Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Ben Coxworth

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

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

The MOM incubator, first-prize winner of the 2014 James Dyson Award

James Roberts, a 23 year-old design grad from Britain's Loughborough University, has won this year's international James Dyson Award for his portable inflatable incubator. Called MOM, the device is intended to be a low-cost alternative to traditional incubators, allowing premature babies in places such as refugee camps to survive when they might otherwise perish. Read on for more details on it, along with the three runners-up.  Read More

If this snake bit you, would you know that it was a great lakes bush viper? (Photo: Shutte... When a snake-bite victim shows up at a hospital, it's vitally important for caregivers to know what species of snake bit them. Without that knowledge, they won't know what sort of anti-venom – if any – is required. Making that ID could one day be much easier, thanks to a current study in which species were reliably identified via snake DNA obtained from fang marks in victims' bite wounds.  Read More

The prototype Automatic Ingestion Monitor with its motion sensor visible at the bottom, in...

There are already a number of devices that allow people to keep track of what and how much they eat, in order to help themselves lose weight or maintain a better-balanced diet. Most of these gadgets, however, rely on the user to manually enter the data regarding each meal. The University of Alabama's Dr. Edward Sazonov is working at taking user error/deceitfulness out of the equation, by developing a headset-style diet-tracking device that automatically monitors what its wearer eats.  Read More

The GaffGun straightens, centers and tapes down cords and cables

If you've ever worked in film/television production, special events setup, music production or any number of other similar industries, then you're probably familiar with a particularly unlikable task – taping cables down to the floor, so people don't trip over them. The GaffGun is designed to make that job considerably quicker and easier.  Read More

A Barsha pump at work in Nepal

Climate-KIC, a European-union climate innovation initiative, recently selected a jury of entrepreneurs, financiers and business people to award funding to what they felt were Europe’s best clean-tech innovations of 2014. Taking first place was Dutch startup aQysta, a Delft University of Technology spin-off company that manufactures what's known as the Barsha irrigation pump. It can reportedly boost crop yields in developing nations by up to five times, yet requires no fuel or electricity to operate.  Read More

The new Stealth 2, as compared to Drift's existing Ghost-S

Drift Innovation's line of actioncams are certainly worthy competitors to the venerable GoPro Hero, although some potential buyers might wish that they were a little more compact. Well, the company has addressed that with its new Drift Stealth 2. It's reportedly 48 percent smaller and 42 percent lighter than Drift's Ghost line of cameras.  Read More

The Fuoriserie's walnut wood-veneered top tube

Over its 84-year history, Pininfarina has designed breath-taking cars for the likes of Ferrari, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo. Starting in the 1980s, however, the Italian design firm began branching out into other types of products. Now, it's offering its own house-brand e-bike – the Pininfarina Fuoriserie.  Read More

Where are these robots planning on going? Just check their projected paths

Imagine if you were trying to develop an autonomous robot, and it continually made a mistake but you couldn't tell why. Ultimately, you might end up having to review all the lines of code that made up its programming, hoping that the error would just jump out at you. In order to avoid such scenarios, MIT's Ali-akbar Agha-mohammadi and Shayegan Omidshafiei have created a system known as measurable virtual reality (MVR). It projects a robot's perceptions and intentions onto the floor, so that designers can see what it's thinking.  Read More

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