Futurama-style wrist communicator is your new all-in-one smart device

Once in a while a piece of technology comes along that you feel like you already know, not because it has already been done, but because it is so firmly rooted in science fiction and popular culture that it seems like it already exists.

The Rufus Cuff is the latest of these technologies. According to its makers, it is the first “wrist communicator”, a wristband that can both tether to a smartphone or work independently.

Although a fairly unique product, the Rufus Cuff feels straight out of science fiction, and is particularly reminiscent of Turanga Leela’s  “this thing I wear on my wrist” from the cartoon series Futurama and the Pip-Boy 3000 from the Fallout video game series.

Older readers may also see a similarity between the Rufus Cuff and cartoon police detective Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist radio.

turanga-leela

The Rufus Cuff has many similarities to the tethered smart watches that are currently flooding the tech market. It has a built-in mic, speaker and camera, enabling the wearer to make voice and video calls while the device is tethered to their smartphone. An untethered version can even make voice and video calls over Wi-Fi.

However, the Rufus Cuff’s 3 inch screen offers some serious advantages over a conventional smart watch. The cuff runs on Android, so offers a complete web browser along with the ability to watch videos and download apps from Google Play.

It can also be used to send email and other messages: unlike smaller wearables, the screen size allows for a decent typing experience, and when tethered with Siri or Google Now-capable phones Rufus can even be used to dictate messages.

rufus-cuff

With both portrait and landscape display modes, the cuff has been designed to be worn on either the inside or outside of the wrist, which should make for a comfortable using experience – an obviously essential factor in a device intended to be worn most of the time.

The developers have clearly taken this into account, and are giving purchasers of the device on their Indiegogo page a wide choice of colours and finishes, starting at $229 (€166 / £138).

The cuff also has the obligatory fitness functions that appear to have become staple features for most wearables. It features GPS, an accelerometer and a gyroscope, allowing it to make full use of the many fitness apps in the Play store.

Other features include the ability to hook up to Bluetooth enabled products such as locks and lights, potentially making it the coolest way to get home and turn the lights on.

Although less than a week into its Indiegogo campaign, the Rufus Cuff is selling well, with more than 97 funders forking out to lay their hands on one.

This cuff has the potential to be a smart watch killer. Having discussed wearables with many different people, from developers and other journalists to tech-savvy consumers and more conservative gadget-skeptics, the number one thing said about smart watches is that they feel too small to be worthwhile.

Instead, the majority of people describe a larger touchscreen that they can wear on their wrist. A product, in fact, that is almost identical to the Rufus Cuff.


Images courtesy of Rufus Labs.


How diamonds could make your computer faster and more powerful

Future computers could use diamonds to make them more powerful. Far from creating diamond-studded desktop,s the precious mineral has for the first time been used in wire to transmit information.

A group of scientists from Ohio University, US, managed to demonstrate that information can flow through a diamond wire, using a process called ‘spintronics’.

The researchers found that electrons did not pass through diamond as they do in traditional electronics but rather passed along a magnetic effect called ‘spin’ – much like a crowd performing a Mexican Wave at an event.


“To a scientist, diamonds are kind of boring, unless you’re getting engaged.”


Chris Hammel, from the university, said that diamond is an effective material for transferring information by spintronics as it doesn’t hold heat, is electrically insulating and resistant to acids.

He said: “Basically [the diamond], it’s inert. You can’t do anything to it. To a scientist, diamonds are kind of boring, unless you’re getting engaged.

“But it’s interesting to think about how diamond would work in a computer.

“If this wire were part of a computer, it would transfer information. There’s no question that you’d be able to tell at the far end of the wire what the spin state of the original particle was at the beginning.”

The researchers say the discovery challenges the way spin has been studied for the last 70 years.


“If this wire were part of a computer, it would transfer information”


The experiment was the first time that spins have been able to be seen in a diamond. To be able to see the spins taking place the scientists had to cool the wire to -269°C, which slowed them down and made them visible to the technological equipment.

They also had to spike the wire with nitrogen atoms to break carbon bonds in the diamond to allow the spin to happen and pass down the wire.

One of the most promising potentials for the use of the diamond wire comes with the cost. Unlike extortionately expensive diamonds used for jewellery the wire only cost $100. The costs could also be decreased with mass production of the wire.

The reason behind the diamond wire being so cheap is due to it being made from synthetic diamond rather than naturally created diamond.

Hammel said: “The fact that spins can move like this means that the conventional way that the world measures spin dynamics on the macroscopic level has to be reconsidered—it’s actually not valid.”

The researchers’ work first appeared in the journal Nature Technology.


Image courtesy of Kim Alaniz via Flickr / Creative Commons Licence .