In the developed world, we forget that there was once a time when washday meant “day” rather than “toss it in the machine and come back in 20 minutes.” In many parts of the world without access to electricity and clean water, that time is still now. Design students Alex Cabunoc and Ji A You of the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles visited the the slums of Cerro Verde, Peru. There they saw women spending days on end hauling water and washing clothes by hand and they came up with a solution. They created the GiraDora, a foot-pedal washing machine that’s inexpensive and portable.
We got to do some fun things at last month’s Go Further With Ford
conference, such as test-driving the new Mustang
and the purpose-built Police Interceptor
. On the final night of the event, however, us conference-goers really got to enjoy ourselves – we got to make stuff, at the Detroit branch of TechShop. In business since 2006, the company now has five shops located across the U.S., all of which provide inventors and other people with access to advanced tools and know-how. We spoke to CEO Mark Hatch to learn more about what the group has to offer, and to whom.
Tech startup Neurovigil announced last April that Stephen Hawking was testing the potential of its iBrain device to allow the astrophysicist to communicate through brainwaves alone. Next week Professor Hawking and iBrain inventor, Dr Philip Low from Stanford University, present their findings at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference in Cambridge, England. In anticipation, Gizmag spoke to Dr Low about the potential applications of the iBrain.
Children in the First World have a lot of choice when it comes to scientific toys. In fact, there are whole stores devoted to selling things like robotics kits
, ant farms
, and simple microscopes
. In the developing world, however, such fancy toys are relatively scarce. So, what's an adult to do if they want to get the local children interested in the sciences? Well, in the case of Arvind Gupta, they show the kids how to make scientific toys from trash.
The near concurrent rise of Kickstarter and semi
-affordable 3D printing means we live in a time when it is easier than ever to be an inventor of physical things. Gizmag spoke at length to David Alden, whose spring-loaded Recoil Winder
cable management device clearly struck a chord raising more than 14 times the original US$10,000 investment target. Both Kickstarter and 3D printing may have been essential to the development of the Recoil Winder, but Alden's story also demonstrates the need for good old-fashioned perseverance.
It's easy to look back at the history of exploration and aviation and feel like there's no mountains left to climb, that the age of the great pioneers is behind us and we're doomed to a future of LCD tanning and monitor hypnosis. But don't try telling that to Pascal Chretien. On August 12, this electrical/aerospace engineer and helicopter pilot took to the air in the world's first untethered, fully electric manned helicopter flight in a prototype machine that he designed and built almost entirely by himself within a 12 month development period. In his 2 minute, 10 second test flight, Chretien beat aviation giant Sikorsky into the record books - but it was not without significant risk. As the man himself puts it: "in case of crash I stand good chances to end up in kebab form."
Using a hand saw is nobody’s idea of a good time, but one inventor is trying to at least make it a little easier. John Zimmerman, a software developer by trade, has created what he calls the Recoil Saw. Essentially, it’s just a saw – various types of saws, actually – with one or more spring-loaded impact bars attached to the blade. At the end of each stroke, the spring compresses as the bar hits the material being sawed, then releases that energy back into the following return stroke. The idea is that users can pretty much just bounce their way through cutting jobs, as opposed to having to purposefully stop and start between every stroke. Zimmerman, who admits he’s probably not the most unbiased tester, said that he has found it cuts twice as fast as a regular saw.
Dr. Douglas Engelbart
is perhaps best known as the inventor of the computer mouse, but when he unveiled that device at a computer conference in 1968 he also introduced additional technology that would profoundly affect computer-human interaction as much as the mouse
has. During the "mother of all demos" at the Fall Joint Computer Conference held at the Convention Center in San Francisco, Engelbart and his team of researchers from the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute gave a live demonstration of hyperlinks, remote collaboration software, on-screen windows, and even video conferencing.
Charles Babbage was the quintessential "man ahead of his time". In the mid 19th century the English mathematician and inventor developed the concept of a programmable computer and designed complex, steam-powered calculating engines that were never completed during his lifetime. One of these machines – the Difference Engine – was successfully constructed using Babbage's original plans in 1991 and now programmer John Graham-Cumming is on a mission to build a working replica of a second, more complex computing machine known as the Analytical Engine.
Perhaps you haven’t given this problem a lot of thought, but it is
a problem nonetheless... most spray bottles can’t be used upside down, or even at much of angle once they’re half-empty. Not only that, but there’s always that last little bit of liquid in the bottom that gets wasted. That's because most of them have rigid-tubed sprayers that just have a single hole at the bottom, so they only suck up liquid from the bottom middle of the bottle. Well, British inventor Michael Pritchard has come up with something he calls the ANYWAY Spray, a tube that allows you to hold your spray bottles any way you darn well please, and keep
spraying until they’re as dry as Keith Richards’ bourbon glass.