2015 Detroit NAIAS Auto Show

Ben Coxworth

The Urban Cultivator is a computer-controlled hydroponic growing system for herbs and vege...

There’s no question that fresh herbs taste better than their dried counterparts, nor is there any denying that garden-fresh veggies are preferable to ones that have spent the past several days in a truck or on a supermarket shelf. People who are lucky enough to live in warmer climates can keep the fresh greens coming year-round, if they plant a garden. For those of us in colder regions, however, things get a bit more challenging come winter. We can rig up indoor herb gardens on windowsills or using full-spectrum fluorescent lights, but that can sometimes get a little complicated. If you can justify its price, however, there is an alternative – the Urban Cultivator.  Read More

The SmartCap is a device that monitors workers' fatigue levels by monitoring their brain w...

You don’t need to be an expert in occupational safety to know that worker fatigue is one of the leading causes of workplace accidents – this particularly applies to people who operate heavy machinery or drive for a living. While it would be great if all employees simply took a break when fatigue started setting in, it can sometimes be difficult for people to tell just how tired they really are. That, or they decide that they just want to push through and get the job done, drowsiness be damned. A relatively new invention from Australia’s EdanSafe, however, takes the guesswork out of the picture. It’s called the SmartCap, and it measures employee fatigue in real time by monitoring its wearer’s brain waves.  Read More

Disks made from cocoons of the tasar silkworm may find use as patches for regrowing cardia...

Although people do regularly recover from heart attacks, the heart itself never entirely “gets better.” This is because cardiac muscle tissue doesn’t regenerate – any that dies in the event of a heart attack will only be replaced with inactive scar tissue, and the heart’s performance will be permanently compromised as a result. Scientists have responded by trying to develop heart patches made of materials that act as nanoscale scaffolds, upon which new cardiomyocytes (heart cells) can grow. Materials used for these scaffolds have included fibrin, nanofiber, gold nanowires and polymer. Now, new research is suggesting that silkworm silk may be a better choice than any of those.  Read More

The Vehicle Protection Jammer is designed to block radio signals being transmitted to road...

Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, are one of the largest sources of coalition casualties in Iraq. Many of these IEDs take the form of roadside bombs, which are hidden on or alongside a road, then detonated when a moving vehicle passes near them. While there is more than one way of causing these bombs to detonate, they are often set off by a hidden human observer, using a radio-control device. Forces using the new Vehicle Protection Jammer from EADS subsidiary Cassidian, however, should find themselves at a greatly-reduced risk of such attacks.  Read More

A new system that incorporates LED lighting and radio frequency communications could be us...

It baffles me that some people enjoy shopping. There’s not much that I like about it, but I particularly dislike searching through the aisles, trying in vain to find the product that I’m looking for. While I’m not adverse to asking a store employee for assistance, it seems that in many big box retailers, employees are either non-existent or are already busy with other customers. A new system is in development, however, that would allow customers to find the locations of products via the store’s overhead LED lighting.  Read More

The DUBE is a specially-constructed wooden box that serves as a percussive musical instrum...

If you’re getting weary of trying to wrap your head around things like smartphones that answer questions, self-driving cars or microscopic machines, perhaps this might be more to your liking ... a wooden box. Well OK, the DUBE isn’t just a wooden box. It’s actually a percussive musical instrument, that caught our eyes and ears last week at NAMM.  Read More

Scientists have developed a new method of creating elastic conductors, using buckled carbo...

Whether it’s touch-sensitive skin for robots, clothing made from smart fabrics, or devices with bendable displays, stretchable electronics will be playing a large role in a number of emerging technologies. While the field is still very new, stretchable electronic devices may have come a step closer to common use, thanks to research being conducted at North Carolina State University. Scientists there have recently developed a new method for creating elastic conductors, using carbon nanotubes.  Read More

The Bike Valet is a bicycle wall storage device that uses a cantilevered design to hold bi...

Wall-mounted bike-hanging hooks are certainly a good way of keeping a bicycle off of the floor and out of the way, but let’s be honest ... they’re also often used as a means of displaying a particularly nice bike, almost as if it’s a work of art. That being the case, some cyclists might find it a little counter-intuitive to use plain old hardware store hooks for showing off their masterpiece of motorless transportation. That’s where the Bike Valet comes in. Not only does the bike-hanging device look pretty snazzy, but it also incorporates some practical features.  Read More

Scientists have unlocked the secret to scorpions' ability to withstand sand-blasting, and ...

As any graffiti-removal specialist will tell you, sand-blasting is definitely an effective method of removing substances that have bonded onto hard surfaces. Unfortunately, sand or other abrasive particles suspended in air or liquid also have a way of eroding not just spray paint, but pretty much anything they encounter. As a result, items such as helicopter rotor blades, airplane propellers, rocket motor nozzles and pipes regularly wear out and need to replaced. Interestingly enough, however, scorpions live their entire lives subjected to blowing sand, yet they never appear to ... well, to erode. A group of scientists recently set out to discover their secret, so it could be applied to man-made materials.  Read More

Sonomax's eers earphones are custom-molded by the user, to fit their ear canals

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest things to happen with in-ear earphones in recent years is customized fitting. Products such as those made by Ultimate Ears, for instance, are made to fit precisely into each user's unique ear structure. The catch is that said users must first pay a visit to an audiologist and get an ear imprint made, send that imprint away to the company, and then wait to receive their custom-molded earbuds in the mail. Canada's Sonomax Technologies, however, has come up with an alternative - earphones that you can mold to your ears by yourself, at home.  Read More

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