Gadgets news: Jet surfboard and Xiaomi mini scooter

26 Oct 2015

A surfer with the Jetson surfboard. Image via Easysurf

This week in gadget happenings, Xiaomi is releasing a mini Segway-like scooter, while someone has only gone and built a surfboard with a jet engine attached.

Before we get into gadgets news about all forms of transport, we start with last week’s news that Apple launched its iOS 9.1 update and, with it, 150 new emojis, including champagne bottles, tacos, turkeys, lions and even middle fingers.

And yet we’re still waiting for the ginger emoji, just saying.

Sticking with Apple, the company’s CEO has been bigging up its imminent Apple TV release, saying that it will help save a “terrible and broken” TV industry.

A bold claim from any company, but if someone is going to come in with a concept that’s already done and aim to make a load of money off it, then Apple is the company to do it.

That other Silicon Valley giant, Facebook, meanwhile, has begun offering Instant Articles to all of its iOS users who can’t wait the few seconds for an article to load.

Having signed deals with publications and news outlets including National Geographic, Buzzfeed, the Huffington Post and The New York Times, the social network is expanding upon its place as one of the biggest drivers of traffic to news websites on the planet, with companies eager to get the Instant Articles technology on their phone.

Xiaomi Ninebot mini

In China, one of the country’s largest manufacturers, Xiaomi, is to launch a small, knee-height, bi-pedal scooter that resembles a Segway, the Ninebot mini.

If it resembles the Segway, it might be because Xiaomi’s portfolio company Ninebot actually bought the Segway brand earlier this year.

With a range of 20km and weighing 13kg, the scooter has a handlebar (kneebar?) for control and is capable of climbing hills at a maximum 15-degree angle, all while carrying someone no heavier than 84kg.

A companion smartphone app will allow the user to remotely control it or lock it and will send a warning if it’s being stolen.

It’s also pretty darn cheap, starting out at just under 2,000 Chinese yuan (€281).

Ninebot mini

Jetson – the jet-powered surfboard

I imagine there’s a pretty obvious nod in the naming of the Jetson jet-powered surfboard, given the association of all things futuristic with the classic cartoon The Jetsons.

Developed by the Spanish start-up Easysurf, its two founders Íñigo Barrón and Ramón Silva said they wanted to create a surfboard that would allow people to practice surfing more easily by helping them overcome factors like choppy waters, their own physical shape or their level of technical expertise.

The Jetson surfboard includes a small-sized jet activated from a control panel that provides an extra boost at three crucial moments in surfing: paddling out, take-off and riding out the wave, making it possible to train longer and enhance enjoyment while promoting learning and progress.

The customisable board costs €1,900 from their website.

Jetson surfboard

Candle Touch

For thousands of years, people have been lighting candles manually and managing to do so pretty well, but now technology is stepping in to change an aspect of your life you probably haven’t put much thought into.

Called the Candle Touch, the Israeli-made internet of things (IoT) candle lets you ignite a flame right from your smartphone.

Controllable from 30ft away, the candle can also be turned off in a rather cool way by blowing into your phone’s microphone.

It also knows when the candle is on an incline and won’t light it as a result, with its extinguisher consisting of a small moveable brick.

The candle is due to launch next month at the Web Summit in Dublin.

Candle Touch

Tesco’s Hudl is done and dusted

If you are a fan of the Tesco-only Hudl tablets, don’t expect to see the Hudl 3 in stores anytime soon. As it turns out, a number of sources within the company had recently admitted that it’s to scrap the line of tablets, which Tesco then confirmed itself to Engadget.

“We have sold out of Hudl2 tablets and will no longer be selling it in our stores or online,” Tesco said in its statement. “We would like to assure customers that we will continue to provide technical support and help to all of our customers who have purchased a Hudl.”

Originally launched back in 2013, the tablet was considered quite reasonable in terms of spec for a budget tablet, but it now seems it’s going the way of Tesco’s other tech products like Blinkbox and Kobo, which it sold off as it focuses its business on grocery goods again.

Nike self-tying shoes

Well, who could forget the hoopla that was Back to the Future Day. With hydrogen cars and an electric DeLorean released, it seemed appropriate that Nike would only go and actually create a pair of self-tying shoes.

Expected to launch in spring of 2016, the shoes will fund research at actor Michael J Fox’s Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. and Marty McFly himself got to don the first pair of real Nike Air Mag shoes, all with whirring noises. Pretty cool.

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic