Tuesday 30 May 2017

TRE Talk Radio Europe 'gadget guru' conversation from May 2017

Here's the technology I talked about in my May 2017 'gadget guru' chat on TRE Talk Radio Europe:

InstruMMents 01

I like a bit of hyperbole and I like a bit of technical language as well. So let me introduce you to the World's First Dimensioning Instrument.

If you want to measure a straight line, you probably use a tape measure. You can also go high-tech and use a laser measure, which shoots a beam of light across the room.

But how do you measure something that’s not in a straight line? Well, you can try to use a tape measure or even something as simple as a piece of string – but you’ll probably end up with estimates and approximations.

Or you can whip out the 01, which is – as the name suggests – the first product from a company called InstruMMents.

The 01 looks like an aluminium pen. It’s battery powered and connects wirelessly with an app on your phone. You pretty much just switch it on and roll the device along the surface you want to measure. The casing rotates, so all you need to do is move it along. It means you can measure a straight line up a wall, a curved line on a plan or even an irregular surface: perhaps measuring how much carpet you need for your stairs, Inside there’s a gear and magnet sensor system to track rotation and revolutions – and Bluetooth to send the data to your phone.

You could argue that this kind of measurement is already available to designers – and indeed it is – but they’ll potentially be spending tens of thousands of pounds on something that’ll track coordinates and measure dimensions.

Selfridges have claimed a UK exclusive launch for the InstruMMents 01 at £149.

Bosch EasyCut NanoBlade

This is a product that’s been described as a ‘pocket chainsaw’, which isn’t too far off the truth.

It weighs just 900g and is more like a cordless electric drill in its shape – but instead of a drill bit there’s a tiny chain with 44 teeth. Because it’s so small, you don’t get all the vibration you would with a regular chainsaw - and you also don’t need to oil or adjust the tension on the chain.

It’ll cut through 65mm of wood, which means it’s suitable for gardening as well as woodwork. It runs from a 12v rechargeable lithium-ion battery and the blades can be replaced, although apparently a single set can last for over 100 metres of cutting.

Price is £130 for the EasyCut 12. There are also a couple of corded mains-powered models with more power and more blade choices.

ION360 U smartphone camera

This is a clip-on camera and a rechargeable battery built into a protective case that’ll fit on a mobile phone. More specifically, on to an Apple iPhone 7 or a Samsung Galaxy S8.

ION360U smartphone caseAt which point, you’ll probably say: why do I want a camera and a rechargeable battery in a case? I’ve already got those on my phone.

Yes,but you haven’t got a camera that shoots 4K 360-degree images and video. That’s ultra-high definition pictures – still and moving – with the ability to view the recorded scene from different angles. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be recorded: the ION 360U can stream video live to Facebook or YouTube, which is where that extra battery is especially useful. It can even recharge your phone when you’re not using the camera.

You can either shoot up to two hours of 360-degree video or take loads of 8-megapixel 360-degree images.

The camera/case is due to start shipping from mid-July and is expected to sell for £299.99, although at the moment you can order a ION360 U unit for the special price of £219.99.

Disc Jock-e

This is not a Frisbee with a built-in Bluetooth loudspeaker. Let me make that absolutely clear. Not because that’s an incredibly daft idea but because Frisbee is a trademarked product and this is not a Frisbee. So what we have here is a flying disc with a built-in Bluetooth speaker.

It’s 25cm across, 4cm deep and looks pretty much like you’d expect a flying disc to look. Except there’s a USB charging socket and some chunky control buttons as well.

Connect it wirelessly to your phone or compatible music player and you can stream music when you’re in the garden or at the beach. And yes, you really can take it to the beach because it’s waterproof.

You can pause or play and change the volume from the disc itself; the speaker is in the centre, so it’s evenly balanced and flies as well as you’d hope. Just make sure your dog doesn’t get too interested.

UK price is £27.99.

Monday 1 May 2017

Finding your true voice for writing

Simon Armitage talks about the idea of a poet finding their true voice (from 'The Verb' 21st April 2017 on BBC Radio 3; this conversation started approximately 21 minutes into the programme). Ian McMillan asks "do you think you have to find a true voice?"
I think that's become a very convenient shorthand for blurb writers on the backs of books: "he has found his voice and he has found it early". In fact, I think it might have said that on the back of one of my books... as if it were there waiting under a stone and you just had to have a good rummage around the garden and you would come across this thing called 'your voice'. Because I think probably more realistically what happens is that when you start writing, you are experimenting, you're shopping around, you are writing portfolio collections, and what you notice eventually is that one version of your voice seems to be appreciated over others - and that's probably the voice that you start using in your poetry because you can see that it's an appealing one.