The Olympus Air AO1 goes retro in a futuristic way

The Olympus Air A01 was designed to turn any smart phone into a high-quality camera, and its advantage over other digital cameras is its small size — basically it looks like a lens. If you’re bored of how it looks, however, this fun DIY cardboard makeover kit can turn it into a completely different style of camera.

Designed by Yuri Suzuki to work with Dentaku’s Ototo — a mini synthesizer kit that allows users to turn anything into a musical instrument — the Olympus Air AO1 DIY kit has four templates, which can be downloaded for free or bought ready cut in stiff cardboard. There’s a simple Canvas style, which holds the phone inside; the Instant Camera, which looks a bit like an a retro Polaroid; a Twin Lens, which looks like a twin-lens reflex camera and takes shots from below; and the 3-D Stereoscope that works like virtual reality goggles when used with a 3-D lens.

They all function without the Ototo, but with it, it’s even more fun. The Ototo will let you connect the phone to almost anything and turn it into the shutter and recording button or exposure control. Watch the video for an idea of what you can do.

The ready-cut DIY kit of templates is £15 (¥2,900) and with the Ototo £79 (¥15,320).


Don’t drink and ride

To help address a recent rise in bicycle accidents, cycling traffic laws were strengthened this year, with one of the violations covered being riding a bike while intoxicated.

But how do you know if you are too drunk to ride?

Koowho’s new bicycle lock is a funny-sounding idea, but one that should help stop the inebriated getting on the saddle. Connected to the user’s smartphone via Bluetooth, the Alcoho-Lock has to be opened via an app. But to actually unlock it, the user also needs to blow onto an alcohol detector embedded at one end of the lock. It won’t stay locked if it detects alcohol, but it will send an alert to a family member or partner and let them know the amount of alcohol detected in your breath as well as warn them that you’re about to get on a bicycle.

The idea is that partners or family members will then call the user and persuade him or her to either push the bicycle home, or leave it elsewhere to pick up later.

At ¥30,000-¥40,000, the lock is not cheap. But it could save others from a lot of pain the future. It will be available later this year, though you can pre-order it now.


You may never look back after trying a selfie phablet

For those of you who love taking selfies, you’ve probably discovered that the front-facing camera on most smartphones produces lesser quality images than those taken with the rear camera.

Sony Mobile acknowledges that some people like to point the camera at themselves more than at something in front of them, and so it’s come up with the Xperia C5 Ultra phablet (a cross between a phone and tablet), which has 13 megapixel cameras on both its front and back.

Both cameras have Exmor RS sensors, soft-light flashes, HDR options and stabilization technology, but the front camera has an added function that’s particularly useful for the selfie — a 22-mm wide-angle lens.

All this makes it sound like the Xperia C5 Ultra will be bigger and heavier than the average phablet. But, even though it does have a 6-inch liquid-crystal screen, the phone is remarkably slim and light. Once caveat, though, it’s not as sturdy or water-resistant as other similar devices.

The Xperia C5 Ultra comes in white, black and mint green. The price hasn’t been released yet, but expect to see it out soon.


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