This week's Cybershake notes a Web site that helps nature lovers enjoy the fall season's change of colors. Plus, we take a look at unique set of audio speakers that makes good use of hot air.
Leafing Through the Season Online
Death can be a beautiful thing — especially when it comes to the vibrant hues of autumn foliage. And for fans of the fall season, there's a place on the Web that can help them find the best spots to witness this year's explosion of flora color.
At FoliageNetwork.com, more than 500 volunteer leaf watchers provide reports on the local floral conditions in 17 states. From the data, the Web site produces maps that detail the amount of color change and "leaf drop" in each geographical area.
The site also offers pictures submitted by various volunteers so Web visitors can get an actual view of how the trees are shedding in the various states. Web watchers who decide to see the changing foliage in person will also find handy links to help them plan their journey to the area.
While some parts of the nation have been racked with droughts and wildfires this year, Marek Rzonca with FoliageNetwork.com says nature lovers shouldn't be worried that there might be lack of color this fall.
"I wouldn't say [the foliage is] going to be any more spectacular or less spectacular than any other year," says Rzonca. "Last year was a very dry year as well and it was pretty much a normal foliage season."
However he does note that the season is late in starting.
"Most people were expecting the foliage season to come a little bit sooner because of the drought," he says. "In fact, right now we're running about a week, week and a half behind schedule."
He says the warmer weather this year has apparently fooled the trees a bit. His advice? Take advantage of the pleasant weather to venture outside and enjoy the developing show.
— Larry Jacobs, ABCNEWS
Pump Up The Volume
They've taken the United Kingdom by storm and now they're poised to invade the American music scene. No, it's not a new millennium version of the 1960s British band invasion. But, the latest British audio wonder might be just as breathtaking — literally.
A company called Ellula is just beginning to hit the U.S. market with its inflatable HotAir speakers. They look like square beach balls on stands. And setting them up to produce room-filling music is no different from a poolside toy.
"Squeeze the little inflatable nozzle and blow them up," says Bill Wagner, president of Ellula. And just like regular speakers, he says they can be connected to any audio device.
"You can use it with your PC or you can use it with your Walkman," says Wagner.
HotAir speakers produce multi-directional sound by using special circuitry embedded within the stand. The electronics, developed by NXT, plc in London, England, produces vibrations which are picked up and amplified into audible sound by the inflated portion of the speakers.
Although the electronics precludes using the speakers in water, Wagner says the speakers are great for the beach, dorm, picnic or where ever you travel.
"Deflate the speakers, put them in a travel bag, put them in a suitcase and be off," he says.
The inflatable speakers come in various colors and shapes. One model even looks like a can of Budweiser beer. All inflatable models costs around $50 and are available, for now, at Ellula's Web site: http://www.ellula.com.
— Michael Barr, ABCNEWS
Cybershake is produced for ABCNEWS Radio by Andrea J. Smith.