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Top tech: five of the coolest gadgets this week


By Henry Winchester


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Date Added: 16th July 2014

This week in the world of technology: more innovative 3D printing, an iPad stylus and ruler, a couple of nifty free software downloads, and a cloud...


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Apple's late head honcho Steve Jobs famously said that there would be absolutely no need for a stylus for the iPad, and that your finger would do everything. What Jobs didn't anticipate, however, is the growing number of art apps for the company's sleek slate, which require a degree of accuracy if you want to create something that doesn't look like a five-year-old's finger painting. Lots of companies – including Adobe, featured here – have created styluses for the iPad and other touch screen devices, and it's heavily rumored that Apple will introduce its own techpen with the next generation of iPads later this year

We've also got some other cool tech, including another revolutionary 3D printer, two bits of useful free software and a cloud. An actual real fake cloud, not some remote data storage buzzword.

1. Hardcotton Elemental Pressure Controlled 3D Printer

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© Hardcotton

Every 3D printer company claims to have made some sort of insane breakthrough, but Hardcotton may have done just that. Its Elemental Pressure Controlled 3D printer uses lasers and pressure control to shape and cure photosensitive resins, gradually building up objects a layer at a time. Hardcotton's method involves no moving parts, and it's said to be easy-to-use and whisper-quiet in operation. Hardcotton will launch a Kickstarter campaign for the sub-$1,000 device later this year, and we'll definitely be keeping an eye on it.

2. refBoard

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© Jonathan Richards

The polar opposite to Hardcotton's printer, refBoard is a free tiny piece of software for Macs and PCs which solves a really simple problem: being able to look at reference material as you work. Essentially a virtual pinboard, refBoard lets you look at images (JPGs, GIFs and PNGs) in a window which always stays on top. It's astonishingly easy-to-use and it's already won plenty of fans around the world.

3. Adobe Ink & Slide

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© Adobe

Adobe's first move into hardware consists of a stylus and ruler for the iPad. The stylus is built on Adonit's Pixelpoint technology to allow for that hallowed pressure-sensitivity, while the ruler allows you to draw straight lines (really!), perfect circles and French curves right there on the screen of your iPad. Alas, it's only available in the US at the moment, but it's planned for the rest of the world later this year.

4. ColorWay

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Colorway

The first fruit of The Foundry's acquisition of Luxology has been unveiled. Colorway is a piece of 3D software aimed squarely at designers who wish to recolor and relight 3D models without having to go through the rigmarole of rendering them again. Models have to be rendered in The Foundry's own MODO 801 in a specific Colorway format, but CINEMA 4D support is coming soon. It's also free until The Foundry figure out what it's worth, so grab it while you can.

5. cloud

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© Richard Clarkson

Richard Clarkson's cloud is a sure way to add a sense of drama to any office. The felt artificial raincloud contains a sensor which detects movement and sparks artificial thunder and lightning whenever anyone walks past. It also contains a Bluetooth speaker so you can play your favorite tunes from your laptop or smartphone. The downside is that it's $3,360 – and you can't program it to rain on your boss.

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