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Inflatable

Wearables

Hedgehog-inspired full-body airbag would inflate into a personal safety cocoon

Last week's Wearable Technologies Conference in Munich showcased the future of cutting edge wearable design. While much of the exhibitor area was dedicated to usual suspects like performance-tracking sensors and wearable cameras, there was one design that immediately stood out. Still just a rough concept in need of partners, the i Gel protective system proposes a full-body airbag suit for protecting motorcyclists, bikers, skiers, and other hobbyists and professionals. Read More

Outdoors

NuDown inflatable jackets insulate with air

Back in 2009, Utah-based company Klymit came up with a wild idea for cold-weather clothing: replace traditional insulation with gas. Its NobleTek inflatable clothing earned plenty of attention from the outdoor and technology industries, but it never really seemed to catch on. Under the guidance of start-up NuDown, the inflatable insulation has been repackaged into a simpler form. In place of a mandatory argon gas inflator, it now uses a simple hand pump to adjust your core warmth. Read More

Outdoors

Trekkayak inflatable catamaran backpacks to distant waters

Built to empower new adventures, the Trekkayak lets one hike deep into the wilderness and paddle his or her way back out. Joining a market of light, portable water sports gear that includes packrafts and seatrekking backpacks, the Trekkayak is an inflatable catamaran that packs fast and light in your backpack. When you get to water's edge, you simply unpack the boat, inflate it and paddle your way back home. Read More

Robotics

MIT demonstrates slithering rubber robot

Once upon a time, robots were imagined as human-like machines with a distinct body complete with head, arms, hands, feet, and legs. More recently, designers have explored the benefits of emulating other creatures and their capabilities, with robots that can fly like birds, run like cheetahs, swim like a squids or, in this case, slither like snakes. Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) have come up with a single 3D printed, soft-shelled tentacle that is designed to navigate through all manner of pipes, channels, and burrows.Read More

Air Pakk inflatable backpack promises comfort on demand

We first caught wind of Ryan Frayne and his rapid self-inflation technology on the back of his Air Pad mattress last year. Incorporating an innovative air flow technique, the air bed could be ready for use in a matter of seconds. Now Frayne has adapted this functionality to a multipurpose backpack with a view to bringing on-demand comfort to a variety of situations. Read More

Space

NASA tests flying saucer designed to land heavier payloads on Mars

NASA has successfully carried out the first of three airborne tests for its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), a saucer shaped test vehicle which will one day be used to slow down scientific payloads entering the atmosphere of Mars. This new system of atmospheric deceleration will allow the agency to contemplate heavier, more ambitious endeavors, building towards a manned mission to the Red Planet.Read More

Marine

Air bags could keep sinking ships afloat

The European Union has invested in a project designed to keep damaged ships stable and afloat by means of airbag-like balloons. It is hoped that the new system, developed under the Su Sy project, will give emergency services extra time to evacuate stricken ships, minimizing the devastating losses of life synonymous with the sinking of cruise ships such as the Costa Concordia, and the South Korean ferry Sewol, which sank earlier this year. Read More

Architecture

New construction technique allows concrete domes to be "popped up"

There probably aren't many domed concrete structures where you live, and there's a reason for that – they're difficult to build. Doing so usually requires the construction of a supporting wooden structure, that holds the concrete in place while it hardens. Now, however, a team at the Vienna University of Technology has devised a system that allows concrete shell structures to simply be "inflated" and cinched together with a steel cable. Read More

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