Archive for the ‘OutDoors’ Category

Dots Gloves – A Review

January 3rd, 2010 No comments


In case folks around here hadn’t noticed, it’s gotten rather cold of late.  And one of the difficult things about being cold is that using electronics in the cold is just a rotten experience.  In tech’s never ending quest for miniaturization, designers seem to forget that there may be impediments between your tech and your hands that prevent proper usage.  I speak, of course, of the glove, bane of gadgetlovers everywhere there is snow and ice and freezing rain.  This problem is a lot worse with devices that use capacitative screens, such as the iPhone/iTouch.  Those devices rely on the electrical resistance provided by skin to do their thing.  In the case of the iPhone, you can’t even make an emergency call without touching the screen.  DOTS gloves were designed to address this issue.

The company itself is a couple years old.  I remember reading about them last year but by the time I’d gotten around to ordering them, they were out of stock.  They also only had one model last year if I remember correctly; this year they have three.  And this year, I went and ordered my pair early before winter really started so that I could be assured of having a set.

The DOTS gloves work by providing a small patch of thermally conductive fabric on two fingers plus the thumb portions of the gloves.


(Please excuse the crud on the gloves – the large animal in the background enjoys gloves for breakfast and dinner, and it’s a constant battle to ensure the gloves survive their daily use.)  If you look closely, you can see the two dots on the tips of the first and second fingers of the glove.  A similar dot adorns the thumb.

The conductive patch allows the gloves to pass electrical resistance from your skin to your device while keeping your hands warm and comfortable.  They come in three sizes – small, medium, and large.  My advice is to err on the smaller side.

I purchased the D200 model, which is their warmest one.  I originally ordered the medium and then ended up switching them for the small.  It’s critical to have a tight fit with these gloves, and the medium made me feel like my hands were swimming inside fabric.  Even with the smalls, my hands still have plenty of room, and therein lies the problem.

The gloves themselves do OK at keeping your hands warm.  They aren’t going to be a lot of use in really intense cold but then again, few mass market gloves will, so that’s not a big problem.  I’d rate them at about the same level as a good pair of Isotoners.  But in terms of letting you use your iPhone while gloved, I’d have to rate them as only so-so.  I don’t know if other reviewers had really big hands or if there’s a smaller size I could have gotten that would have fit better but I just couldn’t get the gloves to be tight enough against my skin that the dots would consistently make contact.  And without that contact, it’s like wiping a microfiber cloth against your screen – nothing happens.

I freely admit that I have delicate hands – my piano teacher called them bird hands they were so thin.  But in a way, I represent a subsegment of the potential user base that DOTS is eventually going to have to figure out how to handle, namely women.  I can’t imagine that women would find the size small versions to be a good fit.  I know girls who have hands even smaller than mine, and there’s no way they would be able to use these gloves in the way they were intended.  Even women with big hands could be challenged because in general, women tend to have thinner fingers than men.  Maybe the other DOTS models provide better fit and contact, but in my daily use, I ended more often than not taking the gloves off, working my iPhone, then putting the gloves back on.  I think if they could incorporate some Lycra into the gloves so that the fit were tighter and if they made the dots bigger so that they contacted more skin surface, the gloves would work better across a wider range of people.

I like the concept of these gloves, but now that conductive thread has come out, I’m tempted to get a really close fitting pair of regular gloves and sew a couple of big fat patches onto the fingertips.  Better fit and bigger usable surface.

Video – SixthSense Technology Is The Real iPhone Killer

November 23rd, 2009 No comments
Sithsense Paper Laptop

Sithsense Paper Laptop

I have been following Pranav Mistry’s SixthSense technology since his debut at TED conference in which he had a standing ovation. SixthSense allows for an ultra portable and interactive augmented reality based on genstures. It enables interactions between the real world and digital information.

His latest invention which he displayed at TED will kill any iTablet rumor from Apple or likes. Better yet, it is the introduction of the paper “laptop”. It works by attaching a microphone on the paper to sense the touch. Check out the whole video.

Via Engadget

Self heating boots

October 23rd, 2009 No comments

Living in Texas I probably would never have a use for these, but anyone that lives north of us and has weather that actually provides snow and below freezing weather for longer than five minutes a year will probably appreciate these a whole lot. Just this past January I was reminded just how much suck can be brought to an otherwise awesome snowboarding adventure because your socks are wet and starting to freeze your toes.


As the blogger at Wired already noted, the name for these battery powered self heating boots is just awful. The Bugathermo, ugh! The women’s version, imo, is even worse. The Snow Hottie. But regardless, they look pretty awesome. I personally would prefer the men’s to the women’s just based on style alone (you’d be amazed how often that happens… sometimes I wonder just what exactly designers think women really like).

Made by Columbia Sportswear, the boots are powered by rechargeable lithium polymer batteries that will give you four to eight hours of heat depending on which level you pick. They have insulated soles, are waterproof and breathable so your feet will be both warm AND dry down to -25°F. And for around $250 I’d say it’s an excellent investment.

Via Wired’s Gadget Lab

Categories: OutDoors, Travel Tags: , ,

Glow in the dark bicycle

September 16th, 2009 No comments

I’ve been caught out after dark on my bike with no safety lights more times than I care to admit. Sometimes I just forget to bring them, sometimes I’m out later than anticipated. But if I had a bike that glowed like the new Teague Pulse, well, it might not be such a big deal.


It even has left and right turn signals built into the handlebars.
The bike’s turn signal operates like a motorcycle’s, with a kill switch on the left handle, illuminating LED turn lights on both the handlebar ends, and a taillight mounted on the seat tube.

The only downside, for me at least, is that it’s a fixed gear bike. Can’t ride around South Austin’s hilly terrain with no gears. But if they could put the glowy frame on my Marin Hybrid, well, that would be, like, totally awesome.
So far I haven’t found out how the frame glows, but it does look like, for now anyway, that this is still a concept bike.
If they make it with gears then I’m totally in.

Via Popular Science

August 5th, 2009 No comments

Last week I discovered while researching the floating apartment complex and it has quickly become one of my favorite sites. It indulges in two of the things I am most passionate about: sustainable living and innovative design.
I want to share three of my favorite things that I have so far discovered and that are accessible to the average consumer, not just a mere curiosity or cool concept.

The first are the stackable fridge units. They remind me a bit of my Tetris playing youth.
Lego fridge

There are a number of reasons why these are awesome.
First, you can buy just the space you need. Perfect for college dorms or single people living in efficiencies (Japan, I’m looking at you… mostly).
Second, If you have roommates you can separate your stuff more easily and hopefully avoid the inevitable who-ate-what arguments.
Third, these fridges also conserve energy. Instead of opening one giant fridge and letting all the cold air out, you only open one section, letting a little cold air out at a time.
Finally, each unit can be set to it’s own temperature. So chill your wine in one fridge and keep your fruits and veggies in another fridge that maybe isn’t quite so cold. The back of my current fridge gets so cold that if I’m not paying attention, the 4 eggs in the back of the package will freeze. Ever try scrambling frozen eggs? The texture isn’t quite there, you know?


Next on my list are the cassette tape lamps.
cassette lamps 1
cassette lamps

I wish I had thought of this before I dumped all my cassette tapes (this was years ago before I was conscious enough to try and do something else with them).
These lamps are very cool and would be even cooler with my collection of New Wave and Punk Rock tapes. Sadly those tapes are gone but I can still order one made with someone else’s recycled tapes. But if YOU have any tapes you can send them in and have a lamp made just for you! The light patterns on the walls are particularly gorgeous, especially when there is a stack of them.

living chair
Last but not least are the pieces of living furniture. There are several designs, some for indoor, some for outdoor.

This particular one doesn’t seem super comfy, but it certainly looks cool.

However, my favorite is the lawn chair.
Picture 5
It’s a chair landscaped into your lawn. As soon as I get a lawn, I’m making one of these (or several, probably). I may even make a table to go with it, all overgrown with grass. Then I’ll invite over Alice and the Mad Hatter (aka: Johnny Depp) and we’ll have the trippiest tea party there ever was!


Solar camping!

July 20th, 2009 No comments

How often do you go camping just to find yourself messing with inadequate battery or gas powered lamps? Or the inability to charge your cell phone (I know I know, you camp to get AWAY from people, but sometimes you just need your phone)?
Well I found a few green (or semi-green at least) camping solutions while prowling the internet the other day… all of them having to do with solar powered tents!
First the Woods Solar Powered EZ-Tent:

Picture 1

The tent itself is OK (though materials still consist of PVC which is less than desirable when trying to go green). Essentially there is a solar panel that powers the set of internal integrated LED lights. The solar energy can also be used to charge batteries. It takes 4-6 hours of direct light (or 6-8 hours of indirect) to yield 2-4 hours tent light. The tent comes in 4 and 6 person versions and run $180 to $220 respectively.

Second is the much cooler Recharge Pod built by Orange in the UK and created for last years Glastonbury Music festival.

Picture 2

The tent has 500-watt solar panels and a 500-watt wind turbine to generate electricity so patrons can charge their phones while at the festival. Great idea, but would be cool to make a personal use production model.

Finally, the coolest of the three by far, and the one I’m just salivating to get my hands on even though it is still in concept mode…

Picture 3

Again created by Orange, this time in conjunction with Kaleidoscope, and unveiled at this years Glastonbury Music Festival, this solar tent not only looks comfortable and functional, it has really been taken to the next level. It uses the new flexible photovoltaics that have recently been developed and will be covered in semi-photovoltaic fabric woven with both coated solar threads and conventional threads to form a solar shell that could be adjusted to get the most sun throughout the day. The Solar enegery would be channeled into four main power uses: heating, lighting, communications and recharging.

One of the unique features includes a wireless charging pouch. Instead of plugging in, you would drop your phone or other portable device into a pouch inside the tent. A coil in the pouch would carry an electric current that generates a magnetic field to produce a charge which would then serve to power the device’s battery.

Some of the captured solar energy could also be channeled toward radiant floor heating as well. This is exciting news! I can’t tell you how many times I wake up freezing in the middle of the night while camping, no matter how good my sleeping bag is.

But the most innovative part is the “Glo-cation” technology. When you are trying to find your tent you can send an SMS message or use an RFID tag. Basically press a button and your tent lights up in response, like using your wireless remote to find your car in a parking lot by listening for the horn.

The concept tent also has the ability to broadcast a Wi-Fi signal, though whether or not it acts as a router or just a booster is unclear.
If this ever goes into production (and I hope it will) it will be on my must have list for Burning Man.

via CNET

Mosquito Head Net Drab

July 19th, 2009 No comments

My mom loves to garden. She has a beautiful flower garden in the backyard. One day, however, a bug bit her face and it turned into a serious infection. She thought it would go away but it kept getting bigger and bigger. My dad ended up having to take her to the emergency room. Fortunately, it wasn’t serious and they gave her a topical solution and it cleared after a few days. She asked me to find a head net to prevent bugs from biting her head. I found this on Amazon and it is really worth it. One size fits all.

Mosquito Head Net Olive Drab

Mosquito Head Net Olive Drab

Mosquito Head Net Olive Drab

Categories: Household, Lifestyle, OutDoors Tags: , ,