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Tag Archives: Innovation

Self-Tightening Bionic Bra Being Developed

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It’s a dilemma most men are unaware of: that of what type of bra to wear? Something comfortable will usually not provide enough support at the gym or during vigorous activity. And sports bras will keep your boobs in place, but at the cost of comfort. A two-bra approach is the most common solution, but researchers at the University Of Wollongong in Autralia have spent the last 25 years trying to develop a bra that does well in both situations. It’s only recently, thanks to new materials and 3D printing, that they are starting to see good results. The ‘Bionic Bra’ they’re developing would feature smart materials that tighten when needed, providing extra support when physical activity is detected, and relax when calm returns.

The bra isn’t quite ready for commercial release, but a working prototype seems to have been developed and work is underway. How far away from prime time this is, and at what cost, is a mystery for now.

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[ University of Wollongong ] VIA [ DamnGeeky ]

Pizza Hut Is Working On A ‘Subconscious Menu’ That Knows What You Want, Even When You Don’t

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Pizza Hut is working with eye-tracking firm Tobii Technology (of Eye Asteroids fame) to develop a menu that scans your eye movements and is able to determine what toppings you’re most likely to want on your pizza, often before you’ve had a chance to formulate the conscious idea yourself. They arrange their 20 most common toppings in a grid on a tablet-style device and watch your eyes as you scan the images; within a 2.5 second timespan the device is able to pick out your favourites out of a potential 5,000 combinations. At the moment the system is claimed to have a 98% accuracy rate, but even so the order won’t go through without your final approval.

Although it’s not available at any of their restaurants at the moment, the company appears to be considering using the system one day and actually calling it ‘Subconscious Menu’.

“We wanted to try a few ideas on the traditional menu format,” Pizza Hut Head of Marketing Kathryn Austin told the Telegraph, “and we’re delighted to have developed the world’s first Subconscious Menu, a unique way to reinvent the dining experience.”

There’s no word on when this might appear on the market.

VIA [ DigitalTrends ]

FUGU Carry-On Suitcase Expands Into Full Size Baggage

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Whether you’re leaving for two weeks or just a couple of days, the FUGU Luggage has you covered. Featuring a set of inflatable air bladders and an expanding midsection, the suitcase goes from carry-on size, to full check in size in just a few seconds. When collapsed, the bag meets maximum carry-on sizes and while expanded, it reaches maximum check-in size as well. That’s 13.5″ by 21.5″ by either 9″ collapsed or a massive 27″ expanded. When at full size the bag supports not only its own weight, but also the strains and pressures of being stuffed in a cargo compartment with lots of other heavy bags. It does this through the help of an expanding ABS plastic reinforcement structure.

There’s even a shelving system that lets you organize your stuff and keep everything neat and tidy. “The shelves enable the suitcase to double as a storage unit, eliminating the need to unpack into a hotel closet and then later repack.” When opened, FUGU can even serve as a table.

It’s $219 to get in on the action, with an expected delivery date of August 2015.

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[ Project Page ] VIA [ Gizmodo ]

With The Powerlace, Self-Lacing Shoes Are Finally Here

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We’ve all been getting a good laugh these last few years at the fact that many of Back To The Future II’s predictions don’t seem to be coming true. Flying cars? The ones we have are middling at best. However… it’s almost 2015, and would you know it, we’re already seeing a working hoverboard, and how self-lacing shoes. That’s right, a startup in St-Hubert, Canada has created the Powerlace shoes, which use an internal mechanism powered by the wearers weight to automatically lace the shoes at a predefined tension. Simply insert your foot, press down with your heel, and the laces will tighten.

Inserting your foot triggers the mechanism, which locks into place at a tension level set by a pull tab on the outside upper section. The tension in the laces can be adjusted separately, too, by moving the lace lock.

A thermo polyurethane sole serves as support for the mechanism as well as anchor for the lever that unlocks the mechanism, while the tongue opens right out once pressure is released from the laces.

The team has tested the system up to 200,000 lacing cycles, which if it stands up to real-world use would mean the mechanism could operate without a hitch for 68 years if used four times a day

That’s definitely longer than the actual show will last, so you can buy with confidence. It’s a Kickstarter, with a pledge of $175 netting you a pair.

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This Device Can Diagnose Hundreds Of Diseases With One Drop Of Blood

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The new fad in the tech industry is health. You can see this with Apple’s Health app, as well as a seemingly endless ecosystem of activity trackers like the FitBit or Nike Fuel band. But for all their focus on health, they’re really only scratching the surface; if you’re actually sick, they won’t do much to tell you what’s wrong. For serious illnesses, you still have to make your way to a doctor and often subject yourself to blood extractions. But if the xHEALTH X1 takes off, you may not even need to do that.

It’s a device being developed by Dr. Eugene Chan and his colleagues at the DNA Medical Institute (DMI), with grants from “NASA, the National Institutes of Health, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. On Monday, the team received yet another nod (and more funding) as the winners of this year’s Nokia Sensing XChallenge, one of several competitions run by the moonshot-seeking XPrize Foundation.” With a single drop of blood it would be able to tell you if you have anything from HIV, to Pneumonia, or even Ebola within minutes.

One small drop of blood is dropped into a small receptacle, where nanostrips and reagents react to the blood’s contents. The whole cocktail then goes through a spiral micro-mixer and is streamed past lasers that use variations in light intensity and scattering to come up with a diagnosis,

The xHEALTH X1 is still under development, so it’s not quite ready for public consumtion just yet. There is no timeframe on that, but the work being done is well under way and should result in a viable product in the near future.

[ Wired ]

Inexpensive Incubator Wins Dyson Award For Best Invention Of The Year

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It’s pretty amazing the number of things we take for granted here in the “developed world”. Post-natal care is a flagrant example, where a child dying of hypothermia (or other complications) shortly after birth is almost inconceivable, yet is the stark reality facing over 1 million children in developing nations yearly. Incubators go a long way to preventing these deaths, providing pre-term babies with the warmth and humidity control that’s essential for their survival, but they cost about $45,000, an amount so outrageous that it’s inconceivable for many impoverished hospitals. That’s where 23-year-old British student named James Roberts comes in. He designed MOM, an inflatable incubator that cost about $400. It’s designed to pull power from unconventional sources like car batteries and thus keep working in areas with inconsistent power supplies, and provides temperature and humidity controls, as well as special lights for fighting jaundice. It works so well as such a low cost that James recently won the James Dyson Award for Best Invention of the Year and received $45,000 to further develop his prototype into a marketable product.

While many of you reading this won’t directly benefit from James’ invention, it’s always nice to hear about programs like the Dyson Award spurring innovation in today’s youth. As much as we like to think we do, we don’t live in isolation on this planet and the more we do for the less fortunate, the better many of us will be able to sleep at night.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Gizmodo ]

Radio The Size Of An Ant Developed, Doesn’t Require External Energy

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Oh, the jokes to be had with this. Or more like, the cliché jokes to the tune of “what is this? A radio for ants?” Well, it is a fully functional radio that’s about the size of an ant, though we don’t expect the little insects from deriving any type of pleasure from it.

Stanford engineer Amin Arbabian has managed to create a wireless radio just a few millimeters across that is so energy efficient that it doesn’t need a battery. Instead, it harvests power from the incoming electromagnetic waves. The Stanford radio chip is designed to compute, execute, and relay signals. What sets this technology apart is that it all happens on a single chip that doesn’t rely on any exotic materials or theoretical principles.

The last time we covered a device that “harvests energy from the surrounding electromagnetic waves”, it was for the RCA Airnergy device, which purported to be able to charge its internal battery in this fashion. Back then the consensus was that this was impossible, or at least the energy gathered was so negligible that it would be impossible to charge anything with it. But this radio is different since it actually uses so little energy itself that a single AAA battery could power it for 100 years. Arbabian even managed to fabricate 100 of these tiny radios, just to see if they’d work, and they do. This technology could help facilitate the development of the “Internet Of Things”, where all your devices are interconnected and online, for added functionality.

It’s all a proof-of-concept for the moment, but the fact that it can be done, and more importantly, done at a low cost, might signal a bright future for the technology.

[ Stanford Page ] VIA [ Geek.com ]

The Chairless Chair Is Only There When You Want It

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If you spend a good portion of your day on your feet, you’ve probably thought of just how sweet it would be to be able to sit now and then. But chairs are stationary, and there you are, moving around. If only you could bring one with you everywhere you go… Well, the Chairless Chair is essentially that: a wearable chair. It’s a light lower-limb exoskeleton that hardens at the push of a button and allows you to sit down anywhere you want. Keith Gunura, the 29-year old CEO and co-founder of noonee, the Zurich-based startup behind the device, informs CNN that it’s made from aluminum and carbon fiber, and weighs around 4 lbs., which makes it nearly indistinguishable to the wearer. To use, the wearer simply moves into the desired position and presses a button, which locks it in place, immediately relieving pressure from the lower limbs. A single 6V battery can power it for up to 24 hours.

The target market is industrial workers who spend most of their day on their feet, assembling things. Less fatigue could translate in increased productivity and worker satisfaction. BMW and Audi are actually going to start trials later this year, and if the tech catches on, perhaps a consumer version might make its way to the market eventually. Don’t hold your breath on that, however.

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[ Product Page ] VIA [ CNN ]

What’s Not To Like About Cake Batter In A Can?

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Even the simplest of cake recipes involves a fair amount of work. Heck, even those pre-made cake mixes that require you to just mix in water and an egg… still require you to do that much! How about you cut to the chase and simply squirt the batter from a spray can, directly into your cake pan? Oh, you may think it’s gross, but why? The propellant should provide the necessary air bubbles that give the batter its spongy texture, and the gas will dissipate by the time you’re done cooking. It’s inert to start with, so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Provided it tastes good, this sounds like a good solution to us. Spray Cake is a creation of Harvard Student John McCallum, and he’s already found a distribution channel; they’re currently looking for a manufacturer. As far as how it tastes, baking superstar Joanne Chang gives it her thumbs up! So, give it some time and you may see this in supermarket aisles.

[ Harvard Page ] VIA [ Incredible Things ]