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 wasn't long ago that we tried out the FlyKly Smart Wheel,
a motorized rear bicycle wheel that instantly turns a regular bike into
an e-bike. Given that it goes in the back, however, it's a little
tricky to put on and take off, plus it leaves you stuck with just one
gear. Belon Engineering's new Electron Wheel avoids those problems, by
replacing the bike's existing front wheel. We recently got to try out an advance demo unit, and it works just as advertised ... although it's a bit of a monster.
Sunlight can be used to generate electricity either through a
photovoltaic effect, or by harnessing the heat produced by the light.
There are already hybrid systems that combine both, but scientists at
Korea's Yonsei University have now developed a type of hybrid setup that
they claim works better.
One of the challenges facing designers of traditional flat solar panels
is the fact that the sun doesn't conveniently stay in one place. This
means that in order for a panel to receive as much sunlight as possible,
it has to pan with the sun as it moves across the sky. While
there are motorized assemblies designed to do just that, they add
complexity, weight and expense to photovoltaic systems. Now, however,
University of Michigan scientists have developed a simpler alternative –
and it's based on the ancient Japanese cut-paper art of kirigami.
Children of the 1970s may recall Kenner's Smash-Up Derby set, in which
two toy cars flew into pieces when they crashed into each other – the
neat thing was, they could then just be snapped back together. Well,
Vantage Robotics' Snap is sort of like the Smash-Up Derby of drones. The
4K camera-packin' quadcopter's main body is attached to the folding
propeller assembly by magnets, allowing it to come off under impact
without incurring any lasting damage.
We've previously heard about wound dressings that kill bacteria,
but now researchers at Australia's Swinburne University of Technology are
taking a different approach. They're creating a dressing material that
attracts bacteria out from within the wound, so that the material and
the microbes can then just be pulled off and discarded.
While some electric cars may have a decent range in places like
California, they're not so impressive in locations with frigid winters.
That's because their battery is powering not only the motor, but also
the cabin heating system. Now, however, engineers at Germany's
Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation are
developing new technology that could keep EV drivers warm, without leaving them stranded.
Cyclists who ride in the rain typically stay dry by wearing
waterproof-yet-breathable jackets and pants. According to Vancouver,
Washington-based engineer Jay Small, however, waterproof cycling gloves
have a harder time keeping out the rain while also letting the sweat
escape. His solution? Use regular dry-weather gloves, and his DriBarz
While many of us may have experienced a bit of queasiness on unusually
rough flights or boat trips, some people suffer from extreme motion
sickness even under relatively calm conditions. Although medication can
help, it also causes side effects such as drowsiness. In a few years,
however, there may be a preferable alternative ... which users would
stick to their head.
While front-loading washing machines do have their advantages, one thing
is better about top-loaders – if you want to add a piece of laundry to a
load that's already being washed, you can just open the lid and chuck
it in. Well, Samsung's new WW8500 AddWash now lets you do the same thing
with a front-loader.
If you want a smartpen – which digitizes your handwriting and transmits
it to a computer or mobile device – you currently have your choice of
models including the Neo Smartpen N2, the LiveScribe Sky or the Orée Stylograph.
All of those pens, however, require you to use special paper that's
unique to that particular product. By contrast, Wacom's just-announced
Bamboo Spark system works with a non-electronic pen and whatever
A5-sized paper you've got on hand.