Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

David Greig

Smart Dew security concept

The cost of securing large properties with physical barriers like fences or conventional electronic surveillance systems can be quite prohibitive but a new invention from Tel Aviv University promises a cheap, effective solution in the form of a network of tiny sensors as small as dewdrops. Called "Smart Dew", the devices can be scattered outdoors on rocks, fence posts and doorways, or even indoors on the floor of a bank to serve as invisible security guards with each individual "dew droplet" capable of detecting an intrusion within a parameter of 50 meters (165 feet).  Read More

2005 Space Adventure Ltd client Greg Olsen's captured this view from space view from space

Dr Charles Simonyi has made history by becoming the first person to leave Earth for a second time as a space tourist. Space Adventures, Ltd., the only company that currently provides space missions for tourists, has just announced that their orbital client and his crew have successfully arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) after launching onboard the Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 26.  Read More

NASA wind tunnel tests of the SMART Rotor

Can you imagine a world full of large, relatively quiet rotorcraft making short hops between cities such as New York and Washington, carrying as many as 100 passengers at a time in comfort and safety? This, amongst other technological improvements, would require helicopters with greatly improved rotor blade efficiency, allowing them to travel much quieter, smoother and further with the same amount of fuel. NASA is currently conducting research in their wind tunnels on the SMART rotor hub, which has rotor blades made with shape-changing materials that could one day make this scenario a reality.  Read More

Mercedes Benz truck navigation system

Mercedes Benz has just released its new truck navigation system available on the Atego, Axor and Actros models. The system has maps available for 26 European countries, with a choice of 15 European languages for voice instructions. It takes into account the specific requirements of commercial vehicles (e.g. by providing information on weight restrictions, limited overhead and width clearances, special routes into town centers, etc.) and provides guidance to drivers in unfamiliar surroundings via arrow navigation on the instrument cluster and via arrow and/or map navigation on the 6.5" monitor. The dynamic route guidance courtesy of TMC (the Traffic Message Channel) enables traffic jams and problems to be bypassed, thereby potentially saving time.  Read More

The Tata Nano

The Tata Nano has arrived. The world's cheapest new car at around USD$2500 was first announced in January last year and is now available for sale... but you may have to join the queue. The car is currently being manufactured in limited numbers at the company's Pantnagar plant in Uttarakhand while a new dedicated plant in Gujarat with an annualized capacity of 350,000 cars will not come online until 2010. In the meantime, the first 100,000 cars will be allocated at random to those who've put down a deposit.  Read More

Toyota PHV at the charging outlet

In a world of increasing green house gases and global warming, Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHV’s) appear to be one of the key technologies moving ahead, that hold genuine promise of a reduced carbon footprint. In a partnership between EDF and Toyota this promise looks even more optimistic. Today they announced a major step forward in their joint road-trials in France, involving the release of about 100 PHVs equipped with lithium-ion batteries and an innovative charging infrastructure.  Read More

The Milli-Grip adjustable spanner

When you think you have come across all the tools that could possibly add any value, along comes a new one to the ranks. The Milli-grip spanner, from HTM Products of Sussex, is a "must have" for the home handyman. It is an adjustable spanner that fits metric nuts and bolts from 2mm through to 32mm, in 1mm increments. Through its ratchet system, it eliminates the slippage problems (and associated skinned knuckles) inherent in the traditional shifting spanner/wrench, with its worm-gear operation. Suitable for use by both left and right handed people, the Milli-grip can be adjusted to a precise fit with just one hand in a fraction of the time required with the old shifting spanner. Once locked onto the nut or bolt, it will not alter its setting during use.  Read More

Garmin nüvi 465T truck GPS navigator

Truckers have special requirements for on-road navigation that most of us wouldn't even consider and GPS units that cater for these needs make a good deal of sense. Garmin has now entered this niche with the announcement of the nüvi® 465T, the company's first portable navigation device designed exclusively for over the road long-haul navigation and delivery trucks.  Read More

Movito Electric Scooter

We live in a world where the need for lighter, more efficient vehicles is glaringly apparent, and in recent times designers and automotive manufacturers have ramped up their efforts to meet this challenge. Given this climate it's not surprising to see the enviro-conscious "Movito" scooter design receive accolades in the Create the Future Design Contest. Engineer/Designer Tiam Chiem's Movito is a 2-modular design consisting of an upper scooter chassis and the base which provides the drive via an in-wheel electric motor and hubless front wheel. The modular design allows a range of possible morphs, including multiple bodies to be connected to the base or two bases to be connected in parallel to form a two-seater.  Read More

Hyundai MB-910 watch phone

The idea has been with us for more than half a century and numerous examples have made it to market, so why aren't we all wearing watch phones? Maybe it's a question of usability, maybe the watch phone is just that bit too geeky or maybe it's simply that the right product hasn't yet emerged. Hyundai Mobile is throwing its hat into the ring by announcing of the imminent release of the Hyundai MB-910 watch phone in the UK. The MB-910 is already selling in mainland Europe and features a Bluetooth headset, email client, video playback, music player and touchscreen control.  Read More

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