Gadgets news: Braille smartwatch, explosive Power Bars and an ‘unstealable’ bike

10 Aug 2015

The Yerka bike is its own lock, making theft a futile endeavour. Photo via Yerka Project/Facebook

This week in gadgets news we look at a smartwatch for the blind, EE’s risky Power Bars, more storage for Xbox gamers and a bike you’d be silly to steal.

Last year, the Irish Independent reported that more than 100 bikes were stolen every week across Ireland, with three in four thefts reported in Dublin.

Bike owners the world over know this heartache, as did Chile’s Cristóbal Cabello, Andrés Roi Eggers and Juan José Monsalve.

These three inventors created the Yerka Project to build the world’s first unstealable bike.

Yerka: the bike that locks itself

According to CNN, university dropouts Cabello, Eggers and Monsalve were so sick of bike theft that they came up with a bike that is itself a lock.

The aluminium frame of the Yerka bicycle splits in half and can be sealed around a post with the removable seat shaft. Any would-be thieves would have to damage the bike’s frame just to steal it, making it a futile endeavour.

This patent-pending bike has been put into production thanks to a US$100,000 enterprise fund from the Chilean government and crowdfunding on Indiegogo.

The crowdfunding campaign went beyond its goal in April this year with 197 bikes sold. Production on a first run of 300 Yerka bikes began this week and, to celebrate, the Yerka Project is selling the extra bikes for a special price of US$499 (shipping to the US only).

Future pricing for a Yerka bike is expected to rise to about US$600 or more, depending on where in the world you need it to be shipped.

Yerka bike

The Yerka bike is its own lock. Photo via Yerka Project/Facebook

Dot, the braille smartwatch

Smartwatch news this week was dominated by the Pinnacle designer watch from Nico Gerrard, which comes with an Apple Watch face fitted to the opposite side of the wristwatch, creating a double-sided watch and, perhaps, the world’s most impractical status symbol.

Nico Gerrard’s double-sided Pinnacle watch

Nico Gerrard’s Pinnacle watch


But, in more practical smartwatch news, a South Korean team has designed a smartwatch specifically for the world’s estimated 285m visually-impaired people.

The Dot smartwatch uses a technology the team behind it call ‘active braille’.

On the Dot watch face, small dots rise and fall to form the different braille letters so that users can read alerts, messages, tweets, directions or even e-books from a paired smartphone.

Dot braille smartwatch

Dots on the Dot watch face rise up and down as needed to form braille letters


The Dot team are aiming for a US launch of the watch in December, with a proposed price tag of US$300.

Explosive EE battery packs

UK mobile network operator EE issued a recall notice on a batch of its free Power Bar battery packs following an investigation into an explosion.

BBC Newsbeat reported in late July how medical student Katy Emslie was charging her Power Bar overnight using her laptop but woke to find that the device had exploded and set fire to her bedroom carpet. Emslie suffered burns to her hands during the ordeal.

According to The Guardian, EE doled out more than 1.5m Power Bars for free to its customers but has now determined that those from one of the seven batches produced are faulty.

EE Power Bar recall

Model E1-06 could pose a fire safety risk to users, who have been alerted via texts directing them to stop using the Power Bar and return it to their nearest EE store.

The portable chargers will be replaced by EE when the investigation has concluded.

2TB more for your Xbox

The standard Xbox One is fitted with a 500GB hard drive, max 1TB, which can quickly be eaten up by games at 35-50GB a pop.

Thankfully, Microsoft has teamed up with Seagate to provide a solution for gamers’ growing collections and shrinking space.


Seagate Game Drive for Xbox

The Seagate Game Drive for Xbox. Image via Seagate

The Seagate Game Drive for Xbox packs an additional 2TB on an external hard drive in Xbox-brand green. The new storage device is compatible with both the Xbox One and Xbox 360 and hit the US first at US$110 a pop.

Introduced at Gamescom 2015, the Seagate Game Drive for Xbox promptly sold out, tempting users with the siren call of more storage space plus portability.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.