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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.

Follow Ben:

— Health and Wellbeing

Nokia Sensing X CHALLENGE seeks healthcare tech innovations

The smartphones of today are certainly technological wonders. Besides their powerful processors and multitude of available apps, most of them are also equipped with sensors such as cameras, microphones, GPS, accelerometers and gyroscopes. While those sensor-laden phones allow users to perform a broad variety of activities, the folks at Nokia believe that those or similar devices could do much more – particularly when it comes to healthcare. That’s why the company is sponsoring the Nokia Sensing X CHALLENGE. The US$2.25 million global competition is intended to “stimulate the development of sensors and sensing technology to drastically improve and expand the quality and access to healthcare across a wide variety of settings for consumers all around the globe.” Read More
— Robotics

DASH robot mimics cockroaches' disappearing act

Anyone who has tried to kill a cockroach knows just how difficult they can be to be to capture. Not only can they squeeze through very narrow gaps, but they can also instantly accelerate to a running speed of approximately 50 body lengths per second. Recently, biologists at the University of California, Berkeley realized that the insects have another escape skill at their disposal. When they get to the edge of a surface such as a table, they can hook it with their rear claws and swing around 180 degrees to land upside down on its underside – a maneuver also performed by geckos. A team of UC Berkeley researchers subsequently did what any of us would do upon gaining that knowledge, and set out to get a robot to perform the action. Read More
— Good Thinking

Silica nanoparticles used to make mosquito-repellant clothing

For many of us, mosquitoes are an irritating pest that can ruin any number of outdoor activities. For many others, however, they are also spreaders of malaria – a disease which infected approximately 216 million people in 2010, according to an estimate by the World Health Organization. Repeatedly slathering on bug repellant is one way of dealing with the insects, although wearing clothing made from mosquito-repellant fabric sounds a lot more preferable. While existing mozzie-unfriendly garments have some limitations, Portuguese tech company Nanolabel has developed a new treatment process that it claims is far superior to traditional technology. Read More
— Good Thinking

MS-afflicted volleyball player designs award-winning Sports Walker

Among other things, multiple sclerosis can result in a loss of balance and severe weakness in the legs – not exactly traits that would improve someone’s volleyball game. As a dedicated player, however, Toronto’s Brian Light wasn’t about to let his own MS keep him from participating in the sport he loved. Instead, he designed and built his own hands-free wheeled support device, known as the Sports Walker. Not only did it extend the amount of time that he was able to continue playing in a standing position, but it also won him an international award. Read More
— Marine

OpenROV could open up the world of underwater exploration

Underwater remote-operated vehicles, or ROVs, are almost impossibly fascinating. They’re controlled by a surface-based operator, who watches their real-time video feed and pilots them via a long umbilical cable. Although the big-league multi-million-dollar ROVs are used for things such as exploring the wreck of the Titanic or studying hydrothermal vents, hobbyists have quite a bit of fun using their own home-built versions just to see what’s under the surface of the local lake. Unfortunately, even to build one yourself, you need to be pretty technically skilled. That could change, however, as the OpenROV project is developing “easy to assemble” kits – it may even provide li’l ROVs that are ready to go, right out of the box. Read More
— Science

"Artificial muscles" shown to eliminate vibrations with vibrations of their own

A lot of devices, such as shock absorbers, currently use elastomers to help minimize vibrations. While the malleable, yielding qualities of these materials do indeed allow them to absorb energy that would otherwise take the form of rattles and jolts, they are nonetheless passive – basically, they just sit there. Researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability, however, are developing a new system in which elastomers actually “fight back” against vibrations. Read More
— Aircraft

Solar Impulse completes its transcontinental flight

At approximately 11:30 this Tuesday night, the Solar Impulse solar-powered aircraft completed its first-ever transcontinental flight, arriving at Morocco’s Rabat-Salé international airport 19 hours and 8 minutes after taking off from a scheduled stop-over in Madrid. Prior to that, on the first leg of its 2012 Crossing Frontiers mission, it took 17 hours, 30 minutes and 50 seconds to fly to Madrid from its starting point at the Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland. Read More
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