With its svelte physique, sultry voice and sassy attitude, it’s hard not to fall head over heels for the iPhone. Show how much you care with these new toys we’ve found. We’re sure you’ll enjoy them as well.
A smartphone breathalyzer
It was only a matter of time before someone designed a breathalyzer for the iPhone.
The BACtrack Mobile Breathalyzer ($150) is a professional-grade alcohol-testing device that works in conjunction with an iOS app to track blood alcohol content. Launched at the end of April, BACtrack is equipped with fuel-cell sensors, which are employed by law enforcement officers for roadside alcohol testing. Providing quick, accurate and reliable readings, fuel cells are more sensitive than breathalyzers designed for home and personal use, which typically utilize semiconductor sensors.
I didn’t think this was worth mentioning, but on the few occasions when I talked about this Bluetooth breathalyzer, people immediately thought of this as a drinking game accessory. No, the purpose of BACtrack isn’t to see who can blow the highest number but, instead, to use as a precautionary measure, especially if you’re thinking about getting behind the wheel after a few drinks (even simpler: don’t).
When you take a reading — at least 15 minutes after drinking to avoid distorting results — the BACtrack app displays your blood alcohol content, context for what the reading means (sober, intoxicated or somewhere in between) and your ZeroLine, an estimate of how long it’ll take before your BAC returns to 0. The app, which tracks these numbers over time, also lets you add pictures, locations, drinks and other notes to provide more insight into your drinking habits. Somewhat annoyingly, each time you launch the app, you have to re-pair the breathalyzer to your phone. There are also occasions when the app freezes up, fixed only by restarting, so I’m hoping an update will fix these issues.
Being a smartphone breathalyzer, it wouldn’t be complete without social features. On the most basic level, that means extra mouthpieces so friends can also test their sobriety. To avoid skewing your results, the app lets you designate readings as yours or your friends’. If you feel so compelled, you can also share your results over text message, Facebook or Twitter. In my sober opinion, doing so seems like it’d work against you. I can already see it unfolding: “I swear I’m not drunk,” you insist. “Twitter says otherwise,” says an agitated parent, partner, pal or police officer. “Oops.”
A gorgeous Geiger counter
Geiger counters, the devices that measure radiation levels, aren’t designed to be beautiful, but Lapka is changing that.
With five sensors, Lapka ($220) is a modular personal environmental monitor that measures radiation, nitrates in produce, electromagnetic field, humidity and temperature. Since each concerns different types of molecules, these measurements are taken individually. Switching between the parts can be cumbersome, but the design is intentional to keep costs down and allow for the addition of other monitors down the line. Creative Director Vadik Marmeladov says the individual tools provide parallel levels of accuracy to the ones on the market — just in a prettier package.
An audio cable is used to connect the iPhone to the four monitors (humidity and temperature are combined into one), each featuring an audio port. To keep the parts as one cohesive unit, the cord runs through each component, so they look almost like pendants on a necklace — a jab at wearable computers, if you will. Most of the monitors don’t require much more effort than placement (e.g., near an electronic device when testing EMF), but the produce sensor includes a detachable probe to stick into fruits and vegetables to measure the concentration of nitrate ions from synthetic fertilizers (a sign your produce isn’t organic). Each time you take a reading, the app provides a baseline of what is considered safe and visualizes the surrounding particles, color coding the background to let you know if the measurements are in line with set standards (blue is good, red is bad).
Though Lapka calls itself a home monitor, Marmeladov recommends running tests routinely outside the home as well. The data and location are logged with each reading, and the hope is to map this information out so the community can see how different regions compare.
Solvei’s budget iPhone network
Before T-Mobile made a big hoopla about carrying the iPhone and being an “uncarrier” (whatever that means), close to 2 million iPhones were already operating on its network.
That includes customers of Solavei, which in March introduced nano SIM cards specifically for the iPhone 5. For $49 a month without a contract, the mobile service provider offers unlimited voice, text and data to those who bring over their existing phones, all while leveraging T-Mobile’s infrastructure. T-Mobile offers a comparable plan for $70 a month, and though both operate on the same network, the difference in pricing can be attributed to Solavei’s grassroots marketing. In lieu of a tall marketing budget, the provider relies on its members for word-of-mouth advertising, reducing their bills by $20 a month for every three referrals that stay on the service. Since launching last summer, referral payouts have totaled more than $9.5 million.
In the few months of testing Solavei’s service, T-Mobile’s network appears to have made major headway in San Francisco. Whereas it was once difficult just to load tweets in my downtown San Francisco apartment, my iPhone 5 now typically sees speeds of more than 6 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. Still, that’s not to say the experience is flawless. The phone often inched at a snail’s pace, and network errors were common. Forget about 4G, I was lucky to even run on 3G, spending about half my time throughout the bay at excruciatingly slow Edge speeds. Often, it felt like such a shame to run this beautiful piece of hardware on such an unreliable network.
While MirrorCase successfully keeps the iPhone from blocking your view (at least while shooting), it’s hard to ignore that it can also serve a more nefarious purpose, allowing creepers to shoot unnoticed in public. This isn’t helped by the app’s built-in privacy screen, which blacks out the display so others can’t see what you’re doing. I’m hoping that’s not you, dear reader.
An elegant analog dock
When Apple moved from 30-pin to Lightning connectors, it signaled impending doom for iPhone docks.
Still, I find myself strangely captivated by Station ($40), a bamboo caddy designed to hold, not charge, an iPhone and keep other miscellany, such as keys and sunglasses, organized on a desk. An exemplar of minimalist design, Station keeps things exceedingly simple. The compartments — labeled phone, pen and stuff — are precision-cut from a piece of bamboo, and a laser etches the subtle branding on the front. Since Station isn’t built for a specific phone, it’ll also stick around for your next phone upgrade.
Station originated from a successful Kickstarter project by Nathan Mummert in Scottsdale, Ariz. Having raised more than $10,000, it doubled its original funding goal of $5,000. BiteMyApple.co, a retailer that sells crowdfunded Apple-theme products, will begin shipping Station later this month.
Moschino’s offering to the world of designer iPhone and iPad cases includes the Touch Me printed iPad 2 case. Available from Luisviaroma, the bright red and boldly printed cover is suitable for the iPad 2 model, and measures 24.5cm H x 19cm W.
Big screen stars enter the real world through a small frame.
Amateur photographer Francois Dourlen, 30, looks for what his environment lacks and inserts it virtually for his ongoing photo series “Réalité Revisitée,” or “Reality Revisited.”
The history professor dreams spectacular or unusual circumstances — Thomas the Tank Engine pulling into an actual station, a stripper pole-dancing on the subway, a zombie emerging from a cemetery plot, a man tightrope walking on phone lines — then he brings them to life.
Caters News Agency
Ship of Dreams: Rose and Jack (Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicario) from “Titanic” don’t have to worry about icebergs in their new setting.
It all started as a joke when Dourlen replaced a statue of Napoleon riding a horse in his hometown of Cherbourg in northwestern France with a picture of a My Little Pony toy. The image got a few laughs but attracted more attention for his unusual technique.
He continued to create similar pictures by juxtaposing images in increasingly creative ways, such as inserting a shot of a contemporary location with its counterpart from a bygone era.
Not surprisingly, his pieces involving film scenes have been particularly popular. Dourlen took a screen grab of a “Star Wars” scout trooper (a light-armored version of a storm trooper) riding a speeder bike on the forested moon of Endor from “Return of the Jedi.” Then he held that photo up to his friend sitting on a motorcycle outside a bike shop to bring that galaxy far, far away close to home.
Caters News Agency
Luke, I am your biker: An Imperial trooper from “Return of the Jedi” somehow traveled from the forested moon of Endor to northwestern France.
In another, he placed “Titanic” characters Rose and Jack (Kate Winslet and Leonardo Dicario) at the bow of a beached sailboat just before their first kiss. He also made it look like Vincent (John Travolta) from “Pulp Fiction” was in the passenger seat of a car carelessly pointing a gun toward the backseat.
Most of the time you have to deal with the world as it is, but in these photos Dourlen shows the modest pleasures of sliding in a bit of movie magic.
Caters News Agency
IPhone of the living dead: A zombie emerges from a grave.