Tag Archives: Dan Riskin

Daily Planet hosts pick their top tech toys of 2015

It’s one of the most anticipated weeks of the year for Daily Planet fans and it returns next week. “High-Tech Toys” week, airing next Monday to Friday, spotlights the outrageous, mind-blowing and exciting gadgets and gear of the year.

And while items like the Gotham Golf Cart, Flying R2-D2 and Mannen Caravan certainly look cool—and are shown next week—we decided to get Daily Planet‘s co-hosts, Ziya Tong and Dan Riskin, to give us their Top 5 picks for High-Tech toys they’d love to see under their Christmas trees.



Ziya Tong

Aira – For me, this sounds like a dream: a sweatshirt that gives you a soothing massage. Developed by a team out of Singapore, the idea behind Aira clothes is to have a massage therapist on-the-go with you. It comes with a smartphone app that controls small air-pressure units sewn into the back. So if you’re travelling and sitting for a long time, or just getting achy sitting at your office desk, this is the perfect one-click pick me up.

Zombie222 – Ask anyone at work and they’ll tell you that I’ve always wanted a ’68 Camaro, but being an environmentalist, this has not been an option—until now! We’re featuring a team that takes classic muscle cars and turns them into lean, green, electric machines. The Zombie222 is actually a ’68 Mustang, and this thing is fast. It goes 0-60 in 1.79 seconds!

Volvorii smart shoe – Move over Imelda Marcos, these new digital shoes will save you money and closet space, because they are multiple shoes in one. Designed with electronic ink technology, the shoes change colour and patterns to match your outfits. It’s kind of like wearing a chameleon on your feet. iShuu Technologies, the company behind the heels actually won the Louis Vuitton Prize for the design.

Triton subs – This is one high-tech toy that is seriously out of this world, and at a few million bucks a pop, well beyond most people’s price ranges. But if you’ve ever dreamed of being Jacques Cousteau and exploring the underwater world, this is the best way to do it. Triton subs fit three people inside and you’re surrounded by a glass bubble so it’s a 360 view. The deepest ones go down 36,000 ft! You can descend into an alien universe in just a couple of hours.

X2 Underwater jetpack – For the underwater adventurer, here’s something that’s a whole lot more affordable: the X2 underwater jetpack. Essentially it’s a system of high-powered thrusters that you wear on each arm. As a scuba diver, I love this because quite often when you’re swimming with sharks or dolphins, they are so much faster than human swimmers. Perhaps with these babies on I could catch up, and who doesn’t want to feel like Aquaman, or rather, Aquawoman. ;)



Dan Riskin

The toy industry is a major driver of technology. I mean, just consider the link between video games and computer processor speeds. So High-Tech Toys is a great way to not only see what the fun gadgets are this year, but to glimpse where tech is headed in general. Here’s my list of five toys it’s hard not to be excited about.

Thor Hammer – This is actually a one-of-a-kind piece built by Allen Pan in California. You know in the movies how only Thor can lift his hammer, Mjolnir? Well, Allen has made that happen by putting huge batteries, an electromagnet and a fingerprint reader into a Mjolnir just for him. So long as its placed on metal, it won’t release until his fingerprint is scanned. That means any other hero can lift with all their might, and never pick it up, while Allen can swing it around like Thor himself.

My very own Death Star – There’s a 3.2m Death Star sitting in Lafayette California that I should also have. It lights up and everything. It was built by a nerdy dad by hand out of electrical conduit pipe. It took a 70-foot crane to put it up. He did it for Halloween originally, but now that it’s up, why not leave it for Xmas, right? Anyway. I need that at my house. Then my neighbours can put up an Alderaan and we can see what happens.

Rumour has it we’ll have a couple of Inmotion V3 Electric Unicycles in the studio. I haven’t gotten on one yet, and there’s good reason to think I’ll break a leg trying to ride one, but there’s something about dangerous things that draws me in. Besides, if I master this thing, I’ll be able to ride it around the office. Just imagine the improved productivity. I can channel my inner “guy from the BC Comics,” and zip around all High Tech Toys Week. (That, or I’ll be on crutches).

There’s also Avalanche Project, a snow-mountain-bike with two side-by-side skis in the front and a tread on the back wheel, like a tank. It’s actually a prototype built by some students at L’Université de Sherbrooke. The genius behind this is that the front skis vary from parallel to snow-plow as a braking mechanism.

And I guess my fifth would be the R2-D2 drone, which flies just like R2 did in the prequel trilogy. This was built by the same guy who last year built a flying witch-on-a-broomstick (with my co-host Ziya’s face on it, of all things). Our video about that went viral on Facebook with tens of millions of views. I have a feeling flying R2 might hit a similar chord this year.

Daily Planet‘s “High-Tech Toys” Week airs next Monday-Friday at 7 p.m. ET on Discovery Canada.


Discovery’s Daily Planet kicks off Season 21 in style

It seems like just yesterday that Daily Planet debuted. With Jay Ingram at its helm, the show—then called @discovery.ca—launched with a goal to explore the scientific angle to current events. Twenty-one seasons later, Daily Planet continues on that path when the show returns to Discovery on Monday with “Extreme Machines Week.”

“We have people on the team who have been with the show since the very beginning,” says Dan Riskin, who has been co-hosting Daily Planet with Ziya Tong since Season 17. “We’re really proud to be representing them.”

Daily Planet shows no signs of slowing down, ratings-wise. Season 20 was the most-watched yet, the third year in a row a viewership benchmark was beaten. Tong, who has been at the helm since 2008 when she joined Ingram, thinks she knows why.

“We have all of these specialty theme weeks that we didn’t have in the past when I started,” she says. “We go off to the Consumer Electronics Show every year, we’ve got Shark Week now and we have a wonderful interactive audience that’s growing with us. It’s a very different show than it was 20 years ago.” She’s right. With themed weeks devoted to toothsome fish, high-tech toys, tornados, future tech and extreme machines, and reporting done at a fast-paced, almost fever pitch, Daily Planet has evolved alongside the science it reports on.

“It’s like learning with a wow factor,” Tong says. That fast pace extends behind the scenes too. Tong describes how seasons are planned well in advance, with on location filming of future segments happening during the summer. Those doc-style bits are intercut with the stuff the team learns about, writes up and reports on every day of broadcast. Deadlines are so tight, Riskin reveals, some floor segments are still being filmed when that night’s broadcast is underway.

“Extreme Machines Week” launches Season 21 with several interesting segments, including tech correspondent Lucas Cochran mounting a pogo stick on steroids, a gyrocopter pilot who aims for a world record and a unique job in Amsterdam: bicycle fisherman. Riskin jetted to the Netherlands’ capital to catch up with Richard and Tom, two dudes who pilot a crane and barge contraption that travels Amsterdam’s canals pulling discarded bikes out of the water. If the pair don’t keep up their task, the accumulated rusting metal—up to 15,000 bikes a year—will clog up the waterways. The segment also shows the duo pulling the hulk of the car out of the murk, leading one to wonder if other, more ominous, items have been discovered.

“The question everybody asks is, ‘Do you ever find dead bodies?'” Riskin says. “Yes, they do. It often happens in winter when somebody has to take a leak and they fall in. It’s hard to find a way out of those canals when it’s dark and you’re drunk.” Ah, science.

Daily Planet airs Monday to Friday at 7 p.m. ET on Discovery.