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.
Aerial drones are great for providing a bird’s eye view of our world. That said, some people are more interested in seeing a fish’s eye view of their local seacoast or lake. Previously, such folks had to build their own underwater remote-operated vehicle (ROV). Three years ago, San Francisco startup OpenROV made things a little easier for them, by offering an ROV kit that users put together themselves. Now, the company is crowdfunding the fully-assembled Trident ROV, which can reportedly be "flown" through the water.
Yep, it's another prosumer quadcopter – ProDrone's Byrd. So, what's so
special about this one? Well, among other things, it combines folding
propeller arms with swappable camera gimbals and a 29-minute flight
Remember digital picture frames, those LCD screens that displayed
peoples' snapshots? They're still around, but their low resolution has
relegated many of them to garage sales and closets. Well, Frame is like a
digital picture frame on steroids. It has a 50-inch 4K screen, and its
accompanying app allows users to download works of visual art for ultra
We've already seen setups that allow stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) to be rowed, sailed, or paddled like a kayak.
There's apparently still room for innovation, however – the SupSki
system lets you propel your board using upper body techniques borrowed
from the sport of cross-country skiing.
Although barcodes are currently utilized mainly to keep track of
merchandise, they may soon also be used to detect counterfeit goods.
We're not talking about ordinary barcode labels, however. Instead,
British scientists at Sofmat Ltd and the University of Bradford have
devised a new 3D barcode that's actually molded into plastic or
Currently, when scientists want to know if bacteria are present in
water, they have two main choices. They can take a sample to the lab,
where they'll try growing the suspected bacteria in it, and then count
the number of resulting colonies to determine the concentration. Or,
they can analyze it using expensive lab-based gas chromatography or mass
spectrometry equipment. Now, however, researchers from Seoul National
University have developed a "bioelectronic nose" that could be used on
location, and that is reportedly more sensitive than existing
Sunlight can be used to generate electricity either through a
photovoltaic effect, or by harnessing the heat produced by the light.
There are already hybrid systems that combine both, but scientists at
Korea's Yonsei University have now developed a type of hybrid setup that
they claim works better.
It wasn't long ago that we tried out the FlyKly Smart Wheel,
a motorized rear bicycle wheel that instantly turns a regular bike into
an e-bike. Given that it goes in the back, however, it's a little
tricky to put on and take off, plus it leaves you stuck with just one
gear. Belon Engineering's new Electron Wheel avoids those problems, by
replacing the bike's existing front wheel. We recently got to try out an advance demo unit, and it works just as advertised ... although it's a bit of a monster.
One of the challenges facing designers of traditional flat solar panels
is the fact that the sun doesn't conveniently stay in one place. This
means that in order for a panel to receive as much sunlight as possible,
it has to pan with the sun as it moves across the sky. While
there are motorized assemblies designed to do just that, they add
complexity, weight and expense to photovoltaic systems. Now, however,
University of Michigan scientists have developed a simpler alternative –
and it's based on the ancient Japanese cut-paper art of kirigami.
Children of the 1970s may recall Kenner's Smash-Up Derby set, in which
two toy cars flew into pieces when they crashed into each other – the
neat thing was, they could then just be snapped back together. Well,
Vantage Robotics' Snap is sort of like the Smash-Up Derby of drones. The
4K camera-packin' quadcopter's main body is attached to the folding
propeller assembly by magnets, allowing it to come off under impact
without incurring any lasting damage.