Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Ben Coxworth

Boston Dynamics has released a video of its bipedal humanoid PETMAN robot, performing a va...

If you were tasked with testing clothing that was designed to protect soldiers from chemical weapons, it goes without saying that you wouldn't dress an actual person up in those clothes, then fire chemicals at them. If you just put those clothes on an inanimate mannequin, however, it wouldn't provide any information on how effective those clothes were when in motion, or in a wide variety of body positions. Well, that's where Boston Dynamics' PETMAN (Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin) humanoid robot comes in. The self-balancing clothes-testing machine can walk, run, crouch, and even do push-ups. Today, PETMAN's creators released the first-ever public video of the robot being put through its paces - and it's pretty impressive.  Read More

MobileMount is a suction cup-based universal mounting system for smartphones, tablets, or ...

There are definitely some situations where it helps to be able to mount your smartphone, tablet or other mobile device on a flat surface, such as a dashboard, kitchen counter, or wall. If you use multiple devices, this entails buying several mounts – one designed for each device. Chicago inventor J.R. Sanchez, however, has created “one mount to rule them all,” so to speak. It’s called MobileMount, and it works with any device it can suck onto.  Read More

A recent study has exposed a source of BPA exposure that many people might not expect - th...

Remember not so long ago, when everyone was getting rid of their plastic water bottles and replacing them with metal ones? That's because they contained bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the production of polycarbonate plastic. Several recent studies had linked BPA to a number of health problems, including breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and behavioral difficulties. The chemical was also found to be present in baby bottles and tin can linings, but a more recent study has exposed a source of BPA exposure that many people might not expect - thermal cash register receipts.  Read More

The Carson Portable Rotisserie Grill is a fully-functioning powered rotisserie, that packs...

If James Bond ever went on a cook-out, it probably wouldn’t be too surprising if he were to open up an aluminum briefcase, to reveal a miniature fully-functioning rotisserie inside – that Q is so clever! Well, if you want to exercise your own “license to grill,” you can actually buy such a device. The Carson Portable Rotisserie Grill automatically rotates up to seven skewers of meat or veggies over a charcoal fire, but folds into a compact case when not in use. Eat your heart out, Blofeld!  Read More

Photographers can now view their photos on the screen of their iPad, using CF or SD card r...

Although the LCD screens on most cameras are sufficient for reviewing your shots, wouldn’t it be even better to be able to check them out on the larger screen of an iPad? You can already do so, but it involves running a USB cable from the camera to the computer (via an adapter), then transferring the photos across. It would be a lot quicker and simpler if you could just slip the camera’s memory card into the tablet, but unfortunately iPads don’t have built-in card readers. You can, however, buy the next-best thing: a plug-in CF or SD card reader, designed specifically for the iPad.  Read More

Wyse Cycles is a self-propelled mobile bicycle repair service, which bike mechanic Ben Wys...

For many people, commuting by bicycle is a fun, economical and healthy way of getting around. When their bike breaks down, they throw it in their car, drive it to the shop, then drive for several days until it’s fixed. Some bicycle commuters, however, don’t own cars. These people can’t drive their bike to the shop, and have no independent means of transportation as long as their two-wheeler is gone. It is for people like these – and others – that Wyse Cycles exists. As far as its owner Ben Wyse knows, it’s America’s only self-propelled mobile bicycle repair service.  Read More

Thijs Meenink and his robotic eye surgery system (Photo: Eindhoven University of Technolog...

By now, many readers are probably familiar with the da Vinci robotic surgery system. It allows a seated surgeon, using a 3D display and hand controls, to operate on a patient using robotic arms equipped with surgical instruments. Not only does the system allow for more laparoscopic surgery (in which surgical instruments access the inside of the patient’s body through small incisions, instead of one large opening), but it even makes it possible for the surgeon and the patient to be in separate geographical locations. Now, a researcher at the Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology has developed a similar system, designed specifically for operations on the eye.  Read More

Researcher Jeff Tsao examines the set-up used to test diode lasers as an alternative to LE...

With incandescent light bulbs in the process of being phased out around the world, LEDs are one of the most promising technologies for taking over our day-to-day lighting needs – they use less energy, provide more light, contain less toxic substances, and are tougher than incandescents. That said, they may not be the one and only best choice. Lasers are even more efficient than LEDs at high amperages, although scientists have long believed that the quality of white light produced by diode lasers would be unpleasing to the human eye. According to a study recently carried out by Sandia National Laboratories, however, the human eye appears to like their light just fine.  Read More

Corning has unveiled its new Lotus Glass, designed for use in OLED and next-generation LCD...

Corning's tough-but-light Gorilla Glass has become a common feature on smartphone displays, along with those of other consumer electronics such as TVs and computers. This Wednesday, however, the company announced the commercial launch of its new Lotus Glass. The material is designed specifically for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays and next generation LCD screens.  Read More

LED by LITE is a bicycle illumination system that cyclists control from a wireless handleb...

The arrival of high-intensity LEDs has certainly made a huge difference to the brightness of bicycle headlights. Some people, however, are now looking at using the bulbs not just as a means of lighting the cyclist’s way, but of making their bicycles more visible to motorists. A couple of examples include the Aura and Revolights systems, both of which incorporate LEDs into a bike’s wheel rims. Another system, that looks like it might be considerably less involved yet still effective, is called LED by LITE.  Read More

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