The week in gadgets: Infinite Lego tower, social robot and a smellophone

21 Jul 2014

A look at gadget happenings, as someone wants to use his Lego tower builder to build into space, a social robot for the home, and how to own a phone that stinks.

Lego tower builder

Lego enthusiasts might need to control their drooling when they see what could be the Holy Grail of Lego creations, a Lego-based robot that its creator, YouTuber Hknssn, says in theory could produce a tower that could reach outer space.

The robot itself is controlled through Lego’s own NXT programming language used in its Mindstorms robot product range. This example uses pre-made Lego models and builds one on top of another, and another, and another until it runs out.

In the video explaining his creation, the YouTuber has, quite literally, high hopes for the robot’s abilities by saying it is “a machine that stacks modules and locks them into place, theoretically all the way up to space. Assuming that Lego is magical and violates the laws of physics.”

So how long would it take to reach space? Thankfully, he has also taken these calculations into account and, according to his figures, it would take about 7,432 years to reach 100 miles into space at a rate of 0.5cm each second.

Damn, so close.

Jibo social robot

With Pixar’s ability to make small robots look adorable like Wall-E, Cynthia Breazeal’s Jibo robot is attempting to make a sociable robot a reality, albeit without wheels and arms.

The robot itself looks rather like the mixture of a fan and a more modern version of HAL 2000 with its gyroscopic base for moving and the main screen which shows everything from images to story-telling for kids.

The friendly sounding robot voice responds to requests also and will also be connected to a home’s Wi-Fi, giving it connection with the outside world to handle everything from phone calls to ordering pizza, at least according to their impressive demo video.

Whether the US National Security Agency (NSA) will end up watching you as you sleep is anyone’s guess, but if you fancy having the friendly-looking talking robot lamp, it will set you back US$499 (€370) when it ships towards the end of 2015.

oPhone UNO – ‘smellophone’

The ability to smell things through your phone has been one of those things often considered in the realms of science fiction but never seen as a reality, at least on a practical level.

Some might even argue the idea is not even worth bothering about and yet, now an Indiegogo campaign is attempting to launch the oPhone UNO, which will be a handheld device that will allow people to send one of 40,000 smells to each other.

The device is being aimed at retail, restaurant and home use and supposedly for donating just US$1 now to the campaign, contributors can receive their own ‘smellophone’ when it’s eventually released in early 2016.

Let’s just hope someone doesn’t accidentally send the smell of bodily gases to their significant other …

Toasted Selfies

Have you ever considered toast as the latest harbinger of narcissism? No, neither have we.

Now, however, an American company called Burnt Impressions is giving those who literally would eat themselves if given the chance the ability to do just that through the medium of toast.

While it’s not as high-tech as taking a selfie and uploading it to your toaster, the owner of a Toasted Selfies toaster needs to send an image to the company who will use that to create the filament.

Selling for US$75 on its website, the company also claims that getting those minute details is a little difficult through burning carbon on bread.

“We are good, but remember fine detail is darn near impossible to achieve with heat and toast. If we squint and can’t see your face, we will cancel (the) order and refund your purchase.”

No doubt a bonus, in fact, for those afraid of disastrous selfies.

Star Trek remote control

Set phasers to RTÉ 2 with a new remote control that is an exact replica of the phasers used in the original Star Trek series.

Created by the Wand Company, the phaser control can control up to 36 different media players, from the TV to DVD players and music docking stations, and is also lockable with a PIN and, more importantly, features 10 different phaser noises for when you want to blast something on the TV, with your imagination of course.

Expected to ship later this year, one retailer in the UK has set an asking price of stg£120 (€150).

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic