(You're reading all posts by Leander Kahney)

About Leander Kahney

Leander KahneyLeander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney.

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Design firm Ammunition takes top honors for innovation

A $3,000 Octovo surfboard is just one creation of design firm Ammunition. Photo: Fast Company

A $3,000 Octovo surfboard is just one creation of design firm Ammunition. Photo: Fast Company

San Francisco design firm Ammunition beat out Apple and others to be named Fast Company’s top “Innovative Company in Design.”

Co-founded by Robert Brunner, the former head of Apple’s industrial design studio who hired Jony Ive, Ammunition is most famous for designing the Beats Electronics headphones. Ammunition was named most innovative not just for the string of hit products it’s helped bring to market but for taking an equity stake in the companies with which it works.

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Petite and powerful: PicoPro projector puts a movie theater in your pocket

PicoPro projector. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

PicoPro projector. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Like most things that come in small sizes, pico projectors have always been a big disappointment.

Called “pico” because of their portability and battery power, the diminutive projectors in this class have typically been underpowered and underwhelming. Almost by definition, projectors need to be big and bright enough to throw a lot of light at the screen.

So it’s a big surprise that Celluon’s new featherweight pocket-size PicoPro is a heavyweight champ. I was prepared for it to suck — but was surprised and delighted when it turned my living room wall into a 150-inch cinema screen.

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How sloppy security exposed Apple’s super-secret product plans

This login screen for a Quanta Computer database led to sensitive documents containing details on upcoming Apple products. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

This login screen for a Quanta Computer database led to sensitive documents containing details on upcoming Apple products. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac


Incredibly sloppy security at one of Apple’s key suppliers exposed some of Cupertino’s most closely guarded secrets to anybody who could conduct a simple Google search.

For months, one of Quanta Computer‘s internal databases could be accessed using usernames and a default password published in a PowerPoint presentation easily found on the Web.

Quanta, based in Taiwan, is the world’s largest notebook manufacturer. In addition to Apple, Quanta assembles laptops and ultrabooks for dozens of companies, including Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Sharp and Sony. The company is also supposedly assembling the upcoming Apple Watch and the long-rumored iPad Pro, though no official announcements have been made.

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How the iPhone enhances ReSound’s hip new hearing aids

ReSound's LiNX hearing aid is the first controlled by the iPhone. Pairing with the iPhone adds a surprising amount of useful functionality. Photo: ReSound

ReSound’s LiNX hearing aid pairs with iPhones to add surprisingly useful functionality. Photo: ReSound

LAS VEGAS — Hearing aids aren’t sexy, so a lot of journalists here at International CES breezed right by ReSound’s booth.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 The Danish company has been in the hearing aid business for 75 years, and launched the first iPhone-connected hearing aid at CES last year. Now the company is a back with a full lineup of iPhone-compatible LiNX hearing aids. The devices address the whole range of hearing loss, from the mild to severe.

As I approach 50, I’m wondering if I need a pair myself, so I went to check them out. I was impressed. Connecting a hearing aid to an iPhone adds a lot of very useful functionality.

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HP Sprout is a fun Franken-puter with wild tricks up its sleeve

HP's Sprout touchscreen computer scans objects and run them into 3D files. It's fast and fun. Credit: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

HP’s Sprout touchscreen computer scans objects and turns them into 3-D files. It’s fast and fun. Credit: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — Of all the amazing technology on show here at International CES, the most surprising so far is Hewlett-Packard’s weird Sprout, a multitalented Franken-puter that looks like a ton of fun.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 The HP Sprout is a touchscreen computer married to a multitouch pad, with a projector/camera/3-D scanner peering overhead. It looks like a bad prop from a Lego version of War of the Worlds.

I’d seen the press releases when it launched last October and had pretty low expectations. It just looked too weird. But I was genuinely delighted to see it in action.

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Casper is the friendly mattress that arrives in a box

Casper beds come in boxes. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Casper mattresses come in boxes. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — Bryan Chaffin loves his Casper mattress.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 “I don’t even know where to start,” effused the Mac Observer executive vice president. “It’s the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever slept on. It was dead-easy to set up. It’s just incredibly comfortable.”

Chaffin is a satisfied customer of Casper, a New York startup shaking up the tired old mattress industry. Casper is doing everything differently, from the design of its all-foam mattress to the way it sells and ships direct to customers.

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What? Us? Scared? Garmin shows no fear of Apple Watch

Garmin watch. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Garmin’s chunky new Fenix 3 Sapphire sport watch faces stiff competition from Apple Watch. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — When Garmin launches a $600 smartwatch just a few weeks before Apple is about to introduce its category killer, the company must be pretty confident.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015Here at International CES, Garmin is showing off its new line of Fenix 3 Sports Watches — multisport fitness trackers with built-in GPS that can pair with a smartphone to show various alerts and notifications. It comes in three models, including the handsome Sapphire, which has a hard sapphire crystal face. It’s a beauty, but surely doomed, right?

When asked if Garmin was worried about the Apple Watch, due to be launched sometime this spring, a spokeswoman confidently said absolutely not. She explained that Garmin’s watches are unapologetically outdoor fitness devices built for sportspeople who want a watch to do very specific things — track workouts – and aren’t interested in beaming heartbeats or sending emojis.

“They are purpose-built,” she said, gesturing at the display. “They’re built for hiking, biking and running. Garmin has been in the wearables market for 10 years. We’re not worried at all.”

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Crazy motorized skates cut walking time in half

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

These motorized skates cut walking time in half. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — For eight years, Paul Chavand been working hard to bring the world a pair of motorized skates. Why? To revolutionize the simple act of walking. Chavand’s dream is turn a simple stroll into an effortless glide on motorized wheels.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015

But don’t call them skates. Chavand, a mathematics teacher from France’s Burgundy region, gets rather upset at that. Skates imply imbalance, falling over and wildly flailing arms. Chavand’s Rollkers require no “skating.” You just stand still and the motorized wheels zip you along. Balancing is as simple as standing up, the inventor says.

So instead of “skates,” he calls his invention, rather comically, “under shoes.”

The big question is why you’d want them.

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Self-adjusting belt loosens after you stuff your face

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Belty is the world’s first self-adjusting belt. How did we live without this for so long? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — The small but humbling act of loosening your belt after a big meal is finally over!

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015 Inventor Bertrand Duplat has developed a motorized belt that automatically loosens its grip when your gut bulges.

“The experience of the belt hasn’t changed in centuries,” Duplat told Cult of Mac at CES International. He calls his invention, which certainly will change your belt experience, Belty.

“When you sit down and eat a long dinner, it loosens automatically. It tightens up when you stand up,” he said.

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This headset could bring an end to loud, obnoxious public phone calls

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Onvocal’s Mix360 bluetooth headset helps you hear what’s going on around you while wearing it. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — Everyone hates loudmouth jerks who talk too loudly on their cellphones in public. If this is you know or someone you love, a new startup may have the answer.

Cult_of_Mac_CES_2015

Onvocal’s Mix360 is a Bluetooth headset with a microphone that detects ambient sound. So if you’re talking on your cell, you can hear exactly how loud you are and modulate your voice accordingly.

“It’ll end those annoying calls where people can’t hear how loud they are and are shouting into their phones,” said Ashley Waters, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts-based startup.

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