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Ben Coxworth

Bicycles

BlackBraid commuter bike weighs less than 11 pounds

Trek Bicycles used to make a jaw-droppingly gorgeous bike known as the District Carbon. The stealthy singlespeed steed featured a matte black carbon fiber frame, belt drive, and was designed – more or less – to be a fast commuter. Depending on its configuration, it weighed in at around 15 pounds (6.8 kg). Now, Germany’s PG-Bikes is offering something similar, in the form of its eye-popping BlackBraid Fixed ... and it tips the scales at under 11 pounds (5 kg). Read More

Good Thinking

New type of silicone exhibits both viscous and elastic properties

Looking for a more effective solution to the all-too-common wobbly table dilemma than a folded up bit of cardboard or piece of rubber under the leg, University of Virginia physicist Lou Bloomfield created a new type of silicone rubber called Vistik – it's malleable enough to take on any shape when pressed, but is still resilient enough to offer support, as it gradually starts to return to its original shape as the pressure is released. The material could have many applications ... beyond just steadying up wobbly tables. Read More

Robotics

SmartBot puts your smartphone to a new use

Robots, even tiny ones, are generally not known for being cheap. While this is partly because of their precision-made arms, legs, wheels or whatnot, much of the cost is due to their electronic components – their sensors, input/output interfaces, and processors. Given that most people already have all of these things in their smartphone, however, why should they bother paying for them over again in a robot? Why not just temporarily make the phone part of the robot? That’s the thinking behind smartphone-based robots such as Romo, Botiful, and Polaris. The latest such ‘bot to come our way is Overdrive Robotics’ appropriately-named SmartBot. Read More

Automotive

Continental's “driver focus” concept fights driver distraction with LEDs

It’s probably happened to all of us at one time or another ... we’re driving with a passenger in the car, we get distracted by some thought or task, and are suddenly jolted back into the present moment by our passenger yelling “Look out for that guy!”. Without their warning, we might have run into “that guy.” Given that many of us spend a lot of time driving alone, Continental has come up with an electronic version of that watchful passenger – it’s a driver assistance system that uses LEDs to alert zoned-out drivers to danger. Read More

Aircraft

AirBurr UAV navigates by crashing into things

If you’ve ever watched a fly trying to find its way around a house, you might have noticed that it didn’t take a particularly graceful approach – it probably bounced off a lot of windows and walls, until by process of elimination, it found a route that was clear. Well, researchers at Switzerland’s EPFL Laboratory of Intelligent Systems are taking that same approach with the latest version of their autonomous AirBurr UAV – it’s built to run into things, in order to map and navigate its environment.Read More

Mobile Technology

"Airwriting" glove turns arm-waving into text messaging

If you’re one of the many people who hate poking at the tiny virtual keys on smartphone keyboards, then you might like the experimental “airwriting” glove system created by a team of computer scientists at Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. When the glove’s wearer draws letters in the air with their hand, the system can identify which letters are being drawn. Those letters are converted into digital text, which could then be input into an email, text message, or any other type of mobile app.Read More

Bicycles

StemLite combines a handlebar stem and bike light in one device

Imagine if new cars didn’t come with their own headlights, and buyers were expected to supply their own. It would be kind of silly, right? Well, that’s what the situation is with most commuting bicycles. While a few bikes have built-in lights, consumers are generally expected to purchase one separately, then attach it to the bike. Of course many people simply don’t bother, while others buy a light but then get caught in the dark without it. That’s why California-based cyclists Nick Sweeney and James Voshell have created the StemLite. Read More

Digital Cameras

The BallCam – coming soon to a gridiron near you?

Viewers of televised football games can now see footage from video cameras mounted on the players’ helmets and the coaches’ heads ... what else could one ask? Of course, let’s see what things look like from the ball’s point of view! Actually, that’s no longer as far-fetched as it once was. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Japan’s University of Electro-Communications (UEC) recently unveiled their BallCam system, which can provide relatively smooth video from a spinning, airborne football. Read More

Environment

Wastewater treatment process may keep fish off antidepressants

While some people may wonder about the possible side-effects of antidepressants on the people who are taking them, here’s another thing to consider ... what happens when the residue from those drugs passes through the user’s urine and into the sewage system? As it turns out, it can enter local waterways and affect the fish. Now, researchers from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm have developed technology to keep that from happening. Read More

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