The week in gadgets: Skully AR-1, reversible USB and earphones from Intel and 50 Cent

18 Aug 2014

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Skully AR-1 motorcycle helmet

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A look at gadget happenings, as Sony’s Xperia Z2 survives six weeks underwater, and crowdfunders race to pay for Skully’s smart motorcycle helmet.

Smart helmet gets rapid crowdfunding

The Skully AR-1 motorcycle helmet has become Indiegogo’s fastest fully funded campaign ever. With an initial target of US$250,000, the campaign launched on 10 August and, within 45 hours, had raised US$1m, TechCrunch reports.

Unsurprisingly, as the minimum perk offered is the Skully AR-1 itself for a lush US$1,399 (US$1,499 for international delivery), the campaign received an average contribution of US$1,425 from funders in 24 countries. More than 500 people now expect delivery of the technology-packed helmet in May 2015.

The Skully AR-1 is fitted with a GPS sensor, a high-speed microprocessor and an ultra-wide-angle rear-view camera. When it’s on, the wearer sees a heads-up display (HUD) that should appear to be about 10 feet ahead while ‘infinite focus’ ensures it’s always clear.

The helmet is also Bluetooth-enabled so it can connect to a smartphone and provide integrated audio for hands-free calling or music streaming. But, perhaps best of all, its built-in GPS can be used to provide turn-by-turn navigation.

The AR-1’s funding campaign will run until 9 September, though it has already raised 497pc of its target at more than US$1.2m.

The reversible USB is almost here

One of our chief gadget gripes is soon to be resolved as the reversible Type-C USB connector is finally ready for mass production, as announced by the USB Promoter Group last week.

To make it so you can plug it in no matter what its orientation, the Type-C comes with double the pins of its predecessors. Plug it in one way, and it will use the pins on top; plug it in the other way, and it will use the pins on the bottom.

Implementation of the Type-C won’t be as easy, though. Sadly, the new connector is not compatible with older sockets, though an adapter will be available.

On the up-side, the new connector also supports the new USB Power Delivery spec, which allows for up to 100 watts to be carried over the cable – enough to charge a laptop or power most peripherals, including a monitor.

Intel and 50 Cent team up to make pulse-tracking earphones

SMS Audio, the consumer electronics company founded by rapper 50 Cent, has partnered with Intel to launch a pair of water and sweat-resistant heart-rate-tracking earphones.

The SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones feature an optical light sensor in the earbuds which, combined with other sensors, can infer the wearer’s heart rate whether working out or just hanging out.

Unlike LG’s Heart Rate Monitor Earphones, which charge via USB for just over four hours’ intensive use, the SMS Audio pair obtain power via a smartphone audio jack. They don’t require a proprietary fitness app for use, either. Intel has revealed RunKeeper compatibility and other popular fitness apps are expected to be added before the earphones launch in the last quarter of this year.

Xperia Z2 survives underwater adventure

Sure, the new iPhone could be toughened up with a sapphire screen, but will it be as waterproof as Xperia Z2?

Apparently, the Sony flagship survived six weeks underwater after Alexander Maxén, from Gothenburg, Sweden, dropped it into more than 10 feet of water.

Maxén was hoping to capture himself and his friend John-William Larsson out on water scooters using the phone’s slow-motion video recording but, unfortunately, his smartphone was lost to the watery depths.

Miraculously, Larsson discovered the device when scuba-diving in the same spot six weeks later.

Alexander Maxén’s Xperia Z2 after it was recovered from underwater. Image via Mobil.se

The Xperia Z2’s IP certification says it can survive depths of up to 1.5m for up to 30 minutes but, Maxén reportedly put the phone on charge and the display lit up immediately. The salt water had ravaged the outer casing but Maxén claims it’s still functional. In fact, his interview with Mobil.se was even conducted over the rescued phone.

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Elaine Burke is managing editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com