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Ben Coxworth

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

Materials

Rubber coating gets a grip on shedding ice

Generally-speaking, hard objects and soft objects don't bond well together. It comes down to a principle known as "interfacial cavitation," in which one surface (the soft one) deforms under pressure, while the other (the hard one) doesn't – as a result, they pop apart. Now, scientists at the University of Michigan have used that principle to develop one of the most ice-repellent coatings ever made. Its applications could range from airplane wings to car windshields to freezers.Read More

Outdoors

Smart paddle coaches kayakers

Sea kayaking is like a lot of other activities, in that just because you enjoy doing it, doesn't mean you're doing it right. If you aren't out there with more experienced kayakers, though, how will you know what to change? Well, that's where Motionize Paddle comes in. It's a system that uses your smartphone to assess and improve your paddling.Read More

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