Because You’re Never Too Old for Toys

Thanks to the Toy Fair 2017, everyone can get back to their childhood and play a little.  And the best part? So many of the toys are easier to navigate than when you were little.

Take Etch-a-Sketch as a great example.  Remember the frustration you encountered trying to draw a circle?  Gone.  The new Etch a Sketch Junior is (obviously) marketed towards kids, but even would-be adult artists will appreciate its new control mechanism. With a physical joystick, the Etch a Sketch Junior gives you full one-to-one control of the cursor, for a drawing experience that’s a little easier to wrap your head around. Whether that’s the best thing even or takes all the fun out of it is up to you to decide. The Etch A Sketch Junior is out this fall for $13.

Then there’s the Boost from Lego.  It looks like regular Lego blocks (because it is) but it also has a basic coding interface which gets kids accustomed to programming.  It comes with blocks which are good for the construction of five different devices (including a robot of course) which each one programmed and installed through an app through which you can drag and drop icons to program your creation for every maneuver and reaction.  It’s not cheap at $170 but the hours of fun might make it worth it.

For Star Wars fans looking for something on the cheaper end, they’ll be happy to hear about the action figures thanks to Hasbro’s 40th anniversary, in conjunction with the new movies.  But all of those characters from Episode IV: A New Hope (Luke, Leia, Han etc.) that you loved as a kid can soon be purchased for a mere $20 apiece in 6 inch form and classic packaging.

Basically there are now a bunch of toys available that you kinda loved when you were a kid, but now you are the parent and in charge of the money dispersion, you can do even better with these toys and enjoy them more as hopefully your brain has developed a bit more too.

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Cool Technology Inventions for 2017

Check out this video for the five hottest gadget items in 2017.

1. Zubits: These magnetic shoe closures facilitates lacing up shoes. Thanks to these magnets, Zubits let kids (and adults!) who hate tying laces still wear the lace-up shoes without the hassle. Take off shoes fast without having to use hands by stepping on the heel to pop out. Re-use them forever as their strength never wanes.
2. The Rocketbook Wave – ditch the pen and paper but still put your notes into the cloud using your smartphone. With Pilot FriXion pens and the Wave notebook, notes can be erased easily. Use a microwave to erase and then start again!
3. The Cableyoyo is an earbud cord spool featuring a magnetic center which keep earphones tidy and tangle-free while enabling quick winding and unwinding. It can also be used with the Apple Lightning cable.
4. The Keydisk is the thinnest, most intelligent key holder facilitating key carrying. Made out of sandblasted and anodized aluminum this extremely lightweight (1.2 oz) device can be carried around in one’s front pocket, eliminating unwanted bulk.
5. The Woofwasher360 makes pet grooming easy and efficient. With the capacity to rinse all sized dogs in less than a minute. Attach to a garden hose, place shampoo on the dispenser, slip the hoop over your dog and the shampoo and water mix instantly to wash your four-legged friend.

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Gadgets Under $50

Check out this video for five new cool gadgets for under $50. These include: a smart mailbox beacon and a game controller for the top gaming app.

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Mini Chemistry Gadgets

While electronics and metal are out, molecules are in…at least when it comes to the latest chemistry gadgets. Mini in size but mega in power, Chemistry Nobel laureates Jean-Pierre Sauvage (Strasbourg University), Bernard Feringa (University of Groningen) and Fraser Stoddart (Northwestern University) received the prize for their “design and synthesis of molecular machines.”

Thanks to the recent development of chemical strategies to build interlocking ring molecules, and the discovery of a way of converting energy into work (the basis for a molecular motor), this miniature (the size of a thousandth of a human hair) has now arrived at the gadget ad gizmo table.

And talking of mini gadgets, students and frequent travelers might be happy to hear about the mini travel steam iron could be just what they need when they have to get their shirts wrinkle-free for their important meeting.

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Lenovo: September Gadget Launches

Lenovo – the Chinese multinational technology company – regularly launches new products. Now, this video shows its latest wares for the September 2016 Launch event held in Berlin…the “must-have gadgets for Christmas and beyond.”

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“The List” of “Must-Have Photo Apps”

Today, people are practically attached by the hip to their social media profiles.  It is no good for one’s profile therefore, to not be up to par.  In this short video, Donna Ruko talks about 4 photo apps that can “take [one’s] social media game to the next level!



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Media Technology Institute

broadcastersAt the end of last month, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association marked the Media Technology Institute’s fifth anniversary.  Between June 20 and June 23, the Radisson Hotel and Convention Center was home to the celebration.  The actual Institute is known for its “practical, instructional courses” that it offers to “prospective, beginning, intermediate, and senior broadcast/media engineers.”

A day before the celebration begun, WBA Engineering Day held sessions on these subjects: dealing with risk management within broadcast enterprise; FAA lighting changes and tower site security; Information Security and Broadcasting’s ambient noise.

WBA will also be offering two scholarships for those who wish to attend the Media Technology Institute

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Travel with a Smart Suitcase this Summer

Going on vacation in the summer? What are the plans for transporting clothing and accessories?  It seems that in a world in which everything is smart, surely luggage should not be relegated to some third world option.

Now it no longer has to be.  Thanks to the Bluesmart Smart Suitcase, one can travel smart as well. Featuring a built-in GPS that can be tracked anywhere around the world, one need not be too worried about lost luggage – an all too-regular occurrence these days with interconnecting flights.

The technology can be controlled by a mobile app and there are no worries about the phone running out of battery power as the smart suitcase also features a built-in power bank that can charge phones up to six times.  As well, the built-in scale ensures the contents of your luggage are not overweight and a digital lock that deters thieves.

Of course, it’s also a great suitcase and has easy access to belongings as well as a section that is perfect for laptops.  For around $399 the Bluesmart case is not a bad price for peace of mind!

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The Ozo Broadcast Camera

camera-1272791_640The Ozo Broadcast Camera – created by ESPN and Foglight Entertainment (founded by Jeff Bowler) – is the “first Virtual Realty device to capture 360° spherical video and 360×360 surround sound.” It has eight microphones which record 360×360 surround sound. Each of the interchangeable digital cartridges it comes with provide 45 minutes of recording time, and then saves all video and audio to one file, eliminating the need for numerous SD cards.

Now, the camera is being used by ESPN. Carson Wentz (former North Dakota State quarterback who is expected to be one of Chicago’s top 2016 NFL picks) will be showcased on TV and throughout social media in ESPNs first ever 360-degree video segment. Talking about this new method, ESPN’s Associate Director of Original Digital Video, Lindsay Rovegno explained:

“We saw 360-degree video as one of the next big opportunities for storytelling. In the past we’ve experimented with 360-video clips, but have yet to use the medium to tell a narrative story. 360-degree video allows us to place the viewer in the environment in which we filmed and experience the story as if they were on-site, in this case in the FargoDome with Carson Wentz.”

In 2001 Jeff Bowler founded Foglight Entertainment where he remained CEO for five years. This bi-coastal film and TV production company “believe[s] in truth, integrity and clarity: clear storytelling, clear communication and clear messaging as we bring bright ideas to life on any screen.” The Ozo Broadcast Camera fits perfectly with this philosophy.



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Parental-Child Bonding with Electronics

computerIn theory we might idealize the notion of our kids playing outside in the dirt, collecting desert tortoises and taking their little brothers to the park until dark, but in practice, the reality is kids these days engage in a lot of screen time. Therefore, the trick is to maximize that time to make it as educational and positive as possible.

With that in mind, Kano – the “computer and coding kit for all” – gives kids the opportunity to put together a computer from the beginning and then learn basic coding skills. Even adults can benefit from this; anyone who is anyone knows how important a skill like coding is, especially in today’s job market.  Plus, it’s a great way for kids to bond with their parents. Featuring a Raspberry Pi, case, cables, Wi-Fi dongle, speaker and wireless cables, kids will love this for its similarity for building Lego pieces and parents will get a kick out of learning such a useful skill for their office together with their offspring.

And then there is an old toy that has been reinvented; the  View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack .  Based on the View-Master that was first commercialized in Oregon back in the late 1930s that our parents and grandparents will remember, today, Mattel has joined up with Google to make a virtual reality version of it.  In other words, users can now also interact with the virtual reality world, as well as benefit from traditional, old-school enjoyment.  And, the good news is, it only retails at $29.99 – probably not that much more (in today’s money) that it was back in those days!  Pair it with your smartphone and enjoy an old childhood toy with your kid but in his language!

So gadgets and gizmos are not all bad for kids; they can provide some great bonding experience!

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