The Gadgets Page

July 24, 2015

The Spacelander Bike

Filed under: Cars & Transportation — Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am

A post from Juliet Peck Moore on Facebook introduced me to the coolest bike I’ve seen in a long time. It’s called the Spacelander and it was designed in the Sixties by Benjamin Bowden.

Spacelander Bicycle from The Gadgets Page

In the early or mid 1950s, Bowden moved to Michigan, in the United States. While in Muskegon, Michigan in 1959, he met with Joe Kaskie, of the George Morrell Corporation, a custom molding company. Kaskie suggested molding the bicycle in fibreglass instead of aluminium. Although he retained the futuristic appearance of the Classic, Bowden abandoned the hub dynamo, and replaced the drive-train with a more common sprocket-chain assembly. The new name, Spacelander, was chosen to capitalize on interest in the Space Race.

Spacelander Bicycle and Benjamin Bowden from The Gadgets Page

Financial troubles from the distributor forced Bowden to rush development of the Spacelander, which was released in 1960 in five colours: Charcoal Black, Cliffs of Dover White, Meadow Green, Outer Space Blue, and Stop Sign Red. The bicycle was priced at $89.50, which made it one of the more expensive bicycles on the market. In addition, the fibreglass frame was relatively fragile, and its unusual nature made it difficult to market to established bicycle distributors. Only 544 Spacelander bicycles were shipped before production was halted, although more complete sets of parts were manufactured.

Spacelander Bicycle from The Gadgets Page

There is some hope for being able to own one yourself, though.

Beginning in the 1980s, there was a resurgence of interest in the Spacelander as a collectors item. Two bicycle enthusiasts, John Howland and Michael Kaplan, purchased the rights to the Spacelander name from Bowden, and have manufactured a small number of reproductions and replacement parts. The first reproduction was sold in 1988 for $4,000. The reproduction’s design has been modified to improve durability.

Spacelander Bicycle from The Gadgets Page

I found a couple on eBay, but they are priced way too high for something I’d be willing to ride around town. They are so gorgeous, though.

Spacelander Bicycle from The Gadgets Page

I feel so sad that awesome designs like this disappear and are unavailable. I am happy with my Schwinn cruiser that I bought at Kmart for $125, but I can’t believe that we don’t have awesome bikes like this on the road and in stores today.

Images via:

July 20, 2015

PlasticRoad from VolkerWessels:

Filed under: Cars & Transportation — Laura Moncur @ 10:47 am

VolkerWessels, a construction company, has created a plastic road.

VolkerWessels PlasticRoad from The Gadgets Page

Their description:

PlasticRoad features numerous advantages compared to conventional roads, both in terms of construction and maintenance. Plastic is much more sustainable and opens the door for a number of new innovations such as power generation, quiet road surfaces, heated roads and modular construction. Additionally, the PlasticRoad design features a ‘hollow’ space that can be used for cables, pipes and rainwater.

In Utah, we need a road design like this because the snow plows tear up asphalt like it is paper. I love how the design accommodates channels for electric pipes and drainage.

VolkerWessels PlasticRoad from The Gadgets Page

This is the future of roads that I would like to see NOW. I don’t know how slippery the roads would get with snow, water and ice. Also, those large channels underneath might cause a greater likeliness of freezing.

VolkerWessels PlasticRoad from The Gadgets Page

If we were able to create roads that could be fixed just by removing a panel and replacing it in one day, construction wouldn’t be a problem anymore. If we were able to fix power and water lines without digging up roads, the repair would take half the time.

I love the design of these roads. They would be even better if the top panel were solar panels. There was an entry on solar roads here:

A modular road system with solar panels exposed to light all day long would truly be a sign that we are living in the Jetson’s world.

January 14, 2015

CES 2015: Beam Pro Telepresence

Filed under: Cars & Transportation — Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am

Beam Pro had a booth at CES this year and I came face to face with the idea of telepresence. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, watch this video clip from the television show, Big Bang Theory.

Beam Pro is a professional version of this kind of device. It is marketed to companies for meeting attendance and remote presentations. And it has a MAJOR flaw.

You can’t look the person in the eye.

You can barely see what I mean in this video.

She does a very good job of looking into the camera for most of this video, but a couple of times, you do see her glance down at the screen. Only professionals would do a good job with a telepresence. Most of the people I saw at CES 2015 who were interacting with people were staring at their screen the entire time. It appeared that they were looking downward, like they were ashamed.

When I was talking to the telepresence, I did the same. I looked at the screen, which is lower than the camera. It took an incredible effort to look at the camera because I wanted to see the person’s face. What they need to do to fix this is somehow mount the camera behind the screen.

We WANT to look at peoples’ faces. That’s why we both were looking at the screen instead of the camera. The camera needs to be in a different place for this to work.

Oh, and any telepresence that can be knocked over by a careless intern is no better than a laptop computer carried around by said intern. In fact, if you had an intern carry around a laptop using FaceTime or any other teleconferencing software, it would actually be BETTER and cheaper than a Beam Pro.

Except MegaBeam. Nothing beats MegaBeam.

They had a HUGE version of this telepresence product rolling around their show floor called, MegaBeam. Here is a picture of me interacting with it.

CES 2015 Beam Pro Telepresence from The Gadgets Page

It was so large and intimidating that it really made me feel happy and chosen when it interacted with me. This is how it looked from my point of view.

CES 2015 Beam Pro Telepresence from The Gadgets Page

Something large like MegaBeam sets off the guttural instincts and causes one to genuflect, even if it is manned by a nerdy guy with glasses. He asked nicely if I would take a picture of him and post it with a MegaBeam hashtag and I complied without a second thought. The sheer size of MegaBeam ensured my compliance.

And he didn’t even need to say, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…”

November 11, 2011

The Toyota Yaris: It’s A Car!

Filed under: Cars & Transportation — Laura Moncur @ 8:20 am

I absolutely ADORE this advertising campaign from Toyota. It’s for their Yaris, which is the bottom of the line car for them and they have decided to highlight features usually overlooked by car manufacturers.

Do you go places sometimes and leave places other times? Maybe you need a Yaris. It’s a car!

Ironically, my VW Beetle didn’t have this feature. The windows broke so often that I eventually just stopped rolling them down at all.

My Beetle wasn’t very good in this department either. It had two cup holders that couldn’t hold anything larger than a can of soda and even that was a tight squeeze.

Yellow? No! I guess I’ll just have to go with Other Other Blue…

Nine airbags! I AM PROTECTED!

Personally, I don’t care for the “soft dash” features. I have them in certain spots on my Prius and they are grime magnets. I’d rather just have plastic, I think.

It’s handy to have a USB port to plug in your iPod or iPhone. I wonder how it works with the stereo. I DO know that you can upgrade the Yaris stereo to one that has integrated Bluetooth.

They don’t even mention the best part of the Yaris. The gas mileage is 30 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the freeway. I get 45 mpg in my Prius, but it cost me TEN THOUSAND dollars more than the Yaris. In the end, these Yaris commercials are just silly fun, but they got me to seriously look at a car that I might not have even considered.

August 18, 2011

Solar Roadways Prototype in Idaho

Filed under: Cars & Transportation,Green Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Imagine if every road and parking lot in the United States was paved with solar panels instead of asphalt. Even if they had only 15% efficiency (as the current solar panels do), they would be able to generate enough electricity to power our entire country three times over. That is the premise for the solar roadways. The roads are already there, soaking up the heat of the sun. All we have to do is design a solar panel that can do that and withstand the beating that comes from being a road.

Solar Roadways, based in Idaho is doing just that. They are building their prototype in their own parking lot. This video from YouTube explains it:

I love how they talk about how they are using the garbage from the landfills to be used as the structure of the road (3:15 mark). Since asphalt is oil based, it won’t last forever. These roads are better all around.

Via: Solar Roadways to build solar-powered parking lot | The Car Tech blog – CNET Reviews

November 27, 2009

The Dodge Diplomat Was A VERY Cool Car

Filed under: Cars & Transportation,Retro Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 10:26 am

click to see full sizeI’m trying not to be offended because Go Retro has named the Dodge Diplomat number four on its list of bad car names.

  • Go Retro!: Bad Car Names

4. Dodge Diplomat: Despite a long production run (from 1977 to 1989) I’ve never heard of anyone who owned a Diplomat, and I’m not sure that those who did really did feel all that more important. Check out the vintage ad I’ve posted above – shuttle diplomacy? A misguided advertising attempt to make a soccer mom feel like she’s royalty or something.

When my dad moved out, my mom’s friend from work, Carol, moved in. She drove a Dodge Diplomat. It didn’t look like the one in this advertisement. It looked like this, except it was white (not silver) and the cloth top was a dark blue, not brown.

Click to see full size

It breaks my heart that we don’t have a photo of that car, because we had so many good times in it. Carol and Mom took Stacey and me to Wisconsin in that car, driving across I-80 through the desolation that is Wyoming and the boredom that is Nebraska. We had a lot of good times in that car.

I never realized how cool it was until I was fourteen years old. By that time, Carol had been living with us for five years and the car was just the Diplomat. It was the family car and we took its luxuries for granted every day. That day, in ninth grade, Mom picked up a bunch of us from a school function. Crammed in the front seat, were the two cutest guys in the Quest program. While I was stuffed into the back seat with four girls, they fiddled with the radio up front. They were so impressed with the digital tuner on the radio (this was 1984, so digital tuners were VERY rare back then). After the ride, they told me how cool my mom’s car was and I beamed with pride.

Did riding in the Dodge Diplomat make me feel like royalty? That day, it sure did. Not to mention the fact that the car could hold six stranded teenagers. Sorry, Go Retro, you’re wrong. The Dodge Diplomat was a VERY cool car.

October 27, 2009

Volkswagen Bus: What Is It?

Filed under: Cars & Transportation,Retro Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

I love this ad for the Volkswagen Bus:

VWBus-WhatIsIt

It reads:

What is it?

Glad you asked. It’s a Volkswagen Station Wagon. Don’t pity the poor thing. It can take it. It can carry neatly a ton of anything you can afford to buy. Or 8 people (plus luggage) if you want to get practical about it.

And there’s more than one practical consideration. It will take you about 24 miles on a gallon of regular gas. It won’t take any water or anti-freeze at all; the engine is air-cooled. And even though it carries almost twice as much as regular wagons, it takes four feet less to park.

What’s in the packages?

8 pairs of skis, the complete works of Dickens, 98 lbs. of frozen spinach, a hutch used by Grover Clevland, 80 Hollywood High gym sweaters, a suit of armor, and a full sized reproduction of the Winged Victory of Samothrace.

Sadly, there isn’t a vehicle made today that has all that the old VW Bus had. Tons of cargo space, room for 8 passengers, 24 mpg and small footprint for easy parking. If I could buy a brand new VW Bus today, I would.

Advert via: Live Journal: vintage ads

October 14, 2009

More Power To You!

Filed under: Cars & Transportation,Misc. Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

I love this advertisement from America’s Independent Electric Companies.

More Power To You

It reads:

More Power To You! America’s independent light and power companies build your new electric living

Tomorrow’s higher standard of living will put electricity to work for you in ways still unheard of!

The time isn’t too far off, the experts say, when you’ll wash your dishes without soap or water – ultrasonic waves will do the job.

Still hasn’t happened yet. I’ve seen lots of gadgets that SAY they do this, but none of them have been made readily available.

Your beds will be made at the touch of a button.

Yours do that? Mine sure doesn’t.

The kids’ homework will be made interesting and even exciting when they are able to dial a library book, a lecture, or a classroom demonstration right into your home – with sound. (Some of this is happening already)

Thank you, Internet! You HAVE fulfilled the dreams of the 1950’s!

To enjoy all this, you’ll want a lot more electric power, and the independent electric companies of America are already building new plants and facilities to provide it. Right now these companies are building at the rate of $5,000,000,000 a year, and planning to double the nation’s supply of electricity in less than 10 years.

America has always had the best electric power service in the world. The electric companies are resolved to keep it that way.

Can I just take a moment to THANK the electric companies of yesteryear?! They stepped up the production of plants to meet our needs so well that we feel that electricity is a RIGHT. Whenever we get a huge snowstorm here in Utah, the weight of the snow can snap a line. When the people of Utah are out of power for more than a few hours, they SUE electric companies. Outages and brownouts are rare because these folks had the foresight to build.

Mind you, I wish they had built more windmills and less coal burning plants, but it’s not really fair for me to expect them to foresee the energy crisis as well as the need for it.

Advert via: vintage_ads: “They’re working on it!”

October 9, 2009

Retro Cars from Three Frames

Filed under: Cars & Transportation,Retro Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 10:36 am

I love this animated GIF from three frames.

Retro Cars from Three Frames

It is from the movie, Playtime, which was released in 1967 in France. I love seeing all the old cars and buses moving around the traffic circle. That’s the beauty of old movies. They’re a glimpse of the gadgetry of days gone by.

August 12, 2009

Restored Buick

Filed under: Cars & Transportation,Retro Gadgets — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

This old Buick was parked in our neighborhood the other day, so I had to snap some photos of it because it looks so good!

Restored Buick by LauraMoncur from Flickr

You can see ALL the photos here:

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