Gone are the days when a spinning top or wind-up car were the pinnacle of toy technology. Nowadays kids expect their toys to connect to the internet, pair with smart devices, and let them join in the latest tech trends, often before their parents. To help you (and Santa) keep up, here's Gizmag's guide to the 11 best tech toys which are expected to be hits this Christmas.
Natural gas accounts for over 28 percent of US energy consumption. Its main component, methane, is a widely-used fossil fuel but also a major contributor to rising CO2 levels, and thus climate change. To address this issue, researchers from the Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have developed a process that extracts the energy content of methane, in the form hydrogen, without producing carbon dioxide.
An Israeli startup is planning to help families everywhere turn their food scraps into cooking gas. HomeBioGas Ltd has just launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring a compact biogas converter to urban and rural areas in developed countries, and to underserved communities in developing countries. According to the company, the HomeBiogas system can turn kitchen leftovers and livestock manure into natural liquid fertilizer and clean gas for cooking, lighting and water heating.
Amazon has made no secret that it wants to start an aerial delivery service using drones and is continuing to invest in the idea. In its latest move, the company has released a video presented by former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson that unveils its latest autonomous drone designed to deliver small packages in under 30 minutes.
A team of researchers in France has taken a major step towards powering our devices with rechargeable batteries based on an element that is far more abundant and cheaper than lithium. For the first time ever, a battery has been developed using sodium ions in the industry standard "18650" format used in laptop batteries, LED flashlights and the Tesla Model S, among other products.
In just three years, virtual reality has gone from a curiosity (sparked by a crowdfunding indie startup called Oculus VR) to a new category of consumer product that many consider to be "the next big thing." Never one to shy away from such things, Samsung has partnered with Oculus to launch the first consumer VR headset that matters. Meet the groundbreaking Gear VR.
If the movies and TV are to be believed, picking a conventional lock is as easy as sticking a tool into a keyhole, thoughtfully moving it around for a few seconds, then pulling the door open with a crafty smile. While there are special high-security locks that are much harder to pick, they also tend to be quite expensive. That's why Canadian inventor Ryan Bowley created the Bowley Lock – it's claimed to be virtually pick-proof, yet affordable to the average home-owner.
China is planning to enter the Europe- and US-dominated world of experimental physics with (wait for it …) a bang. It has formally announced that it will begin the first phase of construction of an enormous particle accelerator around 2020, which will be twice the size and seven times more powerful than CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
The Volkswagen Group has been in a lot of hot water since the "dieselgate" scandal began. When it came to light that VW had been using a "defeat device" on its diesel vehicles
to circumvent official emission testing procedures, the company quickly admitted to its wrongdoing and has been working to comply with regulators and find a fix. In Europe, that fix may be very simple. This week, the German authorities accepted the small technical change and software upgrade proposed by VW.
Few would argue against the idea that the Jeep Wrangler remains one of the most off-road-capable 4x4s on the planet it roams. California-based aftermarket builder US Specialty Vehicles sees some room for improvement in the way the Wrangler expresses its intentions, though. It's slapped a rugged, military-style body kit on the four-door Wrangler Unlimited and upgraded the interior into a warm, supple space. The result is the Rhino XT, the all-terrain SUV reinvented.