On Sunday at the SXSW Innovation Awards Finalist Showcase, Wi-Charge was showing off their infrared-based wireless power technology. They’re not the only company aiming to deliver wireless power to our devices, but they are the first we’ve seen to use infrared (IR) to do it. Using IR comes with a couple of advantages: power doesn’t degrade over distance, a thin beam can be aimed at the device to ensure full power, and IR is something we’ve found to be extremely safe. Of course, the major downside to using IR is that it only delivers over line-of-sight. Their demo at SXSW was delivering a full 1 watt of usable power, but they say their tech could eventually deliver “several watts” of power up to 15 feet away. Wi-Charge was demoing their tech with LED strip lights, an electric train, and a custom-case for an Amazon Echo Dot, all of which could be powered from an overhead IR transmitter. For your IoT devices or even your phone at your desk, this could someday offer a ton of convenience. Wi-Charge is seeking integration partners to help bring their tech to market.
If you’re a designer looking for tools to use, look no further. This GitHub list has 200 design tools covering everything a wide range of categories. You can use the table of contents or just search for what you need. You can also ask Ms. Dziuba on Twitter for help. Additionally, you can contribute a design tool that you found. Read the contribution guidelines, then send a pull request. There are specific labels for free tools, open source tools, and tools only available for macOS. The list: Accessibility Tools, Animation Tools, Augmented Reality Tools, Collaboration Tools, Color Picker Tools, Design Feedback Tools. Design Handoff Tools, Design System Tools, Design to Code Tools, Experience Monitoring Tools, Font Tools, Free Screenshot Software, Icons Tools, Illustrations, Information Architecture Tools, Logo Design, Mockup Tools, Mouse Tracking Tools, Prototyping Tools, Sketching Tools, Stock, Photos Tools, UI Design Tools, User Flow Tools, and Version Control for Designers.
I know, “NSFW teen film” is a phrase not usually found in the media. But this one is enlightening. It’s a short, 17-minute film called Pocket, directed by Mishka Kornai and written by Zach Wechter. It’s an attempt to show a day in the life of a teenager, specifically from the point of view of a 15-year-old named Jake. It’s NSFW because of occasional swearing, sexting, and Instagram models. Millennials may have experienced technology like the iPhone in their teenage years, but Generation Z grew up with it. As the quote from Douglas Adams goes,
Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
The Private Internet Access 2.8.0 update brings a network management tool. When you enable the feature PIA will automatically turn itself on when you connect to untrusted Wi-Fi networks. You can add networks you do trust to a whitelist, including your cellular network. If you set it not to trust cellular networks and you turn on the option to protect all networks, it means that the VPN will automatically turn itself on all the time.
The update also adds support for IKEv2. Internet Key Exchange (IKE) is part of the IPsec protocol suite, and it’s used to set up a security association. Jargon aside, IKEv2 is responsible for making a secure connection between you and the VPN server. It does this by authenticating you both and establishing which encryption methods will be used.
Under the shadow of the last great city in the sky, prepare to set off through the streets of Iron City and get ready for an epic adventure six-hundred years in the making. Alita: Battle Angel – The Game is the official game based on the all-new theatrical film produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau and directed by Robert Rodriguez. It’s a high-octane cyberpunk MMORPG mobile game that allows players to experience all the action, emotion, locations, weapons, and characters from the movie. Lost in the labyrinthine streets of Iron City, join forces with the heroine Alita, cyborg jacker Hugo and their friends in an effort to stop the power-hungry forces of The Factory. Alita: Battle Angel – The Game provides both PvE and PVP game modes alongside an innovative gameplay narrative told within the story of the Alita movie! Enhance your character with cyborg upgrades, gather your crew and hit the streets. App Store: Free (Offers In-App Purchases).
Omnicharge is coming out with a series of power bank devices that will charge your Apple devices. One of them—Omnimobile 12,800mAh—offers 60W USB-C output, 10W wireless charging, and two fast charging USB-A ports. It’s great for people on the go because you don’t have to carry multiple power bank accessories or cables. You’ll be charging both your MacBook/iPad and iPhone with one device. The Mobile 12,800 has an ideal capacity for smaller 13” USB-C laptops and ultrabooks, but has enough power to charge even large 15” MacBooks and other laptops. It’s available on Indiegogo at US$69 as an early bird perk, which is 30% the regular price of US$99. The estimated delivery date is April 2019 so if you’re in the market for a new power bank, check this one out.
Ever taken a lovely portrait, only for it to be ruined by someone lurking in the background? Apple feels you. Ever had a nice snap of your partner, but their friend or colleague features in it accidentally? Again, Apple feels you. That’s why it introduced depth control to iOS- the ability to adjust the depth of field before or after a picture is taken. As a new video released Sunday shows, the depth control tool can also help defuse an awkward conversation with your partner!
NASA released new book Wednesday containing a collection of stunning pictures of Earth taken by satellites. The hardcover version of Earth costs $53. However, NASA has also released free e-book, PDF and HTML versions. The HTML version is interactive. The pictures certainly make you, as an individual feel rather small. As writer Michael Carlowicz puts it in the forward: “For all of the dynamism and detail we can observe from orbit, sometimes it is worth stepping back and simply admiring Earth.”
Apple released a new video Wednesday, promoting cellular connectivity with the Apple Watch Series 4. Called Flight, the clip emphasises the freedom that cellular connectivity on the Apple Watch gives users. A woman, clearly with no phone on her, is led on something of an adventure. She is shown receiving and rejecting a phone call whilst her phone is elsewhere. If nothing else, Flight also happens to be a rather beautifully shot video.
In DuckDuckGo’s app it has a button to clear your tabs and history. In DuckDuckGo version 7.15.0 it added an option to clear it away automatically the next time the app restarts. It also added keyboard shortcuts for iPad users.
• You can now have your tabs and data cleared automatically. Go to settings to configure this feature.
• Support for external keyboards with a range of shortcuts. See the full list below.
• Support for international and emoji based URLs
• Bug fixes and improvements
• Cmd-T or Cmd-N to open a new tab
• Cmd-W to close tab
• Shift-Cmd-] and Shift-Cmd-[ or Ctrl-Tab and Ctrl-Shift-Tab to move to the next/previous tab
• Ctrl-Shift-\ or Cmd-Shift-\ to show all tabs
• Esc to cancel typing in the address bar OR close the tab switcher OR close the suggestions
• Enter to select the current tab and close the tab switcher
• Cmd-[ and Cmd-] or Cmd-Right Arrow and Cmd-Left Arrow to move back/forward
• Alt-Cmd-F to edit address field
• Up/Down Arrow to navigate auto complete suggestions and tabs in the tab-switcher
• Cmd-Alt-Backspace to quickly delete all your tabs and data
Another game I recently started playing is Battleheart 2. It’s a follow-up to the first Battleheart which launched in 2011. In this RPG you’ll take command of a party of heroes and slay hordes of monsters in frantic, realtime battles that will put your reflexes to the test. With each victory you’ll face ever greater dangers, and grow more powerful through a robust equipment and skill system offering vast combinations of heroes, items and abilities.
My advice when you build your team is to add a necromancer. You can only have four people in your party, but necromancers can summon skeletons, which gives you a workaround to that limit. And when you reach the point where you can start using passive skills, you can increase the health of your skeletal allies.
Technobabylon is a cyberpunk game that I recently came across. I haven’t played it yet but it’s downloading as I type, due to its large, 1.4GB file size. In the city of Newton, 2087, genetic engineering is the norm, the addictive Trance has replaced almost any need for human interaction, and an omnipresent AI named Central powers the city. CEL agents Charlie Regis and Max Lao are investigating a serial Mindjacker who is tapping into the neural wiring of seemingly ordinary citizens, stealing their knowledge and leaving them dead. An agoraphobic net addict named Latha Sesame might be the next target. But when Charlie’s past comes back to haunt him, he and his partner find themselves on opposite sides of the law, with Latha’s fate in the crossfire. App Store: US$4.99
MOFT launched what it called an “invisible” laptop stand on Kickstarter in January 2019. The stand is attached to a laptop with an adhesive and folded out wherever and whenever someone wants to work. I think it looks rather slick, and can certainly see how it would be useful for people who work in cafes or at conferences. The product comfortably cleared its Kickstarter goal of $771. At the time of this writing, it had raised $275,026 from 13,111 backers. The MOFT laptop stand currently has an $19 Early Bird offer. It will be on Kickstarter for 30 more days, with shipping expected in April 2019.
Sonos revealed a new range of indoor and outdoor speakers today, called the Sonos Architectural. There is a set designed for the ceiling, but the ones that really caught my eye are the Outdoor Speaker Pair. They look slick and should provide good sound quality outside of them, which is still not something to be taken for granted. All the news speakers work with the Sonos Amp, which means they support AirPlay 2. The Outdoor Speaker Pair costs $799 and is listed as “Coming Soon” for the time being.
Inspired by mortician Caitlin Doughty (Whose books are great by the way) A Mortician’s Tale is an informative, honest, and sometimes humorous look at the current state of and the future of the western death industry. Take on the role of recent funeral direction graduate Charlie as she learns the ropes of the business and industry. Prepare the bodies of the deceased (via embalming or cremation), attend their funerals and listen to their loved ones’ stories, and interact with Charlie’s coworkers, clients, and bosses. You’ll be working in the Rose and Daughters Funeral Home by preparing eight different bodies using realistic tools and procedures. App Store: US$2.99
There are plenty of ultrawide monitors available, but Dell’s UltraSharp U4919DW stands out because it’s the first 49-inch ultrawide monitor with a QHD resolution. It’s extremely wide, has a pixel count that tops out at 5120 x 1440, costs $1,699 but can be found for $1,349 on sale …
It does have some limitations, however, so be sure to read the review carefully. But seriously. For that price? Very cool. (Image credit: Dell.)
Tapplock came out with a new product called the Tapplock one+. It features 7mm reinforced stainless steel shackles, strengthened by double-layered lock design with anti-shim and anti-pry technologies, making it the ultimate utility fingerprint padlock. Plus, a state-of-the-art capacitive fingerprint sensor allows unlocking in under 0.8 seconds. Its adaptive algorithm means the lock becomes faster and more accurate with each access. You can store up to 500 different fingerprints per lock, and manage users and fingerprints via the Tapplock app. There are three ways to unlock: fingerprint, Bluetooth, and Morse code. The battery lasts up to a year or 3,500 unlocks. You can get a single Tapplock one+ for US$99, a double pack for US$179, and a four-pack for US$359.
Major U.S. health insurer Aetna is set to launch a new Apple Watch app and healthy lifestyle program, in collaboration with Apple. Called Attain, the app will create personalized goals and offers rewards such as retail gift cards from the likes of Amazon and Walmart, or even a new Apple Watch. Users earn points by doing activities and completing goals. Those points are converted into cash, which can be spent with participating retailers or saved to put towards a new Apple Watch. The app is not yet available, but Aetna members can sign-up to be part of the program now.
Oak helps the monkey-minded decompress by transforming meditation practices from experiments into habits. It supports you from your first session to your 500th, with mindful, loving-kindness, and sleep meditations as well as unguided sessions and breathing exercises. Individualize your guided meditations by duration, and customize with silence or calming background sounds. Oak tracks your progress and encourages you to continue building a healthy meditation practice. Plus, the app can integrate with the Health app, allowing you to track your meditative minutes over time. App Store: Oak – Free