The week in gadgets: Bluetooth ring, 3D printing pen and a ‘perfect’ tea maker

5 May 2014

Nod rings

This week in the world of gadgets, we’ll be looking at a Bluetooth ring that will let you control all your devices, a pen that creates 3D objects and a tea machine that claims to make the perfect cup of tea.

The Nod ring

‘One ring to rule them all’ is a quote any Lord of the Rings fan will know all too well about the power one ring can have over a person and now a team of engineers have developed a the Nod smartring that could potentially let a person control all their various devices including the TV and a monitor with the movement of their hands, similar to how existing consumer motion capture technology works like the Xbox Kinect or the Nintendo Wii U.

The design of the ring itself is a sleek matte black, with one side featuring a flat surface that is designed to face towards the palm of your hand.

This little feature is essentially the ring’s control point for manipulating a webpage or action on the television such as, flicking through a selection or zooming in on a digital map.

In terms of how fast the little technology-packed ring eats through battery is on a par with most modern smartphones as it will last on average a day before it needs to be re-charged.

From testing so far it appears to be working to a reasonably high standard and will hope to finally make that breakthrough to the type of interaction we’ve seen with screens in films like Minority Report that others have so far been unable to match.

The company are accepting pre-orders currently and have priced it at a pretty reasonable US$149 (€108) with first shipments due for this autumn.

Lix 3D printing pen

Have you ever looked at your doodles that you’ve drawn in the latest company meeting and thought, “Jeez, that would look great as an art piece?”

Probably not, but for those out there with a greater artistic ability could potentially see their drawings come to fruition with the Lix 3D printing pen that takes the cumbersome technology of a 3D printer and crams it into a rather small-scale item.

Like many of the gadget ideas that think that bit outside the box, the UK-based team looked to crowdfunding to raise the stg£30,000 needed to get the project running and has already made over stg£415,000 at the time of writing.

Lix 3D

Sculpture created by the Lix 3D pen

The technology behind the pen is actually rather simple when you look at the process of how it works in that it is essentially an artistic soldering iron, a tool used by metalworkers and DIY enthusiasts to fuse objects with iron.

The Lix pen however uses a USB-powered heat source that melts and rapidly cools the plastic filament that is fed through it to form shapes.

It is currently costing stg£82 online for the latest batch but it is expected to increase again when their latest range sells out.

LeapBand – children’s fitness tracker smartwatch

What’s good for the adults is good for the kids it seems as the children’s technology company LeapFrog is launching its first children-orientated smartwatch (between the ages of four and seven) aimed specifically at monitoring their health and fitness and will encourage them ‘wiggle like a worm’ or ‘pop like popcorn’ and reward them with points which can be traded in to unlock different games and extras for the device.

All under the watchful eyes of their parents through LeapFrog’s website and choose which games they want them to play.

While certainly a good idea given the rising levels of obesity in children, there’s almost an uneasy feeling of an invasion of the child’s privacy, especially as the product is presumably controlled without the child’s consent. Either way, it will surely be a success when it is released in the coming weeks.


The LeapBand

Gibson Memory Cable

As one of the most well-known guitar-producing companies in the world, Gibson has decided to develop one of the most advanced and compact recording devices to-date with its Memory Cable that is designed to fit easily into any instrument with a 0.255in jack such as guitars and keyboards.

Gibson memory cable

The Gibson Memory Cable

Up until now, most recording equipment was quite cumbersome given that artists would be attaining for the highest quality sound possible, but this should be as easy to use as a regular cable hooked up to an amp.

All of a user’s recorded playtime is saved on to microSD cards at a resolution of 44.1kHz/16-bit and claims to provide a backup capability if something does go wrong during a session.

Prices start from US$100 on their website.

Bkon Craft Brewer

So a company has designed a tea-making machine that claims to make the best tea possible using a high-tech brewing process? I’m sure every Irish person who is so particular of the ritual they have to make their tea might have something to say about that.

The Bkon Craft Brewer is easily the most advanced brewing device around and while yet to hit the market, the brew-maker claims to use something known as Reverse Atmospheric Infusion (RAIN) technology which “controls the atmospheric pressure variables during the extraction process to draw out the soluble flavour elements and natural sugars with unmatched consistency, purity, and speed”.

To save yourself the hassle, it even cleans itself after multiple uses which is quite impressive but with its price tag reportedly starting at US$13,000, it would need to be a life-changing tea to convince the likes of Father Ted’s Mrs Doyle to give up the tea pot anytime soon.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic