Gadgets news: Heated butter knife, water sniffer and Sony α7S II

14 Sep 2015

This week in gadget news, we have a somewhat wacky entry with the heated butter knife, we get a sensor that can sniff your water for you and Sony launches a new mirrorless camera.

It’s been a rather busy week in the world of gadgets news if you haven’t noticed, with Apple dominating the Twittersphere with the launch of its latest hardware.

Getting most of the attention was our first glimpse at the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus.

While looking exactly like their older brothers, the phones feature a few tweaks, including animated screens, a better camera and a more powerful processor.

There was also the launch of the rather large 12.9in iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil, or as it has been known for years, the stylus.

The fashion conscious Apple Watch owners also got a few luxury Hermès bands to show off their luxury wearable.

Meanwhile,’s poor managing editor, Elaine Burke, was egged on to try the Egg Master, a truly bizarre device that cooks eggs into a tube of foul-smelling awfulness.

Definitely worth a watch from behind the safety of your computer screen.

SpreadTHAT heated butter knife

Speaking of mad kitchen gadgets, this week saw the showcasing of the SpreadTHAT heated butter knife, which seems like an excellent concept, in theory.

The knife is heated not with some awkward power cord, but with the user’s own body heat conducted through the knife.

Having been put through testing by The Guardian’s Rhik Samadder, the knife is actually supposed to be pretty good at laying the butter down smooth, rather than leaving a piece of bread full of buttery lumps.

It definitely looks more like a thermometer than a knife given that it is a seriously blunt instrument with no ability to cut, but it does look pretty cool (or hot?), it has to be said.

Originally a Kickstarter project, the hot knife is now available from Amazon for just under US$20.

A water sniffer sensor

Apparently, that weird smell you get from some sources of tap water isn’t just you being oversensitive, it’s in all of us.

According to new research, we are particularly sensitive to the smells of geosmin (GSM) and 2-methylisoborneol (MIB) commonly used in water treatment, which can lead to smelly water.

Now with the help of a sensor strapped to our nose, we can sniff it out.

The South Korean researchers looking into smelly water have developed a sensor that is placed on the end of your nose that is coated in special proteins known as olfactory receptors, which when coming into contact with smelly water will light up its carbon nanotubes.

From their findings, the little sensor can detect concentrations of GSM and MIB of just 10 nanograms per litre of water.

It’s not entirely pointless, though, as with further development it could be developed to sniff out and detect explosives in airports.

HandyCase transparent device

A Kickstarter is looking past the collection of garish, over-the-top novelty cases for the iPhone and iPad by trying to launch a ‘transparent’ case.

Called the HandyCase, this neat little invention allows the user to control their phone without touching the screen, rather they use the touch-sensitive back of the case to interact.

The premise makes total sense given that sometimes it becomes a bit of a pain to be moving your hands all over the screen, especially when someone else is also trying to look at it.

It also doesn’t have to be connected to the iPhone or iPad at all and can control what happens on the screen wirelessly over a Bluetooth connection.

Aiming for US$100,000 in funding, the cheapest case reward available is going for US$99 for the iPhone 6, but it also has versions for the iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Mini 2 and 3 as well as the iPad Air 2.


Sony α7S II

Sony is getting all Greek it seems for the launch of its latest powerful camera, the Sony α7S II.

The latest addition to its mirrorless camera range, the α7S II improves upon its 4K video-recording capability by adding 5-axis image stabilisation.

It also takes things up a notch by being able to record Full HD at a considerable 120fps at 100Mbps, making it the first camera of its kind to feature the technology.

“Because information from all pixels is utilised without line skipping or pixel binning, the camera can maximise the expanded power of the full-frame image sensor and produce 4K movies with higher image clarity and negligible moiré,” Sony said in its release on the camera.

Expected to go on sale this October for a cool US$3,000 (€2,659).

Sony camera

Smart shower knows when you’re shaving

A smart shower called EvaDrop is aiming to be the first ‘smart shower’ that will reduce your water use by as much as 50pc by sensing when you’re not actually using the shower when you’re standing under it.

For example, if you decide to shave under the shower, the sensor will respond by cutting off the water while you get rid of that hair.

No doubt to the annoyance of those people who like their long showers, the EvaDrop will cut off the water if it feels you’re taking too long, although this would be set by the person beforehand on the accompanying app.

It supposedly is compatible with 90pc of shower heads on the market and, just like all internet of things (IoT) technology, it will track your usage and compare it with other EvaDrop users to track general water consumption.

The device is still up on Indiegogo where the campaign began, with the cheapest model going costing US$109 (€96).

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic