The week in gadgets: A wireless heated mug, electronic circuits for kids and Le Superphone

20 Apr 2015

This week in gadget happenings: a wireless heated mug will keep your tea at optimum temperature, electronic circuits for kids, and the Chinese Superphone.

NailO track pad

Reseachers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new miniature trackpad that’s worn on a user’s thumbnail to operate smartphones, tablets or desktop computers.

Inspired by the colourful nail stickers that are popular in China, the NailO can be used to control wireless devices when a person’s hands are full – scrolling through a recipe while cooking, for example – augment other interfaces, allowing someone texting on their mobile to alternate between symbol sets, and enables subtle communication in circumstances that require it.

“It’s very unobtrusive,” said Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, an MIT graduate student in media arts and sciences and one of the new paper’s lead authors. “When I put this on, it becomes part of my body. I have the power to take it off, so it still gives you control over it. But it allows this very close connection to your body.”

The NailO is still in development as researchers say they are working towards making it even smaller.

Nano Heated Mug

We at love our tea. We take turns brewing a fresh round for the whole team on a near-hourly basis. But such is the demands of a busy newsroom that, on occasion, some cups are left to go cold. The hot beverage fails to complete its fated tea destiny. “Lost in time, like tears… in… rain.”

To combat such tragedies, the Nano Heated Mug can keep hot drinks at an ideal drinkable temperature for up to 45 minutes. The 16oz hot cup uses an in-built nano heater, which switches off after 30 minutes to eliminate battery drain. Chargeable via a USB cord, it’s good for seven cups of your favourite drink.

The product’s designers are currently seeking support via Kickstarter.

Fun with Circuits

Fun with Circuits is a unique kind of storybook that encourages children aged 6 to 10 to take an interest in electronics.

The completely safe design teaches kids by explaining simple electronic concepts through the tale of sibling duo Ohm and Ampere, and a hands-on kit consisting of colorful blocks and magnetic connectors.

To jumpstart production, the project is currently seeking to raise US$35,000 via Kickstarter.

Photo via

Le Superphone

The hype surrounding the launch of Chinese tech firm LeTV’s new smartphone, the Le Superphone, has thus far been blighted by its ad campaign that likened Apple to Hitler. But more information was shared about the device this week, and it’s going to boast some very nifty features.

The phone is among the first to use a USB Type-C connection for both charging and data transfer (the same type of fully-reversible connector seen recently in Google’s new Chromebook Pixel and Apple’s new MacBook). As more devices include USB-C, users will be able to connect them all with a single cable and power adapter.

Le Superphone will also feature a Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB of memory, a 21-megapixel camera, a 3000-mAh battery, and dual 4G SIM card slots.

Sharp’s 4K smartphone screen

Smartphone displays are about to hit unprecedented levels of clarity after Sharp announced it has begun production on a new 5.5-inch touch screen that’s capable of showing images in 4K.

As reported by the BBC, 4K, which is commonly known as ultra-high definition, offers four times the resolution of 1080p HD and crams in 806 pixels per inch. To put that into perspective, Samsung’s new flagship device, the Galaxy S6, offers 577ppi on a slightly smaller display.

In practice, though, users are unlikely to fully appreciate the clarity, as the human eye can only pick up on so much.

Dean Van Nguyen was a contributor to Silicon Republic