2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Electronics

The Blunt + Tile umbrellas feature a built-in tracking device, aimed at helping you hunt d...

An umbrella hastily snatched on the way out the door can easily become another item left behind, as the weather clears up and we continue on our merry, baggage-free way. But what if your brolly had a tracking device built-in, meaning when it is misplaced you can simply whip out your phone and hone in on its whereabouts? High-end umbrella maker Blunt has teamed up with Bluetooth-tracker specialists Tile to produce what it calls the first smart umbrella, looking to make sure you're never caught unprepared again.  Read More

Users of the NavVis mapping trolley don't have to hide from its cameras

When we first heard about the NavVis system a couple of years ago, it was being developed for indoor navigation. Developed by researchers at the Technical University of Munich, it utilizes maps consisting of location-tagged photos of the hallways of buildings. In order to figure out where they are, users just take a photo of their surroundings using their smartphone, then the NavVis app matches that photo up with one in its map. Now, the technology has been expanded to the point that it could give Google Street View a run for its money.  Read More

A sample of the MoS2 material that could be the basis for piezoelectric devices that are o...

Researchers from Columbia University and the Georgia Institute of Technology are laying claim to having observed piezoelectricity in an atomically thin material for the first time. The effect was demonstrated in the world's thinnest electric generator made from a two-dimensional molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) material, which had previously been predicted to exhibit such properties.  Read More

The new phosphors can be tuned to emit a variety of colors, including a 'warmer' white tha...

Everybody loves LEDs, as they're far more efficient and longer-lasting than traditional incandescent bulbs. They're also more economical to use in the long run, although they're costlier on a per-bulb basis. That price gap could soon be closing, however, as scientists have discovered a cheaper alternative to one of their most expensive ingredients.  Read More

The Yubi Navi concept aims to make on-foot navigation more intuitive (Photo: Stephen Cleme...

Anyone who’s walked down the street using their smartphone for navigation will know that it’s not an ideal solution. While the service itself is invaluable, the need to constantly keep glancing down at the display to check you’re heading in the correct direction can be more than a little tedious. NTT Domoco’s Yubi Navi is a prototype device that looks to simplify on-foot navigation, replacing visual, on-screen prompts with subtle, tactile cues.  Read More

The 'smart' lithium-ion battery developed at Stanford features an ultrathin copper sensor ...

There have been numerous cases of lithium-ion batteries catching fire in everything from mobile phones and laptops to cars and airplanes. While the odds of this occurring are low, the fact that hundreds of millions of lithium-ion batteries are produced and sold every year means the risk is still very real. Researchers at Stanford University have now developed a "smart" lithium-ion battery that would provide users with a warning if it is overheating and likely to burst into flames.  Read More

A supercapacitor-based charger currently under development can load up in only five minute...

An Oxford-based startup has turned to crowdfunding to help develop Zap&Go, a phone charger with an emphasis on speed and portability. Thanks to a graphene supercapacitor and an ad-hoc power supply, the device will reportedly charge to its 1,500-mAh capacity – enough to fully charge an iPhone 5s – in only five minutes and promises to be a much more practical solution than current alternatives, particularly when traveling.  Read More

The Leia Display System (LDS) projects images onto an interactive mist, which can then be ...

The recently-unveiled Leia Display System (LDS) is a lot like a large touchscreen – but with one important difference: its screen is not solid, but rather made from mist. This means you can walk right through the screen, manipulate displayed images using hand gestures reminiscent of Minority Report, or even interact with the display using your whole body.  Read More

The reflection of a user's finger 'touches' a museum artifact, causing a projected pop-up ...

Perhaps you've been in a situation where you noticed that your reflection in a window looked like it was actually standing amongst the items that were visible through that window. Now, scientists at the University of Bristol have taken that phenomenon and incorporated it into an experimental new interactive display. Among other things, it lets users select objects seen through a pane of glass, using the reflection of their finger on that glass.  Read More

Origami's guts on display at MakerCon (Photo Credit: Eric Mack/Gizmag)

When I covered MakerCon last month in New York for Gizmag, literally one of the first things I did was text a photo of the 45-lb (20 kg), tote-able laser cutter to my friend who owns a shop back home in New Mexico. As it turns out, that's exactly the type of consumer Pittsburgh startup Red Ant hopes to target with its Origami.  Read More

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