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.
For some time now, we've been hearing about the attempts by various groups to develop so-called nanosubmarines. Among other things, these microscopic "molecular machines" could conceivably be used for applications such as targeted drug delivery within the human body. Recently, scientists at Houston's Rice University created nanosubs that move at a "breakneck pace" when exposed to ultraviolet light.
Humans communicate primarily in a verbal manner, while dogs rely more on visual cues. While this can make communication between the two species challenging at the best of times, it's particularly difficult when the human is unable to see the dog – as is the case with blind people and their guide dogs. As a result, it may not always be possible for owners to know when their guide dogs are stressed. An experimental new harness, however, may be able to help.
Whether they've been crossing the English Channel, traversing the Alps, or attempting to fly around the world, solar-powered planes have been in the news a lot this year. While the aircraft are certainly fascinating and inspiring, there's no way that most of would ever be able to afford one … or is there? If a new Kickstarter campaign is successful, you'll be able to get a Volta Flyer solar airplane for just US$40. The only thing is, it'll be a little on the small side.
Much as the battery range of electric cars is improving, most of them still aren't able to make long road trips on one charge. Given that this more or less limits them to around-town use, some people might wonder … is a full-on electric car really necessary for that sort of driving? The designers at Eugene, Oregon-based Arcimoto apparently don't think so. That's why they're about to officially unveil the 8th version of their electric motorcycle/car hybrid, the SRK.
One of the main reasons that many cyclists give for not wearing a helmet is the fact that helmets take up so much room when they're being carried in a bag. As a result, we've seen a number of companies developing folding helmets. One of the latest, UK-based Headkayse, claims that its helmet not only folds down small, but that it's also more comfortable and perhaps even safer than a regular helmet.
Although peripheral devices now allow smartphones to serve as everything from weather stations to eye-examiners, it's typically thought that genuine purpose-built tools still perform best. In the case of stethoscopes, however, that may not be the case. Researchers with Florida-based Orlando Health recently determined that HeartBuds – a new stethoscope device/app – performed as well as traditional stethoscopes, and better than a commonly-used disposable model.
The much-anticipated video game Fallout 4 was released earlier this week, and German cyber-weapons builder Patrick Priebe hasn't missed a beat. He's already created an AER 9 pulse laser rifle, based on the gun from the game. It's not just a prop, either – he tells us that it "will blast the paint off your car, and tiny holes into metal."
If you want to own "the world's lightest folding bike" right now, you're likely to end up choosing between the Allen Sports Ultra X (8.5 kg/18.75 lb) or the Bike Friday Pocket Rocket Super Pro (7.5 kg/16.5 lb, depending on how it's set up). If a new Kickstarter campaign is successful, however, that will soon change. The carbon fiber Hummingbird is claimed to weigh just 6.5 kg (14 lb).
"Smart" bike locks may not quite be at the point where they're a dime a dozen, but there certainly are a number of them out there. That said, pretty much all of them require you to have your smartphone with you, and to make sure it's powered up when locking and unlocking. The Grasp Lock, however, is a little different. It utilizes a built-in fingerprint reader to recognize its user, so no phones, keys or combos are necessary.
Falls can be devastating for the elderly, which is why Orthotic Holdings Inc (OHI) first created the Moore Balance Brace. It's a foot and ankle support, which is designed to improve the balance and stability of its wearers – as long as they use it correctly, that is. With that in mind, OHI has partnered with wearable fitness tech firm Sensoria Fitness to create the internet-connected Smart Moore Balance Brace.