The Sounds of Gadgets Past

Sometimes a sound will just take you back, letting you experience memories long since past. That fact is the driving force behind Conserve the Sound, a website dedicated to saving all of those interesting (and not so interesting) sounds from the gadgets that were once a big part of our life. Those gadgets have since fallen by the wayside in the ever forward march of technology. But at least the moment in sound has been preserved.

viewmaster Conserve the sound
The Viewmaster Screen at Conserve the Sound (Picture credit: Conserve the Sound)

An Auditory Museum

Conserve The Sound was built to save those odd memories that you have tucked into the deep recesses of your brain. The site was first funded in 2013. Since then it has been maintained by creative house Chunderksen.

The site has grown a lot since its start, and you will find plenty to help bring back the memories of your favorite gadgets. I took a leisure stroll across their exhibits (okay, I visited the site ) and surprisingly found many objects of interest.

Somehow I had forgotten exactly what a rotary dial phone sounded like and found the experience pleasant. I also forgot how slow a rotary dial phone was, but I digress. There were other interesting aural memories to explore.

The manual typewriter, which I’m pretty sure was a Smith Corona model, brought back memories of keys being stuck and whiteout. Did I ever tell you about the time I almost lost an arm from erasable bond typing paper? I’m probably exaggerating a little there, but it was a particularly heinous paper cut.

Easy to Navigate

The site has maintained an easy to navigate structure. You can browse randomly and just keep following tags (which I recommend, they are logically grouped for the most part.) You can also do a search for a particular memory. Either way, you are bound to find something interesting for any number of oddball personal reasons.

You’ll find images accompanying each sound. This helps to identify the object, but everything is well laid out and explained. You’ll even find related thumbnails of gadgets at the bottom of each featured object, just waiting for you to try.

The effect the sound can have on the visitor can vary depending on how exposed they were to the gadget selected. But I would suggest that anyone that had a Viewmaster go right now to the site and relive those wild and crazy days of pulling that lever for the next image. And pull it again. Repeat.


The Viewmaster reel viewer was introduced in 1939, after the release of Kodachrome film made the small reel images possible. Each Viewmaster reel holds 14 images for a total of 7 3D images. There have been over 1.5 billion Viewmaster reels sold.

Alexa Controlled Ziro Robotics Kit Invade Earth

Fresh out of a successful Indiegogo campaign last year, Ziro is a hands-on, programmable cardboard robots kit that allows people to build interesting gadgets as they learn. But this year they are adding something new, Alexa controlled modules.

Alexa Controlled Ziro

Once you set up the new Ziro skill with Alexa, you can start giving it voice commands. This takes your average robotics kit and adds a new level of functionality to it. For instance, you could probably control Ziro through the Alexa app. This allows you to access it from virtually anywhere. Just imagine the things you could have the kit doing for you, all remotely.

In case you don’t want to control it via Alexa, you can fall back to its standard control mechanism. That is no slouch either since it comes with a smart glove tied to a mobile app, which allows for fun control. You can do simple and intuitive things with that, such as tilting your hand to control a car you built.

Adaptable to Your Resources

Ziro is designed to allow the builder to use whatever material they have on hand. This is done by attaching the Ziro modules to their creation, allowing for movement and control. Of course, you can always use their pre-made starter kits. The modules are designed to emulate hinged or rotational movements.

With just these two types of motions, you can build a lot of different articulated gadgets. It’s easy to see how one could build a walking dinosaur robot or a car. In fact, you really are just limited by your imagination (and maybe the number of Ziro modules you have). Maybe you can get really creative and take on Nintendo’s Labo for a showdown.

Ziro is made by ZeroUI, and with the way they are adding to their kit, I could see a bright future for it. Who knows, maybe we’ll see an army of cardboard robotic dinosaurs take over the world, all controlled by Alexa. We should probably start practicing now, “Alexa, stop.”

Nintendo Labo Is A Welcome Kind Of Bizarre

The Nintendo Switch had already eclipsed the Wii U in sales, and its momentum appears to be building. The flexible design is probably its greatest feature, and it can switch (pardon the pun) from a handheld and mobile game system to a full console in moments. This makes the Switch a device one that you can really get your hands on. And now Nintendo is taking that to the next level with the Nintendo Labo.

Nintendo Labo Piano

What is Nintendo Labo? Basically, it is a cardboard project kit that allows the user to create gaming accessories for the Nintendo Switch. By clever use of the device’s Joycon controllers, the cardboard creations can come to life while feeding an app playing on the console.  The Joycon controller’s ability to sense movement and position is used in clever and creative ways in the cardboard kits, allowing imagination to soar.

Suddenly the Switch becomes a piano or a motorcycle, complete with handlebars, thanks to Nintendo Labo. The build instructions play right on the switch itself, and kits of varying complexity enable imagination to go into hyperdrive. The goal here is to extend the play into the physical world, and perhaps even get the user thinking about other possibilities. Currently, there are two kits planned, the Variety Kit and the Robot Kit.

The Variety Kit looks amazing, with such items to construct as a working piano, a fishing pole, motorcycle handle controller, and more. The Robot Kit, which looks more involved to construct, is a backpack unit that you build that allows you to control a robot using your arms.

I love the idea that the young user can get their hands on a project and really build something tangible. I would love to see more projects come out like this for other platforms, but Nintendo has really impressed me with approaching it now. The kits will start appearing at your local retailer starting in April.

Futuristic Pickup Design Can Work And Play

The pickup continues to be a popular vehicle for many buyers, and for good reason – it is truly one of the most versatile vehicle designs ever made. But the student of architecture Wojciech Jurkowski has reinvented the design with his RENAULT SUBTIL futuristic pickup, turning it into an SUV grade luxury vehicle that will definitely turn heads and still get the job done.

Designed By Wojciech Jurkowski


The design calls for a drivetrain consisting of four independent electric motors located within the wheels, saving the remainder of the space for passengers and cargo. The independent drivetrain allows for a new style of body design, permitting it to transform from a four-person car to a pickup mode on demand. The roof can also be opened, providing for an open-air driving experience.  The design can even carry two snowmobiles, multiple bicycles, or other larger gear, so theextreme sports fans would be at home in this futuristic pickup just as easily as the average handyman would find it convenient.

Designed By Wojciech Jurkowski

I love the advantages that the simplification of the drivetrain allows for vehicle design. The cars of the future may indeed take on all the practicality of a Swiss Army Knife, reconfiguring itself for the task at hand. Of course, not everyone would need this kind of futuristic pickup, but for your typical multi-need driver this could be almost perfect.

Designed By Wojciech Jurkowski

The RENAULT SUBTIL would also make a great touring vehicle, and it could change from the “travel mode” used in getting there to a spacious and airy (thanks to an automatic folding roof) “tour mode” once on site.  This kind of adaptability could even make the family vehicle an all-around workhorse while looking great doing it. In all, the RENAULT SUBTIL futuristic pickup can handle five different configurations.

Designed By Wojciech Jurkowski

I get excited when I see new designs such as this futuristic pickup because we are starting to see what the paring of new technology with new material sciences can offer the average consumer. In turn, this changes not only our expectations of what is available (such as new motorcycle styles) but also our interpretation of how it can be used. I think we’ll find new vehicle categories that transcend today’s choices, and with a design like this, we may have a new multi-tasking vehicle category before we know it.