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     Volume 6 Issue 29 | July 27, 2007 |

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Botanicalls Let Your Plants Call When Thirsty
Instead of having to remember to water your plants every day, how about installing a gadget that allows them to call you when they need water? Botanicalls does just that, with a soil-moisture sensor that detects whether a plan needs water. It then calls you (on the phone that's connected to the plant) with the results whenever you want. In version two, which they're working on now, the device will add a light sensor, a display, ambient sensor, and ability to update websites and emails and call any phone, not just the one that's connected. Definitely neat if you're the type of person who enjoys plant watering, but doesn't quite remember to do it often enough.

'Die Electric' Uses Power Outlets for Its Own Devices
After the upcoming apocalypse when there's no more electric power, what will you do with all those powerless outlets distributed all over your house? Scott Amron, a conceptual consultant and electrical engineer, has an answer with his "Die Electric" experiment, plugging in useful objects such as toothbrush holders, flowerpots and fire extinguishers, all of whose electrical flow is dielectric, that is, not conducting any electrical current and neutralised for your personal safety and amusement.

The Tennis Ball Bench
Dutch designer Tejo Remy must have decided to give up tennis and sit around all day instead, so he took all the tennis balls he could find and turned them into these benches, selling the idea to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. Come to think of it, tennis balls are fuzzy and cushy, so if you mount them to a steel frame like Tejo did here, these might just turn out to be comfy seats. Don't try this with baseballs.

The Humanoid Robot
Japan's toy giant Tomy Chie Yamada displays the world's smallest humanoid robot "i-Sobot", 165mm in height, weighing 350g and equipped with 17 micro actuators and a gyro-sensor to perform dancing. The i-Sobot, powered by Sanyo's rechargeable Ni-NH battery "eneloop", will go on sale on 25 October of this year.

The World's First Bug-Bot Flight
Those Harvard boys are at it again, this time creating the world's first robotic fly that actually took flight for the first time. This sophisticated machine is made of tiny laser-cut pieces of carbon fibre, parts so small they're nearly invisible and molded to outlandishly tight tolerances of within 2 micrometres. There have been other attempts at building robotic insects, but this tiny bot-bug is the size of a horsefly with a wingspan of just over an inch, and uses the same flight technique as those everyday, filthy varmints flying around your garbage can.
Its first flight reminds us a bit of the Wright Brothers' first flight, but it was even more primitive because it's not capable of being controlled yet. It just takes off on a two-wired tether that keeps it straight and level and moving in an upward trajectory. But hey, it's still flying.

Security Ring Keeps Nosy Co-Workers at Bay
Instead of always having to remember to lock your desktop when you go for a whiz at work, this Security Ring by designer Yang Hai takes care of all of that for you. You put the ring on one of your fingers, and when it gets a certain distance away from the base station (which is connected to your computer), all your programmes get locked. We've set up our machines to do the same thing with Bluetooth cellphones, but a ring is much easier to remember. This may only be a design but who knows, it may soon become a reality.

Compiled by IMRAN H. KHAN

Source: AFP, WIRED and Gizmodo Online

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