Sony: Children Should Power Their Own Toys

Editor’s note, this post is by guest writer Evan Vella, who actually speaks Japanese…lord wouldn’t that be a fantastic asset to any gadget blog. Lets hope we can get him to come on full time!

Batteries not included? BAH! It looks like Sony is aiming to harness the boundless energy of children by having them generate electricity through cranking, rolling, and twirling their gadgets. This new line of kinetic devices with interchangeable power sources is called ODO. The meaning behind the word “ODO” remains as opaque as the genesis of Japanese ball-kicking porn.

ODO, much like Voltron, is composed of five components with interesting Engrish names:

  1. A kinetic engine (“Push POWER Play”)
  2. A still camera (“Spin N’ Snap”)
  3. A solar array (“Juice Box”)
  4. A digital video camera (“Crank N’ Capture”)
  5. Stereo headphones (“Pull N’ Play”)

The “Spin N’ Snap” still camera doubles as its own crank; its mild mannered viewfinders are also finger-holds for cranking. The “Crank N’ Capture” digital video camera, true to its name, has a top-side crank, and resembles a sleek, miniaturized version of an early 20th century movie camera. The cameras derive supplemental energy through “Push POWER Play”, a boxy screen with a roller base. Kids roll “Push POWER Play” to generate additional electricity, and presumably attach it to the camera.

Because cranking and rolling may not be enough to power a digital camera, the children also have recourse to solar energy: “Juice Box,” a credit card-sized object, which morphs accordion-style into a solar panel array. The variety of power sources is ingenious, because, regardless of the situation, an alternative power source is available. When stuck on a packed commuter train with no space for cranking and rolling, a kid might still be able to capture some sun; while at night, cranking and rolling theoretically will suffice to power ODO devices.

The key components of the ODO line are the kinetic engine and the solar panel array. They can be used interchangeably to power ODO-brand cameras, headphones, and other devices Sony chooses to include in the brand if the prototype is successful. Sony hinted at plans to used simplified packaging and recycled plastic in the manufacturing of ODO products as part of their broader “Sustainable Product” initiative.

Via: Makoto Ichiro Tanaka, DigiCame Watch and Donald Melanson, Engadget

GM Awards Battery Control Contracts

Exciting news from the auto-world. General Motors has just awarded contracts to Compact Power and Continental Automotive Systems to create the battery systems for a new line of high-efficiency vehicles. One of those vehicles is the (potentially) awesome Chevy Volt that they announced earlier this year.

These two companies will be producing battery control systems, especially focusing on longevity and safety. GM hopes to get at least 10 years, the expected life of a car. They also are working on ways to measure battery cell charge, as overcharging sometimes causes batteries to fail. Even though it is early, GM is confident that they will have working batteries by June next year.

Every move GM makes puts the Chevy Volt closer to our hands. Hopefully the follow through will continue and we will finally see a sexy, mass produced Detroit car…with a plug sticking out the back.

Via AutoBlogGreen and GM Fastlane

Alfa Romeo Motorcycle With A 4-Cylinder Boxer Engine!

From time to time we like crossing over to the wonderful world of two-wheels. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to stumble upon really weird creations like the 3wheeler Mercedes SLK or the Alfa bike you’re seeing here that attempt to mix characteristics from both worlds -cars and motorcycles. Not always with the same success apparently. While there’s no info on the heavily modified bike, it seems to be wearing a 4cylinder Alfa Romeo boxer motor combined with some parts that look to have come from a BMW motorcycle boxer engine. -More pictures after the jump


ΟPEC Threatens To Drive Oil-Prices Through The Roof

This is exactly what we needed now; OPEC warning – threatening (take your pick) through its secretary-general, Abdalla El-Badri, that if the West continues to develop bio-fuels as an alternative energy source to combat climate change, the price of oil could go “through the roof” as the cartel’s members will start cutting investment in new oil production.

OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) which controls about 40 per cent of world oil production, plans to spend about $130bn until 2012 to raise oil output. Iraq production apart, the petrol cartel forecasts a capacity of 39.7m barrels of crude oil per day in 2010, up from today’s 35.7m b/d. El-Badri told FTP that OPEC also plans to invest another $500bn in production development during the period 2013 to 2020. However, always according to El-Badri, that could change depending on the biofuels outlook.

And to think that world production of biofuels were equal to a mere 1 per cent of all road transport fuel in 2005! To make a long story short, what those democratic and anthropocentric fellas at OPEC are telling is, stop trying to find alternative fuels or we’re going to shove a raise so deep up your rass that it’ll take your economies years to recover.

Source: FTP , Via: Edmunds Straightline

Volkswagen gain interests in Malaysian Car Company

Proton shares may be on the way to their biggest one-day gain in more than five years due to a report that Volkswagen may buy a controlling stake in the Malaysian car maker’s assets.

It was earlier today when reports came out that Volkswagen may buy a 51 percent stake in a newly formed unit that will own Proton’s manufacturing, research and development and engineering divisions. It was after Edge Financial Daily reported this matter when Proton stock supposedly rose as much as 21 percent

The same news report also said that Sime Darby will buy a 43 percent stake in Proton Holdings from a Malaysian state investment company, Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

The Malaysian car maker has lost half its market share after selling six out of 10 cars in the local scene 10 years ago. Right now they need a partner to develop new car technology and new models. There is an agreement with Kuala Lumpur-based Sime Darby, that they would help the government to keep Proton under local control.

“It’s positive with Volkswagen coming in,” said Jason Yap, a Kuala Lumpur-based analyst. “It’s taking over the platform, the R&D, basically controlling the whole manufacturing of Proton.”

The shares of Malaysia-based Proton went up as much as 1.2 ringgit to 7.05 ringgit and traded at 6.8 ringgit at 12:09 p.m. The stock is set for the biggest daily percentage increase since Feb. 19, 2002.

The shares of Sime Darby fell as much as 2 percent to 10 ringgit and traded at 10.1 ringgit after the Edge report said the company may pay 9.5 ringgit for each Proton share. The company also has other assets in palm oil plantations and car sales.

Ahmad Zubir Murshid, chief executive officer of Sime Darby, said he was in a board meeting and was unable to talk when contacted on his mobile phone today. While, Faridah Idris, a spokeswoman at Proton, declined to comment. Ahmad Shahizam Shariff, a spokesman for Khazanah, didn’t answer a call to his mobile phone. Andreas Meurer, a spokesman for Volkswagen, didn’t answer a call to his office outside business hours.

Malaysia’s government controls Proton through a 43 percent stake held by state investment arm Khazanah Nasional Bhd. The government has also been looking for a partner for the car maker since an alliance with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. ended in 2004. But they were not successful in reaching the self-imposed March deadline to find an alliance for Proton.

Proton was set up in 1983 by then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to promote Malaysian manufacturing. The government hasn’t explained why it missed the deadline to find a partner.

The Edge said representatives from Volkswagen, Khazanah, Sime Darby and the office of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi are currently meeting in New York to complete the details of the agreement.

Proton reported last a month a loss of 591.4 million ringgit ($172 million) for the 12 months ended March 31, its first annual loss since at least 1991.

WINDPOWER 2007: Industry Taking Bird Kill Seriously

They pretty much have to, thanks to coal-state congressman Nick Rahall
(R-West Virginia) who, concerned that the occasional deadly intersection
between birds and wind turbines constitutes "a violation of the Migratory
Bird Act and the Endangered Species Act," and so is pushing legislation that
would seriously curtail the generation of wind energy in the United States.
(Never mind that Audubon Society president John Flicker has given the wind
industry his blessing, saying that while we can measure how many birds are
killed in wind turbines every year the number killed by coal-fired power plants
is almost impossible to count.)

In any case, having attended the American Wind Energy Association’s annual
conference this year, it seemed clear that the industry was taking the issue
seriously (despite the fact that house cats kill more birds each year than
wind turbines — a few hundred million more).

The first thing they did was
admit responsibility: when they built a wind farm in Northern California’s
Altamont Pass, says congressman and wind advocate Jerry McNerney, "we had no
idea that birds would fly into those windmills. We figured they could see
better than us!" To address the problem, AWEA president Randall Swisher has
pledged to create a "wind wildlife institute" which will study the impact of
wind technology on birds and bats, and work to find technological solutions
to the problem.

But there was evidence on WINDPOWER 2007’s exhibit floor
that such innovations were already taking place: several companies were
marketing new, extra-tall wind turbine towers that not only put rotor blades
above the flight path of most birds, but take better advantage of
high-altitude, higher-velocity windspeeds. Hopefully the industry won’t be
playing defense on these kinds of issues (or non-issues, as the case may be)
for much longer.

Give Blood for Oil

No…I’m serious. Gasoline is now so coveted in America, that folks are swapping one life-giving, all-powerful fluid for another. Yep, if you donate blood to the American Red Cross in Pennsylvania or New Jersey this summer, you’ll get a chance to win $3,500 in gas!

I guess it would be creepier if it were a direct swap (thanks for the blood, will that be regular or premium.) So I guess there’s nothing wrong with a little incentive..we’re all for blood donations. We just wish people didn’t want / need gasoline quite this bad.
Via AutoBlogGreen

Google Public Transit is Amazing

Oh Google, how you amuse me. This isn’t much use in my tiny town, but for those big-city dwellers out there, your mass-transit life just got much easier. Just go to and type in your location and destination, and Google will tell you how to get to your location using mass transit. Google even works out walking times to bus stations and subway stops.

You’ll get a brief overview of your trip, along with cute little arrows indicating where you have to walk to. Plus, Google will tell you exactly how much your trip will cost you for bus / subway fairs, compare that with how much it would cost to drive your own car at current gas prices!

If that’s not cool enough, it’ll even give you several different routes to choose from, including what time you should leave your house to get to the bus-stop on time. MARVELOUS!

Now, if it was just available in more cities…we could really give Google a gold star.

Via AutoBlogGreen