2015 Detroit NAIAS Auto Show


New affordable wristband device prevents drownings

June 21, 2006 A new wristband device could significantly reduce drownings and near-drownings in swimming pools. The device checks individual swimmers via a small worn wristband, monitoring depth, motion and time. If a bather approaches preset limits the wristband issues a wireless alert via radio and/or ultrasonic transmission. The wristband alarm sounds and the LED lights flash, prompting the swimmer to return to a safer location. If they fail to respond appropriately, the unit issues a full alert to supervisory staff - a feature which reduces 'false-positives', a major problem with many alarm systems. Pool supervisors are highly effective once they recognise that an 'event' is in progress but they are human, and the device gives them and distressed swimmers that vital second chance.  Read More

Installing a 45 tonne, 20 cylinder engine

June 21, 2006 Next time you’re belly-aching about the problems associated with pulling a motor out of the engine bay of your automobile, spare a thought for these guys. They are in the process of building the first of two new 107 metre vehicle-passenger ferries for Hawaii Superferry (HSF). The massive catamarans will be the largest aluminium vessels ever built in the USA and will be used to establish Hawaii’s first high-speed vehicle-passenger service. Each catamaran will carry 866 passengers and 282 vehicles and provide services connecting Honolulu to Maui and Kauai in three hours and from Honolulu to the Big Island in four hours. Each ferry has four 20 cylinder MTU 8000 Series engines, each weighing 45 tonnes and producing 8,200 kw (10,995hp) at 1150 rpm.  Read More

Proibito (Forbidden) Yacht Concept

At just 33 years of age, Christian Grande is very young for a yacht designer with a long professional career and some serious international achievements behind him. In 2005. Grande won the prestigious “Yacht 2005 European Trophy 50/60’Open” design award during the Cannes Boat Show with a nomination for the European Ship of the Year award for his Yacht C52 project for the Sessa Marine shipyard. Now Grande is pushing the edge of the envelope in nautical design again with his Proibito (Italian for “forbidden”) concept. The Proibito is designed to “disappear all the mechanical components of steering and navigation through the utilization of distinctive kinematic systems”, permiting a complete levelling of the deck and the consequent transformation into a completely open yacht. A word of warning – it may look innocent and relaxed and dinghy-like, but with 950 horsepower and a top speed of 60 knots, the Proibito is deceptive in its appearance.  Read More

The coreheat dry-on-the-inside wetsuit

June 5, 2006 The wetsuit was invented in 1951 by UC Berkeley physicist Hugh Bradner to help the U.S. Navy’s “underwater swimmers” who were experiencing difficulties thanks to the advent of the Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) putting them in cold water for long periods. Bradner recognised that divers did not need to be dry to be warm and that thermal insulation could be obtained by air entrapped in the material of the suit … and the wet suit was born. The wetsuit facilitated humans spending long periods in cold water in relative comfort and the protection it affords has been a key enabling factor in the evolution of a host of water-based recreational activities such as sail boarding, body boarding, canyoning, triathlons, swimming, water skiing, diving, sailing and surfboard riding. As the quality of neoprene has improved and wetsuit design has evolved in particular ways for particular sports, the global wetsuit market has grown to somewhere between three and five million units annually. Until recently, wetsuit panels were stitched together, allowing water to enter between the stitching but in recent years, glue-based systems have overcome this problem, though water still enters through the suit’s zipper, plus neck, wrist and ankle openings. Now a new system for preventing water entering the wetsuit altogether raises the possibility of an upmarket, premium drysuit. The coreheat system eliminates many of the problems associated with current wetsuits in that it offers a lighter, more thermally efficient and much more comfortable wet suit that is immune from the cold water flushing which saps the body’s core temperature.  Read More

Fantastic toys for the pool

June 5, 2006 The art of resting the mind is fundamental to replenishing life’s energies and lazing around in a pool on a floater just has to be one of the most potent , readily available and affordable methods of achieving said relaxation. Excalibur Electronics has built what must be the ultimate pool lounger for the playful-at-heart. The US $150 PVC extended armchair has two powerful electric motors driving independent propellers directed by the joysticks on either arm rest, enabling one to propel oneself around one's pool in comfort and style – a nudge here, a squirt there and you can maintain the exact position you wish. Each lounger comes with its own built-in drink holder, but there’s an optional US$50 radio controlled drink holder and snack tray and a US$30 floating radio to complete the suite. Along similar lines but designed for a different, more boisterous form of pool relaxation is the US$185 Ocean Scooter, which is an inflatable , battery-powered electric jet-ski for the pool. If you have a pool, both these toys could considerably enhance your enjoyment .  Read More

50 mph Quadski converts from Jetski to ATV in five seconds

Alan Gibb's Aquada and Humdinga high speed amphibious vehicles have been making the headlines for the last few years, partly because they work, partly because they have compelling feature sets and partly because the Aquada has set a few records, most notably in the hands of Sir Richard Branson. Now there's a new affordable Gibbs amphibian on the way that instantly becomes one of the most desirable recreational vehicles on the planet - it's both a quadbike and a jet ski and converts from one guise to the other at the touch of a button in under five seconds, using the 140 bhp motor to reach 50 mph (72km/h) on both land and water. The design offers a new class of recreational vehicle, along with a range of capabilities that make it ideal for life saving clubs, search and rescue, military, emergency services and aid workers who will be able to reach areas and people no two or four wheel drive vehicle could reach. Gibbs Technologies intends to license the design and technology for the Quadski and is seeking expressions of interest.  Read More

The world’s fastest catamaran

May 25, 2006 At 36.8 metres, Orange II is a very large catamaran, designed that way so it can track straight and true at very high speeds. Almost certainly the fastest boat on the water, in August 2004, Bruno Peyron piloted Orange II in an attempt on the crewed Transatlantic record, missing the mark by minutes but setting a new 24-hour distance record by covering 706.2 miles at an average speed of 29.42 knots. In March 2005, Peyron and a 13-man crew completely blew away the around-the-world sailing record set by adventurer Steve Fossett onboard Cheyenne – Orange II’s new mark of 50 days, 16 hours and 20 minutes eclipsed Fossett’s record by seven days. The magnificent maxi-catamaran is now at the Newport Shipyard in Rhode Island, waiting for the appropriate weather window to begin another record transatlantic attempt. Interestingly, Fossett holds the transatlantic record too – set aboard PlayStation, Fossett raised the outright Atlantic crossing record to a point where it can in some ways be compared to the 100-metre dash in athletics. In order to beat the record, Peyron will need to bring all the ingredients together for a perfect race: smooth straight lines on a direct course for home, a strong and steady wind from the right direction… and a level of human endeavour befitting the ocean: a colossal effort! When he starts his endeavour some time in the next week or two, he will have four days, 17 hours, 28 minutes and six seconds to sail across the Atlantic. The pics take a bit of relating to - check out the image library of Orange II - and when you're looking at the images, you'll suddenly realise how big it is - massive.  Read More

The floating Nackros Villa

Given that we apparently crawled out of the primordial slime in our evolutionary path to becoming human, it’s logical that human beings should have an affinity with the water. It’s not just for rehydration purposes that more than 80% of the world’s population lives near water – water brings comfort and renewal. With technology being energised to unprecedented heights, our ability to live near or on the water can now be enhanced and explored in new ways. We’ve been enthralled by Giancarlo Zema’s fascinating Neptus 60 Cliff Habitat and Trilobis 65 floating home and Marcin Panpuch’s Relocatable Amphibious Sphere House, and we have now found another wonderful variation on the theme of living in harmony with water – the Nackros Villa. Modern Marine Homes was established in 2002 with a vision of waterside living without compromise and within 12 months, the first habited show home was in the water in Varvsholmen, Sweden. Development has been ongoing since with ever-changing materials, technical solutions and functionality tried so the company could develop the concept to commercial reality. The current and now available incarnation is the Nackros Villa –a floating multi-story villa crafted by Swedish architect Staffan Strindberg. The 12x12 metre Villa has six rooms and a kitchen, 178 sq metres of living area, 125 square metres of terrace and 74 square metres of windows but is crammed with technologies to enhance your lifestyle and create an ambience of tranquillity and harmony with nature. The bonus is that you can buy one now. Check the image gallery for some beautiful photos of this extraordinary home and read on for Strindberg detailing his work and the thinking and technologies that went into the concept.  Read More

The Loon

May 24, 2006 “Exhausting hydrocarbons directly into your own lake isn’t much different from urinating in your family room”, states Monte Gisborne. “We need sensible options if we want to leave something for future generations to enjoy… and I believe that water and electricity do mix!” Monte backed up the talk by building a solar-assisted electric pontoonboat and took his family for a 100 mile, 6-day trip down Ontario’s historic Trent-Severn Waterway to evaluate it. Now he’s developed a commercial version called the Loon for sale to environmentally-conscious boaters around the world. The Loon emits no noise and no emissions and carries up to eight passengers in comfort.  Read More

Solar-powered trimaran plans around the world challenge

May 15, 2006 Last December, we reported on the remarkable Swiss SolarImpule Project which aims to circumnavigate Planet Earth by air using solar power. Now another Swiss project plans to circle the planet using a trimaran, propelled by renewable energies. Two distinct itineraries are planned. From 2008 to 2009, the first around-the-world tour, powered by solar energy, will be undertaken with a schedule allowing for 120 days with stopovers. The planned boat will be 30 meters long, 16 meters wide with a solar panel area of 180 square metres. The second around-the-world tour is foreseen for 2010-2011. It will be a voyage without stopovers, powered by solar energy and hydrogen; taking place in 80 days. The project, which has adopted Henry Dunant’s famous quote, “"Only those who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, will!" as its catchcry, is currently seeking sponsors.  Read More

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