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.
We've already seen a number of systems designed to alert blind users to objects in their path, and most of those systems use cues such as audio tones or vibrations. A scientist at Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, however, has taken another approach. Florian Braun's "Proximity Hat" applies pressure to the wearer's head, in the direction of the obstacle.
To the casual observer, a snowboard is simply … well, an oblong board with boot bindings on it. Cheetah Ultra Sports' new carbon composite The Whip FR-II, however, looks decidedly more high-tech. Reportedly "inspired by fighter jets and exotic cars," it's claimed to offer several advantages over conventional boards – besides looking like something that Batman would take to the slopes.
Both airplane wings and helicopter rotor blades are subject to one problem – they can both ice up. Although de-icing solutions can be applied when aircraft are on the ground, that doesn't stop ice from eventually forming once they're in the air. That's why scientists at Texas' Rice University have developed a new graphene-based coating that continuously melts ice by conducting an electrical current.
Many diabetics have limited feeling in their feet, and thus aren't aware when pressure is being exerted on one area of the foot for a prolonged period. As a result, they can develop chronic skin ulcers or other injuries, which can in turn sometimes lead to amputations. That's why a team from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is creating SenseGO – pressure-monitoring electronic socks.
For many people who perform high-output outdoor activities, straight-up water in their hydration pack just isn't enough – they want water with an added energy supplement. The problem is, the pack's bladder can retain the color and taste of such concoctions. That's the reason Infuze was created. It adds a supplement to hydration-pack water, downstream from the bladder.
Generally, if a doctor wants to know a patient's blood pressure, they have to place a cuff around the person's arm and inflate it. Not only can this be uncomfortable for the patient, but it also only indicates what their blood pressure is at the time that the test is performed. That's why scientists at Australia's Monash University are developing an alternative – a cuffless blood pressure estimation system that is worn for hours at a time, wirelessly transmitting real-time readings.
Recumbent bicycles may offer a more comfortable riding position, but they typically also have pretty long chains. After all, power has to be transmitted from the pedals at the front to the drive wheel at the back. Norway-based inventor Marc Le Borgne, however, has created an alternative. His KerVelo recumbent has an 18-speed gearhub transmission built into the front wheel.
Affecting approximately 1 in 5,000 boys, Duchenne muscular dystrophy causes the victim's muscles to shrink throughout their lifetime, often to the point that the arms and legs can't be used at all. That's why the european Stichting Flextension (Flextension Foundation) started up the A-Gear project four years ago. The multi-partner effort is designing two arm-worn exoskeletons, intended to help Duchenne patients retain the use of their arms.
Although there are various other types of eco-friendly weed control, organic farm workers often end up doing what most of us do in our backyard gardens – bending down and yanking weeds out by hand. Thanks to the relatively new process of "abrasive weeding," however, that may not always be necessary. As an added benefit, crops could be fertilized and weeded in one step.