Decision time? Check out our latest product comparisons

Health and Wellbeing

Gizmo of the Week: the US$44.40 wheelchair

January 19, 2006 It is estimated that there are more than 100 million people in the world who need a wheelchair but cannot afford one. Mechanical engineer Don Schoendorfer had a secure, highly-paid job when he decided he could make a difference during his short stay on the planet, forsaking his job and embarking on a quest to help all those people. Don’s goal is to distribute 20 million of the pictured wheelchairs by the year 2010. Don set up the Free Wheelchair Mission in California in 2001 as non-profit organization committed to providing the gift of mobility to the physically disabled poor in developing countries and has just manufactured its 100,000th wheelchair. The central seat is a plastic garden chair – the use of existing parts enables the wheelchair to be manufactured in China, shipped in knockdown form via container, assembled and delivered to needy people all over the world for a total factory-to-field price of US$44.40. The Free Wheelchair Mission creatively partners with like-minded international humanitarian and indigenous organizations and it also accepts donations. Just think how much difference US$44.40 can make to the life of one human being.  Read More

Personal cooling kits for extreme climatic conditions

January 2, 2006 The human body is a remarkable thing, as is evidenced by its ability to adapt to less than ideal conditions. The temperature in the cockpit of a Formula 1 racing car sometimes reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit, with the driver required to drive consistently within the 99th percentile of perfection for up to 90 minutes under this overwhelming heat stress whilst racing wheel-to-wheel, experiencing enormous G-forces and constantly processing large amounts of additional information. Now consider the equivalent stresses experienced by combat soldiers in Iraq. HMMWV crews in IRAQ are experiencing temperatures as much as 10 degrees more than this, for up to 12 hours at a time, while people are trying to kill them. The problem has been exacerbated in recent times by additional armour fitted to the HMMWV and has resulted in the rapid development of personal cooling kits. Each HMMWV cooling kit consists of four water-filled vests known as, Air Warrior Microclimatic Cooling Garments (MCGs). The vests fit over a soldier’s normal body armor and are connected via hoses to a vehicles’ on-board air conditioning system. One wonders if Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher might be able to squeese an extra tenth of a second here and there if they were fitted with such parephenalia.  Read More

Razorba - the shaver for backs!

December 13, 2005 Stand in front of the mirror when you get up tomorrow morning and you’ll notice more than a few reminders that man descended from the apes – an unhealthy disposition when threatened and a liberal sprinkling of hair are the most obvious. Males of the species range from growing hair on their heads to hair all over their body and personal grooming preferences often necessitate shaving some or all of this hair regularly. We’ve already covered the shaver designed specifically for shaving heads, and now there’s an equally ingenious shaving accessory for shaving your back – until now, everybody has had to employ the indulgence ofa friend to successfully shave their inaccessible regions. Now you need just slip their favourite razor into the Razorba and shave yourself. All of the alternatives have major drawbacks - chemicals (costs, needs volunteer, potential skin irritation), laser treatment (costs muchos, requires appointment), waxing (costs, hurts muchos) are the sum total of ways man has used technology to combat this age-old problem. So you can see why Razorba should be commended for a job well done!  Read More

New hangover cure could change the culture

December 9, 2005 The launch of a promising new hangover cure in Las Vegas next week marks an interesting time to reflect on man’s relationship with alcohol. Cheerz is a safe, natural nutrition supplement that has been clinically proven to combat hangover symptoms such as headaches and nausea by bolstering the body's ability to process acetaldehyde, alcohol's most toxic metabolite. The world per capita consumption of alcohol is higher than ever, having begun at the dawn of civilisation, with the Celts, Ancient Greeks, the Norse, Sumerians, Egyptians, Romans and Babylonians all producing, trading and consuming alcoholic drinks. The Romans and ancient Greeks both worshipped Gods of wine – Dionysus and Bacchus respectively. In different cultures, alcohol and its effects have been used medically, ritualistically and socially in many different ways to calm feuds, give courage in battle, seal pacts, celebrate festivals, and seduce lovers. The world has two billion alcohol drinkers of which 76.3 million have diagnosed alcohol use disorders. The global burden of alcohol consumption, is immense - causing 3.2% of deaths and 4.0% of the Disability-Adjusted Life Years lost along with widespread social, mental and emotional consequences. These are reflected, for example, as absenteeism or abuse in workplaces and in relationships. We attempted to estimate the number of hangovers and reduced productivity in the world each day and gave up – it’s a lot. Which all adds up to … bloody good idea! The vast majority are social drinkers who can now enjoy the desirable effects without the unhealthy toxicity. So if bartenders are going to ask customers to name their poison, maybe they should offer the antidote, too.  Read More

The Personal Radiation Detector

December 7, 2005 The GammaRAE II is a gamma radiation detector designed for first responders, but hey, it’ll come in handy if you never use it. Features include fast two second response as well as certified intrinsic safety for use in hazardous environments and the ability to be immersed in water for decontamination. The detection instrument, the GammaRAE II, detects gamma radiation at extremely low levels and is designed to alert first responders to the presence of radioactive material and aid in the capture of illicit "dirty bomb" materials. Designed as a front-line security device, this product provides life-critical, real-time detection of hidden radiation sources and delivers instantaneous feedback to law enforcement personnel including municipal police departments, border check-point personnel, hazmat teams, fire fighters and cargo port screeners. At US$995 it just might be a big seller this holiday and gift-giving period.  Read More

The Bionic Hand takes shape

December 4, 2005 The popular television series The Bionic Man was probably the first inkling most of us had that one day man would be enhanced by machinery to better-than-new condition. The promise has been a long time in coming, but medical scientists across the world are advancing towards the implementation of bionic limbs. In July we reported on the work of Brazilian doctor Miguel Nicolelis, and now the CYBERHAND Project, which involves collaboration between six tertiary institutions across four countries (Spain, Germany, Italy and Denmark) has finally produced a bionic hand. The project team led by Paolo Dario with Professor Maria Chiara Carrozza leading the development of the hand, has been working on re-creating the natural link which exists between the hand and the Central Nervous System (CNS) and if all goes according to plan, the first of these bionic hands will be implanted inside a real human arm within two years.  Read More

Bone exercise monitor for potential osteoporosis sufferers

December 1, 2005 Osteoporosis is a serious health problem in most industrialized countries where 50% of women and 25% of men over 50 years of age will suffer an osteoporotic fracture. Over 75 million people are afflicted by osteoporosis in Europe, USA and Japan alone. Bone exercise is one the things that can significantly reduce the impact of osteoporosis and has led to the development of a new Bone Exercise Monitor which indicates whether the person using it has engaged in physical activities that may have been helpful in strengthening their bones. The Finish-developed Newtest Bone Exercise Monitor is a small device worn on the hip, and offers an excellent tool for 30 – 50 year-old women to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of their bone exercise. The monitor measures and analyses the user’s physical activity in real-time and indicates the percentage of the required daily bone exercise that has been achieved.  Read More

Hot Lids a Very Cool Idea

November 2, 2005 We’ve discussed the peculiar human trait of heating liquids to boiling temperature and pouring it on the second most sensitive area of our bods once before when we wrote about the ingenious Brugo Travellers mug. Now we’re proposing an equally ingenious solution for the take-away coffee industry – a colour changing disposable beverage lid that indicates the temperature of the liquid inside and clearly indicates that the lid is securely in place. The "smart" lid alerts consumers that the contents are hot by changing from coffee brown to bright red in colour with the colour range designed to indicate the temperature, enabling regular customers to “read” the temperature of their coffee. It’s a small but significant product upgrade, adding significant functionality to the old dumb coffee lid at a price of US$0.01 (a cent to you) per item for the approximately 50 billion take-away cup a year United States marketplace, with the European and Asian take-away coffee markets believed to be of similar magnitude. The company’s product development plans for the subsequent generation of coffee cups are even more ambitious.  Read More

The automotive airbag turns 25 years old

October 29, 2005 It is now 25 years since the first production car to be fitted with an airbag, a Mercedes-Benz S-Class Saloon, rolled off the production line – the culmination of over 13 years of development work and the beginning of a new era in vehicle safety. According to accident research, the airbag has saved over 14,200 human lives in the USA to date; in Germany, meanwhile, the airbag has prevented over 2,500 fatal injuries to car occupants since 1990. Mercedes-Benz offered the airbag long before any other car manufacturer and has so far fitted the airbag to more than twelve million vehicles. It has been fitted as standard in all passenger cars displaying the Mercedes star since October 1992. In recent years, Mercedes engineers have continued to develop airbag technology, for example by introducing side airbags and systems that adapt in line with the severity of the accident. Airbags are also set to become an integral part of the PRE-SAFE anticipatory occupant protection system, equipped with new, anticipatory sensors which will enable them to deploy in advance of a possible accident so as to reduce the forces exerted on the car occupants both before and during any impact. For the same reasons, the airbags of the future will also take into account individual parameters such as the body size, sex and age of the occupants.  Read More

First-Ever Global Outdoor Advertising Campaign

October 28, 2005 The first-ever global outdoor advertising campaign, was announced today - a global HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in conjunction with UNICEF. The powerful image that will be seen in more than 50 countries on six continents was also unveiled - a hand-drawn family portrait of a young girl standing beside the graves of her mother and father. The campaign hopes to raise global awareness of the need to help the world's children who are affected and infected by HIV and AIDS  Read More

Looking for something? Search our 29,005 articles