An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.
Although any eye injury can be painful and upsetting, those that involve damage to the inside of the eye are the most serious. For people like battlefield medics or rural physicians, however, it can be difficult to judge the extent of such injuries without the resources of a hospital. That's why scientists from the University of Illinois have created OcuCheck – it's a portable sensor that assesses eye injuries based on the amount of vitamin C in the patient's tears.
One problem with orally-administered painkillers is that even though you may just have pain in a particular area, the medication affects your whole body. This both increases the chance of side effects, and limits the effect of the medication on that one area. Now, however, scientists at Britain's University of Warwick have developed a solution – they've created the world's first ibuprofen skin patch.
Perhaps along with the fact that they don't allow for thousands of miles of travel on a single charge, electric vehicle batteries do have a shortcoming – they're only as good as their weakest cell. That's because all their 100-plus cells are connected in series, meaning that if one of them dies, then the whole battery pack stops working. That could be about to change, however, thanks to research being carried out at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation.
You've no doubt seen lots of them around town – rusting, abandoned bikes with all the components stripped away. Their owners haven't even bothered reclaiming their frames, as they were just cheap old "city beater" bikes in the first place. Well, Boston-based Fortified Bicycle is out to change that scenario. The company's new Invincible bike is well-enough made to not be considered disposable, yet is also highly theft-resistant – enough so that Fortified will replace it if it's nicked.
Well, it's now December and a lot of people are getting excited about a special day that's coming up … that's right, we're talking about Dec. 17th, the opening day of Star Wars - The Force Awakens. In honor of the event, German laser-tinkerer Patrick Priebe has created a "working" model of the original Death Star. It may not be able to destroy planets, but it can certainly melt metal.
If you've got a 3-inch diameter pipe to inspect from inside, chances are you're not going to try crawling in there yourself. At the recent IREX 2015 show in Japan, however, we spied a robot designed to do just that. Made by Tokyo-based HiBot, THESBOT is a sinuous robot that snakes its way through narrow pipework, transmitting real-time video and gathering other data as it does so.
Although commercial drones are being used for everything from delivering packages to spraying crops, consumer models still can't do much more than shoot aerial video. That's why British mechanical engineering graduate Ben Kardoosh created the Mantis Drone Claw. It allows quadcopters to pick items up off the ground, and doesn't require a power source.
Although concussions can have very serious consequences, they're also difficult to diagnose without the proper equipment. As a result, we've seen a variety of technologies aimed at helping athletic coaches to determine if players who have received knocks to the head are indeed concussed. One of the latest such systems, EyeGuide's Focus, promises to deliver results in just 10 seconds.
Whether they're playing sports or suffering from joint injuries, some people could definitely benefit from using a wearable assistive device. Exoskeletons are certainly one option, although if it's just the knee that needs a boost, then a whole rig isn't really necessary. That's where Levitation comes in. It's a spring-loaded knee brace that augments the user's quadriceps, helping to move their lower leg back forward after every step.
Christmas shopping for the electrical engineer who has everything? Well, chances are they don't have the Voltmeter Alarm Clock. Made by novelty electronics manufacturer Awkward Engineer, it looks like a vintage analog voltmeter, except it displays hours and minutes instead of volts and amps.