Redfox Tech Talk with Pete on Zinc 101.9FM

This week on Petes Tech Talk segment we have some interesting technology that can change lives or just keep us dry! 

Force Field Umbrella

In a case which some are calling ‘tech for the sake of tech’, a Chinese designer has invented an ‘umbrella’ of sorts which, rather than use the standard canopy-style we’ve all come to know and love(?), protects the bearer with a force field of wind. Cleverly named the ‘Air Umbrella’, the device uses a lithium battery with a motor and fan to create a continuous cycle of air that flows outward from the top and repels raindrops. The models range in size from 30 to 80 centimetres, with a battery life of 15 to 30 minutes. What isn’t clear at this stage is what happens to the poor sucker who walks past you while you’re blowing water all over the place.

Air Umbrella – Is this the first major evolution of the umbrella in thousands of years

Sonar ‘Watch’ to help the blind 

Researchers at Wake Forest University in the US have collaborated to design a wearable wristwatch-like device to help the blind detect objects in their area. Based on echolocation – the way bats ‘see’ – the device uses a sonar distance sensor and two mobile phone vibration motors to measure the distance to objects and provide feedback to the wearer in the form of vibrations. The more frequent the vibration, the closer the object. Basic testing has shown it to be effective and best of all, the parts required to make it cost under $60. It’s in prototype phase right now but this could potentially be a real life-changer for the visually impaired if they make it effective enough – even moreso if they can keep the cost low.


Watch inspired by bats and moths uses sonar and vibrations to guide the blind, costs $60

Punching Bag Computer

Most of us will end up hating computers at some point in our lives. Often, we’ll want to throw it against a wall or smash it with a hammer. Well now we seem to be one step closer to living that dream without the expensive repair bill. A pair of designers in Europe have created a punching bag keyboard, which is exactly what it sounds like. A set of punching bags line a large desk, each with a number or letter printed on it. The user must punch each character to type, which means that even the most basic of emails or letters will be a good workout. Personally, I think it will prove therapeutic for some, possibly as a novelty to sit in the office and used by employees having a bad day? The designers say the idea is purely conceptual not designed for production, but hope it will inspire other similar concepts with more practical everyday application.


The punching bag computer makes you throw uppercuts and jabs to type letters

Bone conductor lets you feel your music 

For those chasing the ultimate musical enjoyment experience, you may not have to run afoul of the law: a pair of British entrepreneurs have created what they’re calling a “Tactile Bass System” – a bone conduction device that lets you ‘hear’ all through your chest and abdomen, in addition to your ears. Bone conduction is already proven technology – for example, companies have designed underwater headphones which use bone conduction for scuba divers etc. to use while swimming, and Google Glass uses it to convey sound to wearers. The system is not perfect for all music however: the device mostly highlights bass, so dance and ‘club’ music tends to sound better, while higher-pitched things like some pop music may sound artificially ‘bass-y’. Either way, it looks to be an interesting new way to enjoy your favourite artists.

Your ears are the best way to listen to sound, but they don’t have a monopoly. Two sets of British entrepreneurs want to turn our upper bodies into sound systems.