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.
In recent years, satellite photos of Greenland's ice sheet have shown what appears to be a darkening of the ice's surface. A number of scientists have suggested that this could be due to settled soot particles from fossil fuel production and/or forest fires, and that their presence could result in accelerated melting of the ice. Now, however, researchers from Dartmouth College believe that the ice may still still be relatively clean, and that its darkness in the photos could just be due to faulty sensors on the satellites.
Three years ago, Nissan unveiled a one-of-a-kind Leaf electric car that incorporated autonomous driving features such as Automated Valet Parking, in which it would drop off its driver before finding parking on its own. In 2013, using the company's Autonomous Drive system, the car drove on a Tokyo highway without human assistance. This Thursday an updated test vehicle was unveiled, which features the automaker's new Piloted Drive system. Plans call for it to soon be tested on busy urban roads.
You've got a cycling computer, a headlight, and a handlebar stem on your bike. Why bother with all three, when they could be combined into one device? That's the thinking behind SpeedX's new SpeedForce. It's a sleek aluminum stem with a computer – and a headlight – built right into it.
You know how when you're using a hot glue gun, and you get all those little strands of glue forming when you pull the gun back from the surface being glued? Well, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have used that same principle to create 3D-printed "hair." The discovery could allow for the creation of 3D-printed devices containing brushes or bristles … or even for making troll dolls.
Fixie bikes are all about simplicity. Besides just having one fixed gear with no associated derailleurs, shifters or freehubs, many of them don't even have brakes – instead, riders just stop them by stopping pedalling. Italian manufacturer OML, however, has introduced a braking system that may meet the minimalist standards of fixie riders. It's called Wire Brake, and it replaces two brake levels with a single plastic-housed wire.
Mountain bikes' handlebar stems are a bit of a compromise. They put the bars at a length and angle that are generally good for most types of riding, but that aren't necessarily ideal for any one. While adjustable-angle stems do exist, most still don't let you change the length. Well, that's why Spain's 3FStech created the AIM stem. With the push of a button, it lets riders switch between three bar angles and reach lengths.
In honour of the soon-to-be-released new James Bond film Spectre, our techno-weapons-tinkerin' friend Patrick Priebe has created something else that you should never try building at home. It's a working plasma "cannon" disguised as a digital watch, and is just the sort of thing that 007 might use to escape from the clutches of … well, of the Spectre group.
Two years ago, Porsche first revealed its Macan line of compacts SUVs to the world. Now, at the Tokyo Motor Show, the automaker has unveiled the latest member of that family – the 2017 Macan GTS. Among other things, it offers more power than its predecessors, along with a reengineered suspension, unique exterior/interior appointments, and new connectivity options.
According to the World Health Organization, nitrogen dioxide (NO2)-based air pollution contributes to over 7 million deaths per year – children and the elderly are particularly at risk. Thanks to research being carried out at Australia's RMIT University, however, it may soon be possible to receive early warnings of dangerous NO2 levels in the air around you … via a sensor in your smartphone.
Speech-to-text systems already exist, as do augmented-reality displays. Now, a group of New York City teens led by Daniil Frants (who interned at the MIT Media Lab when he was 14) have combined the two technologies to form the Live Time Closed Captioning System (LTCCS). Once up and running, it could revolutionize the way in which deaf people communicate with the hearing world.