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Ben Coxworth

The SCiO Pocket Molecular Sensor

Wondering how nutritious that food is, if that plant needs water, or just what that misplaced pill is? Well, the makers of SCiO claim that their device is able to tell you all of those things, plus a lot more. To use it, you just scan the item in question for one or two seconds, then check the readout on a Bluetooth 4.0-linked smartphone.  Read More

One of the 3D spec-wearing mantises, which probably isn't actually smiling

Although us humans take 3D vision for granted, it's not a standard feature throughout the animal kingdom. In fact, praying mantises are the only invertebrates known to possess it – a fact which makes them excellent hunters. Scientists at Britain's Newcastle University are now studying the insects' ability to see in 3D, to determine if it could be copied in human technologies such as robot vision systems. As part of that study, they're equipping mantises with the smallest pairs of 3D glasses ever made.  Read More

A user zooms in on a map by pinching their fingers on the keyboard

Gesture recognition devices may indeed offer more functionality than is possible using just a keyboard and mouse, but in order to use them, users have to lift their hands up and away from that keyboard. A team at Microsoft Research decided to address that problem, and created a prototype mechanical keyboard that recognizes hand gestures performed on or immediately above the keys.  Read More

One of the finished felt teddy bears, alongside its digital model

Ask someone to think of a 3D-printed object, and chances are they'll picture something hard ... or perhaps rubbery. Thanks to new technology developed by Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research Pittsburgh, however, it's now possible to make soft and fuzzy 3D-printed items, using yarn instead of plastic or resin. Among the first items to be created were little felt teddy bears.  Read More

A gecko shows off its uniquely-sticky feet  (Photo: Shutterstock)

A couple of years ago, we first heard about a gecko-inspired reusable adhesive known as Geckskin. According to its creators at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, it could be used to hang objects weighing up to 700 pounds (318 kg) on smooth surfaces such as glass. Now, however, they've announced a new version that also works on rough surfaces, like drywall and wood.  Read More

The Korner tag being applied

Home security systems can certainly bring peace of mind to well-off home-owners, but they're generally not thought of as something that's used by people who are on a budget, such as apartment-dwellers. The designers of Korner hope to change that, however, with a simple system that costs under US$100 and requires no monthly fees.  Read More

Olive oil counterfeiters may be thwarted by DNA particles, that are mixed into the liquid ...

When most people think of counterfeit goods, they probably picture things like handbags or watches. In fact, there's also a huge market for knock-off high-end food products, such as extra-virgin olive oil. Scientists from Switzerland's ETH Zurich research group, however, have come up with a possible method of thwarting the makers of that bogus oil – just add synthetic DNA particles to the real thing. And yes, consumers would proceed to swallow those particles.  Read More

Variability in steering wheel movement has proven to be a tip-off that drivers are getting...

Driver drowsiness is a major cause of accidents, so it's not surprising that a variety of technologies have been developed for its detection. Most of these systems require the use of prominent hardware such as eye-tracking cameras, reactive testing devices, or even Google Glass. A team from Washington State University Spokane, however, has developed a system that detects drowsy drivers through inexpensive electronics that monitor movement of the steering wheel.  Read More

Dr. Steve Lee, with some of his easy-bake lenses

Microscope lenses are typically made either by grinding and polishing glass discs, or pouring polymers into molds – both techniques can be quite involved, which is reflected in the price of the finished product. Now, however, a scientist from Australian National University has devised a new lens-making process, in which drops of silicone are simply baked in an oven. The resulting lenses can be used for a variety of applications, yet are worth less than one cent each.  Read More

The fairings are made to fit most standard road bikes

If you were designing a vehicle to be as aerodynamic as possible, it would definitely be counterproductive if parts of that vehicle actually moved into the oncoming wind. According to Los Angeles-based engineer Garth Magee, however, that's just what the forward-turning top sections of bicycle wheels do. His solution? Upper Wheel Fairings, which shield the spokes from the breeze. He claims that cyclists using his fairings can go up to 20 percent faster without any extra effort.  Read More

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