Innovative Designs and Devices

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Steve Jobs stated once that the “design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” While this statement has proven to be crucial over thousands of years, one shouldn’t misinterpret it by emphasizing the functionality despite the design. When it comes to product design, the significance of aesthetics of a given device, the way its design looks and feels, determines the choice of the customer once the functionalities of multiple devices are more or less similar. If supported by sound user interface and a well-tested, clean implementation, innovative design solutions can drastically enhance the user experience.

This article presents innovative, futuristic gadgets, devices, designs and concepts. Unless explicitly specified, none of these cut-edge concepts is currently being manufactured. None of them is available for end-users which is why neither the price nor links to the stores are mentioned.

Please keep in mind that the main idea of this article is not to do the sell-talk for trendy products, but to showcase innovative design solutions and futuristic devices which can become reality in 2008 or over the next few years.

Sony’s Apple Remote Control

Sony’s Apple Remote Control
Is there any place for innovation when it comes to the design of remote controls? Apparently, there is. This Sony’s”apple” allows users to perform basic functions like changing channels, volume etc. with simple motion gestures (see image below). Once “apples” are placed on the bowl, the remote control is being recharged. Neither price nor production dates are known.

Sony

Sony

Optimus Tactus & Optimus Maximus

Artemy Lebedev’s Optimus keyboards offer an unusual approach for a traditional input device. A small OLED-display (Organic Display) is placed beneath every key to enable users to define displayed characters and the keys’ functionality manually. In other words, with Optimus the placement of labels on the keyboard can be varied at any time.

Optimus Tactus does not have physical keys, which means there are no restrictions on their shape and size. Any part of the keyboard surface can be programmed to perform any function or to display any images. Production date and price: unknown.

Maximus Keyboard

Maximus Keyboard

Optimus Maximus (Demo). Each of the 113 keys is a stand-alone display that shows the function currently assigned to it. Optimus’s customizable layout allows convenient use of any language — Cyrillic, Ancient Greek, Georgian, Arabic, Quenya, hiragana, etc. — as well as of any other character sets: notes, numerals, special symbols, HTML codes, math functions and so on to infinity. Production date: the end of January 2008, price: 460$.

Maximus Keyboard

Maximus Keyboard

Maximus Keyboard
The Keyboard Configurator. You can assign any images and characters to display on your Optimus keyboard.

Nonobject Behind the Scenes Camera

The Nonobject Behind the Scenes Camera (Video) has “lenses and displays on both sides for simultaneously recording what you’re aiming at, and what you’re not.” Behind the Scenes Camera is designed to capture what’s going on behind our back, beyond our control, while simultaneously capturing the scene in front of us.

Object Camera

Duofone

The main idea behind Duofone is the possibility to put multiple devices together to combine their screen real estate. The battery power can be shared, and a movie can be watched on a larger screen.

Duofone

Duofone

Toast Messenger

Toast Messenger incorporates a little message board where one can write quick notes and then instantly print them on the toaster. Simple, yet innovative.

Toast Messenger

Toast Messenger

Dual Music Player

Compared to traditional music players, this Dual Music Player is different. It is a portable solution that supports both CDs and Flash-memory. You can listen to MP3s stored on your Flash-drive and copy music via USB while once you need to play your old CDs you can simply open both sides and let the player do the rest.

DMP

DMP

Vaio Zoom

The Vaio Zoom notebook takes everything we know about holographic technology and squeezes it inside a thin glass form factor. When off, the screen is completely transparent and the keyboard goes opaque. Turn it on and the touchscreen holographic festivities begin. Even the mouse buttons are holographic! [via Gizmodo]

iRing

iRing

Visual Desktop Charger

Quite often the details are not the details. They make the design. Saying that, Charles Eames was right: the beauty of Visual Desktop Charger lies in its close attention to small details. The device is a visual indicator of the charge status of a mobile phone. It is supposed to like like a “bird bath-like charger, complete with radiating rings of light to indicate charge status and to top it all off, thirsty birds that glow once the rings of light hit ‘em.” [via YankoDesign]

Bird Charger

Bluetooth Laser Virtual Keyboard

This is reality. This BlueTooth Laser Virtual Keyboard, a laser projection keyboard, allows you to type on any flat surface. You can use it to compose an e-mail on your Bluetooth enabled PDA or Cell Phone. With 63 keys and and full size QWERTY layout the Laser Virtual Keyboard can approach the typing speed of a standard keyboard. Size: a little larger than a matchbook. Already released. Price: $150.

Bluetooth Laser Virtual Keyboard

Omaura HTPC

Omaura Home Theater Personal PC is a new face in HTPCs. “When we first opened the PDF containing the concept images of Omaura’s concept TT chassis, we thought for a second it was a large, TV-stand-ready all-in-one PC whose display had a seriously distorted aspect ratio. We’ll confess to a little disappointment once we realized it was simply an upright case, but that shot of its interior got us excited again. Imagine sticking the TT on a low-profile table under your wall-mounted LCD or plasma screen.” [via CNet]

Omaura

Hi-Tech Office: Eclipse Partitioning System

Eclipse Partitioning System (Video) includes a desk, task chair, expandable hood, integrated speakers, and power all set on casters for true mobility. The central idea behind this hi-tech office is versatility. Its retractable hood allows for various levels of privacy and access to accommodate to the changing work flow of one’s daily job. You should really take a look at the video. Neither price nor production dates are known.

Eclipse

EmTrace’s PS100 Photoskin Frames

EmTrace PS100 offers one single dock station for all your personal needs and interests. Looking like a digital photo frame, it fits into a wallet and syncs data for stocks, weather and other information via Internet. You can load whatever information you’d like on your personal dock station and take it with you — in your wallet. Neither price nor production dates are known.

Wallet

Wallet

iRing

iRing is a control playback for your Apple media devices. As a simple ring which fits on a finger, it has a wireless Bluetooth connectivity with iPod and iPhone. “iRing features a bright OLED status display with touch-sensitive function strip, and a rechargeable battery life of up to 2 days. Conveniently recharge your iRing using the included cradle.” Neither price nor production dates are known.

iRing

iRing

Pock-It

So simple, yet so effective. Pock-It is a simple design concepts that allows you to use a little pocket instead of usual stick-it-notes.

Pock-It

Bonus: “sQuba” Diving Car

Rinspeed’s sQuba Diving Car is the “first real diving car designed to autonomously turn into an amphibious vehicle at the push of a button — can submerge up to 10m (33ft) under water.” Powering the concept is an electric motor mated to the rear wheels.

The propulsion on the water is ensured by two propellers in the stern and two powerful jet drives in the bow to propel the vehicle under water. The body is constructed from light weight components made of Carbon Nano Tubes and contains an on-board air-filling system. Neither price nor production dates are known.

Rinspeed

Resources

  • YankoDesign.com
    Form Beyond Function. A weblog dedicated to introducing the best modern international design, covering from industrial design, concepts, technology, interior design, architecture, exhibition and fashion.
  • ProductDose.com
    Style, technology, design, substance
  • Techeblog: Concepts
    A number of recent technology concepts, designs and unusual approaches in the “Concepts” category on Techeblog.com.

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops and loves solving complex problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    I like to see all these good concepts.

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  2. 2

    I’m really liking the dual-music player’s design – but thats a tight list overall.

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  3. 3

    Wow great list of geek toys. I like the Apple Remote — good joke!

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  4. 4

    Great post, thanks SM.

    We live in amazing times don’t we. :)

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  5. 5

    Ooh! Some nice stuff – am lovin’ the laser Keyboard and the Vaio Zoom!

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  6. 6

    Where’s my hover-car damnit!!

    ;)

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  7. 7

    Blogging Magazin

    January 7, 2008 3:05 am

    The bluetooth laser keyboard looks good for me!

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  8. 8

    Looking at these amazing instruments gives me the greatest ideas for a couple of my clients websitesTHANKYOU

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  9. 9

    I claim the sQuba car to be fake, because it’s underwater, but has no roof *lol*

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  10. 10

    I love the idea of OLED keyboards. AppleInsider reported only 4 days ago that Apple has filed a patent on a new OLED-based keyboard themselves. Considering the sheer number that Apple would produce, as well as the reduced cost of no longer supporting multiple keyboards for each localization, I’d imagine we would see the price of that item far below the $460 quoted for Optimus’ aftermarket keyboard. Whether Apple’s OLED-based keyboard would be standard or a premium add-on is conjecturable, but it seems we’re getting closer to Star Wars: TNG‘s LCARS displays every year.

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  11. 11

    Pock-It is my fav.!

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  12. 12

    At first I asked myself WHY you would need a toaster that burnt the message on it. Afte I got over that I figured it was actaully pretty awesome idea haha. I liked the iRing and the wallet sized photo frame is sweet!

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  13. 13

    Awesome guys! I really liked the Opsimus Maximus!

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  14. 14

    An important thing to note about the Optimus Maximus – the 460$ version has one active key. The one with 113 active keys is $1564.37.

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  15. 15

    Note on the price of the Optimus Maximus: It’s directly tied to how many active keys you want. For the ten ‘function’ keys on the left, it’s $480. If you want the whole keyboard active it’ll run you $1,250. You can buy the model with one active key and upgrade as you can afford; it seems the chassis supports ad-hoc upgrading from passive to active keys.

    My intuition is that if the Tacticus model uses traditional LCD technology (not OLED), it would be cheaper overall and it would last longer (OLEDs burn out in a startlingly short period of time). Perhaps $500-$600 for the whole surface, if the iPhone/iPod Touch is any indication.

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  16. 16

    This is absolutely the most exciting post I have ever read on SM. Excellent job!!!

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  17. 17

    Check out this guy’s Digital Rubik’s cube – got to be hot for Christmas 2008 and it does so much more…

    Digital game cube

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  18. 18

    Sony’s Apple Remote Control is not new one. More fine have Artem Gobunov’s Studio.
    P.S. Sorry for my english :-)

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  19. 19

    @chris

    I too particularly like how the diving car appears to be a convertible. I also like how it’s not mentioned that the iRing is an obviously fake product (heck, the ‘design’ looks like Sony, not Apple).

    Some of the other products that seem like they have a chance of production are tight, though (read: Optimus Maximus).

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  20. 20

    My boss got one of those laser bluetooth keyboard devices about a year or two ago. neat little gadget that works fine. just one of those “ooh geek toy!” show it around to everyone in the office, gadget.

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  21. 21

    As usual great stuff ! “sQuba” Diving Car is pretty old stuff seen it in jamesbond movies :-)

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  22. 22

    Wow, that’s an extremely interesting post. Theres’ definitely some stuff in there I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on.

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  23. 23

    WOW, I realy like the laser projection keyboard. But the whole post is realy great..

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  24. 24

    You claim wrong — the people appear to have a regulator in their mouths. So if you don’t mind getting a little wet, it’s the perfect car! ;-)

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  25. 25

    Good to see a list like this with reasonably practical contents!

    Sony’s remote is particularly amusing – managing to ape Apple and the Wiimote in the same product. Given how abysmal the interface on my Sony TV is (never again), it’ll never happen of course.

    The Optimus keyboards have never really appealed to me. The flat one has no tactile feedback (a problem also exhibited by the laser keyboards, of which I have one – but at least they’re portable), and aren’t really distinguished from electing to leave your fingerprints over any other touch screen. I always thought the OLED key-cap one was an overkill solution as well – a flat panel under a fully transparent keyboard with lenses in the key caps ought to be far simpler to produce and program (especially in a touch screen – see the Sony-Ericsson P800′s keypad solution, which just poked the touch-screen below it when in place).

    The dual music player concept I’ve seen before, too. I’ve not seen how you stop the slot filling with fluff, keep the CD stable, or stop it sawing holes in things/slicing off fingers – but as a concept it’s clever. Life was easier when making a tape player smaller than an audio tape was the only aim.

    Not so convinced by the Nonobject dual-camera thing. Most video phones have two cameras, but you don’t usually want to bother recording with both (admittedly, *usually*). It’s a change from using Nikon’s multi-thousand-dollar 6mm fish-eye or waving shiny spheres around, though. I’m not so sure about the use of the toast, either. If people want to innovate with toasters, how about adding an LDR to turn them off properly when the toast is the right colour? (I believe industrial toasters do this, but it’s certainly not common in residential toasters.)

    I like the plug-together phones, although I’ve always been dubious about tiling displays (I’ve never seen a seamless one without some optics involved). I suspect micro projection is the way forward for big screens in mobiles (or HUDs). I’m sure some of the wearable computing stuff could use the plug-and-combine concept, if it’s not already doing so.

    Speaking of wearables, I like the iRing. I’d been pondering putting processing power in a ring for years, but I’ve got no time for tinkering – I’ve still got ARM processors waiting to be turned into a Linux watch when I eventually get around to it. Putting a kinetic power source in
    the ring would be cool – and it would get plenty of movement even from those of us who spend all our time typing without moving about.

    The Pock-It is genius; who hasn’t glued something to a surface with bits of post-it note? Plus the name is gagging to be done. A similar idea I’ve seen is a post-it-gummed bag with a hole in the middle: if you want to drill a hole in a wall, place this around the hole and it catches (most of) the dust. This is the kind of thing which makes the world a better place, not the kind of invention competition which gives out prizes for a radio with a holographic display of the singer (the “inventor” was nine, it obviously only existed in “wouldn’t it be cool if…” form, and 3DTV is neither new nor practical; the runner-up “inventor” actually had a novel and practical idea). If the world knew that the big inventions are the little ideas, humanity might make use of more than a tiny fraction of its collective brain-power.

    -2
  26. 26

    I can’t wait to use a Vaio Zoom-typed laptop. Hope it will be realized soon.

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  27. 27

    Wow…! SM rocks..!

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  28. 28

    all the designs are futuristic. I love them all…

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  29. 29

    the vaio lp is so cooool, but i don’t think it would be comfortable for use

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  30. 30

    very nice collection … still wondering to where technology are gonna take us

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  31. 31

    Going Gizmo….
    Most of them are still remaining in the Computers of Designers and Manufactures… they are Conceptual..
    I like all its Designs the glossy touch ans smoothe finish..

    Now Smashing Magazine has unified the article about most of such Concept Gadgets that where alredy on Gadget Blogs.. :)

    Thanks !

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  32. 32

    Hmmm the toast messenger :), great and unique idea, and I think I will need virtual keyboard like that

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  33. 33

    Love the apple remote control (the green apple ones, though the ‘Apple’ controller is cute (but boring)).
    Also the Duofone is a great one and so is the Dual Music Player.

    The author needs to go and read up on what the word ‘holographic’ actually means. :)

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  34. 34

    Wow..This is amazing…Thanks SM

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  35. 35

    great products.. the future is interesting…it’s time to shift

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  36. 36

    Thanks, Truly inspirational.

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  37. 37

    Awesome post….. really great

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  38. 38

    Where can I buy the toaster?

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  39. 39

    I love the Toast Messenger, Optimus Tactus and Vaio Zoom notebook. Looks as if from a sci-fi movie, not real world… Unbelievable what human being have achieved!..

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  40. 40

    Nice one, really inspiring

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  41. 41

    Ahhh…..boring…somebody wake me in 2023….

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  42. 42

    Some amazing concepts there :drool:

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  43. 43

    i read the bit on the toaster and instantly thought WHY? hahaha. but see now im wondering when and where i will be able to get one, purely to draw something silly on it for the missus heh. Love this article, gives you hope for future techs out there that our kids will be using!

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  44. 44

    Great post! Vonderful consept…

    Thank You.

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  45. 45

    Optimus Maximus has to be my fav.

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  46. 46

    An incredible list. It really is starting to feel like we live in a Blade Runner world. The Sony notebook is especially impressive. My Apple is feeling jealous.

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  47. 47

    My Vaio notebook seems to be already obsolete! :-/

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  48. 48

    Three Cheers for the future!!! thanks SM!!!

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  49. 49

    Will be wanting that CD/Flash mp3 player. real nice design and easily braggable :))

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  50. 50

    Que buenos productos, me parecio reloco el teclado

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  51. 51

    That CD player/flash memory device is really useless. CDs stop playing as soon as they’re touched. I’m sure it has no built in skip protection because you’d be crazy to carry it, which means breathing on it will screw up playback. The only way I can see a minimal design like that being cool is if it instead ripped the CD to its memory. If it did that, I would seriously consider one, as it would make ripping my CD collection a thousand times easier. Assuming it used LAME and customizable settings of course :)

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  52. 52

    wow..what is that…is it what we called it..hi tech?wa…so impressed..if I can have one of that…lol

    thanks for the good post..so how do you trace that stuff?In magazine?

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  53. 53

    Optimus Maximus has to be my fav.

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  54. 54

    The keyboard is awesome. The price is the only downside of it.

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  55. 55

    Some amazing concepts there :drool:

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  56. 56

    Absolutely impressing. Where can I find any in-future interface samples just for mindwork?

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  57. 57

    This might be my favourite Monday Inspiration thusfar.

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  58. 58

    Go eat your Waffle!

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  59. 59

    WoW, men this is absolutely amazing stuff

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  60. 60

    holly mother

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  61. 61

    All great designs! :)

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  62. 62

    Inspirational stuff.

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  63. 63

    promosyon forma imalat

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  64. 64

    for great web designs visit:

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  65. 65

    totally cool stuff

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  66. 66

    I dont see a problem why the Optimus Tactus wouldnt be possible. Apple already made this in their iPod Touch and iPhone. Just need to make a bigger format for the keyboard.

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  67. 67

    awesome list. very inspiring.

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  68. 68

    I have to say I’m lovin’ the toast messenger! It’s probably the most not-needed thing on the list, but yet I’m thinking it would be a great gift. The hi-tech office is awesome for someone who works in a gray cube all day, with gray carpet underneath and no window for at least 150 feet. The changing scenery would definitely lift my mood in the middle of the day when I want to be outside!

    http://designandprint.wordpress.com/2008/09/04/cool-gadgets-that-implement-awesome-design/

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  69. 69

    I have seen the Laser keyboard but I love the idea of an iRing that would be so cool if it worked like the remote function on an iPhone or iPod touch.

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  70. 70
  71. 71
  72. 72

    lovely gadgets .. so techie

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  73. 73

    gr8 and kicking. would have to wait till my grandsons come into this world. my country still running into NOKIA’s 8870, 6670, and what not. still a dream for me and perhaps my sons(2). gift either of them to me and i am on the toppa world.

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  74. 74

    Love it man . I have bookmarked your site. Keep updating!

    Live on in these crazy times!

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  75. 75

    die Bilder scheinen tot zu sein
    (auch im anderen browser wird nix angezeigt)

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  76. 76

    doch, jetz gehts
    scheiße =))

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  77. 77

    very interesting idea Toast Messenger :P

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  78. 78

    I wish those apples were edible, coz an apple a day keeps the doctor away!

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  79. 79

    The virtual keyboard is fan dangle fabulous! All these inventions thrill me to eeny weeny pieces. Like, I’m just, crazy about these wonderfully wild objects, where do I pay?

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  80. 80

    OMG!

    I now have a very long and expensive Christmas list !

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  81. 81

    Wow!
    I love them all…
    Great Innovative Thinking and Designs…

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  82. 82

    i want to burn messages into MY toast!

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  83. 83

    ROKIN STUFFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  84. 84

    Promosyon güneş yağmur bahçe şemsiyeleri satışı

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  85. 85

    wow!! that was just amazing!! I have fallen in love with the apples i-ring, itz the best of the best innovative idea and whoever is the designer for such an innovative product, my hatsoff to that guy(professional designer). Keep up the good work….

    -1

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