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.
Office buildings with plate glass windows may provide a nice view for workers, but they're certainly not ideal when it comes to energy-efficiency. Among other things, the sunlight that pours through them can raise the temperature in the office, causing the air conditioning to come on. Now, however, researchers from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology have created a light-blocking facade for such windows that only kicks in when exposed to strong sunlight – and it's powered by that sunlight, too.
As a child, Brooklyn-based metal sculptor Adrian Landon played with Lego a lot. He also learned about horses from his polo-playing dad, who in turn learned about them from his
father, who was an equine veterinarian. That background set the stage for Landon's latest work of art, a stainless steel life-size Mechanical Horse that gallops in slow motion at the press of a button.
Airliner cabins can get pretty germy. They're packed full of people from all over the world, who spend hours doing things like coughing, sneezing and touching surfaces with their grubby li'l hands. It was with this in mind that Arthur Kreitenberg and his son Mo created the GermFalcon. It's a robot that kills germs on planes, using ultraviolet light.
Back in February, Rolls-Royce announced its plans to manufacture an SUV
... or more specifically, "a vehicle that can cross any terrain." While we're still waiting to see what that vehicle will look like, the automaker has provided photos of the first "engineering mule" that it's using to develop the necessary all-wheel drive suspension system.
Last November, DJI Innovations released the Inspire 1
drone, which was unlike anything the company had manufactured before. Today, though, the company announced the latest step in the evolution of its more familiar and affordable Phantom line – namely, the Phantom 3. There are actually two models, the Phantom 3 Professional and slightly-less-fancy Phantom 3 Advanced.
We've seen some pretty eye-catching motorcycles in recent months, including a Tron light cycle replica
, the exotic Feline One
, and the quirky Dryvtech 2x2x2
. That said, all of those bikes have one glaring shortcoming – none of them were co-designed by William Shatner. The actor who brought us the character of Captain James T. Kirk is
, however, one of the creative forces behind the limited-edition Rivet. And judging by what he's told us, he's pretty proud of it.
When it comes to concerns about the widespread use of drones, one of the big ones is the worry that the things will crash on peoples' heads. That's why researchers at the University of Zurich have created a system to keep that from happening. Their technology allows a drone to regain stable flight after losing control, and to autonomously land in a "safe" area in the event of mechanical or battery failure.
In the not-too-distant future, burn victims may be able to recover in the half the time than is possible today. If so, it will be thanks to a biodegradable dressing that applies cultured skin cells directly to the wound site.
Last year, architects Mihail Klenov and Martin Angelov introduced the world to their Halfbike
. Its quirkiness apparently struck a chord with a lot of people, as it was successfully funded on Kickstarter. Now, they're raising funds for the new-and-improved Halfbike II.
Algae may indeed be a potential source of biofuel
, but it can also find use in things like nutritional supplements and cosmetics. When it's grown commercially, its growth is usually aided with chemical fertilizers. The cost of those chemicals cuts into the profits, however, plus the fertilizers are also needed for more traditional crops. That's why scientists from Houston's Rice University are looking into growing algae in municipal wastewater – the water would already contain its own free fertilizer, plus the algae would help clean it up.