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.
As we approach the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, scientists are still trying to develop better ways of removing oil from water
. Now, researchers at The Ohio State University believe that they may be onto something. They've developed a stainless steel mesh that allows water to pass through, but that stops oil.
We keep hearing about systems designed to either alert drivers to impending collisions
, to let them know that they've made a mistake (such as drifting out of their lane
), or to tell them that they're getting tired
. Brain4Cars, however, takes yet another approach. Created by scientists at Cornell and Stanford universities, it monitors drivers to determine when they're about
to do something wrong, so it can warn them not to.
People running outdoors speed up and slow down without thinking about it – it just happens. On a treadmill, however, they have to manually adjust the speed of the machine. Perhaps they won't have to for too longer, however. Scientists at The Ohio State University have developed a prototype treadmill that detects when its user's running speed changes, and adjusts its own speed accordingly.
Many people have likely watched aerial video shot by drones, and dreamed of getting such footage with a drone of their own. What they might not realize, however, is that controlling the little UAVs can be difficult, particularly if the user is trying to both fly the drone and
keep a subject centered in the frame. That's why a group of entrepreneurs are creating the pre-programmable Ares quadcopter.
Headlights, tail lights and even turn indicators certainly make cycling safer, but reaching around to operate all those devices at once could be a bit awkward. That's why Bontrager has announced its new Transmitr system. It allows multiple lights to be controlled from one handlebar-mounted remote, via the ANT+ wireless protocol.
Two years ago we heard about the Nanostim
, a pacemaker that's less than 10 percent the size of a regular model. While it's pretty darn small, Medtronic's just-announced Micra TPS (Transcatheter Pacing System) is reportedly even tinier. Billed as the world's smallest pacemaker, it's described as being the size of a large vitamin capsule – and it can be implanted using a catheter.
While inclement weather and exertion are certainly factors, one of the big reasons that many people don't commute by bike is the fear of getting hit by cars
. London-based Crispin Sinclair Innovation has set about addressing that fact, with its new Babel Bike. Offering features such as a protective cage around the rider, it's being promoted as "the world's safest bicycle."
While countries such as Japan have sophisticated earthquake warning systems, the fact is that many less-developed countries do not. In order to offer those nations some form of protection, a consortium of US research institutes has devised the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System, in which regular peoples' smartphones could detect earthquakes and send warnings.
Although there definitely are liquid-cooled PCs, there just isn't room for such cooling systems within smartphones – or at least, there hasn't been until now. Fujitsu recently announced development of a loop heat pipe that's less than one millimeter thick, which could help future mobile devices to keep their cool.
While a lot of people would like a simple no-frills bicycle for basic transportation, they also don't want a poorly-made piece of junk. That's where the Dutch designers of the Reframed bike are hoping their product will fill a niche. It's a single-speed bike with a frame made separate pieces of extruded aluminum, that the user puts together themselves.