Audio recorders used to be highly valued by many people. The older portable ones were used by journalists but as time passed by, they slowly switched to digital versions.
As people adapt to the times, audio technology also needs to improve. Sometimes, the demands and requirements in the world of media and the audience, are just too much. The Hover audio recorder concept tries to solve such problems as a modern redesign of an old device that is rapidly being replaced by smartphones and other digital devices.
There are creatives who still depend on audio records but it can be a challenge to find the right one tool. Audio recorders are now being used not just by journalists but almost anyone who likes to capture every moment and share their thoughts and experiences with the world.
Those who are into podcasts or vlogging are the main target of the Hover. It’s not just another sound recorder. It’s one that offers computational audio. Simply put, the device combines computer science with digital audio analysis. There’s a system inside that processes audio to come out better for any audience so you don’t have to do a lot of editing.
Computational audio mainly does the editing for you with its many features. It can automatically remove background noise. It can apply auto EQ, auto compressor, and auto limiter already. The Hover can also produce RAW audio files if you don’t want the enhanced version of your file. The Hover may enhance parts of the audio not to your liking but you can always go back to the original record. Good old stereo recording can also be captured.
Designer Sam Beaney is known for “Design with Care”. Surely, the Hover cares about the user. You don’t have to worry about not pressing the record button or committing a mistake like accidentally recording you’re not supposed to be recording. The design of the Hover includes a slide button with a red LED that glows when in use. This way, you can easily see if you’re recording or not.
Like many devices today, you can expand the Hover’s system. You can add more useful extensions like higher-quality mics for almost perfect audio. The small but terrible audio recorder is future-proof and powerful. It uses mobile ARM chips and already comes with ultra-fast onboard storage. If 128GB is not enough, go for the 500GB model.
And when not in use, you can use the Hover as a smart assistant. It works with the Google Home voice assistant so it can do many mundane tasks for you like play your favorite song, set an alarm, turn on/off the lights, or remind you of the next item in your calendar or schedule.
What better way to show how smart assistants are the future than with a futuristic speaker that seems to defy the laws of gravity.
When Amazon came out with the first-ever smart speaker housing a smart assistant, there was a bit of bewilderment over its place in our modern life. Half a decade later, it almost seems inconceivable to have a modern home that doesn’t have either some smart speaker or at least a way to get in touch with Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and everything in between. While these smart assistants have evolved in the past years, the design of speakers hasn’t seen many notable changes in terms of design. One concept, however, breaks out of the mold and aims to make the smart assistant truly look futuristic while still setting a foot down on familiar and comforting materials.
That’s not to say that smart speakers are ugly, especially since many of them are intentionally designed to be more aesthetic than most speakers. The shapes for these speakers, however, seem to be limited to a few basic forms like cylinders or rectangles. There are some exceptions, like the BeoSound Emerge, but this beautiful book-like audio product is more the exception than the norm.
You don’t have to go overboard to envision a more interesting take on smart speakers. Floating speakers aren’t exactly new by now, though they are pretty much novelty items. Designer Alex Casabò, however, took that idea and put a familiar smart speaker design convention, creating something that is both mystifying but strangely also calming.
Unlike most floating speakers, the sphere that hovers above its metallic base is covered with what looks like a coarse material that gives the impression that it’s made of granite or something similar. In addition to evoking a sense of wonder over something heavy that floats in the air, the somewhat organic and rough texture creates a satisfying visual contrast to the smooth and lustrous box beneath. It also calls to mind the familiar design of some smart speakers, particularly those that use fabric to blend in with some room decorations.
The concept also has room for visual feedback, not just in the form of icons but also text. This reinforces the image of something that is so futuristic it almost looks like magic, creating a beautiful contrast in themes. With an organic sphere floating on top of a metallic block and a design that’s novel yet also familiar, the levitating smart assistant concept is almost like a product of contrasting elements that have been harmoniously mixed to enchanting effect.
Nowadays our homes are brimming with smart technology. Smart refrigerators keep our kitchens in order, smart televisions let us watch literally anything we’d like, and smart assistants handle the mood lighting. A future home filled only with iterations of Amazon Alexa and identical apple home products feels eerily within reach. Holding tight onto his souvenir mugs and granny’s kitchenware, designer Sam Beaney created Kano Sense, a universal smart home device that uses computer vision to convert everyday objects into smart home outputs.
A gleaming one-way mirror lens and soft wooden frame give Kano Sense a heavy and familiar look. Kano Sense takes the shape of common smart capsules similar to earlier generations of the Amazon Alexa and Echo and contains embedded smart computer vision that analyzes everyday appliances like ovens and even ceramic mugs to turn interactions with them into smart outputs.
Kano Sense ditches voice command for behavior-based technology. For example, after analyzing our interactions with a ceramic mug, Kano Sense will respond to our holding the mug by turning on the tea kettle. Similarly, a baking tray placed on top of the counter will tell Kano Sense to preheat the oven.
In creating Kano Sense, Beaney hoped to develop a form of smart technology that incorporated our keepsake home items, bridging next-level smart technology with our analog world. This meant that Beaney had to give Kano Sense a familiar feel and overall look. Kano Sense’s outermost body is carved from wood and its intricate computer hardware core is coated with a one-way mirror lens to reflect your home environment and simplify setup.
Complete with an accompanying app, Kano Sense scans new home items and appliances by your choice and command. In the app, users can tell Kano to scan only certain objects within the capsule’s vision using software similar to that of facial recognition. Don’t worry, not everything you touch will turn on the lights or the oven.
Sam Beaney went through multiple iterations of Kano Sense before settling on its final form. Embedded computer vision allows Kano Sense to scan certain home items within its vision to turn them into smart home outputs.
Kano Sense’s approachable look allows it to blend in with the rest of your home.
Beaney envisions multiple looks for Kano Sense, using different types of timber to fit into varied interior spaces.
Using a 4-axis CNC milling technique, Kano Sense’s wooden frame is produced.
Beneath Kano Sense’s one-way mirror lens, embedded computer vision technology allows the smart device to scan home items.
A personal assistant is one gadget that has the potential to change life on an everyday scale. Right from giving you the information you asked for, playing music when you’re feeling blue, turning on the lights to a specific hue in your living room, or doing some 50 random tasks you have in a day! Meet Miko, the portable smart assistant that does more than its intended function. Created by industrial designer Vandana Bhanushali, the smart device doubles as a microphone for content creation!
Miko has cardioid microphones to pick up the voice in real-time and amplifies the sound. This means we can use the cheeky little gadget for anything from small rallies, office meetings, live performances to even karaoke nights with buddies. Don’t mistake Miko for any ordinary mic, as it can address a room filled with 60 people in crystal clear vocals or audio. Even better, the gadget can be used in one of the two modes – either as a handheld mic or as a detachable lavalier clip mic. There’s a pin on the base mic that keeps it charged, and this base mic is further amped via the main dock. So as soon as we pick up the mic from the dock, it sets into action the voice amplification. This function makes the little gadget perfect for podcast creators or video content makers. Plus, the attractive design is well thought out to appeal to the next-gen crowd.
When you don’t require the mic or amplification, the cute little speaker turns to the task of being a smart assistant. For sure, this gadget is something unique amongst the very predictable products out there. However, Miko has the potential to get past the concept stage, and content creators will already be eying this gadget with keenness.
Bixby has become a household name by now. Practically every home features a virtual assistant or smart device that takes care of things like dimming the lights or searching recipes for dinner. All it takes is the calling of its name for smart devices to jingle awake and assume their position for service. Inspired by features from Samsung’s virtual assistant Bixby, Osay Imarhiagbe has designed Samsung Smart Prism, a smart home accessory that combines a projector with a smart speaker.
The Samsung Smart Prism is coated in a refined matte black finish and maintains a discreet cubic shape that could fit inconspicuously on any tabletop. Compatible with Samsung Galaxy devices, the Smart Prism as designed by Imarhiagbe brings the device’s integrated information like images, audio, text beyond the physical limits of a standard smart home device. By combining a smart home speaker with an ultra-short-throw projector, the Smart Prism is capable of announcing requested information and projecting images like recipes in a queue and perhaps even previously downloaded films. Whenever the Smart Prism has a message to deliver to its user, the projector can launch it onto the wall so even if the audio message gets lost, a physical reminder remains.
While the Smart Prism was designed exclusively with Samsung Galaxy users in mind, the merging of an ultra-short-throw projector with all the perks of a standard virtual assistant is sure to give way to future developments in the smart home devices industry. Designed for portability, the Smart Prism has a compact build and integrated battery perfect for movie nights away from home or for bringing the projector from the living room to the kitchen for dinner with friends or family.
When it comes to robots, there is a sense of wonder and fear that enters our minds. Given the job losses happening in the world and the speed at which technology is evolving, the only way we can progress is if we embrace technology and its advancement and make them our sidekicks! The designs showcased here today are great examples of the advancement in robotic technology and how they play pivotal roles in our lives – from being a faithful pet to you to repairing your luxury cars, these are assistant’s designed to improve your life!
Meet the Bittle by Rongzhong Li, and if it looks vaguely familiar, it’s because it most certainly is. Modeled on the design of the popular Boston Dynamics robot dog, Spot, the Bittle features a similar design + color scheme, and crushes the notion that an old dog can’t learn new tricks because Bittle runs entirely on Arduino, and can be quite literally programmed to do all sorts of things! You can either look at Bittle as a STEM project for your child, or a really interesting toy for adults to play and tinker with. The robot comes with a plastic body that doesn’t take long to assemble and features a modular body, which means you can either build the Bittle without a head or tail (sort of like Boston Dynamics’ Spot) or add them on for good measure and make your toy look more playful and less creepy.
Carlo Ratti’s Scribit is a small printer with big ambitions and the ability to take on the biggest canvases possible. Scribit is a robot that allows users to draw on walls, whiteboards, pieces of glass, or plastered drywall. Suspending itself from the uppermost corners, the Scribit can pretty accurately track coordinates (like a delta 3D printer, but without the Z-axis) and create artworks on massive walls using the CMYK markers within its design. Using whiteboard markers to create complex artworks, the artworks can also be erased and replaced with new ones from time to time, allowing massive walls to turn into dynamic canvases for art, information, or advertisement.
Mohamed Halawany’s Microsoft Azure Robot design was recently recognized by Behance for its intricate render and friendly, futuristic personality. Depending on what each situation needs, Azure, will compute real-time in the robot in order to deliver help with speed and without any latency. Azure is run by Artificial Intelligence that provides users with a customizable space to work, save, share, and connect through multi-functional, serverless software. Halawany’s robot renders for Microsoft Middle East, mimics the physical disposition of a human being, but operates through AI on a serverless, scalable platform. The main screen on Halawany’s rendering of a robot is the classic homepage for Microsoft users: a grid, lined with applications and software analytics, that organizes all a user might need in order to put the functions of an autonomous robot to use.
Dog bots will probably be a hybrid of a smart pet and a household assistant, I imagine features like security cameras for the eyes while still being sweet enough to bring you your newspaper and waking you up in the morning. Samsung’s dog bot concept by Gaetano De Cicco may have the benefit of being low maintenance, they won’t require mandatory walks on days when you’re sick or make you panic if you forget leaving their food out during emergencies. And as you can guess, they definitely won’t be troublesome during bath time. So for the future, it actually sounds like a practical option because AI will be able to mimic a dog’s behavior closely but what about our conditioned behavior towards dogs? This conceptual Samsung dog bot replaces the dog’s features with a screen, so instead of a confused head tilt the face aka screen of the robot will show you a question mark.
An airport in Lyon, France is debuting a robot designed by Stanley Robotics, which will latch onto your car and park it for you as you rush to board your flight. Given that parking your car on a tight schedule can often result in a loss of precious minutes, the Lyon Airport is relying on an army of car-parking bots that gently carry your car to the nearest vacant spot. The parking system is entirely powered by A.I. and requires no human assistance. It also means you save precious minutes instead of circling the parking lot looking for an empty space. Parking your car at the airport is relatively simple. Drive right into the parking bay and input your flight (and return) details into the kiosk beside the parking bay.
The Crafty Robot democratizes this technology and helping everyone have access to the tools to build robots that perform tasks as complex as detect objects and follow them, or as simple and pleasant as deliver your cup of tea to you. The $40 robot comes in three types. An A.I. Bot that you can assemble using the cardboard net provided, and mount your smartphone onto. The A.I. Bot taps into your smartphone’s camera, using it to detect moving objects in its vicinity and follow or chase them around (I imagine this would be great to try on tiny pets). A Teabot (yes that’s literally what it’s called) comes with a tray that can carry anything from cups of tea to glasses of mimosas around your house, using your smartphone as a remote control. A third variant, the Unicorn bot, exists only because unicorns and robots as a combination seem like it’s destined for greatness!
Rolls-Royce has designed tiny robots called SWARM that gets deployed within their jet engines to run reconnaissance and inspections. A part of RR’s IntelligentEngine program, the SWARM gets deployed into intricate parts of the engine, giving engineers real-time feedback on performance, wear-tear, etc. The visual data collected by these tiny robots would be used “alongside the millions of data points already generated by today’s engines as part of their Engine Health Monitoring systems.” They’ll work alongside snake-shaped INSPECT robots, providing inspection services, while remote boreblending robots will take on maintenance activities.
The Stanford Pupper Quadriped Robot requires a fair bit of technical expertise, though, and can take anywhere from 4-10 hours to build. The cost of building the robot depends partly on whether you have a few key elements. If you’ve got a Raspberry Pi 4 and a PS4 controller handy, things should be a breeze (resources and code can be found on links available on the Stanford Student Robotics website). You’ll also need a few elements for the frame, like a carbon fiber plate and a few 3D printed PLA parts, although the guys at Stanford make it easy by letting you buy the pre-fab parts from a website.
Every so often a product pops up that we can’t quite believe exists… and the incredible Hexbot is one of them! Hexbot is an all-in-one robot arm that is fit for anyone’s desktop. This interchangeable device can assist makers and designers in bringing their creations to life… and with insane precision! The modules satisfyingly clip onto the end of the arm, each offering a unique and usable function; from laser engraving, which allows for the creations of mesmerizing pieces of art or personalized gifts, right through to 3D printing, allowing your creations to come to life!
As far as robotics and 3D animation are concerned, the eyes are an extremely complex part only because they’re so expressive, that it’s a challenge to make them look believable, but the SEER (Simulative Emotional Expression Robot) seems to have cracked the surface of the problem. The humanoid robot Sophia may look like a human, but the minute she begins looking around or talking, you immediately notice that something’s off. Sophia’s eyes and eyebrows don’t move as naturally as ours do, but the SEER robot’s eyes are so damn expressive, you tend to forget you’re looking at mechanics and you instantly tend to lower your guard around it. SEER’s eyes look human, and more importantly, feel innocent, and real.
Nadeem Hussain, a United Kingdom-based designer, recently rendered a smart assistant robot that was inspired by BB-8 from Star Wars for Render Weekly’s Instagram showcase. Sometimes the most eye-catching designs find their inspiration from well-known film and television characters. If the designer channels their inspiration well, then the final product won’t be a spitting image of that character, but a gentle reminder of how art forms are inherently interconnected.
When design feels inspired by something as iconic as Star Wars, the tricky part doesn’t have to do with imitating the franchise’s original creativity, but with evoking a feeling of familiarity. Hussain’s render of a new smart assistant is as charming and functional as Star Wars’ BB-8 robot but resembles a futuristic robot that might reside elsewhere in the intergalactic universe. BB-8 is described as an “astromech,” or repair droid with humanlike qualities such as general skittishness, a fight or flight response system, and an overall softly charismatic disposition. The same can be said for Hussain’s interpretation of the household smart assistant. In today’s world, where technology is depended on for repair work just like the astromech is in the Star Wars universe, it’s vital to bridge cutting-edge innovation with familiar, natural design attributes, and this vision of a home smart assistant does just that. Thin, gray fabric lines half of this two-bulb miniature robot in order to indicate the product’s speaker features, and a true-tone, computer display fills out the smart assistant’s touch screen face. The smart assistant’s bigger globular base slides across surfaces with so much ease that it imitates a hovering orb, the likes of which we’ve been acquainted with time and time again on the silver screen.
As our world quickly develops into a technological hub of digitized timelines and self-driven cars, it seems that references from film and television connect us more than we might know. Smart assistants are becoming more and more popular in today’s households since there’s still room for both software and hardware developments. It’s comforting to know that creatives behind such iconic stories like Star Wars have imagined this future long before. Nadeem Hussain’s rendition of a smart assistant proves adherence to today’s technology and a familiar acknowledgment of generation-defining franchises, which is exactly what makes such artful displays of passion so eye-catching.
The Seattle-based e-tailer has added a new member to its line of smart assistants. Echo Look, as the new product is called, combines information delivered by Alexa with custom recommendations on what to wear.
Before going out, you might want to ask Alexa about what the weather will be like. You might even tell her to turn the light on, to see yourself better in the mirror as you try out various outfits. But what if Alexa would be able to “see” what you’re wearing and suggest changes for a more fashionable outcome? Echo Look’s hands-free camera can help you do just that!
The gadget is advertised as a hands-free camera and style assistant, but it packs so much more.
Echo Look is quite different from its other family members, sporting a mostly white body and a black interface. Besides the speaker and microphone array that are also seen in the traditional Echo, the Look also includes a button that switches off the camera and the microphone, a hands-free camera that can take 5 MP head-to-toe photos of you, as well as a standard tripod socket.
There’s a wall mount included in the kit, and that’s where the tripod socket might come in handy. As for the resolution, Echo Look is a bit ahead of the Nest Cam, which only sports a 3-megapixel sensor. Being a security camera, the Nest Cam is also capable of recording footage in the dark. Echo Look serves somewhat of a different purpose, and as such, doesn’t need night-vision.
The hardware is by no means extraordinary, so the main difference in price is determined by Echo Look’s software.
Since the main player here is the hands-free camera, it’s rather intuitive that it can work using voice commands addressed to Alexa. The companion app that Amazon developed for the Echo Look is able to analyze your style
Whether the Echo Look will be as popular as the original Echo or will go the way of Amazon’s Fire phone remains to be seen. So far, people’s reactions are mixed, as some look at the device as something that will become indispensable, while others point out ironically that a camera and a mic that are always on are exactly what they wanted in their homes. A verdict can only be given after Amazon releases the device to the masses, which is something nobody knows when and if it’s going to happen.
Will Echo Look blow everyone’s minds with its accurate recommendations, or will it refuse to open the pod bay doors? It remains to be seen.
See What Matters with Echo Look’s Computer Vision-Based Background Blur
Is your room a bit of a mess, but could still use some advice from Alexa? Echo Look employs computer vision-based background blur so that only you are clearly visible, front and center.
To shoot photos or record videos of your outfit, you only need to say “Alexa, take a picture” or “Alexa, take a video.”
Compare Different Outfits with Style Check
Echo Look doesn’t only assist you with recommendations and recordings of your various outfits. It can also help you compare them.
Style Check, as this feature is called, relies on advanced machine learning algorithms and advice from fashion specialists to determine which outfit suits you best. The parameters taken into account include fit, color, styling, and current trends. In other words, a comparison can be made even if you only change your shoes. Your feedback, along with continuous input from fashion experts will help Style Check to become better and better over time.
Price and Purchasing Options
At the moment, Amazon’s Echo Look is available exclusively by invitation and costs $199. The product page features a “Request Invitation” button. Upon pressing it, you’re told that confirmation will arrive via email if selected.
This model was also used on the full-fledged Amazon Echo, the mini Echo Dot, and the battery-powered Amazon Tap. However, only for the first two, there was an overwhelming demand. If Echo Look is received positively by the first lucky buyers, there’s no doubt that the e-tailer will make purchasing possible for the public.