Cool gadgets: Pepper robot and playing HidNSeek

22 Jun 2015

This week in gadget happenings, Pepper the robot helper sells out in minutes in Japan, a new GPS tracking device gets funded, and keychain size instruments that look pretty cool.

Pepper the robot

The dawn of the helper robot appears to be upon us as Japan goes slightly crazy for Pepper, the helper robot on wheels, with it being confirmed that just one minute after going on sale, the robot was completely sold out.

Developed by the Japanese company SoftBank, Pepper was first revealed to the world just over a year ago and will now be rolling around people’s homes as an animatronic companion, but don’t expect it to start doing your laundry.

Selling for 198,000 Japanese yen (approx €1,415), the company claims the robot can read your emotions and respond accordingly, but will also develop its own emotions based off how it is treated by its owners.

While certainly not close to what could be considered artificial intelligence (AI), in what sounds like a rather unwanted feature, you could in theory have another angry teenager around the house if you don’t keep Pepper entertained.

Behold the age of needy robots.

One camera – an attachment for the iPhone

If you’re something of a photography fanatic but don’t want to carry the bulky equipment that you tend to need, then one company is trying to help you out with the One camera, which attaches to your iPhone but offers you all the options of a professional camera.

According to Gizmodo, the company that produces the One, DxO, says that the camera is capable of shooting 20MP shots (compared with the iPhone 6’s 8MP) and then transfers any photos or videos directly to the phone.

Looking like a Handicam from the early 2000s, it can either be controlled through a very small screen on the One itself, or it can be controlled through an accompanying app on the phone.

For some of the more technical details, it has a f/1.8 aperture and 1/8000 max shutter speed and can rotate 60 degrees but will cost you a pretty penny and then some, costing US$600 (€529).

DxO One camera

HidNSeek – a GPS-tracking device with scary video

GPS tracking might not be something state-of-the-art, but one company has successfully funded its project known as HidNSeek, which seems to bring tracking to a whole new level.

The less-than palm-sized device is designed to slip into people’s bags or car and can then be tracked on the owner’s smartphone using satellites, much like the NSA and governments have been doing for a number of years.

However, one different feature included with the HidNSeek is what they call the ‘Body Guard’ feature, which will “alert you in the event that your device remains motionless for a period of time of your choosing”.

So if you find yourself being planted with one of the devices, like an elderly person or child, it’s best not to sit down for too long if you don’t want to be monitored.

There’s something creepy about it, it has to be said, but if you want one, it’s now available for €169 on Kickstarter.

HidNSeek tracker

OWOW – keychain-sized musical instruments

Now, this is cool. A Dutch musician whose genre is digital music has created five new digital musical instruments that offer an entryway for people who might not be able to read sheet music, but have a musical flair.

Called the wob, the wiggle, the drum, the scan and the pads, the instruments all appear to be very basic creations that allow you to create a ‘wob’ sound by moving your hand over a pad, or bash a four-symbol drum machine the size of a credit card.

It works with most music production software and its designer Pieter-Jan Pieters is even allowing people to 3D-print their own cases for the hardware if they want.

While still in Kickstarter funding, a full commercial version of each model starts from US$99 (€87).

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic