US$265 Zano mini-Drone – Your personal Paparazzi shooting Videos and taking Selfies

Are you a star? Famous YouTuber, Blogger, Podcaster or all of the above perhaps?

Then maybe what you need is your own paparazzi snapping and posting pictures of you from every conceivable angle like a real prima donna. But no need to tip off the Celebrity magazines; you can get the Zano Mini-Drone that’s capable of taking photos and shooting Videos (Flacy, 2014).

A Kickstarter project started by Torquing Group, the Zano Autonomous Intelligent Swarming Drone or Zano Mini-Drone for short is very ambitious and achieves a lot for a quadcopter drone that’s smaller than the very Smartphone that controls it via a Wi-Fi uplink.

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The people funding this project agree; backed by some 5,270 individuals, the Zano Mini-Drone has already received some £954,279, completely obliterating their initial goal of £125,000 with some 16 days to go till Thursday, January 8th 2015 10:38 AM EST, at which point the project will be fully funded.

The Zano Mini-Drone is set for delivery to its backers by June 2015. It list of capabilities are indeed impressive for something so small and available to regular folk, not military personnel. The Zano Mini-Drone has a rechargeable battery that gives it a range of 15 to 30 meters (49 to 98 feet) flying at a top speed of 40.33km/h (25mph).

On a fully charged battery it can fly for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, which varies according to the weather conditions. On that Zano Mini-Drone App interface, you can control the altitude, which is also displayed in that app along with the flight time.

Albeit the user will be kept up-to-date as to the remaining flight time via the Zano Mini-Drone App interface, the Zano Mini-Drone  has a built in fail-safe that causes the drone to automatically fly back to the user when the battery charge level is getting low, the Wi-Fi Signal is spotty or the Bluetooth link is getting weak, suggesting that it’s too far from the smartphone, be it a Google Android Smartphone or an Apple iPhone.

It flies under human guidance but can fly on its own pre-programmed path. For this, it comes bristling with a packed array of sensors:

  • IR sensors for collision avoidance
  • Sonar to detect motion
  • Air pressure sensors to detect variations in wind speed

Interesting too, because of the close proximity of its blade, the outward blast of air acts as a low pressure vacuum that funnels away falling droplets of rainwater, suggesting that this drone can operate in rain, albeit it does look a bit to delicate to even take a splash from a cup of water. But this isn’t what you cam to read dear reader; you wanna known what kind of picture taking performance does the Zano Mini-Drone offer.

Zano Mini-Drone is a 360 Degree Selfie Filmmaker that streams over Wi-Fi

Zano Mini-Drone has a 360 Degree rotating capability, making taking crazy angle shots more spectacular. Digital video stabilization and a camera flash on the front of the Megapixel Camera makes this little drone capable of filming at any night-time. Truly, the prefect paparazzi to make sure that you capture you good side from any angle under any weather condition.

But if its live streaming you want, the Torquing Group has got you partially covered, I’m afraid. Although the 5 megapixel camera is capable of filming 1080p video at 60 fps, it’s restricted to 720p due to the bandwidth constraints of Wi-Fi. But you might forgive these limitations when you realize what Torquing Group has in mind for additional features:

  • Facial Recognition
  • 360/180 degree panoramic photos
  • Target tracking using image processing algorithms
  • Image editing tools within the Zano Mini-Drone App to do editing on the fly
  • Swarming function so that one Zano user can control multiple Zano Mini-Drones

With those powers combined, this makes the Zano Mini-Drone App somewhat similar to the scouting drone used by the character Fitz in the show MARVEL: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Still, just because it’s possibly alien technology doesn’t mean it’s not without flaw and can get off the hook that easily. The fact that its tethered to the smartphone suggests that it may get confused if your smartphone’s battery shuts down or worse the Wi-Fi signal and Bluetooth signal both are lost at the same time. Possibly it might just land and send out a beacon, hoping for a rescue party?

I’m already pretty impressed with the small size of the Zano Mini-Drone. Personally though, at US$$265 to make a pledge, albeit cheaper and smaller than the US$1,195 AirDog Personal Drone (Deer, June 2014) or the US$499 Hexo+ Personal Drone (Deer, July 2014), I’ll stick with using a Selfie Stick if I want to panoramic 360 Degree Photos and Videos of myself

Zano Autonomous Intelligent Swarming Drone

References:

  1. Deer, L. (2014, June 30). AirDog Personal Drone – Action Selfie-Drone with an attachment for a GoPro Camera. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/07/airdog-personal-drone-action-selfie.html
  2. Deer, L. (2014, July 5). Hexo+ Semi-Autonomous Drone Controlled by Apple iOS and Android – Despite no AirLeash Six Propellers better than Four as it won’t run away. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/07/hexo-semi-autonomous-drone-controlled.html
  3. Flacy, M. (2014, December 11). ZANO MINI-DRONE WILL FOLLOW YOU AROUND TO TAKE SELFIES, SHOOT VIDEO. Retrieved from http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/zano­mini­drone­will­follow­around­take­selfies­shoot­video/
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How to use OpenEmu to Play Retro Games with USB Game Controllers on your Apple Mac

If you have a Mac and you’re a lover of Retro Games like Galaga, Berzerk, Centipede, Contra, Dig Dug, Donkey Kong or Frogger, you’ll probably realize that there are very few Video Game Emulators out there that are made specifically for the Apple Mac.

Currently the only way to play these retro Games on your Mac is via San Francisco-based nonprofit Internet Archive website Internet Arcade, which utilizes a JavaScript program called JSMESS that emulates old computer platforms like the Commodore 64 or Atari 2600 (Deer, November 2014).

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Worse still, most emulators are outdated and are only compatible with Windows XP, resulting in them sharing the same fate as the Mac Users.

So even if you have Windows 7, currently in Pole position since September 2011 ahead of Windows XP according to the statistics from analyst StatCounter (Deer, 2011) or Windows 8, now slowly gaining on Windows Vista according to Operating System analyst NetMarketShare in December 2013 (Deer, January 2014), our emulators haven’t been updated to work with these newer versions of Windows.

However, Mac users finally have an option in the form of Front End software OpenEmu (Lendino, 2014). This is not an emulator, but rather a software package that creates a streamlined environment to load these vintage games with a design interface that’s reminiscent of Apple iTunes.

Normally, a front end needs an emulator to run and play the game ROMS that you download.

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Best of all, it’s tailored only for Apple Mac users; so no, we haven’t been forgotten, it seems!

That’s not the case with OpenEmu, which comes with a built in marketplace where you can download the specific emulators for the various game ROMS you wish to play on your Mac organizes as if you were on Apple iTunes Store. From there it’s a matter of downloading the various ROMS for the games themselves.

Please note this is illegal, as albeit these games are no longer being made, they are still protected by copyright. Especially as many of these ROMS websites allow you to download them for free, making money from advertising or sell them unauthorized for little or nothing. 

How to use OpenEmu to play games is a matter of Experimentation

Using Open OpenEmu  is pretty straightforward on your modern day Apple Mac:

  1. Download the OpenEmu Experimental front end.
  2. Open the DMG archive after the downloading is complete
  3. Drag OpenEmu to your Mac’s Applications folder
  4. Go to the App Store and download The Unarchiver which is free and is used to open up ROM packs

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That’s basically the setup; where you get your ROMS is strictly up to you. Once you have your ROMS downloaded though, the procedure for using OpenEmu  to play your ROMS is pretty straightforward:

  1. Drag each ROM into the main window on the right side of OpenEmu ‘s interface
  2. OpenEmu will search the Web for box art but you can locate one manually using Google Images
  3. Download and then drag the art over to the multicolor-banded image above the ROM
  4. Choose a console from the left-hand side of OpenEmu.
  5. Select the game you want to play
  6. Double-click on the box art
  7. Game loads as if running on the original console

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Your ROMS should play with little problem, albeit your games will look very low quality on a high resolution 1080p monitor that our computer may have. To get back the same look and feel as if you on a CRT Monitor, you’ll have to adjust the scanlines in OpenEmu  as follows:

  1. Go to File
  2. Select Preferences
  3. Select Library
  4. Select Filter
  5. Select Scanlines

Great Retro Games need Great USB Controllers that need to be Mapped

Now you’ve got the appearance right, but what about the controllers?

When I’m at home in Milk River, I usually play a lot of Video Games (Deer, July 2014) using an Xbox Controller. But these games were originally played on consoles that had their own distinctive controllers.

Thus you might want to run out and buy a controller for each specific Game Platform and Console to play your various ROMS, which depending on your pocket, may not be such a viable option. Especially when you scope out the prices for the original controllers on Amazon:

  1. US$13.00 for the Buffalo Classic USB Gamepad
  2. US$169.99 for the X-Arcade Tankstick + Trackball
  3. US$24.99 for the Logitech Gamepad F310
  4. US$9.99 for the Classic NES USB Controller

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If you have a regular USB Controller like the Xbox Controller, then just like connecting it to a PC to play Xbox Games you’ll have to configure and remap the controller to work with the Game Platform and Console that OpenEmu  loads. To do this is again fairly simple:

  1. Click on Preferences
  2. Click on the Controllers tab
  3. Choose a controller from the drop down menu and a match image will appear on the left
  4. Plug in your USB controller
  5. Click the menu below the keyboard shortcut
  6. Choose the USB controller
  7. Click in each field for moving the D-pad and various buttons
  8. Click the corresponding buttons on your controller

This will create a one-to-one mapping of your controller so that it operates in much the same way the original Controller for the System Game Platform and Console. To test if it worked, just start a ROM and see if it brings back those 90’s Nostalgic memories and the gameplay feels right on your ultra-modern Apple Mac.

Here’s the link

OpenEmu

Internet Archive

References:

  1. Deer, L. (2011, October 7). Windows 7 trumps Windows XP for Pole Position – Windows 8 Cloudy Future. Retrieved from http://www.geezam.com/windows-7-trumps-windows-xp-for-pole-position-windows-8-cloudy-future/
  2. Deer, L. (2014, January 5). NetMarketShare Stats shows Windows 8.1 and Internet Explorer poised for Growth – Rising Tide of the Microsoft Surface and Windows 8.1 Tablets in Real-Time. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/01/netmarketshare-stats-shows-windows-81.html
  3. Deer, L. (2014, July 13). How to connect Xbox One controller to any Computer or Laptop. Retrieved from http://www.geezam.com/how-to-connect-xbox-one-controller-to-any-computer-or-laptop/
  4. Deer, L. (2014, November 11). Internet Archive’s 900 Classic Arcade Games – 30 years of Free Arcade Game with retro CTRL-ALT-SPACE and Arrow Keys Button Masher Action. Retrieved from http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/11/internet-archives-900-classic-arcade.html
  5. Lendino, J. (2014, December 10). How to play Retro Games on your Modern Mac with OpenEmu. Retrieved from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2473120,00.asp

 

ThyssenKrupp Elevator develops MULTI, a Multi-Dimensional Travel Maglev by 2016

“As the nature of building constructions evolve, it is also necessary to adapt Elevator systems to better suit the requirements of buildings and high volumes of passengers”

CEO of ThyssenKrupp Elevator Andreas Schierenbeck commenting on their plans to develope MULTI Maglev Elevator by 2016

Remember the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? I’m sure you remember the chocolate bits, but I’m really pulling on your memory to remember the part about the Wonkavator (Domanico, 2014), his magical ride that allowed the occupants to travel up, down, sideways, slantways and whichever ways you please to any place on Earth.

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Well, turns out that there is a German company called ThyssenKrupp Elevator that doing just that.

ThyssenKrupp Elevator is a €6.4bn German company with some 50,000 employees at 900 locations in Germany. They have interests in Shipbuilding and the Car industry and thus may have used their expertise in these areas to develope the Elevator called the MULTI (Trotman, 2014) that doesn’t need a cable suspensions system to move.

MULTI Elevators uses similar principles to JR Tokai’s Chuo Shinkansen Maglev Trains

Instead, it travels on a set of interconnecting rails with strong Electromagnets that magnetically levitate the Elevator Cabin which also has equally strong and shielded electromagnets but oriented so that the same poles on rails and Elevator Cabin face each other, resulting in a repulsive force and thus levitation.

This is similar to how JR Tokai’s Chuo Shinkansen Maglev Trains (Deer, July 2014) work. This, not only is it possible to travel up and down without a cable winch but also sideways within buildings. This means that the Elevator shaft can be freed up for other Elevator Cabins to travel in a manner not dissimilar to how Maglev trains travel on tracks.

Taking more cues from the Maglev concept, this design saves on power. These as not only can more Elevator Cabins utilize the same shaft, but you’ll need fewer vertical shafts. It also will have a more efficient power usage.

This is because in a winch-based Elevator, energy is expended against gravity to lift the Elevator upwards. The same is true here, but used in a more efficient manner than the pulley and cable counterweight system of a traditional Elevator. When the Elevator Cabin needs to move, the computer that will automatically manage and their motion within the building will magnetize only the electromagnets on the part of the track as well as inside of the Elevator Cabin where the Elevator cabin is located.

Then as the Elevator is levitated and moves forwards, backwards or sideways. As it shifts along the track, the electromagnets in the section that it has passed over are powered off, making the magnetic field only present where the Elevator Cabin is located. Thus it’s all electromagnets using a combination of attraction and repulsion forces to push/pull the Elevator Cabin along, just like a Maglev train.

Thus power is needed only to move the Elevator and not just to turn the Cable Winch and pull the Elevator Cabin; reducing efficiency loses due to the mechanical nature of the Cable Winch System used in Elevators is what makes MULTI more efficient.

Best of all is the  braking system; wheels pop out of the side of the Cabin and grip the rails directly as well, assuming that the reversal of the magnetic field to create attraction fails and not an option to bring a runaway Elevator to a halt. Speeds of 5m/s are possible and with new lightweight materials, the full prototype expected in 2016 should be very lightweight and be capable of carrying up to four (4) persons in relative comfort.

ThyssenKrupp Elevator MULTI promises Faster commutes in Elevators

Albeit the current Cabin design is smaller, it promises to reduce the wait time within large skyscrapers for Elevators, to quote CEO of ThyssenKrupp Elevator Andreas Schierenbeck: “Per year, New York City office workers spend a cumulative amount of 16.6 years waiting for Elevators, and 5.9 years in the Elevators. This data provides how imperative it is to increase the availability of Elevators”.

ThyssenKrupp Elevator is gunning for 2016 to have a working prototype to demonstrate this Willy Wonka styled Elevator that takes is cues from Maglev technology but applied on a smaller scale. I like the idea, as I’m beginning to discover more products that use magnetic levitation not just as a gimmick but also to improve efficiency using a force that largely was reserved for speakers and microphones and magnetic tape recorders. Trust me, I’ve got more such products lined up for my blog!

Albeit I hope that they’ll make sure the computers that control the MULTI Maglev multi-dimensional Elevator Cabins don’t result in Cabin crashes on the 13th floor….’cause that would be bad luck.

References:

  1. Deer, L. (2014, July 14). JR Tokai to start Chuo Shinkansen Maglev by 2015 – How Elon Musk’s Hyperloop is American Engineering is Faster, Cheaper and Better. Retrieved from website http://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2014/07/jr-tokai-to-start-chuo-shinkansen.html
  2. Trotman, A. (2014, November 28). Willy Wonka­style Elevator uses magnets to move sideways. Retrieved from website http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/industry/11259561/Willy­Wonka­style­Elevator­uses­magnets­to­move­sideways.html
  3. Domanico, A. (2014, December 2). This crazy Elevator concept is straight out of Willy Wonka. Retrieved from website http://www.cnet.com/news/this­crazy­Elevator­concept­is­straight­out­of­willy­wonka/

 

How to sharpen your Cat’s Hunting Skills with the AI Robotic Mousr

Kickstarter is an amazing Foundry in which money can be used to breathe life into ideas that the mainstream manufactures would ignore. With strong backing any Dream worth chasing is possible.

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I especially like this latest one called Mousr, a Kickstarter fund to build an AI (Artificially Intelligent) Mouse (Kooser, 2014) that competed it’s funding round on December 6th 2014 (Petronics, 2014). The kickstarter for Mousr the Robotic mouse was started on November 5th 2014 with the intention to raise some US$100,000 to make the prototype a reality.

Within the 30 day period, the project had been fully funded by some 914 backers to the tune of US116,965, surpassing their funding goal by a decent margin. Apparently the Team made up of mostly PhD are all Cat owners, designed Mousr to react to the Cat, as opposed to the traditional Random Reactions of a Toy to entice the Cat to React.

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Mousr, is basically an AI Robot designed to act like real prey and thus keep you Cat engaged on its own for as long as its battery holds out.

So for them, this project was a natural ode to their Cats, who they could have otherwise trapped in little circular virtual prisons (Lindsworth, 2014). The Design teams built the Mousr with enough AI (Artificial Intelligence) smarts to outsmart the Cat on its own, dodging the Cat using a 360 degree Camera and IR Sensors to detect proximity, a speaker to make squeaking noises and blinking lights to indicate interest as well as tell the state of Mousr to the Owner.

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It’s also got the option of adding a nice tail to make it a large and enticing enough a prey worth chasing, at least from the Cat’s point of view.

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Best of all, you can join in the fun if you like; the three-wheeled Mousr comes is controllable via Bluetooth from you smartphone (Prindle, 2014). I especially like that last built, as it reminds me of the US$129.99 Orbotic’s Sphero Robotic Ball (Lindsworth, 2012) that’s also remotely controlled via your Apple iPhone and can equally terrorize your Cat!

How to sharpen your Cat’s Hunting Skills with the AI Robotic Mousr  (1)

At the top end, this customizable AI Mouse costs anywhere between US$120 to US$140, so be prepared to spend as much come October 2015 when, Mousr, the three-wheeled terror is available to be your Cat’s Robotic Playmate.

References:

[1] Petronics. (2014, November 5). Mousr: The robotic mouse that plays with your cat. Retrieved from  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/525985345/mousr-the-robotic-mouse-that-plays-with-your-cat

[2] Kooser, A. (2014, November 10). Buy your cat a robot: Mousr acts like real prey. Retrieved from http://www.cnet.com/news/buy-your-cat-a-robot-mousr-acts-like-real-prey/

[3] Prindle, D. (2014, November 7). Your cat will go bonkers for this robotic AI mouse toy.  Retrieved from http://www.digitaltrends.com/home/cat-will-go-bonkers-robotic-ai-mouse-toy/

[4] Deer, L. (2012, February 9).  The Apple iPhone as a Remote – The R2-D2 Effect of Orbotic’s Sphero Robotic Ball. Retrieved from http://www.geezam.com/apple-iphone-remote-control/

[5] Deer, L. (2014, December 8). How to trap your Cat in one Place as Cats love Circles. Retrieved from https://lindsworthdeer.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/how-to-trap-your-cat-in-one-place-as-cats-love-circles/

The Fastest Way to Peel Apples and Potatoes using a Power Drill

I love watching videos on YouTube. Rather than being a random connoisseur of videos on YouTube, I actually have a watchlist of Channels (Deer, 2014) that I regularly watch. That list has grown significantly bigger and includes some popular YouTubers:

  1. DNews
  2. Testube
  3. Smosh
  4. Veritasium
  5. The Big Bang Theory
  6. Screen Junkies
  7. CNET TV
  8. The Jamaica Observer
  9. The Jamaica Gleaner
  10. NBC News
  11. WSJ Digital Network
  12. CVM Television
  13. Zoella
  14. Andre Brown
  15. Periodic Videos
  16. Rebecca
  17. Watch JIS

Every so often, I come across a few gems that I think are noteworthy enough to make nice short and quick blog articles. Take for example the Crazy Russian Hacker and his method of peeling Apples (CrazyRussianHacker , June 2014) and potatoes (CrazyRussianHacker , August 2014) using a Power Drill.

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First I’ll show the video for his method of peeling Potatoes in under a second using nothing more than a power drill and a freshly purchased Toilet Brush. This was back in June 2014.

Then two (2) months later he did the same thing using an Apple and a Power Drill and ironically, a Cheese Shaver, albeit I suspect a Potato peeler would work just as well.

Good to note in both methods he did peel the fruits in under a minute…or two. Best of all, these methods can be adapted to peel other types of Fruit that have similar skin and cross-sectional shape. So subscribe to the Crazy Russian Hacker s I search for more YouTube gems worth talking about.

Here’s the link:

Crazy Russian Hacker YouTube Channel

CrazyRussianHacker Instagram

CrazyRussianHacker Facebook Page

CrazyRussianHacker twitter Account

References:

[1] CrazyRussianHacker. (2014, June 30). How to Peel Potatoes The Fastest Way [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY6I71-bajo

[2] CrazyRussianHacker. (2014, August 24). How to Peel an Apples the Fastest Way [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJLYlNHOxsc