Robots Compete to Help Save Lives—and Win a $2 Million Prize

Androids – not phones, but robots – will convene near Miami on December 20 when 17 teams from around the world face off for a chance at a $2 million prize in a competition sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) was created in response to the nuclear meltdown caused by a Tsunami in March, 2011 at Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, when being able to turn a valve in the reactor buildings might have prevented further catastrophe. The trials this month will provide a baseline on the current state of robotics and determine which teams continue to the DRC Finals to be held in December 2014, with funding from DARPA.

Each robot will be required to demonstrate the ability to move from a sanctuary area to a danger zone and then work effectively on eight tasks designed to test mobility, manipulation, dexterity, perception, and control…tasks deemed necessary in a natural or man-made disaster. The participating teams represent some of the most advanced robotics research and development organizations in the world, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, the Johnson Space Center, MIT, Drexel, Virginia Tech, and Carnegie Mellon.

According to DARPA, the technologies resulting from the DRC will transform the field of robotics and advance the development of robots that can operate in the hazardous conditions common in disaster zones.

Even today, robots available to all of us can do amazing things. While our robotically enhanced products may not save lives, they might help keep your home from looking like a disaster area. At Hammacher Schlemmer, we have robots that will clean your floors and wash your windows. Recent advances allow some of our exclusive models to use sensors that detect dirt and determine the optimal cleaning path.

Of course, some robots are just for fun. These robotic toys are more than mere toys…they provide kids of all ages amusement and amazement with their movements and responses to your commands. We even have a robot that integrates your iPhone, creating an avatar that reflects your facial features and personality traits.

And if it’s companionship you seek, The Emotive Robotic Avatar can convey nuanced emotions, which you control, of course, using the included tablet PC from up to 30′ away.

Exercise Teambuilding on a Bicycle Built for Seven

Much has been researched and written about the benefits of team building exercises to improve collaboration in corporate, academic, and even non-profit organizational settings. When peers practice working well together, the result is more productivity, sharper focus, and deeper employee satisfaction.7 Person Bicycle

For the most successful teams, dynamics require that everyone contribute to the effort. The Seven Person Tricycle accommodates seven adults and facilitates close-knit conferencing during joyrides. The seven seats each have a set of pedals that riders can operate simultaneously to propel the tricycle up to 10 mph, encouraging social interaction and team building while pedaling.

Of course, guiding leadership is also a key ingredient for a successful team. The Seven Person Tricycle puts one person at the controls to steer and operate the hydraulic brake system.

The camaraderie fostered by our group tricycle has already been proven out by some well-known organizations. Like most tech companies, Google encourages bike commuting. But, they go one step further and use this style of trike to tool teams around the corporate campus while sharing ideas. The Lighthouse for the Blind used one on a summer retreat to give sightless folks a chance to enjoy a unique bike ride. Former President Jimmy Carter happened upon the tricycle while it was on a demonstration tour in Georgia and declared it “the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Lest one view the seven-person cycle as just another corporate program-of-the-month rolled out by the HR department at HQ, let us emphasize this is really a party on wheels. It’s a unique mode of transportation that combines the endorphins of exercise, the satisfaction of socialization, and the wow factor of an eye-catching, outside-the-box design.

Rising Above The Gridlock, It’s The Helicycle

In man’s quest to drive to point B from point A ever more quickly, he has encountered natural obstacles like wide bodies of water and large tracts of unpaved land. These were overcome by engineering feats such as suspension bridges and interstate highways. Unfortunately, these successes created an entirely new and universally reviled impediment to rapid road travel: traffic congestion.

The two dimensional solution is to wait impatiently in gridlock, gnashing one’s teeth.  But now there is a way for the road-weary to take to the air, flying over the traffic. The two-seat Helicycle is a personal motorcycle that with a few minutes’ effort converts to a flying rotor craft.

When Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva invented the freewheeling auto gyro in 1923, Helicyclesafe, slow-speed flight became possible. But now, combining a motorcycle with an auto gyro puts this vehicle in the league of rocket jet packs and antigravity shoes.

A 230-hp, four-cylinder engine powers the craft to a maximum 112 mph in the air or on the road. When driven as a street-legal vehicle, the Helicycle accelerates from 0-60 mph in under eight seconds, with a proprietary tilting system that provides the agility of a motorcycle. When travel by air is desired, the craft’s propeller, rotor, and dual rudders deploy in 10 minutes. Though it resembles a helicopter, the gyrocopter flies like an ultra-light plane, its overhead rotors spinning to provide lift as a result of the forward motion of the vehicle.

Think of the possibilities…you’re on St. Barth’s in your tropical villa, near the island’s world-famous short runway  and decide to fly to St. Martin for a day of shopping and dining. It’s 34 miles round trip, a two hour ride by ferry. The answer is simple: the Helicycle. Zoom to the Gustavia airport like a motorcycle and take off into the sky like a helicopter, to fly to St. Martin in 30 minutes or less. You’ll be back on St. Barth’s in time to tell tales in tails over cocktails.

The Helicycle provides airborne mobility to fly from remote air strips, to island hop, to slowly cruise over vast reserves, ranches, and estates. Its sturdy Dutch construction and uncomplicated design requires no more than 40 hour of training to earn flight certification.

iPhone Dock Has Manifold Admirers

An untold number of iPod/iPhone docks are on the market, but none speaks to the audiophile who is also a petrolhead like The Formula One Speaker Dock. Enzo Ferrari once said the sound of an engine should be listened to like a symphony. Little did he know the manifolds of his cars could someday play Mozart’s finest.The Formula One Speaker Dock

This dock is constructed from the left or right exhaust manifold of a retired eight-cylinder F1 engine of your choosing, including a 1978 Cosworth DFV, 2006 Renault RS26, 2007 Ferrari 056 and others. Crafted in Modena, Italy, the cradle of Italian racecar innovation, the manifold’s four headpipes house two silk-dome, 70-watt tweeters and two PPM-cone, 70-watt mid-range speakers that provide clear highs and mids. The end of the manifold’s collector tube houses a doped-paper cone 140-watt active subwoofer driven by a high-density flux ferrite that provides booming bass.

It’s a beautiful repurposing that marries fine mechanical workmanship with the high-tuned nerves of a Formula One tailpipe. And it isn’t the first time we’ve repurposed the spirit of a classic automobile into a new object. The 1959 Corvette Billiards Table meticulously reproduces the classic convertible from real chrome bumper to real chrome bumper, complete with gleaming grille, curves, and working versions of the trademark four headlights.

Inventors and tinkerers alike have long repurposed auto parts into objects either fun or functional. Artist John Kearney is known for his whimsical animal sculptures crafted from car bumpers. Many cars have been given second lives as furniture in dining rooms, bedrooms, living rooms and offices. And at least one old car has been turned into a chicken coop!

But why stop with auto parts? The DIY community and social networks like Pinterest are rich with ideas for transforming ordinary objects into eye-catching furniture, guaranteed to be one of a kind.

Cordless Christmas Decorations Let Christmas Glow All Around Your Home

Have you ever wanted to decorate your front door with a lighted Christmas wreath, but had no practical place to plug it in? Or imagined the centerpiece on your table casting a warm glow, but without the flames and waxy mess of candles?

Our cordless Christmas decorationsCordless Christmas Decorations require no electric outlet, allowing you to place them anywhere indoors or out. This prelit trim is available in a variety of styles from wreaths and sconces to swags, garlands and hanging baskets. Each cordless decoration is festooned with energy-efficient, white LED lights that have a life of up to 20,000 hours (that’s more than 20 holiday seasons). Many of the pieces have a timer that can be set to stay on for six hours and automatically turn off for 18 hours. Batteries will power the lights for an entire holiday season.

Choose trim with lifelike Noble fir and pine boughs, poinsettias, holly berries, ornament balls and even petunias or geraniums. Boughs and blooms are made from weather-proof materials to provide festive color for years to come.

Hammacher Schlemmer’s Landmark Store Offers a Fresh Look at Innovation

Hammacher New York Store InvitationOn Wednesday, November 20th, 2013, Hammacher Schlemmer will unveil its newly renovated landmark store in downtown Manhattan. The reimagined space features updated lighting, modernized display cases, and a new floor made of solid stone and hardwoods, providing an exceptional environment in which visitors can examine in person the innovative, problem-solving products for which it has become known for over 165 years.

Hailed in more recent years by The New York Times as a “renowned purveyor of bizarre gadgetry and elegant gifts”, “a mind-boggling treasure house of esoteric items” by the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, and “the darling of potentates and all manner of celebrities” by Town & Country, Hammacher Schlemmer began as a hardware store in New York’s Bowery district in 1848—a full 13 years before the Civil War began.

It quickly gained a reputation for offering some of the best tools to be found in the city. If an industrious mid-19th century New York craftsman needed a mortise gauge, saw bummer, or plumb bob, he sought it from Hammacher Schlemmer either in-person or by phone—in 1876, the store was listed among the initial 271 original subscribers to the New York City Bell Telephone directory.

A natural result of its burgeoning business, the company published its first catalog in 1881. Now the industrious craftsman could send for a hard-to-find tool not commonly found elsewhere. In 1896, it became one of the first retail stores to install electric lights. In 1902, when there were only 600 “horseless” carriages in New York City, the company opened the first auto parts department. Perhaps the greatest compliment to its reputation was provided in 1916, when Czar Nicholas II sent for one of every item in the store for use as manufacturing masters in anticipation of the Bolshevik Revolution.

To accommodate a growing assortment of products, the original store moved locations within Manhattan, finally arriving at its present location at 147 E. 57th Street in 1926.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the name Hammacher Schlemmer became synonymous with innovation. It introduced the first pop-up toaster (1930), electric razor (1934), and steam iron (1948), followed in later decades by the first electric can opener (1956), microwave oven (1968), and telephone answering machine (1968).

Visitors to the store in those days browsed among velvet-lined display cases after a greeting from doormen donned in tailcoats, the early manifestations of a fine shopping experience and superior customer service legacy that can be encountered today. Such an experience has compelled heads of state, royalty, stars of stage and screen, and captains of industry to visit the store to investigate its innovations. In addition to visits by those bearing the well-known names Vanderbilt, Morgan, and Rockefeller, F.D. Roosevelt favored kitchen equipment while J.F. Kennedy purchased an electric bed. The Beatles purchased as gifts hundreds of The Nothing Box—a sealed box with colored bulbs that flashed in a random sequence. Alfred Hitchcock purchased steak knives for use in his film Torn Curtain.

More recent innovations include the first automatic coffee maker (1973), cordless telephone (1975), pocket television (1983), portable DVD player (1998), TV wristwatch (2003), and the slide-to-digital picture converter (2007).

Although perceived by many over the last 16 decades as the store to find intriguing gadgets, Hammacher Schlemmer has always viewed its offerings as functional problem solvers-——it has always believed that the unusual should be exceptional, and the exceptional should be the norm.

 

Glittering Silver Christmas Trees Make a Brilliant Comeback!

Seldom has Christmas shined as brightly as on The Classic Silver Tinsel Tree! This is the unique Christmas tree that recreates holiday nostalgia from the era of Nerhu jackets and beat poetry.Unique Christmas Tree

This unique Christmas tree style has its roots in the late 1950s and early 60s when home decor was trending toward a modern, space-age style. The look for the thoroughly unique tree of that era included a rotating, spotlighted wheel to reflect colorful light because the aluminum trees popular then would have created shock and fire hazards had lights been strung on the metallic branches.

In contrast, our Silver Tinsel Tree comes safely pre-lit with 200 bright lights that shine off every one of this tree’s 555 shiny tips. Our tree even includes 36 classic glass ornaments and a tree topper in a vintage design that completes this unique Christmas tree style.

Like many things from the Mad Men days, appreciation for the glimmering, shimmering tree has returned, with its popularity surging again.

One Less Wheel, Lots More Fun.

Our cars have become ever more luxurious and are loaded with gadgets…satellite radio, GPS, built-in Bluetooth, DVD players. Is it a vehicle or a rolling living room? Perhaps the reason for all these driver distractions in the name of comfort is to take our minds off the dull ride of common four-wheel cars.

Maybe what is needed are fewer gadgets (did we really say that?) and a lot more old-fashioned fun. After a 60-year hiatus, the Morgan Three Wheeler returns to rescue drivers from their mundane commutes. The Authentic Morgan Three Wheeler speedster has thrilled racing enthusiasts for decades with its engineered stability, and we are pleased to offer you this modern manifestation of motoring’s halcyon days.

This modern version made for U.S. roads (legally it’s classified as a motor tricycle) is built with a frame of welded airframe steel tubing, renewable wood and aircraft aluminum skin, all hand crafted by coach builders at the Morgan Motor Company in Malvern Link, England. It has an extremely high power-to-weight ratio giving it a top speed over 100 mph. The award-winning, tough S&S Wisconsin-made V twin air-cooled cycle motor provides power and torque for a ride that is described as seat of the pants, raucous, and pulsating.

The streamlined bullet styling gets the thumbs up from bystanders. It looks like and is a seriously fun racing machine. The skeptics gaze at the three wheels with wonder until they hop into the cockpit and viscerally rocket down the road, only to return with goggles dusty and a mile-wide, toothy grin.

All of the major auto magazines and BBC’S Top Gear gents in episode 18, season 6, remarked that this was one of the most fun, nostalgically thrilling driving vehicles in years. It’s described as low and throaty with a great sports car sound that today’s cars lack. Back in the racing days of Britain’s Sterling Moss, it was noted that Moss had used the Morgan 3 for hill climb races early in his career.

So turn the GPS off, set the cell phone to airplane mode, and give the satellite radio a rest. Put on a pair of goggles and a driving cap and zoom off like a fighter pilot, back to a time when motoring was a heart-pounding thrill.

Hammacher Schlemmer Releases its Holiday Gift Guide

New York, NY, November 5, 2013  – Hammacher Schlemmer, America’s most distinguished retail catalog company, has issued its Holiday Gift Guide for 2013 to offer gift ideas from a selection of the Best, the Only, and the Unexpected.

Ideal for finding a gift for someone who has everything or professes to want nothing, Hammacher Schlemmer’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide is filled with an assortment of products that solve problems or are the only ones of their

printerkind. Selected by Hammacher Schlemmer’s gift consultants, the product assortment includes The Oilless Fryer, an appliance that cooks crisp, succulent fried food without any oil, The Wireless iPhone Photo Printer, a device that prints color photographs from an iPhone or Android-powered phone, and The 50′ Snowball Launcher, a toy blaster that makes and shoots softball-sized snowballs.

“The Holiday Gift Guide provides customers with a means for finding unconventional gifts—presents that are not easily found elsewhere,” said Hammacher Schlemmer’s General Manager Fred Berns.

For gadget lovers, the Holiday Gift Guide offers The iPhone Binoculars, field binoculars that display images at 8X magnification on the smartphone, and The Wireless Speaker Ear Warmers, a product that protects ears from the cold and delivers sound from a smartphone.

Practical problem-solving gifts include The World’s Smallest Automatic Umbrella that retracts to merely 8″-long for unobtrusive storage, The VHS To DVD Converter, and The One Year Smartphone Back Up Battery—a source of supplemental power that retains 97% of its power after one year of inactivity.

Whimsical gifts include The Mind Controlled UFO, a flying orb that is remotely controlled by one’s own brain waves, and The Full Bottle Wine glass, stemware that holds up to 750 ml and allows one to say, in all honesty, they’ve only had one glass.

As with all of Hammacher Schlemmer’s products, the items in the Holiday Gift Guide are backed by the Hammacher Schlemmer Lifetime Guarantee, allowing gift-givers and recipients to exchange or return gifts at any time, for any reason.

About Hammacher Schlemmer

Hammacher Schlemmer is America’s longest running catalog, offering the Best, the Only, and the Unexpected since 1848. The company provides unique products that solve problems or represent the only one of their kind, and backs its products with The Hammacher Schlemmer Lifetime Guarantee. Hammacher Schlemmer’s innovative offerings are available through its catalog and online at www.hammacher.com .

Beyond Bobbing for Apples: Fun And Games for Fall Parties

Late October marks the eve and day when all good souls roam the earth and search for one last day of warmth before departing for their next celestial assignment.

spider

We gather in all of the fruits and veggies of fall’s harvest to be preserved and have celebrations of the departed; good memories of family and friends. Whether it’s a harvest party, Halloween, or the increasingly popular Latin Dia de los Muertos, scare away ghosts, goblins, and long-legged creatures such as those depicted by The 12′ Inflatable Animated Spider and The Gargantuan Inflatable Gargoyle with a party your friends and family will remember.

Try games of fortune telling like tarot and Ouija, where players divine the

future like Zoltar, accompanied by candy corn, homemade fat-free snacks made with The Healthiest Potato Chip Maker, punch, and bubbling kettles of spiced cider. Make a creative Halloween-themed piñata filled with your favorite sweets. As the backyard bonfires burn, tell tales of fright and appleromance, myth and legend. Have the neighbors over for pumpkin bowling with butternut squash nine pins. The Caramel Apple Maker lets you make your own gourmet caramel apples, and don’t forget cider donuts on strings: a race without hands to see who can devour them first. For the adults, serve flagons of ale and hard cider just like Rip Van Winkle.

When harvest winds howl and drive you indoors, lower the lights, turn off the telly, silence the smartphones and for one evening, make a happy shrine to our loved ones and the fallen who can’t be with us on this festive fall occasion.