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.
Amputees in developing nations frequently can't afford the high-end
prostheses used by people in other parts of the world. That's why
Technological University of Mexico spin-off company Protesta is
developing a low-cost artificial arm made from lightweight polyethylene
terephthalate (PET) plastic. As an added bonus, the arm will alert the
user if it gets too hot.
Unlike most other sea creatures, sea lions use their forelimbs
instead of a tail for propulsion. They also leave virtually no wake as
they travel through the water. With an eye towards applying this design
to human technology, George Washington University professor of
mechanical and aerospace engineering Megan Leftwich has developed a
robotic sea lion flipper.
It may be an overused proverb, but it's a good one: "Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand."
That's the definitely the thinking behind Virtual Dementia Experience, a
virtual reality system created by four multimedia graduates from
Australia's Swinburne University. It provides caregivers with an
interactive simulation of what it's like to suffer from dementia, so
they can better understand what their patients are experiencing.
Because they often have weakened immune systems and/or blood flow
restrictions, diabetics run a heightened risk of serious infection from
even the smallest of open wounds. That's why a team of scientists from
Egypt's Alexandria University have developed a means of getting those
wounds to heal faster – silver-impregnated dressings.
We've seen some highly-portable electric vehicles before, including diminutive scooters and skateboards.
Cocoa Motors' new WalkCar, however, makes those gizmos look huge. It's
used more or less like a Segway, but it's not much bigger than a laptop.
Riding a bike is definitely a good source of exercise, although it does
tend to work out the same muscles in the same fashion, over and over.
In an effort to remedy that, the Caron Bicycle was created. It can be
pedaled in six different ways, all of which still move the thing
Have you ever looked at a flower and thought, "I wonder what these
colors would look like to a bee"? Perhaps not, but in any case, you can
now find out using your own camera and computer. That's because
scientists from the University of Exeter have developed the
Multispectral Image Calibration and Analysis Toolbox, a piece of free
software that lets you see the colors in photos the way that various
animals would see them.
Despite various companies' hopes that people will buy their fancy camping-specific torches,
the fact is that most campers' fire-starting needs are met quite nicely
with a good ol' Bic lighter. That doesn't mean there isn't room for
improvement on that front, though. Exotac's Firesleeve makes such lighters tougher, and easier to use.
Consumers currently have their choice of several brake lights for bicycles,
which use an accelerometer to detect when the cyclist is stopping.
However, what if you want something that's a little smaller, simpler and
cheaper? That would be Sigma's tiny new mechanically-activated
Although electric bicycles are becoming increasingly popular for
commuting, a lot of people still don't like the idea of completely
shelving their perfectly-good human-powered two-wheeler. That's why
companies such as Superpedestrian, Evelo and Hycore
have developed electric-assist wheels containing a battery pack and
motor, that can simply be installed on a regular bike. Although most of
them are still in the "pre-order" stage, FlyKly's Smart Wheel
is now actually reaching consumers. I recently got to try one out, and
it definitely does help with the hills ... although at least one tweak
is still needed.