In late 2012, innovator and entrepreneur Jeff Elkins became obsessed with the emerging hydro sport known as Flyboarding. The sport uses the thrust generated by a personal water craft, or Jet Ski, to propel the rider to heights approaching 50’ above the water. Not content to fly just during daylight hours, Jeff envisioned nighttime flights illuminated by high-powered LEDs attached to his clothing.
Shortly thereafter, Jeff began collaborating with Dr. Steve Dunnivant at Gulf Coast State College’s Advanced Technology Center in Panama City. Dr. Dunnivant provided early support for Jeff’s idea and suggested that he take his invention to TechFarms where he could get access to facilities, equipment, and additional mentoring.
Soon after arriving at TechFarms, Jeff expanded his LED suit concept by adding electronics that would enable remote control of the LED lights on his suit by means of a wireless connection to a DMX lighting panel. Using the panel, technicians could remotely control the colors and sequencing of the LEDs for all performers and, when set to music, the results were truly stunning.
The suits are fabricated using a Lycra-spandex material and each suit is equipped with a radio that wirelessly connects to the DMX panel and memory card which contains the programs for the LED lights. The biggest technical challenge, however, was figuring out how to make the LED suits durable, waterproof, and impervious to saltwater. Once the suits were perfected, hydro sport entertainment shows worldwide begin hiring Jeff and his team to perform spectacular nighttime shows. When the team, originally known as Elkins Entertainment, added water-powered jetpacks with ultra high powered LEDs to the shows, the audience as well as the demand for nighttime performances skyrocketed. The team has been invited to perform in dozens of venues at locations not just throughout the US, but around the world, including Istanbul, St. Martin, Dubai, Sharja, Tokyo, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, and France.
In 2016, Jeff and his business partner, Ben Merrell, renamed the company Liquid Motion Lights and soon after landed a lucrative contract with SeaWorld in San Diego. For years, engineers at SeaWorld envisioned nighttime performances, but were never able to build waterproof suits – a skill that Jeff had perfected over the years. Liquid Motion Lights was hired by SeaWorld to build waterproof LED suits for all the performers in their new show entitled “Cirque Electrique”. The show debuted in the summer of 2017 and was an enormous success. To date, the company’s LED suits have been used in over 200 nighttime performances worldwide. Jeff and his team continue to innovate at TechFarms and several new exciting inventions will be unveiled in the coming months. Stay tuned!
People may run out of the ideas of what to give to their loved ones (who are techy and tech savvy). Selecting gifts for valentines wouldn’t have to be such a bore because we have selected cool, fun, practical, and unique gifts for you this Valentine’s! Check these out.
Light up a loved one’s life—across town or across the country—with two or more of these in-sync lamps. When you turn one on with a simple touch of your hand, its mate emits the same ambient glow, no matter where it is and who is on the other end: Parent or grandparent, niece or nephew, or long-distance significant other. Each person sets up their lamp via Wi-Fi, then reaches out and touches the lamp whenever they want to let their loved one know they’re thinking of them. No need to choose a color: with every touch, the lamp cycles through a rainbow of them, one at a time. Designed by John Harrison and Vanessa Whalen.
HB Ring lets you see and feel the real-time heartbeat of your loved one, directly on your ring. It works really simple; lets you see the real-time heartbeat of your loved one on your ring, always saves the last recorded heartbeat of your loved one, and shows it when real-time heartbeat is not available, and randomly shows you the real-time heartbeat of your loved one, pleasantly surprising you during the day. You can also download the app, connect the your ring, and pair it with your loved one. The ring also comes with a beautiful charger box.
Coming to a theater near you: viral YouTube videos, your Instagram feed, and cat gifs galore. This portable magnifier is about to blow up your phone—or at least what you see on the screen. Just slip your device into the fully assembled, retro-styled cardboard TV and enjoy your mobile movies double the size of your display. Keep it in your bag for impromptu screenings during your next camping trip, sleepover, or long car ride. Designed in London.
Remembering that all-important memory card/flash stick/USB drive can be a real challenge, but with these clever cufflinks the modern man can dress for success by keeping these genius tech-ccessories on hand. Whether he’s carrying a spreadsheet for a business meeting or a slideshow for a family reunion, he’ll always keep his go-to tool up (or rather, on!) his sleeve when he dons these sleek, functional cufflinks – hidden inside each cufflink is a 8 GB USB flash drive. The rhodium-plated base metal is topped with a chic, silver finish.
Your nephew flew across five states to visit, and boy is he cute. Moments you want to capture: 987. The charge in your phone battery: 0. Luckily, you’re wearing your Phone Charging Bracelet. With its lightweight, minimalist styling and polished metallic shine, it’s so cool you forgot it was a tool.
You juiced up its rechargeable lithium battery two months ago, and the hidden LED indicators say it’s still charged. Slip off the bangle, insert the hidden Lightning Connector into your iPhone, and charge it up to 50% (depending on the model) in just 40 minutes. After you’ve distracted him awhile with candy (his parents don’t need to know), it’s time to record that joyful sugar high before he crashes. Designed in New York City.
The Consumer Electronics Show is a global event that was founded and has been hosted by the Consumer Technology Association for the last 50 years. Technology companies from all over the world travel to take part in this four day gathering where they can showcase their latest innovations. More than 3,900 companies participate and there are more than 170,000 attendees from 150 countries. Product and market categories include:
Health & Wellness
Home & Family
Internet of Things
Product Design & Manufacturing
Robotics & Machine Intelligence
This year, the show began on January 9th in Las Vegas and had over 1.2 thousand speakers. Notable companies that participated include Ford, Google, Samsung, LG, & ADT. Read below for TechFarms’ top eight picks of the coolest ideas and gadgets unveiled at CES 2018.
8. Google Assistant Added to Android Auto
Google announced that they have plans to make its assistant available to Android users inside their cars. Previously, people have been able to command Google Assistant to only do a voice search through Android Auto. Now, Assistant for Android Auto will be able to control your smart home, play music, get directions, send and receive texts.
7. Pet Robots
Though not completely new to the market, pet robots are a fascinating addition to the toy tech industry and are have the potential to be a huge market due to the lack of maintenance required when compared to animals. Several were put on display this year, including one from Sony that costs $1,700. Sony’s pet robot dog, Aibo, was first introduced in the 1990’s, but has since been revamped into a remarkable piece of technology. Notable features include OLED eyes, personality development, facial recognition, and tricks. Aibo even remembers the person who pets it the most and interacts with that person above others.
6. 5G Networks
“5G” is the “Fifth Generation” of wireless broadband technology and was announced and discussed by the major wireless companies. 5G cellular technology is expected to be m 10 to 100 times faster than 4G, improve security, and cut responsiveness delays. Samsung executive, Tim Baxter, compared 5G to “putting fiber optic cabling into your pocket”. While 5G was discussed at length by major technology and mobile companies, the hardware isn’t quite complete to support it and we may not see 5G networks launch until 2019.
5. Samsung’s 146-inch TV
Samsung is calling it “The Wall”. The world’s first consumer Modular MicroLED 146-inch TV, was the standout product at Samsung’s annual “First Look” exhibit. It is a self emitting TV with micrometer LEDs that serve as their own source of light. This technology eliminates color filters and backlighting and outperforms others of its level in definition. The modular design lets consumers choose the shape and size of their TV, with the most impressive being the incredible wall size display.
4. Toyota Minibus
Named the “e-Palette”, this pod like minibus was the highlight of Toyota’s exhibit at this years CES, with plans to release them at the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020. It is fully electric and autonomous and completely customizable; ideas range from delivery vehicles, to food trucks, to mobile shops, to group ride-sharing vehicles. Companies that have already expressed interest in the concept car include Amazon, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber.
3. Air Taxi
Although these have been tested by another big name company in Dubai, this air taxi concept from Bell Helicopter may actually be brought to fruition. Uber plans to partner with NASA in order to to launch its “air taxi” service in Los Angeles in 2020. This autonomous taxi will hold up to four passengers and will be available on demand with a plethora of impressive features, including wifi, artificial intelligence, built in video calling, and wireless charging. Bell stated that its new design will not only shorten travel time, but also let them better utilize that time that is normally spent behind the wheel.
2. Self-Propelled Suitcase Robot
Thought up by a company called Forward-X, this innovative product seeks to simplify traveling by having your suitcase follow you around. The camera on the front of the device tracks your movements and is able to follow behind you at a maximum speed of 7mph. The wristband that accompanies it allows you to be alerted if the bag cannot sense you in order to prevent loss or theft.
1. Laser Printer That Etches Onto Just About Anything
Startup company, Glowforge, debuted this product in 2015, but announced at this year CES that they would finally be releasing its own line of materials that are specifically formulated for its printer. The company raised almost $30 million dollars during a record breaking crowd-funding campaign and has seen success ever since its launch. Thousands of pre-ordered machines have already been delivered and consumers have given it glowing reviews, noting its ease of use and lack of learning curve. The printer itself users lasers to create products out of materials such as wood, leather, acrylic, paper, and fabric. The proofgrade materials line solves the problem of finding the specific materials needed to print and allows for perfect, automatic settings each time you use it.
TechFarms, LLC, a Technology Incubator, Makerspace and Co-working space based in Panama City Beach, readies to release its first monthly newsletter. The initial edition is scheduled to hit inboxes just before the first of November. Content is set to include the latest news within TechFarms, upcoming events, and current technology and entrepreneurial headlines.
To be added to the monthly mailing list, please sign up using the dedicated contact form pinned to all TechFarms website pages.
Alibaba announced Wednesday it will invest $15 billion over the next three years into “cutting-edge technology” including quantum computing and artificial intelligence.
The DAMO Academy will oversea the launch of research labs worldwide and recruit scientists and researchers to join.
The Chinese e-commerce giant will open seven labs including ones in San Mateo, Calif., and Bellevue, Wash., as well as Beijing, Moscow and Tel Aviv.
The academy will focus on topics such as Internet of things, network security, machine learning, and natural language processing.
“We aim to discover breakthrough technologies that will enable greater efficiency, network security and ecosystem synergy for end-users and businesses everywhere,” said Alibaba chief technology officer Jeff Zhang in a statement.
The academy will create an advisory board featuring educators and researchers to decide where to focus its research.
Artificial intelligence is a hot market for tech, with many companies using it to power services such as digital voice assistants like Siri or Alexa.
Among the biggest champions of AI is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who said last summer the technology could create safer cars or ways to better detect diseases.
However, many critics — notably Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk — have raised concerns about AI’s potential threat to humanity. Musk is calling for governments to institute regulations before the use of AI becomes more common.
The investment is part of Alibaba’s broader plan to serve 2 billion customers and create 100 million jobs in 20 years, the company said.
Earlier this year, Alibaba introduced a program to help small businesses based in the U.S. sell their goods to its 443 million customers in China.
We live in a world where formerly unattainable futuristic touchstones like “flying cars” and autonomous vehicles are being treated with straight-faced sincerity by some of the biggest companies in world. So I guess it was only a matter of time before we had to start taking jetpacks seriously, too.
A new two-year, $2 million global competition called the Go Fly Prize was introduced today at an aerospace industry conference in Texas with the goal of producing “an easy-to-use, personal flying device.” The organizers of the contest, which is being sponsored by aerospace giant Boeing, say they want to incentivize teams of students, engineers, and inventors to develop a vertical take-off and landing device (or one that is nearly VTOL) that is safe, quiet, ultra-compact, and capable of carrying a single person 20 miles or more without refueling or recharging. In other words, a jetpack that can be “used by anyone, anywhere,” Go Fly’s organizers say.
Jetpacks aren’t a completely fanciful idea, with daredevils demonstrating amazing aeronautical feats in the US and across the world. But the idea that jetpacks have commercial applications or that personal flying devices will solve our transportation and infrastructure challenges is completely ludicrous.
But don’t tell Gwen Lighter, a self-described “serial entrepreneur” who has been shopping her idea of a global competition for over two years to various stakeholders before landing Boeing as a “grand sponsor.” With the backing of the second largest aerospace manufacturer in the world, Lighter is now able to take her brainchild mainstream, officially unveiling the Go Fly Prize at the SAE 2017 AeroTech Congress and Exhibition in Fort Worth, Texas.
“What we are really talking about is making people fly,” Lighter told me last week. “There is no dream that is more universally shared than that of soaring through the skies. It unites us all.”
Lighter said that a number of innovations in the world of transportation have made the idea of a personal flying device less ridiculous than it seems. She cited autonomous vehicles, improved battery technology, 3D printing, and lightweight drones as some of the advances that could converge to make jetpacks a reality. “Now is the first moment in history where something like these personal flying devices can be built,” she said.
The image of ordinary people blasting around like James Bond in Thunderball (or The Rocketeerfor you ‘90s kids) is equal parts thrilling and terrifying. Asked how jetpacks could be anything other than a technological curiosity, Lighter noted that more people are moving to densely populated urban centers at a time when our transportation infrastructure is buckling under the strain. It’s an argument frequently echoed by supporters of other outlandish transportation ideas like flying cars and hyperloops: all options need to be on the table when it comes to moving people around in the future.
“Go Fly hopes to inspire a future where we use these personal flying devices to get around, to move around,” she said. “At the end of our two-year competition, we hope we have new technology and frankly a whole new industry, where we have a mini Ford and a mini GM and a mini Chrysler at the start of the automotive industry, except now we have those mini companies at the start of a personal flying device industry.”
But when you analyze the statements of the Go Fly Prize’s sponsors and supporters, the overarching message is about inspiring the future generation of aerospace engineers, rather than strapping a miniature helicopter to grandma’s back and watching her get dizzy. Boeing’s chief technology officer Greg Hyslop said the competition “aligns with our company’s goals of inspiring people across the globe and changing the world through aerospace innovation.”
Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the American Helicopter Society and an adviser to Go Fly, told me that the goal of the contest was not to build and sell jetpacks like accessories, but rather inspire students and would-be engineers to get involved in VTOL.
“I don’t think Boeing wants to put into production small personal flying devices,” Hirschberg told me. “There’s no market for it. It’s not the product itself, it’s the inspiration to students. Really it’s about inspiring the next generation of aerospace engineers, scientists, and technicians so they don’t all go to Google.”
To be sure, there are jetpacks that exist outside the pages of Popular Science. A pair of daredevil Frenchmen, Yves Rossy and Vince Reffet, have been chasing 747s and buzzing above the Burj Khalifa and the Grand Canyon in their jetpacks for several years now. Dubai, a city obsessed with all things glossy and futuristic, has an order out for 20 jetpacks for its firefighters. A company called Jetpack Aviation flew its prototype beyond the stern, disapproving stare of Lady Liberty in 2015. And Google founder Larry Page is aiming to have a consumer model of his weird, lake-skimming Kitty Hawk Flyer available by the end of this year.
Any of these types of flying devices would qualify for entry in the Go Fly Prize, Lighter said. Jetpack, flying car, and hoverbikes will all be considered if submitted. And if the contest’s parameters for a winning entry sound vague, it’s by design. “So right now, the technology that we are asking people to build doesn’t exist,” she said. “We are about catalyzing the creation of the new technology.”
EU antitrust regulators will rule in the “next few months” whether Alphabet’s Google abused its dominance of internet searches and other areas, a senior European Commission official said on Monday, an outcome that could lead to a hefty fine.
The world’s most popular internet search engine has been in the Commission’s crosshairs since 2010 over the promotion of its own shopping service in internet searches at the expense of the services of rivals.
The EU competition enforcer opened a second front against Google last year as it charged the company with using its dominant Android mobile operating system to squeeze out rivals.
It has since leveled a third charge, that of blocking rivals in online search advertising. This relates to Google’s “AdSense for Search” platform, in which Google acts as an intermediary for websites such as online retailers, telecoms operators or newspapers. These searches produce results that include search ads.
“In the next few months, we will reach a decision on the Google cases, Google search, AdSense and to me the most interesting is Android,” Tommaso Valletti, the Commission’s chief competition economist, told a conference organized by the University of Oxford Centre for Competition Law and Policy.
The Commission has already warned Google that it would be fined if found guilty of breaching EU antitrust rules. Sanctions could reach 10 percent of annual global turnover for each case.
Alphabet made consolidated revenues of around $90 billion in 2016.
Google has in the past rejected the accusations, saying that its innovations had increased choice for European consumers and promoted competition.
It made three unsuccessful attempts to settle the internet search case without any finding of wrongdoing and sanctions with European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s predecessor, Joaquin Almunia.
The App Store has several programs that borrow the iPhone’s camera and use it to display a magnified view of objects in front of the device, but the current iOS 10 system software comes with its own Magnifier function. This tool is part of Apple’s suite of Accessibility features.
To use the Magnifier on an iOS 10 device, open the Settings icon and select General. On the General settings screen, choose Accessibility and then Magnifier. On the next screen, tap the button to the On position. Press the Home button to return to the iPhone’s main screen.
Now, when you want to read the fine print on the page or need to get a close-up look at something, press the iPhone’s Home button three times quickly. This triple-click action (also known as the Accessibility Shortcut) brings up the Magnifier and any other preconfigured functions geared toward users with impaired vision, hearing or motor skills.
When you have the Magnifier open in a dark restaurant, tap the lightning bolt icon on the screen to turn on the iPhone’s flash for a steady stream of bright light. Tap the Filters icon to change the color cast on the screen. You can zoom in by dragging the slider on the screen and tap the padlock icon to lock the camera’s focus.
If you want to freeze the frame, tap the round camera shutter button. Once the frame is frozen, you can zoom to the part you want to see better. Press your finger on the screen and select Save Image if you want to keep a copy in your Camera Roll. Tap the shutter button to unfreeze the frame, and press the Home button to leave the Magnifier.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday tightened rules for where patent lawsuits can be filed in a decision that may make it harder for so-called patent “trolls” to launch sometimes dodgy patent cases in friendly courts, a major irritant for high-tech giants like Apple and Alphabet Inc’s Google.
The justices sided 8-0 with beverage flavoring company TC Heartland LLC in its legal battle with food and beverage company Kraft Heinz Co, ruling that patent infringement suits can be filed only in courts located in the jurisdiction where the targeted company is incorporated. Justice Neil Gorsuch did not participate in the decision.
The decision overturned a ruling last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a Washington-based patent court, that said patent suits are fair game anywhere a defendant company’s products are sold.
Individuals and companies that generate revenue by suing over patents instead of making products have been dubbed “patent trolls.”
The ruling is likely to lessen the steady flow of patent litigation filed in a single federal court district in rural East Texas because of its reputation for having rules and juries that favor plaintiffs bringing infringement suits.
The dispute began when Heartland, a subsidiary of Heartland Consumer Products Holdings, sought to transfer a patent infringement suit Kraft filed against it in Delaware federal court to Heartland’s home base in Indiana.
Heartland said it has no presence in Delaware and 98 percent of its sales are outside of that state, but the appeals court denied the transfer last year.
Even though the lawsuit was not filed in Texas, the arguments in the case touched on the peculiar fact that the bulk of patent litigation in the United States flows to the Eastern District of Texas, far from the centers of technology and innovation in the United States.
More than 40 percent of all patent lawsuits are filed in East Texas. Of those, 90 percent are brought by “patent trolls,” according to a study published in a Stanford Law School journal.
Limiting patent lawsuits to where a defendant company is incorporated would potentially make it harder to get to trial or score lucrative jury verdicts.
The Federal Circuit denied the transfer by relying on one of its precedents from 1990, which loosened the geographic limits on patent cases. Heartland urged the Supreme Court to overturn that decision, arguing that the high court’s own precedent from 1957 held that patent suits are governed by a specific law allowing suits only where defendants are incorporated.
On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed with Heartland. Writing the opinion for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas said that, contrary to the Federal Circuit’s rationale, the U.S. Congress did not change the rules over where patent suits may be filed since the 1957 decision.