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Ben Coxworth

V-Charge guides self-driving electric cars to open spots in transit station car parks

Although the battery range of electric vehicles continues to improve, it's still quite likely that as EVs become more popular, so will their integration into larger transportation networks – in other words, people will drive their electric cars to transfer points such as train stations, instead of making entire long trips solely by driving. With that in mind, the European V-Charge consortium is developing a system whereby users can just step out of their vehicle when they reach a public transit station, leaving the car to head off on its own to find a parking spot.  Read More

Thanks to zinc oxide nanorods, phones may someday be able to recharge using the sounds aro...

Four years ago, we first heard about how Korean scientists had proposed using sound to charge mobile phones. They explained that it could be done via a piezoelectric effect, in which zinc oxide nanowires converted sound-caused vibrations into electricity. At the time, the researchers couldn't generate enough of a current to actually charge a phone. Now, however, scientists from Nokia and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have succeeded in doing so.  Read More

An illustration shows how the polymer could clean up smokestack emissions – although its r...

Hydrogen may hold promise as an alternative to fossil fuels, but there's still a huge petrol-producing infrastructure in place, and not many service stations offer hydrogen refills yet. That's why some scientists are exploring a bridging technology known as the integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) process, for converting fossil fuels into hydrogen. Along with hydrogen, though, carbon dioxide is also a byproduct of the IGCC process, which must be dealt with. Fortunately, scientists from the University of Liverpool have developed a polymer that soaks up that CO2 for use in other applications.  Read More

The Barak kit allows pretty much any bicycle to be made electric

While electric bicycles are certainly becoming a popular new form of transportation, they're still generally much more expensive than their human-powered counterparts. Some people attempt to cut costs by converting existing bikes to electrics themselves, although doing so usually involves a fair bit of technical know-how. Mechanical engineer Micah Toll now hopes to open up that conversion process to everyone, with his Barak Electric Bicycle Kit.  Read More

Dr. Horst Punzmann and team leader Prof. Michael Shats, at the ANU wave tank

If you've ever tried to retrieve an object that's floating away in a lake or the ocean, then you'll know how frustrating it can be, trying to draw that item towards you. According to research recently conducted at The Australian National University (ANU), however, it's possible to move such objects in whichever direction you wish – as long as you can generate the right type of waves.  Read More

Bicyclick allows bikes to be temporarily clicked together at the handlebars

Whether they ride road bikes or mountain bikes, many cyclists don't like having the weight and clutter of a kickstand on their trusty steed. This generally doesn't pose a problem, although there are certainly times when it would be nice to be able to stand the bike up instead of leaning it against something. That's why Bicyclick was invented.  Read More

A microscope cross-sectional view of the material, in which the microhairs are standing st...

What if your house's windows could automatically reduce the amount of hot sunlight passing through them, or your car's windshield could cause rain droplets to bead off to its edges? These things and more could soon be possible, thanks to a new animal hair-inspired material developed at MIT.  Read More

A blind test subject prepares to try out the wayfindr system (Photo: RLSB)

Even more so than their sighted counterparts, blind people rely heavily on public transport. In a survey of blind youth conducted by the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB), however, about half of the participants stated that they were uncomfortable using the London Underground. With that in mind, the RLSB's Youth Forum partnered with the ustwo design firm to create a prototype system known as wayfindr. It uses a combination of Bluetooth beacons, an app, and bone conduction headphones to guide users through the subway system.  Read More

Lyman Connor works on his bionic hand

It seems like hardly a month goes by without news reaching us of advances in the field of bionic hands. Unfortunately, however, these high-tech prostheses can be very costly to purchase, with prices ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars. This puts them out of reach of a large number of people, such as a boy that General Electric engineer Lyman Connor met last year. Connor proceeded to design and build a low-cost bionic hand in his home workshop, which he now hopes to make available to amputees-on-a-budget .... plus he hopes to get one to the boy, if only he can locate him.  Read More

Tallac Design's Vier lock

There's little doubt that bicycle thieves are deterred more by U-locks than by cable locks. The form factor of U-locks, however, can make them awkward to transport. That's why California cyclists Allen and Paige Young have created the Vier lock. It's designed to offer the security of a U, but it disassembles into a package "the size of a burrito" when not in use.  Read More

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