All posts by Aric Mitchell


Google Drones Could Bring Internet To The World

Google and Titan Aerospace have joined forces to bring Internet to the world. The Internet search giant made a big splash when it acquired the drone manufacturer for an undisclosed sum. They plan to utilize the tech to bring connectivity to every part of the world. Facebook recently launched a similar effort. In a statement, the Big G had the following to say:

“Titan Aerospace and Google share a profound optimism about the potential for technology to improve the world. It’s still early days, but atmospheric satellites could help bring Internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation,” the company said. It also means more advertising dollars, but why go there? Altruistic or not, the effects should be good.

[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]

avins panoramic mirror

Rid Your Car Of Blindspots With Avin’s Panoramic Mirror

For $30, you can rid your car of blindspots forever, thanks to Avin’s Panoramic Mirror, a new add-on to your car’s interior that provides a clear, easy-to-follow, 180-degree view of surrounding traffic. Nationwide Insurance endorsed the mirror in a recent blog post on its website, labeling the product as “especially helpful when attempting to make lane changes, merge into traffic or maneuvering in parking lots.”

To install it, all you have to do is put it in over your existing rearview mirror. The item is about 17 inches long and features a non-glare convex glass as well as shatter proofing and all lane visibility. Get it now and never accidentally wreck anyone due to your car’s blindspot ever again.

set-top box

7 Cable-Killing Qualities Of The Set-Top Box

The death of net neutrality was a kick in the proverbial Planters bag, but we’re still not worried about the future of the set-top box (aka media player). Big industries like cable and publishing and the music industry have a knack for moving really slow and protecting today’s profits rather than worrying about the future. While it keeps the bills paid for now, it’s not a good long-term plan, and it usually means the eventual death of the old guard.

In short, cable is far, far behind the set-top box — any STB, whether it’s FireTV, Apple TV, Roku, or an off-brand — because it refuses to innovate. And innovations like these, which you can find via media player, are sure to kill it.

1. Commercial breaks are much shorter. 

This is a small one but it makes a big difference in viewing network and cable content. Sure, you see the same crappy commercial, sometimes twice in a row, but watching via Hulu Plus or Crackle means you watch, at most, three commercials before returning to your programming. And as a bonus, none of the content is edited to make room for more commercials. Take that, Time Warner.

2. Viewing suggestions are optimized based on your interests instead of a large package of channels that you never watch. 

You buy a package of 60 channels and watch three or four. Meanwhile, it runs you $70 or so per month before sales tax. That’s a lot of wasted space on your archaic cable box. Cable bases its content and advertising on the masses. STBs are more highly targeted and include apps like Netflix and Amazon that take the time to learn you and build a connection between your interests and the content that caters to them.

3. Professional sports are catching on. 

Okay, so wrestling may not be a sport, but WWE Network made me a fan again, after I took a decade-long hiatus from watching a single match. That, and the 600,000 initial subscribers are beyond impressive. It doesn’t mean that wrestling is a non-cyclical business, and that it will never again experience hard times, nor does it mean WWE stock will get you rich; however, it’s a heck of a start after just 42 days. NHL, MLB, and MLS, are also doing things right (and were even before WWE Network came along). Now if ESPN would pull its head out and make their apps available without a cable requirement, we’ll be in business.

4. They create an environment of choice.

Even if you still have trouble “finding things to watch,” the environment of choice created by a STB is much greater than what you get through cable, where you are often tied to time slots and the whims of a poorly run on-demand channel. (Looking at you, HBO GO.) With the selections offered via the many movie and TV apps, you feel like there is ALWAYS something to watch. And even though it may take a little time to find it — same thing as far as cable goes — you usually succeed in finding something.

5. Web video: much easier to do via STB. 

Cable boxes are badly behind the times for the most part. Meanwhile, their competitors make it easy to bring the web experience to your television. One example that comes to mind: Apple TV. If you’re familiar with Hulu Plus and Hulu Web, you know there are things on the latter — the free service — that you can’t get on Plus (the one you’re actually paying for). Not Hulu’s fault. Stupid rules from the content providers and what-not. However, if you have an Apple computer and want to watch something on regular Hulu via the television, you can just Airplay or extend your desktop to the device and drag it out to the television. I can only assume FireTV and Chromecast will offer the same option.

6. Traditional TV is ‘just there’ while STBs actually engage the viewer. 

Cable’s line of thinking: “This is what’s on. Deal with it.” STBs, on the other hand, actually help to engage the viewer by putting you in charge of the apps and content that you watch. Roku makes this really simple on the viewer through its own separate ecosystem of channels. Furthermore, the content creators who exploit STBs to good effect, are always following up to make sure your streaming presentation was what you wanted it to be. In other words, they’re very good about soliciting feedback that is designed to improve your individual experience. Cable providers generally don’t give a crap.

7. Games!

This isn’t a huge deal right now (unless you’re a PS3/4 or Xbox 360/One owner), but with the coming of FireTV, casual gamers who’d rather beat up on their Friends list via Song Pop can do so on their television. FireTV’s rich ecosystem of indie games is sure to get bigger, more advanced, and more accessible, thus pushing the boundaries of what a STB is capable of when it comes to adding games, movies and television to the mix. Best of all, it’s a lot cheaper than the gaming systems mentioned above.


AngelBlocks Creates The First Truly Smart Home

We’ve had gadgets for smart door locks and smart lighting systems, but nothing that covers the entire home with the same precision. (Until now, of course.) Introducing AngelBlocks, a new system that you can use to convert your house into a truly Smart Home. But just what does that mean?

It means that if you leave and forget to turn off dangerous appliances, this does it for you. It can also make sure the garage door is shut, and make you aware of fixes you need to make around the house. Think: leaky toilet, plants that need watering, etc. It’ll also notify you when mail arrives and integrate with existing “smart” systems like Hue. For one of everything, the cost will run you $699. You can piecemeal and get things a lot cheaper, though.

twain catchall

Twain Catchall Reminds Us To Be Honest In The Best Way

This Twain Catchall from Izola is pretty much my life motto. “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” So, well, true! I came about this bit of information after years of lying to try and save other people’s feelings. Sure, nobody likes me anymore, but it’s incredibly freeing and I sleep better at night. (So will you.)

That’s because when one lie is told, it usually leads to another and another, and then you’ve got to remember to whom you told which lie, and things get really confusing from there. Having the Twain Catchall to remind you of this every time you discard your spare change and pocket lint would be a nice addition to any home or office. Get yours now for $45.


Ride Safer At Night With The Commuter X4 LED Bike Light

The Commuter X4 from Veglo Lights is a wearable, fiber optic rear bike light that helps drivers judge distance, width and speed of cyclists. A second place finisher at Britain’s Inventors’ Project from the Gadget Show Live 2014, this item could really make a splash in bicycle safety and save lives in the process.

The central light is a super bright LED chip and the fibre optics run off LEDs. The transparent diffuser lens, made from a polycarbonate injection moulding, disperses and refracts light to prevent dazzling other road users. There are two brightness settings on the central piece (30 and 70 lumens).

If you act quickly, you may be able to pick up the Commuter X4 for $69, but that’s an Early Bird price, so don’t get cocky. After that, it bumps to $80.


google contact lens

Google Wants Your Eyes, Literally, With New Contact Lens

Google already owns Internet search and most of your personal information via Gmail. Now they want your eyes, literally. The company has filed a patent, according to the website Patent Bolt, on a contact lens with tiny, built-in micro cameras that can decipher light, pattern of colors, objects and faces. The product could make a huge difference in the lives of blind people, the site notes.

“For example,” the site notes, “a blind person wearing Google’s contact lens with a built-in camera may be walking on a sidewalk and approaching an intersection. The analysis component of the contact lens can process the raw image data of the camera to determine … that there is a car approaching the intersection.”

Of course, since these lenses would interact with your smartphone – and since we’re dealing with what would probably be a (mostly) Android ecosystem, that means they would probably be hackable. Not quite sure how appealing that is, but such is the duplicitous nature of Man.

cups app

Cups App Gets You Deals From The Best Indie Coffee Shops

Are you sick of doing nothing but supporting the big-name coffee chains like Starbucks? Would you rather give some of that business to an independent coffee shop that makes a great cup of Joe? Cups, a new mobile application, will connect you to several indie shops throughout the New York area, offering some pretty deep discounts in the process. Cups members enjoy special deals each day, and they also get acquainted with some of the local favorites for a truly unique experience.

According to the website, the company purpose is to “make it easier for thirsty New Yorkers to find small, cool cafes, and vice versa.”

“Our members enjoy having access to boutique coffee shops, and – of course – the extra money in their pockets. And our coffee shops are buzzed to have increased customer loyalty and feel like they′re better able to compete with bigger chains,” the company explains. Available on iTunes and Android. One cream, two sugars please!