Gadgets news: Inkless Polaroids, scary drones and Star Wars’ BB-8

7 Sep 2015

This week in gadget happenings, a terrifying drone, Polaroid photography, and Sphero’s awesome BB-8, all while IFA makes a splash.

IFA in Berlin has dominated the gadgets scene over the past few days, with everyone and anyone releasing their products into the wild.

First, we had Sony’s latest range of Z series Xperia smartphones, with three devices (Z5, Z5 Compact and Z5 Premium) destined for Irish shores.

The main differences between the trio of devices are largely RAM and resolution, with similar processors and cameras shared throughout. And it’s the camera capabilities that Sony is clearly shouting loudest about.

From a megapixel point of view, the handsets boast a camera that, at 23Mpx, is some way clear of competitors. The HTC One M9 and Nokia Lumia 930, at 20Mpx, are the only ones even close.

Gadgets, gadgets everywhere

Then Motorola revealed this year’s Moto 360. Still customisable, still looking like actual watches, the latest batch even includes a Sport variant.

These Moto 360s are the first since the Apple Watch strolled into the smartwatch market earlier this year, changing the whole game in the process.

Moto 360 has had a good time of it, despite Apple’s intrusion. But competition is mounting, with Samsung releasing its latest Gear and Sony pushing its own variant as the German show continues.

Away from Berlin, the latest version of Samsung-owned SmartThings IoT home-hub hardware has been released, as has an accompanying app with an added CCTV feature.

SmartThings has been on the up-and-up since it won the 2012 Spark of Genius award at that year’s Dublin Web Summit.

In August 2014, however, the start-up arguably made its biggest break when it was snapped up by South Korean giant Samsung, which has, just over a year later, finally re-released SmartThings with added Samsung tinkering.

The 54-drone powered personal flying machine

YouTuber gasturbine101 uploaded this monstrosity to the web last week, showcasing 54 counter-rotating propellors and lifting him into the air.

For those into technicalities, there are six grouped control channels with KK2.15 stabilisation, a take off weight of 148kg (with 16kg to play with), ten minutes lift time and 22kw of power.

For those into visuals, the umbrella protects the pilot from rain.

“Just a bit of fun for myself,” explains gasturbine101, who “never intended for making a significant journey or flying much above head height”.

This cost £6,000, and I’m glad it exists.

Snap – the new Polaroid

Polaroid went from pioneering camera maker to almost obsolete overnight as digital variants came on stream. But you can’t keep a good manufacturer down, and Polaroid has continually evolved to keep up with the times.

Now, the Snap is bringing a new instant printing camera USP: inkless printing.

The 10mp camera uses heat to colour the paper, meaning that, in an (almost) instant, you can see the fruits of your labours. Just like old times!

And, if you hate waiting for the photo to print, you can continue taking photos as the paper feeds out.

Polaroid Snap It Gadgets

There is a selfie tool, and you can upload your images to social media, too, thanks to a micro SD slot. This means that it can basically do everything you want, which should be a good thing, although having to transport things on SD cards won’t be everyone’s cup of milk.

And, as it’s not built into a smartphone, it may be a struggle getting it into our pockets.

Star Wars BB-8

Last Friday saw the launch of a tranche of Star Wars emblazoned merchandise, primed for the release of the latest instalment of the film franchise.

Chief among the t-shirts, mouse pads and pencil cases, though, stood BB-8. With the droid making an appearance in The Force Awakens, the team behind Star Wars approached Sphero to help bring a variant to life.

Sphero BB-8 Star Wars

So, by tweaking their own device, the Sphero BB-8 was born. Looking like a Pixar character brought to tangible existence, BB-8 rolls around your house, patrolling for any bad guys from fictional planets.

It’s also controlled by an app on your smartphone (iOS or Android), if you’d rather keep a closer rein on things.

Kinsa: The smart ear thermometer

Kinsa’s smart ear-thermometer Indiegogo campaign reached its US$50,000 target in just one day, with the company bidding to make childhood illnesses slightly less bureaucratic, all while rewarding those who backed the project to begin with.

Kinsa remembers illness details, which can help parents keep track of and manage situations, as well as inform doctors of precise details, at precise times.

It can sync up with your smartphone if you want, and it seems incredibly simple to use. Just stick it in your ear and press a button.

This could become a real hit. Also, check out how much this kid throws up in the video:

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic