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.
Ever since the late 19th century, people have experimented with making textiles from natural-source-based gelatine, as a cheaper and less allergenic alternative to wool. Although the emergence of synthetic fibers largely put an end to that, a new technique may yet allow gel-based yarn to see the spotlight. The fiber is said to have an insulation quality similar to that of Merino wool, and the collagen used to produce it can be obtained from waste at animal-processing facilities.
We’ve already heard about drones being used to deliver pharmaceuticals to patients in remote locations, but scientists from Johns Hopkins University and Uganda’s Makerere University are now looking at the other end of the picture – using them to deliver remotely-located patients’ blood samples to labs in larger centers. According to a proof-of-concept study conducted by the researchers, the little unmanned aircraft should be able to do the job just fine.
While hub motors may be quite common on commuter e-bikes, they’re not so popular on full-suspension electric mountain bikes. That’s because they add unsprung weight, which nobody wants. Various companies have responded by developing motors that are located in the middle of the bike, near the bottom bracket. These solve part of the problem, although they have to actually be built into the frame. That’s why Germany’s Bionicon has created the e-ram – it’s reportedly the world’s lightest mid-mount motor, and it could potentially be installed on existing mountain bikes.
While there are already some truly tiny consumer drones out there, their protruding propellers still make them difficult to stuff into one’s pocket. AeriCam had been developing a model called the Anura, which featured props that folded into its sides – as a result, the whole aircraft became a pocketable rectangle. While we haven’t heard much about that one lately, Droidworx is now promising something similar in the form of its Blu quadcopter.
While city dwellers may be used to railway crossings marked with
flashing red lights, the easier-to-miss warnings at rural crossings
often just consist of a sign. That's because there's no easy way of
providing electricity to such isolated locations. While solar panels
could provide part of the solution, a team of engineering students and
faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln believe that photovoltaics
alone can't consistently provide enough power. Instead, they devised
several systems that harness power from the rails themselves.
While many people may like the "pop-in-your-mouth" texture of caviar,
not everyone likes the taste ... or the price. That's why Montreal
entrepreneur Naor Cohen created the grandly-named Imperial
Spherificator. It takes a liquid of your choice, and converts it into
fish egg-like pearls. Sriracha caviar, anyone?
While some people take off-the-shelf supplements, others use products
that are formulated to their own unique nutritional needs. According to
the folks at Boston-based startup FitNatic, however, that's still not
specific enough. Their Nourish device keeps track of its user's states
of health and fitness, then serves up nutritional supplements that are
custom-blended on a daily basis.
If there are a couple of things that serious campers are likely to have
on them at all times, it's a multi-tool and a lighter. Coleman has
therefore done the logical thing, and combined those two items to form
its new Multi-Tool Lighter.
It was just this January that we heard about Wheelys 2,
an electric-assist cargo trike that doubles as a mobile coffee shop. Although
it provides pretty much everything that its owner might need to run
their own business, its designers are now introducing the
new-and-improved Wheelys 3.
Car doors can be ungainly when they're being opened, smacking into
things like garage walls, light posts, or the body panels of other cars.
While some groups have developed side bumpers
to minimize the damage, a group of German high school students has come
up with an alternative – a system that stops the door from opening
before it can hit anything.