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GigaPan Imager

$279

The GigaPan Imager is the heart of a collaborative project that involves NASA, Google, Carnegie Mellon University, and Charmed Labs of Austin, TX. It’s a robotic camera mount that enables the user to produce multigigapixel panoramic photos by stitching together images taken from different angles. The user uses the buttons on the imager to robotically move the camera so that it frames first the upper left-hand corner of the composite image and then the lower right-hand corner. The robot automatically steps through the intermediate positions, pressing the shutter button with a mechanical arm. The photos are uploaded to a computer, and software fuses them together.

The imager is still in its “beta” release, which means it’s not quite as user friendly as it will be–but it’s also $100 cheaper. If you’re intrigued by the device but want to see how well it works before you buy one, gigapan.org features a large collection of photos produced by GigaPan users.

D+caf Caffeine Test Strips

$10 for a pack of 20

In a 2002 story on innovative biosensors, we wrote that “researchers have long hoped for ways to make cheap and long-lasting artificial antibodies.” One of the companies that, in the intervening six years, developed just such a technology was Silver Lake Research, which claims that it can produce antibodies geared to any particular molecular target. Silver Lake has introduced antibody tests that municipalities can use to assess water supplies and that commercial farms can use to look for pathogens in cattle, but the company’s first consumer product is a test for caffeine in supposedly decaf coffee and tea. Dip one of its tiny test strips into a fluid sample, and stripes on the strip will change color if the sample contains more caffeine than advertised.

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