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.
Scientists have already devised systems that allow electronic devices to
scavenge power from ambient electromagnetic energy sources such as radio waves. While the technology has generally been limited to small devices such as wireless sensors,
a research team has recently created a scavenging system that charges a
smartphone's battery, letting it last up to 30 percent longer per
charge – and the system does so using radio signals emanating from the
Although personal drones are becoming increasingly popular, a lot of
people are still understandably intimidated by their exposed propellers.
Not only can those whirling blades hurt people, but they also regularly
get damaged in crashes. That's why Pasadena, California-based Polyhelo
created the Nano Tornado. It's a quadcopter, but instead of open props
it utilizes four ducted fans.
We've seen retro arcade-style video gaming consoles that are tiny, as well as ones that utilize an iPad and that even serve beer.
The Pixelkabinett 42 has its own unique feature, however, in that it
looks like a vintage industrial wooden cabinet when not in use.
For women, buying the wrong shoes can be about more than just esthetics.
If they end up with shoes that don't fit properly, they can develop
foot disorders such as bunions, hammertoes or ingrown toenails. That's
where the European Union's DemoShopInstantShoe project comes in. Established a few years ago, the collaborative effort is now about to release a device that instantly adapts off-the-rack shoes to a custom fit.
There are already human-powered devices that allow you to walk on water, plus there are electric motor-powered stand-up paddleboards.
The WaterBlade, however, appears to bridge the gap between the two.
It's a floating platform that you stand on to "walk" across the water,
but it also has a motor to help make things easier.
Although we've definitely seen a number of thought-controlled prosthetic arms
before, most of those have been activated by implants in the user's
motor cortex, which is the brain's movement-control center. The arms'
resulting movements have been somewhat jerky, plus there's typically
been a delay between the user thinking about moving the arm, and the
actual movement taking place. Now, however, a team of researchers has
announced the results of an experiment in which those limitations were
While just about everyone knows that bats locate prey in the dark using echolocation, one thing that many people may not
realize is the fact that horseshoe bats are particularly good at it.
With this in mind, engineers at Virginia Tech are now developing a sonar
system that emulates the system used by those bats. Once perfected, it
could be a much more compact and efficient alternative to traditional
manmade sonar arrays.
If you'd like the ease of an electric bicycle but don't want to give up your perfectly good "manual" bike, there is something you can do – you can replace your bike's existing rear wheel with the electrically-powered Copenhagen Wheel or FlyKly, or replace its front wheel with the Omni Wheel. Those three products may soon have to make room for another competitor, however, as the Centinel Wheel enters the marketplace.
A couple of years ago, UK-based product designer Witek Mielniczek turned to Kickstarter to fund B – a combination radio-controlled car and quadcopter.
Its ability to both fly through the air and drive along the ground was
certainly intriguing, although its ability to traverse rough terrain
wasn't necessarily phenomenal. That's why he's now created B-Unstoppable, which swaps wheels for neoprene tank-like treads.
Three years ago we heard about the GiraDora,
a foot-pedal-powered clothes-washing machine created for off-grid use
in developing nations. While many of our readers expressed an interest
in it, the device has yet to reach commercial production. If that's the
sort of thing that turns your crank (or pushes your pedal), though, you
can now order Yirego's similar Drumi.