Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Ben Coxworth

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

If the FITGuard glows green, the player should be OK

It's an ongoing problem within sports such as football and hockey ... players receive a severe blow to the head, yet they either don't realize that they've got a concussion, or they don't want to tell anyone so that they can keep playing. While there are already some helmet-mounted devices that detect and report such impacts, Force Impact Technologies' FITGuard is built into a mouthpiece – which the company claims is a better approach to take.  Read More

The Lunicycle features an elliptical wheel, offset cranks, and calf braces

Riding a unicycle is kind of like juggling or playing the bagpipes, in that it's infamously hard to master. While some people might say that that's the whole point in learning to do it, others just want to get riding that one-wheeled bicycle ASAP. If you're among the second group, then you might like Inventist's uniquely-designed Lunicycle.  Read More

Users of the NavVis mapping trolley don't have to hide from its cameras

When we first heard about the NavVis system a couple of years ago, it was being developed for indoor navigation. Developed by researchers at the Technical University of Munich, it utilizes maps consisting of location-tagged photos of the hallways of buildings. In order to figure out where they are, users just take a photo of their surroundings using their smartphone, then the NavVis app matches that photo up with one in its map. Now, the technology has been expanded to the point that it could give Google Street View a run for its money.  Read More

Sugar kelp yields a lot of bio-oil – if you put the heat on (Photo: NOAA)

Biofuels may indeed offer a greener alternative to fossil fuels, but they do raise at least one concern – crops grown as biofuel feedstock could take up farmland and use water that would otherwise be used to grow crops for much-needed food. That's why some scientists have looked to seaweed as a feedstock. Kelp is particularly attractive, in that it's abundant and grows extremely quickly, although its fuel yields haven't been particularly impressive. That could be about to change, however, thanks to a newly-developed hydrothermal process.  Read More

The ICE Full Fat is all set for your next 'big expedition'

Last December, British adventurer Maria Leijerstam became the first person to cycle from the edge of the Antarctic continent to the South Pole. She did so on a custom-built recumbent fat-tired tricycle, made by UK-based Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE). Well, although there probably aren't many other people who want to do what Maria did, there no doubt are quite a few who'd like a trike like hers. That's why ICE is now offering the ready-for-anything Full Fat.  Read More

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