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Good Thinking

SideStix crutches designed for more than just walking

Thirty-eight years ago, a drunk driver hit teenager Sarah Doherty while she was riding her bicycle. She lost her right leg in the accident. An avid athlete, she continued to participate in sports after her recovery, became an occupational therapist, and began adapting rock climbing gear for her own use. That ultimately led to her and her partner Kerith Perreur-Lloyd inventing SideStix, which are forearm crutches designed for active users - like Sarah.Read More

Robotics

NSK develops four-legged robot "guide dog"

Guide dogs for the visually impaired provide an important service and help provide a welcome sense of autonomy to physically-challenged individuals. Unfortunately, the highly-skilled canines require about US$30,000 in training over several months, and always seem to be in short supply. The growing demand for these specialized animal companions gave a group of engineers from Japan's NSK corporation and the University of Electro-Communications just the impetus they needed to design a mechanical solution, and the robotic guide dog was born.Read More

Space

Plan to establish first lunar base and gas stations in space

Imagine if every time you went for on a trip, you had to carry all the fuel required to get you to your destination and back - even if that trip was to a place far, far away, like say Mars. In space there are no refueling options available (yet), and given that propellant makes up over 90 percent of the weight of a spacecraft, this issue is fundamental to saving costs and driving future space exploration. Now the Shackleton Energy Company (SEC) is looking to establish the first operational base to mine ice on the Moon that will be used to produce liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants for distribution to spacecraft via the first gas stations in space ... and the plan is to be open for business by 2020.Read More

Urban Transport

Toyota to show autonomous Prius hybrid and home energy charging station at Tokyo Motor Show

Toyota is to show an autonomous (self-driving) Prius at Tokyo Motor Show. Dubbed the Toyota AVOS (Automatic Vehicle Operation System), the car will be available for members of the public to take "back seat" rides at the show, demonstrating first hand how the Prius can avoid obstacles, be summoned from a parking garage and park itself. There will also be a demonstration of communications-linked electric cars, scooters and electric-assisted bicycles including what is expected to be Yamaha's first production electric scooter. Read More

Electronics

New tech allows lithium batteries to charge faster, and hold charge longer

For those of us using smart phones, an all-too-familiar problem is that of a dead battery. The computing power, as well as the multi-purpose abilities of modern-day phones is nothing short of amazing. However, until battery life catches up with the functionality, we're still forced to carry multiple devices. For example, what good is 32GB of memory to store music and movies if it leaves me with a dead phone after an hour or two of my favorite tunes? Even though my phone can easily handle the music and movie abilities of my iPod, I still carry the iPod. I still have a GPS in my car, even though my phone is more than capable. New technology from Northwestern University is aiming to change all that. Engineers there have created an electrode for lithium-ion batteries - the rechargeables commonly found in our devices - that allows them to run ten times longer, while only taking only one-tenth of the time to charge.Read More

Computers

FXI Cotton Candy USB/HDMI dongle displays Android on any screen

Norwegian startup company FXI has demoed a clever USB/HDMI stick designed to add Android-based smart capabilities to any HDMI or USB-equipped device. Codenamed Cotton Candy, the inconspicuous USB flash drive-shaped dongle packs quite powerful hardware, including a 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 CPU and a quad-core GPU that handles 1080p video. Think of it as perhaps the world's smallest screenless computer.Read More

Music

TonePrint app allows users to change stompbox tones using an iPhone

Playing electric guitar doesn't just require hours of daily practice necessary for smooth scales, clean rhythm and fluid solos, for many players it also involves a seemingly never ending search for that tone, the special something that makes them unique and instantly recognizable. This generally means procuring lots of effects pedals to help shape the signal from the instrument, or looking to existing artists for inspiration. For its TonePrint system, TC Electronic invited a number of today's top players to customize the sonic parameters of a new series of pedals so that users can get instant access to the dream sounds of the pros. Up until now, a TonePrint could only be uploaded to a pedal using a computer and USB cable but the new TonePrint app for iPhone allows players to wirelessly load a tone directly into the pedal via the guitar's pickup.Read More

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