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.
It's been quite a month for electric aircraft. First, the Solar Impulse 2 broke distance and duration records when it flew from Japan to Hawaii. Then, two competing teams both claimed to have made the world's first electric flight across the English Channel.
Now, Germany's PC-Aero says that its Elektra One Solar has become the
first solar-electric plane to cross the Alps in both directions.
Smartphone cameras are increasingly taking the place of stand-alone
consumer video cameras, and in a lot of ways that makes sense. A phone,
however, isn't nearly as easy to hold onto while shooting – its screen
can also be difficult to see in bright sunlight. Well, that's where the
Lumenati CS1 comes in. It's a videography case for the iPhone 6, and it
has the same form factor as a classic Super 8mm movie camera.
We've already seen systems that detect driver fatigue via steering wheel movements or by analyzing drivers' faces. German engineering firm Hoffman and Krippner, in cooperation with Guttersberg Consulting, has now developed what its designers believe is a better alternative – a fatigue-sensing steering wheel add-on that tracks the driver's grip.
Despite concerns that they may actually make driving less safe,
heads-up displays (HUDs) could eventually be standard equipment on most
cars. In the meantime, what happens if you want the technology in your
existing vehicle? Well, you might be able to install an Iris HUD system
in place of your driver's-side windshield visor.
Swiss Post and Swiss World Cargo (the air freight division of Swiss International Air Lines) have joined the likes of Amazon, GeoPost and Alibaba
by taking concrete steps toward using drones for deliveries. This week,
the corporations announced that they have teamed up with
California-based Matternet to trial several of its Matternet ONE cargo quadcopters.
When asked to name an endangered species, rhinos are probably one of the
first animals to come to most peoples' minds. In both Africa and Asia,
poaching is causing populations to plummet, due mainly to demand for
rhino horn as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicine – whether or
not it actually has any medicinal value is another question
altogether. In any case, San Francisco-based biotech startup Pembient is
developing what it hopes could be a solution: inexpensive bioengineered
rhino horn, which could out-compete the genuine item.
While a lot of gamers are eagerly anticipating the release of Fallout 4, not all of them have been moved to develop a functioning weapon inspired by the Fallout universe. German cyberweapons hobbyist Patrick Priebe has done just that, however, creating a one-off lighter fluid-fueled rifle ... that shoots foam earplugs.
Although wave energy-harvesting systems are often just presented as
concepts that may someday see actual use, one was recently deployed in
Hawaii to provide power to the municipal grid. Built by Northwest Energy
Innovations, the Azura device will remain in operation for a 12-month
assessment period, with an eye toward eventual commercialization.
If you're in need of a good case of vertigo, just Google the term "rock
climbing bivy." Essentially, it's a narrow cot that a mountain climber
fastens to a cliff face, where they proceed to precariously spend the
night dangling above oblivion. Although you might not want to push
things quite that far, you can now get the same sort of thrill – but in a safer, more comfortable fashion – by staying in one of Natura Vive's three Skylodge Adventure Suites.
Well, that didn't take long. In less than a year, electrochromic sunglasses have gone from being experimental to an actual product, with Dutch startup Ctrl announcing its tint-on-demand Ctrl One
cycling glasses just this month. Should you prefer multi-use
electronically-tinting sunglasses, however, you might want to get
yourself a pair of Skugga shades.