Giz Gadgets: Putting Familiar Tech In New Places

Each new week brings with it an abundance of new gadgets — whether devised by tech giants like Google and Samsung or pushed by hopeful entrepreneurs to Kickstarter, they run the gamut from useful to niche to tech that nobody really needs. This week we're looking at new uses of existing technology that can make some super smart gadgets.


Tap And Pay To Pat A Dog (And Donate To Charity)

How many times have you wanted to donate to a charity worker, but just haven’t had any change on you? Seeing Eye Dogs Australia, a division of Vision Australia, wants to solve this problem with a unique program.

Ambassador Seeing Eye dogs have undergone training but been deemed unsuitable for use as a regular Seeing Eye Dog. Now, with the addition of jackets fitted with Tap and Pay devices from NAB, they’re now "Donation Dogs" — canine collectors which can work the room soliciting vital funds for the dog training program.

The Donation Dogs initiative was the brainchild of Vision Australia sponsorship manager Renee Jess, who was inspired by a proposal to add Tap and Pay facilities to the life-sized Seeing Eye Dog collection boxes located in airports and shopping centres.

NAB and Quest Payment Systems worked with Seeing Eye Dogs to source and fit the devices to the dogs' custom-made Seeing Eye Dog jackets. Royal Canin, one of SEDA's major partners, funded the introduction of the first Donation Dogs. Each payment device is linked to a mobile phone carried by the dog's handler, who can enter a donation amount and email or SMS a receipt on the spot.

"So now we've got dogs which can go out to various events, people can nominate the amount they want to donate and they can Paywave, make a donation and pat the dog at the same time," Jess says.


The Lazertouch Mini Projector Transforms Any Surface Into A Touchscreen

Interactive projections and holograms are a mainstay of sci-fi stories, but the technology to make it happen actually exists already. Is it something that we need? That much still has yet to be seen.

The Lazertouch is a mini projector capable of projecting a touchscreen depicting an Android tablet onto any surface. As a tablet, however, you're probably better to use an actual tablet. It's not really any smaller than most tablets, and it's definitely chunkier. You also have to contend with your hand blocking out any part of the screen projection it hovers over.

It does have another more interesting use, however, which is to project a large screen up to 150 inches on the wall, essentially turning any wall into a smart whiteboard. You can use touchscreen capabilities with a finger, or use a special pen to make notes over the screen. Others can also connect to the screen on their own devices, and leave their own notations.

Is that enough to justify the ~$US500 price tag that it's currently selling for on IndieGogo? Well, that probably depends on how often you need a touchscreen to make presentations on.


You Can Now Buy A Caffeine Vape In Australia

Is a shot of coffee too boring? Is there too much liquid in a can of Coke? Well, have we got the unnecessarily complex disposable battery-powered gadget for you: the Eagle Energy caffeine vaporiser, which started life as an Indiegogo campaign but that you can now buy in petrol stations and supermarkets around Australia.

Inside each Eagle Energy vape is a tiny cartridge of liquid caffeine — 3ml of liquid, 0.08 per cent caffeine per millilitre — that's atomised just like the liquid nicotine juice in a regular e-cigarette, and delivered direct to your bloodstream through your lungs. A 14500-sized battery cell (the same size as a AA) with a 800mAh capacity is good for 500 puffs of "no sugar, zero calorie, 100 per cent nicotine free" energy. That's 25 to 50 cups of coffee by our measure, which makes the Eagle Energy vape good value if you're looking for a quick caffeine hit.

If you do just want that caffeine buzz, hitting an Eagle Energy vape does give you one without the added bloat of the milk in a latte or the 39 grams of sugar in a can of Coke. It's like Soylent for caffeine. Each individual inhaler isn't rechargeable, though — you're just meant to throw it away once it has run out, which won't exactly do wonders for the problem of batteries in landfill.


Rachio's Smart Sprinkler Can Save Time And Water

It seems every household appliance has a smart, connected version — and now the humble garden sprinkler has one as well. It may sound silly to begin with, but when you think about it this is one gadget that benefits from being connected.

Out of town for a weekend and need to defend your garden from scorching heat? Turn your smart sprinkler on remotely. Has it rained all week to the point where your sprinkler's regular routine would just be wasting water? Not to worry, Rachio automatically connects with your local forecasts to save water when it isn't needed. Rachio even claims to adjust its watering schedule based on the types of plants that you have in your garden.

Rachio can also sync with smart home systems like the Amazon Echo and Nest (in the US) and even if you don't have any of these, you can still run it pretty well through your smartphone or tablet.


This Modified Nintendo Power Glove Will Make You The Lord Of Drones

Nintendo’s Power Glove is a favourite among hackers looking for new uses for the decades-old peripheral. This latest project puts humanity in dominion over our quadcopter subordinates.

Hackaday spotted this ingenious tinkerer during Maker Faire in late May. The glove itself has been completely gutted and filled with modern components, including flex sensors on each finger. Simple hand gestures, like pointing up/down or turning your wrist, send directional commands to the drone, effectively turning this ’90s child plaything into a drone-controlling gauntlet.


Too Sick For Work? 3D Print Yourself A Body Double

If you're feeling a little bit sniffly and you don't want to go into the office — don't worry, we've all been there — the time-honoured tradition is to put on your best sick-person voice and make a gurgly phone call to your boss. If that all sounds a little bit too low-tech for your 21st century job, how about 3D printing an entire human doppelganger?

Thanks to a partnership with Keech 3D in Bendigo, Groupon in Australia has built a $59,000 man flu body double as part of the company's Winter Warmers catalogue. It requires a 30-minute 3D body scan to create, but it'll definitely — obviously — pay for itself with just a couple of sickies. 3D MAN, as he's called, takes four weeks to build and ship to your doorstep, but after that you'll have him handy whenever you need to take a sick day or if you want to sneak out to a festival or go to the footy. Seriously though, this thing looks scary as hell. Here's hoping you can at least pose with a smile if you have the $59,000 to throw away on one.

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