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Ben Coxworth

Science

A touch of silver lets smart windows go from clear to translucent

Imagine if instead of installing curtains or blinds, you could simply adjust the opacity of the glass in your windows. Not only would this allow you to vary the amount of privacy they provided, but it would also let you determine how much sunlight got through, keeping rooms from overheating during the day yet still letting light in later on. Well, that's how the various types of smart windows work. Researchers at Harvard University have now developed one of their own, which they say is simpler and cheaper than what's come before.Read More

Cavities can't hide from tooth-zapping device

Dental cavities are one of those things where the sooner you catch them, the better. Dentists' visual inspections and x-rays certainly help, but a new hand-held device is designed to detect them even earlier. It's called the Ortek ECD (for Early Cavity Detection), and it hunts cavities using electricity.Read More

Bicycles

Bike bits protected by magnets in new security system

If you commute on a nice bike, you not only have to worry about it being stolen, but you also have to guard against its components being pilfered while it's parked. In the past, we've seen systems that replace a bike's standard mounting bolts with ones that can only be removed using a special tool. Do you really want to replace all those bolts, though? That's where Hexlox comes in. It can simply be added to existing hex bolts, making them virtually unremovable by passing thieves.Read More

Mobile Technology

Mobile sonar tech moves fingers off the screen

Using your big ol' fingers to perform tasks on a smartphone's touchscreen can be difficult enough, with the smaller screen of a smartwatch presenting even more of a challenge. It was with this in mind that scientists at the University of Washington created FingerIO. The technology turns mobile devices into sonar systems that are capable of tracking the user's finger movements on nearby surfaces such as desk tops, or even in mid-air.Read More

Insect communications device is kinda buggy

Fireflies are certainly fascinating to watch as they signal to one another with their bioluminescent abdomens, but have you ever wanted to join in the conversation? Well, you apparently should soon be able to do so, with a little help from the Firefly Communicator.Read More

Robotics

Light used to steer muscle-powered bio-bots

It was just a couple of years ago that we heard about how scientists at the University of Illinois were using electrical fields to activate tiny muscle-powered "walking" biological robots – or "bio-bots." Ultimately, it was hoped that such devices could be used for applications such as targeted drug delivery within the body. Recently, however, the researchers made an improvement: the bio-bots can now be steered using light.Read More

Science

Nosy fish inspires help for the eyes

Presbyopia is a common visual condition, in which the eye's lens stiffens to the point that it can't focus on close objects. Glasses, surgery and regular contact lenses do help, but they also cause a loss in contrast, sensitivity and night vision. That's why scientists from the University of Wisconsin, Madison are developing an alternative – self-focusing contacts that are inspired by a fish.Read More

Environment

Backpack-wearing pigeons tweet London air quality readings

Wondering what the air quality is like in London? Well, over the next three days, you can ask a pigeon. More specifically, you can tweet your location to 10 pigeons located throughout the city, each one of which is equipped with a lightweight backpack that monitors ozone, nitrogen dioxide and volatile compounds. You'll receive a tweet back, letting you know just how safe it is to breathe the air in your region.Read More

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