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Make Pt1582
Each year over 100,000 people visit the Las Vegas area to celebrate consumer electronics at an event called “CES” – in addition to all of the announcements, press releases and the constant coverage on our favorite gadget sites there’s been a dark cloud creeping in, there seems to be a growing resentment among the folks who cover the show – it’s just not that fun any more, last year’s show was all about giant TVs, and later a controversy about turning those very same TVs off.

I went to CES for years and year and always had a great time, I was attracted to the “weird” section that had Chinese clones and odd undiscovered jewels, it was almost 10 years ago that Danger had a little booth on their own showing the Sidekick, years later the Sidekick became an nationwide best selling phone, it’s still one of my favorites. I remember showing friends pictures of the Sidekick, they all thought it was a bizarre little device, and perhaps it was at the time.

So, it’s 2009 and on MAKE we cover very high-tech products, mostly in our reviews, green, gadgets and “news from the future” sections – this year we’re going to try something new – we’ll pick and choose some cool things we see around the web from CES specifically with a MAKE lens, but we’ll also post some things we’d like to see or things from the past that would be great to see “CES” style. We’re calling this “alt.CES” it’s a little parody, a little bizarro world, a little fun and little bit about what’s going on in the CES world – we’ll have a few posts a day about this, if there’s something you see around the web from CES that you think makers would like to check out, let us know.


First up, BUGLabs – last year I think they were the most interesting things at CES and this year they are announcing a ton of new BUG modules… BUGlabs are one of the pioneers in open source hardware – the source, schematics and PCB files are available for their products.

Bugsound 1
Bugsound 2
Bug Labs announced five new BUGmodules… Each BUGmodule represents a specific gadget function (e.g. a camera, a keyboard, a video output, etc.) that can be snapped to the BUGbase, a programmable Linux-based mini-computer with four available BUGmodule slots.


The five new BUGmodules are:

  • BUGprojector, a mini pico-projector module, incorporating DLP® Picoâ„¢ technology from Texas Instruments. With a native resolution of 480×320 pixels, stereo playback and a brightness of 9 lumens, users can project videos, photos and presentations on the go.
  • BUGsound, an audio module, providing a flush-mount 20-mm speaker and omnidirectional microphone with hardware stereo codecs and four 3.5-mm stereo jacks for third-party inputs, outputs, headphones and microphones. Use BUG as a portable music player, speakerphone, audio processor or more.
  • BUG3g GSM, a 3G mobile radio with SIM card input, enabling BUGs to connect to any high-speed GSM network. Users can place calls, send and receive SMSes or transmit data, opening a world of possibilities for mobile and telephony applications.
  • BUGwifi, a dual-function 802.11b/g wi-fi and Bluetoothâ„¢ 2.0 + EDR radio, offering yet another wireless data connectivity option for the BUGbase, while providing a gateway to a variety of peripherals such as keyboards, mice, headsets and more.
  • BUGbee, a low-powered 802.15.4 radio, enabling BUG developers to create short-range personal area network (PAN) applications for home automation, sensor networks, automotive and more.

These five modules complement the initial batch of BUGmodules, including BUGlocate (GPS), BUGcam2MP (digital camera), BUGmotion (motion sensor and accelerometer) and BUGview (touchscreen LCD). And with the recent addition of BUGvonHippel, a breadboard module enabling users to add virtually any interface to their BUGbase.

This is really cool news, I can finally re-make my location based MP3 player again, the first one was made in 2002 using Macromedia Flash, GPS and Pocket PC, yikes. The way is works… you put in a playlist based on location, so maybe you’ll hear “Eye of the tiger” when it known you’re jogging up that HUGE hill, or maybe your MP3 player only plays bands in the town you happen to be in…

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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