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December 14, 2006 Students from Cranfield University, one of Western Europe’s largest academic centres for strategic and applied research development and design, have been awarded the innovation prize at The Société des Ingénieurs de l'Automobile’s (SIA), Styling and Technical competition for designing ‘The Most Affordable Dream Car’. The Dscar has four wheels positioned in a diamond shape around the car’s chassis and apparently it handles like a go-kart. Designed primarily for extreme sports lovers and for weekend or track day use only, the car provides a very different ride – it’s very light, just 500kg, and powered by a Toyota 3 cylinder 68bhp engine. The DScar is made from mass produced car parts, so can be manufactured very easily and economically. A panel of international experts recognised DScar for its radically different diamond shaped design, unique style and unusual driving experience. Read More
December 14, 2006 Zytek has already proven its knowledge of powertrains and electric vehicle many times over, on and off the racetrack. Now, in collaboration with a UK Government initiative, the British engineering consultancy has developed a novel diesel hybrid powertrain that will be affordable in the most popular market segments. The new technology will allow vehicle owners to drive across London’s extended congestion charge zone for just four pence. The low-cost, high-efficiency hybrid-electric drivetrain offers a realistic alternative to expensive proprietary systems and can be quickly implemented within the packaging constraints of compact European passenger cars. A demonstration vehicle, built within the UK Government’s Ultra Low Carbon Car Challenge (ULCCC), has exceeded all targets set for the programme, delivering an exceptional 85g of CO2 per km compared with 121g/km for the already exceptionally efficient standard vehicle. Read More
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
May 23, 2006 Everyone has a different relationship with alcohol and that was never more obvious than during a year of trials with the Draeger SoberCheck - a compact, affordable handheld digital alcohol detector. By the time one reaches adulthood, almost everybody has had a number of experiences with alcohol and its ability to distort reality to a greater or lesser extent. The results of the trial changed everyone involved. The SoberCheck provided dozens of our associates with a reality check on just what their blood alcohol levels were in comparison to what they thought they were - almost invariably, everyone erred several points lower than they really were and we found that this errant judgement would often have been the difference between driving legally and illegally. Remarkably, the SoberCheck emerged as remarkable educational tool, not just in what you need to do to keep your obligation to society and ensure you are driving under the alcohol limit, but about alcohol and its effects in general. Education is about life preparedness – it is formally teaching us the things we need to know to contribute effectively and manage our lives effectively. The SoberCheck could be the enabling tool in the educational process. Read More
April 15, 2006 If you’re in any doubt about how ubiquitous the MP3 player will become, think about this. Japanese company Evergreen has released the DN-2000 onto the Japanese market. The DN-2000 has no internal memory and no display, but takes SD cards up to 1GB and like most MP3 players, doesn’t need a display because the standard interface of buttons is entirely adequate. We’re not going to put the price in the heading or first paragraph so you can decide for yourself just how cheap it might be possible to sell such an MP3 player for … with earphones, after design, manufacture and marketing. Read More
March 15, 2005 The Sport-Jet is a single-engine, all-fibreglass, pressurised aircraft designed for single-person operation by a pilot trained in piston-powered airplanes. The Sport-Jet is powered by a single turbofan in the 1,350-pound class (such as Pratt & Whitney PW615 or Williams International FJ-33) will cruise at 340 knots at 25,000 feet (above 95% of all weather), and can carry four persons (plus pilot) over 1,000 nautical miles. Certification of the Sport-Jet is anticipated two years from now and it is expected to sell for under US$1 million when it reaches market late in 2007. Read More
MACWORLD EXPO, SAN FRANCISCO, January 11, 2005 Apple today introduced the Macintosh for the masses - the long-rumoured, affordable, compact, bring-your-own-screen Mac mini. Just two-inches tall and weighing only 1.3 kilograms (2.9 pounds), the Mac mini redefines design for the sub-US$1,000 desktop. Mac mini offers the processing and graphics performance to take advantage of demanding consumer applications with either a 1.25 GHz or 1.42 GHz PowerPC G4 processor and ATI Radeon 9200 graphics with 32MB of dedicated DDR memory. Both models come with a slot-load Combo drive for watching DVD movies and burning CDs, and up to an 80GB hard drive for storing digital media creations. Read More
September 14, 2004 Different cars suit different purposes. It's a sad fact that few cars tend to meet more than a handful of those purposes. Accordingly, we love Citroen's convertible C3 Pluriel, a single car that can convert in seconds from a versatile hatch back, to a hatch with a massive open roof, to cabriolet, then a spider and, finally a Ute with a drop down tail gate. All of this versatility does not come at the expense of good looks, as would be expected of a company that has already won world's most beautiful car crowns for the Citroen C3 and C2 models. Nor does it come at the expense of ... err, expense. At AUD$31,490, the Pluriel versatility is very cost effective. Read More
It can traverse land, sea, mud and snow at speeds of up to 70kmh, crash through one metre of surf and then double as a stable platform for fishing, diving or relaxing. The Slider Hovercraft is a fully amphibious vehicle seating two in-line with a steering and throttle set-up similar to a jet-ski. Two aerofoil sectioned centrifugal fans provide the lift and a single 3-bladed axial fan the propulsion, with a skirt design that remains permanently inflated adding to buoyancy and stability, and allowing for tight turning without "ploughing-in". Read More
The Icosa shelter system utilises innovative design, commodity materials and fast, simple construction from pre-cut materials to create a cost-effective shelter solution for humanitarian and relief situations. Applying the geodesic principles pioneered by Buckminster Fuller, the Icosa system is capable of withstanding high-winds and a range of temperatures and a consumer version - "The Pod" - has now emerged in the US.Two commercial models are available: the 7m wide Deca Pod and the 3.5m Ico Pod, both of which follow the icosahedron design. Read More