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.
Cyclists already have their pick of several brands of Google Glass-like smart glasses, which display data in riders' peripheral vision – this means that they don't have to look down at a cycling computer or smartphone display, taking their eyes off the road in the process. However, what if they already have a pair of "dumb" glasses that they want to keep using? Well, that's where Garmin's Varia Vision add-on comes in.
Quite a few people listen to music while using a treadmill, with the idea being that they'll walk/run more or less in time to the beat. Utilizing the Android-based Running Music feature on Technogym's Unity treadmill console, however, things are a little different – the music selection changes to suit the cadence of the user.
Helicopters may be able to take off and land from places that fixed-wing airplanes can't, but those whirling exposed rotor blades still keep them out of tight spaces. That's why Israel's Tactical Robotics Ltd created the AirMule. It's an unmanned VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft, which features lift rotors that are safely enclosed inside its body. Although we first heard about it two years ago, the prototype just recently made its first untethered test flight.
When Brent Christensen moved from California to Utah several years ago, he took advantage of the colder climate by building his kids a backyard ice rink … although that rink also included an ice slide, an ice cave, and a 20-ft (6-m) castle-like ice tower. People saw it, they liked it, and the Ice Castles business was born. Since then, Christensen and his team have built their elaborate Ice Castles in a few select American cities every winter. Last month, however, they began construction on a castle in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – their first-ever creation outside the US. We dropped by, to get a first-hand look at the construction process.
With regular ceiling-mounted sprinkler systems, the whole room gets soaked when fire is detected – even if the flames themselves are just in one part of the room. London-based tech firm Plumis, however, is out to change that. The sprinklers for its Automist Smartscan system are located in the walls, and they only target areas where fire is present. As a result, the system reportedly uses 90 percent less water, causing much less water damage while offering the same fire-fighting performance as ceiling systems.
Early next year, the Pedalist, e-fox, Elf and Tripod could all be in for some competition. That's when Illinois-based inventor Eliel Rojas plans on launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund production of his human/electric hybrid vehicle, the Ego Urban Transporter. Like those other models, it's what's known as a velomobile – a pedal-powered tricycle enclosed within an aerodynamic shell. Also like them, it's a velomobile that stands about as tall as a car. Its rider, however, stays pretty laid-back.
Before flexible electronic devices can become commonplace, there needs to be a practical way of manufacturing reliable stretchable circuitry. While some solutions are already in development, Panasonic recently announced one of its own – a soft, flexible polymer resin film combined with transparent electrodes and a conductive paste.
Having a touchscreen on your PC could certainly be handy at times, but perhaps not enough so to bother replacing your whole computer with a new one. Well, that's where Neonode's AirBar comes in. It's a slim module that magnetically attaches below the screen of an existing PC that's running Windows or Chrome, instantly providing it with touch functionality.
We generally picture lasers as being encased within hard housings, much like most other electronics. Thanks to research being conducted at Kent State University and Japan's Kyoto Institute of Technology, however, we could soon see sensors or other devices that incorporate stretchable laser-emitting rubber.
You could certainly be forgiven for thinking that the term "digital sundial" is simply an example of an oxymoron, not unlike "jumbo shrimp" or "deafening silence." That hasn't stopped French Thingiverse member Mojoptix from building one, however. It contains no electronics or moving parts, yet it still shows the time from 10:00 to 16:00 in a changing numerical display – with a little help from the sun.