Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Ben Coxworth

Empa ceramics specialist Jakob Kübler, with some of the materials used in the brake rotor ...

When it comes to making cars more energy-efficient – whether they're battery- or gas-powered – getting their weight down is one of the best things you can do. Unfortunately, the cast iron brake rotors currently used in most vehicles are quite heavy. Lighter ceramic rotors certainly do exist, although their high price mostly limits their application to expensive sports cars. Soon, however, ceramic-coated aluminum rotors may be a cost-effective lightweight alternative for economy cars.  Read More

The PLANTOID robot, with its 'trunk' and sensor/leaf-bearing branches

The animal kingdom contains many examples of efficient forms of locomotion, so it's no wonder that we've been seeing a lot of animal-inspired robots – recent examples have included a robotic cheetah, fish and snake. Plants, however, just sit there ... don't they? Actually, they do move, just not necessarily in a Point A to Point B manner. With that in mind, Europe's PLANTOID project consortium is now in the process of developing a tree-like robot. Its descendants might ultimately find use in the exploration of other planets.  Read More

3 West Design's Reprieve Bicycle Saddle

If there's one recurring complaint about conventional bicycles, it's that the saddles hurt peoples' nether regions. As a result, we've seen ergonomic seats that have no material in the middle, that are made up of independently-moving ribs, and that move around with the rider. One of the latest, the Reprieve Bicycle Saddle, combines a dipped middle with an inflatable nose.  Read More

A Honda GL1800, sporting a prototype Endeavor Trike kit

With the increasing popularity of vehicles such as the Can-Am Spyder and Polaris Slingshot, it looks like "reverse trike"-style motorcycles definitely have more than a few fans. We've already seen one kit that lets you convert a Harley V-Rod into such a machine. The planned Endeavor Trike kit, however, will reportedly work on just about any make or model of bike.  Read More

The CG-320 makes a AAA look pretty big While keeping batteries small and light is definitely a factor with electronic devices in general, it becomes particularly important when dealing with wearable electronics such as smart glasses. With that in mind, Panasonic has just announced its CG-320. Measuring 20 x 3.5 mm, it's being billed as "the industry's smallest cylindrical shaped rechargeable Lithium Ion battery."  Read More

Toyota's C-HR on display in Paris (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

Last month, Toyota provided us with some teaser renderings of its C-HR hybrid crossover concept. At the time, although we got a quick look at its outward appearance, it was a little difficult to really get a sense of the thing. Well, now we've had a chance to see it for ourselves at its Paris Motor Show world debut, and can tell you a bit more about it.  Read More

The SmartMat has integrated pressure sensors, and wirelessly communicates with an app in t...

Yoga is definitely one of those activities where it really helps to have someone coaching you through it. That's why people go to group classes, although they usually can't be in a class every time they want to do yoga. Well, that's where the SmartMat is designed to come in. It's a pressure sensor-equipped yoga mat that communicates with the user's mobile device via Bluetooth, to guide them through their sequences.  Read More

F-BOMs utilize a transparent heating element, sandwiched between the inner and outer lense...

Few things can take away from a day of downhill skiing quite like foggy goggles. Although many models feature an anti-fog inner coating, entrepreneur Dave McCulloch wasn't pleased with their performance. This prompted him to take a thin-film heating element invented by Jack Cornelius, and incorporate it into his F-BOM ski goggles.  Read More

Eton's Blackout Buddy H2O is small and stowable  It's the big paradox of emergency-use flashlights ... by the time you eventually need to use them, their batteries have died. Eton's new Blackout Buddy H2O, however, will reportedly still work after sitting for up to 10 years. And to turn it on, you just add water.  Read More

The bandage indicates oxygen concentrations across the wound site (Image: Li/Wellman Cente...

When a person's skin is burnt or otherwise injured, part of the body's healing process involves boosting oxygen levels in the damaged tissue. If doctors treating such injuries know how high those levels are, then they can determine how quickly and thoroughly the skin is healing. In order to help them obtain that information without having to remove the wound dressing, an international team of scientists has created a glowing paint-on bandage.  Read More

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