Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Good Thinking

The Nutshell, by designer Eden Lew

If you spend your workday in a busy office, you'll know how difficult it can be to switch off and take a proper break. With this in mind, designer Eden Lew has conceived a wearable isolation pod called the Nutshell that aims to improve the quality of break times.  Read More

Multi-sensory 3D maps give spoken directions and building information when touched, along ...

Getting around unfamiliar public spaces can be tough even with all your senses, but if you can't see where you're going it's downright intimidating. A new multi-sensory model promises a brighter future, though, with 3D maps that give spoken directions and building information when touched. The technology comes courtesy of a collaboration between tactile-graphics company Touch Graphics and the University of Buffalo's Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center), and while it was designed specifically to help visually-impaired people, it's also meant to show off the potential of tangible touch interfaces.  Read More

A 3D view of Fidelity Labs StockCity via Oculus Rift headset

Fidelity Labs, the R&D think-tank within Boston-based financial services company Fidelity Investments, has unveiled a new way for investors to literally explore the investment landscape. With similarities to the popular SimCity urban planning game, its online StockCity program displays an investment portfolio in the form of a city skyline, with an option to go 3D using an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.  Read More

It isn't quite a match for the Nike MAGs from Back to the Future II, but the Powerlace aut...

Auto-lacing shoes are here, finally. And pretty well right on schedule. Thirty years after Back to the Future II sold the world on the concept in a fictional 2015, a startup called Powerlace in St Hubert, Canada has created a shoe that's claimed will pave the way for a paradigm shift in the shoe industry. The company's system uses a pressure plate in the heel to tighten shoes and a level at the lower rear end to release them, with an adjustment puller near the tongue.  Read More

The Van Gogh-Roosegaarde cycle path glows in the dark to shows cyclists the way

Cycling can be a precarious activity, especially in the dark. A new cycle path designed by Studio Roosegaarde, however, aims to make cycling in the dark a touch safer, whilst introducing an artistic element. The Van Gogh-Roosegaarde in Eindhoven glows in the dark to show cyclists the way.  Read More

UK supermarket Sainsbury's is set to trial a new app via which customers can pay for their...

No-one likes spending any longer at the supermarket than they have to. Whilst self-service checkouts may have sped things up a touch, one UK supermarket is now set to trial doing away with checkouts altogether. The new Sainsbury's app lets users scan items at the shelf and pay via their smartphone.  Read More

Sung Woo Park's Rolling Bench - rotate it around and you've got a dry seat.

Here's a cute idea from designer Sung Woo Park, from Seoul in South Korea. It's a park bench that rotates with the turn of a handle, so if it's been raining, you can rotate it around to sit on the dry side.  Read More

The MOM incubator, first-prize winner of the 2014 James Dyson Award

James Roberts, a 23 year-old design grad from Britain's Loughborough University, has won this year's international James Dyson Award for his portable inflatable incubator. Called MOM, the device is intended to be a low-cost alternative to traditional incubators, allowing premature babies in places such as refugee camps to survive when they might otherwise perish. Read on for more details on it, along with the three runners-up.  Read More

The GaffGun straightens, centers and tapes down cords and cables

If you've ever worked in film/television production, special events setup, music production or any number of other similar industries, then you're probably familiar with a particularly unlikable task – taping cables down to the floor, so people don't trip over them. The GaffGun is designed to make that job considerably quicker and easier.  Read More

A Barsha pump at work in Nepal

Climate-KIC, a European-union climate innovation initiative, recently selected a jury of entrepreneurs, financiers and business people to award funding to what they felt were Europe’s best clean-tech innovations of 2014. Taking first place was Dutch startup aQysta, a Delft University of Technology spin-off company that manufactures what's known as the Barsha irrigation pump. It can reportedly boost crop yields in developing nations by up to five times, yet requires no fuel or electricity to operate.  Read More

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