Monday, January 9, 2012

Kymera Wands Enchant Electronics

Although it has been out for some time, I've never seen one work in person: a real magic wand. And although this particular magic is limited to performing a few simple television tricks, it's still the kind of magic that will make you think twice.

Developed by English inventors, the Kymera Wand is a universal remote control that can be custom programed to perform up to 13 individual commands. Wave the wand up and the volume goes up. Wave it down and the volume goes down. (Or whatever you program it to do.)

"Essentially we set out to design a magic wand that uses modern remote control technology to give the user a magical experience,” says Chris Barnardo, one of the co-inventors. “The result not only delivers a magical experience but is the first gesture-based remote control that doesn’t have any buttons."

The wand itself isn't limited to a television, but will essentially work with any infrared (IR) remote control, including receivers, light switches, curtains, iPod docks, and even some Apple computers. But with only 13 operational gestures supported by any one wand, be selective. But you can program more than one device into the wand.

For televisions, my friend noted the first eight are almost a given: on/off, volume up/down, channel up/down, mute on/off. He also noted that as fun and magical as the remote really seems, it's impossible for cable subscribers to give up the remote. The functional fun runs out if you have to make 300 motions.

The technology of the Kymera Wand is simple, sophisticated and stunning. 

The first assumption is that the wand is powered by the same motion technology found in a Wii remote. Interestingly enough, Barnardo and his partner, Richard Blakesley, chose accelerometers as opposed to other motion meters so the wand would respond to more fluid commands (similar to mobile phones).

One minor difference is that the wand's microprocessor seems to be more sensitive to how hard it is and in which direction the wand is accelerating. It's this sensitivity in the microscopic silicon architectures that can detect any force of gravity, even when the device is at rest.

Whereas most mobile phones have four axis points, the wand's shape allows it to use three: x-, y- and –z. The microprocessor translates the moves, which is programmed by the owner (and has to be one of the predefined gestures that are programable). When the wand understands the gesture, there is a tiny vibration letting you know the wand emitted the command to your device.

The coolest part is that they have squeezed the assembly into the wand, without leaving any visible seams or screws. The Kymera Wand video isn't so seamless, but it gets the point across well enough.

If you recognize the wand as the one used by Daniel Radcliffe in the Harry Potter films, you would be right. The similarity was intentional. Although it makes the wand immediately recognizable, one can't help but wonder what might happen if the inventors could expand the number of commands and offer various wand bodies instead of one.

A few graphs about co-inventor Chris Barnardo. 

Barnardo, who is the more visible partner, originally worked as a studio artist for an advertising agency in London before moving to Sharja in the UAE. When he returned to London a short time later, he worked as a creative director until founding his own agency.

Twenty years ago, he decided to pursue a full-time degree in biomedical science and engineering instead. As it turned out, the move changed his life. It gave him the opportunity to blend design and engineering.

Today, he is named as an inventor on more than 25 different patents. He also publishes a site called dadcando, which blends magic, crafts, and projects especially suited for dads. Barnardo is a single dad with four children.

The Kymera Wand Can Cast A Spell At 6.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

There isn't anything not to like about the Kymera Wand because it really works and works so well. In fact, I would love to like it even more. The ability to create custom gestures, program more commands, and offer a line of wands with different casings would make it even better (and maybe drive the price down).

It is good to see that Barnardo is interested in expanding and accessorizing his product. He recently started manufacturing LED lights that look and flicker like candles. You can even blow them out like real candles, set them to a timer, or give them a wave with a magic wand. You can find the Kymera Wand on Skymall for about $90. The Kymera Magic Wand Remote Control is also on Amazon, for about $80. You can also find the Kandela Magic Candle there for about $60. However, the wand that comes with the candle is not a universal remote. It's similar in design to original, but has an ivory look.
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