will get most of its use creating jewelry or fashion items. Some of the more complex things that have been created on professional 3D printers such as a violin, weird shoes and more are way beyond low-end models like this for a number of reasons. One of the main obstacles being that printing complex objects can take days to complete, another is that 3D printers require a deal of technical knowledge to be operated. It isn't just plug and play and out pops an item.

There are other downsides though. Firstly Maplin is now showing a 30 day wait for the product. Secondly the printer is a self assembly model so it will take the user a while to put it together.

Nevertheless the arrival of a 3D printer in a UK store is the start of a journey - who knows where it will lead.

Still maybe one day you will be able to use a 3D printer to create another 3D printer - now that would be progess.

proporta universal case.jpgYou know what it is like. You spend loads of money on a really nice case for your smartphone or tablet, but a year down the line you upgrade and that cases don't fit any more.

Which is why Proporta new range of Frankie and Gecko case are such a smart idea. This is because they are compatible with a wide range of phones and tablets.

Take the Frankie tablet case, It is made from fine leather and can double as a stand if required. And it works with not just the 10inch iPads, but also the recent, and rather excellent, Sony Xperia Z tablet as well as 10inch tablets from Samsung and Google.

Likewise the Gecko will house a range of smartphones including the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4, the HTC one, Google/s Nexus and Windows phone 8.

The Frankie tablet case is £34.95 while the Gecko is £19.95 and both are available from Proporta.

Taking your Apple iPhone 45 out and about with you this summer. Before you indulge it in a little sand and surf you might want to check these out.

Here is our selection of high-end cases for the Apple iPhone 5, from ultra stylish designer wallets through to quirky, but pricey customised cases.

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