Archive for April, 2016

#872 – Hyperchair

If you work in an office there are probably a lot of things that bother you throughout the day.  Everything from ordinary run of the mill copy machine jams to annoying cubicle mate mannerisms.  But I guarantee that there is nothing that bothers you more than the air temperature.  First you’re hot, then you’re cold.  Then you’re hot again.  Then you’re so cold that you’re breaking out your ugly sweater party sweater.  You know, the one your grandma knitted for you when you were fourteen.

Thankfully there’s now a solution: an adjustable smart chair, known as the Hyperchair, that will either cool your down or keep you warm.  Either automatically or at your behest.  Which means you won’t be needing that sweater anymore.  Or that desktop fan.  Or that space heater.  Or that misting fan.  Or that scarf.

Mental Floss explains how it works:

“The Hyperchair’s fabric contains heating tape that warms your body and tiny fans that provide air flow. You can adjust the settings via buttons on its side, or through a smartphone app. This way, you’ll stay toasty (or cool as a cucumber) without affecting the room’s overall temperature. The Hyperchair is also equipped with Wi-Fi and temperature sensors, allowing it to respond to external workplace conditions.”

For office workers this is kind of a big deal.  A feasible solution to the decades old problem of finding a temperature that everyone can agree on.  A problem which has its roots in evolution.  And sexism.  As Fast Company puts it, “people inherently prefer different temperatures. A 2015 study found that women get cold much more quickly than men. (It also pointed out that most offices still use a decades-old formula for setting temperature that’s based on the average man, which is why men are a little more likely to be comfortable.)”

Now we can all be comfortable thanks to the Hyperchair.  Now if only we could do something about that copy machine.  And that month old tuna salad in the fridge.  And that guy in accounting who won’t stop tapping his foot.  And that woman who takes the elevator one flight.  And that guy who whistles in the bathroom.  And that….

Is the Hyperchair the Greatest Idea Ever?

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The following post is NSFW.  In fact, I feel like I should be writing about it while riding around in the back of an Uber while the driver asks me deeply personal questions.

In actuality, it’s really not that big of a deal.  With the push towards Virtual Reality happening at warp speed it was only a matter of time before sex entered the picture.  And that’s a good thing.  If VR is ever going to go mainstream and become ubiquitous it needs a killer app to drive early adopters.  Immersive gaming was always going to be the leading candidate.  But porn was the dark horse candidate.  And that’s the one I would have put my money on.  It’s just that I was envisioning a scenario where you put on googles and watch a porn.  Nothing crazy.  Your point of view would be altered.  It would seem like you were actually in the scene.  But that would be it.  You wouldn’t really feel like you were there.  How could you?  The sense of touch would always be missing.  You’d never actually be able to reach out and touch someone.

But apparently I was wrong.  That’s because the Japanese have invented a full body VR sex suit that simulates sexual experiences.

Digital Trends explains how it works:

“The Illusion system pairs a Samsung Gear VR headset with a haptic feedback suit, meant to simulate the feeling of human touch. It even comes with a pair of female “attachments” to aid in reality. One goes where you might expect for a male user, while the other nestles just under the user’s chest, letting him fondle fake breasts.”

The suit has obvious benefits in that it could end prostitution, stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and bring a lot of joy and happiness to people who struggle to find intimacy in real life.  On the other hand it could also make it so that people never leave their house and stop procreating leading to the ultimate demise of society and mankind.

I don’t know which scenario is more plausible.  All I know is that it really is true what they say: all the best stuff is made in Japan!


Is a full body Virtual Reality sex suit the Greatest Idea Ever?

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There are a few TV shows and movies that if they are on you have to watch them.  It doesn’t matter what you were doing.  Doesn’t matter what time of day it is.  If it’s on, you have to watch.  It’s automatic.  A subconscious choice that makes me question if we even have free will.

The Carbonaro Effect is one such show.  And Back to the Future is the quintessential stop what you’re doing and watch movie.  Doesn’t matter which Part.  Doesn’t matter what part of the movie.  If it’s on, you’re getting sucked in.  Guaranteed.  Which means this past weekend I was watching.  Again.  For the 257th time.  Which also means that I was day dreaming about using a hoverboard.  Again.  For the 257th time.

Thankfully I may soon get my wish as a hoverboard may have actually been invented.  One so insane, in fact, that it can fly 10,000 feet in the air at 100 mph!   Making it more of a personal flying machine than the barely off the ground glorified skateboard that the movie popularized.

As crazy as those specs sounds it’s worth noting that the inventor of The Flyboard Air, as it is known, isn’t some kind of mad scientist crackpot like Doctor Emmett Brown.  Rather Frank Zapata of Zapata Racing is an accomplished inventor who already invented something we’re already familiar with:  the original Flyboard.

You may not know of it by name but I gather that by now you’ve all seen one of his water based jet packs in action.  You know, the one that uses a hose and high powered streams of water to life a rider up and enable them to steer as they fly around in the open ocean.

Not content to stop there Zapata has now taken things to the extreme, removing the water element and finding a way to lift the Flyboard to new heights.  Cray cray, borderline insane new heights.  In fact, this new hoverboard is so crazy that the comparisons to Back to the Future aren’t even apt anymore.  Instead, we’d be better off making a comparison to the Green Goblin.  Check it out for yourself in this video from CNET of their first test run:

All I can say after watching that video is wow.  Of course I should caution that the Flyboard Air is just in the prototype phase for now as it can only fly for ten minutes.  Sadly, it may never become a real product and if it does it won’t be cheap and it won’t be anytime soon.  But, hey, at least I’ve got something new to daydream about.

Is the Flyboard Air the Greatest Idea Ever?

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If you think Facebook is just a social media company you are wildly mistaken.  It’s now a hardware company.  If you don’t believe me just take a look at some of the innovations that they announced this past week at F8, their developers conference.

Surround360 – It’s no secret that Mark Zuckerberg thinks Virtual Reality is the Next Big Thing.  He’s betting that the Oculus Rift will become our gateway drug but it’s still going to be several years before VR goes mainstream.  In the interim what we need are more ways to expose people to immersive video.  The Surround360, Facebook’s newly announced 360 degree 3-D camera is one such way.

As Wired puts it, “You can think of these videos as a bridge to the kind of full-fledged virtual reality Facebook plans on offering through the Oculus Rift, the VR headset it released late last month. For now, the Oculus is primarily a way of playing games, but Facebook says the headset will eventually foster a new breed of communication and entertainment atop its social network. The Surround360 is an interim step on the way to this extreme virtual reality.”

And best of all Facebook is giving away the specs for free!

ARIES – It’s also no secret that Facebook is obsessed with the idea of providing the internet to those who still don’t have it.  After all, the more people who are online the more people who are using Facebook.  Their latest plan to achieve this vision is known as ARIES, an array of antennas bundled together that should be able to provide coverage to the rural areas that surround a city, even if they are dozens of miles away.

As Wired reports, “The company believes that with this technology, dubbed ARIES, it has set a new world record for efficiently transmitting data signals through the air, and the hope is that—across developing regions in Africa, India, and other parts of the world—the tech can sit inside well-wired cities and wirelessly deliver Internet access to surrounding rural areas.

Terragraph – In addition to ARIES which can beam a long distance signal Facebook also developed Terragraph which is designed to augment existing infrastructure and aid in boosting a signal in a densely populated area.  Affix one to a lamp post outside a high rise and the whole building could have Wi-Fi at ten times faster than the current rates.  How is this possible?

As TechCrunch explains, “Terragraph combines Facebook’s knowledge of software-defined networks (which essentially moves many of the networking techniques that previously required highly specialized hardware into off-the-shelf software tools) and the WiGig standard, which can handle transmission rates of up to 7 Gbits.”

In other words by using this new standard Facebook can get around some of the current limitations.  In early tests as many as 24 devices could be connected at the same time.  Further testing is set to take place in San Jose.


These three new hardware innovations are in addition to Facebook’s most ambitious plan of all, to turn messenger into the next big platform by utilizing chat bots to provide a one stop shopping experience for consumers.  A plan which I highlighted back in January.

All in all, it’s becoming abundantly clear that Facebook is so much more than just a social media company.  Now they’re an everything company.  From VR and access to the internet, to software and hardware, they are now dabbling in a myriad of fields, leveraging their existing knowledge into new areas to expand their reach.  All of which begs the question:  what are they planning next?

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Do you remember where you were on July 20, 1969?  It’s a question you would’ve been asked dozens of times if you’re old enough to have been alive when Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the Moon.  And yet I wonder if we’ll be asking a similar question in the future.  If we’ll be asking people if they remember where they were on April 8, 2016, the date when a Falcon 9 reusable rocket from Space X successfully returned home and landed at sea with a cargo for the first time, after five failed tries.

At first glance it may not seem like the two acts are comparable.  After all, how could anything compare to man walking on the Moon.  And yet I think it’s fair to make the comparison.  What Space X accomplished is a real game changer as drastically reduced spaceflight costs reduce the barrier to entry to the final frontier.  The first true step in making human beings a multi planet species is finding a way to get off the planet quickly, easily, and cheaply.  Now we’re one step closer to doing that on a consistent basis.  In fact, the next rocket is scheduled to launch in June and by year end the turnaround time could be down to two to three weeks.  And by next year Space X rockets could be bringing real live astronauts to the Space Station, not just supplies.

As Wired puts it, “On its own, the retro-propulsion landing is a major technological accomplishment. But it means even more as a step toward reliably getting humans off of Earth—maybe even permanently. ‘In order for us to really open up access to space,’ Musk said in a press conference shortly after the landing, ‘we need to achieve full and rapid re-usability.'”

And make no mistake about it.  As the news gets worse and worse about climate change we need to make sure that we have open access to space.  Just this week we learned that the North and South pole are shifting positions as melting polar ice caps redistribute the planet’s mass.  Eventually if you follow a compass due North you’ll wind up in London.  Worse yet an underwater heat wave could be responsible for destroying half of the Great Barrier Reef.  None of which will matter if the world’s water reservoirs along the Ecuador continue to evaporate, the result of deforestation in the Amazon.  If we don’t act soon and the rain forest is lost there could be a catastrophic worldwide drought.

So come to think of it the Space X landing and man walking on the Moon really aren’t comparable.  The Space X landing is actually significantly more important.  In fact, the future of humanity could depend on it.  So do yourself a favor and start remembering where you were on April 8, 2016.  Where you were on the day that a new Space Age kicked off.  Where you were on the day that Elon Musk took one more small step for man, one more giant leap for mankind.

Are reusable rockets the Greatest Idea Ever?

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I’m not a car guy.  If it gets me from Point A to Point B I’m happy.  Everything else from horsepower to engine type is above my pay grade.  All I know is that I like the Fast and the Furious movies, that KITT from Knight Rider is awesome, and that my next car will be a Tesla.

Despite not having much of an opinion when it comes to make and model I do have quite a bit to say about what goes on while you’re inside the car.  I’m not talking about being an annoying back seat driver though.  Rather, what I’m talking about is finding ways to enhance the driving experience.  To make it more efficient and enjoyable.  Consider the following:

  • It’s a beautiful summer day.  Your cruising down an open road without a care in the world with the window down as a cool breeze washes over you.  Nothing can bother you until…you come to a red light and another car pulls up next to you blasting loud music with their windows down as well.  Moment ruined.  What I’d love to see cars implement then is some kind of standardized sound proofing.  So that you’ll never hear another car’s radio ever again.  Even if your windows are down.
  • I eat out a lot.  Like, a lot.  So I’m constantly transporting food from a restaurant to my house.  Which sounds simple enough until you realize that cars aren’t designed for the task.  Case in point: have you ever tried to transport a pizza by yourself?  It’s impossible. You can’t just put it on the seat next to you because if you do the box will slope upwards and your cheese will run down the side of the pizza.  Stupid physics.  What you really should do is put the box on the floor.  Wouldn’t it be easier then if cars came with a designated pizza box storage area?  Say if, for example, the front passenger seat lifted up, towards the front windshield, revealing a hidden storage compartment underneath the seat.  That way, if you stop suddenly you don’t have to worry about something accidentally knocking over and spilling all of your upholstery.  Instead the spill would be contained within this designated area.
  • I don’t know about you but I’m constantly dropping things under my seats.  My phone, loose change, fried pickles..  I clean up as best I can but sometimes something falls into one of those hard to reach crevices behind the seat belt or below the cup holder.  Lost into the abyss forever.  What would be better was if the under belly of your car’s interior operated like the corner pocket in a pool table, sending anything that enters it to a separate location, say in your car’s trunk, that was easier to access, enabling you to retrieve any lost items.
  • If you’ve seen my Instagram account you know that I love taking pictures of sunsets.  I’m obsessed with it really.  The temptation to take a picture of a sunset while driving is strong, I’m not going to lie.  So strong in fact that I’ve been prone to pulling over on the side of the road to get my fix.  It would be much better though if I didn’t have to do that.  If I could just drive and let my car do all the work for me.  All you’d need to do is install a GoPro as a dash cam and then sync the camera to the steering wheel’s control panel so that instead of hitting a button to place a blue tooth phone call you could hit a button to snap a picture.
  • Now let’s say you’re sitting at a red light waiting patiently to make a left hand turn.  When the light turns green you start to go and assume that the car in front of you is going to continue turning at a normal rate.  But all of a sudden they stop short and you are forced to jam on the breaks narrowly avoiding hitting them.  As it turns out they were making a U-Turn totally unbeknownst to you.  Driving would be a whole lot safer if cars came with a U-Turn turn signal.  Something to alert drivers to your intentions when simply saying that you’ll be turning right or left won’t do.
  • Another innovation that would help alert other drivers to your intentions is to create a system wherein it would be easy to tell if you’re trying to follow another car.  What I’m thinking is a color coded LED light on a bumper.  That way if you see two cars with the same light flashing on their bumper you’ll know not to cut in between them if you can avoid it.
  • Is it just me or is it really difficult to see late at night when you first make a turn onto a side street and your car’s forward facing headlights haven’t yet swung all the way around?  Wouldn’t it better then if instead of just headlights and taillights cars also came with sidelights so that you’ll never have to turn a corner in the dark again.
  • My car air freshener is a lightning bolt from my car wash that has long run out of juice.  I still leave it hanging though because it tricks everyone in my neighborhood into thinking I’m The Flash.  Considering the importance of street cred these days i’d rather not correct them.  In any event it would be great if cars came with a dispenser in the front dashboard that shoots out a fresh smell on demand like a can of Febreze.  That way every time you’re at the mechanic and they’re topping off your windshield washer fluid they could do the same with your air freshener dispenser.
  • I don’t like to use the locker room in the gym on account of all the naked old men.  Which means that when I go to the gym I have to carry around my cell phone in my pocket.  Which means I’m not going to be having a very productive workout.  What I should do is leave my phone locked up in my car.  But I can’t do that in the summer time in Phoenix on account of the 120 degree weather.  But if cars came equipped with cell phone cooling areas I could.

In addition to all of those suggestions I’d also like to see cars come standard with “dry paint” that never gets dirty, a radio that adjusts to your mood, front windshields that tint automatically when the sun is in your eyes, and safeguards that make it impossible to fall asleep behind the wheel or start the car if you’re inebriated.

I know that’s a lot to ask for so if none of that is possible I really have just one request: make it so that objects in your mirror actually appear as close as they are!

Are any of these ideas the Greatest Idea Ever?


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