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Mike's List

The Silly Con Valley Report


Mind reading tech was useless until artificial intelligence got involved. Now mind-reading has real-world, practical applications! (No, really!)

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1. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME
You could have good home security system. Or, you could instead project a shadow on the curtains and hope to scare the burglars away. That's what one Japanese man is doing with his Man on the Curtain idea. It's a projector with built-in, 30-minute looping shadow video that makes it appear as if a man is at home. He's developing the idea into a security product. 
2. RISE OF THE MACHINES
A Canadian company called AI Incorporated recently unveiled its design for a self-driving trash can. The "smart bin" uses the company's Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) technology, combined with deep learning, to navigate the driveway and take itself out to the curb. After being emptied, it brings itself back in.
3. SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION
It's 2018. Know where your dreams of traveling the world are? I'm here to tell you that you can become a digital nomad and both live and work anywhere in the world. Yes, YOU! I'll show you how. The first step: Sign up for my free Gastronomad email newsletter. Let's make this happen!
4. BAD-ASS ROBOTS
A German company called Festo, which specializes in robots that mimic animals, unveiled two new robots: A bat robot and a spider robot. Their “BionicFlyingFox” robot is an “ultra-lightweight flying object with intelligent kinematics.” The high-tech, hyperelastic wings are made with knitted elastane fabric. Best of all, the bat robot flies autonomously once launched and learns automatically, constantly improving its ability to fly (the computation is not in the very light robot itself). 
5. HOT PRODUCT
Vlogger and maker Colin Furze built an Alexa-controlled flamethrower using Arduino-compatible circuitry, for some reason. All he has to do is say: "Alexa: Give me fire" and a blast of flames shoots out. 
6. ILL-ADVISED ACCESSORIES
An Android-phone accessory turns your phone into a metal detector. Called the AKYOR CSP86, the device can either go at the end of a pole (connected to the smartphone by a cable) or, more comically, can be plugged directly into the phone. The AKYOR CSP86 plugs into — and is powered by — the headphone jack.
7. QUESTIONABLE SOLUTIONS
From the designer who brought us the censorship towel and the pretzel cigarette comes something truly annoying: Hand Free. It's a fake arm smartphone holder you lash to your head which, according to designer Phil Jones, "gives you the ability to use your cell phone hands free while still looking like an asshole."
8. AUGMENTED FRIVOLITY
An engineer named Abhishek Singh created an augmented-reality version of the 1987 game Street Fighter. It’s just like the classic game, but the fighters throw down on real streets.
9. DEBASEMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
A maker called Alex Kent set his goldfish free. He use a Raspberry Pi, computer vision and special software to enable his fish to control where the aquarium-on-wheels goes. When the fish swims toward one edge of the tank, the entire aquarium rolls in that direction. Now his fish can go wherever it wants. 
10. PROOF YOU CAN BUY ANYTHING ONLINE
On the internet, you can buy: a paper wristwatch, a UFO detector, a hard-drive crusher, a hackable Frisbee, a sauna truck, an inflatable T-Rex costume and even artisanal hipster pork rinds.
Mike's List is written and published by tech journalist and author Mike Elgan. Go here for more about Mike.

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