The week in gadgets: HiRise laptops, a shower-head speaker and stop-motion education (video)

26 Nov 2012

A look at gadget happenings, as MacBooks get a much-needed desktop lift, stop-motion animation system is used to teach little ‘uns about geometry, singing in the shower is made easier with a Bluetooth-enabled shower-head speaker, and well-known memes get the 3D-printing treatment.

Ergonomic elevation

Twelve South’s HiRise for MacBook is a height-adjustable stand that fits all varieties of MacBook, including all of the Pro and Air models. The brushed metal stand comes with a spring-loaded post that lets users adjust the height up to half a foot if so desired – whatever is required for an optimum viewing angle that won’t prompt backache and bad posture.

The silicone-lined V-shaped arms give the HiRise a secure grip at the base of the laptop while also allowing air to flow around the computer, keeping it cool.

Released this month, the HiRise is available now from Apple’s online store for €69.95.

Stop-motion geometry lessons with Pas a Pas

For his final project at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, Ishac Bertran developed Pas a Pas, a system built to educate children using stop-motion animation.

The Pas a Pas system consists of a table-top display with a camera mounted above it, a set of colourful blocks in various geometric shapes, and cartridges with different educational exercises. Children using the system can learn about subjects like geometry by creating stop-motion animations using the coloured shapes, which can be played back instantly.

Pas a Pas - Ishac Bertran

There are three modes on the device: ‘Assistant’, where students place blocks where the display indicates, step-by-step, to create an animation; ‘Director’, where students can create their own animations; and ‘Collection’, where users can access other animations recorded either on that system or on other devices in other schools.

By seeing how different shapes come together to make new shapes in the animations that they have created, Pas a Pas can teach young children the basics of geometry, as well as stop-motion animation. This particular exercise is aimed at children ages four to six, but Bertran sees Pas a Pas providing lessons on other topics for various age groups.


In-shower music entertainment

We’re normally averse to getting our gadgets wet, but this is one gizmo you can actually take into the shower with you. While shower radios are nothing new, the Moxie shower-head from Kohler is that bit more ingenious.

Kohler Moxie shower-head speaker

Consisting of a shower-head with a strong magnetic dock plus a Bluetooth-enabled removable speaker pod, the Moxie lets users connect a music player to the speaker, dock it in the shower-head and then let themselves be drowned in sound, so to speak.

The wireless speaker gives about seven hours of battery life and can be recharged via a supplied USB cable. Audio control is managed through the paired device and the speaker doesn’t have to be docked for playback, so users can take it elsewhere around the bathroom – or around the house, even.

Installation is just the same as for any other shower-head and the Kohler brand, known for its high-quality kitchen and bathroom products, means the shower experience should be as good as the music.

The Moxie is available in the US at a price of US$199, but interested parties on the other side of the water can get in touch with Kohler UK & Ireland to check out availability and pricing.

Raspberry Pi camera board due in new year

Following its first live demo at Electronica 2012 earlier this month, Raspberry Pi has announced that its camera board has little more development to go before it will be ready for manufacturing. The component is planned for testing in December with hopes of seeing it released for sale in the new year at US$25.

The camera comes with a 5MP sensor and can record 1080p H.264 video at 30fps. The board will plug into currently unused CSI pins on Raspberry Pi computer boards, using I2C for control.

Raspberry Pi is also working on a display board that will be released to market after the camera board.

Your very own 3D Success Kid

If you are connected to our page on Facebook, you may have already seen that Shapeways is offering a 3D-printed model of famous internet meme ‘Success Kid’ for just €12 (coming to just over €20 total when shipping costs are included). The perfect stocking filler for an internet geek, the 2 inches-high model was created by digital artist and sculptor Ryan Kittleson – whose body of work seems to be mostly meme-based, and we salute him for it.

Success Kid by Ryan Kittleson on Shapeways

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Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic