The week in gadgets: Lego augmented reality, robot giraffe and Adobe hardware

23 Jun 2014

The Lego Fusion set

A look at gadget happenings, as Lego releases its first augmented reality set, US President Barack Obama makes friends with a robot giraffe, and Adobe launches design hardware.

Lego Fusion – augmented reality

Known as Lego Fusion, this incredibly cool development in the legendary block toy will mean any enthusiastic builder will be able to choose from four sets – race cars, medieval castle, town and holiday resort – and build what they want from it.

The important difference is that by downloading the accompanying app, designers can focus their device’s camera on their creation and see it transform into a 3D digital version right in front of their eyes.

To make it work, the design has to be built on top of a plastic base, which will allow the camera to recognise the augmented-reality creation.

The player can then toy around with the digital creation and, looking at the town example, can place it within a town in a similar style to that seen in the popular computer game SimCity, albeit a little less advanced.

The first kits are going to be launched online this August at a cost of €25.

Obama’s robot giraffe

When US President Barack Obama isn’t running his own robotic drone army over the skies of the Middle East, he’s being introduced to the latest in robotic giraffe technology, in this case named Russell.

Obama was introduced to Russell at the White House Maker Faire, the first event at the residence to highlight DIY creations celebrating science, technology engineering and math (STEM).

The 18-foot tall robot contains a 12hp propane engine that powers Russell’s electric motors that drive its movements.

As part of the demonstration, Obama was asked to pet the robot’s nose, which reacted by talking to him.

The White House has neither confirmed nor denied that it plans on introducing Russell into a new robot giraffe army …


Adobe ruler and pen

It’s rare to see a company that exclusively deals with software suddenly decide to dip its toe into the water with regard to releasing hardware.

In this case, Adobe is releasing its own pen and ruler – the Ink and Slide – as accompanying pieces to its new iPad apps which were launched this week, Sketch and Line.

While the apps are considered to be less than revolutionary with regard to image-editing apps already available on the iPad, the introduction of the Ink and Slide adds a much more precise design to the user’s drawings that haven’t been available on traditional snub-nosed stylists.


However, the Slide is by far the more innovative piece of the two and looking more like a tiny phone than a ruler.

By placing it on the iPad screen, the design reacts to it so that the dimensions of a ruler appear on the screen, which allows the user to keep within lines and expand or retract the design in size.

Ink and Slide are available on Adobe’s website for US$199 (€147).

Matilde’s Fun-iki ambient glasses

The new innovations in wearable tech appear to involve smaller companies taking an idea and reducing the advanced and expensive concept to a much simpler and cheaper model.

In this case, Japanese company Matilde recently showed off its Fun-iki ambient glasses that flash a multitude of lights in the rims to alert the user of a notification on his or her phone.


The simple-looking glasses come with three light modes – ‘disco’, ‘party’ and ‘relax’ – to change depending on the person’s mood, and also includes a speaker built into the arms, all of which is charged through a micro-USB port on one of these arms.

The glasses also come with a companion app, from which the user can select colour sequences and the notifications he or she wants to receive.

Whether anyone wants to be bombarded with a 2001: A Space Odyssey-like experience when they receive multiple messages remains the biggest question, but Matilde expects the first models to go on sale, first in Japan, for a little over €100.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic