Techaways – The week best bits in 4 bites

Elon Musk sells flamethrowers to raise cash

Credit: Elon Musk

It looks like the world’s most exciting entrepreneur is so strapped for cash that he’s reduced to hawking novelties on Instagram.

After the success of his $20 Boring Company baseball caps, Elon Musk has made good on his promise to sell flamethrowers to the masses.

The 500-dollar lame-throwers aren’t exactly military grade, but that hasn’t stopped problems getting them shipped, with Musk rebranding them as “Temperature Enhancement Devices”.

Needless to say, the hype ensured that all 20,000 got sold within days, with many now fetching several times their retail price on eBay.

We have to ask: Is this the best you can do, Elon? With SpaceX’s earnings shrouded in mystery, and Tesla losing $16 million every day, the answer might sadly be “yes.”

Look – no hands! Use your face to fly a drone

Credit: Bruce, Perron, and Vaughan   ( Simon Fraser University)

Ready-Aim-Fly is a drone project that lets you control your favorite flying toy by making faces.

Researchers at British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University have created the system to be as intuitive as possible – insofar as staring at a flying robot is ever “intuitive.”

Here’s how it works: First, hold your UAV at arm’s length and stare at it, trying not to make any facial expressions. Next, turn the drone on its side and choose a “trigger” expression, which will tell the drone when to lift off.

Finally, “aim” the drone by walking backwards the same distance you’d like it to fly, and make another face to decide if the flightpath will be straight or a boomerang round trip.

This gun downs pesky drones


The DroneGun Tactical is just what you need stop low-flying, camera-toting drones dead in their tracks – facially controlled or not.

Point it at any buzzing blighter less than one kilometer (two-thirds of a mile) away, pull the trigger, and it should do a swift 180 and return to its operator as you follow, arrest warrant in hand. Pay a little extra for the optional GPS blocker to force it to land immediately.

The DroneGun Tactical is made by Aussie company DroneShield, and has enough juice to down a dozen or so drones before recharging. The bad news is that due to FCC rules, it’s totally illegal for the general population to use one, but that only makes us want one more.

Super Mario marches on

Credit: Nintendo

He may be in his thirties, but the bushy be-’stached Italian plumber shows no sign of slowing up or settling down. In fact, he and brother Luigi are more in demand than ever.

The new games keep coming, and moving onto new platforms, with Mario Kart Tour is scheduled to hit smartphones in just over a year.

Meanwhile, the great news for younger fans is that legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto is co-producing a Super Mario Bros. movie with the same team that brought Despicable Me and Minions to the big screen.

The film doesn’t have a set release date yet, but we do know that it’s being produced by Universal – which should mean a theme-park tie in, too.

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