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Ben Coxworth

Ben Coxworth
An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.

For women, buying the wrong shoes can be about more than just esthetics. If they end up with shoes that don't fit properly, they can develop foot disorders such as bunions, hammertoes or ingrown toenails. That's where the European Union's DemoShopInstantShoe project comes in. Established a few years ago, the collaborative effort is now about to release a device that instantly adapts off-the-rack shoes to a custom fit.

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There are already human-powered devices that allow you to walk on water, plus there are electric motor-powered stand-up paddleboards. The WaterBlade, however, appears to bridge the gap between the two. It's a floating platform that you stand on to "walk" across the water, but it also has a motor to help make things easier.

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Although we've definitely seen a number of thought-controlled prosthetic arms before, most of those have been activated by implants in the user's motor cortex, which is the brain's movement-control center. The arms' resulting movements have been somewhat jerky, plus there's typically been a delay between the user thinking about moving the arm, and the actual movement taking place. Now, however, a team of researchers has announced the results of an experiment in which those limitations were greatly reduced.

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While just about everyone knows that bats locate prey in the dark using echolocation, one thing that many people may not realize is the fact that horseshoe bats are particularly good at it. With this in mind, engineers at Virginia Tech are now developing a sonar system that emulates the system used by those bats. Once perfected, it could be a much more compact and efficient alternative to traditional manmade sonar arrays.

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If you'd like the ease of an electric bicycle but don't want to give up your perfectly good "manual" bike, there is something you can do – you can replace your bike's existing rear wheel with the electrically-powered Copenhagen Wheel or FlyKly, or replace its front wheel with the Omni Wheel. Those three products may soon have to make room for another competitor, however, as the Centinel Wheel enters the marketplace.

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A couple of years ago, UK-based product designer Witek Mielniczek turned to Kickstarter to fund B – a combination radio-controlled car and quadcopter. Its ability to both fly through the air and drive along the ground was certainly intriguing, although its ability to traverse rough terrain wasn't necessarily phenomenal. That's why he's now created B-Unstoppable, which swaps wheels for neoprene tank-like treads.

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Three years ago we heard about the GiraDora, a foot-pedal-powered clothes-washing machine created for off-grid use in developing nations. While many of our readers expressed an interest in it, the device has yet to reach commercial production. If that's the sort of thing that turns your crank (or pushes your pedal), though, you can now order Yirego's similar Drumi.

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When people suggest possible uses for electric multicopter drones, it frequently seems like they're forgetting something – presently, most such aircraft can only fly for a maximum of around 25 minutes per battery charge. Horizon Energy Systems, however, is developing a quadcopter that should do a lot better. Known as the Hycopter, the fuel cell-powered drone is hoped to be capable of 4-hour flight times once completed.

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If you're listening to a stereo outdoors, it goes without saying that the acoustics are going to differ from if you're listening to it indoors. With that in mind, Bose has designed a sound system for Mazda's new 2016 MX-5 Miata, that has both roof-up and roof-down equalization settings.

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Although lithium-ion batteries perform far better than alkalines, they're also relatively costly, the lithium salts used in them aren't widely available, and they sometimes catch fire. That's why some scientists are suggesting sodium-ion batteries as an alternative. To that end, Williams Advanced Engineering recently demonstrated that they could be used to power an electric bike.

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