High-tech megaphone will translate your speech in real-time


An airport worker holds the Megaphoneyaku, which can broadcast messages in three languages.
An airport worker holds the Megaphoneyaku, which can broadcast messages in three languages.
Photo: Tohru Watanabe/Mainichi Newspapers

A blaring megaphone is an effective way to get people’s attention. But what if the people in the room speak a multitude of languages?

A Tokyo airport is trying to solve the language gap with international travelers with a megaphone that lets the user communicate in three different languages. A worker speaking one of three languages, Chinese, Korean or English, can have their message broadcast in the other two.

If you think Apple’s packaging is good, wait until you see these

Apple doesn't have anything on the packaging for these products.
Apple doesn't have anything on the packaging for these products.
Photo: Stephen Smith/Cult of Mac

Opening a new Apple product for the first time is pretty close to a holy experience. Part of that is because Apple spends so much time perfecting product packaging so it’s simple, elegant and secure without compromising on intuitiveness.

However, it’s a mistake to think Apple is the only company that pours thought and care into something as basic as a box. In light of the recent rumor that Apple will be working with third-party accessory makers to co-design packaging for their products in Apple retail stores, it’s clear many other companies care as well. It’s about being eye-catching without straying from uniformity, it’s about being simple yet still adorned.

With this spirit in mind, take a look at some of the other electronic companies out there getting extremely creative with their product packaging. The goal for these seems to be making the boxes as gorgeous as the products themselves – and they succeed.

Samsung outranks Apple where it really hurts… in the patent department


In an effort to prevent rivals from stealing its ideas, Apple patents everything it invents — from the iPhone and the iPad, to app icons and even “magic” tactile gloves. But compared to its biggest competitors, Apple’s patent portfolio from 2015 looks surprisingly bare.

Microsoft, Sony, Google, and LG have all outrank Apple in the patent department this year, while arch rival Samsung has absolutely crushed it.

Gadget Watch: Phones with Leica lenses, and Leicas without LCDs



Gadget Watch: Sept. 20, 2014

The mammoth Photokina photo fair is going on this week, and that means tons of photo goodies. Small, manual cameras with big sensors are the game this year — unless you’ve got $20,000 to burn, in which case Leica’s new novelty camera might be up your street. We round these out with Gadget Watch's usual collection of bags, cases and gadgets.

Panasonic LX-100

The sweet-looking LX-100 is Panasonic’s take on the Fujifilm X100, only it comes with a zoom lens instead of a fixed one, and a plain EVF instead of the X100-series’ amazing hybrid viewfinder. It packs in a big Micro Four Thirds sensor, has manual dials for everything and the 24-75mm equivalent lens runs from ƒ1.7-2.8. $900

Bison Wallet

It looks like a sunglasses case crossed with a taco, but the Bison Wallet is in fact an iPhone case that manages to carry some cards or cash in a minimal, almost unnoticeable pocket formed from an extra flap of leather. It’s a clever take on the wallet case, and one which doesn’t leave you with a wedge of crap on your back jeans pocket. $75

Booq Taipan Shock

The biggest shock about Booq’s Taipan Shock is the price. For $95 you get a great bag with Booq’s great organizational design, which gives you tons of pockets and sleeves for your gear, but somehow doesn’t force you into one way of using it. There’s a section for a MacBook, an outside pocket for an iPad, plus all kinds of spaces inside for bottles, clothes and accessories. $95

Rickshaw reflective tweed bags

Rickshaw makes some of the finest bags known to man, and now it also makes them reflective. See-me-in-the-dark Reflective Performance Tweed is a shiny variant on the regular Performance Tweed, a classy fabric made from recycled water bottles. Backpacks and messenger bags can be had in solid or striped variants, and they’re all as ultra-light and ultra-tough as ever. From $59.

DoDocase Apple Watch charging stand

Who wants to toss their Apple Watch onto their nightstand while they sleep? Not you, and not me. No, we want the DoDocase charging stand, carved from walnut and with a cable router to keep things tidy. I like that you can just hang the watch on here and charge it. You can even have the thing monogrammed, rendering it tacky as hell. $80

Leica M Edition 60

$20,000 will buy you a digital Leica with no LCD, no autofocus, not even automatic exposure. You get a shutter release button, a shutter speed dial, an ISO dial and the aperture and focussing rings around the lens. That is it. It’s a rangefinder camera with all the limitations of film. You can’t even chimp to check you got the exposure right. Loaded hipsters are ecstatic. $20,000


Panasonic CM1 phone camera

Panasonic has put a one-inch sensor and a Leica lens in a phone. To be fair, it’s more of a camera with a phone built into it, but seeing as my iPhone gets used more as a camera than anything else, that’s not a bad choice. That’s the same sized sensor as in the Sony RX100, paired with a 28mm (equivalent) ƒ2.8 lens. There’s even a physical click-wheel around the lens. It’s just a shame it runs Android. €900

Tassel Charging Cable

If you hate on-the-go iPhone-charging hassle, then you need the Photojojo keychain charging Tassle, a Lightning or microUSB cable that dangles from your bag or keys until needed. Outside it’s leather, inside there are your charging plugs, kept safe with a magnetic closure. Comes in pink or brown, for $60

Sci-fi toys spring to life in filmic photos


Sci-fi toys come to life in Robert Larner's photos

Alien Tourist

A scene you won't see in Star Wars

AT-AT in the Snow

Black Riders

Borg scout ship


Close Encounter

Face to face


Giant Robots

Haunted House

King of the Monsters

Long Snoot

Looks like The Doctor took the wrong turn to Metebelis Three...

Moonlit Interceptor

Multi-coloured Daleks


Party Wagon

Planet of the Apes Picnic

Who said Greedo doesn't fire first?

"Oh oh!"

"What'll it be? We've got squishees, overpriced coffee, blue milk..."

"What's that noise?"

By day, Robert Larner works for an investment firm. By night he directs Stormtroopers, Transformers and Daleks.

Using toys, camera tricks and a keen sense of story, the photographer delights Flickr and Instagram fans with movie stills. But the movies don’t exist.

The Scotsman grew up a discerning cineaste with a taste for the Indiana Jones, Back to the Future and Ghostbusters movie franchises, but his greatest inspiration — in film and toys — was Star Wars.

“I could probably track my interest in toys via Star Wars,” Larner says. “When I was a kid in the early ’80s, I was completely swept up by the original Kenner 3.75-inch range. Then, in the ’90s, the remastered movies came out along with whispers of the prequels so the Star Wars toy range was reintroduced, so that caught my interest again. However, it was when Lego had the bright idea of making Star Wars Lego sets in 1999 that I really got sucked in and I haven’t looked back since!”