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In Pictures: 15 fun and freaky iPhone mods

These modifications of various Apple mobile devices reflect impressive amounts of ingenuity, skill, and--in some instances--leisure time.

  • iBookPad



    If you still haven’t found an ideal clamshell case to fit your iPad, check out this mod from Apple Noir: It replaces an old iBook G3 screen with an iPad. The modders also had to replace the original keyboard with something that would interface with the iPad. The new iPad is quite an upgrade for the original clamshell iBook. The old laptop featured a 300MHz Power PC processor, 64MB of RAM, a 6GB hard drive, and a 12.2-inch TFT screen with 800-by-600 resolution. The iPad sports a 1GHz processor, 256MB of RAM, a maximum 64GB hard drive, and a 9.7-inch LED backlit display with 1024 by 768 resolution.

    Image source: [[xref:http://www.applenoir.com/?p=%201646|Apple Noir|Apple Noir]].
  • iOS Mods



    There may be an iPhone app for this and that and everything else, but unsatisfied modders are hacking into iOS devices to make them do all kinds of new tricks. I’ve scoured the Web to find modders who turn iPhones into robots, iPod Touch devices into automated car controllers, and iPads into clamshell iBooks. I’ve even found a few people who want to turn their iPhones into professional cameras (good luck). Check them out, and see if you have what it takes to attempt some of these mods yourself.

    Some other slideshows you may enjoy:

    “[[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/article/199549/desktops_gone_wild.html|Desktops Gone Wild|Desktops Gone Wild]]”
    “[[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/article/183486/steampunk_tech_mods_a_19thcentury_take_on_21stcentury_pcs_and_gadgets.html|Steampunk Tech Mods: A 19th-Century Take on 21st-Century PCs and Gadgets|Steampunk Tech Mods: A 19th-Century Take on 21st-Century PCs and Gadgets]]”
    “[[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/article/174035/keyborgs_check_out_the_bizarre_keyboards.html|Keyborgs! Check Out the Bizarre Keyboards|Keyborgs! Check Out the Bizarre Keyboards]]”
  • Mazda RX-8



    Australian Jon Oxer used a [[xref:http://www.yawarra.com.au/hw-alix.php|Linux-based Alix 1 computer|Linux-based Alix 1 computer]] and an iPod Touch to remotely control his Mazda RX-8. Oxer can’t move the car with his iPod, but he can use the handheld device to unlock the doors and the trunk, start the car, link to a real-time GPS feed, and receive system status updates about the car’s gas level, engine rpm, and temperature. Because the car has its own 3G connection, Jon can use the iPod Touch to activate the car from anywhere in the world. Check out the [[xref:http://www.geekmyride.org/wiki/index.php/Jon%27s_RX-8|wiki at GeekMyRide|GeekMyRide]] for more information about Oxer’s car and other cool projects.

    Image source: [[xref:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqZj4ArrlhA&feature=player_embedded |YouTube|RX-8 controlled from an iPod Touch]].
  • iPhone 3G Clear



    This custom iPhone 3G case shows off all of the iPhone’s secrets. The work was done by the now-defunct Russian company iCustom. Though it looks cool, adapting the case requires a lot of work, since you have to remove the original back casing. The clear cover also lacks a space for the iPhone camera.

    Image source: [[xref:http://www.ifonenation.com/2008/12/28/clear-iphone-3g-case-from-icustom-bares-all/|ifonenation|ifonenation]].
  • Hands-Free FaceTime



    Do you wish you could do hands-free [[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/article/202432/jailbreak_your_iphone_and_use_facetime_over_3g.html|FaceTime videoconferencing|FaceTime videoconferencing]]? Well, now you can—if you’re crazy enough to follow the lead of the pranksters at YouTube channel DrCoolSex. First you attach an iPhone 4 to a shelving bracket, and then you tape that setup to a bicycle helmet. The resulting incredibly geeky contraption just might be crazy enough to work if you’re desperate for more FaceTime. Of course, FaceTime is available only when your phone is on Wi-Fi, so you might be hard pressed to find uses for your new get up. Check out DrCoolSex’s video on YouTube to see the ultimate DIY geek contraption for the iPhone 4.

    Image source: [[xref:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aidy9iP6jvg&feature=player_embedded|YouTube|iPhone 4 Hands-Free FaceTime]].
  • High-Powered Cameras



    Enhancing the [[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/article/199845/smartphone_camera_battle_iphone_4_vs_the_android_army.html|iPhone’s photo taking abilities|Smartphone Camera Battle: iPhone 4 vs. the Android Army]] by strapping SLR lenses onto the device seems to have become a cottage industry. The blog Hypebeast spotted this Frankencamera, which combines a mini-tripod with a Carl Zeiss DSLR lens. There’s even a blog dedicated to using an [[xref:http://iphonedslr.com/blog/|SLR lens on the iPhone 4|SLR lens on the iPhone 4]], and one online vendor sells a [[xref:http://mobile.brando.com/prod_detail.php?prod_id=03534|telescope for iPhone 3G and 3GS handsets|telescope for iPhone 3G and 3GS handsets]]. Unfortunately, slapping a super lens onto your iPhone may not do much for your device. You might get different angles and be able to zoom in more, but in the absence of improved optics designed to work with extended lenses, the picture quality of your super-accessorized iPhone camera probably won’t get much of a bump.

    Image source: [[xref:http://hypebeast.com/2010/07/iphone-4-dslr-lens/|Hypebeast|Hypebeast]].
  • White iPhone 4 DIY Edition



    If you just can’t wait for Apple to ship the [[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/article/201768/4_ways_to_get_a_white_iphone_4_now.html|white iPhone 4|4 Ways to Get a White iPhone 4 Now]], why not create your own? Engadget ordered a white iPhone 4 casing from one of the many iPhone parts resellers in China. Then the daring team grabbed iFixit’s teardown instructions to build their own white iPhone 4. This project is suitable for only the most serious DIY modders since it involves dismantling your phone and reassembling it in a new case. But if you dare, check out Engadget to find out more about this project, with step-by-step photos.

    Image source: [[xref:http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/27/white-iphone-4-early-diy-edition-with-a-touch-of-black/|Engadget|Engadget]].
  • iPhone 4 Easel



    The iPhone and the iPod Touch are great for watching video on the go or at your desk. But holding either device in your hand for hours on end can be a pain, and laying it flat on a table isn’t much better. The geniuses at HacknMod came up with this easel composed of five lead pencils and a few rubber bands. It’s a dead simple hack, and it produces an iPhone stand for a total cost of less than two bucks.

    Image source: [[xref:http://hacknmod.com/hack/dirt-simple-office-supplies-iphone-stand/|HacknMod|HacknMod]].
  • GPSchwinn



    GPS isn’t just for the automotive crowd: Pedal junkies can get in on the action as well. [[xref:http://www.semsons.com/bimopewiswti2.html|Semsons.com|Semsons.com]] sells a bicycle mount for the iPhone 3G and 3GS for just US$13. The mount is ideal for handlebars that are 0.75 or 1 inch in diameter. The one shown here is a hack from Cycling Experiences that moves the mount from the handlebars to the bicycle stem.

    Image source: [[xref:http://cyclingexperiences.com/2009/07/25/iphone-3gs-mount-for-2-of-my-7-cycles/|Cycling Experiences|Cycling Experiences]].
  • Stream Video on the Fly



    Okay, this one isn’t a mod, but it’s a great (and easy) way to stream video from your PC to your iOS device. The app is called [[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/appguide/app.html?id=95392|Air Video from InMethod|Air Video from InMethod]], and it works with a companion desktop app to stream almost any video format directly from your PC. If your video is in a format such as DVI that your iPhone or iPad can’t use, Air Video transcodes the video on the fly. In my tests it worked like a charm.

    Image source: [[xref:http://www.inmethod.com/air-video/getting-started.html|InMethod|InMethod]].
  • Robochan



    Meet Robochan the humanoid robot with an iPhone 3GS for a head. This little guy is based on the [[xref:http://www.audiocubes.com/product_info.php?products_id=1944|KHR-2HV robot kit from Kondo|KHR-2HV robot kit from Kondo]]. These Japanese modders took the original robot, and created a specialized iPhone app to run in place of the original head. Robochan can dance, learn specialized moves, and function as an alarm. This DIY project is pricey, though, as the KHR-2HV costs about [[xref:http://www.robotshop.com/kondo-khr-2hv-humanoid-robot.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=base&utm_campaign=jos$1050 from Robotshop.com|Robotshop.com]]. Check out the YouTube video to see Robochan in action.

    Image source: [[xref:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBGA7ARLzPA&feature=player_embedded|YouTube|The Humanoid Robot with iPhone 3GS Head]].
  • Get a Grip



    Do you love iPhone games but hate how the iPhone or iPod Touch feels in your hands? Then check out [[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/article/153203/game_grip_case_coming_for_iphone_ipod_touch.html|Marware’s Game Grip case|Marware Game Grip case]], which features two expanded silicone grips for the iPhone 3GS. The case runs from US$40 to $45 depending on your iPhone or iPod model. If that’s too expensive, check out Flickr user [[xref:http://www.flickr.com/photos/43474966@N00/sets/72157594497038006/with/2742238984/|Ronn Sprocket’s DIY cardboard version|Ronn Sprocket’s DIY cardboard version]].

    Image source: [[xref:http://gadgetophilia.com/the-game-grip-for-i-phones-a-cool-app-for-mobile-gamers/|Gadgetophilia|Gadgetophilia]].
  • iDiamond



    If you have $2.6 million lying around, you might want to talk to Austrian jeweler Peter Aloisson about ordering his custom-made King's Button for the iPhone. The ultimate iPhone bling is lined with 18-carat gold, encrusted with 138 small diamonds, and topped off with a 6.6-carat diamond for the iPhone home button, according to [[xref:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1107683/What-credit-crunch-Apple-launch-1-6m-diamond-encrusted-iPhone.html|The Daily Mail|The Daily Mail]. Aloisson originally designed this case for the iPhone 3G. For a bigger dose tech glam excess, see PCWorld's collection of the [[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/article/192458/glam_gadgets_the_priciest_personal_tech_in_the_world.html|priciest personal tech in the world|Glam Gadgets: The Priciest Personal Tech in the World]].

    Image source: [[xref:http://www.gadgetgrid.com/2009/03/03/most-expensive-iphone-to-date/|GadgetGrid|GadgetGrid]].
  • FaceTime for iPhone 3G



    Back in 2007, twin brothers Ken and Glen Asplenagh came up with a creative way to do videoconferencing with the iPhone. The twins develop Mac accessories at Ecamm, which used to sell the Huckleberry Berry mirror for the MacBook—a two-mirror system that turns your laptop’s iSight camera into a front-facing camera. They modified their mirror system to fit the iPhone so that the iPhone’s video camera would capture the reflected image of the person’s face. The phone then relayed the video to a Web server, which compressed it and sent it on to a second phone with the same setup. Unfortunately their program doesn’t have any audio, so you’ll need to start a phone call to get that. Still, it's an inventive mod, despite being a little outdated now that the iPhone 4 and the iPod Touch have [[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/article/198532/will_others_embrace_facetime.html|FaceTime|FaceTime]] videoconferencing.

    Image source: [[xref:http://macdaddyworld.com/2007/08/12/two-way-video-conferencing-for-iphone/|Mac Daddy World|Mac Daddy World]].
  • GamePhone



    Another inventive retro case uses an old [[xref:http://www.pcworld.com/article/183699/nintendo_game_boy_advance_2001.html|Nintendo Game Boy Advance|Nintendo Game Boy Advance] as an iPhone shell. The iPhone seems to fit pretty well in the case, and modder Goteking even had enough room left over to store the iPhone’s USB cable in the back, so you never have to remove your phone from the casing. Check out [[xref:http://www.youtube.com/user/KOMgoteking|Goteking’s YouTube channel|Goteking’s YouTube channel]] for more retro mods.

    Image source: [[xref:http://www.walyou.com/blog/2010/01/22/game-boy-advance-iphone-case/|walyou|walyou]].
  • Steampunk



    This steampunk iPhone dock by artist Scott Freeland features a urethane resin base hand-sculpted to simulate a very early rotary-style telephone. The dock includes an insert for your iPhone USB, and it can accommodate most iPhone models, including the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 3GS, and the iPhone 4. The iRetrofone sells for US$350 on Etsy, but only three units remain according to the site, so you’d better hurry if you want one.

    Image source: [[xref:http://www.etsy.com/listing/51073861/iretrofone-steampunk-blackgold|Etsy|Etsy]].
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