Archive | July 2014

The Cloud smart lamp brings a thunderstorm to your house for $3360

Designer Richard Clarkson has created a different kind of cloud-based music. The aptly named Cloud is an interactive light and speaker that’s shaped like an angry little stormcloud. The idea is that you suspend it from the ceiling and it plays tunes and simulates a real thunderstorm inside your house. It’s neat, but this isn’t just a speaker — it’s art. How can you tell? It has a very art-like price tag of $3360.
The Cloud Smart is the version you want if money is no object. It contains a Philips LED bulb for long life and properly tuned lighting effects. The speaker system is completely hidden inside, but can be played to with any Bluetooth device. There’s a remote control that activates the Cloud and can put it in simulated storm mode when you’re not playing music. Cloud uses motion sensors in this mode to generate lightning and thunder dictated by movement. It really seems like the Cloud could benefit from a built-in Tesla coil.

For what is essentially a very fancy lamp, it does a pretty good impersonation of a storm cloud. The lightning effects light up the interior of the lamp realistically and will flash in-time with the music when it’s playing. To make the illusion more complete, there are small “satellite” add-ons for the Cloud (a mere $240 each). These small tufts of cloud-looking material aren’t speakers, but models of clouds that help fill out the virtual cloudscape.
If all you want is the look of a thunderstorm in your house, there’s a less expensive lamp-only version of the Cloud for $960. That’s still a lot of cash for replicating the sky on your ceiling. I suppose you could go outside and look up, but what are you, a caveman? It’s all for sale on Clarkson’s site.


Moto 360 Hands-On: This Is the Smartwatch To Beat

The smartwatch everyone has been waiting for didn’t have much of a presence at Google I/O this week. It made a few quick cameo appearances on some executive wrists. But aside from that, the wearable didn’t get much airtime on Wednesday—and it’s probably because the device isn’t quite ready for consumer release. We’ll soon be able to get our hands-on the G Watch and Gear Live, but unfortunately the Moto 360’s release is a little more nebulous. “Coming this summer,” is what Google said.

Thankfully we were able to track down a unit at I/O and get some hands-on time with the more traditional timepiece. As expected, this is the smartwatch to look out for this year. Obviously the 360 is taking a more classic approach in terms of design. Compared to the squared off watch faces we’ve seen over the past few years, the 360 features a rounded face that looks absolutely incredible; the screen almost doesn’t look real. It’s such a strange thing to see a watch as beautiful as this sport a digital screen.

We’re happy to report that the Moto 360 doesn’t feel nearly as big as it looks, which is great for anyone with any lingering concerns. It definitely is big, but not so big where it engulfs your wrist. The Moto 360 is light as well, and very comfortable, adding to the illusion that it’s smaller than it actually is. But the device’s design is only half of the story, because the Moto 360 works tremendously well, too. We’re now more excited than we’ve ever been to jump headfirst into the imminent Android Wear future.

The bad part is we still don’t know exactly when we’ll be able to purchase a Moto 360, which is a darn shame because it looks to be the pick of Google’s Android Wear litter. The design is excellent, the screen is beautiful and responsive, and the underlying software seems to tie everything together perfectly. As excited as we are for the G watch and Gear Live, the Moto 360 is definitely the wearable to watch out for this year.

As soon as we know a price and date we’ll be sure to let you know. For now, check out our brief hands-on, and stay tuned for more Google I/O coverage.

Google Shutting Down ORKUT

Google Shutting Down ORKUT

You may not remember it, but Google actually helped spark the social media phenomenon ten years ago with Orkut. Today the company announced that the service will shut down completely on September 30. It’s not a huge surprise, especially since the site hasn’t received much attention from Google in the past few years while other services like Google+ and YouTube continue to improve and grow.

After launching back in 2004, Orkut never really caught on here in the U.S., but it managed to find a following in other parts of the world. The service was particularly popular in Brazil and India, where it held on as the most popular social network until Facebook came along. Google stopped updating Orkut around 2012, and the site’s official blog hadn’t been updated for almost two years until today’s announcement.

Google is using the opportunity to boost usage for its more recent social network. Orkut users can transfer their profiles, photos and community posts to Google+ anytime between now and September 2016 using Google Takeout, but the service shuts its doors this September. The company is also preserving an Orkut archive, which should launch as soon as the service goes down.

It is always sad to see a Google service bite the dust, and the Orkut closure is no different. If you want to get nostalgic you can still use Orkut for a few more months, though unfortunately Google has already shut down its sign-up page for new accounts.