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Volume 415

New year, same us. We’re back with your first helping of 2023 coolsh*t. To kick things off, we’re bringing you a slap clapback, fresh fruit that may or may not be trying to kill you, and a robot that can read your emotions while battering you at table tennis. It’s a strong start…

Stones on Rock.

It’s 2023 now, so what better way to kick off this tabula rasa of a new year than to mention one of those most talked-about people of 2022? Because if you don’t accept that we’re in a new year, you don’t have to make any resolutions to palliate your perpetual ennui. The Christmas decorations will also be staying up until March. Speaking of rocking around the Christmas tree, Chris Rock released a trailer this week for his upcoming Netflix special ‘Selective Outrage’, which is historic in the sense that it’ll be the first ever comedy special to be streamed live on Netflix. This is about to prove to be a masterclass in how to be involved in an incident, keep your mouth shut, and then make millions of dollars out of it. Although I expect it will make for awkward viewing in the Smith household. Or maybe Will might be in the audience ready to deliver a second round of slapsies while Jada and her boyfriend watch on proudly from home. Who knows what could happen? That’s the beauty of live television.

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Chill Out.

Vollebak have just released a collection of winter apparel that was built to withstand up to (or down to?) -100°C in a liquid nitrogen chamber. Clearly not convinced as to the sustainability of our currently cushy condition, Vollebak have become notorious for creating products designed for when the apocalypse inevitably arrives. In this case, however, they’ve taken a slightly more optimistic approach. The ‘Titan’ collection claims to be for “places colder than Earth”, having been designed using NASA-developed technology to withstand extreme weather. Despite sounding a bit farcical, the gimmicky and hyperbolic nature of Vollebak’s products actually serves their purposes as a proper tech brand incredibly well – because even if you don’t need a jacket that can withstand -100°C, you may logically conclude that such a jacket would also come in handy at, say, 2°C, or something. Plus the insulation is made from recycled plastic bottles, and if I’ve learned anything over the last week, it’s that you do not fuck with Greta Thunberg when it comes to recycling or else you may find yourself in a Romanian jail cell.

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King Pong.

Between Dall-E, Boston Dynamics, the Metaverse, AR/VR, NFTs, and space travel, we’ve spoken a fair bit in the past about some of the technological innovation currently changing the world. But I feel like all that was just to lead us to this moment. In a truly epoch-altering event, OMRON Robotics (which is an anagram of MORON Robotics) has just released its new table-tennis playing robot, the FORPHEUS – which sounds like what that bloke from The Matrix would name his fourth son. This is actually the 7th generation of the Forpheus, but the improvements that have been made in just a few years are quite remarkable. The device is now able to self-diagnose any errors it’s making against its opponent, self-adjust for accuracy, and adapt. That’s all quite specifically to do with table tennis, but the arguably more dystopian development is that Forpehus is now able to ‘empathise’ with its teammate when playing doubles by analysing motions and inferred emotions. So, even though a paddle on a metal stick isn’t exactly anything to write home about, a robot able to read emotions and empathise to a degree that even humans wouldn’t be capable of seems somewhat noteworthy. Either that or this isn’t impressive or interesting at all and I’ve just outed myself as a ‘omron’.

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Pedal Peddlers.

If you can manage to get through the first 10 seconds of these blokes – who are presumably hocked up on amphetamines – enthusiastically shouting and pointing at bikes… then please tell me what they went on to say – because I couldn’t. But upon remembering my new year’s resolution to be less cynical, I went back to hear these grinning maniacs out. And I’m glad I did, because what they’re attempting to flog is actually rather interesting. Swytch Bike has designed a conversion kit featuring the world’s first pocket-sized battery that enables any bike to shift into an e-bike. The Swytch Kit is a pedal-assist that provides power when pedalling is detected by a sensor placed next to the bike’s cranks, while the motor controller contained inside the handlebar battery mount draws power from the pocket-sized power pack and powers the 250W front motor wheel. That must be why those blokes in the video are able to zip around so quickly. Well, either that or the amphetamines.

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Avo Inno, You Know.

Do you ever see something and struggle to work out if it’s utterly ingenious or completely pointless? Like, say, a table tennis robot, perhaps. Sticking with the theme of hyper-niche utility, OneThird have recently revealed their ‘Freshness Scanners’, which are able to calculate if a piece of fruit is ripe. Again, I appreciate that probably doesn’t sound like a big deal. However, with our food waste problem becoming ever-more pernicious – with millions of pounds worth of food being discarded before it even reaches consumers’ kitchens – the Freshness Scanners were built with the aim of reducing such wastage, while also allowing consumers to maximise both the health benefits and flavour of fruit. Colour me impressed. Although it’ll be irritating having to wait around for some hipster to get out the way at the supermarket while he scans all the avocados.

*In the interest of providing balance to the coolsh*t universe, I feel obliged to make you aware of the arguments of this Australian bloke who reckons plants are trying to kill you. Just something to think about…

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Marathon Man.

You may remember the final coolsh*t of 2023 in which we looked at Zion Clark, a man with no legs who had recently won his first MMA fight. This week we once again have an example of someone who was able to overcome extreme adversity to accomplish a physical pursuit. You may think such acts aren’t quote un-quote ‘creative’, but they represent achievements of the mind as much as they do the body. I believe it was Plato who once said, “In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection.” And I believe it was Mr. Motivator who said, “You call that a sit-up?!”. The point being… I actually forgot what the point of that was. Anyhow, 53-year-old Gary McKee just completed his 365th marathon in 365 days, raising over £1million for charity in the process. He even held down a full-time job for the entire year. This is almost as impressive as when that Chinese bloke ran a marathon chain-smoking ciggies. Fine, this is more impressive. Just.

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