Photokina 2014 highlights

Ben Coxworth

New technology allows the heart to become its own pacemaker (Image: Shutterstock)

Pacemakers serve an invaluable purpose, by electrically stimulating a recipient's heart in order to keep it beating at a steady rate. The implantation of a pacemaker is a major surgical procedure, however, plus its presence in the body can lead to complications such as infections. Now, for the first time, scientists have instead injected genes into the defective hearts of pigs, converting unspecialized heart cells into "biological pacemakers."  Read More

If the Apollo astronauts had worn high-tops, they might have looked like these As of July 20th, it will be officially 45 years since astronauts first walked on the moon. To mark the occasion, General Electric has teamed up with high-end footwear manufacturer Android Homme and clothing retailer JackThreads to create a limited-edition sneaker known as The Missions. The shoe was inspired by the Apollo 11 crew's moon boots, and incorporates some "spacey" materials.  Read More

Faye Wu uses the supernumerary robotic fingers

Earlier this month, we heard about an MIT project in which test subjects were equipped with an extra set of robotic arms in order to help them perform tasks. While the technology is certainly intriguing, some people might find the concept of a four-armed cyborg to be a little ... much. If you're one of those people, then you might be more comfortable with another ongoing MIT project. It's just aimed at giving people two extra robotic fingers.  Read More

The Elephant Steady utilizes the iPhone's gyroscope and processor as its brains

One of the neat things about smartphones is the fact that when gadgets are designed to be used with them, those devices can make use of the phone's sensors and other electronics instead of incorporating their own. This, of course, means that those devices can thus be smaller and cheaper than would otherwise be possible. The Elephant Steady is a new motorized iPhone camera-stabilizing rig, that takes this approach.  Read More

The Spark watch 'buzzes' you awake when you start to doze

Falling asleep at the wrong time is apparently a bigger problem than many people may realize. Along with the various systems aimed at keeping drivers awake, we've also recently seen a headset and an earpiece designed to let users know when they're inappropriately drifting off. While those devices have to be worn specifically for that purpose, the Spark takes the form of something you'd have on anyway – a watch.  Read More

The Zinger weighs 38 pounds, and folds down to go in a car

For people who are almost entirely unable to walk, a powerful heavy-duty electric wheelchair is sometimes necessary. For folks who simply have limited mobility, however, often all that's needed is a little something to lessen the amount of walking that they have to do. A number of lightweight folding electric wheelchairs have emerged to serve that market. One of the latest, the Zinger, is also reportedly the lightest.  Read More

A DARPA rendering of the planned XS-1, launching its second-stage rocket

It takes a lot more money and preparation to launch a rocket than to have a plane take off. That's why DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) first initiated its Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program. The idea is that once built, the XS-1 could take off and land like a regular aircraft, but could also deliver satellite payloads into low-Earth orbit while airborne. Today, the agency announced its plans for Phase 1 of the program, which includes awarding contracts for designs of the autonomous spaceplane.  Read More

The robotics material in its hard (left) and soft states

If you've ever watched an octopus, you may have noticed how they can deliver powerful grasping force when necessary, yet can also squeeze through tiny openings by essentially making themselves "liquid." Now imagine if there were robots that could do the same thing. They could conceivably squirm through debris to reach buried survivors at disaster sites, or even travel through patients' bodies to perform medical procedures. An international team of scientists is working on making such technology a reality, using a combination of polyurethane foam and wax.  Read More

Monash University's Michelle Quayle shows off part of the Printed Anatomy Series kit

While we might not hear much about a "worldwide shortage of cadavers," the fact is that in developing nations and other places, they are in short supply. It costs money to properly embalm and otherwise prepare the bodies, plus they need to be kept refrigerated, and they can only be dissected under strictly-regulated conditions. A team from Australia's Monash University, however, has developed what could be the next-best thing – highly-realistic 3D-printed cadaver body parts.  Read More

Swash is claimed to lengthen the life of clothing, by not requiring it to be washed as oft...

There's always that point with dry-clean-only clothing, where you wonder if you can get away with wearing it one more time before it needs to be cleaned. Well, Swash is designed to make doing so a little less risky. In a 10-minute process, the device reportedly takes out the wrinkles and "neutralizes odor," lessening the number of required trips to the cleaners.  Read More

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