Gadgets news: Swatch, Sony, Darth Vader and much more

19 Oct 2015

Sony RX1R II

This week in gadgets news we have a Darth Vader shower head, a new Sony camera, Swatch’s Chinese mobile payments phone, a throwable robot and the latest in eye-tracking technology.

Apple gadgets were in abundance last week, with our very own John Kennedy’s review of the new Apple Watch perhaps top of the pile. I’ll give you a clue, he liked it. A lot.

Elsewhere, rumours emerged of the company bringing out an iRing, which appears to be as unnecessary as it sounds. ‘Where else can we plant devices to give notifications? Oh yea, the ring finger.’

The company also released new Retina 4K and 5k iMacs, which are immensely more impressive.

Pepsi also emerged as a major player in the Chinese smartphone market, licensing its brand to make US$200 devices.

Actually, last week’s standout gadgets were actually mere concepts. But they were so impressive we felt the need to share.

Step forward the smart coffin, with HD screens scrolling through pictures of the recently deceased, social media updates of mourners’ views, speakers blaring the eulogy out from the coffin and lights changing with the mood.


Tobii’s ‘eye-tracking’ chip 

Laptops, smartphones, tablets and desktop computers might never be the same again after Tobii announced its Tobii EyeChip to the world last week.

US$15m worth of investment and a bunch of years of R&D was behind Tobii’s release, with the EyeChip evidently useable across a range of devices.

It actually incorporates the company’s sixth-generation tracking technology, while the IS4 platform – powered by the EyeChip – has the potential to support facial recognition, facial feature tracking, head tracking and more.


If you think about it, VR could get a whole lot cooler if technology like this continues to advance at speed but, for now, it’s up to OEMs to get involved.

“These new products let us empower the world’s leading OEMs with the world’s best eye tracking for consumer devices and, together, bring consumers truly exciting and revolutionary experiences,” said Oscar Werner, president of Tobii Tech.

Darth Vader shower head

“Harness the power of the dark side with this Sith-infused Darth Vader Handheld Showerhead from Oxygenics. Turn your shower into your own Death Star using the three spray settings and comfortable grip.”

Darth Vader

There is very little else to say other than it costs less than €30. Oh and there is an R2D2 variant, obviously.

Swatch’s China smartwatch

Swatch has teamed up with some Chinese banking giants to develop a watch that will allow users to pay for products in the country using it.

Any store that accepts payments through China UnionPay’s POS machines will be supported by the device – a partnership with Bank of Communications has also been revealed. The watches will be available from next year and will cost in the region of €100.

Swatch Bellamy

The Swatch Bellamy will come in four colours, with NFC functionality allowing for the instore payments. It isn’t a smartwatch in the modern sense of the word, but the simplicity might prove popular.

Mobile payments in China are booming, with Bloomberg reporting a figure of US$3.6bn worth of mobile payment transactions last year, up 134pc on 2013.

Sony RX1R II

Modern camera technology is a strange thing to discuss as it has largely fallen down two lines. The historically significant handheld cameras have continued to evolve at a fine pace, however, the immense improvements in smartphone capabilities have confused shoppers.

Sony RX1R II

Nevertheless, Sony’s latest release in the RX1 line looks a fine piece of kit. The 42.4Mpx camera, full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor and f2.0 lens pack a serious punch, with an improved autofocus on its two-year-old predecessor a welcome step up.

It’s not cheap, though, with its price point an eye-watering US$3,300.

Throwable Robot Ball

Researchers at Chiba IT in Japan have developed a cool little robot that can roll along the floor, contained within a special roll cage, before it comes to a halt and then stands up to walk around.

The internal robot uses a walking system completely removed from the exterior ‘shell’, sticking out walking calliper-like legs and wandering about without the cage touching any surface.

It weighs nearly 2.5kgs and the diameter of the roll cage is 30cms. Its mobility and, therefore, practicality is still being studied.

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Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic