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Top tech: five of the coolest gadgets this week

By Henry Winchester

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Date Added: 2nd May 2014

Check out our pick of the most promising new technological developments waiting to be exchanged for your hard-earned cash, including 3D printers and scanners galore!


This week’s Top Tech includes just about everything you’ll need to make a movie. You can start by capturing some footage with Aja’s Cion camera, then use Artec’s Spider to scan in some 3D objects. From here you can put the whole lot into Autodesk’s Smoke for editing, and then watch the final product on your brand new MacBook Air. Okay, you might need some 3D software, some actors and a director, but don’t let that stop you!

We’ve also included some of the latest news from the world of 3D printers, and an awesome way of projecting 3D images into mid-air.

1. Artec Spider

237_tid_1 artec.jpg
© Artec

While apps such as Autodesk’s 123 Catch can turn your smartphone into a sort of 3D scanner, you can’t beat the quality of a dedicated unit. Artec’s Spider - which we saw at the Develop3D Live event a couple of weeks ago - is a hand-held 3D scanner which works without calibration and offers real time scanning and alignment via a single USB cable. It is €15,700, but it’s a definite boon to any 3D studio.

2. 3D printers go mainstream

237_tid_2 cube.jpg
© 3D Systems

Until now 3D printers have been niche product made by small companies. Somewhat inevitably the big boys want in on the act, and both Canon and Hewlett-Packard are set to enter the market. Canon - best known for its digital cameras - has signed a distribution deal with 3D Systems, while computer company Hewlett-Packard will release its own 3D printers in June.

3. Autodesk Smoke 2015

237_tid_3 smoke.jpg
© Autodesk

Yes, Autodesk’s Smoke video editing and 3D effects software is as old as the Hollywood hills, but what’s new here is a subscription service. You can either pay $1,750 for a year’s access, or $545 a quarter, or $195 per month, depending on how much you need it. New features include “re-architected” (a real word, apparently) Timeline FX, a new 3D tracker and improved integration with Apple Final Cut Pro X.

4. MisTable

237_tid_4 mistable.jpg
© Bristol Interaction and Graphics group, University of Bristol, 2014

3D projected mid-air displays have appeared in pretty much every sci-fi movie since Star Wars, but they generally don’t work because you need a suspended medium for the light to actually stop on. Researchers at Bristol University have solved this problem by projecting 3D objects onto clouds of mist, so you can effectively reach through them - if you don’t mind getting a slightly damp hand.

5. Aja Cion

237_tid_5 cion.jpg
© Aja

Aja’s Cion camera has just gone straight to the top of our most-wanted list. The 4K camera is capable of recording directly to Apple’s ProRes workflows, while optical low pass and IR cut filters ensure your imagery is lovely from the word go. It’s also said to be incredibly easy-to-use, and portable enough to get some lovely shaky-cam shots of people running.

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