Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Ben Coxworth

The Dexmo Classic (left) and F2

What happens when you're immersed in a virtual world – such as a game – and you want to use your real-world fingers to control your virtual fingers in that world? Well, we've already seen a number of sensor-equipped gloves, but China's Dexta Robotics is taking what it claims is a more cost-effective approach. Its Dexmo is an exoskeleton for your hand, which can even provide the user with a limited sense of touch.  Read More

The LittleBig Bike, in its larger-frame-but-still-no-pedals configuration

It's one of those "givens" of raising a child – as they get older, you have to get them bigger and more advanced bicycles. That can get a bit costly, so Irish entrepreneur Simon Evans designed an alternative. His LittleBig Bike can be converted from a small balance bike to a larger one, and then to a pedal bike.  Read More

Prof. Jason Heikenfeld with the prototype patch (left) and the upcoming Bluetooth version ...

Nobody likes having blood samples drawn. What's more, such samples typically have to be analyzed in a lab before they're able to tell us anything. Now, however, scientists at the University of Cincinnati and the US Air Force Research Laboratory are developing a system in which a Band-Aid-like skin patch is able to gather and transmit medical data in almost real time, by analyzing the patient's sweat ... and you just need a smartphone to read it, no poking or prodding required.  Read More

Orfos' Flare lights are made to be seen

When it comes to bike lights for commuting, there's one thing you have to remember ... they're needed more for being seen than for seeing the road. With that in mind, many head- and tail lights are designed not just to cast beams in front of and behind the bike, but to be seen from all directions. Seattle-based Orfos' Flare lights appear to do a particularly good job in that department, plus they feature a unique mounting system.  Read More

China's used cooking oil may soon find use fueling airliners  (Photo: Shutterstock) Two years ago, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner became the first biofuel-powered aircraft to cross the Pacific Ocean. It was actually running on a biofuel/regular jet fuel mix, with the biofuel derived mainly from used cooking oil. Now, in the interest of ensuring a consistent supply of that biofuel, Boeing has partnered with Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) to produce it in a pilot plant.  Read More

Fiber optic sensors may help reduce the death toll in landslides, by providing an early wa...

Landslides kill thousands of people every year, so it should come as no surprise that various systems have been developed in an effort to predict when they're about to occur. One of the most recent innovations, developed by scientists at Italy's Second University of Naples, utilizes fiber optics to create a sort of watchable "nervous system" of the slope that's being monitored.  Read More

The wolffepack, doing its swingin' thing

Backpacks are certainly a convenient way of schlepping your stuff around, but they do have at least one shortcoming – you have to take them off to get at what's in them. British engineer David Wolffe set out to address that, with his wolffepack. It features a tethered detachable cargo section, that can be swung around in front of the wearer as needed.  Read More

The system should give drivers a better idea as to whether their current charge level will...

If there's one thing that keeps people from buying electric cars, it's range anxiety – what if your battery runs out before you reach your destination? Although most EVs do feature systems that estimate range, they can't always be relied upon. A new software system, however, is said to be accurate to within two miles.  Read More

Deaf mice have regrown synapses that allow them to hear – a treatment for humans might be ...

There may be new hope for people who have lost some of their hearing due to exposure to loud noises, or simply due to aging. Scientists from the University of Michigan and Harvard University have restored hearing in mice, by getting them to create more of a protein within their ears.  Read More

The Visio.M on the test track, earlier this year

Three years ago, we first heard about the Mute electric concept car. Created via a collaboration between 20 departments at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM), it was designed chiefly to be efficient, inexpensive and safe. A project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research followed, in which a consortium of over a dozen companies (including TUM, Daimler and BMW) set about designing a Mute-based city car known as the Visio.M. That two-seater car is now complete, and is being revealed to the public for the first time this week.  Read More

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