Every month, Maxwell Barna rounds up the best new drops and innovations in the tech world. Check out last month’s installment here.
All this new tech gear in November, yet not a single one of these bastards figured out how to keep me out of a Post-Thanksgiving Dinner food coma.
I can’t be too bitter about it though, because November was a pretty great month for tech. We saw a little bit of everything this month—smart beds that modify themselves to accommodate your sleep patterns, Google’s stab at wireless voice-operated speakers, a camera that doesn’t need a lens; and that’s just scratching the surface.
November was busy, folks:
The Team at LingLong Invented the DingDong. Yup.
I honestly can’t tell if the name of the DingDong (by Chinese firm LingLong, naturally) is just a ridiculous PR stunt, or if it was just a super awkward oversight on the part of their marketing team… Either way, the DingDong is a real thing — a wireless, Bluetooth, voice-assisted speaker that can do things like play music, look things up, control household appliances and more. The product comes in light of research suggesting China’s “smart home market” (when the fuck did that even become a thing, guys?) can be worth $22 billion over the next two years, and so far, people have nothing but good things to say about it — even if it’s literally named DingDong.
Someone Finally Invented a Smart Mattress
We’re living in a smart world. Smart cars, smart homes, smart watches, smart sex dolls — we got it all, baby. So, it’s only fitting that we now have smart mattresses, thanks to the people at Eight. The mattress comes with four layers of high density foam, followed by one “technology layer,” which doesn’t just analyze and help improve sleep cycles, but can also interact with other appliances — like coffee machines, a thermostat, etc. Eight CEO Matteo Franceschetti said in an interview that they analyzed over 1.8 million hours of sleep data from over 10,000 people in order to understand what materials and types of mattresses work best for a good night’s sleep, and then used that data to formulate their mattress.
Researchers in Florida Created a Battery that Charges in Seconds and Lasts a Week
This one’s actually totally bad ass. A team of researchers at the University of Central Florida announced this month they’ve invented a battery packed with supercapacitors that can store massive amounts of energy. The new battery can store more juice, take more charges (the average lithium-ion battery can only handle between 300 and 500 charges, but these batteries can be charged over 30,000 times), and can store enough energy for days of use with just a few seconds worth of charging time. It’s not yet ready for consumer products, but don’t be shocked to see it on the fast track.
Hitachi Developed a Lensless Camera
Funny thing about cameras — you kind of need a lens to use them. That is, until this month, when the dev team at Hitachi announced that it'd developed its own lensless camera. Rather than lenses, the camera uses complex math and moire fringes to create an image. The coolest thing about it is that, using the system, it’s possible to pick a focal point and focus on something after the photo has been snapped. It’s important to note that this technically isn’t the first lensless camera, but worthy of mention because its potential uses—not just in things like camera rigs, but robots, drones, self-driving cars, and a bunch of others — are absolutely bonkers. It’s still in development, but the potential is revolutionary.
Coca-Cola Invented a “Selfie Bottle” And It’s Fucking Stupid
Do you think we’re all going to look back on this shit someday and think, “Jesus — was that real life?” Well, just in case we needed something else to facepalm over, Coca-Cola announced in November that they’d invented and released a Selfie Bottle — literally a Coke bottle that takes a photo every time it gets tipped past a 70-degree angle. Ugh. We’re terrible.
Tesla Acquired SolarCity and then Revealed its Solar-Powered Island
Elon Musk isn’t just going after space these days; he’s taking a run at the throne here on Earth, too. One of the biggest tech headlines of the month came with the official acquisition of SolarCity by Tesla — a controversial move that got Musk in some hot water with other members of the SolarCity board of directors (of which he is the chairman). Right after announcing the merger, Tesla revealed their actual solar-powered city, the island of Ta’u, in American Samoa. Thanks to the 60 Tesla Powerpacks providing nearly 100 percent of the electrical power needed on the island, Ta’u was able to get rid of most of the 300 gallons of diesel it needed to burn every single day.
SpiderBots Are Training to Build Moon Cities
I can’t even deal with spiders in my apartment, but now there’s this… Siemens has invented spider-like robots that operate with a hive mind and come equipped with 3D printers, and they intend on using them to build structures or even entire cities in places like space, the moon, or a post-nuclear explosion city. The hive mind allows the robots to work together to delegate tasks and complete projects, like strapping us all down and 3D printing us into our own post-apocalyptic cocoons. Wonderful.
Google Will Now Tell You How Busy a Place is Before You Get There
The world is getting creepier and creepier by the day, but all that creepy comes with some pretty cool perks. Google rolled out a bunch of updates in November, but the most interesting of them is a new feature that can actually report — in real time — how busy a place is. Planning a date night at your significant other’s favorite restaurant? Trying to beat the annoying holiday shoppers? Looking to see where the noise is on a Saturday night? No problem. The new feature can be viewed both on basic searches and on maps, and compiles information using user data reports.
Panasonic Invented a Real-Time Language Translator — Shaped Like a Megaphone
I’d heard periodic updates about this thing for quite a while now, but this month, Panasonic finally released its real-time language translator. In theory, it’s really awesome. Speak into a megaphone, and then have your words translated in real time into English, Chinese, Korean,] and Japanese. It’s going to do a lot to combat the language barriers people face when traveling, as well as foster support for the learning of new things. That’s exciting, to say the least. The only lame thing about it is its gaudy-ass packaging. A megaphone, Panasonic? Really?
Google Released the Home
November was a big month for Google, also finally releasing its highly anticipated Google Home. The wireless Bluetooth speaker is compatible with streaming services like Google Play Music, Spotify, YouTube, etc., and also does all the fun stuff like home automation, and can even connect to multiple speakers wirelessly, giving it multi-room reach. Its show-stealer, however, Google Assistant, makes it leaps and bounds more enticing than some of its competitors **cough**Amazon Echo **cough**. It’s no LingLong DingDong, but it does its job.
Read about how the latest iOS 10 update is reportedly killing battery life on the iPhone and iPad.