The Wi-Fi Umbrella

purple rain wifi umbrellaSome people just have to be connected to the Internet at all times, but there are occasions when it’s difficult.  Sometimes, you need more of a signal than what your smartphone can provide.

If you happen to be walking down the street, and it happens to be raining, and you happen to be in need of a wi-fi signal, then the Purple Rain umbrella can help.

Purple Rain, cleverly named after a Prince song, is said to be, and probably is, the world’s first wi-fi capable umbrella.

That’s right – it’s an umbrella that can connect you to the Internet.

Purple Rain is really just a wi-fi hotspot.  As you’re walking down the street, you can discreetly press the button on the wooden handle, and the Purple Rain will automatically scan for hotspots wherever you happen to be.

Once it finds a hotspot, it will connect, and then it will pass that signal on to your smartphone or tablet via a private SSID signal, so no one can tap into your wifi.

purple rain wifi umbrellaThe Purple Rain has been designed so that it looks like, and works like, any other normal umbrella.  The ribs of the umbrella are part of the antenna, however, which gives Purple Rain additional ability to pull in signals in areas where reception may be weak.

The entire thing is waterproof, as you might expect (and demand) from an umbrella.  On days when it isn’t raining, you can always use it as a parasol to protect you from the sun.

Purple Rain also has a USB port in the handle, though I can’t find anything in the company’s press release that explains what, exactly, that USB port might be for.

The Purple Rain umbrella is handmade in the UK and includes a wooden handle, your standard press-stud tab for closing it.  The device is 36 inches long and has a 42 inch diameter.

The protective canopy is made from 100% polyester.

Despite the clever name, Purple Rain is available in other colors, though the Website didn’t mention any specifically.

The Purple Rain is designed to be capable of working with just about any wifi enabled device, regardless of operating system or platform.  It is, as they say in the business, “vendor-agnostic.”

The umbrella was said to be available for sale starting in late November, though the Website has not yet been updated to indicate whether it is currently available or not.  While the official launch date has passed, the Website is still asking you to preregister to be notified when it becomes available for sale.

Initial price was £49.99 or $50, but that was a Black Friday special that was said to be 50% off.  No word on current pricing.


Turn Your Smartphone Into a Real Camera

smove stabilizerCell phones originally had no cameras in them and when they were finally added, they weren’t very good.  They’ve gotten a lot better over the years, but in the end, they’re still cameras inside telephones, and that presents some problems if you’re shooting video.

The problems are numerous, but the biggest are that you’re likely to have somewhat jerky video if you shoot with a smartphone.  You’re also likely to use up a lot of your phone’s power.

Those are pretty significant drawbacks, as people aren’t going to be interested in taking your video seriously if they’re so jerky that they become nauseous when they’re watching them.

That’s where the Smove comes in.  This was a crowdfunded product through Indiegogo that’s been successfully funded.  In fact, it’s been funded beyond the amount that the creators were seeking by some 4638%, which suggests that a lot of people wanted to see a device brought to market that does this.

And what does the Smove do?  At it’s most basic, it’s a handle for your smartphone that allows you to handle it as though it were a video camera.  It’s simply a better way to hold it.

In addition, the Smove has a built-in stabilizer, so your jerky videos are going to be a thing of the past.  There was a time when that sort of technology cost thousands, but it’s not available at under $200 in the Smove.

The built in power source should allow you to shoot for 6-7 hours before running out of power, and that’s in addition to the power you have in your phone’s own battery.

The Smove also includes a built in 5000mAh power supply, so you’re not likely to run out of juice while you’re in the middle of filming something that’s going to win you a Pulitzer Prize.

The Smove also has a motorized feature that allows you to shoot panorama shots and you can adjust that from 180° to 360° to suit your needs.

There are several models available that can accommodate Android and iPhone smart phones as well as Go Pro video cameras.  You can also buy a bundle that includes both the Smove and a phone, just in case you need to get an all in one solution and you don’t have a smartphone already.

I’ll freely admit that I don’t shoot much video by phone, but I’m surprised at how many people do.  I’m also surprised at how many people don’t know that you should generally turn your phone sideways when shooting so that you get an image that’s widescreen, rather than thin and tall, but that’s a topic for another blog post, I suppose.

Smove also has a special price for two units if you think you’re going to be doing a lot of shooting.  There’s no problem carrying them around, as they’re small enough and compact enough to fit in your pocket.

The Smove has been wildly successful during the funding phase, and has more than 11,000 sales already.  They’re expected to ship any time now.



Smartphone Powered Paper Airplane

powerup 3.0Paper airplanes are fun, but they’re not fun for long.  You spend a lot of time designing them and folding them and making them look good and making sure that they’re aerodynamically sound, and then…

…you throw it in the air and it crashes about ten feet later.

That wasn’t much fun, was it?  That’s where the Powerup 3.0 powered paper airplane can make a huge difference.

The Powerup 3.0 is a device that attaches to a paper airplane and provides both a power source (a propeller) and a method of navigation ( a Bluetooth-enabled rudder) that allows you to actually fly a paper airplane, rather than just throw one.

When you buy the Powerup 3.0, you’ll get the power source, the app that controls it (compatible with most iPhone and Android models) and some templates to help you build some flying paper airplanes that actually fly.

After you fold your plane to perfection, you add the easily-attached power source, take it to a place where you’ve got room to stretch out, and let it fly.   A single ten minute charge will give you up to 20 minutes of flying time.  Range is about 60 feet, so you don’t want to get too far away from your plane or boat.

If you’re out of power, you can recharge it using a mini-USB cable.

The Powerup 3.0 originated as a Kickstarter project, and you never really know how those are going to go.  I’ve seen some terrific Kickstarter ideas flounder, and I’ve seen some lousy ones make fat bank.  The Powerup 3.0 did surprisingly well, and brought in more than $1.2 million in funding.

Now that it’s on the market, they’re branching out.  You can buy a pair of planes, sold as a “dogfight bundle.”  You can also buy a powered boat.

The company also sells accessories, including extra propellers and extra batteries, just in case you need extra power or need to repair a broken plan.

The basic Powerup 3.0 kit sell for about $50 and you can find it at Amazon and a number of other retailers.  I have to admit that this does not exactly fall under the “I gotta have that” category, but it’s still a pretty cool idea.  I’ve built a lot of paper airplanes over the years, but I haven’t built any lately.

The reason for that is that your typical paper airplane just isn’t a lot of fun, and unless you’re flying it indoors, you’re going to be at the mercy of the elements.  That’s not the case here, and unless you’re flying in a tornado, you should be able to have a fair amount of outdoor fun with the Powerup.




Stylish Bluetooth Wireless Headphones from V-Moda

v-moda bluetoothIf you’re under 50, you’ve likely been listening to music through ear buds for a long time, probably for decades.  It’s a convenient way to listen, though there are some problems.

The sound quality is usually so-so, at best, and the wires are a nuisance.   Sure, you’ve been putting up with the wires for years, but as time goes on, more and more devices have been going wireless, so we’re having to deal with less of that as time goes on.

We’re finally seeing some wireless Bluetooth headphones, and while that’s welcome, a lot of them still don’t sound that great.    Sure, getting rid of the wires is nice, but can’t we have good sound, too?

V-Moda’s new Forza Metallo (Metal Force) Bluetooth headphones say they’re going to change all of that, offering good sound, wireless performance, and all in a form factor that they say is rugged enough to put up with the stresses that come with wearing them every day.

The earbuds are attached to an aircraft-grade aluminum frame that fits comfortably around your neck.  V-Moda says they’ve done thousands of ergonomic tests to come up with a sturdy yet comfortable design that won’t cause you fatigue even after you’ve been wearing them for hours.

The Bluetooth enabled units will work within 10 meters (33 feet) of the music source, so you can run about the room or workout without having to have your music source on your person.

v-moda forza metalloBattery life is about 10 hours on a full charge, but a quick 15 minute charge will give you an additional two hours of playing time.

What about the sound?  V-Moda has a reputation for making good quality products, and they’ve worked hard on the drivers for the Forza Metallo.

They say that the new 5.8 mm Hi-Res neodymium driver provides enhanced bass, vivid midranges and natural, stress-free high frequencies.  In addition, the Forza Metallo also has built-in noise cancellation circuitry, so you won’t have to make do with other headphones that offer good noise cancellation but terrible sound quality.

Forza Metallo was designed with workouts in mind, so they’ve been built to be resistant to sweat.  Moisture of any kind is a problem with electronics, and since these headphones were built to be worn while working out, the phones have been treated with what the company calls “special nanocoating technology.”

An attached 3 button remote makes it possible to control your music and incoming calls and the headphones are compatible with iPhone, Android and all Bluetooth-enabled audio devices.

The headphones also come with three different sets of detachable sport fins to give you the best fit and stability while working out.  The last thing you want from your headphones when you’re exercising is to have them fall off.

All of this performance and technology doesn’t come cheaply, unfortunately.  While you can spend a fortune on electronics these days, most people don’t want to spend big bucks on headphones, especially since such relatively small items are easily lost.

The Forza Metallo headphones start at a base price of $170 or so, and they’re available from the V-Moda Website.  You can also likely find them at a number of other retailers.

If you’ve been looking for a great looking set of wireless Bluetooth headphones that can also provide some decent sound, the V-Moda Forza Metallo might be worth taking the time to check out.