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Ben Coxworth

One of the modified nanocellulose sponges soaks up oil (red) while repelling water (blue)

As the Deepwater Horizon incident showed us, oil spills can be huge environmental disasters. That said, there are also considerable challenges in dealing with the waste products generated by the forestry and agriculture industries. Now, scientists from Switzerland's Empa research group have come up with a method of addressing the one problem with the other – they've developed sponges made from cellulose waste, that can soak up 50 times their own weight in oil.  Read More

A mock-up of the virtual keyboard system in use

We've been hearing about virtual keyboards for several years now, and they usually take the form of a keyboard template that's projected onto a flat surface. A team at Sweden's Mälardalen University, however, is developing something a little different. It's a system that combines a pair of bracelets with a wearable device such as Google Glass, to create a virtual keyboard that only its user can see.  Read More

The Sada Bike folds down small, but has full-size wheels

While we've already seen folding bicycles that pack down into a pretty tiny package, such small-folding bikes usually have at least one limiting factor – puny wheels that limit speed and road-worthiness, not to mention aesthetics. The Sada Bike, however, features full-size 26-inch hubless wheels, yet is about the size of an umbrella when folded.  Read More

The miniature sledge-testing rig used in the study

In Egypt's tomb of Djehutihotep, a wall painting depicts someone pouring water into the sand in front of one of the sledges that hauled the blocks used in the construction of the pyramids. According to new research, they had a good reason for doing so – by wetting the sand, as little as half as much pulling force would have been required to move those sledges.  Read More

The harness is part of a system that also incorporates drones and robots (Photo: Alper Boz...

At disaster sites such as building collapses, it's not uncommon to see trained dogs being used to sniff out trapped survivors, often squeezing into areas that are inaccessible by human rescue workers. Now, thanks to a new "smart" harness, such dogs may be able to play an even bigger role, by gathering and relaying vital information on their surroundings.  Read More

An image shot from beneath the water's surface, before and after processing by Stella Mari...

It's a classic scene from many a war movie – a submarine's presence is given away by its periscope protruding through the surface of the water. If submariners want to see what's up there, however, they really have no choice ... although that may be about to change. Scientists at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have devised a system that allows an underwater camera to look up through the surface from below, with a minimum of distortion.  Read More

'Test sausages' used in the development of the antimicrobial film

In recent years, we've heard about bacteria-killing food packaging materials that incorporate sorbic acid, silver, and montmorillonite clay. One of the latest such developments along those lines is a film that protects meat from spoilage using essential oils or nanoparticles. Additionally, because the film is edible, it could even be incorporated right into meat products.  Read More

A water sample being added to a vial for testing, using one of the new pills

Wondering if it's safe to drink the water from your remote village's well? Typically, the only way of finding out involves sending a sample of that water off to a lab, or using testing agents that must be shipped in and kept on dry ice. Now, however, scientists from Canada's McMaster University have developed simple pills that can do the job – and they were inspired by breath-freshening strips.  Read More

The polymer film changes in color from blue to red as pressure is applied

Whether you're manufacturing cars, phones, sports equipment or pretty much anything else, a key part of the design process involves measuring the amount of mechanical stress experienced by different parts of the product. Thanks to research being conducted at the University of California, Riverside, doing so may soon be much easier. Scientists there have created a film that changes color when subjected to pressure, making it easy to see where objects coated with the film may need reinforcement.  Read More

Sleevely keeps track of when and how much your baby is eating, and advises you accordingly...

Among the many questions that new parents have regarding the care of their baby, one of the most common has got to be "How much should we be feeding them?". Of course, that brings up another question, namely "How much are they eating?". The Tel Aviv-based designers of Sleevely claim that their product can provide the answers. It's a "SmartSleeve" that an existing baby bottle slides into, which monitors the infant's nutritional intake.  Read More

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