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Repair

Sisma Calce being applied to a building exterior

Changing building codes to ensure that new structures are less vulnerable to earthquakes is all well and good, but what about older buildings? If someone told you that the answer was wallpaper, you’d think they were crazy, but a team from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Karlsruhe, Germany has developed a fabric to reinforce older walls. Marketed as “Sisma Calce,” the low-cost seismic fabric is designed to be plastered on walls to reduce earthquake damage or to at least give survivors a better chance of escape from falling debris.  Read More

The iFixit teardown team recently paid some attention to Microsoft's Surface tablet, and r...

There was a time not so long ago when updating, upgrading, repairing or otherwise tweaking your computer system was relatively tinkerer-friendly. Those halcyon days that helped fuel my drive toward a career as a computer engineer are now all-but over, and getting to the heart of today's ultra-thin notebooks and tablets calls for equal measures of cerebral athletics, manual dexterity and plain old luck. Happily, the folks over at iFixit are demystifying much of today's consumer electronic gadgets by ripping them apart, showing exactly what they're made of, and rating them for user repairability. Microsoft's new Surface tablet was recently given the teardown treatment and found to be quite a tough nut to crack ... but not quite as challenging as the iPad.  Read More

Incog takes the tools out of your pack and stores them in the bike

Anyone from high-flying freeriders to bike-touring workhorses can benefit from cutting weight out of their packs and bike bags, but they can't afford to cut out essential provisions like the tools needed for in-the-field bike repair. The inCOG bike tool cuts weight from cyclists' packs by integrating tools into the bike itself.  Read More

A group of students have created a unique material that they say could be sealed in bags w...

Have you ever mixed corn starch with water? If you have, you probably noticed how it oozed like a liquid when flowing across a surface, yet hardened like a solid if you suddenly struck it. That’s because the corn starch/water mixture is what’s known as a non-Newtonian fluid – the particles it’s composed of slide past one another easily when moving slowly, but jam against each other when forced to move quickly. Recently, a group of students from Cleveland’s Case Western University encased such a fluid within sturdy bags, to create a simple product that could be used to temporarily fill potholes in roads.  Read More

The Python 5000's single operator can quickly fill potholes from within the vehicle's cab

Nobody likes potholes, but it often seems that they’re one of those hardships we just have to put up with until they get almost impassable ... after all, it’s a big deal to send out a road crew who will have to block one or two lanes of traffic for half an hour or more, while they risk being struck by inattentive drivers. Apparently, however, pothole-filling needn’t be such an involved process. Cities now have the option of using the Python 5000, which is a vehicle that is operated by one person from inside its cab, and that can patch a two-foot (0.6-meter) pothole in about two minutes.  Read More

Wyse Cycles is a self-propelled mobile bicycle repair service, which bike mechanic Ben Wys...

For many people, commuting by bicycle is a fun, economical and healthy way of getting around. When their bike breaks down, they throw it in their car, drive it to the shop, then drive for several days until it’s fixed. Some bicycle commuters, however, don’t own cars. These people can’t drive their bike to the shop, and have no independent means of transportation as long as their two-wheeler is gone. It is for people like these – and others – that Wyse Cycles exists. As far as its owner Ben Wyse knows, it’s America’s only self-propelled mobile bicycle repair service.  Read More

A new augmented reality system allows engineers to provide visual instructions to remote t...

It can be very frustrating trying to fix something, when the person instructing you isn’t there in person, but is instead communicating with you over a phone line – “Whaddaya mean, ‘The silver cap’? Which silver cap?!” This is why engineers sometimes need to be flown in to factories or other places that use complex machines, to make repairs that simply can’t be explained verbally. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics, however, have developed an augmented reality system that lets those engineers provide real-time visual instructions to distant on-site technicians ... and it can be done without internet access.  Read More

A new extended-hours, self-service bike kiosk has just been installed in the Uptown Transi...

Last year, Bicycling Magazine said that Minneapolis was the number one biking city in the U.S., and the city's Bike Walk Twin Cities program says that four years of bicycle counts throughout the city show a 33 percent increase in the use of two-wheelers by its citizens. Anyone in need of emergency repair while on the heavily-used Midtown Greenway bicycle route can now pop into the Uptown Transit Station and take advantage of a new extended-hours, self-service bike kiosk. Users can pump some free air into tires, use the tethered tools to make repairs, or head for the vending machine to buy basic bike parts.  Read More

Associate Professor Michael Strano (left) with graduate student Ardemis Boghossian and pos...

One of the problems with harvesting sunlight and converting it into stored energy is that the sun’s rays can be highly destructive to many materials, leading to a gradual degradation of many systems developed to do just that. Once again, researchers have turned to nature for a solution. Plants constantly break down their light-capturing molecules and reassemble them from scratch, so the basic structures that capture the sun’s energy are, in effect, always brand new. By imitating this strategy MIT scientists have created a novel set of self-assembling molecules and used them to create a photovoltaic cell that repairs itself.  Read More

Tell me where it hurts - LG's washers and dryers can 'talk' to technicians over the phone

Throwing the washer or dryer in the car when something goes wrong isn’t really an option, meaning you’ll have to call out a repair person to make a potentially expensive house call. Some manufacturers are installing network capabilities in such devices to allow problems to be diagnosed remotely, but most people don’t have a network connection located in the laundry. LG has come up with a way to troubleshoot washer and dryer issues remotely by getting the devices to chat with a technician over the phone in a language R2-D2 would understand.  Read More

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