Photokina 2014 highlights

Engineering

The 1910 Edison-Puton Monowheel has the frame, rider and a 150cc De Dion engine enclosed b...

The annual Cholmondeley Pageant of Power in the U.K. never fails to deliver something special and this year that exotic ingredient is a 1910 Edison-Puton Monowheel. Capable of being ogled by engineers for hundreds of hours at a time, the Monowheel was built in Paris in 1910, and bears testimony to human folly at its most ingenious.  Read More

The Wavegarden prototype has been tested by professional surfers

Imagine you're hundreds of miles from the sea - you climb over a grassy hill and come upon a lake with perfect surf just waiting for you and your board. Spanish engineering firm Instant Sport is setting about making this scenario a reality with its custom-built Wavegarden. While artificial waves are far from new, engineer Josema Odriozola and sports economist Karin Frisch claim that their brainchild can bring an ocean-like break to land-locked surfers, body boarders and kayakers alike using less energy than any other existing wave generator to date.  Read More

dontDIY's thoughtful Passive house design has won an international competition to design a...

Passive House Bulgaria recently announced the winner of its international competition to design a low-energy domicile to be built in Lozen, a village very close to Sofia. The winning entry, from Bulgarian outfit dontDIY, is not only eye-catching, but also fully compliant with the rigorous, though voluntary, Passive house standard.  Read More

Engineering student Brady Morton uses the winch device to ascend a tower

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory wants to find a better way for airmen to scale tall structures or rock faces, so it did what just about anyone seeking new ideas does these days – it held a contest. Its 2012 Service Academy and University Engineering Challenge saw teams from 17 universities and three service academies showing off their wall-scaling systems, earlier this month at Wright State University’s Calamityville tactical laboratory in Fairborn, Ohio. One of the teams, from Utah’s Brigham Young University, devised an impressive system that was inspired directly by Batman’s grappling hook-shooting, power winch-equipped gun.  Read More

The buckliball (left) and the toy that inspired its creation

Taking inspiration from a toy, a team of researchers at MIT have developed a new engineering structure that is mechanically unstable, yet collapses in a way that is predictable and reversible. The structure, formed out of a single piece of rubber-like material, is fabricated so that it collapses in harmony to form a smaller structure that can then be expanded into the original shape. This structure opens up new potentials in everything from architecture to micro-medical applications.  Read More

Some pilots have questioned the validity of this section of video

"Human Birdwings" creator Jarno Smeets and his Android-powered, mechanically-assisted flying machine are creating a stir again. Gizmag originally reported on Smeets' effort to fly like a bird when he posted a video of his first test flight, in which he appeared to hang in the air a few feet off the ground for a second or two. In the video of his latest attempt, he's shown soaring around in the air, and a lively debate over the validity of the video is already heating up.  Read More

A new technology is being developed, that would allow assembly lines to automatically reco...

Factories are a bit like living things. They are made up of a number of individual systems, and a change made to any one of those systems can have an affect on other systems down the line. In the case of living things, however, all of the systems are united by the organism’s DNA – if a change is made to one system, the others adjust automatically. Such is not the case in factories, however, where humans must go in and make all the changes manually. Not only is this costly and labor-intensive, but it can also result in errors. Researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation are addressing this problem by trying to make factories more like living things – as they put it, they’re trying to decode “factory DNA.”  Read More

The Levytator uses curved modules to allow it to follow freeform curves

For over a century, escalators have followed a fairly straight path – with the exception of a few spiral and curved escalators found in cities including Reno and Osaka. Now a researcher at City University London has developed a new type of escalator called the Levytator that is capable of following freeform curves. This is achieved by replacing the traditional rectangular steps with curved modules that also allows the modules to be placed in a continuous loop. Not only does this open up the design possibilities for architects, it could also cut energy usage in half compared to conventional escalators.  Read More

A scanning electron microscope image of a pattern imprinted on nanoporous gold, using DIPS...

Imagine how long it would have taken to produce vinyl record albums if, instead of pressing them from master molds, the grooves had to be etched into each individual LP? Well, that's pretty much been the case when it comes to creating devices from porous nanomaterials - the microscopic patterns necessary for their functioning have had to be applied to each individual nanodevice, requiring considerable time and a perfect environment. Now, however, researchers from Nashville's Vanderbilt University have developed a system for quickly stamping out whole batches of the devices.  Read More

The new dielectric elastomeric sensors can be stretched to twice their size (Image: Fraunh...

Gauges that determine the amount of strain on an object are commonly used in mechanical engineering research and development to measure the stresses generated by machinery and to test structural elements like aircraft components. The most common type of strain gauge consists of an insulating flexible backing material that supports a metallic foil pattern whose electrical resistance changes as the foil is deformed, which allows the amount of strain to be measured. However, the relatively low elastic limits of the foil restrict the possible applications for such gauges. Now researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute of Silicate Research have developed a sensor that can be stretched to twice its size, dramatically increasing its possible applications.  Read More

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