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Originally published April 19, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 20, 2008 at 1:41 PM

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HypnoCube is fun to watch and a joy to own

I'm a gadget hound, which means that I use and even collect technology devices and gadgets of all sorts. Sometimes I'll buy a technology...

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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I'm a gadget hound, which means that I use and even collect technology devices and gadgets of all sorts. Sometimes I'll buy a technology gadget just because it's very cool.

These devices fall into that special category that's defined as something that has absolutely no useful purpose nor any redeeming value and I will probably never use it but I want one. The HypnoCube falls into that category, and I couldn't be happier with mine.

Let me just say that I have this strange affinity for things that have lots of flashing lights. I'm not quite sure what the significance of that is, but let me further refine what I mean in case you begin to wonder if I have some strange attraction to highly decorated Christmas trees. Some examples of what I find attractive in this special category are electronic clocks that display the time in some kind of unconventional format. I have a rather extensive collection of these that includes a sampling of binary clocks.

Other technology-gadget examples include devices that let you levitate objects in midair. My Caller-ID display is inside a blue globe that uses a retinal persistence display so that the letters and numbers seem to float and rotate inside. Now if you're someone who shares in this attraction, then you "get it" and I have something you will really like.

The HypnoCube (hypnocube.com) is a matrix of LEDs configured into a 4 by 4 by 4 — three-dimensional grid. Each LED is capable of displaying up to 4,096 colors. This 3-D lattice of LEDs comprises thin but sturdy wires stiff enough to maintain the cubelike shape of the structure. The entire grid sits on top of an exposed circuit board that contains all of the electronics that make the magic happen. All of this is finally enclosed in a clear acrylic cube that measures 5 by 5 by 7 inches.

Just looking at the powered-off HypnoCube sitting there is cause enough for the curious to walk on over. But when you turn it on, your inner technology geek is going to be very, very happy.

When you plug it in, you are greeted with a dancing light show unlike anything you've seen before. Patterns begin to form, shift and change. The colors shift from muted tones to dazzling bursts of raw color. It is absolutely beautiful to watch. To me, it's along the lines of why people enjoy watching a fireplace glow. It's almost hypnotic; hence its name, the HypnoCube.

I have my HypnoCube in my office on the bookshelf. When someone walks in, it seldom fails to make some kind of impression. Of course, the question I hear most often is "What's it do?" or "What is it for?" These are the ones that just don't get it and no matter what I say, they probably never will. Still, my best reply is that it's a piece of modern technology art. That's the answer that usually gets them to nod their heads in an understanding manner.

But I don't care what they think and you shouldn't either. All that's really important is that you enjoy looking at it. As with any work of art, beauty is within the mind of the person looking at it. I hope you'll enjoy looking at your HypnoCube as much as I do.

You can buy the RGB 4cube HypnoCube in a kit form if you're talented with a solder iron, but I highly suggest you buy one already assembled for $380 plus shipping.

BodyGuardz

www.bodyguardz.com

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$25

If you opt to splurge on a new iPhone, you'll want to keep it looking new. One option is a transparent BodyGuardz cover that fits over the prized gadget like a second skin.

Made of the same material that protects the fronts of cars from flying gravel, the see-through adhesive casing from NLU Products lets you show off your latest toy while protecting it from scratches. Each $25 package comes with two BodyGuardz protectors in case one needs to be removed to service the phone.

The company makes similar covers for other devices.

— Deborah Porterfield

Gannett News Service

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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