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Tag Archives: Innovation

Full Color 3D Printer On The Horizon

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3D printing keeps maturing in leaps and bounds, and the latest innovation is full-color prints, with gradient transitions between tones. Some of the current crop of cheaper, extrusion-based printers do provide coloured prints, but they can only print one colour at a time and the transitions aren’t as smooth as the ones produced by the ProJet 4500 by 3D Systems. This particular machine uses a different technique, laser sintering, to achieve its results. This involves a laser focusing into a precise point in space, and hardening a special powder, point-by-point and layer-by-layer. In this fashion, a more precise and controlled mix of colours is possible, although the end result is somewhat unsaturated and washed out. However, the ProJet 4500 is meant to be used in rapid prototyping, where you’ll be able to save a manual painting step and get your part approved for final production that much quicker.

There’s no word on price, though the device appears to be available.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Gizmodo ]

Electrode Lets You Taste Flavors That Aren’t There; Digital Lollipop On The Horizon

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 7.37.28 PM Eating is a wonderful thing, but getting fatter not so much. Well, the days of being able to ingest healthy things while our tastebuds tell us they’re in fact deep friend bacon burgers might not be so far off. Nimesha Ranasinghe and his team at the National University of Singapore are in the process of developing a device that simulates flavours directly on a user’s tongue.

By placing an electrode on the tip of the tongue and by carefully generating some current and temperature changes, the researches are able to simulate the basic tastes of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. The contraption is still quite unwieldy and not ready for any type of commercial use, but they’re working on making it smaller and less cumbersome. Also, they haven’t managed to generate smell and texture yet, which unfortunately is a huge component of taste, but of course they’re working on it. Considering we already have Smell-o-vision type devices, it’s not unreasonable to imagine a future where every element of eating is digitally simulated, minus the calories of course. Ranasinghe and his team are actually working on a digital lollipop.

There’s clearly no word on when or even if this could ever be turned into a commercially available product. But the fact that they’ve been able to simulate some tastes already sounds pretty promising.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ C|Net ]

Car Mechanic Invents Device For Dramatically Safer Births

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Proving that ingenuity can spring from anywhere, a 59 year old Argentinian car mechanic has invented a device that can dramatically reduce the incidence of childbirth complications. It’s called the Odón Device (named after the inventor, Jorge Odón) and consists of a plastic bag within a lubricated plastic sleeve, which is then fitted around the baby’s head while it is still in the womb. After it’s inflated and has gripped the head, the handles can be used to safely pull the baby out. There’s no need to use hard instruments, which can often injure a child. As a matter of fact, current options kind of suck; you either have to use forceps (medspeak for ‘pliers’) or a suction cup that attaches to the head. Either of these in untrained hands can be disastrous, so the Odón Device provides a safer-to-use alternative.

And this is not just a quirky human-interest story that’s been picked up by the media. Jorge’s invention has been enthusiastically endorsed by the World Health Organisation as a “low cost instrument for assisted vaginal delivery”. Currently still undergoing testing, the Odón Device could be manufactured for as little as $50.

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[ NYTimes ] VIA [ MedGadget ]

“Reverse Microwave” Chills Drinks In Seconds

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Hot on the heels of a device that cooled your drinks by spinning them in icy water comes news of a decidedly more high-tech version of apparently the same principle: it’s called the V-Tex. It’s a larger, more commercial appliance (still about the size of a small microwave) that takes any room temperature drink and chills it down to 5ºC (41ºF) in as little as 0.7 minutes. It does this by taking advantage of the vortex that is created in the liquid within the container as it spins, and by manipulating this container in different axes and speeds. By closely fine-tuning this action, the company has developed a machine which can be used at a point of sale, where the purchased drink is chilled as it is ordered, rather than wasting energy being refrigerated behind a long line of other cans or bottles.

Results show energy savings of over 80% compared with some standard open front drinks chillers and a 54% saving compared with glass door coolers (figures based on cooling 200 x 500ml cans per day). The potential saving on electricity costs equates to €832 per fridge per year compared with open front drinks chillers and €219 versus glass door coolers (assuming electricity price of 0.20 euro/kWh).

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Mind Blowing Future Graphic Manipulation Technology Extracts Structures From Images

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Imagine you can take a flat picture, and with just a few clicks, extract the three dimensional structures present. And not just extract them, but then manipulate them, transform them, copy them, and move them around the image. That’s what this software, 3-Sweep, does. It was demonstrated at SIGGRAPH Asia 2013, and while a written explanation is all fine and dandy, you really won’t get the scope of just fantastic this technology is unless you watch the video below.

You get the feeling that this is still in its early developmental stages, so there are some visible limitations. But in terms of what it’s capable already, we’ve never seen anything like it. If Adobe doesn’t have their eye on these guys, they’re making a big mistake.

VIA [ Reddit ]

Awesome Ring-Worn Clock Could Be Real, Isn’t Yet

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Here’s to hoping that an ambitious crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo not only reaches its funding goals, but that the product in question turns into reality even if funding is met (which is not always guaranteed). It’s called the Ring Clock, and is meant to be a time telling device worn on one of your fingers. It allegedly uses “ultra-thin mono-color LEDs” and a “6mAh, ultrathin rechargeable lithium polymer battery” to display the time at the twist of its body. The battery, though small, would be enough to give the ring one week of autonomy. Charging would be done wirelessly, through induction using the Qi standard and would involve nothing more than placing it on a charging plate. It’s an eye catching product, which would be sure to start several conversations at parties and altogether make you look like an Alpha geek.

But here’s the rub. The company is seeking $287,400 in funding. So far, the only concrete thing they have is a work-in-progress prototype which appears to be nothing more than the external body with laser cut numerals. They admit that they will use a third of the funds to complete said prototypes… so we’re not even sure if the concept can actually be pulled off. We’re not informed of any track record they may have, and considering how ahead of its time it is, we’re worried that even if they manage to reach their goal, that the Ring Clock will never be successfully manufactured. Still, this is the nature of crowd funding: to give an opportunity to people to produce innovative products when they might not otherwise have fit traditional criteria for doing so. Let’s hope they pull it off. It’s an $185 pledge to get in line for yours, which might arrive in April 2014 if all goes well.

[ Project Page ] VIA [ Uncrate ]

Would You Let This Robot Stab You In The Arm?

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It’s called Veebot, and it would stab you to draw blood, of course. And no, it wouldn’t be a fun or horror driven blood drawing, but more of a medical thing, where the liquid ends up being used either in blood banks or tested for whatever disease you managed to infect yourself with. Designed by one Richard Harris, a Princeton alumni, the Veebot currently has about the same accuracy as a human, or about 83%, meaning it misses the vein 17% of the time. So what’s the point, you say? Well, for one, the robot is still being worked on and accuracy is expected to improve over time. Secondly, unlike humans, robots don’t get tired, so you could conceivably increase the efficiency of a blood drawing operation by having a fleet of bots working round the clock. Harris expects to increase accuracy to 90% within the next few months, and will start looking for funding to commercialize the project at that point. It’s a $9 billion market (yes… in the States at least, drawing blood is a ‘market’), so he may be on to something.

[ IEEE Spectrum ] VIA [ Walyou ]

Tired Of The Smartphone Landscape? Why Not Help Ubuntu Make The Next Big Thing?

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Between the iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone, there’s a fair amount of choice on the market. But if all this seems boring to you, you might want to look at what Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, is cooking up. They’re looking to raise $32 million on Indiegogo, in order to develop a handset called Edge. Quite frankly, it just looks awesome:

Crafted from cool, textured amorphous metal, the Edge has a distinctive, precise look but its rakishly chamfered edges are shaped to fit naturally in the palm — our design prototype already has a wonderfully solid feel. It’s the right size, too. Edge gestures are the next big thing in mobile, and our testing has found that a 4.5in screen is ideal for comfortable control of all four edges with one hand.

We also believe the race for ever higher resolution has become a distraction. Beyond 300ppi you’re adding overhead rather than improving display clarity. We think colour, brightness and dynamic range are now the edge of invention so we’ll choose a display for its balance of resolution, dynamic range and colour accuracy.

We’ll protect that gorgeous display with something vastly tougher than glass: pure sapphire crystal, a material so hard only diamond could scratch it. For a phone to run a full desktop OS, it must have the raw power of a PC. We’ll choose the fastest available multi-core processor, at least 4GB of RAM and a massive 128GB of storage. The battery will use silicon-anode technology, so we can squeeze more energy into the same dimensions.

So how much? The $600 early adopter version is sold out. So the only way to get one is to pledge $830. That may seem steep, but you’re paying for a phone that could double as a PC. That sounds pretty sweet to us, and look at that if it isn’t a thing of beauty…

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[ Project Page ] VIA [ BoingBoing ]

Throwable Camera Prototype Takes Stunning Pictures Of Everything While In Flight

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Boston-based inventor Steve Hollinger has been hard at work developing a throwable panoramic digital camera with image stabilization that produces awesome in-the-air images. The prototype is called Squito, and seems to be the size of a large baseball, or a small softball. Decked with several cameras on all sides, and packed with a bunch of sensors, the Squito knows which way it’s spinning, and where it is in the air at any given time, which allows it to reorient pictures and stitch them together into panoramas and 360 views, all on the fly. Captured images and videos are then sent wirelessly to a smartphone, for your enjoyment.

There is no detail concerning commercialization plans, other than to say that Steve is looking for funding to bring this to market. Why he hasn’t put together a Kickstarter, we’re not sure, but we feel he’d be quite successful. Check out the video below to get a sense of why.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Gizmodo ]