So much serious stuff going on! Microsoft yo-yo’ing up and down, Apple execs in a strange mood, more than the usual political nonsense, and unseasonably warm weather on the West Coast. We need something… cool! And one of the coolest things we do on the CRE blog is talk about cool gadgets. Without further ado, away we go!
Bluetooth grows up
The Bluewave Bluetooth Audio Receiver works with any Bluetooth device and your 30-pin, Apple-ready speaker dock to “jailbreak your speakers.” The small device plugs into Apple-spec 30-pin docks that are found on new and used speakers, audio gear, and our original iPad rental. Because of the Bluewave, any phone or device with Bluetooth can send music to a formerly Apple-only speaker unit.
The Bluewave has a great trick up its sleeve, too. You don’t even need to mess with any switches and buttons if you set it up to start streaming when you come into range (<30 feet). And you can use it with smartphones, tablet PC rentals, iPads, and anything at all that has Bluetooth, whose latest stereo versions are much more useful and tune-worthy than the original monaural ones. Keep an eye out: Bluetooth is going to be showing up everywhere.
Clickin’ and growin’
Click & Grow has provided another truly great, green moment in technology: its hands-off electronic “smartpot” grows plants without human involvement (except set-up). You need no knowledge whatsoever about gardening, as every step is managed by “smart” technology based on the same microprocessor technology as in your iMac. Click & Grow’s software contains all the necessary information to deliver the right amount of air, water, and fertilizer at the right times, all according to a particular plant’s requirements.
The Click & Grow system has two vital components:
The flowerpot includes batteries, sensors, circuits, a pump, and water storage. It does not have the seeds or a plant, nutrients, or the plant-management software.
The plant cartridge contains the seeds, nutrients, and custom software for growing the particular plant in that cartridge.
To some this product represents the natural extension of technology into nature, while others call it wholly unnatural. Admittedly, office equipment rentals would be out of place in the forest, but Click & Grow’s technology works the other way ’round, bringing the green inside where it’s needed. With no worrying about over-watering, no guessing about nutrients, and no doubt that your plants are getting just what they need, Click & Grow and its smart technology just might make more homes and offices a healthy green… literally.
Dessert for everyone!
The Raspberry Pi may be the size of a credit card, but it’s a capable “nanocomputer” that can produce spreadsheets, do word processing, and play games. It plugs into analog or digital TVs, as well as keyboards and other peripherals, via RCA video and HDMI out, audio line out, and USB. The 700MHz CPU, capable GPU, and HDMI mean you can play full HD, high-definition, 1080p video. The computer comes without an enclosure, and unlike any computer rental at CRE, the Raspberry Pi boots from a SecureDigital (SD) card, which offers storage memory, too (everything over 2GB, up to a 32GB card). USB devices can also store files, but the Raspberry Pi must boot from SD, which can be purchased pre-loaded with one of the three supported Linux distros, plus other software.
Of course this is not for your home or office, unless you’re a hobbyist or programmer. The Raspberry Pi Foundation wants “to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming,” similar to the goals of the “One Laptop per Child” project that puts self-powered, WiFi-capable PCs in the hands of girls in Afghanistan, for one very good thing. The Raspberry Pi Foundation, which has an incredible volunteer support community, has plans to ship one unit, free, to a Third World end-user for each one purchased. The two models are $25 and $35, with Ethernet and a second USB port on the pricier one.
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