Bluetooth

The Sound of Taste. Grey London Creates a Musical Poster.

E-Ink isn’t really a new technology. Forms of it have been around for over a decade being used in some form of the print industry to create levels of mild interactivity. What I love about the video below is, Grey London and Herb & Spice brand Schwartz have combined it with your smartphone and Bluetooth to create a fresh interactive approach to a poster.  

The assignment was simple, the execution more complex, the result fantastic.  Illustrator Billie Jean was invited to create a visual articulation of what taste might look like. Starting with traditional media he painted the artwork for the poster. The illustration was then digitized, and divided into segments. Segments were printed with an electronic ink and coordinated to a smartphone app that talked to your mobile device using a Bluetooth connection. Your phone literally became the speaker for the poster. The result is a printed, interactive musical instrument.

Aura.

The Harman Kardon Aura is a sleek, modern, wireless speaker system, that is in my opinion a show stopping design. The small footprint and lack of wires allow it to be placed anywhere in your home as long as you have a power outlet close by. Distinctive design, and robust audio make this little speaker a winner. I’ve been using the Aura for a couple of weeks, and while it isn’t perfect, it’s a serious contender in the wireless speaker game.

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The image of modern design.

In a crowded market it is imperative that your product stand out from the crowd. Over the years speaker designs have come and gone, but for the most part, speakers are, or look like a wooden box with a grill. In short, they aren’t that interesting to look at. The Aura with its dome shape, and transparent sound chamber, is a piece of industrial design that says “look at me”.

The Aura is built on a circular footprint with a diameter approximately 10 inches, and a height of about 12. The physical size makes it perfect for desktops, shells, or on the floor. One thing is certain, you won’t want to hide this fantastic piece of visual design.

Inside the clear plastic dome is a single ring of light that illuminates the center of the speaker. The light functions as a visual indicator for the volume level allowing the listener to a get a quick visual read on how loud things are going to get. Buttons are kept to a minimum, and like the original Soundsticks, volume control is a touch sensitive slider on the base of the speaker housing. Aside from that, the only other indicators, are power, WiFi, and Bluetooth lights discretely hidden on the base.

My one gripe is that these buttons give no real feedback when pressed. Just a few audio chimes to indicate the speaker is doing something. The only clue as to what is going on is, the connection button is green for WiFi, and blue for Bluetooth. The QuickStart guide tells you this, but not much else. For the most part the speaker is pretty straight forward.

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Connectivity

Harman Kardon sells the Aura as a wireless home speaker, but in addition to wireless connectivity, there are USB, Optical, and a Mini Stereo input ports. All of these are good, because if you wanted you could hard wire the speaker to your TV or another device and take full advantage of improved audio quality. Aura’s wireless connectivity is its main selling point though, and the primary reason I picked one up. Aura provides Wi-Fi connectivity through DLNA, AirPlay, and Bluetooth.

Pairing via Bluetooth was a snap. It took less than 10 seconds on both my iPhone and iPad. WiFi was another story all together. Using the Mac Mini, Bluetooth will often grab the signal before WiFi can establish a connection. iTunes has a tendency to fire up and attempt to connect and play even though it’s been set not to. And sometimes the WiFi and Bluetooth signals get confused and simply cut all audio feed to the speaker system. The frustrating part of this is, you want to stream via WiFi if you can. It’s a lossless way of sending the audio signal

Sound quality

Aside form the connectivity glitches, the audio quality is absolutely top notch, as it should be for a $400.00 speaker system. Once again Harman Kardon’s renowned excellence in producing high quality products shows. The sound that is delivered from such a small compact system is really pretty impressive. Because of the design, audio is rendered in an omni directional pattern, filling the space with an overall balance of audio.

This omni directional audio wave is achieved through six one and a half inch drivers that have been tuned to handle different frequency ranges for mid and high audio. In the base is a down facing 4.5 inch subwoofer that produces a deep warm bass tone that really fills out the sound quality. Audio levels are crisp, well separated, and full with no distortion even when the volume is cranked. What is really interesting is because of the design, the system sounds great no matter where it is. I have had it placed on the floor all the way up to an almost ceiling level height, and Aura just sounds great no matter where it is in the room.

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Bottom line, I simply can’t find fault the Aura’s sound output. It’s loud without being overbearing, it sounds good at all locations, the audio quality is rich and full, and it fills the space with rich high-fidelity sound.

So Harman Kardon has produced a pretty sweet little speaker system. Stunning looks and impressive audio quality make the device a winner in my book. If Apple can work out the connectivity issues with Harman Kardon, and if Harman puts together a more comprehensive product manual, Aura would be hard to beat.

These Bluetooth Cans Look Great.

When you think of headphones, the phrase “sexy design” is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Thanks to Harman Kardon, that might change. This is one sexy looking pair of Bluetooth headphones. Sleek retro styled over the ear cans, made with supple leather, and brushed stainless steel. Seriously, these look great. The tech specs on them aren’t bad either. 40 hours of wirless playback, full spectrum sound with a dynamic range of 16Hz to 20kHz from a 40mm driver. Harman Kardon has always delivered great design, and solid audio quality. They are a bit spendy but these look like a winner to me.

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T-Shirt OS 1024 LED Lights For Your Personal Expression.

T-Sirt OS actually surfaced awhile back, but the initial demo video was a bit boring. The concept is pretty solid and I could actually see this thing becoming a huge success, but that demo video…

Well T-Shirt OS is back with a new high production quality video that features the story of best friends Sonny and Oliver and their adventure with their lifes work on the streets of London. This new YouTube video actually has some really nice editing, color grading, and post work.

As for the T-Shirt OS, if you are interested you can go to tshirtos.com and check it out.

“Since we unleashed tshirtOS into the world, thousands of people have said they want one.” TshirtOS Digital Manager, Rohan Nayee.

I Was Robbed

One of things that sucks about having your house broken into, is that your computer gets stolen. When your computer gets stolen, it means you have to update WordPress on your iPad. When you update WordPress on your iPad it means you have to use the virtual keyboard. When you use the virtual keyboard, your hand cramps. When your hand cramps you feel victimized all over again. Then you get angry and want to kick something.

I was burglarized, so updates and posts might come a little slower these days. Now I’m off to buy a Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad.

Jawbowne Jambox

Jawbone, the makers of the oh so sexy Aliph Bluetooth headsets, have released a new wireless speaker called Jambox. The Jambox speaker is small, compact, and stylish with the ability to crank out 85Db of sound. Jambox is powered by a pair of proprietary acoustic drivers, unmatched in their ability to produce extreme high and low frequencies from a single, ultra-small dome speaker. They work in concert with an innovative moving-wall passive bass radiator and airtight enclosure to deliver shimmering highs and thumping lows with a  Frequency Response: 60 Hz – 20 kHz. While these aren’t exactly reference monitors, they do have pretty good specs for something this small.

Designed to function as a companion speaker for your computer/iPhone/iPod this is a rugged stylish solution. The Jambox is sturdy, and can be tossed in a backpack without worry, it runs up to 10 hours off of batteries, so no outlet is needed to power it. Jambox dumps the requisite iPod or mini stereo input for Bluetooth wireless, so you can roam the room with your music player, without physically tethering yourself to the speaker. Another bonus of the Jambox Bluetooth speaker is that it works as a travel-friendly substitute for a laptop, iPad’s, iPhone’s lame speakers, and if you need a speakerphone it is a definite plus over the iPhones speaker mode.

At 200 bucks the price might be a bit high for some, but I could see using this on a fairly regular basis.