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Ben Coxworth

The closed-system Blue Diversion toilet is designed for off-grid use

Two years ago, an off-grid closed-system toilet known as the Diversion won an award at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's "Reinventing the Toilet" fair. Created by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and now called the Blue Diversion, it recently also won the title of Most Innovative Project (Europe/West Asia), as bestowed by the International Water Association. So, what makes it so special? Well, for one thing, the same water that flushes it is subsequently used in its hand-washing sink.  Read More

Smartphones with simple lens attachments might soon be able to analyze fluid samples (Phot...

We've recently seen a number of projects aimed at creating Star Trek-like medical tricorders, that take the form of stand-alone electronic devices built specifically for the purpose. Now, however, scientists at the University of Houston are taking an approach that's currently popular in many other areas of product design – they've asked, "Why build a whole new device, if a smartphone can provide the electronics?". The result is a proposed phone lens attachment, that could be used to diagnose diseases in real time.  Read More

The Allo holds the phone and plays the tunes

We've seen plenty of smartphone mounts for bikes, along with a lot of handlebar-mounted speakers. The Allo speaker/case, however, is claimed to be the first device to combine the two in one unit.  Read More

The Foldscope is made mostly of cardstock, and can be shipped flat-packed

According to the World Health Organization, there were approximately 207 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2012, 627,000 of which proved fatal. Unfortunately, the disease most often occurs in developing nations, where diagnostic equipment may not be available. This means that doctors can't determine the particular strain of malaria from which a patient is suffering, and thus don't know which medication will work best. Manu Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering at the Stanford School of Medicine, hopes to change that ... using his disposable folding paper microscope.  Read More

One of the EyeGo adapters, used for examining the retina

When it comes to thoroughly assessing the condition of someone's eyes, it's usually necessary to utilize large, expensive contraptions such as those found in an ophthalmologist's office. While that's OK in some situations, physicians in rural areas or developing nations might not have access to such technology. Additionally, emergency room personnel typically need information on-the-spot, ASAP. That's why two scientists from Stanford University have created the EyeGo system, which allows smartphones to do the job.  Read More

One of the new injectable pressure sensors

When people have nerve problems such as those caused by spinal injuries, they can lose the ability to feel when their bladder is full. This means that they don't know when it needs to be emptied, resulting in a build-up of pressure that can damage both the bladder and their kidneys. Now, a tiny sensor may offer a better way of assessing their condition, to see if surgery is required or if medication will suffice.  Read More

The Snapzoom allows a smartphone to take telephoto snapshots through a set of binoculars

Chances are that you already carry a smartphone with you wherever you go, and if you're a wildlife-watcher, hiker, or sporting-event spectator, then you likely also have a pair of binoculars. Well, the Snapzoom is a new product that brings those two devices together – it lets you get telephoto snapshots of distant subjects, by holding your phone's camera lens in alignment with one lens of your binoculars. I recently got a chance to try the thing out for myself, and liked what it had to offer.  Read More

Combined with Google Glass, the Ubic system could be used to thwart PIN thieves

While many of us worry about the ways in which Google Glass could be used to infringe on peoples' privacy, scientists at Saarland University in Germany have instead developed a process in which the high-tech eyewear could ensure privacy. More specifically, it would keep shady characters from obtaining your PIN while you used an automated teller.  Read More

Samples of Fraunhofer's wood foam insulation

Insulating your home may help the environment by lowering your energy usage, but unfortunately the petroleum-based foam that's typically used as insulation isn't all that eco-friendly itself. Researchers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, however, have developed a reportedly greener alternative that they claim works just as well – it's foam made from wood.  Read More

The GoPhone lets an iPhone 5/5s and a GoPro Hero 'be as one'  Despite the incredible popularity of the GoPro Hero actioncam, it still lacks one very basic feature – a viewfinder. You can use your smartphone as a remote viewfinder via the camera's Wi-Fi signal, but for users who want to get hand-held shots, that involves holding onto two devices. That's where the GoPhone comes into the picture.  Read More

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