Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Ben Coxworth

The Yamaha PDX-11 Portable Dock for iPod/iPhone offers a rugged alternative to existing iD...

If you want to fill a room with the sound of the songs on your iPhone or iPod touch, there are currently a plethora of docking gizmos that will amplify the sound from your device's speakers. While many of these products look like they're designed to be used primarily in the home, however, Yamaha's new portable PDX-11 is ... well, it's sort of like the ghetto blaster of iPhone docks.  Read More

In order to develop methods for reading shredded documents, DARPA is running a contest in ...

Do you like puzzles? If you’re good enough at solving them, it could win you up to US$50,000. That's the maximum prize that DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is offering in its Shredder Challenge. The agency is trying to develop methods of reconstructing shredded documents that U.S. soldiers could use when gathering intelligence in war zones – it also wants to identify shredded-document-reading strategies that could be used against the U.S., so that it can take preemptive measures against them. What better way to do it than by crowd-sourcing?  Read More

A new technique uses light to differentiate between healthy (top) and misshapen (bottom) r...

Ordinarily, red blood cells should look like a disc with a medium-sized dimple on the top and bottom. If that dimple is either too large or too small, it can indicate the presence of a disease such as sickle cell anemia or malaria. Pathologists traditionally have had to examine blood samples under a microscope, manually looking for these misshapen cells. A new technique developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, however, uses light to automatically detect such cells within seconds.  Read More

The QuickFix mudguard attaches to a bike in seconds, and packs flat when not in use

If you want to stay as dry and clean as possible when riding your bike on wet roads, get yourself a proper set of full fenders - it's just that simple. There are a lot of cyclists, however, who feel that fenders make their lean, mean, street-ridin' machines look boring and clunky. Additionally, many types of fenders have an annoying way of rubbing, rattling, or just plain getting in the way. While some quick-on/quick-off systems do already exist, most of them still incorporate permanent mounting brackets, or are made from thin plastic that has a tendency to droop. Full Windsor's QuickFix plastic mudguard, however, slides in and out of place within seconds, yet still looks like it's reasonably substantial.  Read More

German aircraft company e-volo has accomplished what it claims is the world's first manned...

By now, most readers are probably pretty familiar with quadracopters - small hovering unmanned electric aircraft, which get their lift from a set of four propellers. Well, make the whole thing larger, boost the number of propellers (and accompanying motors) to 16, and you get what German aircraft developer e-volo calls a multicopter. While the company has previously demonstrated unmanned drones, on October 21st it accomplished what it claims is a world first - a manned flight.  Read More

The fertility chip causes sperm to flow through a liquid-filled channel, where they pass u...

While just about everyone is familiar with home pregnancy testing kits, what many of us may not realize is that a (sort of) equivalent product exists for men - home sperm count kits. These kits, however, will simply tell users if their sperm count is above or below a standard value. While a yes or no answer like that might suffice for the pregnancy kits, a little more information would definitely help a man who suspects he might be infertile. Loes Segerink, a PhD student from The Netherlands' University of Twente, hopes to change that with this prototype lab-on-a-chip device. Segerink's chip counts exactly how many sperm are present in a sample of ejaculate, and can even differentiate between the good swimmers and the duds.  Read More

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

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