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Loz Blain

Loz Blain

Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.

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— Motorcycles

BMW unveils Concept 101 bagger-style cruiser at Villa d'Este

By - May 27, 2015 33 Pictures

BMW doesn't mess around with its concept bikes. If they make waves, the bikes tend to make it to production. People loved the Concept 90 in 2013, and it quickly became the very popular R NineT production bike. Likewise, the Concept Roadster provided a blueprint for the updated R 1200 R that was released this year. Both these concepts were debuted at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este in Como, Italy, and versions of both made it to production quick smart. So this year's effort, the Concept 101, should not be looked upon as a flight of fancy.

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Halo Back adds an Android-style back button to the iPhone 6 and 6+

This simple device solves one of the iPhone's most annoying usability issues – the fact that you've got to reach all the way up to the top left corner to go back in most menus. The Halo Back is effectively a screen protector for your iPhone that adds a back button just beside your home button, and it's already been funded more than six times over on Kickstarter.

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— Aircraft

Yeair! hybrid gasoline/electric quadcopter boasts impressive numbers

By - May 26, 2015 14 Pictures

One hour of flight time, a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph), a payload of 5 kg (11 lb) – these are big figures for a drone, and figures that are basically out of reach using today's LiPo battery technology. But German startup Yeair! believes it's possible using a hybrid system in which each rotor is driven by two motors – an electric, and a two-stroke 10cc gasoline engine. And the Yeair! team has its sights set on something even more impressive down the track – personal flight in a two-seater hybrid octocopter. The quadcopter of the future, according to German startup Yeair!, will eclipse the performance of current quads by using the fuel of the future… Gasoline. Wait, what?

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— Architecture

Smart Urban Villages: Efficient and sustainable community living

By - May 26, 2015 4 Pictures

For most of human history, we've lived in groups a lot larger than our family unit, and reaped considerable benefits from it. Modern urban life, on the other hand, has moved in a different direction; privacy, disconnection, self sufficiency. Eco-village communities are aiming to buck that trend, and to that end Smart Urban Villages is planning to create medium-density, sustainably designed housing communities with optional shared meals, mortgage-free long term leases and pools of shared vehicles to cut down on car ownership costs.

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— Good Thinking

Greaseless ball bearings: A revolutionary spin on a design that's been around for ages

By - May 26, 2015 3 Pictures

The humble ball bearing is a key component of nearly every device with moving parts, taking advantage of the vastly reduced friction you can achieve when rolling a ball between two surfaces as opposed to sliding them across one another. Now, a Japanese company has come up with a simple design that removes a key component from a typical bearing – the cage that keeps the balls separated as they roll around. Coo Space's Autonomous Decentralised Bearings don't need to be greased, and according to their inventor, this fact alone can reduce their friction by up to 90 percent compared with standard bearings.

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— Health and Wellbeing

TheraTryke combines upper and lower body exercise for paraplegics

By - May 25, 2015 3 Pictures

After taking a look at the Jet Blade hydroplaning watercraft last week, we were alerted to another senior design project from Calvin College, Michigan. A different group of students has designed and prototyped a device they're calling the TheraTryke. Aimed at those with MS, spinal cord injuries, or complete paraplegics, it lets riders use their hands, feet or a combination of both together to propel themselves forward.

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— Motorcycles Review

KTM's 1290 Super Duke R falls mercifully short of expectations

By - May 25, 2015 38 Pictures

KTM's marketing team scared us a bit with its buildup for the 1290 Super Duke R, nicknaming it "The Beast" and pointing at a truly frightening spec sheet: 1,301 cc, 180 raging horsepower, 144 throbbing Newton-meters of torque, in a low-geared streetbike with a nasty attitude. Everything about it screamed "widowmaker," the next in a long line of motorcycles that were too big, too bad and too damn much for a normal rider to handle. But a funny thing happened when I took it out to test it – it didn't kill me. In fact, despite its tarmac-ripping torque and insane power levels, it proved to be a friendly, even encouraging, bike to ride, even when you switch the traction control and ABS off. What kind of black magic is this?

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— Marine

Experimental Jet Blade personal watercraft features tilting front suspension

By - May 15, 2015 33 Pictures

A team from Calvin College, Michigan, is trying to put the "ski" back in "jet ski" with a unique kind of personal watercraft (PWC) that features three skis, a tilting front suspension system and a 650cc engine. Inspired by the dual-ski Wetbike of the 1970s and 80s, and perhaps a little by the bizarre Watercross racing movement, the Jet Blade team has completed prototyping and preliminary water testing.

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— Architecture

Urban Algae Canopy will generate a 4-hectare forest's worth of oxygen

By - May 12, 2015 14 Pictures

London's ecoLogicStudio has demonstrated a full-scale prototype of its urban algae canopy at the "Feeding the Planet" expo in Milan. This "bio-digital" structure sees fluid filled with microalgae organisms pumped around an otherwise transparent shelter to produce dynamic shade, energy in the form of biomass, and an impressive amount of oxygen, while responding to the presence of visitors to produce interesting visual effects.

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