Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Ben Coxworth

A flower petal treated with WetForce-enabled sunscreen, before and after exposure to water...

Most people generally think of water and sweat as being things that hinder the effectiveness of sunscreen – even in cases where it's billed as being waterproof. According to Shiseido, however, its newly-developed WetForce technology not only keeps water from compromising sunscreen, but actually uses it to help block UV rays.  Read More

Pyle's PVTTBT8 turntable, open for business While many people consider record players to be "delightfully retro," those same folks might not have much use for something that plays nothing but vinyl. Pyle Audio has set out to address that, with its decidedly un-retro-named PVTTBT8 turntable. It looks like something you'd bring to a 1950s sock-hop, but it plays both records and digital music files.  Read More

The prototype implant, with its near-infrared LED

Wouldn't it be great if there were implants that detected the brainwaves associated with conditions such as chronic headaches or epilepsy, and then responded by triggering genes in the patient's body to produce a protein that treated the condition? Well, scientists at the ETH Zurich research institute are on their way to making it happen. They've developed an implant that causes genetically-modified cells to express a specific protein, and the device is indeed activated by brain waves.  Read More

A top view of the nanopores, each of which is a separate battery in its own right

As electronic devices continue to get smaller, one question becomes increasingly pertinent – how will we power them? Well, smaller batteries would seem to be the most obvious answer. With that in mind, researchers at the University of Maryland have succeeded in creating a tiny battery that incorporates even smaller structures, known as nanopores.  Read More

Circa Cycles' aluminum frames incorporate time- and labor-saving MABEL lugs

Like a lot of other American products, most US-brand bicycle frames are made overseas, in countries where manufacturing costs are lower. Portland, Oregon's Circa Cycles, however, wants to build its higher-end bikes stateside, yet still sell them at reasonable prices. It plans on doing so using a unique frame-construction process, known as MABEL.  Read More

Ling Zang with his prototype explosives sensor (Photo: Dan Hixon, University of Utah Colle...

Along with flame-retardant clothing, flexible supercapitors and a stronger alternative to carbon fiber, carbon nanotubes may soon have yet another application. Led by Prof. Ling Zang, a team of researchers at the University of Utah has integrated the tiny tubes of carbon atoms into a prototype explosives sensor. It can also detect illegal drugs and toxic chemicals such as nerve gas, reportedly doing so better than currently-used technologies.  Read More

Drive responds to the user's finger movements, but only if their hands are where they shou...

When it comes to safe driving tips, taking your hands off the steering wheel to make or receive calls doesn't rate way up there. Many people instead use hands-free voice prompt systems, although these can also be be distracting, as they require users to think of the correct prompts and then speak them very clearly. Drive offers an alternative – it's a device that's controlled using finger movements, and it won't work unless the user's hands are on the wheel.  Read More

The eXom, with its camera head visible at the left, and one of the visual/ultrasound sensi...

Swiss company senseFly is best known for its fixed-wing industrial drones, such as the eBee and swinglet CAM. Parrot, on the other hand, has made its name with its consumer quadcopters. So, now that Parrot has owned senseFly for a couple of years, what's the result? The new senseFly eXom quadcopter, which uses multiple visual and ultrasonic sensors to avoid obstacles and maintain precise autonomous flight.  Read More

A color-changing tree, printed with the new ink British scientists have already looked to principles employed by butterfly wings, as a means of thwarting currency counterfeiters. Now, researchers from China's Southeast University have developed another such technology, that's inspired by a different insect – a color-changing longhorn beetle known as Tmesisternus isabellae.  Read More

One of the mic-bearing NCSU biobots

If you're ever trapped in a collapsed building and are calling for help, you might want to think twice before squashing any cockroaches that wander your way – one of them might have been sent to find you. Researchers from North Carolina State University are currently laying the groundwork for such a scenario, by getting cyborg-like "biobot" cockroaches to move towards sounds. Down the road, such insects may be used to locate victims at disaster sites.  Read More

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