Seems like there's a festival for everyone these days - even for us less naturally out-doors types. So even better news is there are lots of festival gadgets and gear, perfect for those not wanting to suffer out in the cold: There's nothing like a wonder-widget-that-does-it-all to make us happier campers, so here's our top ten gadgets and cool comforts we would definitely pack into our camper van...
Even when times are hard, our commitment to 'proper coffee' is looking like it's here to stay, with many of us still willing to fork out the equivalent of your lunch budget for a cup of the ol' Joe each morning. However, as our addiction has set in, so has our increasing demand to reproduce coffee shop results at home. Any barista worth their salt will tell you making good coffee is an art, but results will only ever be as good as the technology you're using, so this means investing in a coffee machine to do the job.
There's a multitude of coffee machines on offer now: From retro stove tops to one-touch bean to cup do-it-all machines, with mind boggling features and budgets to match. Here's our top 10 machines for you discerning coffee snobs out there...
Our favourite - slightly bonkers- watchmaker Tokyoflash is back with a pair of newbies both of which are made from, wait for it, wood.
We especially like this one - the Kisai Rogue SR2 LCD watch, which is made from a combination of maple and sandal wood. And in case you were wondering it presents the time through a circle of connecting blocks.
You just have to get your head round how it works that's all.
The watch also sports an ever present LCD display in a choice of three natural colors, to help you read the watch at night time. night time.
It is a bit low on the feature count, but it does boast an alarm for waking you up.
Also new is Kisai Stencil Wood, which the maker says is an update on the popular Stencil watch, this limited edition design is made from natural wood with a genuine leather wrist band. It too has time, date and alarm."
Both are available for $99 (€77, £65) until Friday May 3rd at 16:00 (Japan time).
More on the watches and the idiosyncratic way in which they work here.
Ever used Facetime on your iPhone when in the bath? Thought not. Someone is though according to some research from a UK online bathroom retailer.
Apparently as many as two thirds of us are happy to use our prized and pricey gadgets in the bath and not just receiving phone calls either.
The report by www.UKBathrooms.com, who polled 1,241 adults also says that 1 in 10 of Britons admitted to having damaged electronic goods by dropping them in the bath water accidently.
The survey asked. 'Do you ever use technological equipment whilst in the bath tub?' to which 67% said that 'yes', that they did use gadgets whilst taking a bath with the majority using smartphones, ereaders and tablets.
We are using those devices to keep up to date with social media, speak on the phone, text and even read novels and play games.
Peter Gregg, director of UKBathrooms.com, had the following to say:
"It seems that nowhere is safe from technology. The bath used to be for downtime and relaxation. Now it seems that it's used for Facetime and social media. It seems that these days, we're never switched off from the world around us."
"With the high cost of some of these products, it's surprising that so many people are willing to run the risk of getting them damaged and it seems that a number of people have suffered from it. We would never advocate the use of electronic goods in the vicinity of water, but I can understand the temptation to listen to some soothing music whilst relaxing in the bath. Facetime or Skype though is beyond me!"
There is of course one phone you can use in the bath.
There are often products on Kickstarter which I think have huge potential and LinkMe is one of those. In keeping with the year's current hot trend of wearable gadgets LinkMe is a bracelet that can be used to receive and display messages from your nearest and dearest. Think of it as a mini personalised billboard
It is a pretty simple concept. It connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and when someone sends you a message - via a dedicated LinkMe app - the words pop up on the bracelet. You can also set it to receive social media updates too. I guess it would work best if you are in a situation where it is difficult for you to access your phone such as working or in a bike.
I guess it will be mainly be used for partners to share intimate little messages, but it also the potential for all manner of uses - maybe for getting sports news?
The bracelet itself is charged via USB and will apparently run for two weeks. It will work with Apple and Android phones and will sell for $150 when it goes on sale in the Autumn - though you can get one for $99 if you pledge now via Kickstarter.
Sunnycam, great name, are the latest company to debut wearable gadgets. At The Gadget Show this week they paraded a pair of HD video recording glasses.
These are the budget variety in that they retails for £99, and as well as being suited to a spot of covert filming they can also be used in a number of more technical situations such as recording a football match (handy for referees) to filming customers on the door of a nightclub (useful for security guards).
In spite of their price they capture HD 720p footage, feature internet browsing, augmented reality and GPS and store what you record on a 16GB Micro SD card which will hold 2 to 3 hours of recording time.
Check out the video for more.
Now this has useful written all over it. On one level the Dual Power Bank is a basic, but portable power supply for you to use should your run out of juice on your phone or tablet. But according to the maker Thumbs Up it can fully charge a smartphone three times over or even charge your iPad while you're out and about.
And its party piece is that it can charge more than one device at a time.
The key is its massive power capacity of 6600mAh which is way more than I have seen on any rival portable power charger.
You initially power it up via USB and then connect your devices - it will work with tablets, smart phones, mp3 players and eBook readers and it comes with an adapter for Apple products. It also has an LCD screen which displays the percentage of power remaining in the unit.
Its is on sale now here with an RRP of £39.99.
Anyone who says they wouldn't rather be a superhero than a regular, boring human being is just really rubbish and/or lying. But fortunately researchers are currently developing a new suit that'll mean you actually have some superhero powers when you try to dress up as your favourite character, rather than just being a Kick Ass-style loser in a brightly coloured costume.
According to New Scientist, researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago are working on the SpiderSense (we wonder where they got the inspiration for THAT name from?), a suit fitted with sensors and microphones, that send out and pick up ultrasonic reflections from objects. There are so many fitted into the suit, that essentially the wearer has 360 ultrasound coverage, meaning they're prepared for incoming attackers and evil villains.
Of course it's not just about turning us all into superheroes, the suit could also have a big impact on those living with disabilities and limited eyesight.
SpiderSense will be presented at the Augmented Human conference in Stuttgart, Germany, in March.
A toy company called WoobleWorks has set up a Kickstarter campaign this week for its 3D printing pen, 3Doodler. The gadget is a world first and will allow users to draw creations, which are then sculpted into 3D objects at the same time (see some cool examples below).
We imagine most people will begin drawing 2D objects they see on the page, so let's just say a picture of a cat, that'll then be printed as a flat image of the same cat. However, as it's 3D, you can create a 2D image and then build upon it. The Next Web uses the example of drawing a 2D square and then simply lifting the pen off the page to imagine and then create a cube, which takes sketching your ideas with your finger in the air to a whole new and exciting level.
The pen uses ABS Plastic (the same material used by most 3D printers) to create the 3D models. As you draw with the 3Doodler it pumps out heated plastic, which then quickly cools to leave the stable structures you can see from the creations above.
There's no software or computers needed, just a plug socket and although the pen may look a bit like something you'd find in a tool box right now, it's been designed to be easy-to-hold and we imagine it might get a bit of a makeover once funding is secured too.
The cool thing about 3Doodler is that it's not been created with a specific demographic in mind, making it accessible for everyone from top designers to kids, we love this quote from the Kickstarter page blurb:
"If you can scribble, trace or wave a finger in the air you can use a 3Doodler"
A pledge of $50 or more will get you a final version of the 3Doodler, but don't worry if you don't have pennies to spare, WobbleWorks has already exceeded its goal despite having more than a month left to hit it...
Check out the 3Doodler on Kickstarter.
Remember the smart fork unveiled at CES that vibrated when you were a big fatty and ate too much? Well it seems tech companies are creating vibrating gadgets to make us more awesome in other areas of our lives too, like to combat all of those terrible spelling mistakes we always make.
The device is specially programmed to recognise movements associated with forming letters and words, so when it detects a deviation in your spelling or grammar it'll give you a gentle little buzz to make you look again at what you've just written.
The pen has been developed by a German company called Lernstift in order to help children take a closer look at their writing and make them evaluate their work more accurately and efficiently and certainly sounds like it'll be a handy and quirky addition to any classroom.
However, if most people knew they were making a mistake then surely they wouldn't have made it in the first place? So we imagine there'll be many confused users with buzzing hands who are sat there racking their brains about what they've done wrong instead of actually getting anything done.
The device is only at the prototype stage for now, but will be looking for funding over the course of the next few months.
[Via The Telegraph]
After a series of violent and highly publicised sex attacks in India over the past few months, the government in the country has decided to look into a number of more unconventional methods to provide women with a better defence against potential attackers.
Last week Kapil Sabil, the Minister of Information Technology, revealed that the government's Department of Electronics and Information Technology has been working on plans to build a new watch, which will be able to alert next of kin and local authorities if someone's having trouble.
The watch is fitted with a special button, which is able to send a text message to a police station or relative as soon as it's pressed. The device's built-in GPS system is able to tell exactly where the person in trouble is and even has a video camera, which can record for up to 30 minutes once a button has been pushed.
According to Sabil, the watch is already in development and a working prototype should be ready by the middle of the year. However, many people have already been quite sceptical about whether a gadget is really going to make much difference and reduce the number of sexual attacks in the country. But regardless, it's good to see the government making an effort to tackle the issue and think outside of the box when it comes to forms of defence.
A pink, fluffy phone case with a diamante heart on it won't impress us at all come the 14th of February, but throw some of these cool gadgets and tech accessories our way and we'll be all yours. Well for 24 hours at least.
Don't like the look of our list this year? Check our best ideas from 2012 here: 10 Quirky Valentine's Day gifts for geeky girls
If there was a Matrix prequel we think it'd probably open with a story similar to this, that a company is currently developing a chip to use energy from your skin to power stuff. But fear not, for now it's just powering little gadgets and fitness tracking devices, no one's forcing you to get naked and squeeze into a scary water tank and there are no big crazy monster robot things sucking your body dry. Well not yet, anyway.
A startup based in Oregan called Perpetua Power has developed a clever chip, which uses the same kind of technology found in solar panels to turn heat from your body into useful electrical energy.
Perpetua Power's Vice President Jerry Wiant explains:
"We absorb the heat from your body, and that heat is funneled through a thermoelectric generator that converts it into electric power."
The chip, called TEGwear, is able to absorb the energy straight from your skin, which generates around three volts and is then able to power small devices.
Of course it's not all doom and gloom and post-apocalyptic worlds controlled by robotic creatures, the technology could be really useful to a range of industries and types of devices, from body-powered smartphone accessories and health-monitoring devices to military applications.
Nothing will hit the market until at least 2014 according to Fast Company, but we imagine the developments of Perpetua Power and of any emerging competitors will be really interesting to follow/get absolutely terrified about.
It isn't just phones that are getting smarter. The humble wrist watch is becoming pretty brainy too. Now available from Italian company I'm Watch, and unveiled at the recent CES Show in Las Vegas, this second generation device promises even greater functionality than the previous model.
Not only can you use it as a Dick Tracy style wristwatch phone - sure to impress your friends and turn a few heads - you can also use this device to control all of the apps you have on your smart phone and more. So for the first time you can check your email, view your pictures, even keep up to date with social media just by looking at the high-resolution colour screen.
Size-wise, the i'm Watch is a little larger than a conventional boring watch, but then it can do a whole lot more. Simply plug the device into your PC using the supplied 3.5mm jack to USB cable, register the device on the website and check out the app store. The latest i'm Watch product uses the i'm Droid 2 operating system, a customised version of Android developed by i'm Watch engineers.
Here you can access various bespoke I'm Watch apps including a version of Instagram and another called i'Mages which enables you to view any photo albums you have stored via Google's Picasa. Once you've supplied your user name and passwords, it's also possible to view your Facebook and Twitter messages on your watch so you are never out of touch with what's going on in your social networks. It's even possible to access your emails on the go.
But that's not all. Scroll down the watch's touch screen display and you can click on a whole host of additional apps including one for checking the weather in your home town, one for providing the latest stocks and shares info and another for displaying the latest news. By pluggging headphones into the watch's 3.5mm jack you can also listen to music, downloadable via the i'music app.
Although the watch doesn't have a built in mobile data SIM it uses Bluetooth to communicate with the outside world via your smart phone (Apple iOS, Blackberry, Android). I managed to tether the watch to my iPhone straight away and within minutes was making calls on my watch. And while the number pad is obviously quite small I found it relatively straightforward to make calls by dialling the numbers into the watch (see image on right). Alternatively by synching the contacts from phone you can make calls even more easily.
For the techno geek, the i'm Watch is pretty much the ideal gadget. It combines all the usual functionality of a hi-tech watch (date, time, calculator) with a whole load of other apps which you normally only find on a smart phone (email access, social media functions). Thanks to Bluetooth you can also connect external sensors and control their functions from your i'm Watch including pedometers, even heart-rate monitors if you so wish.
Gone are the days of the boring, old wristwatch, which was only ever able to tell the time and possibly look a little bit stylish at the same time.
Now a range of new "watches" are in town that are super connected and probably more intelligent than your average teenager and there are LOTS of rumours flying round that Apple's been working on its own smart watch for some time.
Although we've seen a lot of innovative watches emerge over the past few years, it looks like CES 2013 has been an advanced watch EXTRAVAGANZA as there have been some impressive - and at the same time pretty pointless - wrist accessories, so here are our five favourite from the show floor so far.
We've been writing up Christmas gift guides now for the past few weeks and although some retailers will still deliver presents right up to the last minute (well, until Christmas Eve), it's starting to get a bit late to order all kinds of weird and wonderful things from the interwebz.
Well fear not, because we're here to help you with your last-minute dash to the shops and have collected together our favourite UK high street tech finds that you'll hopefully be able to pick up in a big city or small town near you.
Related: Check out our full round-up of Christmas 2012 gift guides.
If you're having friends and family round this Christmas you might want to give your home a bit of an entertainment revamp, whether you need to boost your speakers for a more immersive audio experience, find a better way of controlling your music and TV or invest in a new games console that'll keep everyone occupied we've got some suggestions for you.
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Over the last few weeks the team at our sibling site Tech Digest has been working with the mob at Brandish to come up with what believe are the 21 best gadgets of 2012.
All the gadgets you might expect are on the list (coughs) iPads, Galaxy phones, Smart TV, plus a whole lot of surprises.
If you are buying consumer electronics this Christmas this is the place to start.
The full list is here.
What have we missed?
If you've got a geeky guy to buy for this year but you're struggling for present ideas then take a look at our list for Christmas 2012, complete with tech DIY kits, Herschel accessories, Marshall speakers and the iPad Mini.
Let us know in the comments below what you've got on your Christmas list this year...
Check out some of our other Christmas 2012 gift guides: Top UK high street cameras for beginners, retro geeks & social media addicts and The 10 best fitness gadgets, apps & accessories