The World’s First Smart Suitcase

Ordinarily, it’s hard to get excited about a suitcase.  If it holds your clothes and it shuts, that’s usually good enough for me.  But yes, sometimes suitcases get lost.  Sometimes you need to weigh them and don’t have a scale handy.  Sometimes…

…you just wish you had more features.

The Bluesmart suitcase does that.  It’s small enough, at 24″x15″x10″ to fit as a carry on in an airplane.  It’s made of strong, lightweight polycarbonate and aluminum, so it’s going to be sturdy without taking up a lot of weight that you could be using for contents.

Generally, if you’re carrying a piece of luggage onto a plane, you won’t have to worry about the weight, but what if you have to check it?  What if you’ve packed it full of bricks and you aren’t sure that it won’t be overweight?

Not a problem; the Bluesmart has a built-in scale.  That’s right; the suitcase can weigh itself.  I’ve always carried a portable scale with me, but the scale takes up space, and requires batteries, and has weight itself so it contributes to the weight problem.  That’s not the case here; the scale is built-in.

What if you lose it?  You’re not likely to lose it, but an airline employee very well might.  It happens to everyone, sooner or later, and it’s frustrating to be standing there without any idea where your bag might be.  Bluesmart has the answer, as the suitcase has built-in GPS capability.  Not only that, but it can talk to your smartphone via BLE + 3G + GPS.  Your phone will always know where your suitcase happens to be, and that’s true no matter where it might be anywhere in the world.  If you’re outside the United States, you’re covered there, too, with help from Telefonica.

You can also use your phone to lock and unlock your Bluesmart suit case.  No need to remember combinations anymore.

Even if you haven’t lost your bag, you can easily find it in the airport with this feature and your phone.  But what if your phone needs a charge?  You can charge it directly from the Bluesmart, which has a built in 10,000 mAh battery.  That’s enough juice to charge your phone a half a dozen times, or to charge 6 phones one time each, if you happen to be traveling with 6 phones.  It comes with a charging cable.

You’ll find room inside the Bluesmart for clothes, shoes, and more, as well as room for a 15″ laptop.

The Bluesmart isn’t exactly cheap; the start at a bit over $300 and one model costs twice that.  On the other hand, if you travel a lot, and many people do, then you may well find it to be a good investment.

You can buy the Bluesmart at the company’s Website.

Weld and Repair Plastic

Bondic plastic welderWhen plastic parts break, you usually attempt to fix them with super glue, and when that doesn’t work, you throw them away and buy a new one.  Sure, if you’ve got deep pockets, you can buy a 3D printer and make a new part, but that’s overkill for a lot of small repairs, where the investment in time to design the part just isn’t worth it.

A new product called Bondic offers another solution.  Bondic, which their Website says is “not a glue,” is actually a welder for plastic.  The applicator works rather like a pen, and you can “draw” plastic wherever you need it.  You can use this handy tool to fill cracks, attach two pieces together, or even create a new piece.  The liquid is fairly sticky, so it will stay in place until it hardens.

Here’s the fun part – Bondic will not harden until it has been exposed to ultraviolet light.  You can work with it to your heart’s content, and when you’ve finally got it where you want it, then, and only then, can you harden it by exposing it to UV light.  That’s easy to do, as there’s a UV light source attached to the other side of the pen.

How long does it take to harden?  Four seconds.

Even super glue doesn’t set that quickly, and Bondic isn’t glue.  It’s plastic.

Apparently, the product was created by a German dentist who was using similar material in his dental work.  He got to wondering why we couldn’t use the product for everyday repairs.  A short time later, he found a partner in the U.S. and brought the product to market.

The various videos on the site give numerous examples of how to put Bondic to use.  You can do all kinds of things with it.  The thing that impressed me the most was using it to attach something to the inside of an aquarium that was already full of water.  Put Bondic on the part, immerse it in the water, press it up against the glass, and then shine the UV light on it from the outside.  Four seconds later, it’s stuck to the glass wall.

Not only does Bondic get rock-hard in just four seconds, but once it hardens, you can do whatever you like with it.  You can paint it, you can drill holes in it, you can cut it with a saw, or you can sand it to shape.

There are a lot of good things about this amazing product, but here’s the best one – it’s cheap.  The basic starter kit includes the applicator with the built-in UV light source, a 4 gram tube of plastic, and a carrying case.  The price for all of this cutting edge technology?

Twelve dollars.

People have become pretty attached, if you will, to this product, and if you visit YouTube, you’ll find hundreds of videos showing how people have found interesting uses for this product.

I don’t have an immediate use for it, but it strikes me as the sort of thing that I should just keep in a drawer.  When you need it, you’re going to want to have it right now and not have to wait a couple of days for someone to mail it to you.


An Erasable Smart Notebook

rocket wave notebookDifferent people work best in different media.  While some people work best at a computer, using spreadsheets and word processors, others find their muse and get better results taking notes the old fashioned way – on paper.

That’s fine; paper still has its uses.  But paper tends to build up a lot of clutter.  You sometimes can’t find your notes when you need them.  And what if you decided that something you wrote down by hand would serve you better in the Cloud?

That’s where the Rocket Wave notebook can help you.  At first, I thought the concept was a silly one, but as I read more about it, it started to make more sense.

The Rocket Wave looks like a regular paper notebook with a spiral binding, just like the ones you used in school.  You can write in it with a special pen called a FriXion, which is available in different colors.  You can write in the Rocket Wave with this pen just as you would on any other notebook.  You can take notes, do calculations, draw doodles – whatever you like.  It acts just like a paper notebook, and you’ve got 80 pages to work with.

Then what?  Ordinarily, when a notebook gets full, you either file it away or throw it away.  You could do that with the Rocket Wave, but you really don’t have to, as it’s erasable.  To erase, just put the notebook in the microwave.  A logo on the front cover will change color when it’s done.  The special paper heats up and the ink turns clear when it reaches a temperature of 140°.   When it reaches that temperature, your pages are erased, and you can reuse the notebook.

According to Rocket Wave, the notebook can be erased five times.

That’s great, but for $25, it’s sort of an expensive notebook, given that you can buy five paper notebooks for a lot less money.  That’s where the Rocket Wave app comes in.  If you install the app on your smartphone or tablet, you can use it to transfer anything you’ve written in the notebook to the Cloud.  Each page in the notebook has 7 special icons, and you can assign those icons to specific online applications.

Then you can mark an icon on a page, and take a picture of it with your phone or tablet.  The page will be instantly converted into an online document and uploaded to your online application of choice.  You can send it to Google Docs, or Dropbox, or Evernote, and more.  That way, you can collaborate with others, even using handwritten notes.

The app works with both Android devices and the IOS, so you can use it with pretty much any device you like.  The Rocket Wave is also available in two sizes – standard (8.5 x 9.5 inches), executive (6 x 8.9 inches).

rocket wave appThe real magic is in the FriXion pen, which uses the special thermal ink.  You can use that pen on regular paper and heat it to erase it, but that doesn’t work as well as the specially treated paper in the Rocket Wave.  Besides, heating paper often leads to bad results.

Not everyone is going to need the Rocket Wave, as a lot of people have learned to work with other media.  If you’re old-school and like working with good, old fashioned notebooks, but still want to stay connected to the online world, the Rocket Wave offers a good opportunity to do both.

You can find the Rocket Wave for about $25 at Amazon, as well as at other retailers.

Affordable Tunes – The Audio Technica ATLP60BK Turntable

audio technica turntableVinyl is back, and records are selling more briskly than they have in decades.  While most people seem content to listen to music on their phones or tablets these days, a lot of people are embracing the “old school” method of playing vinyl record albums.

For that, of course, you’ll need a turntable, and you can spend a bit or you can spend an absolute fortune, if that’s your thing.  Most people who are just getting into vinyl are looking for something in the entry-level category.

At rock bottom, there are some players from Crosley, but they’re terrible and are made almost entirely of plastic.  They also come with a stylus that’s good for about 50 hours of play, tops, before it will have to be replaced.  Since most people won’t get around to doing that, they’re likely doing a lot of damage to their records after just a few plays.

A nice entry in the lower price range is the Audio Technica ATLP60BK.  This is a fully functional belt-drive turntable with an aluminum platter.  A metal platter helps with speed stability, as more mass is good.  Belt drive turntables are less prone to having problems with vibration, which can adversely affect the sound during playback.

One problem with most turntables is that you’ll have to have a phono preamplifier to connect them to some sort of stereo system.  Phono cartridges have lower outputs than other devices, such as MP3 players, so an additional preamplification device is necessary.  Back in the 1960s through the 1980s, premplifiers were routinely built into stereo receivers, but as vinyl died out and compact discs took over, most manufacturers started removing preamps from receivers as a cost-cutting measure.

The ATLP60BK solves this problem by having a preamplifier built in.  There’s a switch on the back that allows you to enable it or disable it.  That way, you can connect it to a receiver with a built in phono preamp if you have one, or a standalone phono preamplifier.   If you don’t have one, and just want to connect it to an amplifier or some powered speakers, you can use the built-in preamp and you’re good to go.

If there’s a downside to this turntable, it’s the outputs.  While the ATLP60BK includes two sets of output cables, you won’t find traditional cables in the box.  Traditionally, turntables have cables with male RCA connectors on the end, as that’s what most receivers and phono preamps are expecting.  This model includes two cables, but they terminate in either a male 1/8″ miniplug or a female version of the same thing.

If you want to go with the traditional hookup, you’ll have to acquire a set of RCA cables separately.  Aside from that, this turntable will play at 33 1/3 or 45 RPM and a 45 RPM adapter is included.  It’s available in either black or silver, depending on your taste, and a magnetic phono cartridge with a replaceable stylus is included.

It’s not high end audio by any means.  But if you want to get started playing back some vinyl and learning to understand why people like records so much in the first place, the ATLP60BK is an OK place to start.  It’s affordable, at about $99 or so.

If you want to spend about $30 more, there’s another model in the line that also has a USB output, so you can connect it directly to a computer.  From there, you can rip your vinyl to MP3 or some other audio format, and you can play back your records through your desktop computer system, if you’re so inclined.

Turn Your TV Into a PC

asus cs10 A lot of us like to keep our gadgets separate.  A PC is a PC.  A TV is a TV.  A smartphone is a smartphone.  If you have the luxury of space, you can do that, and allow every device to perform its single function.

Not everyone has that luxury, however, and sometimes necessity requires that you bundle devices into other devices just to save space…or money.

If you’re having that problem wit your PC and/or your TV, here’s the solution – you an turn your TV into a PC with the ASUS Chromebit CS10 stick computer.

The CS 10 looks like an oversized flash drive, but it plugs into your TV’s HDMI port, rather than a USB port.  You’ll also need to plug it into the wall, as HDMI, unlike USB, doesn’t provide power.  The CS 10 has Bluetooth capability, so you can use it with a Bluetooth-enabled keyboard and mouse and that, combined with your TV, gives you a fully-functional desktop PC on your television.

The operating system is Chrome, which is a Linux derivative.  The CS10 uses a ROckchip RK 3288 processor and has 2 GB of integrated system RAM and another 16 GB of storage memory.  You can also add a flash drive for additional storage capability.

Wireless networking is built in, with 802.11ac Wi-Fi, so you’ll be able to connect to your router and on to the Web.  You’ll also have access to a 100 GB Google drive in the cloud, so you’ll have plenty of additional storage space.  On the downside, you will have to sign into a Google account to use it, which could be a problem if you’re one of those people who isn’t a Google fan.

The CS 10 is surprisingly affordable, as it’s priced at under $100.  That’s pretty impressive for anything that can call itself a computer, though you’ll have to pay extra for the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, unless, of course, you just happen to have those lying around.

asus cs 10 kitHooking up a device like the ASUS CS 10 to your TV can be a bit awkward, as I found out when I tried to hook up my FireTV stick a while back.  Fortunately, like the FireTV stick, the CS 10 includes an HDMI extender cord so you don’t have to plug it directly into the TV.  You’ll also receive 4 hook and loop fasteners which will help you organize your cables.

While the CS 10 is a fully functional PC, it obviously has some limitations.  It doesn’t have an optical drive, for instance, and some TVs are going to provide a better experience for doing work than others.  I’m not sure, for instance, that I want to do work on a 55 inch monitor.  Still, in a pinch, it’s a nice solution for someone who occasionally needs a PC or for someone who is just short on space.  If you’re in a small apartment and you’re having to make a choice between having room for a computer or room for a TV, and you don’t need to spend all your time on the computer, then a CS 10 might make sense.

It’s certainly about the most affordable functional computer out there.  Even if you have to buy a keyboard and a mouse, you’re still in for a bit over $100.  That’s pretty cheap.

You can find the CS 10 at Amazon, and probably at a zillion other places, too.


Your Smart Pillow Has Arrived

These days, it seems like everything is becoming “smart,” including a bunch of things that don’t need to be.  Since the notion first occurred to someone that a device could become either Web-enabled or microprocessor controlled, it seems that just about everything is now being built that way by somebody.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot of room for improvement in the world of, well, just about everything.  Some ideas, however, seem a bit silly, like the smart padlock that I recently saw at Home Depot.  You can open it with your smartphone, but you can’t use it outdoors.  It was expensive, and frankly, didn’t look all that sturdy, which is usually the first thing you want in a padlock.

That aside, the Zeeq Smart Pillow might actually be an OK idea.  I don’t know that the world actually needs a smart pillow, but since the device manages to combine the functions of several things that you may already have in your bedroom – an alarm clock, a radio/music player, and a pillow, this one might not be a bad idea.

The Zeeq originated as a Kickstarter project and apparently did well at the funding stage.  In fact, it’s now available for retail sale, though at the moment, it’s only available in the UK.

What does the Zeeq Smart Pillow do?  For starters, it is said to be a very comfortable pillow, which is always a plus if you’re trying to sleep.  It’s also impressive if you’re talking about something upon which you’re going to rest your head, given that it has all kinds of gadgets inside of it.  If they can load it with hardware and still keep it comfortable, then we’re all the better off for it.

What kind of gadgets are inside?

  • A programmable music player.  There are 8 speakers inside the pillow, and you can set the timer so the music plays for a predetermined amount of time.  It connects to your smartphone via an app, so you can feed it music from the source of your choice.
  • A snore alarm.  A built in microphone triggers the pillow to gently vibrate when you’re snoring, which may encourage you to roll over to a different position without being awakened.
  • Sleep analysis.  The Zeeq connects to your smartphone and keeps track of your sleep data as well as your Snore Score.
  • A smart alarm.  The Zeeq keeps track of your sleep and awakens you at the proper time in your sleep cycle.  At least, that’s what they say…
  • Comfort.  This pillow has a foam outer shell and removable memory foam clusters
  • Two week battery life.  That’s impressive in a world where most smart devices have to be recharged on a daily basis.
  • Tencel fabric.  This material is washable and is said to be naturally bacteria resistant.

Honestly, I don’t know if anyone needs a smart pillow, but you likely already have an alarm clock and a music player and a pillow in your room.  If you travel, you could take the Zeeq with you and have all of your bases covered with just one gadget.

There is a downside, of course, and that’s the price.  New technology never comes cheaply, and that’s certainly the case here.  While the original stated price for the Zeeq was £249, it’s now available for £199, which is a bit over $200 for those of use who pay in dollars.

Expensive?  Yes, it is.  Necessary?  Not really.  Useful?  Perhaps.  The snore monitor may be useful, and if the smart alarm works as it’s supposed to, waking you at the proper time in your sleep cycle, then you may be a lot less groggy in the morning.

I don’t know if the Zeeq Smart Pillow is really necessary, or if anyone really needs a smart pillow at all.  But the music feature is nice, and the whole thing makes a lot more sense than the smart padlock does.

The Zeeq is available here.

Aerix Aerius – A Really Small Drone

aerix aerius world's smallest drone
The world’s smallest drone

Drones are pretty popular these days, and they’ve come a long way from the days when they were large bulky flying machines that were owned and operated by the government.  Today, there are hundreds, or even thousands of drones that are available for consumer use, and thanks to Chinese manufacturing, they’re largely quite affordable.

If you don’t own a drone already, chances are that you know someone who does.  Some of them are just fun playthings, but many of them can carry cameras so you can engage in surveillance or a bit of unauthorized snooping on your neighbors.   Most drones that can carry cameras have some significant size to them, and that can be a drawback, particularly if you have limited space available for flight or storage.

That’s where the Aerix Aerius comes in.  Aerix is a New York state-based manufacturer of drones, and the Aerius is one of their latest products and currently claims to be the world’s smallest quadcopter.

How small?  The Aerius measures 3cm x 3cm x 2 cm.  That’s about 1 3/16″ square, and about 3/4″ tall.  It’s small enough that the remote controller for it has a built-in storage compartment for the drone itself.

What about features?  It’s got plenty.  The Aerius features 6 axis gyro stabilization, which makes it really easy to fly.

If you’re new to flying drones, don’t worry, as the Aerius includes several pre-programmed maneuvers that allows it to make flips and rolls at the push of a button.  No more crashing into furniture while you’re learning to do tricks.

You’ll find that the Aerius also has brightly colored LED lamps that make it easy to see and which make it easy to see the drone’s orientation.   If you’re new to flying, the “headless mode” locks the orientation to make the Aerius easier to fly.

aerix aerius controllerThe Aerius can fly for 5-7 minutes on a charge, and it takes 15-20 minutes to recharge the device using a USB cable.

If you care about such things, you can choose from four different colors.  Actually, at a price of just $22, you could buy one in more than one color, if you like.

Crashes are inevitable with any drone, and Aerix sells a set of four extra blade just in case you crash into something and break one.

Aerix isn’t new to the micro-drone field, their Turbo X model was previously the smallest drone, but it’s about 1/3 larger than the Aerius.

Admittedly, a drone this small isn’t particularly useful.  At that size, you can’t really do anything with it aside from flying it around.  It’s not going to carry any cargo or a camera.  It certainly isn’t big enough for a bumper sticker.   It’s just a novelty.  On the other hand, it’s a pretty cool novelty, and one that’s a lot of fun to fly.

Reviews on the site are overwhelmingly positive, as well.  Buyers say the thing works well right out of the box.

I haven’t yet jumped into the drone market, and I’m not sure that I really have a use for one.  On the other hand, it looks like a pretty fun toy, and it looks like something that might just make a pleasant diversion while taking a coffee break from work.

If you’re looking for a fun, eye-catching (barely!) toy at a great price that’s sure to please a crowd, you might want to take a look at the Aerix Aerius.

Here’s a demo video:

The Talelight Electronic Bumper Sticker

talelight electronic bumper stickerEver put a bumper sticker on your car?  I’m sure you have; people just love to express their opinions. Of course, opinions change, and bumper stickers get worn out and sometimes, it’s no longer trendy to have a “Bush/Cheney ’04” sticker on the back of your car.

But we’re often lazy, and those stickers have a tendency to hang around for a long time, because it’s a nuisance to remove them.  So they sit, and people see you at stoplights and make fun of your no-longer-relevant message.

That’s where the Talelight comes in handy.  The Talelight bills itself as the world’s first electronic bumper sticker.   It attaches to the back of your car with provided 3M adhesive tape and it’s powered by any 5 volt USB source.  There’s a 15 foot power cord and an adapter that will allow you to plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter or 12 volt power source.

The display measures 1280×320 and can store up to 25 static images.  For legal reasons, the Talelight will not display any images with motion, so you can’t use an animated gif or movie file.

You can create images using Photoshop or any graphics program, and you can upload them to the Talelight Website.  The company provides an app that you can use on a smartphone or tablet to manage your device.  You can create your own images or text, or you can download premade bumper stickers from the company Website.  These are available for purchase, though they’re typically just $2-$3.  You can also create your own virtual “bumper stickers” and put them up for sale on the site to make a few extra bucks here and there.

While many people might want to use this electronic bumper sticker to display a static message, you can program the Talelight to do far more than that.  You can have it rotate up to 25 images or you can schedule certain images to appear at certain times.  You could, for instance, have a different bumper sticker displayed for each day of the week.  Or you could set a calendar to display a special message on your birthday, for instance.

While the Talelight is a pretty clever device, there are a couple of minor drawbacks:

The device may not be legal everywhere.  Some jurisdictions (particularly California) have some pretty specific laws regarding what sorts of electronic or electrical “lighting” devices may appear on a vehicle.  The company freely admits that laws on this matter are somewhat vague, as there aren’t any other similar devices on the market…yet.

The Talelight isn’t particularly cheap.  It’s an electronic device and it’s one without any competition.  At this point, that means that it doesn’t have to be cheap; the company can sell it for whatever price the market will bear.  At the moment, that price is $129, plus shipping.

Not creative?  You’ll have to buy other people’s designs.  The Talelight Website has several hundred different bumper sticker designs for sale in their store.  Like I said, they’re cheap; the average price is about $2.50.  Still, some people bristle at the idea of paying for designs.

I’ve never really been the sort to put a bumper sticker on my car, but I know lots of people who do.  I also see lots of bumper stickers that are seriously outdated and the owners never got around to removing them.

If that’s you, or if you simply have so many opinions that putting a sticker on your car for every one of them would completely cover your car in bumper stickers, then you might find the Talelight to be a pretty good idea.

Here’s a video from the company Website:

Fast, Portable Transportation – The Mercane Wheels Trans Board

mercane wheels trans boardI was really excited when the Segway first hit the market, and then I saw the price tag.  As cool as they are, I just couldn’t justify spending $5000 on an electric scooter.   They’ve gotten a bit cheaper, and you can always buy second hand, but the price is still too steep.

Then the so-called “hoverboards” came along.  They were sort of like a Segway, minus the upright control, resulting in sort of a self-powered skateboard.  They were certainly cheaper, but when companies in China started cutting corners during manufacturing, we ended up with hoverboards that were prone to catching fire.

That quickly put an end to the hoverboard craze.  They’re still around, and still affordable, but people are understandably a lot less excited about them these days.

So, is there anything in between the $200 or so combustible hoverboard and the $5000 Segway?  There is, or at least, there will be soon.  That would be the Trans Board, from Mercane Wheels.  At the moment, they’re raising money on Indigogo to get final funding, and if you pledge money there, you can get the Trans Board for 57% off of the suggested $1249 retail price – just $549.

So, what is the Trans Board all about?

It’s a three-wheeled scooter, with two wheels in the front and one wheel in the back.  It has an upright control and steering bar like the Segway does.

It has a powerful 48 Volt battery that will allow you to go 25 miles on a charge.  Really.  I’m not sure you’d want to, as it’s not super fast, but it’s faster than a Segway – the Trans Board has a top speed of 22 miles per hour.

That means that you could, in theory, use it for a 12 mile commute each way.  Of course, it would take you more than a half an hour to get to work, but the Trans Board is quiet and appears to be fairly comfortable – at least as far as standing on a scooter is concerned.

trans board folded
The Trans Board folds with the push of a button.

When you get to work, then what?  You can fold the Trans Board up in just a couple of seconds.  Then you can use the handle to pull it on its two front wheels as though you were pulling a suitcase at an airport.

The ride is said to be a smooth one, thanks to the double-wishbone suspension.

The battery is detachable, so you can charge it either in the Trans Board or you can charge it separately.  Since the battery is removable, you can also buy a spare, and use that one when the other battery is charging.  You can also get an optional add-on battery that will give you an additional 12 miles of range.  This one mounts in between the footpads.

Charging is easy, but it isn’t necessarily fast.  Charging time is estimated to be about six hours.  If you’re going to use the Trans Board a lot, you definitely want to buy a spare battery for it.

The Trans Board is currently available for order in either black or white.  The unit is currently available for order at $549 + shipping.  Additional batteries are available for $125.  I’d recommend ordering one.

If you’re looking for a faster, cheaper, more attractive alternative to the Segway that isn’t likely to catch fire, the Mercane Wheels Trans Board looks like a good choice.

Here’s a video of the Trans Board in action:

Make Layered Cocktails the Easy Way

layered cocktailIf you’ve ever tried to make a layered cocktail, you’ll know that it can be a mess.  What’s a layered cocktail?  It’s a drink, usually alcoholic, that uses multiple ingredients of different colors, flavors and densities, and the drink is not mixed prior to being served.

Instead, each of the layers is poured individually, so that the individual ingredients each maintain a separate layer.  The resulting beverage usually looks pretty cool, and if you get the colors lined up right, it can look like a rainbow.

It’s a great idea in concept, but the execution can often create a mess.  The idea is to sort out the various liqueurs used in the recipe by specific gravity, and to pour each ingredient in order from heaviest to lightest.

The problem, of course, is that liquids naturally want to mix with one another and you have to really be careful to avoid having them mix together when you’re pouring them.

The usual trick for that is to use a spoon, turn it upside down, and to pour the liquid on top of the back of the bowl of the spoon slowly and to let it drip down on top of the layer below it.  Then you have to repeat this for each additional ingredient.  As some layered cocktails have as many as 7 or 8 ingredients, this can get tedious and each new layer provides an additional opportunity for you to screw it all up.

The result of that is often an ugly mess, as a bunch of interesting colored liqueurs mixed together usually results in something pretty close to black.

Here’s a video that shows you how to make a layered drink in the traditional way:

That works well, unless you’re clumsy, or in a hurry, or both.  That’s where the Rainbow Cocktail Layering Tool comes in handy.  While there clearly was no urgent need for this gadget to exist, it’s nice that it does, as it can speed up the process of making a layered drink tremendously and it can save you both time and wasted liquor.

The Rainbow Cocktail Layering Tool is a gadget that fits on top of your serving glass, and it has a funnel, a shaft,  and a sphere that sits on top of the liquid in your glass.  You pour your liqueur into the funnel, it slowly runs down the shaft, and it flows over the sphere to create a layer with no spills.

rainbow cocktail layering toolThe key to mixing a layered cocktail is to slow the flow, and the spoon method makes it all too easy to pour too quickly, and the flow of liquid from the bottle is often dependent on the mouth of the bottle itself.  The Rainbow Cocktail Layering Tool, on the other hand, gives you the ability to dramatically reduce the flow of liquid, which means that you won’t be pouring too quickly.  That way, you can get it right just about every time, without having to toss out the failed drinks that inevitably result from using the spoon method without a lot of practice.

The best part is that the gadget is affordable, too.  These days, you can spend thousands on barware, but this handy little tool is only about $15 or so.  I found it here.

I don’t make layered cocktails all that often; it’s the sort of thing you do to show off at parties or to prepare for special occasions.  Still, it’s another useful tool to have in your toolbox when you want to impress people and you don’t want to make a mess.

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