The best of 2014

Ben Coxworth

Image3D allows customers to create custom View-Master-like photo reels, using their own ph...

Along with GI Joes, Slinkies and Sea Monkeys, View-Masters are probably one of the most-remembered childhood products of the past few generations. Even if you yourself never got the chance to flip through disks of still images using one of the manually-operated stereoscopic viewers, chances are you at least knew someone who did. Well, now that you're all grown-up, you have the chance not only to relive your childhood by buying a View-Master-like Image3D viewer, but also to create a reel of your own photos to view in it. As a ten year-old, you would have thought that was pretty amazing.  Read More

Researchers have developed a coating for fabric, that could be used to clean clothing simp...

For some time now, we’ve been hearing about the benefits of drying our laundry outside on the clothesline. We save money and energy by not running the dryer, the sunlight kills germs, and we don’t run the risk of generating harmful dryer emissions. In the future, however, we might also end up washing our clothes by hanging them outside – scientists in China have successfully used sunlight to remove orange dye stains from cotton fabric, that was treated with a special coating.  Read More

A rendering of the harpoon embedded in a comet, with its collection cartridge visible insi...

Call it Ishmael. Actually, no, call it the Comet Nucleus Sample Return mission spacecraft. Regardless of its name, the NASA vehicle will be wielding a harpoon, not unlike the narrator of Moby Dick. Instead of hunting a white whale, however, it will be after a comet. Although the spacecraft itself is still a concept, its harpoon is in the works now.  Read More

Scientists are looking into using a computerized penetrometer to assess the crispness of a...

Here’s a job title that you probably didn’t know existed: Apple Biter. Oh sure, the official term is probably something like “Fruit Evaluation Specialist,” but if you spend your days chomping into apples to assess their taste and crispness, you’re really an Apple Biter. While using panels of such people is a common method of evaluating the quality of apple crops, it can be compromised when those people start to get fatigued. There’s also the not-insignificant fact that panel members could differ in what they consider to be the optimal level of crispness. That’s why Washington State University is looking into using a computerized penetrometer to handle part of the Apple Biters’ duties.  Read More

Researchers have used functional magnetic resonance imaging technology to help test subjec...

How would you like to have the ability to play the piano downloaded into your brain? You might not end up with the same sense of achievement, but it sure would be a lot quicker and easier than years of lessons and practicing. Well, we're not there yet (and perhaps we never should be), but that sort of scenario is now a little closer to reality, thanks to research conducted at Boston University and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan.  Read More

The SensoGlove, which monitors a golfer's grip on their club, has been upgraded

Working with a golf pro can definitely help to improve your performance on the greens, although pros can sometimes find it difficult to determine if you’re gripping your club too tightly, just by watching. Germany’s Sensosolutions addressed that problem with its SensoGlove, a computer- and sensor-equipped glove that allows users to set their desired level of grip, and then receive feedback on whether or not they’re gripping within that range. Yesterday, the company announced that the glove has now been improved.  Read More

The FourPro is a salt-tolerant underwater housing for the iPhone 4 and 4S, which allows th...

If nothing else, the iPhone 4’s ability to shoot 1080p high-def video has certainly done one thing – provided inventors with things to make. There is currently what could almost be described as a gold rush, as products are being designed to augment the smartphone’s camera, to the point that it could be used for all of the same things as traditional, stand-alone video cameras. Some of these innovations have included interchangeable lenses, a mini SteadiCam, and a rugged helmet-mount system. Now, an underwater housing system for the iPhone 4 and 4S is in the works, which will allow users to shoot undersea video at depths of up to 100 feet (30.5 meters).  Read More

Things could get tougher for bacteria such as these E. coli, thanks to two new bacteria-ki...

According to Dr. Dick Zoutman of Queen's University in Canada, over 100,000 people die every year in North America alone, due to hospital-acquired infections. It would only seem to follow that hospitals need to be kept cleaner, and Zoutman has developed something that he says can do the job - an ozone and hydrogen peroxide vapor gas. Some bacteria are particularly tenacious, however, and that's where Dr. Udi Qimron of Tel Aviv University comes into the picture. He has developed a liquid solution in which viruses are used to make antibiotic-resistant bacteria once again vulnerable to traditional cleansers.  Read More

Stratolaunch Systems has announced its planned air-launch-to-orbit system, which will get ...

Seven years ago, philanthropist Paul G. Allen collaborated with aerospace expert Burt Rutan, to create SpaceShipOne – the first privately-funded, manned rocket ship to fly beyond Earth’s atmosphere, and winner of the Ansari X PRIZE. Now, in the post-Shuttle era, the two men have reunited to create a reusable vehicle for launching both manned and unmanned rockets into space. The project was announced in Seattle today.  Read More

The Mountainskyver TRAIL is a folding downhill scooter that can be packed to the top of a ...

Zipping down the side of a mountain on a downhill mountain bike can be incredibly fun, but getting the bike up there ... well, you can pedal the 40 to 50-pound thing to the top yourself, pay to use a zero-exercise chair lift, or add to your bike's weight with an electric-assist motor. In an approach we've seen before in the form of the Mountain Monk, German gear company ORTOVOX is offering another way to get to the summit and back down again. It's called the Mountainskyver TRAIL, and it's a folding downhill scooter(?) that a hiker carries to the mountaintop in an included custom backpack, then quickly assembles and rides back down.  Read More

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