UK supermarket Tesco says it will update the voice and phrases of its self-service checkouts. This, in itself, is nothing notable, but the reasoning behind it tilts at a broader issue: how we expect computers and robots to address us. Tesco's opinion? We don't want them bossing us around.
While city dwellers may be used to railway crossings marked with
flashing red lights, the easier-to-miss warnings at rural crossings
often just consist of a sign. That's because there's no easy way of
providing electricity to such isolated locations. While solar panels
could provide part of the solution, a team of engineering students and
faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln believe that photovoltaics
alone can't consistently provide enough power. Instead, they devised
several systems that harness power from the rails themselves.
Here's a neat idea from a young designer based in Bath, England. The BATH °C Thermo Colour Map offers a new take on the tourist map by highlighting certain areas of the city that are most suitable to visit, depending on the weather.
We already know that cardboard isn't just for packaging, but US company Ernest Packaging Solutions recently pushed the envelope to create a cardboard skateboard deck. The deck was put through its paces by pro-skating legend Tony Hawk.
Many of the more than 7,000 islands in the Philippines lack access to electricity, so after the sun goes down light usually comes by way of kerosene lamps. While cheap, these fire hazards are bad for the environment and human health. This, combined with the cost of keeping them burning has given one startup the impetus to build a better solution. The SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting) lamp burns for eight hours at a time running on only a glass of water and two teaspoons of salt.
Whether they're floods, earthquakes or landslides, natural disasters
have a nasty habit of cutting survivors off from aid by destroying
bridges. While traditional portable bridges can already be set up in
such situations, researchers from Hiroshima University recently
demonstrated a new model that is said to be "the world’s fastest,
largest, strongest, and lightest expanding temporary bridge."
Highway barriers could deliver more than just noise protection if a test currently underway in the Netherlands proves successful. The colorful roadside barriers incorporate luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) which transfer light to conventional solar panels at the side in order to generate energy.
There are now a number of powered exoskeletons either on the market or in development, all of which allow people who lack the use of their legs to walk in an upright position. The ReWalk
device is without doubt the best-known, having been commercially
available since 2012. This week, ReWalk Robotics announced the sixth
version of the product, which is reportedly better-fitting, faster and
less bulky than its predecessors.
When an earthquake or tsunami hits, even a few seconds warning can be the difference between life and death. A new home device is aimed at providing personalized warnings for individuals. The Brinco is a networked seismic warning and monitoring system with an accompanying mobile app.
While a lot of gamers are eagerly anticipating the release of Fallout 4, not all of them have been moved to develop a functioning weapon inspired by the Fallout universe. German cyberweapons hobbyist Patrick Priebe has done just that, however, creating a one-off lighter fluid-fueled rifle ... that shoots foam earplugs.