One of our favorite things about attending Macworld/iWorld each year is discovering the apps, hardware and technology that we didn’t know was awaiting us. This year, the AppleTell editorial team of Kirk Hiner, Bill Stiteler and Aaron Kraus found themselves pleasantly (or perhaps oddly) surprised by optical cables, a “robot,” and a rather unique app from HP. Oh, and the cheese, of course.
Aaron: Optical Cables by Corning
Although I was surprised to find cheese at Macworld, on a more technical level it was a surprise to see Gorilla-glass maker Corning showing off their new ultra-bendable fiberoptic Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 cables with speeds up to 10 Gb/s over cable runs of 100 meters. What’s so special about ultrafast fiberoptic cables? Take a look at the picture below:
That is a fully functioning fiberoptic cable bent repeatedly through almost 0º, yet it was still able to transmit a laser pointer’s dot (which didn’t show up well in the picture). Traditional copper and fiberoptic cables would have snapped or can’t even be bent like this due to protective shielding. Considering the fact that Corning manufactures a glass called Willow that can be rolled up like a spool of paper, this kind of flexibility is hardly unexpected. With a manufacturing scale Corning can no doubt bring to the table, affordable, extremely long, and bendable fiberoptic cables are finally a step closer to reality. Sadly, the cables do not carry power. But with such a long cable run, there’s a good chance you can find a free plug wherever your connected device is.
The most surprising product of Macworld was the remote presence device from Double Robotics. You mount an iPad on a baby Segway and use it to wander around, observing and interacting with your coworkers.
While I’m sure there are people who need these, I’m honestly struggling to think of at least one situation where a non-insane person would use it. Who the hell wants an iPad on a stick observing their work?
Kirk: HP Live Photo for iOS
If ever there was a reason to talk your mom into getting an iPhone, this is it. HP Live Photo is an iPhone app that allows you to shoot up 45 seconds of video (or take 45 seconds from your camera roll), which is then uploaded to HP’s servers. The app takes a still from the video which you can then print (in various pre-defined templates). If another person holds his/her iPhone over that photo, the HP Live Photo app recognizes it and automatically launches the video.
I don’t need to tell you what a fun and unique way of sharing videos this is, but it’s not without its drawbacks. First, the recipient needs to have an iPhone with the HP Live Photo app installed (an Android version is in the works). Second, there is currently no third-party postcard integration built in. You can print the postcard yourself to mail, but that won’t work if you’re at the beach. And although you can send the postcard from your camera roll, it won’t include the instructions as it does with the HP Live Photo print, so your recipient may not know what to do with it.
Still, seeing the app in action at Macworld Expo immediately filled my mind with some fun uses, and that’s exactly what HP is hoping for.