Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Good Thinking

The new Direct Vision truck cab is designed to reduce blind spots

A UK team at Loughborough University is proposing a new cab design for lorries that would offer drivers a better view of the road around them, thus potentially saving the lives of pedestrians and cyclists. According to the researchers, the redesign of the cab could offer a 50-percent increase in front and side field of view, compared to traditional cabs.  Read More

With US$15 million up for grabs, XPrize is hoping to inspire a revolutionary set of educat...

Having tasked technologists with challenges as diverse as Ted Talkin' artificial intelligence and bringing Star Trek's iconic tricorder to life, XPrize has now turned its attention to an equally ambitious task. Millions of children around the globe don't have basic literacy skills, presenting a problem that cannot be solved without some big picture thinking. Launching today, the Global Learning XPrize offers US$15 million in prize money for the development of software that teaches children these vital skills in the space of 18 months, without the presence of a teacher.  Read More

Smart's Dancing Traffic Light aimed to capture the attention of pedestrians and incentiviz...

Pedestrians will often ignore the "red man" at pedestrian lights in order to cross the road sooner. Unfortunately, this leads to accidents. Car manufacturer Smart created an experiment to see if it could improve safety at traffic lights by incentivizing pedestrians to wait for the green man.  Read More

The findbox system helps shoppers find the item they want by scanning an example or packag...

Scanning shop shelf after shop shelf in the search for that elusive item can be a frustrating task, particularly if it turns out the item is out of stock. This isn’t just annoying, but it can also mean lost sales as customers leave without buying anything at all. In a bid to help both customers and shopkeepers, Germany-based findbox GmbH has developed the findbox, a kiosk-like device that scans items and packaging, lets shoppers know if a replacement is in the shop and guides them to the right peg.  Read More

Grant Douglas, who suffers from cerebral palsy, helped with the development of the S'up sp...

Most of us take the humble spoon for granted, but for those with conditions affecting their motor control, a regular spoon can be a spill just waiting to happen and enjoying a bowl or cereal, soup or ice cream is a two-person job. But the team at Scotland-based design engineering consultants 4c Design are looking to give people with motor control issues more independence with the S'up Spoon.  Read More

The ButterUp butter knife has a built-in grater to make cold butter easier to spread

Many a sandwich has been ruined by overzealous buttering with fridge-cold butter. The anguish of torn bread may now be a thing of the past, though, thanks to a newly-designed butter knife. The ButterUp knife has a built-in grater to soften butter for spreading.  Read More

A blind test subject prepares to try out the wayfindr system (Photo: RLSB)

Even more so than their sighted counterparts, blind people rely heavily on public transport. In a survey of blind youth conducted by the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB), however, about half of the participants stated that they were uncomfortable using the London Underground. With that in mind, the RLSB's Youth Forum partnered with the ustwo design firm to create a prototype system known as wayfindr. It uses a combination of Bluetooth beacons, an app, and bone conduction headphones to guide users through the subway system.  Read More

Tree of 40 Fruit is a project in which a single tree is modified to bear over 40 different...

A project by artist Sam Van Aken will delight lovers of fruit. The Tree of 40 Fruit is a project in which a single tree is modified to bear over 40 different types of stone fruit.  Read More

Dr Iain Murray and PhD student Azadeh Nazemi with the digital reading system they develope...

From a contact lens that delivers tactile sensations to the cornea, to a 3D-printed ring that reads text aloud in real-time, advances in technology have opened up some groundbreaking ways for the visually-impaired to consume printed content. Researchers from Australia's Curtin University have now unveiled a low-cost reading device that processes graphical information, enabling the blind to digest documents such as bills, PDFs, graphs and bank statements.  Read More

Fitle wants to provide users with a 3D avatar of themselves with which to try on clothes w...

A new service is promising to end the uncertainty of how clothes will look or fit when shopping on the web. Fitle aims to provide users with a 3D avatar of themselves with which to "try on" clothes online. The company says it will eventually offer the world's largest clothes database via partners.  Read More

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