The connected home has been a kitchen staple for a while, but few gadgets have truly changed the way we think about cooking. A new smart kitchen scale, Drop, looks to do just that. Drop, which pairs with a companion iOS app, completely changes the process of cooking. Instead of a traditional list of ingredients and steps, Drop’s recipes divide the ingredients into blocks. Every recipe is built around the scale, which adapts to how much of each ingredient you have. Baking cookies and a little bit light on flour? Drop can scale back the recipe to make sure the batch still turns out right. Drop’s recipes are far more visual than traditional recipes, and each step has an accompanying video to make sure you know exactly what you need to do. This significantly lowers the entry bar for new cooks, and also ensures veteran chefs are nailing each step along the way. If Drop sounds like a gadget you’ve got to have in your kitchen, you can pre-order one now for $99.
If you spend a lot of time traveling overseas, you’ll quickly realize that smartphones are not all smart. The rates for making and receiving calls are reminiscent of mobile phone plans in the 90s. If you don’t buy an expensive monthly international roaming plan, your phone calls may cost several dollars per minute. Even with those plans, calls and texts aren’t cheap, and the data you’re allowed is almost non-existent. If you use your phone overseas the way you use it at home, you’ll spend somewhere between $100-$150 per day. But there’s a way to avoid crazy fees. If you have an unlocked phone from AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint, you can pop in a relatively cheap, local prepaid SIM card and keep your costs down. But that SIM card comes with a brand new phone number, which is a big deal if you need to receive calls on your real mobile number in real time. If you don’t, remember: you can always check your American smartphone voicemail a few times a day.
How many times have you asked a friend to call your phone because you can’t find it? Whether it slipped behind a couch cushion or was left in a jacket pocket, there are plenty of hiding spaces that phones love to hide in. Thanks to a new app called Marco Polo, however, finding your phone just got a lot easier – and more fun. Available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Marco Polo lets you find your device by yelling for it. Just like at the pool, shout “Marco!” and your device will respond with “Polo!” The app runs silently in the background until you need it, and can be customized with 30 different voice options. You can even change the input phrase to whatever words you want to shout. Marco Polo isn’t the most important app you can download to your iDevice, but it’s practical – and even a little fun. If you seem to always be losing your phone, you can download Marco Polo in the App Store for 99 cents today.
Why bother taking the time to count your calories when your microwave could do it for you? Researchers at General Electric have created a device that’s able to quickly figure out how many calories are in your food by analyzing its fat content, water content and weight. Using those numbers, it can then roughly figure out how many calories are in the food. The device isn’t part of any commercial product yet, but the researchers are optimistic because of recent breakthroughs in the field. So what’s the biggest roadblock right now? The device only works with substances that are the same consistency throughout, like blended foods and liquids. While that would work for some of the foods we eat, most of us aren’t on an eternal juice cleanse. GE’s researchers think they’ll be able to crack the code, and say if they’re able to bring a product like this to market, it’ll be able to scan your food in just one or two seconds. For now, we’ll just have to resort to reading food labels.
Fit Smart, a new fitness tracker from Adidas, is taking a different approach to the Quantified Self. Instead of measuring all of your activity 24/7, Fit Smart is only worn when you’re exercising or doing something physical that you want to quantify – think of it more like a personal trainer than a fitness tracker. The tracker puts heart rate technology on your wrist, but can also calculate how many calories you’ve burned, how fast you’re going, how far you’ve moved, and more. It also lets you quickly tell how hard you’re working through its LED lights, which range from a relaxed blue to an intense red. To make sure you get the most out of your workout, Fit Smart first gauges your stamina and level of fitness, then sends that info to the companion Adidas MiCoach app to generate training plans for a variety of workouts. If you want to take your training to the next level – and want more than a step and calorie tracker – the Adidas Fit Smart launches in August for $199.
Forget “OK, Glass.” What if you could take a picture with your mind? That’s the goal behind MindRDR, an app that was just released for Google Glass. MindRDR syncs with Google Glass and a separate piece of head-mounted hardware to create a “communication loop.” The app then looks for and tracks the brainwaves that respond to your focus, then translates them into a meter reading that you can see on Google Glass. The more you focus, the more the meter rises. Once you focus enough, MindRDR takes a picture of what you’re seeing. If you raise your focus even more, MindRDR can even post a picture to Twitter, along with the concentration levels you achieved. The whole setup is pretty clunky, especially with the need for extra hardware. And by building around Google Glass – which is pretty expensive to begin with – not too many people are going to be able to check this app out. Nevertheless, MindRDR is a very cool wearable idea to help “train” us to focus and concentrate better.
Why walk to work — or even bike — when you can get there with smart electric skates? ACTON recently launched a Kickstarter for RocketSkates, the world’s first smart electric skates. Each skate has two hub motors controlled by an on-board microprocessor, and the skates are able to communicate with one another so they maintain the same speed and behavior. The skates also communicate with a companion smartphone app, which includes features like route tracking, skate diagnosis, battery status and more. Best of all, the skates have no need for a remote control; they’re powered by lithium ion battery packs, meaning you get a completely hands-free experience. When the RocketSkates launch later this year, they’ll be available in three models – featuring battery life up to 90 minutes. The smart skates blew by their $50,000 Kickstarter goal on their second day. To learn more about RocketSkates — or to make sure you get a pair when they ship in October — head over to their Kickstarter page today.
Can a blanket gauge your mood? British Airways certainly thinks it can. The airline is testing out a “happiness blanket” to help make its passengers more comfortable on flights. Loaded with fiber optics, the blanket connects to a neurosensory device and acts like a big, cozy mood ring. Not every passenger flying British Airways will get to try out the blanket, though. The limited experiment, being tested on some flights between London and New York City, also requires a headband loaded with electronic gear to measure activity in the brain, which sends that signal to the blanket via Bluetooth. The blanket then turns blue if you’re relaxed or red if you’re anxious. That way, flight attendants can immediately tell whether or not they need to check on you. What has the study proved so far? Passengers are anxious when they first board a plane, but calm down after falling asleep being served food or drinks. So next time you fly somewhere, grab a snack, take a nap and relax.
What if benches in public parks were more than just a place to sit? That’s the thinking behind a new project in Boston, where solar-powered benches called “Soofas” will let you take a load off – and also give you a place to plug in and re-charge your smartphone. Designed by a Verizon Innovation Program at MIT, the Soofas are more than a traditional recharging station. The benches also connect to Verizon’s network to upload data about the space around them, including air quality and noise level, as well as how many people sit on each bench every day. And you can even check out the data the benches collect through Soofa’s website. The first of these benches are being installed throughout July in various Boston parks, including Titus Sparrow Park and the Boston Common. If you live in the Boston area, the city wants your help in planning out future Soofas. Boston’s city officials are asking residents to recommend additional parks to install the benches – as well as names for each bench.
If you’re one of the early adopters of the Ouya, your video game library just got a lot bigger. Ouya, the video game console that got over $8 million from Kickstarter two years ago, just launched a program called “Ouya All-Access” that gives you access its entire 800 game library for $60 a year. The program doesn’t include games that make their money off microtransactions – think of games like Candy Crush that give you five extra lives for 99 cents – but every other title in the Ouya library is fair game. The new program comes at a pivotal time for Ouya – right after Google’s I/O conference, where Google announced the Android TV and video game “microconsoles” designed by Razer and Asus. Google’s new products won’t strike fear in the hearts of Microsoft’s Xbox One or Sony’s PlayStation 4, but they’re direct competition to the Ouya. This new program is only in its pilot stage right now and may not stick around, so if you want to unlock Ouya’s entire library for sixty bucks, you better act fast.