Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. Having worked for publications such as The Santiago Times and The Conversation, he now writes for Gizmag from Melbourne, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, the city's bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches.
Long before it was popularized by fashion-conscious shoppers and flamboyant hip-hoppers, the word swag simply described a no-frills portable sleeping kit used by happy campers across Australia and New Zealand. The Rescue Swag doesn't depict a stylish liberation mission or a place to rest your head, but it does transform this mainstay of outdoor adventure into a handy first aid kit that can also be used as a sling or splint.
The discovery of fresh fingerprints at a crime scene is a promising step towards determining the culprit, though huge databases still need to be sifted through in order to find potential matches and the culprit's prints need to be included in said databases. So what if many of the suspects could be ruled out before this rigorous search even begins? A new fingerprint identification technology is promising to lighten the load for investigators, by revealing whether prints belong to a male or female.
The lithium-ion batteries that power everything from smartphones to electric vehicles carry a relatively low individual chance of failure, but the sheer quantity in use everyday means the risk of something going horribly wrong somewhere in the world is quite real. Looking to safeguard against such events, a team of scientists has developed a smart chip that can be embedded inside these batteries to monitor their health, offering a warning when it is at risk of catching fire or exploding.
As a strong, lightweight and easily machined material, magnesium alloy holds much promise as an alternative to heavier metals like aluminum, particularly when it comes to transportation. One attribute holding it back, however, is the fact that it corrodes easily. But Australian researchers have discovered an ultra-low density and corrosion-resistant magnesium-lithium alloy that could greatly reduce the weight of cars and planes, in what they describe as the first step toward mass production of stainless magnesium.
Much has changed in camera design over the years, but snapping photos and shooting video still invariably requires a lens to capture light and focus on a subject. But if a camera could somehow replicate this process digitally, making relatively chunky lens attachments completely unnecessary, what would be left to look at? Well, going by new research underway at Rice University, not really much at all. Engineers have produced a functional camera that is thinner than a dime, raising the possibility of tiny, flexible versions that could one day be embedded in everything from your wallpaper to your credit card.
In the last few years we've seen a succession of connected letterboxes designed to modernize your mail by tracking incoming deliveries. But as the amount of shopping being done online continues to grow, so too does the size of the packages we need our mailboxes to regularly handle. One US company is looking to answer the call, with a smart, wall-mounted container that secures big packages as they are dropped off, and can even help arrange for their return.
The US government predicts one million drones will be sold over the coming holiday season. That's a whole a lot of thumbs jerking around unfamiliar joysticks, trying valiantly to prevent a meeting between their shiny new toy and the trees or local ferris wheels. But experienced pilots too will be looking to take their wizardry to new levels with the latest in high-flying hardware. With most consumer models carrying top-notch camera gear and a pretty friendly learning curve, drones made for rookies and experts aren't as different as they once were, though they do still have their own strengths and weaknesses. Let's put four of the big players side-by-side to see how they stack up.
Last year around 2.3 million barrels of oil were pulled each day from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, the third largest oil reserve in the world. This mining process is hugely water-intensive, and though much of it is recycled, it still results in massive pools of polluted wastewater which are difficult to treat and pose a threat to the environment. Canadian researchers have developed a new approach to removing the contaminants using sunlight and nanoparticles, an approach they say will prove much more effective and cheaper than existing methods.
New Balance is the latest footwear company to bring 3D printing into its manufacturing mix, launching a shoe with an advanced sole promised to offer new strength and elasticity. The company says advances in material sciences are behind the high-tech sneakers, along with an apparently fruitful partnership with 3D printing specialists 3D Systems.
Cardiologists have used Google Glass to unblock a coronary artery in a 49-year-old male. Three-dimensional reconstructions of the artery were loaded onto a custom application and displayed through the augmented reality headset during the procedure, better allowing physicians to guide a catheter to the clogged up area.