Shopping? Check out our latest product comparisons

Good Thinking

New machine provides power, water and refrigeration

August 6, 2006 When disasters happen, be they natural (hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes etc) or man-made (war), three essentials top the list of must-haves: water, electricity and refrigeration. Now two University of Florida engineers have created a single unit that can provide all three. With further development, it is expected that the unit will be made compact enough to fit onto a large truck. The system marries a gas turbine power plant to a heat-operated refrigeration system. The refrigeration makes the gas turbine more efficient, while also producing cool air and potable water. The turbine can run on conventional fossil fuels, biomass-produced fuels or hydrogen.  Read More

The NEVERFLAT Basketball

August 4, 2006 Founded by Boston Red Stockings pitcher A.G. Spalding in 1876, the globally recognised Spalding brand name continues to grow in stature thanks to constant innovation. One that slipped our attention recently was the introduction of the NEVERFLAT basketball. Though Spalding created the first official basketball in 1894 and basketballs evolved from soccer balls which have been in existence for nearly a century prior, we’ve never had an inflatable sports ball that retains its pressure for one whole year before. The Spalding NEVERFLAT Basketball introduces several new pressure retention technologies and is guaranteed to stay fully inflated for a least one year … 10 times longer than traditional basketballs! The NEVERFLAT ensures you have consistent rebound height for at least one year and given the amount of time we spend maintaining sports balls, that’s a whole lot more fun time for everyone and a killer product differentiator. Now what we need to do, given the importance of tyre pressures in the global automotive fleet, is find a similar solution for car tyres.  Read More

The Hover Creeper floats on thin air

July 31, 2006 It’s not often you can pinpoint the innovation point where a new product concept was formed, but for the Hover Creeper, it was at the point where 73-year-old former Westinghouse Electric engineer Ralph Kalkbrenner said, “Mechanics already have compressed air in their garage for tools, why not take advantage of it” that a better mechanics creeper was conceived – one that quite literally floats on thin air. Kalkbrenner works for Davison Design and Development, and was involved in a project to revitalize the Whiteside product-line and to reinvent the creeper. Rubber air bladders inside the 14-pound Hover Creeper plus 40 psi enable it to effortlessy glide over the hectic landscape of the garage floor, floating over cracks, bolts, washers and other debris that would have stopped a wheeled creeper in its tracks, all with a 300 pound payload on board. Just plug it in and glide under the car. Once underneath, the mechanic hits a lever, letting the creeper land and offering stable leverage to enable the mechanic to apply torque to spanners, something not possible with castor wheels. The mechanic can still use the compressed air; he just plugs the tools into one of the two air outlets on either side of the creeper. And there’s a tool caddy built into the creeper body. We think the Hover Creeper is destined to become a part of every garage. It’s waay cool, high-tech in a no-nonsense sort of way, very practical, looks like fun to use and it's cheaper to own as there are no replacement costs for damaged casters. Since it doesn't have wheels, it's less expensive to make with less waste and replacement.  Read More

Interactive outdoor advertising employs mobile phone

July 10, 2006 With more than 2.5 billion mobile phones in use and saturation reached in most industrialised countries, there are myriad opportunities opening up for additional usage of existing mobile phone functionality, including the ability for advertising sites such as bus shelters, and poster panels interact directly with customers in their vicinity. One such technology platform is the UK-based Hypertag which works by allowing infra-red or Bluetooth mobile phones and PDAs (such as Palm Pilots or Pocket Pcs) to interact with a small electronic tag embedded in the billboard. When the consumer holds their mobile phone up to the Hypertag, they can download assets related to the promotional opportunity such as ringtones, audio and video clips, wallpapers, Java games, vouchers, tickets, instant win prizes, games, animations and … the possibilities are endless. One area that holds enormous promise is that of events and attractions, where for example, a museum could use the technology to offer additional text, audio or video information about each exhibit. Our favourite application so far was hatched in Australia when United International Pictures (UIP) and media agency Mediaedge:cia, partnered with AURA Interactive, The Global Game, and Adshel to launch an original new interactive game inspired by the highly anticipated film, Mission Impossible III. All players who registered on a dedicated website were required to race about their capital city, searching around various city locations for hidden answers to a series of Mission: Impossible themed clues. The clues were delivered using a combination of SMS messaging and Hypertag technology embedded into Adshel bus shelters and street signage, positioned at various sites across each capital city. Consumers accessing the Hypertags could download ringtones, wallpapers or a business card providing a phone number to SMS for the clue.  Read More

The Cocoon reinterprets the coffin

July 5, 2006 Given that people pride themselves on being so individualistic in life, it’s interesting to note that the coffin remains substantially the same rectilinear shape for most people. So we thought the Cocoon deserved a mention as it’s a reinterpretation of the traditional coffin and steps into new territory in terms of its symbolism. The Cocoon shape is borrowed from nature to symbolise a feeling of security and the passage to something new. Nature’s theme of the “perfect shelter” is furthered by the use of renewable fast-growing primary resources (untreated jute and a natural resin) that bio-degrade within 10-15 years. At UE3000 plus shipping, the Cocoon can be delivered anywhere in Germany within 2-3 days and anywhere in Europe within a week. Clearly, there's an opportunity for international distributors of the product.  Read More

The noble sport of scambaiting

July 4, 2006 If you are growing tired of your in-tray being crammed with email scams from third world nations, spare a thought for all those people who didn’t realise they were scams. ScamPatrol reports 15-20 victims a week, with an average victim paying out US$20,000 and some estimates put the global haul from 419 (advance fee fraud) scams at US$1.5 billion. While most of those scammed are the victims of their own greed, it’s interesting to see the rise of internet vigilantism and the evolution of the cyberspace equivalent of big game hunting - scambaiting. Scambaiting is the sport of scamming the would-be scammer and although the concept of vigilantism is a bit scarey, it’s hard to see scambaiting as anything but a noble pastime where a win does the world a good deed. The world’s best Scambaiting exponents display their trophies and teach other would-be-Robin-Hoods how to go about it at sites such as 419Eater, Scambaits, Scamorama and ScamBuster419. Should Scambaiting ever become an Olympic sport, Shiver Metimbers, the administrator of 419Eater, would be a Gold Medal contender. For some of his finest work, including how he got a scammer to carve him a Commodore 64 computer (pictured), read on.  Read More

The Lotus Type 119c soapbox racer

The rise in popularity of gravity (aka soapbox) racing has been spectacular in recent years, and one of the most successful teams has been the Lotus team from the famous motorsport constructor and design studio. Now the team is heading for a showdown at the Brooklands Museum Soapbox Derby on 16 July, 2006. The Lotus Type 119c soapbox racer is the reigning Goodwood Festival of Speed Gravity Racing champion and record holder, beating Bentley and B.A.R in the final event held in 2004. Following the omission of the downhill event from the crowded Goodwood Festival of Speed line-up, attention has turned to the Extreme Gravity Racing (XGR) Series in the USA, and the UK-based Brooklands Soapbox Derby which ran for the first time last year, being won by the gravity racer of another famous motorsport group – Lola. Accordingly, two unbeaten cars will face off for the Brooklands title. The closed-cockpit Lotus Type 119c "streamliner" features an aerodynamically-efficient ultra-light carbon-fibre monocoque, remaining true to the "performance through light weight" philosophy of Lotus founder Colin Chapman. It will be lining up once again against familiar automotive constructors such as Lola, Vauxhall and Ford as well as entries from schools, colleges and privateers. Excellent image library with this story. We have previously covered several extreme gravity racing stories such as Motorsport without the motor, the design of the Volvo Extreme Gravity Car and The billycart goes (WAY) upmarket!  Read More

Wire in Composite technology provides improved protection and packaging for harsh environm...

June 30, 2006 A new solution for the protection of vehicular wiring assemblies from damage, vibration and environmental impact was launched this week at the Defence Vehicle Dynamics Show in the U.K. Wire in Composite (WiC) completely encloses wiring looms in a bespoke composite sleeve, protecting them from damage and permitting designers to improve packaging by laying wires securely side-by-side as opposed to a traditional bundle. Conceived by BERU F1 Systems for motorsport applications in which wiring harnesses must be mounted as low and flat on a vehicle chassis as possible, WiC is equally suitable to aerospace, marine and other ground vehicle applications. WiC looms can be built to virtually any shape or form offering the ability to incorporate sharp bend radii without the risk of strain or chafing found in a conventional harness.  Read More

Personal Biometric Device offers access to multiple facilities

Now this is an interesting key-fob-sized device designed to eliminate the need for employees to use multiple access cards and passwords. The plusID authenticates a user's identity with their fingerprint and enables secure access to buildings and other physical facilities, local and remote computers and networks, and online or onsite financial transactions. The plusID works with existing, installed security infrastructure, making deployment quick and affordable with just one secure wireless device.  Read More

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference Free PodCasts available

June 28, 2006 Once a year, 1000 people are invited to the TED Conference in Monterey, California, to exchange something of incalculable value: their ideas. What happens there has never been shared until now. TED and BMW today announced they will team up to provide a free video and audio podcast series of the best talks delivered at the TED. Starting today, the public can download the talks of former US Vice President Al Gore, Macarthur Award recipient Majora Carter, motivational speaker Tony Robbins, New York Times technology columnist David Pogue, education visionary Ken Robinson, and founder of the non-profit Gapminder Hans Rosling. Additional talks will be released weekly and will feature rock star Peter Gabriel on his work with human-rights group Witness, evolutionary anthropologist Helen Fisher exploring the future of love, X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis making the case for space tourism and photographer Gregory Colbert unveiling the idea of an Animal Copyright Foundation, among others … and it’s all free. The talks are all 18 minutes and are being distributed across multiple formats to reach the greatest audience possible (Flash Video, QuickTime, MPEG-4 video, MP3 audio, VideoEgg, GoogleVideo, iTunes music store). Anyone with a web browser can watch TEDTalks online here or here. The audio and video podcasts can also be downloaded for playback on an iPod or other MP3 player. In the spirit of a free exchange, the podcasts are being released under a creative commons license, allowing them to be redistributed freely for non-commercial use.  Read More

Looking for something? Search our 28,126 articles