The Surface Dial is an additional tool that works primarily with the Microsoft Surface Studio PC.

The dial is a minimalist knob that can turn freely to provide the user with a myriad of functionality, from tilting the canvas, switching between tools, and even changing colours on the fly; it can even adjust the volume (wow!). The dial can be clicked like a big button and also has haptic feedback.

sorry, but it doesn’t make the back of the pc translucent

Placing the Surface Dial on the MS Surface PC brings up a variety of different utility around the dial itself. Couple with touchscreen capabilities and the pen for use on the screen of the Surface PC itself provides users with a very smooth and innate ability to bring their concepts and designs to the digital platform without feeling like technical know-how of software being in the way.

The Surface Dials shows just how intuitive alternate modes of control can be, as opposed to shortcuts or functions stuck behind layers of drop-down menus. It also brings to mind how the current tools of mouse and keyboard can limiting user experience and in turn possibly shape software controls to be cumbersome than need be. It also doesn’t hurt that the graphics and animation around the dial are stunning and pleasing to the eye.

The Surface Dial however, isn’t the first of it’s kind. Previously there was the Griffin PowerMate, from as early as 2002. On Kickstarter there’s even a ‘Rev-O-mate’ from Japan priced at USD$75 as opposed to the Surface Dial’s USD$99, not including the price for the Surface PC setup which goes into the thousands (but it can still be used with regular computers without the on-screen functionality).

The PowerMate and Rev-O-mate might not be the stunner in conjunction with the Surface PC, but they hold their own for artists looking for cheaper alternatives for more intuitive control for color-correction, audio engineering and digital painting. The Surface Pro however, takes things a step further with it’s abilities and additional visual information and ease of use when placed upon the Surface PC itself, making something that’s actually been around for awhile, break new ground.

Hearing is something that once lost, is neigh impossible to recover fully; which is why it’s so important to preserve our ability to hear as much as we can. With concerts on the rise in Singapore and music and loud sounds being part of any event, people often end up unprepared in these high volume situations without any protection for their ears.

The Here One’s are a pair of ear-buds that can help with that, amongst a myriad of other things it can do. These ear-buds, besides listening to music, can augment the sound from around you in real-time. This is handy for music events where the user would like to protect their hearing and still enjoy the music un-muffled as cheap ear buds may do.

The Here One’s are controlled through a phone app, where you can fine tune a whole multitude of variables. You can EQ your music and the world around you, block out specific frequencies (eg. if you want to tone down a certain instrument in the band, you can alter the frequencies that the instrument lies in), you can even add effects to your world for fun, like reverb, distortion and even flange the audio.

The downsides however, are it’s battery life, 2 hours. It comes with a carrying case that doubles as a charger with a charge time of an hour. Some would argue that situations where you’d use the earbuds wouldn’t be much longer than 2 hours usually and that a larger battery would only contribute to a longer charge time as well. Which brings to mind an important portion of making devices, where a conscious decision has to be made to strike a balance in issues with usability.

There are also limits to it’s control over real world audio. If the volume is too low and the seal between the buds and the ear canal is too loose then sound leaks back in past the buds. This however can also be solved with appropriately sized buds/custom fit buds and perhaps tweaking noise cancelling software.

Lastly, the Hear Ones aren’t the only ones in the market, the iQbuds are an often compared competitor and of course there are pros and cons to both. I think either are a suitable purchase for any hearing protection/augmentation needs in this increasingly loud world.

For people plagued with disorders such as Parkinson’s, hand dexterity is heavily hindered by tremors that arise from the disorder. This heavily alters any activity requiring even the most basic of coordination. In turn, making the activity much harder, or even near impossible causing those affected to require more time or even assistance with these tasks.

Fortunately, there are people who have worked to make a spoon with stabilising technology that drastically reduces the effects of the tremors on the spoon, allowing those afflicted to once again be independent and capable of feeding themselves in a cleaner and more efficient manner.

The spoon works through an algorithm that detects the movement of the hand, decides whether the movement is intentional or unintentional, and then compensates for unintentional movement by moving in the opposite direction. This has eliminated up to 70% of the movement brought about by the various conditions causing these tremors.

The act of eating is something that those without mobility/dexterity issues probably don’t give much thought about, and would probably concentrate more on the food itself. But these sorts of issues only make themselves apparent once we lose the ability to function on a more regular level. Thankfully with advancements in technology, much like prosthetic replacements, we can aid those affected to regain their independence, and that makes a whole world of difference to them on a physical, mental and emotional level.


PS. They also now have the Liftware Level, which caters more towards those with limited arm mobility