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Ben Coxworth

Newcastle's Professor Paul Seedhouse, one of the two leaders of the French Digital Kitchen...

People learning a new language almost always have the same complaint – you may temporarily memorize words that you learn in a classroom, but you soon forget those words unless you actually have to use the language. Some educators have addressed this problem through Task-Based Language Learning, in which students have to complete a task using instructions provided in a foreign language. Researchers at Britain’s Newcastle University have recently put a high-tech spin on this approach – they’ve created an interactive kitchen that keeps track of what its users are doing, as it uses the French language to guide them in preparing French cuisine.  Read More

Artist Miles Lightwood is the leader of Project Shellter, a crowd-sourced effort to design...

If you’ve ever bought a pet hermit crab, then you may remember also having to buy several sea shells with it. This is because the crabs don’t have shells of their own, and instead have to find empty shells from other creatures and use those. As a hermit crab grows, it’ll need to upsize to larger shells, hence the need to supply it with multiple choices. Unfortunately, every empty shell gathered for the pet trade is one less for the wild hermit crabs to move into. In places where the beaches have been picked clean, the crabs have reportedly resorted to using things such as bottles and shotgun shells. That’s where Miles Lightwood’s Project Shellter comes in – he’s hoping to design 3D printed shells for use in the pet industry, and is seeking ideas from interested artists and designers.  Read More

Cooper, best-known for its racing and sporty automobiles, has now launched a line of bicyc...

The Cooper name is probably best-known for its revolutionary 1950s and 60s Formula 1 and Indy race cars, or for its association with both the original and current versions of the Mini Cooper. Following in the tire treads of other high-performance auto brands (such as Porsche and BMW), in recent times the British company has turned its hand to bicycles. While it might be reasonable to expect its creations to be race-oriented, Cooper Bikes has instead decided to focus on speedy urban commuters - all of them featuring gloriously retro Reynolds steel frames.  Read More

Scientists have used viruses to help create thin-film biomaterials, which may someday have...

It’s one of those enduring mysteries of nature – how can one biological substance end up becoming several different types of material? One example is collagen, a fibrous protein that can be made into body parts such as corneal tissue, cartilage, bone, and skin. In an effort to better understand such processes, scientists at the University of California at Berkeley decided to see if they could manipulate another biological building block into forming itself into different materials. They succeeded, using viruses known as M13 phages.  Read More

Big Lens is an app that allows users to add a simulated bokeh effect (a blurred-out backgr...

Even though much ado has been made about the high quality of the iPhone 4’s camera, when it comes down to it, it’s still a point-and-shoot. As such, photos taken with it tend to have a fairly deep depth-of-field – that’s nice for getting as many things in focus as possible, but not great for getting those fuzzy-background professional-looking portraits and artsy shots. One solution is to use something like the iPhone SLR Mount, which lets you use SLR lenses on your smartphone’s camera. A much less costly alternative, however, is to use Reallusion’s Big Lens app.  Read More

GoPro has just released its newest actioncam, the HD HERO2

If you've been holding off on getting a GoPro HD HERO actioncam ... well, you were right to wait. Today, the California-based company announced the release of its HD HERO2 camera, which is claimed to be "2X as Powerful in Every Way." More specifically, it has an 11-megapixel image sensor (as opposed to the regular camera's 5 mp), along with a new processor that is said to be twice as fast, and a redesigned lens that GoPro claims is both twice as sharp and capable of a complete 170-degree field of view even in widescreen 1080p mode. There's also good news for consumers who think the existing HD HERO is all the camera they need.  Read More

A rendering of DARPA's proposed tender satellite, in the process of removing the antenna f...

Satellites are very expensive to put into orbit. This is because the parts that they're built from are costly to make, but also because it requires so much energy to lift their considerable weight off the Earth's surface. It would then follow that satellites would cost less if they could use salvaged parts, and if they were lighter when lifting off from the launch pad. That's where DARPA's proposed Phoenix program comes into play. It would see a purpose-built spacecraft removing usable parts from the plethora of "dead" satellites currently in orbit, then leaving those parts for attachment to newly-arriving satellites.  Read More

TapSense is an experimental touchscreen system, that is able to tell the difference betwee...

Small touchscreen devices such smartphones certainly have their attractions, but they also have one drawback – there isn’t much room on their little screens for touch-sensitive features. This means that users will sometimes instead have to go into sub-menus, or make do with jabbing their fingers at tiny controls. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, however, are working on an alternative. Their prototype TapSense system can differentiate between screen taps from different parts of the finger, and will perform different tasks accordingly.  Read More

Lazer Stunt Chasers are remote-control cars that chase a user-aimed spot of laser light ac...

If you have both a laser pointer and either a cat or a dog in your home, you probably know how much fun it can be to watch your critter chasing after the laser light point on the floor. If you don’t have any pets, however, now there’s something else that will chase a laser for you – a toy car. Thinkway Toys’ Lazer Stunt Chaser is a remote-control vehicle that goes wherever its user shines its laser light controller. Oh yeah, and its wheels light up, too.  Read More

Indian scientists are working on an alarm clock that would monitor the user's brain activi...

Have you ever noticed how your alarm clock sometimes wakes you up in a much more jarring fashion than usual? That’s because on those occasions, you happen to be in one of the deeper states of sleep when it goes off. Not only is it more difficult to wake from these states, but people who do so also end up feeling less rejuvenated by their time in the sack. Scientists in India, however, think they may be on their way to designing an alarm clock that only wakes you up when the time is right.  Read More

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