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Your Digital Kids

Tip of the Hat to Tech Ingenuity

Make your own custom fit earphones.

Make your own custom fit earphones.

Each year, for the past 10, I brace myself for The Last Gadget Standing, an event at International CES that admires the spirit of creativity and the fact that CES attendees not only appreciate cool technology, but that they can pick the winners from the losers.

As the competition starts to heat up I’ll point to a few my favs and favs yet to come.

AutoBot from Mavizon Technologies: Ten years ago GM Onstar won the Last Gadget competition. A few years later CarMD tapped into the car’s diagnostic port and let you diagnose potential car trouble. This year Mavizon is “Onstar for those on a budget”. For under $300 (price is still being determined) you get a small box that plugs into the car and reports back to your mobile phone. Not only will it check the car’s vital signs like the need for an oil change, but it can send an emergency call if your air bag is deployed, remind you where you’ve partked, act like a GPS. It even has a Groupon like coupon feature to get you the best deals on everything from new tires to a lube job. You get a coupon or two but there’s no monthy service charge for using Mavizon.

Sonomax Soundcage is a kit that lets you make your own custom fit earphones. You buy the Sonomax earphones encased in a plastic headpiece. Place the plugs in your ears and a tube of inflatable silicon shapes the plug to match your ear. Once you’ve shaped your plugs (four minutes later) you toss away the headpiece.

Lapiac entered a bracelet locator that helps you keep tabs on everyone from an outdoor adventurer to an aging parent to a prison parolee. It relies on Assisted GPS technology for indoor and outdoor coverage, logs movement and can be used to set up geofences.

For those who think even a mobile phone is too big to tuck in a pocket or purse, Sony Ericcson just introduced LiveView microdisplay, a tiny square screen that notifies you about incoming calls and social media feeds. Designed to work with the company’s Xperia phones.

IdealLife, a line of products that let’s caretakers monitor patients is built around a single bluetooth hub that can talk to everything from pulse meters, to blood pressure cuffs, to scales, pedometers and more. A line of expandable high tech products for home health represents a first.

Seen a great gadget lately. Come on over and tell us about them. Or re-live the past by watching last year’s Last Gadget video.

3D Versus Body Motion: What Matters Most for Next Gen Gamers?

Accoding to NPD, a research firm, families are using video games big time. After sports games and action games (each holding approximately 20% of the market), family games represent 12%, the next largest category. Though the press would have you think otherwise, nearly 50% of games sold are rated “E” for everyone. And the game platforms are looking for new cool ways to exploit the growing gaming market.

This holiday, the three big industry platform giants—Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo—are going to battle it out with next generation systems, each targeting a wider consumer audience in its own unique way. For each, the ease of use, price, mobility, ability to download music and movies and play online, and, of course, a little bit of gamer’s luck will affect its ultimate success.

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Where Old iPhones go to Find New Lives

.XXX Gets the Green Light for a Red Light District in Cyberspace

I’ve been a long-time proponent of creating an adult area for those who want access to pornography. It’s one of the best ways to segregate adult content, keeping it accessible to those who want access, but letting filtering software quickly determine the appropriateness of a site.

For years the counterarguments have been:

  1. Pornography is too hard to define since it’s based on local culture.
  2. Many of the largest pornography sites are located offshore, making it hard to have jurisdiction.
  3. Porn sites would not voluntarily comply.

I applaud ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigning Names and Numbers, for fast-tracking the creation of a .XXX domain. The next step is for the ICM group to assess that there’s sufficient interest from the adult community. I know that they’ll do the right thing. What’s amazing to me is how long it’s taken to reach this sensible decision.

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Kids Get Hip to Online Reputations

Kids are getting an A for effort and bypassing their parents in learning how to manage their online reputations. According to a Pew Internet study, kids who use social media do, in fact, care about their reputations. “Young adults, far from being indifferent about their digital footprints, are the most active online reputation managers in several dimensions. For example, more than two-thirds (71%) of social networking users aged 18-29 have changed the privacy settings on their profile to limit what they share with others online” and are more likely to do so than older users (55%). Forty-four percent limit the amount of personal information they put online, compared to users aged 30-49 (33%), 50-64 (25%), and 65+ (20%). Forty-seven percent delete unwanted comments, compared to 29% of users 30-49 and 26% of users 50-64.

And in the Internet safety world, products are appearing to keep kids safe, in a dialog with their parents, and still let them enjoy the benefits of social networking.

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$69 LeapFrog Learning Toy Takes on the $500 iPad

What do kids really need when it comes to digital literacy and learning? And what are their ever-anxious parents willing to spend to get a leg up on the educational ladder?Leapster Explorer

For LeapFrog, the answer is the newly announced $69 Leapster Explorer. For the price, the features are awesome. It has a nice color screen (3.2 inches and 320×320 pixels – which makes it a bit grainer than the iPhone, but a big improvement for LeapFrog) and 512MB of memory. It runs Flash (take that, iPad), will do 3D, and play video. A webcam attachment, due out later this fall, will cost $25. Both games and LeapFrog applets that are similar to apps on the iPhone will be available (in a proprietary format). The device is aimed squarely at 4-9 year-olds. Read more »

Pandigital’s Novel Is Both Novel and Easy on the Pocketbook

Color display, Barnes and Noble partner and a great price

Color display, Barnes and Noble partner and a great price

Pandigital, a company best known for creating wireless digital photo frames, took a novel step forward with the introduction of a $200 full-color e-book reader with multimedia capabilities and a Barnes & Noble affiliation. In addition to the unit’s e-reader functionality, you can store photos, music, and movies, and use the device as a photo frame when you’re not reading. Read more »

Kids Toys: A Brief, Biased, Mostly Binary Look

silly_puttyRemember Silly Putty?  It was born as the high tech replacement for rubber during the shortage in WW II. What about Winky Dink? The first interactive TV program that asked kids to lay a sheet of acetate over their TV screens and draw Winky out of a jam. Yesterday’s toys are tomorrow’s innovation.  Better graphics, better interaction, but is the play experience better, worse or just different?   Read more »

Google’s Toy Bag is Intimidating but Way Cool

google-googlesGoogle is known for having dozens of new tools in various states of development at any given moment. These typically extend the power of Google and they are  available to the public in various states of “not ready for prime time”.  There’s no cost to being a part of this human guinea pig beta other than your time. When they work it’s an aha moment and a good glimpse into the not too distant future. 

I’m not an early diver.  I wait until the first round of comments are addressed.  But, this week I dove into two of Google’s more evolved features.  Google Goggles and YouTube’s auto captioning.  Read more »

Two New Games For Young Fliers

Flight Simulator the Microsoft game thats ultrarealistic controls and navigation path gave many armchair pilots a chance to take control of the wheel.  Now the kids can get into the act with two games announced for the junior set. Heros in the Sky

MySims Sky Heroes:my-sims launching by this Sept
 Most of you are familiar with The Sims, the closest thing to a do-it-yourself soap opera videogame.  You may be less familiar with the junior version, My Sims.  It’s a simpler, younger adventure that concentrates on cute Mii like characters.  There have been racing version of My Sims and well as others.
. The newest My Sims addition is called SkyHeroes and it will be available byskycaptain_large September.  A better name would be My First Flight Simulator.  Instead of just navigating aimlessly from point to point, your mission is to battle Morcubus and his drone army . They’ve got nefarious plans to take over the skyways!  You earn your wings as your speed and reflexes are put to the test.  Whimsy is pervasive as you can fly everything from a prop plane to a UFO.  Available for Wii, Nintendo DS, Xbox and Playstation.
Sky Captain by D3 Publishers, also jumps into the flight training craze with  a  much more structured adventure for young children where they can  pilot anything from a plane to a UFO 40 different tasks from stunt flying to shooting targets.  No killing, no crashing, and simple enough to pilot that even I managed. Sky Captain reports they’ll be available by this sumer.