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Gadget Freaks Rejoice: CES Highlights Impressive Inventions

Gadget Freaks Rejoice: CES Highlights Impressive Inventions

This Gadget Freak review looks at some gadgets on display during last week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas -- a self-balancing electric skateboard, a sensor family that will keep you on updated and on track, and a protective iPhone battery case with built-in storage. We will also look at a vintage gadget freak that showcases a digital timer for night swimmers.

The Onewheel

The Onewheel, a self-balancing electric skateboard, makes you feel like you are surfing or snowboarding when you ride on a flat surface. Controlling the board is easy, simply lean forward when you want to accelerate and lean back to slow down or stop. Learning how to use the board only takes a couple of minutes and people with experience in boardsports are ready to aggressively ride almost as soon as they jump on the board. The reason this board is so easy use is because of the self-balancing technology. Solid-state MEMS and algorithms balance the board around the wheel. The board uses a 500W brushless hub motor and the wheel is the only moving part -- so there are no gears, belts, or chains to maintain.

The Onewheel can go up to 12 mpg and on a single charge and can ride for four to six miles (depending on speed and terrain). Recharging the 48V lithium iron phosphate battery is quick with the ultra charger, only 20 minutes. With a standard charger it will take about an hour.

The Onewheel has currently met its goal on Kickstarter and the first backers will get a board from their production run in September.

Some of own Gadget Freaks from Colorado State University have previously built a motorized mountain board that has a handheld speed control. The team was able to get the board up to speed of 13 miles per hour.

Mother

Mother can keep track of your daily activity and movement, and reports back to you with updates and reminders. Some of the first apps for Mother to monitor include physical activities like walking, monitoring your medication schedule, and keeping track of how much water or espresso you drink. Other apps are mainly directed at your home. You can get set Mother up to send you a notification when unusual activity is detected, alerts to tell you who is in the home, and when there is nobody home it can adjust the thermostat.

Mother works with Motion Cookies, which are a family of small sensors that can be attached to most objects to detect and understand movements of objects and people. The Motion Cookies can be moved and reassigned to different tasks.

Once you decide what task you want Mother to do, you can put a Motion Cookie on it to monitor the activity and receive notifications/alerts when needed. Notifications can be sent through push notifications to your smartphone, texts, and email, or lights and sounds can alert you on Mother.

Installation is easy -- all you have to do is connect Mother to your Internet router and an outlet and you are ready to go.

You can pre-order one Mother and a pack of four motion cookies for $222 and they will be sent out in Spring of 2014.

Some of our own Gadget Freaks have built indicators to make their lives easier. One built this indicator to alert them when the dishwasher is clean or dirty, and another gadget helps remember specific events and when to take out the trash.

Space Pack

Mophie's space pack not only serves as extra battery life, but it also increases the storage to your iPhone 5/5s. This protective battery case with built-in storage increases your iPhone battery by 100 percent and gives you up to 32GB of extra memory.

There is also a Space app that allows you to organize, share, and access the content on the space pack's storage. Once items are stored, you can access all the files without any network data usage. Another perk is that a USB cable is included so you can charge and sync your iPhone and space pack at the same time.

You can pre-order the space pack for $149.95, beginning in March.

Vintage Gadget Freak: Digital Timer for Night Swimmers

Doug Conner trains with his triathlete group in an outdoor pool. His start time is 6 a.m., and during half of the year, it's still dark out then, so he can't see the analog clock. To fix this, Doug created a waterproof timer he can place at the edge of the pool.

The nighttime swim timer uses a battery-powered microcontroller with a crystal time base that drives a four-digit, seven-segment LED. The microcontroller takes care of all aspects of timing and display, including driving the LEDs. The half-inch digits make the display easy to read from 10 feet away.

Do you have a Gadget Freak project you would like the world to see? Send a brief description of your gadget and a photo to Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Muskett.

The editors of Design News have handpicked your favorite Gadget Freak cases from over the years, bringing them together in a dynamic digital edition, complete with videos, which you can view here.

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