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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

NutriRay3D uses laser light and your phone to count calories

There are already plenty of apps that let people estimate how many calories are in the foods they're eating. However, most of these programs require users to either guess at their portion sizes, or actually weigh the food. That's where the University of Washington's NutriRay3D comes in. It's a smartphone device/app combo, that uses lasers to ascertain how many calories are sitting on the plate.

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— Drones

FAROS drone climbs the walls to find fires

Fires in high-rises can be particularly deadly. This is partially because of the buildings' "chimney" effect, along with the fact that it's just plain difficult for firefighters to reach the flames. With that in mind, researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have created the flying, wall-climbing, fire-resistant FAROS quadcopter. It's designed to ascertain the source of a fire as soon as possible, along with the locations of people trapped within the building.

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— Medical

MRIs could soon be quicker and safer

While MRI scans may not expose patients to the ionizing radiation found in X-rays, they still are potentially harmful. This is because the increased radiofrequency energy absorption associated with newer high-field and ultra-high-field MRI scanners can heat body tissue. Thanks to research being conducted at the Australian National University, however, that may soon no longer be an issue – additionally, scans could be quicker and produce higher-quality images.

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— Good Thinking

Google Maps gives the Street View treatment to world's largest model railroad

Remember when Google Street View only allowed you to explore streets? Since its launch in 2007, the service has been expanded to include things like coral reefs, hiking trails and the Amazon River. In its latest "off-road" adventure, however, Google Maps has thought smaller – it's used miniaturized Street View cameras to visually map a model railroad.

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— Health and Wellbeing

Painless electrical zaps may replace dental anesthesia needles

As much as some people fear getting dental fillings or root canals, what many of them are really afraid of is the needle that delivers the anesthetic into the mouth tissue. Even though the skin in the "jabbing area" is usually pretreated with a topical anesthetic, it can still hurt. Before long, however, a shot of electricity could make that topical treatment deep-acting enough that the needle isn't even needed.

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— Materials

Coating highlights microscopic cracks, before they lead to disaster

Whether they're on airplanes, bridges or pipelines, even the tiniest of cracks can fast lead to catastrophic failures. That's why it's important to identify them as early as possible, before they get out of hand. With that in mind, scientists at the University of Illinois have created a new polymer coating that can be applied to a wide variety of structural materials. When those materials crack – even a little – the polymer changes color to let inspectors know that something's up.

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