Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Ben Coxworth

The Tango Bar is a new USB sound bar for Macs and PCs

For those of us who want a little more oomph out of our computers’ sound systems, USB-powered speakers certainly offer a simple solution, although they tend to be less powerful than speakers that incorporate the more traditional 3.5mm jack. Well, today XtremeMac unveiled its Tango Bar – a 10-watt USB sound bar for Macs or PCs, that reportedly delivers twice the output of most of its competitors.  Read More

Scientists from Tel Aviv University are creating what could be much more efficient solar p...

Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic energy, and when they’re picked up by traditional metallic antennas, the electrons that are generated can be converted into an electrical current. Given that optical waves are also a type of electromagnetic energy, a team of scientists from Tel Aviv University wondered if these could also be converted into electricity, via an antenna. It turns out that they can – if the antenna is very, very short. These “nanoantennas” could replace the silicon semiconductors in special solar panels, which could harvest more energy from a wider spectrum of sunlight than is currently possible.  Read More

eButton is a prototype device that tracks the caloric value of users' meals, along with th...

Are you trying to lose weight, but don't like keeping track of your food intake? Well, there may or may not be an app for that, but there is a button. An eButton, to be precise. That's the name of a wearable device developed at the University of Pittsburgh, that incorporates a camera, accelerometer, GPS, and other sensors. These all work together to maintain a profile of not only what the user is eating, but also how much exercise they're getting, how much time they spend sitting around, and other factors that can affect weight gain.  Read More

The OVO-4 is a full-motion, fully-enclosed light aircraft flight simulator, that can be yo...

Chances are, you will never get to try out the new 3D MiG flight simulator. If you have almost US$60,000 that has nothing better to do, however, you can now buy something almost as impressive – the OVO-4 Home Flight Simulator. The egg-shaped capsule contains a full simulated light aircraft cockpit, with three linked 24-inch monitors displaying the output of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X. Best of all, however, the capsule pitches and rolls according to what’s happening in the simulation – users presumably have to supply their own barf bags.  Read More

Philips has just announced the release of its new ESee pocket camcorder

As smartphones with built-in HD video cameras become increasingly commonplace, the stand-alone pocket camcorder looks like it could be on its way to obsolescence. That’s certainly what Cisco Systems seemed to think, at least, when it recently stopped production of the market-leading Flip camcorder. One company that apparently doesn’t share this viewpoint, however, is Philips – today, the electronics manufacturer announced its new ESee pocket video camera. While there’s certainly some overlap with many camera phones, the camcorder sports several features that might keep it from ending up in the bargain bin anytime soon.  Read More

BiKN is a system that allows iPhone users to track or relocate up to eight items at once

Wondering where you left your dang car keys this time? Well, you might not be if you were using BiKN. Pronounced “beacon,” this tracking system consists of an iPhone case, an app, and up to eight tags that can be attached to items of your choice. Should you not be able to find one of those items, BiKN will help you relocate it. The system will also give you a holler should a particular "item" wander away on its own.  Read More

The Swivl is a camera phone mount that automatically pans and tilts to keep the subject fr...

When I was a kid, it always used to bug me when someone was supposed to be talking on a locked-off “video phone” in a movie, and yet the phone would pan with them to keep them in the shot! Well, like a lot of other things from sci-fi movies of the past, motorized face-tracking webcams are now a reality – albeit, they’re still not very common. As it turns out, however, more and more video calls are being made not from desktop computers, but from smartphones. So, that being the case, how do you go about getting one of those to pan with you? Well, you could buy something like the Swivl.  Read More

A plastic material inspired by the leaves of the aquatic weed Salvinia molesta may lead to...

It may be an invasive weed that’s fouling waterways in the U.S., Australia and other countries, but it turns out that Salvinia molesta has at least one good point – it’s inspired a man-made coating that could help ships stay afloat. The upper surface of the floating plant’s leaves are coated with tiny water-repellent hairs, each of which is topped with a bizarre eggbeater-like structure. These hairs trap a layer of air against the leaf, reducing friction and providing buoyancy, while the eggbeaters grab slightly at the surrounding water, providing stability. Scientists at Ohio State University have successfully replicated these hairs in plastic, creating a buoyant coating that is described as being like “a microscopic shag carpet.”  Read More

Prof. Tim Leighton and Dr. Peter Birkin with their ultrasonic nozzle

In many industries, such as health care, food preparation and electronics manufacturing, cleanliness is of the utmost importance. It’s important enough that huge quantities of water are used – and left tainted – in order to remove contaminants. While some groups have concentrated on creating better cleansers, a team of scientists from the University of Southampton have taken a different approach. They’ve created an ultrasonic tap nozzle, that allows the water itself do a better job at cleaning. The better that a given amount of water is able to clean, the less of it that needs to be used.  Read More

The iDigiTip is a stylus that is worn on the finger or thumb

If you’ve got fat fingers, then you probably find it difficult to peck at the tiny keyboards – virtual or physical – on mobile phones. You could just use a traditional stylus, although doing so kind of takes away from the intuitive “hands-on” aspect of finger typing. Well, that’s where the iDigiTip comes in. It’s got the fine tip of a stylus, but because you wear it on the end of your finger or thumb, you can still type like the slimmer-fingered folk.  Read More

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