October has been a pretty good month for streaming music lovers. Bang & Olufsen
and Bowers & Wilkins
have finally joined the Bluetooth speaker party, and Toronto's Mass Fidelity
is proving that you don't have to be a big player to be a crowd pleaser. The folks over at Archt Audio are also hoping to make a memorable entry into the wireless speaker market with a sonic warhead known as the Archt One. This wireless audio system features a proprietary speaker technology called the Sound Array that ensures every corner of the room gets bathed in consistent quality sound.
In recent years, we've seen a number of virtual reality (VR) devices targeted at bringing more immersive gaming to the home while also adding locomotion to the mix. Joining the charge is the Virtualizer from Austrian-based company Cyberith. The rig features an omni-directional treadmill, which is nothing new, but in addition to letting gamers walk and run on the spot, it also lets them rotate, jump, crouch, kneel and even sit down, with these motions matched in game by their virtual selves.
Honda has announced that yet another version of the UNI-CUB personal mobility device
will be shown at next week's Tokyo Motor Show. The UNI-CUB β is smaller, lighter, lower and can be used as a seat, making it a potential alternative to the office chair.
Being both long and heavy, wheeled hospital beds aren't known for being easy to move around. It typically takes at least two people to push and guide one down the corridors, and two people aren't always available in a busy hospital. Using the new SESTO system, however, one person should be able to wrangle a bed without difficulty.
When we first checked in on the Omni
, an omnidirectional treadmill from Virtuix designed to translate the user's physical movements into a virtual world, the company was hoping to launch a Kickstarter campaign in May. It missed that target, but only just, with a launch on June 4. The campaign target has already been exceeded many times over, meaning backers could be getting physical within virtual worlds by January 2014.
Omni-directional treadmills promise to take things a stationary step further than current motion controllers, such as the Wii-mote, PlayStation Move and Microsoft Kinect, by translating movements to an onscreen avatar as users walk and run on the spot. The Omni from Virtuix is one such treadmill aimed at home users and its creators recently demonstrated its use with the Oculus Rift
, providing a tantalizing glimpse of its potential to provide an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience and really get gamers moving.
Virtual reality has always felt like it's on the cusp of becoming huge, but it has never quite managed to gain the momentum needed to put it in the hands of the mainstream. But with the original Wii showing the way, and both PlayStation Move and Xbox Kinect following in its footsteps, the signs are that we're moving away from traditional gaming and towards a future dominated by alternative ways of interacting with virtual worlds. The final piece of the puzzle in bringing VR to the masses could be a simple and affordable method for allowing gamers to move around safely while they have headsets strapped to their faces. The WizDish aims to be just such a device.
Thanks to gyros, accelerometers and sophisticated control mechanisms, remaining upright on a two-wheeled vehicle is no longer quite the balancing act it might once have been, even when at a standstill. Visions of future mobility like Honda's U3-X
take such ideas in whole new directions, quite literally, by including multi-directional capabilities, and concepts such as Supple
go even further still by ditching wheels altogether in favor of balls. It's this freedom of movement that inspired a group of students from the Charles W Davidson College Of Engineering at San Jose State University to begin work on the ambitious Spherical Drive System (SDS) electric motorcycle.
When the need to move super-heavy objects arises, short, squat crawlers are usually deployed to get the job done. Unfortunately, that heavy lifting ability comes at the sacrifice of mobility (no sideways motion), so maneuvering objects into place can be a lengthy process. Recently, researchers from Japan's Osaka University (OU) rolled out an innovative battery-powered, remotely controlled prototype crawler that incorporates properties from an omni-directional wheel, the Omni-Ball (also designed by the OU team), to travel in virtually any direction desired with minimal energy loss. They dubbed it the Omni-Crawler and it's likely to change the way things are moved from now on.
When most people think of wind power they think of large-scale wind farms with fields of huge three-bladed horizontal axis turbines. With such farms requiring lots of room they are generally unsuitable for placement in or even near large cities. Smaller turbines tailored for urban environments such as AeroVironment's Architectural Wind System
, the Honeywell Wind Turbine
and the Windspire
represent a growing sector though, and the latest to catch our eye is the IMPLUX – a vertical axis turbine designed to harness the power of the wind blowing from all directions.