Jolla Tablet

There's no question that the Jolla Tablet is an odd duck. It's a crowdfunded, first-generation slate running an unfamiliar platform (Sailfish OS), and some of its features are based on your input -- if enough of the Sailfish community votes for an interface tweak, you're likely to see it become reality. But does that mean this tablet is a refreshing break from the status quo, or a quirky device that will make you wish you'd bought something commonplace? I've been living with the tablet for a few weeks to find out, and the truth is somewhere in between. As you'll soon see, whether or not you'll like it depends largely on how willing you are to live on the bleeding edge.

A deep space mission to Mars will require more than a few bottles of Poland Spring and water reclamation is a complicated business. Luckily, recent research is showing that liquid water may be more prevalent on the red planet than previously thought. Gathering the data that led to this discovery (amongst many others) didn't just happen overnight. It's the result of over 50 years' worth of missions from Earth with sights set on Mars, not all of which were successful. We've collected some highlights from humankind's long history of hurling spacecraft toward the fourth planet from the sun, and the good news is: We're getting better at it.


CEATEC 2015 is trade show that tries to thinly spread a trend across a whole range of exhibitors: traditional electronics giants like Honda, Sharp and Panasonic mix with university research projects, startups, and just outright weird things. This year, however, there wasn't a standout one. The Internet of Things, energy efficient transport and increasingly precise robots were three vague themes, but with flashes of occasional crazy brilliance. You'll find the best discoveries from half a week in Chiba, Japan, right here. And as a sort-of-sayonara to the show, here's a gallery of the freakier sights.

RoboHon ("Robot Phone") is the cutest smartphone ever: a (familiar looking) robot frame that fits in your pocket. It can take calls, dance, project photos, display maps and more. It's a 'bot with a smartphone inside. Yes, some will snort at the idea of a phone with a 2-inch touchscreen, but it's certainly an original notion -- unashamedly so. That said, is it innovative? Is there a point to it all? Does it really fit in your pocket? We'll know better when it launches here in Japan early next year. For now, here's a closer look in person, answering at least one of those questions.

AWXI - Kick-Off Concert

"Beats 1 worldwide. Always on," Ebro Darden's voice booms on the radio. A little over three months ago, Darden became the voice of New York on Apple Music. When the service was announced, Apple was already late to the music-streaming battle. But it hoped to gain some ground, and listeners, with a human edge. In addition to streaming music on demand and personalized playlists, Apple threw Beats 1 into the mix. The radio station would offer "human curation" in the form of three distinctly different DJs in music capitals of the world. But it also promised a star-studded lineup of hosts who would share their own playlists. Ever since, Drake's OVO Sound Radio has dropped exclusives; St. Vincent's quirky mixtapes have struck a note with fans sending in personal snippets; and Elton John's Rocket Hour has often taken listeners back to a pre-streaming era.

The desert shouldn't exist. At the very least, people shouldn't live there. We did, only not by choice.

When I decided to develop a virtual reality game based on my simultaneous repulsion and nostalgia for my hometown of Dewey, Arizona, I asked my friend and business partner Cody to score it. Cody and I met almost 10 years ago as young, bored kids who shared a love for punk and hardcore music; kids who also shared a mutual disdain for our desert roots. While I eventually escaped Arizona, moving to California for college and finding an outlet in art, Cody stayed in Phoenix, becoming a fixture in the local music scene, and blossoming into a writer, poet and killer guitar player. I knew he would be the perfect person to make sense of it all: the desolate landscape, the hilarious rednecks, the ramshackle towns and the searing heat. I was ecstatic when he agreed and couldn't wait to get started.

Socks are the hardest. For a future washing machine that washes, dries and then folds the results, it's one of the small barriers that remains in that latter stage. But as a research project that started back in 2008, Laundroid is finally getting there. Next year, the collaboration between housing firm Daiwa House, electronics company Panasonic and Seven Dreamers will start offering preorders, the year after that 'beta' machines, then folding machines for big institutions, with event full retail planned the year after that -- we'll be in 2019 by then. (That said, the all-in-one model is still at the in-development stage). There's no price and the presentation we saw added in a bunch of mosaic filtering on top as the shirt gradually got folded so you couldn't see how the thing actually works. But that's okay. We can wait. It's not going to stop us waiting our chore-dodging dreams to come true.

Origami and technology go together pretty well. Lightweight, efficient structures... and animal shapes. But there's nothing more "origami" than the humble paper crane. Now, courtesy of a small, light, power-efficient microcomputer from Rohm (a Japanese company: don't let the name fool you), the crane can fly. Better still, it's remote-controlled and can even keep itself afloat for around five minutes, according to the spokesperson. It's almost the most Japanese thing here at this year's CEATEC. Almost.

Android M : Marshmallow

Google has started rolling out Android 6.0, aka Marshmallow, to a handful of Nexus devices. But, as great as that is, there are still millions of people who have to wait for third-party manufacturers or carriers to get the update. Thankfully, companies like HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Sony and T-Mobile are already outlining their plans to distribute the latest, tastiest version of Android. Not everyone will be happy, of course, but the list of smartphones set to receive Marshmallow isn't bad -- and chances are more will be added over the next few weeks. "So, am I getting it," you ask? If so, when? Let's find out.

Microsoft Windows 10

Microsoft may be tight-lipped about what will be revealed at its October 6th device event, but that doesn't mean that everything is a mystery. In some cases, a slew of leaks have telegraphed Redmond's plans in advance. More Lumia phones, anyone? However, there are still a few questions left. What about the fabled Surface Pro 4? When does Windows 10 reach your existing phone? And will there be any wearable tech? We'll answer as many of those questions as we can so that you have a good idea of what to expect when Microsoft's execs take the stage.

"Drums are hard."

That was the verdict from my boyfriend after a raucous night playing Rock Band 4 with a group of friends. He's a guitarist, in both the physical and digital realms, and to him, Rock Band 4's drums are an anomaly. The rhythms are somehow tricky and repetitive at the same time; landing the bass pedal takes nearly perfect timing; it's a big rig that requires big motions; and the entire instrument takes a ridiculous amount of coordination. This is why my boyfriend doesn't enjoy playing the drums in Rock Band 4 -- and it's precisely why I love it.

First it was toggle switches. And then keyboards, the mouse and other standard interface devices gave us control of computers and the digital world. From the tangible, to hands-free and beyond, the ways in which we control digital systems are expanding. We've collected just a few of the interesting products and concepts that are breaching the two-dimensional world of computing and merging it with our physical reality.

[Image: Jinha Lee / MIT Media Lab]