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Ben Coxworth

A climber uses the Z-Man paddles to climb up a glass surface

Geckos are likely better climbers than any other animal, so it's no surprise that a number of researchers have tried to copy that ability via man-made technology. One group, from Stanford University, was particularly successful with a small climbing robot known as the Stickybot. Four years ago, we heard about how they were also looking into applying the Stickybot tech to a system that would allow humans to climb up vertical surfaces. Now, DARPA has announced the first successful demonstration of that system, known as Z-Man.  Read More

The Samsung Smart Bike uses a smartphone – and an Arduino module – as its brains

What do you call a bicycle that doesn't have a motor, but is packed with electronic features? Well, the emerging term seems to be "smart bike." We've already seen one called the Valour, but now there's a new one-off known as the Samsung Smart Bike. Above all else, it's designed to make bicycle commuting safer.  Read More

The Bio Cooler in sun-baked Aipir, Colombia In the town of Aipir, Colombia, the temperature can often get as high as 45ºC (113ºF), yet few of the residents have a reliable source of electricity. So, pulling an ice-cold beverage out of the fridge isn't really an option. Coca Cola and the Leo Burnett Colombia advertising agency therefore devised a "Bio Cooler" for the town – it reportedly chills cans of Coke, without using electricity.  Read More

A sheet of clear polymer treated with the new electrode coating

Chances are that the touchscreen on your smartphone or tablet incorporates a coating of indium tin oxide, also known as ITO or tin-doped indium oxide. Although it's electrically conductive and optically transparent, it's also brittle and thus easily-shattered. Scientists at Ohio's University of Akron, however, are developing something that could ultimately replace the material. They've created an electrode coating that's not only as transparent and more conductive than ITO, but is also far tougher.  Read More

An illustration of the planned finished product

How do you top building the world's largest ice dome? Well, if you're the Eindhoven University of Technology, you build a 40-meter (131-ft)-high model of Barcelona's Sagrada Familia basilica ... and you build it it out of "pykrete."  Read More

The One digital stethoscope

Not unlike the fire hydrant, the humble stethoscope is a device that has remained mostly unchanged for quite a long time. Colorado-based Thinklabs Medical, however, is out to change that. The company recently announced its One digital stethoscope, that can electronically amplify chest sounds by over 100x, and analyze that audio via a smartphone app.  Read More

The HorseFly octocopter could charge its battery and pick up packages from a mobile delive...

When Amazon announced its plan to use drones for home deliveries, a lot of people were quick to point out the huge logistical challenges involved. Among those is the fact that a multicopter's limited battery range would make it rather difficult for just one or two Amazon warehouses to serve an entire city. A team from the University of Cincinnati and AMP Electric Vehicles, however, may have a solution. They've created an octocopter that could make short flights from a traveling delivery van, using that van as a mobile charging station and package depot.  Read More

A squiggly line like this may be more secure than your PIN

Many of us now use our mobile devices for things like online banking, in crowded public places ... the sort of places where it would be easy for sometime to sneak a peek as we enter our passcodes. Researchers from New Jersey's Rutgers University, however, are working on a possible alternative to those typed codes. They've discovered that passwords consisting of hand gestures used to draw free-form lines on a smartphone or tablet screen are much more difficult for "shoulder surfers" to copy after seeing.  Read More

Nito maps and tracks the user's face, to create an avatar that matches their voice and mov...

Have you ever wished you were an alien or a shark? Well, sorry, but you're never going to get to be one. The free Nito app, however, does let you appear as those characters or others, in recorded 15-second videos. It tracks your facial features and movements as you talk, and reproduces them in real time via an animated avatar of your choice.  Read More

The ParentGuardian system combines a stress-monitoring sensor and an app that delivers rea...

It can be hard enough for parents to maintain a cool head when dealing with an angry child at the best of times, but things can get much more difficult when that child has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). That's why scientists at Microsoft Research and the University of California, San Diego have created ParentGuardian. It combines a wrist-worn sensor and an app, to monitor parents' stress levels and deliver real-time coping strategies.  Read More

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