Gearhead: Hardware you'll want to get your hands on

Everything from DIY satellites to brain wave readers makes this list of tech we're dying to have

TubeSat: A DIY satellite

For a mere $8,000 or thereabouts, you too can join the space race. The TubeSat Kit from Interorbital Systems includes "the satellite's structural components, printed circuit board [designs], electronic components, solar cells, batteries, transceiver ... antennas, microcomputer, and the required programming tools ... [to] construct a satellite that can be received on the ground by a hand-held amateur radio receiver." The price also includes the cost of launch into self-decaying low earth orbit so the "bird" will last for several weeks before plummeting back into the atmosphere and burning up. I should probably include this in a Christmas round-up of tech toys as what budding nerd wouldn't want Santa to bring her one of these?

Leap bounds over Kinect

You thought the Microsoft Kinect was cool? Priced at just $70 and designed for all platforms, the Leap looks like it will out-cool the Kinect by a good margin when it ships at the end of 2012 or early 2013. The Leap is a small "brick" that you situate below your screen. You connect it via USB to your computer, load the software, and then, as you move your hands above the brick, your fingers and the gestures they make, as well as objects like pens, are detected and translated into commands that drive the operating system (think "mouse" with, the company claims, much greater sensitivity) and applications.

Unikey makes a better bolt

One key to bind them all ... nope, not a remake of "Lord of the Rings", it's an as yet unreleased access control system that uses Bluetooth messages containing virtual keys sent from smartphones to unlock doors that use the Unikey deadbolt. The virtual keys can be created as one-time, extended use, or permanent, and you can send keys via email and revoke them if required. Pricing in the $150 to $200 range is expected.

TonidoPlug: A cloud of your own

This is really cool: A tiny, low power, wired and wireless, Linux-based Web, application, and NAS server that can be accessed from your network or from anywhere on the net ... all for $100! The TonidoPlug provides network content sharing services, and you can add applications from the Tonido App store. You can also upgrade the device by adding internal storage with a 2.5 inch SATA drive and use remote access applications specifically designed for the Tonido on any of the major mobile platforms. Look for a forthcoming Gearhead review of this way cool device.

Cookoo smartphone-connected watch

Cookoo, plans to make a watch that is an extension of iOS and Android smartphones. Once paired with your smartphone, your Cookoo will not only tell the time, it will sound the alarms from your phone, warn you of reminders, notify you when email, texts, or chat sessions arrive, and even tell you when your phone needs charging. There's also a configurable "COMMAND" button so that you can invoke an action or application from the watch (using it as a remote trigger for your smartphone camera is a great idea). Retail pricing is planned to be around $100 and by pledging $50 you will be inline to get one of the first units in black on black.

Little Printer: Printing all the stuff that's fit to print

The Little Printer is, as its name implies, a wireless thermal printer that will be, well, little. But what will make it really different is that it will print customized "publications" on schedule. Yep, once or twice per day (or as often as you please) the Little Printer will output news headlines, puzzles, news, social media updates ... pretty much anything that's fit (or unfit) to print will be schedulable. Central to the design is that you'll program your Little Printer from your smartphone. Pricing isn't yet set, but a beta launch is promised for later this year.

Weaving a net of things With Wovyn

Wovyn takes the "Internet of Things" concept and runs with it. The result will be a gateway device that communicates wirelessly with a large range of sensor types (30 different types are either ready or in development, including sensors for temperature, humidity, magnetism, light, and acceleration). Due to their low cost (about $70 per sensor on average) and simple setup, you'll be able to deploy sensors all over your home or business ... or even outdoors. The data from the sensors will be relayed through to the Wovyn Web service to generate email, SMS messages, and Twitter and Facebook updates, and connect to services like Cosm,, ThingSpeak, and Kynetx as well as providing full support for REST/WebHooks, EventedAPI, and MQTT.

HAND Stylus: The write stuff

This Kickstarter project caught my eye and my pledge: The HAND Stylus, the capacitative stylus I've wanted since I first got an iPad. With a 4mm tip that (roughly 30 percent smaller than any other stylus I've tried) the HAND Stylus promises to be a vast improvement over other designs. The expected price is $30, and it is due to ship in July this year. Note: This Kickstarter project has raised $125,032 of its original $250,000 goal!

Here's your brain. Here's your brain on MindWave Mobile

I recently reviewed the NeuroSky MindWave, a head mounted device that, through some fancy signal processing, brings the cost of detecting brainwaves, a practice otherwise called "electroencephalography", down from the thousands of dollars to $100. The value of this is to support biofeedback training to improve concentration and relaxation and play games. NeuroSky has just released MindWave Mobile. Priced at $130, this is essentially the same headset, but instead of a custom wireless link the new version uses Bluetooth 3.0. Compatible with iOS, OS X, Android, and Windows the product comes with a collection of bundled games, including MyndPly Brainwave Movie Player, which links the playback of a video with your mental state.

Griffin Helo TC Assault ICBM (Inter-Cubical Ballistic Madness)

The Griffin Helo TC Assault is an 8 inch-long electric helicopter that fires missiles! The Helo app on your smartphone drives the helicopter through a device that clips on to the side of the smartphone to control the helicopter's lift power and trim adjustment along with forward and backward movement, left and right rotation, and fires the missiles individually. There's also an emergency landing button so if you lose control (as I often do) you can try for a soft landing or at least one where you don't mangle the rotors. You can also record a flight pattern and replay it. The Griffin Helo TC Assault is way cool and priced at $59.99. How has you office lived without at least one of these?