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ENGINEERING CHALLENGES

Long-theorized new form of matter, excitonium, finally discovered

Physicists from the University of Illinois have discovered a new form of matter called excitonium. This condensate, made up of excitons, was first theorized almost 50 years ago, and although evidence of this form of matter has been observed in that time it was difficult to be sure of what was happening. Now, the Illinois researchers have found a "smoking gun" that they claim is the first definitive proof that excitonium exists.
https://newatlas.com/excitonium-new-form-matter/52550/

New metallic glass material created by starving atoms of a nucleus

Metallic glass is an emerging type of material, so its secrets are still being discovered. While working with the stuff, a team of Yale researchers created a brand new type of metallic glass, by shrinking samples down to the nanoscale until it forms a unique crystalline phase.
https://newatlas.com/yale-metallic-glass-material/52529/

3D-printed live bacteria creates world's first "living tattoo"

A team at MIT has genetically modified bacteria cells and developed a new 3D printing technique to create a "living tattoo" that can respond to a variety of stimuli.Electronic tattoos and smart ink technologies are showing exciting potential for reframing how we think of wearable sensor devices. While many engineers are experimenting with a variety of responsive materials the MIT team wondered if live cells could be co-opted into a functional use.
https://newatlas.com/3d-printing-live-bacteria-cells-wearable-sensors/52485/

MIT membrane produces fuel from CO2 emissions

esearchers at MIT have developed a new membrane-based system that can convert carbon dioxide emissions into useful alternate fuels. The process has been effectively demonstrated on a small-scale and the researchers hope to ultimately adapt the system to conventional fossil fuel-based power plants.
https://newatlas.com/carbon-dioxide-fuel-conversion-mit/52367/

Could graphene ripples be tapped into as a clean, limitless energy source?

As if graphene wasn't versatile enough already, researchers at the University of Arkansas have now found a way for the two-dimensional material to be used as a source of clean and potentially unlimited energy. By tapping into the random fluctuations of the carbon atoms that make up graphene sheets, the scientists can generate an alternating current strong enough to indefinitely power a wristwatch. Graphene is a lattice of carbon just one atom thick, and its incredible strength and conductivity of electricity and heat mean it might soon start cropping up in everything from light bulbs to dental fillings, microphones, motorbike helmets, water filters, smartphone screens and even heat-dissipating shoes
https://newatlas.com/graphene-motion-limitless-energy/52319/

Plant spies: DARPA.s plan to create organic surveillance sensors

There are plenty of gardeners that talk to their plants in the belief that it helps them grow. While plants aren't likely to be eavesdropping on our conversations anytime soon, they could be gathering different types of intelligence if a new DARPA program bears fruit. The agency is pursuing research into genetically modifying plants to turn them into self-sustaining surveillance sensors. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is essentially the US government's major technology research arm, dedicated to developing innovations that strive for transformational technological change. Just this year we've seen landmark announcements from the agency directing funding to new gene editing technologies and development into brain-computer interface devices.
https://newatlas.com/darpa-advanced-plant-technology-sensor-research/52292/

Handheld muon detector catches ghostly cosmic ray particles

Cosmic rays are raining down over Earth all day, every day, but you'd never know it . unless of course you had the right tools. For the most part, those tools take the form of bulky, expensive lab equipment, but thanks to an MIT team, you can now build your own detector for US$100, which is small enough to take on a plane or the subway.
https://newatlas.com/portable-muon-detector/52299/

Stable plasma ring created in open air for the first time

Plasma is one of the more mysterious phases of matter, only existing on Earth fleetingly in the form of lightning or contained inside neon signs. Now a team of engineers from Caltech has created a stable ring of plasma in open air, using just a high-pressure jet of water and a crystal plate. The technique could, in the long run, unlock the potential for plasma to be used for storing energy.
https://newatlas.com/plasma-ring-open-air/52174/

Transistor breakthrough brings liquid computers closer to reality

In a step towards creating a new class of electronics that look and feel like soft, natural organisms, mechanical engineers at Carnegie Mellon University are developing a fluidic transistor out of a metal alloy of indium and gallium that is liquid at room temperature. From biocompatible disease monitors to shape-shifting robots, the potential applications for such squishy computers are intriguing.
https://newatlas.com/liquid-metal-computer/52052/

Laser light forges graphene into the third dimension

The wonder material graphene gets many of its handy quirks from the fact that it exists in two dimensions, as a sheet of carbon only one atom thick. But to actually make use of it in practical applications, it usually needs to be converted into a 3D form. Now, researchers have developed a new and relatively simple way to do just that, using lasers to "forge" a three-dimensional pyramid out of graphene.
http://newatlas.com/laser-optically-forged-3d-graphene/51516/

Light wave technology cloaks opaque materials

iRendering things invisible sounds like it belongs in the realm of Harry Potter, but it is technically possible. Researchers from TU Wien in Austria have developed a new process that allows light waves to pass right through an opaque material by projecting a matching wave pattern onto it, actively camouflaging the target from view. The technique could one day be used as a kind of invisibility cloak, and it might work just as well on sound waves.
http://newatlas.com/invisibility-cloak-material-laser/51344/

That's some crappy furniture

There's no shortage of design students turning out crappy furniture, but Sanelisiwe Mafa is making furniture from crap. And we're not talking repurposing old junk here, the Product Design Student from Birmingham City University has literally used crap as a material—cow manure to be precise.
http://newatlas.com/cow-manure-material-furniture/51197/

Graphene-fed spiders spin bionic silk

Natural spider silk is already amazingly strong stuff, plus scientists have developed synthetic versions of the material. Now, however, Italian and British researchers have split the difference, in a manner of speaking—they've created silk that comes from spiders, but that has added man-made ingredients which give it extra strength.
http://newatlas.com/bionic-spider-silk-graphene/50908/

The world's first multi-user hologram table is here, on sale in 2018

Australian company Euclideon has built a working prototype of what it calls the world's first true multi-user hologram table. Up to four people can walk around a holographic image and interact with it wearing only a small set of glasses . a far cry from bulky AR headgear. It's set to go on sale in 2018.
http://newatlas.com/hologram-tables-euclideon/50868/

Humans enter a Vulcan-like mind meld when conversing

In the Star Trek universe, Vulcans would sometimes bust out one of their most impressive abilities: the mind meld. In this maneuver, the Vulcan would form a mental bond with someone else, and the two would sync up to the point that they basically shared one consciousness. Researchers at the Basque Centre on Cognition, Brain, and Language (BCBL) in Spain have now shown that humans do something a bit similar—just by having a conversation.
http://newatlas.com/conversations-vulcan-mind-meld/50575/

A wearable electronic nanomesh so light and thin you forget it's there

Development of wearable electronics has been accelerating over the past few years. From gold-leaf smart tattoos to thin wearable circuits capable of 5G wireless communications, there have been plenty of innovative ideas, but for a wearable electronic sensor to be truly practical it would need to be comfortable when worn for extended periods of time. A team at the University of Tokyo has now developed a breathable nanoscale mesh that can be safely worn for a week without causing any skin irritation.
http://newatlas.com/electronic-nanomesh-skin-wearable-sensor/50540/

The mind-controlled musical instrument you play without moving a muscle

Scientists have been experimenting for some years with electroencephalography (EEG) as an interface for mind-controlled devices. Everything from wheelchairs to drones and even televisions have been controlled using EEG devices. Now a group of researchers has developed the Encephalophone, a musical instrument that can be played using the power of your mind.
http://newatlas.com/encephalophone-mind-controlled-musical-instrument/50476/

Shoppers in London can turn footsteps into electricity [Sole Power]

Bird Street, just off Oxford Street in London's West End, has undergone something of a transformation recently, going from an underused retail zone offshoot to the "world's first Smart Street." Designed to showcase the High Street of the future, it merges pollution-busting and sustainable technology with a traffic-free shopping and dining experience.
http://newatlas.com/bird-street-pavegen-clearair-airlite/50321/

MIT origami algorithm creates any 3D shape with minimal seams

Back in 1999, Erik Domaine was a PhD student who created an algorithm that determined the folding patterns necessary to turn a piece of paper into any 3D shape. However, the algorithm was far from perfect, often resulting in an inefficient final product with many visible seams. Eighteen years later Demaine, now a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, has completed his quest to create a universal algorithm for folding origami shapes with the smallest number of seams possible.
http://newatlas.com/origami-algorithm-creates-any-3d-shape/50225/

"Mind reading" technology can now decode complex thoughts

In the past, "mind reading" systems have been able to guess what single-digit number a person might be thinking of, but deeper thoughts have been beyond the technology's reach. Now, a team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has developed a way to accurately read more complex concepts from a brain scan, and even piece together entire sentences.
http://newatlas.com/mind-reading-complex-thoughts/50228/

Chinese satellite shatters quantum teleportation distance record

Chinese scientists have smashed the quantum entanglement distance record. Transmitting information through entangled photons had previously only been possible up to about 100 km (62 mi), but using the Micius satellite launched in August, information has effectively been teleported as far as 1,200 km (746 mi).
http://newatlas.com/quantum-entanglement-satellite-distance-record/50071/

AR and VR hand tracking with just a smartphone camera: ManoMotion SDK points to the future

At some point in the evolution of VR and AR, controllers will fade away and the headsets themselves will have sensors that track our bare hands in what's essentially real time. One firm already has an SDK—launching today—that allows developers to bake hand tracking directly into their apps, using the camera that's already on your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
http://newatlas.com/manomotion-hand-tracking-sdk-smartphones/49811/

Graphene/quantum dot hybrid system creates camera that sees visible and invisible light

For the first time, scientists at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) have managed to create a digital imaging sensor that can capture ultraviolet, infrared and visible light at the same time. What wonder materials are behind this breakthrough? No prizes for guessing it's two of the usual suspects: graphene and quantum dots.
http://newatlas.com/graphene-quantum-dot-camera-visible-infrared-uv/49764/

MetaLimbs gives you an extra pair of robotic hands

We're not going to lie, an extra pair of hands would be pretty useful sometimes (dare we say, handy). Imagine you're typing out an email while a third hand is bringing a coffee cup up to your lips, or reading a book while chowing down on some potato chips and petting the dog. A team of Japanese engineers has come up with a solution dubbed MetaLimbs—a set of robotic arms that are controlled with your feet and knees.
http://newatlas.com/metalimbs-robot-arms/49769/

"Parasitic robot" tosses treats to steer a cyborg turtle

While the most powerful robots are still learning to walk, millions of years of evolution has made animals masters of tricky terrain. To take advantage of this scientists are exploring ways to augment living animals with robotic systems, and now a team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has used a "parasitic robot" to control the movements of a live turtle by feeding it treats.
http://newatlas.com/parasitic-robot-cyborg-turtle/49729/

"Green" shoes made from algae

Back in 2015, we heard about how bioplastics firm Algix and clean tech company Effekt were collaborating to make eco-friendly foam based on algae instead of petroleum. The material is now being marketed as Bloom foam—by the newly-formed Bloom company—and you'll soon be able to buy shoes made out of the stuff.
http://newatlas.com/vivobarefoot-bloom-algae-shoes/49668/

Rise of the mind-reading machines

o you made your way to this article, but how did you do it? Did your motor cortex fire up the muscle fibers in your fingers to click on a particular area of the screen, prompting the CPU inside your device to load up this page? One day that could all seem decidedly archaic. That's because some smart people are investing big time and money into computers that can read your thoughts as they are conceived. The goal is to have machines that know what you want and will give you the information you need before you could literally lift a finger. But how far off might such a future be? Let's take a look at the current state of these brain-computer interfaces, and the challenges that remain in getting them inside our heads.
http://newatlas.com/mind-reading-machines-musk-future/48642/

World's thinnest hologram could lead to thin-film 3D displays

True holograms—3D images captured like photographs—are still a long way from replicating the flashy stage tricks that masquerade under the title. Although most holograms are still pretty tiny, a team from Australia's RMIT and the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) have created the world's thinnest holographic display, encoding a 3D image onto a material just 25 nanometers thick.
http://newatlas.com/worlds-thinnest-hologram/49591/

Spray-on technology turns Jell-O into a touch control

If you've ever sat down to a dish of Jell-O and wished that it was a touchscreen control , Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has got your back. A team of scientists at the CMU's Future Interfaces Group is working on a new technology called Electrick that uses a can of spray paint to turn almost any surface—including walls, toys, tools, furniture, steering wheels, and the popular gelatin dessert—into an interactive control.
http://newatlas.com/pray-on-touch-control/49421/

Eels use magnetoreception to hop on ocean's conveyor belt

From bacteria to butterflies, creatures have long relied upon the Earth's magnetic field to orient themselves and navigate the planet. Eels are another animal that possess this fascinating ability known as magnetoreception, but researchers have recently discovered that the sea slitherers use the talent in a unique way that lets them travel far with minimal energy.
http://newatlas.com/eels-navigate-magnetism/49014/

Would you eat dog meat grown in a lab?

Growing meat in labs might be one solution to the ethical and environmental issues of farming animals for food, but although plenty of research is focused on the practical details of how to pull that off, public attitudes to eating cultured meat have been largely overlooked. A new study has tried to shed some light on key questions, like whether the average person would eat cow-less beef, how vegetarians and vegans feel about it, and even if people would eat lab-grown horse, dog or cat meat.
http://newatlas.com/lab-grown-meat-public-attitudes/48921/

How Jetpacks could shape the future of personal transport

Earlier this month, we witnessed the first "civilian" flight of a real-life jetpack made by Jetpack Aviation. During our time at the test site in California, we also made a point of pulling aside company founder and CEO David Mayman to ask him where he sees this whole jetpack thing going, and his vision is much broader than you might expect. Mayman doesn't just see a future for jetpacks, he sees the future centered around jetpacks and other VTOL technology he's working on today.
http://newatlas.com/jetpack-aviation-david-mayman-future-autonomous-drone/48632/

Concept system puts cyborg turtles under mind control

Cyborg insects have been scuttling and buzzing around for years, but now, researchers from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have scaled the idea up to a turtle. With their concept system, a human driver could use a brain-computer interface (BCI) to send instructions to direct the movement of the turtle just by thinking about it. BCI systems have been used to control wheelchairs, drones, prosthetic limbs, and even cars, but this seems to be the first time the technology has been applied to a live animal. If you were going to choose one creature to control with your mind, the maddeningly-slow plod of a turtle might not be at the top of your list, but the researchers picked this particular animal because of its relative smarts and the fact that its natural navigation system can be "hacked" fairly easily.
http://newatlas.com/cyborg-turtle-brain-computer-interface/48604/

Liquids that pump themselves may be in the pipeline

Thanks to gravity, fluids flow downwards following the path of least resistance. To better control where they go, humans have spent thousands of years developing pipes and pumps, but now researchers at Brandeis University have mixed biological molecules into a substance that marks the first steps towards developing a self-propelling liquid that could flow free of human or gravitational influence.
http://newatlas.com/self-propelling-liquid/48628/

Zoltan Istvan on transhumanism, politics and why the human body has to go

Zoltan Istvan is a transhumanist, journalist, politician, writer and libertarian. He is also running for Governor of California for the Libertarian Party on a platform pushing science and technology to the forefront of political discourse. In recent years, the movement of transhumanism has moved from a niche collection of philosophical ideals and anarcho-punk gestures into a mainstream political movement. Istvan has become the popular face of this movement after running for president in 2016 on a dedicated transhumanist platform.
http://newatlas.com/zoltan-istvan-interview-transhumanism-politics/48041/

Welcome to the era of transhumanism [What machine would like to marry?]

In a compelling webseries from 2012 entitled H+, we were introduced to a future world where much of the population has a hi-tech implant, allowing individuals a direct neural interface with the internet. As often is the case in science fiction, things don't turn out well for those technological pioneers. A virus infects the implant and chaos quickly descends on a human race that has become biologically fused with technology.
http://newatlas.com/transhumanism-mainstream-era-popular/47941/

"Smell-o-Vision" display emits localized virtual odors

Localized dimming is a feature found in many televisions these days, but what about a display capable of producing localized smells? That's exactly what a team from the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology in Japan has created. The "smelling screen" that was recently presented at the IEEE Virtual Reality 2013 conference in Orlando, Florida can produce odors that appear to emanate from specific areas of the screen.
http://www.gizmag.com/smell-screen-localized-virtual-odor/26884/

Virginia Tech develops a better robotic jellyfish [Robotic Jellyfish?]

Last year, a team of researchers from the Virginia Tech College of Engineering unveiled RoboJelly—a robotic jellyfish in development since 2009, that's about the size of a man's hand. While the squishy little robot is certainly an impressive feat of engineering, the same team has now created a bigger, better jellybot, known as Cyro.
http://www.gizmag.com/cyro-robotic-jellyfish/26853/

Sonic tractor beam forms acoustic holograms to lift objects

Last year, researchers at the University of Dundee revealed an acoustic tractor beam that used ultrasonic energy to pull macroscopic objects in. Now researchers in the UK have developed a sonic tractor beam that generates acoustic holograms through the manipulation of high-amplitude sound waves. These acoustic holograms, which can take various shapes, such as fingers, cages and vortexes, are able to pick up and move small objects like polystyrene beads.
http://www.gizmag.com/sonic-tractor-beam/40100/

18 year-old electrical engineering student wows with levitating light

The inclusion of a floating lamp, bed or just about any appropriately-sized household object in a room is almost certain to be received with open-mouthed wonder and demand closer inspection from the curious minds of young and old alike. Add the wireless transfer of power into the mix and you're guaranteed to have a winner. Such is the case with 18 year-old Chris Rieger's LevLight. It's not exactly huge, doesn't break any new ground in a technical sense and is more functional than flashy. Nevertheless, the floating LED is quite the visual feast.
http://www.gizmag.com/rieger-wireless-power-levitating-led-light/23222/

Frogs get by with a little help from their reversible saliva

Frog tongues are sticky like glue and that's all there is to it, right? Actually no, it turns out that things aren't quite that simple. Led by mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Alexis Noel, researchers at Georgia Tech have discovered that frog saliva switches between watery and viscous states, allowing the animals to both catch prey and then whip it back into their mouths. The findings could have implications for human technology.
http://newatlas.com/frog-tongue-reversible-saliva/47695/

Tiny backpack puts dragonflies under remote control

With the ability to hover and zip along at high speeds, the dragonfly has inspired robots and micro UAVs in the past—but why reinvent the wheel when nature has already done the hard work? Now, researchers from the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) have developed a system that a living dragonfly can wear like a backpack, allowing engineers to steer it remotely to deliver payloads, conduct reconnaissance and even guide pollination.
http://newatlas.com/cyborg-dragonfly-optrode/47625/

Virtual lemonade teleports taste into plain old water

The phrase "sharing a drink with friends" could soon have a whole new meaning thanks to researchers from the National University of Singapore (NSU). A team there has developed a way to capture and digitally transmit the flavor of a drink that is reproduced using electrodes to trick your tongue into tasting the sourness of lemonade when all you're really drinking is boring old water. It's a sad fact of life that the tastiest foods and drinks are the ones that are bad for us, but clever workarounds can let us enjoy the taste of something without actually consuming it. The Edible Mist Machine puffs out inhalable clouds in over 200 flavors, from chocolate to bacon, and previous NSU research found that electrically stimulating the tongue in different ways can mimic the basic taste types of sweet, sour, salty and bitter.
http://newatlas.com/virtual-lemonade-teleports-taste/48654/


ODDBALL

Science knows how much pee is in the pool

Maybe you'd prefer not to think about it, but people do use a dip in the local swimming pool as an opportunity to relieve themselves. But in the grand scheme of things, how much pee are we talking about here? Scientists in Canada have conducted a study aimed at attaching some figures to this unsavory conundrum, and while the results do resemble drop-in-the-ocean-type proportions, they'll still be enough to make you a little more suspicious of those swimming nearby.
http://newatlas.com/science-pee-pool/48243/

"Wearable" for plants to let you converse with a chrysanthemum

Houseplants have never been known as great conversationalists, but it's possible we just can't hear what they're saying. Swiss company, Vivent SARL, is hoping to rectify that with its Phytl Signs device that picks up the tiny electrical signals emitted by plants and broadcasts them through a speaker. The ultimate goal is to translate what the plants are actually "saying."
http://www.gizmag.com/phytl-signs-talking-plants/44223/

The oddest inventions of 2015

Television, the telephone and many other great inventions throughout history were initially scoffed at before they went on to take the world by storm. That's not a likely scenario when it comes to the following list of oddball contraptions ... but you never know. In a nod to free-spirited thinking that's not beholden to suffocating notions of common sense or commercial success, here's our pick of the quirkiest inventions to hit Gizmag's pages throughout the year.
http://www.gizmag.com/weird-crazy-inventions/41000/

Battery powered trousers could have you walking on walls

A group of students at the University of Leicester in the UK have shown that it is theoretically possible to build a pair of battery-powered trousers which would allow the wearer to walk on walls or even the ceiling, if only for a short time.
http://www.gizmag.com/vacuum-trousers-wall-ceiling-walking/32988/

Glastonbury gets free "moobile" Wi-Fi hotspots

This year, high tech meets the bucolic at the Glastonbury Festival as visitors are greeted by a herd of life-sized, glass-fiber cows that double as free Wi-Fi hotspots to keep festival-goers connected.
http://www.gizmag.com/glastonbury-wi-fi-cows/32681/

Smart bra only unlocks for true love

In one of the more absurd examples of wearable technology we've seen lately, a Japanese firm has created a high-tech bra called the True Love Tester that literally snaps open only when it senses that the woman is in love.
http://www.gizmag.com/true-love-bra/30662/

Frankenstein's simulated worm is alive? [Cyberworm?]

The OpenWorm project is aimed at creating the first artificial lifeforma—a bottom-up computer model of a millimeter-sized nemotode. In an important step forward, the project's simulated worm is wriggling around in fine form.
http://www.gizmag.com/openworm-nematode-roundworm-simulation-artificial-life/30296/

Prototype "flying jellyfish" takes to the air [And your jellyfish can fly]

What could be better than a jellyfish-inspired machine that swims underwater? Well, how about one that flies in the air? A group of scientists from New York University have created just such a contraption, and it could have big implications for tiny flying robots.

Exhibit features cheese made from human bacteria [Make your own cheese]

The Selfmade cheese range is made from bacteria sourced from people's armpits, toes, and noses.
http://www.gizmag.com/selfmade-cheese-human-bacteria/29879/

"Mini Lisa" demonstrates potential of nanomanufacturing technique

Arguably the world's most famous painting, da Vinci's Mona Lisa has now been copied onto the world's smallest canvas at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
http://www.gizmag.com/mini-mona-lisa-thermochemical-nanolithography-georgia-tech/28596/

Modern Seaweed House harkens back to Danish homes of yesteryear

Joining the ranks of homes built with edible materials, such as the Tourner autour du Ried, made using corn cobs, and the Mushroom Tiny House, built with (you guessed it) mushroom-based products, is the Modern Seaweed House. Located on the small island of Læso in Denmark, the house features a simple wooden structure covered with an insulating layer of seaweed. Danish architectural firm Vandkunsten partnered with non-profit organization Realdania Byg to create the holiday home. "The idea was to re-introduce an overlooked or disregarded organic material into a modern industrialized technology during a time where low-carbon solutions are much called for," senior Vandkunsten architect Soren Nielsen tells Gizmag. "The objective was to demonstrate how a natural resource like seaweed can be integrated into a contemporary construction practice and put to an ordinary use."
http://www.gizmag.com/modern-seaweed-house-vandkunsten/28529/

Harvard's insect-sized HAMR robots bug out

Though there's much work to be done before miniature robots move exactly like insects, Harvard Microrobotics Lab is making strides with its latest prototypes. It recently demonstrated the Harvard Ambulatory MicroRobot (HAMR), a 4.4 cm quadruped that scurries around at up to 8.4 body lengths per second.
http://www.gizmag.com/harvard-insect-sized-hamr-robots/27998/

Flying bicycle gets off the ground in Prague

That iconic flying bike scene from the film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial has been relegated to the annals of pop culture science fiction for far too long now. Fortunately, three Czech companies with the support of France's Dassault Systemes have just conducted the first test flight of their own two-wheeled, airborne vehicle, dubbed the "F-Bike."
http://www.gizmag.com/flying-bicycle-f-bike-test-flight/27924/

Domino's DomiCopter takes pizza delivery airborne [Pizza Delivery by UAV]

Recently, aerial drones have been used to bless festival goers with strategically placed beer drops and burrito lovers with air-borne deliveries. The next step in the fast-food delivery evolutionary chain is the DomiCopter, an octocopter designed to ferry Domino's pizza to your front door.
http://www.gizmag.com/dominos-domicopter-pizza-delivery/27814/

Cornell develops beer-pouring robot that anticipates people's actions

What's better than as robot bartender that can pour you a beer? How about a robot waiter that can see you need a refill and comes over to pour you another one. Hema S. Koppula, a Cornell graduate student in computer science, and Ashutosh Saxena, an assistant professor of computer science are working at Cornell's Personal Robotics Lab on just such a robot. Using a PR-2 robot, they've programmed it to not only carry out everyday tasks, but to anticipate human behavior and adjust its actions.
http://www.gizmag.com/anticipatory-robot/27692

See green with Nir Meiri's seaweed lamp

At last, those agonizing about what to do with all that spare seaweed they have lying around the place can take a leaf (or perhaps frond) out of Nir Meiri's book. The Tel Aviv-based designer's Marine Light amply demonstrates that dried seaweed can make rather a natty lampshade.
http://www.gizmag.com/marine-light/27521/

Space coffee, just the way you like it

Since the early days of space travel, a consistent complaint has been bad coffee. Now a group of freshman engineering students at Rice University has developed a simple approach to alleviating this problem.
http://www.gizmag.com/space-coffee-as-you-like-it/27271/

Review: Volta Racer solar-powered toy car [Solar-Powered Toy Car]

While there are already a number of solar-powered model cars on the market, Toylabs. new Volta Racer is unique in a couple of ways—you put it together yourself, and it incorporates a flexible polycrystalline silicon solar panel. Although my days of playing with toy cars are behind me (sort of), my days of tinkering with things aren.t, so I decided to check out one of the sun-powered autos for myself.
http://www.gizmag.com/volta-racer-solar-powered-car-review/27209/

Norwegian soda company sets world's largest message in a bottle adrift

Sending messages in bottles has been around since at least the Ancient Greeks, but it's doubtful that anyone back then sent out a bottle quite like this. As part of a promotional campaign, Solo, a soft drink company based in Norway, recently built an 8-meter (26-foot) tall replica soda bottle outfitted with solar panels, a camera, and tracking technology and set it adrift in the ocean.
http://www.gizmag.com/worlds-largest-message-in-a-bottle/27137/

Technological telepathy: brain-to-brain communication between rats achieved

Telepathy has long been a subject of controversy in physical and psychological circles, offering the potential for removing the material and sensory walls between individuals, and allowing the direct transmission of information without using any of our known sensory channels or physical interactions. Although true telepathy still appears to be pseudoscience, futurists have long predicted that some form of technologically-based telepathy would eventually emerge ... and, it would appear, it has.
http://www.gizmag.com/brain-brain-communication-rats-duke/26454/

VelociRoACH: A tiny robotic cockroach with a need for speed [Fast as a speeding Roach?]

The common cockroach may make your skin crawl, but it turns out the household pest is the perfect model for miniature legged robots. That's why Duncan Haldane and his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, have been studying the six-legged pests to improve their millirobots. Their latest creation, the VelociRoACH, is made primarily out of cardboard and measures just 10 cm long, yet it can run 2.7 meters per second, making it the fastest robot of its size, capable of covering 26 times its body length in a single second.
http://www.gizmag.com/velociroach-fast-insect-robot/25795/

Wearable "CH4" fart tracker keeps a daily log of your rear end gas emissions [Was that you?]

Healthy eating might have brought you a happier, more energetic lifestyle, but have you stopped to think what effect your five daily servings of fruit and veggies are having on everyone around you? Move over, calorie counting. The Kickstarted "CH4" is a portable device designed to keep track of your personal exhaust fumes with the sole goal of helping you find the meals that make you toot the least, for the sake of everyone who spends long stretches of time with you in cramped or poorly ventilated spaces.
http://www.gizmag.com/ch4-fart-tracker/37260/

"Virtual body technology" lets users walk in someone else's shoes [Virtual Body Technology]

Despite improvements in telepresence, most virtual .traveling. amounts to little more than staring at a screen and listening to headphones. In an effort to bring the other three sense to bear, the Ikei Laboratory at the Tokyo Metropolitan University Graduate School of System Design is developing what it calls .virtual body technology.. Unveiled at the Digital Contents Expo 2012 in Tokyo last October, the system claims to use all five senses to provide an immersive virtual experience akin to inhabiting another person's body.
http://www.gizmag.com/virtual-body-technology/25547/

Poseidon Resorts completes underwater hotel design

The buzz around Poseidon Undersea Resorts has been around for a few years now (c.f. our 2007 report on the conceptually-similar Hydropolis in Dubai). Poseidon Resorts has announced that it has completed the design and engineering of structural works, indicating that the sci fi-esque undersea project is closer to getting off the ground, or better, into a lagoon on a private island in Fiji. The company is now working to secure capital for construction, which should take two years to complete, it says.
http://www.gizmag.com/poseidon-undersea-resorts/25169/


GRAPHICS

The best alternatives to Adobe Illustrator

Check out Gravit and Inkscape, which are free.
http://newatlas.com/adobe-illustrator-alternatives-guide/48002/


POLLUTION

Crystals of CO2 drawn from the air

When we hear about carbon capture technology, it typically takes the form of sponge-like materials that are used to trap excess carbon dioxide at the places it is released, such as industrial smoke stacks. Scientists from the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, however, have created a means of drawing it right out of the ambient air . and the technology involves using a liquid to turn the CO2 gas into crystals.
http://newatlas.com/carbon-capture-crystals/47309/

Smog scrubbing tower cleans up in Beijing

After debuting in the Dutch cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam last year, Studio Roosegaarde's Smog Free Tower has taken on its biggest challenge yet. It opened in Beijing, China, at the end of September and, in 41 days, cleaned 30,000,000 cu m (1,060,000,000 cu ft) of air.
http://newatlas.com/studio-roosegaarde-smog-free-tower-beijing/46623/

Plants to thank for recent plateau in rise of atmospheric CO2

We might have to treat our humble house plants to an extra helping of sunlight this week. As human-induced CO2 emissions continue to increase, a new study suggests that the Earth's vegetation has upped its game to help offset that growth. After a 40-year upward trend, the rate at which atmospheric CO2 levels increased hit a plateau between 2002 and 2014, thanks largely to plants plucking more CO2 out of the air than they have previously.
http://newatlas.com/plants-slow-co2-increase/46347/

Giant vacuum cleaner sucks up urban pollution [It really sucks!]

After 100-odd years of factories and cars belching out pollutants, the air we're breathing is far from fresh. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers airborne particles to be the most damaging pollutant to human health, and now a Dutch company has developed a creative solution: a giant vacuum cleaner that pulls in the equivalent of 32 Olympic swimming pools of air every hour and scrubs almost all toxic particles out of it. The end result is air that complies with European legislation on fine particle emissions.
http://newatlas.com/giant-vacuum-cleaner-air-purifier/46149/


URBAN FARMING

Self-cleaning aquarium fuels its rooftop herb garden with fish feces

Back in 2013, a startup called Aqua Design Innovations launched a low-maintenance home aquaponics system that relied on the natural filtering abilities of fish and plants to keep its waters clear. The company raised a whole lot of cash in the process, and is now building on that success with a bigger and better system that accommodates more plants.
https://newatlas.com/ecoqube-c-aquaponics-plants-aquarium/52591/

Augmented reality app shows how indoor plants can improve air quality and mood

We've seen some interesting ways that augmented reality can inform purchasing decisions by superimposing products into our living rooms and even into our mouths (hello million-dollar smile). A new app called Plant Life Balance takes a similar approach, drawing on scientific research to help users kit out their homes with just the right amount of air and soul-cleansing plants.
https://newatlas.com/augmented-reality-plants-air-quality-app/51960/

France's first vertical forest tower to be shrouded in 2,000 plants

As cities grow more conscious of overpopulation and pollution, ideas like apartment blocks that double as air-cleaning towers are becoming an increasingly entertain-able proposition. The latest metropolis to green-light such a project is Paris, which will welcome a new wooden structure to be shrouded in thousands of trees and plants.
https://newatlas.com/france-vertical-forest-tower/51939/

No dirt no problem: Low-cost kit grows plants in mid-air

Technologies developed to grow without soil and nutrients might not only help with future space missions, but could also prove pivotal in feeding the developing world. For design student Nikian Aghababaie, this is exactly where he drew inspiration from for a low-cost approach to growing vegetables without soil and using minimal water, something he hopes can ease world hunger and generate income for rural communities.
http://newatlas.com/no-dirt-low-cost-kit-plants-air/50792/

NASA turns to Tupperware to help grow space veggies

Growing fresh vegetables aboard the International Space Station (ISS) may be a morale booster, but it does take up a lot of the crew's schedule. In an effort to make space gardening less time consuming, NASA is teaming up with Tupperware Brands and the technology company Techshot to improve the current experimental hydroponics system used aboard the station.
http://newatlas.com/nasa-tupperware-space-veggies/50607/

Innovative indoor garden takes your plants for a spin

The main selling point of the system is that it takes up less floor space than a traditional indoor growing setup. That said, its Quebec-based designers also claim that because the plants are continuously growing from a variety of angles (relative to gravity), they end up with fuller more robust leaves. If you're interested in getting one, the OGarden can now be ordered for CAD$1,397 (about US$1,098). There's more information in the video below.
http://newatlas.com/ogarden-ferris-wheel-plants/50489/

Earthworms can thrive and reproduce in Martian soil simulants

If humans are ever going to colonize Mars . which we will, if NASA and Elon Musk have their way . then we need to make sure we can grow food locally. Now a team from Wageningen University & Research has found that earthworms might soon need a name change: the creatures, a crucial part of making soil fertile, can thrive and reproduce in simulated Martian soil.
https://newatlas.com/mars-soil-crops-worms/52372/

Mars potato study sprouts promising early results [Potatoes on Mars!]

With dangerous amounts of radiation, a thin atmosphere and frigid temperatures, the first people to land on Mars will have a fight on their hands to survive. And if we do figure out how to endure these harsh conditions, what will we do when dinner time rolls around? To explore ways these pioneers might be able to live off the land, scientists have been trying to grow potatoes on Earth in Mars-like conditions. The early results are now in and are described as positive.
http://newatlas.com/mars-potato-study-promising/48337

Floating food forest brings nourishing nosh to New York

A soon-to-be-launched project in New York is set to float the idea of waterborne farms, literally. Swale, is a mobile floating food forest built from repurposed shipping containers that will provide the public with free access to visit and to pick its freshly grown produce.
http://www.gizmag.com/swale-new-york/42998/

Vertical farming moves into the store

Recently-opened vertical farms from the likes of FarmedHere and AeroFarms allow produce to be grown more efficiently, transported shorter distances and arrive fresher in stores. A vertical farm in Germany, however, is going more local and fresher still, with produce actually being grown in-store.
http://www.gizmag.com/infarm-microfarm-pilot/42455/

FarmedHere has high ambitions with new 60,000 sq ft vertical farm

The US city of Louisville, KY, is set to become home to a major new vertical farm. The FarmedHere facility will be part of the new 24-ac (9.7-ha) West Louisville FoodPort that will be home to a community of food-related businesses. It will grow microgreens, herbs and vegetables.
http://www.gizmag.com/farmedhere-vertical-farm-west-louisville-foodport/41569/

"Vertical Forest" planned for Switzerland

Following an architectural competition, Italy's Stefano Boeri has been given the nod to design a "vertical forest" for Lausanne, Switzerland. The novel tower will be dominated by greenery and boast some sustainable technology, including solar power and rainwater collection.
http://www.gizmag.com/vertical-forest-lausanne-stefano-boeri/40367/

Tomato growth boosted with a spray of nanoparticles [How big is your tomato?]

Fans of The Simpsons may recall Lisa using genetic engineering to create a super tomato that she hoped would cure world hunger. Now researchers at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) have come close to the real thing, not through genetic engineering, but with the use of nanoparticles. Although the individual fruit aren't as large as Lisa's creation, the team's approach has resulted in tomato plants that produced almost 82 percent more fruit by weight, with the fruit also boasting higher antioxidant content.
http://www.gizmag.com/nanoparticles-boost-growth-of-tomatoes/40285/

World's largest green roof planned for Cupertino development

Developers Sand Hill Property Company recently acquired an enviable chunk of Silicon Valley real estate in the form of Cupertino's Vallco Shopping Mall. The firm has big plans for the 50 acre (20 hectare) site, and in a US$3 billion development project, aims to turn it into a sustainable mixed-use town center that boasts the world's largest green roof.
http://www.gizmag.com/cupertino-vallco-mall-worlds-largest-green-roof/39353/

New California housing community has its own urban farm

A new farm-to-table community, said to be the first in California, has opened in the city of Davis. The Cannery is made up of more than 500 energy-efficient homes, open spaces and trails surrounded and fed by a 7.4-ac (3-ha) working farm.
http://www.gizmag.com/the-cannery-davis-farm-to-fork-agrihood/39247/

Astronauts chow down on space harvest for the first time

The International Space Station (ISS) was the scene of an historic lunch this week with the crew members of Expedition 44 dining on the first meal harvested in space. The dish, which consisted on leaves of "Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce grown in NASA's "Veggie" zero-gravity greenhouse, is part of the space agency's effort to find ways to feed tomorrow's deep-space travelers.
http://www.gizmag.com/astronauts-first-space-harvest-veggie-lettuce/38836/

The vertical farm goes mobile

Vertical farms present an efficient, cost-effective and sustainable means of producing food in the face of growing worldwide population. A see-through, mobile vertical farm project called Isabel is aiming to take this message on the road. Conceived by Ryan Hooks, Isabel is designed to accelerate the "vertical farming revolution" by showing people that this approach can see crops grown twice as fast and using 95 percent less water than traditional agriculture, as well as without the use of pesticides.
http://www.gizmag.com/isabel-mobile-vertical-farm/38635/

Skip Garden: a mobile, sustainable temporary restaurant

A community space, garden and kitchen in the King's Cross area of London is feeding its customers with food grown in skips (aka dumpsters). The Skip Garden is designed to be easily moved around unused development spaces. It is built with recycled materials and employs organic farming techniques.
http://www.gizmag.com/skip-garden-mobile-sustainable-temporary-restaurant/38633/

AeroFarms to open "world's largest indoor vertical farm"

An upcoming indoor vertical farm is not only claimed to be the world's largest, but to use cutting edge growing technology. AeroFarms' new 69,000 sq ft (6,410 sq m) facility in Newark, New Jersey, will be based in a converted steel factory and will incorporate a new corporate HQ for the firm. It's expected to grow high-quality and healthy produce all year round.
http://www.gizmag.com/aerofarm-indoor-vertical-farm/38380/

Growing Underground farms greens in forgotten tunnels below London

The "world's first underground urban farm" is set to start selling herbs and salads grown 33 m (108 ft) below the streets of London. Growing Underground is based in disused World War II tunnels. At less than two miles from the city-center, it promises farm-to-fork produce in less than four hours.
http://www.gizmag.com/growing-underground-subterranean-urban-farm-london/38297/

PodPlants: Modular, plug and play vertical gardens for indoor spaces

In 2014, Australian Podplants founder Chris Wilkins won the Australian Innovation Challenge for his fresh take on vertical gardens for indoor spaces. The award came with $10,000 in prize money and recognition for the unique technology that he has developed in conjunction with Sydney University, over the last eight.
http://www.gizmag.com/podplants-indoor-vertical-garden-green-wall/38093/

Open source Mini-Farm Grow Box allows gardeners to grow greens in the home

Texas-based consumer health advocate Mike Adams of non-profit organization Food Rising has developed a new soil-free, non-electric, home-based food grow system called the Mini-Farm Grow Box. The system doesn't require home gardeners to weed out invaders, there are no pumps, motors or complex parts to service and maintain, and it's reported to require about 1/20th of the water of conventional agriculture and about half the space of soil gardening.
http://www.gizmag.com/food-rising-min-farm-grow-box/36259/

Inner city vertical farm concept designed using shipping containers

Vertical farming and building with shipping containers have been touted as solutions to dwindling space in cities and costly construction, respectively. A new concept wants to combine the two as a means of re-localizing food production. The Hive-Inn is a modular and adaptable city farm design.
http://www.gizmag.com/ova-hive-inn-city-farm/33058/

Urban Skyfarm concept would provide inner city farming space

Two problems caused by increasing overpopulation in cities are how to use space productively and how to feed everyone. A new concept design suggests a means of addressing both these issues. Aprilli Design Studio's Urban Skyfarm is a tree-like skyscraper that provides space for crop farming.
http://www.gizmag.com/aprilli-design-studio-urban-skyfarm/32954/

Origami-like mini-greenhouse lets urbanites grow their own microgreens

Once thought of as an urban fad, the concept of growing produce in the inner-city has started to gain acceptance. But for Infarm of Germany, the idea of grow-your-own comes in the form of a translucent origami-like greenhouse, specially designed to grow those tiny baby greens known as microgreens.
http://www.gizmag.com/infram-microgreen-microgarden/32184/

LITTLE GREEN HOUSES

This tiny shelter is for the birds

Canada's Studio North recently designed and built this appealing little A-frame shelter that sleeps up to two people. Named Birdhut, it's located in a forested garden in British Columbia, Canada, and features a novel facade that sports a dozen birdhouses designed to house a variety of local birds.
https://newatlas.com/birdhut-studio-north/52183/

Parking space-sized micro-house is made for city life [Livin' on the street]

With space at a serious premium in many cities, some think that downsizing may be the answer to housing growing populations. Few homes come much smaller than the Tikku (which is Finnish for Stick), by architect Marco Casagrande. It has a footprint of just 2.5 x 5 m (8.2 x 16.4 ft), making it roughly the size of a standard car parking space.
https://newatlas.com/casagrande-laboratory-tikku-micro-house/51728/

Couple builds tiny A-frame cabin for just $700

Photographer Alla Ponomareva and her husband Garrett wanted a new guest house for their home near Missoula, Montana. Rather than commission a firm to build it for them, the pair rolled-up their sleeves and constructed a solar-powered A-frame cabin for roughly US$700.
http://newatlas.com/a-frame-cabin-alla-ponomareva/51499/

Disaster housing starchitect Shigeru Ban turns to refugee settlement in Kenya

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has made his name by using cardboard and wood to craft low-cost disaster housing, and he will need to be at his enterprising and creative best as he tackles his next big project. The 2014 Pritzker prize winner has signed on to design thousands of new shelters in a major refugee settlement in Kenya, where he will have to make do with harsh conditions and limited resources.
http://newatlas.com/shigeru-ban-refugee-settlement-kenya/50587/

Shigeru Ban's cardboard and bamboo shelters highlighted in new exhibit

Japan's Shigeru Ban is a bone-fide starchitect best known for using his considerable talents to design temporary low-cost emergency housing using materials like beer crates and cardboard tubes. Two of his innovative shelters, plus other works, are currently on display in Sydney's Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF) art gallery.
http://newatlas.com/shigeru-ban-emergency-shelters-scaf/48740/

Houses don't come a lot smaller than this tiny London pad

Due to house prices in London being what they are, some shrewd firms are looking to turn even the smallest space into a viable home. With this in mind, Studiomama has transformed a tiny former minicab (taxi) office into a full-time home using clever custom furniture and interior design
http://newatlas.com/studiomama-13-sq-metre-house-london/48069/

Stackable apartments offer a tiny solution to homelessness

Homelessness is as big an issue in San Francisco as any other major city, but local firm Panoramic Interests has designed a self-contained stackable tiny apartment that it promotes as a viable solution. MicroPAD modular dwellings comprise a total floorspace of just 160 sq ft (14 sq m), but include a kitchenette, sleeping area, and bathroom.
http://newatlas.com/panoramic-interests-micro-pad-homeless/

This home could be built using a hex key in under 24 hours

Building space is increasingly at a premium in central Beijing and even cramped apartments can fetch a small fortune, but China's People's Architecture Office (PAO) recently completed a new home for a first-time buyer for just US$10,000. Based on the firm's patented prefabricated panel system, Mrs. Fan's Plugin House was assembled by a small team in just a few hours, but has the potential to be constructed by a couple of unskilled people in as little as 24 hours using a single hex key.
http://newatlas.com/peoples-architecture-office-mrs-fans-plugin/46779/

Off-grid flatpack cabins would assemble like Ikea furniture

Vancouver's Leckie Studio recently launched the Backcountry Hut Company, to offer modular cabins that come flat-packed and are put together like a piece of furniture from Ikea. Still in the design stage, the cabins will be able to run on or off-the-grid with solar power, and will come in multiple configurations.
http://newatlas.com/backcountry-hut-company/46637/

Build your own tiny house with Bunk Box plans

If interested in owning a tiny house, you could purchase one from a specialist firm, but for handy types happy to roll up their sleeves, PAD (Portland Alternative Dwellings) has collaborated with Shelter Wise to offer plans for its Bunk Box. On the small side, even for a tiny house, this model looks best suited as a weekender, second home, or perhaps a guest home.
http://newatlas.com/shelter-wise-pad-bunk-box-tiny-house-plans/46535/

Pint-sized tiny house designed for weekends away

Tiny house company Escape has followed up its Vista and Vista Go with a new model based on the same basic design. Dubbed Vista Sport, it's the firm's smallest and most affordable towable dwelling to date and blurs the already fine line between small tiny house and camping trailer.
http://newatlas.com/escape-vista-sport/46266/

Prototype tiny house can be assembled in just 3 hours [Just add water]

The Czech Republic's Pin-Up Houses has developed a prototype prefab tiny house that may lack in amenities, but excels in cost and speed of assembly. Named France, it comes in at just US$1,200, and takes a team of three just three hours to build.
http://newatlas.com/france-tiny-house-pin-up-houses/45392/

Eco-friendly West Wing wins 2016 Shed of the year

alented sheddie Kevin Herbert has won this year's Shed of the Year competition with his charming Eco entry, the West Wing. Constructed from 90 percent recycled materials, it's an excellent example of the do-it-yourself spirit behind the shed scene, and was a real labor of love, taking eight years to build from start to finish.
http://newatlas.com/2016-shed-of-the-year-winner/45037/

Movable concrete micro-home can be installed in just 7 hours

Estonian firm Kodasema is developing a prefabricated concrete micro-home that can be assembled and installed on-site within just seven hours, then moved to another location with relative ease. Once it's ready for market, the home is expected to fetch roughly .100,000 (around US$111,000), excluding transport costs.
http://www.gizmag.com/koda-concrete-micro-home-prefab/44384/

Tiny house made from cardboard is flexible, fun and green ["Make your home in a cardboard box!"]

Living in a cardboard box generally signifies that you've fallen on hard times, but a new cardboard-based tiny house dubbed Nido House makes the idea seem really quite appealing. The off-grid dwelling boasts a solar power system and rainwater recovery system, and will be offered in multiple sizes and designs.
http://www.gizmag.com/nido-house-cardboard-tiny-house/43962/

A contemporary take on the tiny house

Netherlands-based tiny house enthusiast Marjolein Jonker's new home is definitely one of the more attractive examples of small living we've recently come across. The off-grid tiny house eschews the popular cute miniature cottage look in favor of a more clean-lined and contemporary design that also looks a little more roomy inside than your typical home on wheels.
http://www.gizmag.com/marjolein-in-miniature-tiny-house/43680/

Tiny house built in just three days, promptly sold for charity

Tiny houses are usually built pretty quickly compared to a typical brick-and-mortar home, but the Tiny Task project barely left time for the paint to dry. The snug dwelling was constructed by a group of 10 people in just 72 hours in Manhattan, NYC. Once completed, it was sold on eBay for US$26,600, with all the proceeds going to charity.
http://www.gizmag.com/tiny-task-72-hours-charity/43501/

Tiny house pays homage to classic Airstream trailer

French firm La Tiny House drew inspiration from the vintage Airstream trailer while designing its Tiny Stream tiny house. While the miniature dwelling doesn't closely resemble the Airstream's classic styling to us, the approach definitely paid off, resulting in an attractive home that's a welcome change from the stereotypical shed-on-wheels.
http://www.gizmag.com/la-tiny-house-tiny-stream/43336/

Young couple goes Dutch with $28k tiny house build

Deciding that standard domestic life and its trappings wasn't for them, Dutch couple Martijn and Irene ditched their careers for seasonal work that left them more time to travel the world. Next, with the wanderlust bug well and truly caught, the pair set upon building an off-grid towable tiny house from scratch over their winter break for just €25,000 (about US$28,270).
http://www.gizmag.com/tiny-house-project-netherlands/43000/

Tiny home is filled with light

The team over at Shelter Wise has revealed its latest tiny house build, which boasts a feeling of added space and lots of natural light. The "Hikari Box" home features a 184-sq ft (17-sqm) open floorplan, a 79-sq ft (705-sqm) main sleeping loft and an additional 23-sq ft (2-sqm) small loft. The overall design is a culmination of several shed roof designs that Shelter Wise has used in the past, combining the best features of all of them into one single home.
http://www.gizmag.com/hikari-box-shelter-wise/42958/

High hopes for tiny house made from hemp [Not touching this one!

As any good hippy will tell you, the cannabis plant isn't only good for getting stoned. Hemp has been used for thousands of years for all kinds of stuff, including making rope, clothing, and even cars. With this in mind, Albany, NY-based Green Built has high hopes it can bring cannabis construction into the US mainstream with its hemp-based tiny house.
http://www.gizmag.com/green-built-tiny-house/42684/

Container-based homes designed to meet a multitude of needs [Can opener not included]

Canadian firm Honomobo has launched a new range of shipping container-based homes and living spaces. Able to serve as a standalone tiny house, garage suite, or annex/accessory suite, the containers come in various sizes and can be outfitted with solar power and upgraded insulation.
http://www.gizmag.com/honomobo-container-home-range/42635/

Shipping container-based housing comes to South Texas

San Antonio, Texas-based firms Development Strategies, Inc and Alamo Architects recently completed the first phase of a shipping container-based housing development in Encinal, TX. The project comprises seven container-based apartments and focuses on energy-efficiency and affordability.
http://www.gizmag.com/shipping-container-apartments-south-texas/42150/

Roving tiny house kit caters for DIYers or unhandy buyers

US building supplies firm 84 Lumber has joined the burgeoning small living movement with the launch of a new tiny house range that aims to cater to anyone's skills and budget, from screwdriver-phobes to DIY experts. Its debut model, the Roving, looks a good balance between size, price and amenities, and costs US$19,884 for the Semi-DIY option, which includes a basic shell, doors and trailer.
http://www.gizmag.com/84-lumber-the-roving-tiny-house/42187/

Finnish micro house is small enough to build without a permit

Designer Robin Falck has created his very own micro home that is small enough to be built without a permit in Finland. According to Finnish regulations, you can bypass the permit process if the structure is smaller than 96 or 128 square feet (depending on where you build). With the help of a couple of local architects, Falck was able to make his original designs a reality and the result is this simple and stylish rural retreat.
http://www.gizmag.com/finnish-micro-house/22580/

Flat-pack NOMAD Micro Home promises inexpensive off-grid living

Canadian company NOMAD Homes has produced a new concept micro-home that measures just 100 sq ft (9.2 sq m), ships as a flat-pack, can operate off-grid, and is said to be easy-to-build. The firm has turned to Indiegogo to raise funds for manufacturing, and eventually intends to sell the base version of the home for under US$25,000.
http://www.gizmag.com/nomad-micro-home/29689

Flat-packed Mini House takes two days to install

Mini House is a functional prefabricated modular home that comes delivered flat-packed and can be constructed on-site in just two days. The first prototypes, which were designed and built by Swedish architect Jonas Wagell in 2010, are currently being used as summer houses in different parts of Sweden
http://www.gizmag.com/flat-packed-mini-house/23930/

Prefabricated LM Guest House facade built in two days

Located in Dutchess County, NY, the LM Guest House is a 2,000 sq ft country retreat that boast a continuous glass facade that was prefabricated off-site and erected in just two days. The compact home also features a series of sustainable measures, including the use of geothermal and solar power, solar shades and recycled rainwater for irrigation. In an email interview, Gizmag spoke to senior architect Katherine Chia from the New York based firm, Desai Chia Architecture, to find out more about the design.
http://www.gizmag.com/interview-lm-guest-house/27266/

Vista tiny house lowers price, increases view

Escape has made a name for itself in the tiny house community with its Park Model RV and Traveler tiny homes, which offer an excellent finish and well thought-out features. Its latest model, the Vista, promises the same craftsmanship but at a lower price, and features optional off-grid technology, very generous glazing, and a space-saving layout.
http://www.gizmag.com/escape-vista-tiny-house/41714/

Blue Forest hatches nest-shaped treehouse development [My nest or your nest?]

British luxury treehouse builder Blue Forest, the same firm responsible for the Quiet Treehouse and Eco-PERCH, recently unveiled its plan to construct a low-impact vacation home development in the UK. Dubbed Nesting, the project features bird nest-shaped treehouses that include energy-efficient lighting, heating, and insulation.
http://www.gizmag.com/nesting-blue-forest/41390/

Esk'et Tiny House is not your average tiny home

Tiny house enthusiasts Robert and Bettina Johnson from Alkali Lake in British Columbia, Canada, have recently completely their own 280 sq ft (26 sqm) home. Combining a surprisingly large and modern interior with a beautiful curved roofline and references to local art and tradition, this is one tiny home that stands apart.
http://www.gizmag.com/esket-tiny-house/41293/

Porta Palace takes the tiny home on the road in the Netherlands

Dutch designer and tiny house enthusiast Daniel Venneman, who previously bought us the DIY Hermit House, has recently completed a new tiny home on wheels. Dubbed Porta Palace, the 18 m2 (194 ft2) home was specifically designed for Venneman's building partner, Jelte Glas. Glas was wanting to create his very own home that not only would he be able to afford, but would also bring him closer to nature.
http://www.gizmag.com/portapalace/40938/

Kristie Wolfe is building a Hobbit House micro-community

Designer, dressmaker and tiny house expert Kristie Wolfe, who created the inexpensive Hawaiian vacation home we reported on earlier this year, is building her very own "Shire" comprising three off-grid Hobbit Homes. The first dwelling has just been completed, and the plan is to have the entire project finished by mid-2016.
http://www.gizmag.com/kristie-wolfe-off-grid-hobbit-tiny-house/40997/

Solar-powered treehouse is for the birds

Located at the base of an ancient hill fort in Somerset, England, the Yurt Retreat is an eco-retreat that includes four luxury glamping yurts and a communal lodge. Its most recent addition is the Bird house, a solar-powered treehouse-style dwelling that was part-built using local and reclaimed materials.
http://www.gizmag.com/bird-house-treehouse-yurt-retreat/40941/

Wave Eco Cabin takes you off-grid with style

UK-based Echo Living, which we last featured for its Brockloch Bothy Eco Pod, has unveiled a new off-grid eco cabin. Despite being geared up for self-reliance, the Wave Eco Cabin has a slick design, with a curved exterior clad in Western Red Cedar and a stylish interior. Echo Living
http://www.gizmag.com/echo-living-wave-eco-cabin/40700/

VIMOB shelters are easy to build in difficult places

If you've ever found the ideal spot for your own remote cabin but thought it too inaccessible to build in, the new VIMOB shelter may be for you. Created by Colectivo Creativo Arquitectos, it is designed for construction in areas that are difficult to access. It's modular, prefabricated and reportedly easy to assemble.
http://www.gizmag.com/colectivo-creativo-arquitectos-vimob-shelter/40652/

Thoreau's Cabin is at one with nature

Here's a lovely little project from Amsterdam's cc-studio. Named Thoreau's Cabin in honor of American author Henry David Thoreau, the off-grid shelter features a wood-burning stove, large sliding doors that open it up to the outside, and an understated elegance that enables it to complement, rather than dominate, its surroundings.
http://www.gizmag.com/cc-studio-thoreau-cabin-netherlands/40584/

Tiny green-roofed home can be packed up and moved on with minimal ecological footprint

Ecuadorian architects Luis Velasco Roldan and ngel Hevia Antua have joined forces to develop a 50 sq m (538 sq ft) green-roofed home called the Nelson Homero ESPE Prototype II. The aim was to create an energy-efficient housing prototype that combines natural materials with traditional building methods, which could be dismantled and moved to different locations for energy efficiency testing in different climates.
http://www.gizmag.com/tiny-green-roofed-house-velasco-antuna/39909

Thinking small: Celebrating the very best in tiny houses

Whether for financial or ethical reasons, or in pursuit of a better way of life, increasing numbers of people are joining the burgeoning small living movement. Join Gizmag as we give a big thumbs up to 10 of the most attractive, innovative, and downright interesting tiny houses we've come across in the past 12 months.
http://www.gizmag.com/top-tiny-homes-2015/40261/

Low-cost S House nears mass production

Vietnam's Vo Trong Nghia Architects recently displayed its latest S House prototype at the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Designed for low-income families, the simple home is nearing the mass production stage and is expected to cost less than US$1,000 to construct.
http://www.gizmag.com/s-house-prototype-vo-trong-nghia/40211/

Dom Arquitectura's Wood Studio House is efficient, prefab, sustainable and passive

Energy efficiency, prefabricated construction, sustainable architecture and passive design are all trends that we touch on regularly at Gizmag. Rarely, though, have we seen them squeezed together with such high concentration as in Dom Arquitectura's Wood Studio House
http://www.gizmag.com/dom-arquitectura-wood-studio-house/40042/

$8,000 home proposed for Mexico

Interesting architecture doesn't always come with a high price tag. In a similar vein to the S House and Low Cost House, Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao unveiled an US$8,000 home at this year's Chicago Architecture Biennial. The low-cost house could perhaps one day complement existing social housing options in Mexico.
http://www.gizmag.com/8000-dollar-house-tatiana-bilbao/39919/

Tiny prefab Box homes go up in as little as a day

London's Bert and May Group recently launched a series of clever prefabricated box homes that take as little as one day to set up. The design firm has created four different versions of its prefabricated Big Box home, ranging from a 46-sq m (495-sq ft), two-bedroom family home, down to a 7.7-sq m (82-sq ft) tiny home. Created in collaboration with local architectural studio Box 9 Design and taking 14 weeks to manufacture, the fully-functional tiny dwellings boast a rustic appeal, eco-friendly materials, structural insulation and a green roof.
http://www.gizmag.com/big-box-prefab-homes/39632/

Dublin considers modular homes for the homeless

According to the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), there were 607 families in emergency accommodation in Dublin during August this year. One means of reducing this, it says, could be the use of modular housing. It can be built quickly and inexpensively to house homeless families temporarily.
http://www.gizmag.com/modular-houses-for-homeless-dublin/39479/

Off-grid writer's retreat offers a tiny place to create

Boston-based startup Getaway was recently formed by a group of Harvard students to provide tiny houses for rent to those wanting to escape the grind or give tiny living a test-drive (something we'd recommend trying before diving in with both feet). Its latest diminutive dwelling, the Lorraine, offers up to two occupants a comfortable off-grid writer's retreat, well-provisioned with everything that's required to get in the mood to create.
http://www.gizmag.com/the-lorraine-getaway/39241/

iFreedom Yurt-Cabins: A modern take on the nomadic shelter [My yurt or your yurt?]

Good ideas tend to stand the test of time and the yurt is no exception, hence the number of modern options on the market. Aurora, Colorado-based Freedom Yurt-Cabins offers its own updated take on the nomadic dwelling, with improvements including energy-efficient windows, a proper front door, and modern insulation. It's available in a number of sizes, with the smallest 217 sq ft (20 sq m) model starting at just under US$12,000.
http://www.gizmag.com/freedom-yurt-cabins/39022/

Elevate puts a tiny house on a pedestal

Honolulu, Hawaii-based firm Elevate recently unveiled an eponymous prototype structure that could appeal to fans of tiny houses and treehouses alike. Raised between 8 - 12 ft (2.4 - 3.6 m) on a wooden pedestal, the greenery-covered dwelling features a partially shaded space to park a car underneath, and boasts solar panels and a rainwater collection system.
http://www.gizmag.com/elevate-tiny-house-kickstarter/38911/

Dwell's zero energy Emerald Star home uses almost entirely reclaimed wood

A new home in Seattle is described as having a cutting-edge combination of green technology, renewables and reclaimed materials. It is designed by Dwell Development to be Built Green Emerald Star certified. If the certification is awarded, it will be be the first home of its kind in the city.
http://www.gizmag.com/dwell-development-emerald-star-home-seattle/38952/

RE:Build uses sand and gravel to make a better shelter

Created to ease the plight of displaced refugees, Re:Build is a basic scaffold-based construction system that can be used to build a home, school, clinic, or whatever else is required. It makes use of readily-available onsite materials like sand, gravel, and earth, and enables the refugees themselves to construct the structures.
http://www.gizmag.com/rebuild-shelter/38724/

Sustainer Homes creates green, off-grid homes from shipping containers

Using old shipping containers is seen as an environmentally friendly means of constructing new homes. Taking this one step further, Sustainer Homes has begun making off-grid container dwellings that incorporate self-managed water, sewerage, electricity and gas. The containers (or "sustainers") are designed primarily as homes, but could also be used for hotels, holiday housing or even emergency shelters. There are several sizes and designs available, with a 1 to 2 person 30-sq m (323 sq ft) version available for €75,000 (US$82,500). Larger, family-sized containers, offices and holiday models for different climates are in development.
http://www.gizmag.com/sustainer-homes-off-grid-shipping-container-homes/38590/

Smart low-carbon Solcer House generates more electricity than it uses

A Welsh university claims to have built the UK.s first low-cost, low-carbon, energy-positive house. The Solcer House was built by Cardiff University's Solcer Project, part of the LCRI Program (Low Carbon Research Institute). It was designed as a prototype with off-the-shelf technologies to show how low-carbon targets could be met.
http://www.gizmag.com/solcer-house-smart-energy-positive-low-carbon/38511/

Backyard BI(h)OME shelter can provide affordable housing in LA gardens

A team from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has designed a shelter that it says can tackle LA's housing crisis in an environmentally-friendly manner. The Backyard BI(h)OME is affordable, low impact and recyclable. What's more, it can be easily constructed in people's back gardens
http://www.gizmag.com/backyard-bihome-shelter/38464/

Wohnwagon tiny home can look after itself

An Austrian company is building trailer homes that are designed not only to be compact, but with self-sufficiency in mind, too. Wohnwagon's trailers provide 25 sq m (269 sq ft) of living space and have their own off-grid electricity, water and waste systems. They can also be used as offices, guest rooms or cafes.
http://www.gizmag.com/wohnwagon-off-grid-trailer-home/38398/

Students create solar-powered tiny house

For many of us, making something during an extracurricular high school activity probably involved bringing home a papier-mch head or wonky flower pot to proud parents, but Berkeley, CA high school students constructed a solar-powered tiny house. The unnamed dwelling measures just 9.2 sq m (100 sq ft) and includes a small sleeping and storage area.
http://www.gizmag.com/berkeley-students-tiny-home-studio-h/37871/

Two million people helped design this Swedish home

Stockholm-based Tham & Videgrd (of wooden high-rise fame) took an unusual approach while aiming to design a house that could be all things to all people. The firm analyzed data created by roughly 2 million Swedes—or 20 percent of the country's population—to design what's billed as a new type of democratic architecture.
http://www.gizmag.com/tham-videgard-house-of-clicks/37582/

Tiny living, Steampunk style

From supersized tiny homes to a cabin disguised as a rock, we've covered some unusual abodes here at Gizmag. The recently-completed Steampunk Adventure Home, by Ogden, Utah-based Maximus Extreme Living Solutions, is just as left-of-field, and the tough towable home highlights the impressive variety of the small living movement with its Steampunk-inspired detailing.
http://www.gizmag.com/steampunk-tiny-house-maximus-extreme/37321/

Thousand Crow tiny house sidesteps the Vancouver housing market

Vancouver's housing market is relatively expensive, and this naturally prevents a lot of people from being able to afford to own their own homes. Following some sub-par rental experiences, Vancouver resident Isabella Mori contacted local firm Camera Buildings to construct her a 18.5 sq m (189 sq ft) tiny home that she could afford to own outright.
http://www.gizmag.com/thousand-crow-tiny-house-isabella-legosi-camera-buildings/36962/

Impossible City: A youth-built off-grid movable eco-village for Seattle's homeless

A project by Seattle-based charity Sawhorse Revolution is both educating young people and creating accommodation for the homeless. The Impossible City is a community of housing built by local teens as they learn new skills. The accommodation is designed to be affordable, sustainable and movable.
http://www.gizmag.com/impossible-city-seattle-homeless-shelters/37049/

Geoff De Ruiter builds tiny treehouse retreat for $8,200

"Working at heights is risky," affirms Geoff de Ruiter when quizzed by Gizmag on the challenges he faced while building a tiny treehouse perched 5.1 m (17 ft) off the ground in British Columbia. Happily though, the University of Northern British Columbia PhD student recently completed the Raven Loft treehouse without incident for just US$8,200, plus land costs, leaving him with a mortgage- and debt-free tiny retreat.
http://www.gizmag.com/raven-loft-geoff-de-ruiter/36870/

Kristie Wolfe builds a tiny slice of paradise on a shoestring budget

Designer and dressmaker Kristie Wolfe is the handy type, and a few years ago she dove headfirst into the small living movement, constructing herself a 9 sq m (97 sq ft) home in Boise, Idaho. This proved so successful that she decided to build another, this time an off-grid vacation home in Kona, Hawaii. The recently-completed treehouse cost around US$11,000 and took three months to build. Including travel costs, the purchase of land, and all additional expenses, the whole project came in at just $23,000.
http://www.gizmag.com/kristie-wolfe-paradise-shoestring-budget/36849/

LivingHomes sustainable prefab houses are judged by their own standard

Back in 2013, Gizmag covered the launch of the C6 sustainable prefab homes from LivingHomes. The residences were designed to be low-cost and to be LEED Platinum certified. Since then, the company has installed one in LA, recently broke ground for another in San Diego and has yet another ready for installation.
http://www.gizmag.com/livinghomes-c6-sustainable-prefab-homes/36759/

Transforming Tiny Home built for under $500

The tiny living community is filled with enthusiasts who think outside the box in a bid to turn what's essentially a shed into a viable home at minimal cost. Pacific Northwest resident Scott Brooks offers a great example of what can be achieved with a shoestring budget under the right circumstances, with the recently-completed Transforming Tiny Home, which was built for an estimated cost of under US$500.
http://www.gizmag.com/transforming-tiny-home-under-500/36188/

Copper huts planned for Canadian golf resort will "disappear" over time

Canadian architectural studio MU has proposed the construction of approximately 50 triangular luxury huts as part of the Bigwin Island development in Lake of Bays, Ontario, Canada. The "Giants of Bigwin" project features a collection of private retreats dedicated to guests of the esteemed Bigwin Golf Club. Measuring between 1,200 and 1,500 square feet (111 and 140 sqm), the huts are designed to eventually blend into their leafy surrounds.
http://www.gizmag.com/giants-of-bigwin-mu-architecture/36096/

Students convert a storehouse into a tiny house for under $500

Iowa-based Central College environmental studies majors Amy Andrews and Ethan Van Kooten decided to build a tiny house for their senior project. Thanks to a hand-me-down storehouse, combined with the pair's knack for salvaging furniture from scrap, they were able to do so at a cost of just US$489.
http://www.gizmag.com/van-kooten-andrews-tiny-home/36016/

Off-grid tiny shelter and artist's studio is on the move

The Observatory is the work of four architecture graduates from London-based firm Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios . Charlotte Knight, Mina Gospavic, Ross Galtress, Lauren Shevills, and Edward Crumpton . and was commissioned by SPUD Studio, the firm responsible for the Exbury Egg. It comprises two structures: The Workshop and The Study. The Workshop provides a space for members of the public to come and view the art created, while The Study is a tiny shelter in which the artist will live and work for up to two months at a time.
http://www.gizmag.com/observatory-tiny-shelter-artist-studio/35951/

Simple Home sprouts legs to stand its ground

Austrian Gerhard Feldbacher recently unveiled an interesting small home that aims to strike a happy balance between ease of transport and size. Named Simple Home, the small dwelling sports four integrated legs that enable it to be easily transported by truck and left in its intended location without the need of a crane, hoist, or other machinery. The model featured in this article measures roughly 7.5 m (24 ft) long, 2.6 m (8.5 ft) wide, and 4 m (13 ft) high. Though it somewhat resembles the shipping container homes we've covered, it's actually built from wood, and features 10 cm (4 in) thick wooden walls and roof, and a larch ventilated facade. Insulation comes in the form of wood fiber insulation (sheep's wool is optional too), and the whole thing weighs in at a rather heavy 10,000 kg (11 US tons).
http://www.gizmag.com/simple-home-gerhard-feldbacher/35851/

Cubitat has all the ingredients of a compact home

Canadian architectural studio Urban Capital, in collaboration with Italian designer Luca Nichetto, has recently presented its "plug & play" concept cube which could transform any space into a fully functioning apartment. Dubbed Cubitat, the multi-purpose cube measures 10 x 10 x 10 ft (3 x 3 x 3 m) and comes equipped with a kitchen, bedroom, entertaining area, bathroom, laundry and storage space. The space-saving design is conceptualized to easily and quickly furnish a small building into a compact home without the need for further renovations or additions.
http://www.gizmag.com/cubitat-urban-capital/35763/

Small prefab Passive House built in just 10 days

We've seen the Passive House sustainability marque awarded to plenty of big flashy home builds. A project in Australia, however, has shown that a certified Passive House needn't be either of those things. Castlemaine Passivhaus is covers just 39 sq m (419 sq ft) and took only 10 days to build.
http://www.gizmag.com/castlemaine-passivhaus/35687

Leaf House Version.3: A tiny house for sub-zero temperatures

Back in 2012, we reported on Version.2 by Canadian small living firm Leaf House, which is headed by Laird Herbert. Now Herbert is back with a new and improved tiny home that he intends to use as a case study for small living in cold climates. Version.3 is designed to take temperatures of -50 C (-58 F) in its stride, and also packs a number of other benefits over its predecessor, including increased interior space and decreased weight.
http://www.gizmag.com/version3-leaf-house-laird-herbert/35558/

L3P Architekten fits a lot of house into a little space

With prime building space dwindling in many areas, canny developers realize that apparently undesirable plots can be perfectly profitable with the right architect. L3P Architekten recently produced a good argument for building on such sites, with the House Vineyard Dieseldorf: an unusual glass-fronted concrete home located in a cramped plot in Dielsdorf, Switzerland. House Vineyard Dieseldorf features a mostly glass facade that, while not quite as open to onlookers as the S House, for example, is still not suited to occupants wanting complete privacy. That said, the installation of a bath directly next to a large glass window suggests that privacy wasn't a key concern on this build ... The physical footprint of the plot available was just 5 x 9 m (16 x 30 ft), which isn't quite tiny-house small, but does present a challenge. To ensure all available space was utilized, a standard front door entrance was shunned in favor of subterranean access via the carport.
http://www.gizmag.com/house-vineyard-dieseldorf-l3p-architects/35376/

Heijmans ONE: A prefabricated home for young professionals

The two-story home is designed by Dutch architects MoodBuilders and is built primarily from wood, measuring 9.2 x 3.5 m (30 x 11.5 ft) and rising to a height of 5.9 m (19.3 ft). The partly open-plan ground floor includes a kitchen, bathroom, and lounge area. A bedroom and small desk area is located in the mezzanine upstairs, and the home also features a small outdoor patio area. The Heijmans ONE is transported by truck, and on-site installation takes just a day. Though the home's roof-based solar array currently serves only to offset some of the costs of its grid-connected electricity needs, a Heijmans rep informed Gizmag that it's working on making the homes completely self-sufficient, energy-wise.
http://www.gizmag.com/heijmans-one-easily-transported-home/35373/

CHIP House powered by solar energy, controlled with Xbox Kinect [Net-Zero Energy Home]

The CHIP House - which stands for "Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype" - was started with the goal of creating a net-zero energy home (i.e. one that requires no external energy source), and it looks like the designers exceeded that target. The house actually generates three times as much energy as it uses thanks to solar panels and a host of energy saving measures. The incredibly energy efficient design would make the house stand out on its own, but the integrated Kinect controls and smart features push the CHIP House above your typical green-conscious home and into "home of the future" material.
http://www.gizmag.com/chip-house-solar-energy-xbox-kinect/21254/

Low-impact Hobbit home only cost US$4,650 to build

Simon Dale, with the help of his father in-law, has single-handedly built this low impact Hobbit house in the woodlands of West Wales. The eco-house, which rose from a muddy hole in the ground and took three months to complete, came in at under US$5,000 (GBP3,000)—demonstrating that you don't need to be architectural school graduate to come up with the goods. There's no need to be envious, however, because Dale will give you the plans and know-how to build your very own.
http://www.gizmag.com/low-impact-hobbit-home/20058/

Professor living in a dumpster for a year to investigate sustainable living [There goes the neighborhood...]

Lots of us make sacrifices for the environment, but few of us would consider supporting the cause by moving into a dumpster. Dr. Jeff Wilson of Huston-Tillotson University, however, is doing just that. Working with his students and the community, he's transforming an old dumpster and living in it for a year.
http://www.gizmag.com/dumpster-project/34288/

AIA's 2014 top ten green buildings in the US [Green buildings]

The American Institute of Architects has revealed its 2014 selection of top ten green buildings in the US. The list includes some lesser-publicized green-building projects, such as a homeless shelter, a treehouse, and even a Net-Zero energy courthouse.
http://www.gizmag.com/aia-top-10-sustainable-us-buildings-2014/31746/

Could you live in a home the size of a parking space? [Park yourself!]

A team of students and professors recently unveiled a prototype of what they cite as the future of urban living. The micro-housing unit is set on wheels and can fit into a standard-sized parking space.
http://www.gizmag.com/scadpad-micro-housing-tiny-house/31648/

Green living: Gizmag's Top 10 sustainable houses

The cost of a house can be counted in dollars, but the construction and running of a house takes a toll on the environment that's harder to measure. Increasing numbers of people are looking to minimize both environmental impact and financial outlay by outfitting their homes with sustainable technology, and the resulting boom in sustainable building is driving new levels of architectural innovation. With this in mind, Gizmag highlights ten remarkable sustainable houses.
http://www.gizmag.com/gizmag-top-10-sustainable-innovative-green-houses/34712/

Green-roofed kindergarten constructed in Vietnam

Following our recent coverage on Vo Trong Nghia Architects' US$4,000 S House, the Vietnamese firm offers yet another impressive sustainable project that suits the particular local climate and needs. Located in the country.s Dong Nai Province, the Farming Kindergarten sports a huge green roof, a water-recycling and irrigation system, and is cooled passively.
http://www.gizmag.com/green-roofed-kindergarten-vietnam/34788/

Bigger isn't always better: The standout small homes of 2014

Constraints often fuel creativity, so it is perhaps unsurprising that despite inherent limitations in size and budget, the small living movement punches far above its weight in terms of innovation. With the end of 2014 fast approaching, Gizmag takes a look back at 14 of the best tiny homes that we.ve reported on this year.
http://www.gizmag.com/gizmag-top-tiny-homes-2014/34401/

Off-grid tiny home project crams all mod cons into a Matchbox

Living in a tiny house can be as much about lifestyle as it is the size of dwelling. Tiny house living naturally requires an efficient use of space, but that efficiency can also encompass other parts of life. Jay Austin's Matchbox embodies just that efficient, low-impact lifestyle.
http://www.gizmag.com/boneyard-studios-matchbox-tiny-house/34763/

Could you live in a home the size of a parking space? [Park yourself!]

A team of students and professors recently unveiled a prototype of what they cite as the future of urban living. The micro-housing unit is set on wheels and can fit into a standard-sized parking space.
http://www.gizmag.com/scadpad-micro-housing-tiny-house/31648/

Modular home comes delivered in a 10 foot box and is assembled "like an IKEA house"

House Arc, by Bellomo Architects, is a prefabricated off-the-grid housing solution that facilitates compact living. The project was originally designed as an environmentally sensitive and affordable method of housing that is not only functional but also attractive to the eye. Furthermore, it is designed to be easily packed and shipped to any location, where it can then be erected by the user or community. "We designed it to be a kit of parts that can be assembled quickly-like an IKEA house," says House Arc architect Joseph Bellomo.
http://www.gizmag.com/house-arc-modular-home/21486/

Like a rolling stone: Tiny Alpine cabin resembles an oversized rock

Here's an example of small living that's a little different from the norm. What appears on first glance to be a large boulder is actually a tiny cabin that contains all the basics you'd need for a short stay in the mountains. The cabin is the work of Swiss architecture firm Bureau A, and was recently installed in a sculpture park in the Swiss Alps.
http://www.gizmag.com/antoine-bureau-a-rock-cabin/35268/

Flat-packed Mini House 2.0 has electricity and a fitted kitchen

The virtues of a simple, low-cost and sustainable lifestyle have driven the growth of the tiny house movement. Jonas Wagell's Mini Houses embody these values. Having initially been designed as a weekend cabin or guest house, the Mini House is now in its second iteration.
http://www.gizmag.com/mini-house-2/35054/

POD-Indawo: Small living South African style

A team of designers and architects based in South Africa has produced this charming prefabricated tiny home designed especially for the climate and conditions of their country. The versatile POD-Indawo can operate on or off-grid, and sports a decent-sized porch and an upstairs sleeping area. With a footprint of 17 sq m (182 sq ft), the POD-Indawo is constructed from steel, aluminum, glass, and wood, and has a large glass facade and several windows for ventilation. The units are built in Johannesburg, South Africa, and can ship either as a basic shell or be outfitted with kitchen appliances, folding furniture, and storage solutions to suit. With a footprint of 17 sq m (182 sq ft), the POD-Indawo is constructed from steel, aluminum, glass, and wood, and has a large glass facade and several windows for ventilation. The units are built in Johannesburg, South Africa, and can ship either as a basic shell or be outfitted with kitchen appliances, folding furniture, and storage solutions to suit.
http://www.gizmag.com/lifepod-indawo-tiny-house/34854/

Hivehaus flat-packed honeycomb home could be the bee's knees [Live like a bee!]

Taking its name from the honeycomb structures built by bees, Hivehaus is a modular housing system constructed from individual hexagonal cells that can be customized and connected, offering plenty of design flexibility.
http://www.gizmag.com/hivehaus--flatpacked-home/30015/

Latest S House prototype can be assembled in just 3 hours

Back in September, we reported on Vo Trong Nghia Architects' ongoing effort to produce a suitable home for Vietnam's poor. The latest iteration of the firm's low-cost S House sees the prototype home refined, and the prefabricated dwelling now sports a more stable structure, and an impressive on-site build time of just three hours. Completed in November and installed in Ho Chi Minh City, the S House 3 has just one large interior space inside that measures 31.6 sq m (340 sq ft). Whereas the previous S House was built from a pre-cast concrete frame bolted together with steel fixings, this newest version comprises a lightweight steel framework, cement board cladding, and a reinforced concrete foundation.
http://www.gizmag.com/vo-trong-nghias-s-house-prototype-assembled-3-hours/35343/


STUDENT PROJECTS

Eco Marathon competitors take fuel-saving to the extreme

Since 1985, the Shell Eco Marathon has pitched teams of students against each other in an attempt to see who can travel the furthest using the energy from one liter of fuel (or its equivalent). Teams compete by running at 15 mph (24 km/h) over 6.3 miles (10 km), and the cars that use the least fuel, electricity or alternative propulsion method are crowned winners in their class.
http://www.gizmag.com/shell-eco-marathon-cars/43385/

Smiling student uses 3D printer to make plastic braces on the cheap

Orthodontics don't tend to mix too well with self-sustaining undergraduate students, whose budgetary extravagances might extend to the odd double serving of instant noodles. But faced with crooked teeth and access to a 3D printer, digital design student Amos Dudley has taken matters into his own hands, straightening out his smile with a set of DIY plastic aligners.
http://www.gizmag.com/3d-printer-braces/42412/

Shipping container-based student housing planned for Copenhagen

Copenhagen's CPH Containers aims to create low-cost container-based student homes for installation on underdeveloped land. Working with Vandkunsten Architects' Sren Nielsen, the firm has developed a container home with which it plans to construct its first "student village" in Copenhagen later this year.
http://www.gizmag.com/cph-containers-student-village/41824/

Students design sustainable community garden space

Architecture students from California State Polytechnic University recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to support their local community garden. The team's innovative plans include the use of rammed earth construction, recycled shipping containers, and solar power.
http://www.gizmag.com/huerta-del-valle-community-garden/41298/

Students create a human-carrying multicopter

This year, we've seen a number of important developments in the race to bring personal flyers to market. A team of flying enthusiasts from Hungary took to the skies in a proof of concept tricopter named Flike in March, Malloy Aeronautics announced plans to develop its Hoverbike for the US Department of Defense at the Paris Air Show in June, and the JB-9 made its maiden flight around the Statue of Liberty just last month. Now a team of students from Singapore has joined the fray with a battery electric multicopter called Snowstorm that's being designed for recreational flying.
http://www.gizmag.com/snowstorm-singapore-single-pilot-multicopter/40750/

Student-designed aid for the deaf converts speech to AR captions

Speech-to-text systems already exist, as do augmented-reality displays. Now, a group of New York City teens led by Daniil Frants (who interned at the MIT Media Lab when he was 14) have combined the two technologies to form the Live Time Closed Captioning System (LTCCS). Once up and running, it could revolutionize the way in which deaf people communicate with the hearing world.
http://www.gizmag.com/live-time-closed-captioning-system/40078/

SignLanguageGlove gives voice to hearing and speech impaired

In an effort to further open the lines of communication for people with hearing and speech disabilities, a university student in London is developing a smart glove that converts sign language into text and spoken dialogue. Dubbed the SignLanguageGlove, the wearable device features a handful of sensors to convert hand and finger movements into words, with its creator now looking to add real-time language translation to the mix.
http://www.gizmag.com/smart-glove-sign-language/39669/

The Circo dishwasher has a handle on washing dishes

This student designed dishwasher should be much cheaper to buy or run than the typical model. There's a reason for that . it's powered by hand. The Circo manual dishwasher is designed for use where space is limited, or by people who cannot afford an electric dishwasher.
http://www.gizmag.com/circo-manual-dishwasher/39359/

The Pilgreens embark on electric tuk-tuk odyssey to promote green mobility

Three French students will travel from Bangkok, Thailand to Toulouse, France on an electric tuk-tuk in an effort to demonstrate that electric power will be sufficient for our future mobility needs. They plan to cover 20,000 km (12,427 mi) through 16 countries in 120 days on their modified three wheeler relying on two giant batteries, a solar panel and the generosity of strangers.
http://www.gizmag.com/pilgreens-electric-tuk-tuk-travel/38857/

Students rise to NASA electric aircraft design challenge

In a recent challenge issued by NASA, university students were asked to design an electric aircraft envisaged to enter service in the year 2020 and be commercially competitive with standard piston-engine craft. In response, the space agency received submissions from 20 universities across the United States that not only met the brief but, in many cases, went above and beyond to really the impress the judges. We take a look at the top five prize winners.
http://www.gizmag.com/nasa-electric-aircraft-university-design-challenge/38762/

Students envision tiny house community on rails

We've covered plenty of tiny houses on wheels here at Gizmag, but Small House on Tracks is the first that would sit on rails. Designed by Polish architecture students Tomasz Zablotny and Pawe. Maszota, the concept comprises a number of expandable tiny homes that could be moved around on existing rail tracks in Gdansk Shipyard.
http://www.gizmag.com/small-house-on-tracks/38421/

Dutch students reveal solar-powered family car

Dutch students have developed a new family car that is not only powered by the sun, but generates more energy than it uses. Stella Lux seats up to four people and is designed to be efficient, intelligent and comfortable. It will compete in the World Solar Challenge in Australia later this year.
http://www.gizmag.com/stella-lux-solar-powered-family-car/38299/

Students create solar-powered tiny house

For many of us, making something during an extracurricular high school activity probably involved bringing home a papier-mch head or wonky flower pot to proud parents, but Berkeley, CA high school students constructed a solar-powered tiny house. The unnamed dwelling measures just 9.2 sq m (100 sq ft) and includes a small sleeping and storage area.
http://www.gizmag.com/berkeley-students-tiny-home-studio-h/37871/

University student maps plasma tubes in the sky

Using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope in the Western Australia desert, a Sydney University student, Cleo Loi, has discovered enormous plasma pipes in the Earth.s upper atmosphere. Thought to be responsible for possible radio interference with satellite navigation systems, the presence of these objects has been predicted for over 60 years, but never before seen. By imaginatively using the radio telescope to observe in 3D, Loi was able to image large areas of the sky using the fast photography capabilities of the MWA to produce a movie that shows the motions of the plasma in real-time.
http://www.gizmag.com/plasma-tubes-ionosphere-cleo-loi/37843/

Student-designed furniture is out of this world

A team of five mechanical engineering seniors has been tasked by NASA to design furniture suitable for use in future habitats on Mars, the Moon, or in space itself. The Lunar Lounger project aims to address the lack of available space and the low-gravity in such conditions, while ensuring the comfort of astronauts. The students from Rice University, in Houston, Texas, have designed a prototype flatpack chair and table. The table has integrated gas springs which enable height adjustment, and it is also modular, with connection ports that allow it to be joined together with other tables.
http://www.gizmag.com/student-designed-furniture-mars-nasa/37263/

Rainwater used to generate electricity

When we complain about the rain, other people will often say "Yeah, but it's good for the plants." Well, thanks to a microturbine-based system created by three students from the Technological University of Mexico, it's now also being used to generate electricity for use in low-income homes.
http://www.gizmag.com/pluvia-rainwater-microturbine/31379/

Engineering students build robot capable of creating theoretically infinite WiFi network [WiFi Power]

In a little over a decade WiFi has flourished to become something that we take for granted every time we go to a coffee shop. The only problem is that in situations where WiFi would be most useful, such as on the battlefield or in a disaster areas, it's least likely to be available. That's the problem being tackled by a team of seven undergraduate students at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. As part of their senior project for the Northeastern's Capstone design program, the team designed and built a robot that can enter rugged territory and create a theoretically infinite WiFi networks as it goes.
http://www.gizmag.com/wifi-robot/23471/

18 year-old electrical engineering student wows with levitating light

The inclusion of a floating lamp, bed or just about any appropriately-sized household object in a room is almost certain to be received with open-mouthed wonder and demand closer inspection from the curious minds of young and old alike. Add the wireless transfer of power into the mix and you're guaranteed to have a winner. Such is the case with 18 year-old Chris Rieger's LevLight. It's not exactly huge, doesn't break any new ground in a technical sense and is more functional than flashy. Nevertheless, the floating LED is quite the visual feast.
http://www.gizmag.com/rieger-wireless-power-levitating-led-light/23222/

Engineering student shows off pinball machine made completely out of K'Nex

Do you remember those building toys called K'Nex? Well an engineering student at the University of Colorado (CU) named Andrew most certainly does. He actually managed to build a fully-functional pinball machine using only the tools available from the plastic building toy. Andrew spent over four months meticulously planning and building his K'Nex pinball machine that has functioning flippers and a plunger that is capable of launching the ball into the field of play. It also has a small gearbox that powers the two small chain lifts that help move the ball between the different features of the table.
http://www.gizmag.com/knex-pinball/24681/


TECHNOLOGIES FOR UNDERDEVELOPED AREAS

Burnt wood used to purify water

In some parts of the world, one of the main ways of obtaining drinking water involves using the heat of the sun to boil salty or tainted water. That process, known as "solar steam generation," may soon be made simpler and less expensive—using burnt wood. The basic idea behind solar steam generation is that untreated water gets drawn up through a surface-located material that's heated by sunlight, to the point that the water boils. The resulting steam rises, condenses and is collected in the form of purified water, while the salt and/or contaminants are left behind.
https://newatlas.com/burnt-wood-solar-steam/52224/

No dirt no problem: Low-cost kit grows plants in mid-air

Technologies developed to grow without soil and nutrients might not only help with future space missions, but could also prove pivotal in feeding the developing world. For design student Nikian Aghababaie, this is exactly where he drew inspiration from for a low-cost approach to growing vegetables without soil and using minimal water, something he hopes can ease world hunger and generate income for rural communities.
http://newatlas.com/no-dirt-low-cost-kit-plants-air/50792/

Food From Electricity project bears its first protein-rich "fruit"

A Finnish research project has created a batch of single-cell protein using just electricity, water, carbon dioxide and microbes, in a small portable lab. While we're hesitant to call it "food" in its current state, the stuff is edible and nutritious enough to be used for cooking or livestock feed, and the team hopes that the system can eventually be used to grow food in areas where it's needed the most.
http://newatlas.com/protein-food-from-electricity/50557/

Disaster housing starchitect Shigeru Ban turns to refugee settlement in Kenya

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has made his name by using cardboard and wood to craft low-cost disaster housing, and he will need to be at his enterprising and creative best as he tackles his next big project. The 2014 Pritzker prize winner has signed on to design thousands of new shelters in a major refugee settlement in Kenya, where he will have to make do with harsh conditions and limited resources.
http://newatlas.com/shigeru-ban-refugee-settlement-kenya/50587/

Scalable solar-powered desal system could supply water to homes and towns

The majority of the planet's surface may be water, but unfortunately a heaping pile of salt makes most of that undrinkable. Desalination makes saltwater more palatable and potable, but being a bit of an energy guzzler means it isn't the most practical solution in off-grid situations. A new system makes use of nanoparticles to harness the power of the sun and distill water more efficiently, without needing electricity.
http://newatlas.com/scalable-solar-powered-desalination-system/50121/

Waste Not: Sanergy.s hygienic sanitation solutions changing Kenyan slums

Most of us take our indoor plumbing for granted, but about 40 percent of people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation. Many of those people live in cramped slums, where human waste ends up in rivers or the street, where it can contaminate drinking water and the food supply and cause disease. A company called Sanergy is helping to solve that problem in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya with a cost-effective solution that is not just providing hygienic sanitation, but also creating badly needed jobs and taking the waste out of the community.
http://www.lemelson.org/resources/success-stories/Sanergy

Using sunlight to pull clean water from dry air

According to the latest report by the World Health Organization, nearly two billion people lack access to clean drinking water. To address this problem, researchers from UC Berkeley and MIT have created a solar-powered device that can be used in places like the desert to harvest water from a relatively untapped resource: air, which contains an estimated 13,000 trillion liters of water.
http://newatlas.com/solar-harvester-berkeley-mit/49008/

Cheap, simple technique turns seawater into drinking water

Researchers from the University of Alexandria have developed a cheaper, simpler and potentially cleaner way to turn seawater into drinking water than conventional methods. This could have a huge impact on rural areas of the Middle East and North Africa, where access to clean water is a pressing issue if social stability and economic development is to improve.
http://newatlas.com/new-desalination-method-egypt/39941/

Catching the sun, to catch mosquitos

Although the Zika virus may be in the headlines a lot lately, malaria is still a much more common mosquito-borne illness. That's why in many parts of the world, insecticides are used to kill the disease-carrying mozzies. Unfortunately, however, the insects can develop a tolerance for the chemicals, plus there are environmental factors to consider. Now, solar-powered traps are showing great promise, in a pilot project that took place in Kenya.
http://newatlas.com/solarmal-solar-mosquito-trap/44845/

Graphene-based sheets make dirty water drinkable simply and cheaply

Engineers at the Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL) have developed graphene-based biofoam sheets that can be laid on dirty or salty dams and ponds to produce clean drinking water, using the power of the sun. This new technique could be a cheap and simple way to help provide fresh water in countries where large areas of water are contaminated with suspended particles of dirt and other floating matter.
http://www.gizmag.com/graphene-oxide-water-purification-wustl/44586/

Using the power of the sun to deliver life-saving oxygen

For sufferers of pneumonia, access to concentrated oxygen can be the difference between life and death, but in some parts of the world such supplies aren't always so readily available. Researchers have developed a solar-powered oxygen concentrator and put it to use in hospitals in Uganda, where it is already supplying those desperately in need with round-the-clock care. Oxygen therapy is a relatively commonplace treatment throughout the developed world, used to address low blood oxygen levels arising from conditions like asthma, heart failure and severe pneumonia, where inflamed lungs prevent the oxygen entering the blood stream. Devices called oxygen concentrators have made treatment possible in the home, but they require electricity to function, so aren't particularly conducive to regions with regular power outages.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-power-oxygen-concentrator/44114/

Urine-powered battery offers cheap energy source [No comment]

When most people think of bacteria and urine together, chances are good they think of a not-so-pleasant infection. For researchers at the University of Bath however, unifying these two thoughts led to the development of a battery that could harness "pee power" to bring energy to parts of the world that might not otherwise have access to it.
http://www.gizmag.com/urine-battery/42866/

Cheap, waterless toilet that turns waste into clean water and power to be trialed in Africa

A cheap, easy to maintain, "green" toilet that uses no water and turns human waste into electricity and clean water will be trialed in 2016, possibly in Ghana. Dubbed the "Nano Membrane Toilet" by its creators from Cranfield University, UK, this new approach to managing waste could help some of the world's 2.3 billion people who have no access to safe, hygienic toilets
http://www.gizmag.com/waterless-nano-membrane-toilet/41108/

DigiTruck: A solar-powered container classroom for Africa

In remote areas of Africa, there aren't always schools nearby, let alone ones equipped for teaching digital literacy. An alternative is to take digital education to such remote locations. The DigiTruck is a fully equipped solar-powered mobile digital classroom that can do just that.
http://www.gizmag.com/digitruck-solar-powered-shipping-container-digital-classroom/40724/

New desalination technique pushes salt to one side with shockwaves

As access to clean water continues to be an issue throughout the developing world, there's an increased demand for easier ways to turn contaminated and salty water into something you can drink. Researchers at MIT may have found a solution using a method they are calling shock electrodialysis. It uses electric shock waves to separate contaminated or salty water into two separate streams, with a natural barrier between each one.
http://www.gizmag.com/shock-electrodialysis-desalination/40384/

New technique desalinates sea water using half the power

Despite having one of the world.s largest rivers running the length of its country, Egypt lacks the fresh water needed to supply its growing population. To quench an annual 7 billion cubic meter (247 billion cubic foot) shortfall, the country has looked to desalination, which is energy-intensive and expensive. Now, researchers from Alexandria University have developed a technique for desalinating and cleaning water that uses less than half the energy of current desalination methods, making it potentially cheap enough as a viable fresh water source.
http://www.gizmag.com/desalination-using-half-the-power/40149/

Solar and wind technology delivers power and clean water to villagers in the West Bank

An Israeli-Palestinian NGO is using solar and wind energy to transform the lives of a marginalized community of Palestinian famers and shepherds. According to the NGO, Comet-ME, the arid, windswept south Hebron hills region of the West Bank has been home to dozens of small Palestinian family groups and villages for centuries. Located in Area C of the occupied Palestinian territories, all live under the threat of demolitions and forced displacement, with no electricity or water, and no infrastructure allowed.
http://www.gizmag.com/comet-me-no-solar-wind-palestine/39988/

Cheap, simple technique turns seawater into drinking water

Researchers from the University of Alexandria have developed a cheaper, simpler and potentially cleaner way to turn seawater into drinking water than conventional methods. This could have a huge impact on rural areas of the Middle East and North Africa, where access to clean water is a pressing issue if social stability and economic development is to improve.
http://www.gizmag.com/new-desalination-method-egypt/39941/

WaterStillar readies roll-out of scaleable solar water distiller

In a bid to help bring greater access to clean drinking water to the developing world, WaterStillar has created a solar-distillation system designed to produce clean drinking water from almost any source. Conceived as a cheap, efficient, modular system that can be scaled up to produce thousands of liters per day, Water Works is installed with no upfront costs and requires minimal maintenance or training to operate.
http://www.gizmag.com/waterstillar-works-solar-powered-clean-drinking-water/39689/

MSR Guardian Water Purifier promises fast, safe drinking water from almost any source [Branch water for you?]

There aren't many companies that can say they developed an outdoor water purification device specifically for use by the US military—and took six years to be sure they got it right. MSR can make that claim and more with its new Guardian Water Purifier. Filter systems have generally been constrained by their ability to eliminate only bacteria and Cryptosporidium (a microscopic, diarrhea-causing parasite), but not viruses. Purification systems get rid of viruses, but take longer to do so. What makes the MSR Guardian different is that it acts as both filter and purifier and is claimed to eliminate all biological threats you might find in even the dirtiest of water.
http://www.gizmag.com/msr-guardian-water-purifier/39578/

World's largest delta 3D printer could build entire houses out of mud or clay

WASP (World's Advanced Saving Project) is set to unveil Big Delta, reportedly the world's largest delta 3D printer, later this week. This 12-meter (40 ft) tall behemoth was brought to life with the purpose of building nearly zero-cost housing through the use of local materials and as little energy as possible, offering quick and inexpensive relief to disaster areas and addressing the future housing needs of a rapidly growing world population.
http://www.gizmag.com/wasp-big-delta-3d-printer-clay-housing/39414/

The Circo dishwasher has a handle on washing dishes

This student designed dishwasher should be much cheaper to buy or run than the typical model. There's a reason for that . it's powered by hand. The Circo manual dishwasher is designed for use where space is limited, or by people who cannot afford an electric dishwasher.
http://www.gizmag.com/circo-manual-dishwasher/39359/

ModRoof promises a safer shelter for low-income families

Metal and concrete corrugated roofs are a ubiquitous feature on homes and shelters worldwide due to their low-cost, but they're really not very good at their job. Both are poor insulators, notoriously prone to leaks and can contain dangerous substances like asbestos ... plus they're not easy to sleep under during a monsoonal downpour. Indian startup ReMaterials reckons it has a better solution with its sustainable, modular roofing system called ModRoof.
http://www.gizmag.com/rematerials-roof/39239/

Cleaner-burning cookstove creates its own flame-fanning electricity

While many of us may enjoy grilling food over an open fire, the fact is that cooking fires are a major source of health problems for millions of people in developing nations, who use them on a daily basis. The main problem is the smoke, which causes respiratory problems—not to mention air pollution. In an effort to address the problem, research group RTI International has developed a cook stove that burns cleaner—and that powers gadgets.
http://www.gizmag.com/rti-international-thermoelectric-cook-stove/38986/

The Drinkable Book has water-purifying pages

For people in developing nations or rural locations, getting clean water may soon be as simple as opening a book—and ripping a page out. That's the idea behind The Drinkable Book, developed by Carnegie Mellon University postdoc Theresa Dankovich. Each of its pages is made from a thick sheet of paper impregnated with silver and copper nanoparticles, that kill 99.9 percent of microbes in tainted water that's filtered through it.
http://www.gizmag.com/drinkable-book-water-purifying-pages/38961/

Breath test for malaria is in the air

At present, diagnosing malaria can be a difficult process involving powerful microscopes and careful scanning of blood samples for tiny parasites in a technique discovered in 1880. But a more accessible method may be in the works. A team of Australian scientists has discovered that certain chemicals are present and can be detected in the breath of sufferers, raising the possibility of a cheap breath test to diagnose the deadly disease.
http://www.gizmag.com/malaria-breath-test-csiro/37142/

XTU Architects envisions sand-based sustainable "city" for the Sahara [Your Own Sand Castle]

Here's some highly conceptual food for thought from XTU Architects. The Paris-based firm has drawn up a concept for creating sustainable shelters using that one material that the inhospitable Sahara desert has in abundance ... sand.
http://www.gizmag.com/self-building-walled-city-xtu-architects/36960/

Warka Water promises to harness safe drinking water from the air

As water shortage is a serious issue in many parts of the world, a means of efficiently harnessing safe drinking water from thin air without the need of expensive infrastructure could be a real lifesaver. Italy's Architecture and Vision is developing an off-grid bamboo tower called Warka Water that promises just that: the firm says it could collect an annual average of up to 100 liters (26.4 US gallons) of water per day.
http://www.gizmag.com/warka-water-from-air/35721/

Roots Up greenhouse collects mountain dew to water crops in Ethiopian highlands

In hot, dry areas of the world, collecting enough rainwater to grow crops can be difficult. Another potential source of water for collection, however, can be dew. Roots Up has designed a greenhouse to collect dew in Gondar, Ethiopia, as part of a scheme to help local farmers with low-tech solutions.
http://www.gizmag.com/roots-up-dew-collecting-greenhouse/36761/

Satellites and GIS help developing countries target deadly parasites

Each year, hundreds of millions of people in developing countries are affected by parasitic diseases. One of the most common is malaria, which kills more than a million people annually, mostly children under five years of age. Scientists are using satellite data combined with local health information uploaded into geographical information systems (GIS) to help developing countries better manage limited resources and target interventions in the fight against malaria and other deadly parasitic diseases.
http://www.gizmag.com/satellites-gis-target-deadly-parasites/36198/

CriticaLink provides emergency care when 911 isn't an option

Many of us take for granted that, should we have an accident, the emergency services will be able to help. In some places that's not possible though. CriticaLink, being trialed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, seeks to provide volunteer emergency assistance when it might not be otherwise possible. CriticaLink was conceived by Jennifer Farrell, who had been a volunteer emergency medical technician whilst at university. Farrell explains to Gizmag that, during a visit to South Africa training people in first aid, she realized that ambulances weren't going into slums and people were dying of treatable injuries as a result.
http://www.gizmag.com/criticalink/36214/

Warka Water promises to harness safe drinking water from the air

As water shortage is a serious issue in many parts of the world, a means of efficiently harnessing safe drinking water from thin air without the need of expensive infrastructure could be a real lifesaver. Italy's Architecture and Vision is developing an off-grid bamboo tower called Warka Water that promises just that: the firm says it could collect an annual average of up to 100 liters (26.4 US gallons) of water per day.
http://www.gizmag.com/warka-water-from-air/35721/

Wakati keeps fruit and veg fresh for longer without a fridge

For farmers in developing countries without refrigerators, a great deal of produce - and therefore profit - can be lost through spoilage. A new device seeks to tackle this problem by increasing the short-term storage time for fruit and veg. The Wakati stores produce in a sterilized microclimate. The Wakati designers recognize that often there is no regular access to electricity in developing countries. Like the Buffalo Grid phone charger and the ROSI water filtration system, therefore, it uses a solar power system for its operation. In addition to a 3 W solar panel, the device comprises a top-loading tent-like structure, in which up to 150 kg (330 lb) of produce can be stored, and a solar-powered ventilator. The ventilator gradually evaporates a weekly supply of 200 ml (6.7 fl oz) of water creating a humid environment within the tent.
http://www.gizmag.com/wakati-food-storage/35389/

WakaWaka solar led lamp aims to light up Kenyan school [Solar lighting device]

Although we have entered 2012 approximately 1.5 billion people around the globe remain without access to a stable or safe source of light. Commonly in some of the world's poorest regions, kerosene lanterns are the standard form of night time lighting, which leads to the possibility of fires, explosions, asphyxiation and toxic fumes. Cheap, accessible solar lighting presents an obvious solution to this problem and the latest tilt at making this a reality is WakaWaka - a solar LED lamp concept that can fit snuggly onto a soda bottle.
http://www.gizmag.com/wakawaka-solar-led-lamp/20978/

The LifeStraw makes dirty water clean [Device to create safe drinking water]

More than one billion people—one sixth of the world's population—are without access to safe water supply. At any given moment, about half of the world's poor are suffering from waterborne diseases, of which over 6,000—mainly children—die each day by consuming unsafe drinking water. The world's most prolific killer though is diarrhoeal disease from bacteria like typhoid, cholera, e. coli, salmonella and many others. Safe water interventions have vast potential to transform the lives of millions, especially in crucial areas such as poverty eradication, environmental upgradation, quality of life, child development and gender equality. LifeStraw was developed as a practical response to the billions of people who are still without access to these basic human rights.
http://www.gizmag.com/go/4418/

Cheap, simple composting toilet concept receives funding from Gates Foundation

Whatever you call it—lavatory, privy, latrine, crapper, loo or dunny—most of us take the humble toilet for granted. But in many parts of the world the absence of sanitary waste disposal is not just inconvenient, it can cause deadly diseases such as hepatitis, dysentery, trachoma, typhoid and cholera. Enter Marc Deshusses, a Duke University environmental engineer who has envisioned an innovative yet simple waste disposal system designed specifically for Third World countries that can be constructed from everyday items. Now, as part of a broad ranging project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Deshusses has received $100,000 to perfect and test the system in the laboratory before producing a prototype to field-test in 18 months time.
http://www.gizmag.com/gates-foundation-composting-toilet-duke-university/20422

Desolenator churns out clean drinking water using solar power

Desalination may one day prove the savior for regions of the world where clean drinking water is scarce, but current technology dictates that this process is often expensive and energy-intensive. The team behind the Desolenator has high hopes of delivering water security to those in need, with a mobile desalinator that runs purely on energy from the sun. At a time when the planet's population is set to grow substantially and rising global temperatures are adding further uncertainty to the supply of fresh water, considerable effort is going into advancing desalination technology and making it cheaper and more accessible.
http://www.gizmag.com/desolenator-clean-drinking-water-power-sun/35299/

Advance could turn wastewater treatment into viable electricity producer [Wastewater Power]

In the latest green energy—or perhaps that should be brown energy—news, a team of engineers from Oregon State University (OSU) has developed new technology they claim significantly improves the performance of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that can be used to produce electricity directly from wastewater. With the promise of producing 10 to 50 times the electricity, per volume, than comparable approaches, the researchers say the technology could see waste treatment plants not only powering themselves, but also feeding excess electricity back to the grid.
http://www.gizmag.com/wastewater-treatment-microbial-fuel-cell/23700/

Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell generates electricity from living plants [Plant Power]

Wetlands are estimated to account for around six percent of the earth's surface and a new Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell technology developed at Wageningen University & Research in The Netherlands could see some of these areas become a viable source of renewable energy. More than that, the developers believe that their technology could be used to supply electricity to remote communities and in green roofs to supply electricity to households.
http://www.gizmag.com/plant-microbial-fuel-cell/25163/

Ibasei's Cappa provides hydroelectricity on a small scale [Creek Power]

Despite being the most widely used form of renewable energy worldwide, hydroelectricity is generally reserved for large-scale commercial installations built around massive dams. Japanese company Ibasei has shrunk things down and removed the need to build a dam with its Cappa compact hydropower generator—a system that's designed to be installed along a river or waterway.
http://www.gizmag.com/cappa-compact-hydropower-generator/25430/

Self-healing "artificial leaf" produces energy from dirty water [Artificial Leaf Power]

Back in 2011, scientists reported the creation of the "world's first practical artificial leaf" that mimics the ability of real leaves to produce energy from sunlight and water. Touted as a potentially inexpensive source of electricity for those in developing countries and remote areas, the leaf's creators have now given it a capability that would be especially beneficial in such environments—the ability to self heal and therefore produce energy from dirty water.
http://www.gizmag.com/artificial-leaf-self-healing/27004/

Delft explores kite power for rural Africa [Still More Kite Power]

The University of Delft has a program devoted to kite-based generation systems, with 20 years of research and development under their belt since Wubbo Ockels, the first Dutch astronaut established it. Now, members of the team are exploring practical niches where the compromises of kite-based power might pay off. One has just completed a trip through Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal discussing opportunities for rural African kite generation with governmental agencies, universities and companies in the renewables space.
http://www.gizmag.com/deft-kite-power-africa/28230/

Rainwater used to generate electricity

When we complain about the rain, other people will often say "Yeah, but it's good for the plants." Well, thanks to a microturbine-based system created by three students from the Technological University of Mexico, it's now also being used to generate electricity for use in low-income homes.
http://www.gizmag.com/pluvia-rainwater-microturbine/31379/

Spark shaker brings kinetic energy to the developing world [Shake it up, baby]

In 15 years as a percussionist with British electronica band Faithless, Sudha Kheterpal has exerted her fair share of energy. She has now teamed up with designers and engineers to develop Spark, a shaker that produces kinetic energy to bring power to the developing world.
http://www.gizmag.com/spark-shaker-kinetic-energy-developing-world/32826/

Device that harvests water from thin air wins the James Dyson Award

Young Melbourne-based inventor Edward Linacre has won the 2011 James Dyson Award, making it the second year in a row where the prestigious prize has gone to an Aussie. Linacre stole this year's competition with his Airdrop irrigation concept that collects water from thin air. The Swinburne University of Technology design graduate was driven to transform an ancient cooling technique into a new sub-surface irrigation system, following the enduring Australian drought that saw high levels of farmer suicide along Australia's Murray- Darling Basin.

http://www.gizmag.com/airdrop-wins-james-dyson-award/20471/

Barsha pump provides irrigation water, but doesn't need fuel

Climate-KIC, a European-union climate innovation initiative, recently selected a jury of entrepreneurs, financiers and business people to award funding to what they felt were Europe's best clean-tech innovations of 2014. Taking first place was Dutch startup aQysta, a Delft University of Technology spin-off company that manufactures what's known as the Barsha irrigation pump. It can reportedly boost crop yields in developing nations by up to five times, yet requires no fuel or electricity to operate.
http://www.gizmag.com/aqysta-barsha-pump/34588/

Floating off-grid greenhouse can feed two families

Italian design office Studiomobile has teamed up with the University of Florence's Professor Stefano Mancuso, who is the director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology, to produce a prototype floating greenhouse in a bid to improve food security in areas with little arable land. The Jellyfish Barge operates off-grid and produces its own clean water via an onboard system of solar distillation.
http://www.gizmag.com/jellyfish-barge-studiomobile/34815/


GREEN

America's "greenest street" provides a blueprint for sustainable urban development

A streetscape that includes natural landscaping, bicycle lanes, wind powered lighting, storm water diversion for irrigation, drought-resistant native plants and innovative "smog-eating" concrete has earned Cermak road in Chicago the title of "greenest Street in America" according to the Chicago Department of Transport (CDOT). Opened in October 2012, the first phase two mile stretch is part of the Blue Island/Cermak Sustainable Streetscape project which was introduced in 2009 with the aim of reducing overall energy usage by 42 percent.
http://www.gizmag.com/chicago-cermak-road-greenest-street-america/25661/


BRAIN

New study offers insights into how we can learn while we sleep

Research from a team in Paris has found that new auditory memories can be formed while we sleep, as long as they are delivered during the right sleep phase. The idea we can form new memories while we slumber has been a topic of great debate among scientists in recent years and this new study demonstrates that the brain can indeed learn new information in a sleeping state.
http://newatlas.com/auditory-sleep-learning-study/50841/

Cost-effective "mini brains" create accessible neural model

Researchers at Brown University have developed a way to create "mini brains"—3D arrangements of neural tissue that are able to transmit electrical synapses—that, at 25 cents apiece after fixed costs, could provide an efficient means of conducting neuroscience research.
http://www.gizmag.com/mini-brains-neural-model/39677/

Can we build a complete wiring diagram of the human brain?

Our brains are wondrous, incredible machines. They're slower than the earliest personal computers in terms of raw processing power, yet capable of leaps of intuition and able to store a lifetime of memories that are cross-referenced and instantly-accessible at the slightest prompting. We know so very little about how they do these things, however. But imagine for a moment if we could build a complete wiring diagram of a human brain . to map in detail every one of the hundred trillion or so synapses and roughly hundred billion neurons together with all the tiniest supporting mechanisms. What might that mean, and would it even be possible?
http://www.gizmag.com/connectome-wiring-diagram-human-brain/39659/`

Electronic memory may bring bionic brain one step closer

Using a matrix of nano-sized memristors, researchers working at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and the University of California, Santa Barbara claim to have constructed the world.s first electronic memory cell that effectively mimics the analog process of the human brain. By storing memories as multiple threads of varying information, rather than a collection of ones and zeroes, scientists believe that this device may prove to be the first step towards creating a completely artificial, bionic brain.
http://www.gizmag.com/electronic-memristor-memory-mimics-brain/

IBM supercomputer used to simulate a typical human brain

Using the world's fastest supercomputer and a new scalable, ultra-low power computer architecture, IBM has simulated 530 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses—matching the numbers of the human brain—in an important step toward creating a true artificial brain.
http://www.gizmag.com/ibm-supercomputer-simulates-a-human-sized-brain/25093/

"Avatar" project aims for human immortality by 2045 [Soul Chip]

Russian media magnate Dmitry Itskov is heading "Avatar," a tremendously ambitious and far-reaching multidisciplinary research project that aims to achieve immortality in humans within the next three decades. He plans to do it by housing human brains in progressively more disembodied vehicles, first transplanting them into robots and then, by the year 2045, by reverse-engineering the human brain and effectively "downloading" human consciousness onto a computer chip.
http://www.gizmag.com/robotic-ray/23452/


EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

IBM creates world's smallest magazine cover [handy nano-size]

In an effort to demonstrate the potential of a new nano-scale manufacturing technology, as well to encourage young people's interest in science and technology, IBM has unveiled the world's smallest magazine cover at the USA Science and Engineering Festival.

Vector-based video could mean no more pixels [Bye bye, pixels]

Unlike traditional bitmap graphics, which are made up of an array of pixels, vector graphics consist of lines, curves and shapes that are based on geometric formulas. Not only do they take up far less memory than bitmaps, but sections of them can also be enlarged without any loss of resolution. Currently, however, vector graphics aren.t well-suited to photorealistic applications, such as video. That may be about to change, though, as researchers from the UK's University of Bath have developed a new program that is said to overcome such limitations—the scientists believe that the technology could make pixels obsolete within five years.

Dutch artist 3D prints CT scan of his own skeleton [A model of your own skeleton?]

In what could be described as the ultimate memento mori—a genre of art that reminds us of our own mortality—Dutch sculpture Caspar Berger has reproduced an exact copy of his own skeleton. He underwent a CT scan, which provided detailed anatomical data, which was then output on a 3D printer.
http://www.gizmag.com/3d-print-ct-scan-skeleton/25035/

CORDIS plans to "beam" people to meetings [Beam Me Anywhere]

In recent years, telepresence systems have become more common. Unfortunately, most of them are little more than a videophone on top of a motorized stick. The EU Commission's Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) wants to change that, by developing a system called "beaming." When fully developed, it should reportedly provide telepresence so real that for the operator and the people at the other end, it will be like the person is actually there.
http://www.gizmag.com/cordis-beaming/24769/

Engineering students build robot capable of creating theoretically infinite WiFi network [WiFi Power]

In a little over a decade WiFi has flourished to become something that we take for granted every time we go to a coffee shop. The only problem is that in situations where WiFi would be most useful, such as on the battlefield or in a disaster areas, it's least likely to be available. That's the problem being tackled by a team of seven undergraduate students at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. As part of their senior project for the Northeastern's Capstone design program, the team designed and built a robot that can enter rugged territory and create a theoretically infinite WiFi networks as it goes.
http://www.gizmag.com/wifi-robot/23471/

World Economic Forum lists top 10 emerging technologies for 2012

Our goal here at Gizmag is to cover innovation and emerging technologies in all fields of human endeavor, and while almost all of the ideas that grace our pages have the potential to enhance some of our lives in one way or another, at the core are those technologies that will have profound implications for everyone on the planet. For those looking to shape political, business, and academic agendas, predicting how and when these types of technologies will effect us all is critical. Recognizing this, the World Economic Forum's (WEF's) Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies has compiled a list of the top 10 emerging technologies it believes will have the greatest impact on the state of the world in 2012.
http://www.gizmag.com/world-economic-forum-new-technology-2012/21484/

IBM announces its annual "Next 5 in 5" list

It's late December, and that means that it's time once again for IBM's Next 5 in 5 list. Every year since 2006, the corporation has put together an annual roundup of the top five emerging technologies that its researchers feel "will change the way we work, live and play" within the next five years. Here's a look at what caught their attention this year
http://www.gizmag.com/ibm-next-five-in-five/17391/
http://www.gizmag.com/ibm-next-5-in-5/13633/ [2010]


LEVITATION


INSECTS

Beekeepers' nuisance could offer solution to our plastic probleM

Plastic bags are a bane of modern life. As you read this, nearly two million of them are being used around the world right now. By the time the year is over, this number will probably reach a trillion, ending up in landfills, oceans, streams, and the digestive tracts of marine animals. Over the years, scientists have been coming up with various solutions to tackle this problem, from devising ways to give it a second lease of life to making greener and more sustainable plastics. But nature might have a simpler solution: wax worms.
http://newatlas.com/wax-worms-eat-plastic-bags/49189/

Random zaps make cyborg cockroaches better explorers

It might sound like science fiction, but all the pieces are falling into place for a future where remote-controlled cyborg cockroaches could help map out disaster areas and search for survivors. Researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) have been working on the "biobots" project for several years, and now two new studies have looked into how accurately the bugs' movements can be tracked, and how much autonomy they need to be efficient explorers.
http://newatlas.com/cyborg-cockroaches-navigate-disaster-zones/48150/

Bringing drones and cyborg cockroaches together to map disaster zones

Robots don't always need to be built from scratch. In the case of "biobots", scientists have been able to hack into insects, turning them into remote-controlled scouts to gather data and map unfamiliar or unsafe areas. Researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) have already demonstrated the hardware and software that would make this possible, and have now thrown drones into the mix, to act as aerial beacons that guide and contain the biobots to areas of interest.
http://newatlas.com/drones-cyborg-cockroaches-map-buildings/46510/

Jumping cockroach robot leaps tall obstacles in a single bound [Cockroach power!]

For such a reviled creature, the cockroach has some pretty impressive abilities. It can slide through incredibly narrow gaps, has great acceleration and can cling to overhanging surfaces like a gecko. But something you won't see them doing is launching more than a meter into the air—at least not in the natural world. But researchers have developed a new springing mechanism for small robots that enables them to jump many times their own height at just the right time, a technology they have demonstrated in their so-called JumpRoACH leaping milli-scale robot.
http://www.gizmag.com/cockroach-jumproach-jumping-robot/43583/

Ever-taut spider webs inspire self-spooling liquid wire [Spider power!]

Among spider silk's many remarkable properties is its ability to be stretched 40 percent beyond its original length without breaking. Staying in one piece is impressive, sure, but how does a spider's web remain taut after being warped out of shape by winds and intrusive insects? Scientists have now unraveled this little mystery and used it as the basis of a self-spooling liquid wire they say could be used to build small, stretchable structures.
http://www.gizmag.com/taut-spider-web-liquid-wire/43365/

Cockroach inspires robot that squishes down to crawl through cracks and crevices

For most people, the cockroach doesn't inspire anything but the shivers and a mild sense of revulsion. For scientists at the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley), however, the insect has inspired a whole new way of thinking about robots. After studying the way in which roaches squeeze through tiny cracks and crevices, the team developed a robot with similar capabilities
http://www.gizmag.com/cram-cockroach-inspired-robot/41747/

Beetles inspire ice-resistant aircraft surfaces

Rerouting warm engine air and pumping ice-melting chemicals onto the wings are a couple of ways to keep aircraft surfaces free of frost during flight, but researchers are looking for a more efficient technique. Taking their inspiration from a water-gathering desert beetle, scientists have developed a patterned surface on which the spread of ice can be controlled and prevented. They say the material could be scaled up and applied to not only aircraft parts, but also wind turbines, heat pump coils and car windshields.
http://www.gizmag.com/beetle-patterns-ice-resistant-airplane/41465/

Search-and-rescue robot could give locusts a better name

Despite the fact that locusts are held in fairly low regard by us humans, there's a chance that you may one day be rescued by one . or at least, by a robotic locust. Working with colleagues at Israel's Ort Braude College, researchers from Tel Aviv University have created a tiny locust-inspired robot that can reportedly jump over twice as high as other similarly-sized devices. They say that it could ultimately find use in search-and-rescue operations at disaster sites. Known as TAUB (for "Tel Aviv University and Ort Braude College"), the robot is five inches long (127 mm) and weighs less than an ounce (28 g), yet it can jump to a height of 11 feet (3.4 m) while covering a horizontal distance of 4.5 feet (1.4 m). The scientists hope that by equipping it with some sort of gliding mechanism, the latter figure could be greatly increased.
http://www.gizmag.com/taub-locust-robot/41016/

Bumblebees used for targeted pesticide deliveries

Chemical pesticides are generally a bad thing for the environment and pollinators like bees that our agriculture relies on. Now a company out of Vancouver, Canada, called Bee Vectoring Technology (BVT) has brought the two together in a system that uses bees to deliver tiny amounts of natural pesticides and beneficial fungi while pollinating crops.
http://www.gizmag.com/bumblebees-pesticide-deliveries/40143/

Scientists fly real beetles by radio remote control [Fly your own beetle!]

tudying insects in flight can be difficult. They're usually tethered in place, although this may affect the manner in which they fly. That's why scientists from the University of California, Berkeley and Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) took a different approach—they installed an electronic backpack on giant flower beetles, allowing them to be remotely controlled while in free flight. The technology not only gave the researchers a better insight into how the insects fly, but it could also find use in areas such as search-and-rescue.
http://www.gizmag.com/remote-control-giant-flower-beetles/36588/

Hector the stick insect-inspired robot takes its first steps

iHector, the stick insect-inspired robot built by a research team at Bielefeld University in Germany that we first covered in 2011, could be forgiven for feeling lonely as the only one of its kind in world, but has lately been too busy learning to walk to worry on its unique status. It is hoped that Hector, which stands for Hexapod Cognitive autonomously Operating Robot, will benefit not only roboticists but also biologists interested in animal movement.
http://www.gizmag.com/hector-stick-insect-robot-walking/35296/

Anti-counterfeiting tech inspired by color-changing beetle

British scientists have already looked to principles employed by butterfly wings, as a means of thwarting currency counterfeiters. Now, researchers from China's Southeast University have developed another such technology, that's inspired by a different insect—a color-changing longhorn beetle known as Tmesisternus isabellae.
http://www.gizmag.com/anti-counterfeiting-tech-inspired-by-color-changing-beetle/34647/

Bioinspired hot foam could protect ATMs from thieves [Bombs away!]

Taking inspiration from the defense mechanism of the bombardier beetle, researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a film that, when damaged, instantly releases a hot foam to discourage malicious actions. One promising application for the film is to prevent vandalism of ATMs
http://www.gizmag.com/bioinspired-foam-defense-system/32017/

Praying mantises outfitted with tiny 3D glasses [If they already see 3D, why the 3D glasses?]

Although us humans take 3D vision for granted, it's not a standard feature throughout the animal kingdom. In fact, praying mantises are the only invertebrates known to possess it. Scientists are now studying the insects' ability to see in 3D, to determine if it could be copied in human technologies.
http://www.gizmag.com/praying-mantis-3d-glasses/31836/

Harvard researchers create termite-inspired robot builders

Researchers at Harvard University have taken inspiration from the swarm construction method used by termites to create TERMES. These robots are intended as the first step in a project with the ultimate goal of creating a fully automated, de-centralized robotic workforce.
http://www.gizmag.com/harvard-termite-robot-builder/30851/

Study of ant necks could help develop stronger robots

A new study has cast light on the extent of an ant's strength and the mechanics responsible for it. Research conducted by a team from The Ohio State University suggests that the insect can lift 5,000 times its own body weight, with its neck bearing most of the load.
http://www.gizmag.com/ant-necks-stronger-robot/30797/

Robot thinks like a bee, to learn from what it sees

Autonomous micro air vehicles have to be capable of identifying objects in their environment, and reacting accordingly—much like bees do. Well, thanks to research recently conducted in Berlin, that may soon be possible.
http://www.gizmag.com/bee-inspired-robot/30774/

Hivehaus flat-packed honeycomb home could be the bee's knees [Live like a bee!]

Taking its name from the honeycomb structures built by bees, Hivehaus is a modular housing system constructed from individual hexagonal cells that can be customized and connected, offering plenty of design flexibility.
http://www.gizmag.com/hivehaus--flatpacked-home/30015/

Fleet of eBee drones capture the immensity of the Matterhorn [e-Bees!]

Explorers have mapped the surface of the iconic Matterhorn painstakingly by foot, by satellite, and now by drone, thanks to a small fleet of eBees launched by senseFly and Drone Adventures. The mission not only proved the eBee's capabilities, but generated a data-rich 3D model of the mountaintop.
http://www.gizmag.com/sensefly-ebee-drone-data-matterhorn/29400/

Insects: The future of food? Gizmag goes "taste buds on" with grubs, crickets and caterpillars [Pest-aurants?]

By 2050, the UN expects that there will be almost 10 billion people on Earth. If you're yet to hear alarming phrases like "food security" and "sustainable intensification" you've probably been living under a rock. Which is apt, because that's exactly where you might find one of the answers: insects.
http://www.gizmag.com/insects-as-food/28713/

Florida Keys turns to UAVs to take on mosquitos

Florida Keys authorities are turning to unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with infrared cameras in their ongoing battle to control mosquitos.
http://www.gizmag.com/anti-mosquito-uav/28680/

T8 robot tarantula gives everyone the willies

Legged robot kits aren't anything new, but unlike its competition, the T8 octopod comes with a disturbingly realistic 3D-printed exoskeleton that is sure to make an unforgettable first impression. Robugtix (a robotics company based in Hong Kong) is living up to its name with the lifelike robot tarantula, and it can be yours later this year for an introductory price of US$1,350.
http://www.gizmag.com/robugtix-t8-robot-tarantula/28168/

Festo demonstrates BionicOpter dragonfly robot

The dragonfly is quite the show off when it comes to flying. It can hover in mid-air, maneuver in all directions, and glide without so much as a beat of its wings. After succeeding in capturing the essence of a herring gull with the SmartBird, the folks over at German pneumatic and electric automation company Festo challenged themselves with the creation of a robotic addition to the dragonfly family—the BionicOpter.
http://www.gizmag.com/festo-robot-dragonfly-bionicopter/26874/

Butterfly vs shark: nature's clues to anti-dust materials [Butterfly Engineering]

Butterfly wings cannot be very far behind geckos' toes so far as sources of inspiration for biomimicry research goes. Various properties of the wings of lepidopterans have triggered research into banknote forgery prevention, light reflection and solar cells. New research from Ohio State University suggests the delicate membranes may hold clues to dirt-resistance surfaces.
http://www.gizmag.com/butterfly-wing-dirt-resistance/24930/

Insect-inspired virtual traffic lights could replace—or augment—the real things [Ants to control Traffic Flow?]

If you.ve ever seen two groups of ants meet up with one another on intersecting paths, you.ll notice that they don.t crash into each other. Instead, the larger group instinctively takes the right-of-way, followed by the smaller group—the same thing applies to bees and termites. Inspired by this behavior, Carnegie Mellon University telecommunications researcher Ozan Tonguz wondered if the same thing could be applied to traffic flow.
http://www.gizmag.com/virtual-traffic-lights/24917/

Ant behavior inspires more efficient warehouse robots

When it comes to groups that work together to get a job done, ants have pretty much got the process perfected. That's why computer scientist Marco Dorigo studied the creatures. behavior, and created his Ant Colony Optimization model—an algorithmic technique that can be applied to human endeavors, when efficiency is the order of the day. Scientists from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics have now applied these algorithms to a swarm of 50 autonomous shuttle robots working in a parts warehouse, in an effort to create a new and better type of materials-handling system.
http://www.gizmag.com/ant-algorithm-transport-robots/21933/

Cyborg snail gets biofuel cell implant [Snail Power]

Earlier this year we reported that researchers had implanted a cockroach with an enzyme-based biofuel cell that could potentially be used to power various sensors, recording devices, or electronics used to control an insect cyborg. While it may not be the most dynamic of creatures, a team from Clarkson University has now performed a similar feat with a living snail.
http://www.gizmag.com/cyborg-snail-biofuel-cell-implant/21853/

Powering insect cyborgs with an implantable biofuel cell [Insect power]

Research into developing insect cyborgs for use as first responders or super stealthy spies has been going on for a while now. Most research has focused on using batteries, tiny solar cells or piezoelectric generators to harvest kinetic energy from the movement of an insect's wings to power the electronics attached to the insects. Now a group of researchers at Case Western Reserve University have created a power supply that relies just on the insect's normal feeding.
http://www.gizmag.com/biofuel-cell-power-insect-cyborg/21036/

Cyborg machine-insects prepare for the battlefields of the future

May 31, 2007 Cyborgs and bionic humans have long been the domain of science fiction with the concept popularised by the seventies TV series, Six Million Dollar Man, about a cyborg working for the OSI. As technological development funded by military spending has accelerated in recent times, we've seen the development of the bionic eye, the bionic hand and the bionic arm, with lots of work also being done in the area of exoskeletal robotics to help soldiers run faster and longer and carry heavy loads. Now it appears that we're about to see the concept of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Cyborgs morph. Whilst UAVs have been among the most successful and high-profile innovations in military technology over the past decade, the arena of unmanned aerial technology is about to become a whole lot stranger as hybrid insect-machine "cyborgs" become a reality. The prospect of a remote controlled dragon-fly capable of transmitting video and other environmental data from the front-line still seems like the stuff of science-fiction, but research into hybrid insect-machines is accelerating under the auspices of DARPA.
http://www.gizmag.com/insect-cyborgs/20596/

Harvesting energy from insects in quest to create tiny cyborg first responders [Insect cyborgs?]

Insects have served as the inspiration for a number of Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) that could be deployed to monitor hazardous situations without putting humans in harm's way. Now researchers at the University of Michigan College of Engineering are proposing using actual live insects enhanced with electronic sensors to achieve the same result. The insect cyborgs would use biological energy harvested from their body heat or movements to potentially power small sensors implanted on their bodies in order to gather vital information from hazardous environments.
http://www.gizmag.com/insect-cyborgs/20596/


GAMES

Engineering student shows off pinball machine made completely out of K'Nex

Do you remember those building toys called K'Nex? Well an engineering student at the University of Colorado (CU) named Andrew most certainly does. He actually managed to build a fully-functional pinball machine using only the tools available from the plastic building toy. Andrew spent over four months meticulously planning and building his K'Nex pinball machine that has functioning flippers and a plunger that is capable of launching the ball into the field of play. It also has a small gearbox that powers the two small chain lifts that help move the ball between the different features of the table.
http://www.gizmag.com/knex-pinball/24681/


ROBOTS


http://newatlas.com/robot-kill-switch-personhood-eu-report/47367

UN report says robots threaten two thirds of jobs in developing countries

In the past, the United Nations has considered the threat posed by weaponized AI, but now the body is looking at a more mundane, but still important, robot invasion. A report from the latest UN Conference on Trade and Development has outlined how the increasing use of industrial automation is impacting jobs in developing countries, and what strategies may help in overcoming the problem.
http://newatlas.com/un-report-robots-jobs/46367/

Soft robotic caterpillar uses light to get a wriggle on [I, Catepillar]

Robots that are soft in nature have come along in leaps and bounds of late, forming the basis for machines that are safer to work with, can grasp different objects and better handle rugged terrain. But the need to pack things like power sources and actuators inside has generally meant that miniaturization is out of the question. Researchers may have now opened the door to tiny, millimeter-scale soft robots, by developing a robotic caterpillar that is powered and controlled purely by external light.
http://newatlas.com/soft-robotic-caterpillar-light/45018/

SwagBot farming robot rolls through streams and rounds up cattle

With the sheer amount of labor involved in things like inspecting crops, removing weeds and counting yields, it is perhaps no surprise that farmers are looking to automate certain tasks. And they may soon have a new tool at their disposal, with researchers in Australia developing a durable robot that can navigate difficult terrain, round up cattle and possibly even keep an eye on their health.
http://newatlas.com/swagbot-farming-robot-cattle/44754/

VineRobot will keep tabs on the grapes

While many of us may fantasize about running a vineyard someplace like the south of France, doing so wouldn't actually be all ... well, wine and roses. For one thing, you'd need to regularly walk up and down all those rows of vines, continuously stopping to check on the plants themselves and their grapes. It's the sort of thing that it would be nice if a robot could do. A robot like the VineRobot. The robot is currently being developed through the European Union VineRobot project. Led by Spain's Universidad de La Rioja, the project involves eight partner groups from the wine-making countries of France, Italy, Germany and Spain.
http://www.gizmag.com/vinerobot/35820/

Hector the stick insect-inspired robot takes its first steps

iHector, the stick insect-inspired robot built by a research team at Bielefeld University in Germany that we first covered in 2011, could be forgiven for feeling lonely as the only one of its kind in world, but has lately been too busy learning to walk to worry on its unique status. It is hoped that Hector, which stands for Hexapod Cognitive autonomously Operating Robot, will benefit not only roboticists but also biologists interested in animal movement.
http://www.gizmag.com/hector-stick-insect-robot-walking/35296/

Ocean gliding robots used to study melting Antarctic sheet ice

The use of "ocean gliders" for conducting research in oceanic conditions not ideal for regular methods has been catching on in the scientific community. Examples of this have been seen in the detection of endangered whales in the North Atlantic and a study of the Atlantic sturgeon. Researchers have now turned their robotic ocean helpers towards Antarctica, to study the rapidly-melting ice sheets on the coast of the western part of that polar land mass.
http://www.gizmag.com/ocean-gliders-antarctica/34768/

Signing robot developed as chatty companion for the elderly

Toshiba has introduced its own take on human-looking androids at Japan's CEATAC electronics trade show this week. The communication android has been built to communicate in Japanese sign language, requiring fluid and precise movement of its arms and hands.
http://www.gizmag.com/toshiba-communications-android-ceatac/34146/

MIT lets its robotic cheetah off the leash [RoboCheetah!]

Researchers at MIT have announced the latest developments in their robotic cheetah project. The project aims to provide insights into how cheetahs can move so quickly. The cheetah is now "wireless" and is electrically powered.
http://www.gizmag.com/mit-robotic-cheetah/

Lifelike robots start work at Tokyo museum

Two new lifelike (some might even say positively creepy) robot creations of Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro have now joined the staff of Tokyo's Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, and will act as announcer and science guide to a new permanent exhibition.
http://www.gizmag.com/miraikan-ishiguro-kodomoroid-otonaroid-android/32718/

Scientists try to teach robots morality

A group of researchers from Tufts University, Brown University and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are collaborating with the US Navy in a multi-year effort to explore how they might create robots endowed with their own sense of morality.
http://www.gizmag.com/machine-ethics-artificial-intelligence/32036/

Researchers teach robotic arm to catch

Researchers have developed a robotic arm capable of processing and catching moving objects in just a fraction of a second. As well as being extremely cool to watch, it's possible that the technology might find safety-oriented applications in the future.
http://www.gizmag.com/catching-robotic-arm/32022/

Harvard researchers create termite-inspired robot builders

Researchers at Harvard University have taken inspiration from the swarm construction method used by termites to create TERMES. These robots are intended as the first step in a project with the ultimate goal of creating a fully automated, de-centralized robotic workforce.
http://www.gizmag.com/harvard-termite-robot-builder/30851/

Study of ant necks could help develop stronger robots

A new study has cast light on the extent of an ant's strength and the mechanics responsible for it. Research conducted by a team from The Ohio State University suggests that the insect can lift 5,000 times its own body weight, with its neck bearing most of the load.
http://www.gizmag.com/ant-necks-stronger-robot/30797/

Robot thinks like a bee, to learn from what it sees

Autonomous micro air vehicles have to be capable of identifying objects in their environment, and reacting accordingly—much like bees do. Well, thanks to research recently conducted in Berlin, that may soon be possible.
http://www.gizmag.com/bee-inspired-robot/30774/

2013 International Aerial Robotics Competition tests student-built espionage robots

Held in China and the United States over the past week, the 2013 International Aerial Robotics Competition saw the team from Tsinghua University successfully complete an elaborate autonomous espionage operation that was first proposed in 2010.
http://www.gizmag.com/international-aerial-robotics-competition-2013-results-uav/28622/

Tick-terminator proves a drag for bloodsucking pests

Researchers at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) have crossed the business of pest control with the world of robotics by last month testing their robotic "tick rover" to determine its efficiency at removing the blood suckers from the lawn.
http://www.gizmag.com/tick-rover-robot/28410/

eDavid the robot painter excels in numerous styles

Researchers from the University of Konstanz have developed a robot painter by modifying an industrial welding arm, and it produces startlingly beautiful images in a variety of styles on canvas
http://www.gizmag.com/edavid-robot-artist-painter/28310/

Naro-nanin educational robot fish takes a dip

A new breed of robot fish that is both relatively inexpensive and highly customizable is teaching students between the ages of 10 and 18 about technology and biology. It's the latest in a line of biologically-inspired underwater robots developed within the naro (nautical robots) project at ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), which has previously developed robots based on tuna fish and sea turtles.
http://www.gizmag.com/naro-nanin-robot-fish/28309/

CMU's snake robot explores defunct nuclear power plant [Snakes Eyes]

Several snake-like robots have been developed around the world, and while we keep hearing about their potential applications few have managed to slither outside of their research labs. Earlier this year Carnegie Mellon University's Biorobotics Lab put its modular snake robot's practicality to the test in an abandoned nuclear power plant, where it provided clear, well-lit images from the inside of pipes.
http://www.gizmag.com/cmu-snake-robot-explores-nuclear-power-plant/28235/

Rosphere spherical robot could be rolling up for work to monitor and tend crops

If you see what looks like a hamster ball rolling around a cornfield, it doesn't mean that someone.s pet is incredibly lost. It may be an experimental robot developed by the Robotics and Cybernetics Research Group at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) called Rosphere. The spherical robot can propel itself over uneven ground and may one day be rolling up for work in fields to monitor and tend crops.
http://www.gizmag.com/rosphere-spherical-robot/28142/

Giant Crabster robot to explore shipwrecks and shallow seas [RoboCrab]

The Japanese spider crab is about to lose its title as the world's largest crustacean thanks to a new robot developed in South Korea. For the past two years researchers at the Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) have been working on a giant robot crab that is about the size and weight of a Smart car. This summer it will help scientists explore wrecks below the sea, weathering harsh tidal currents rushing over one and a half meters per second.
http://www.gizmag.com/crabster-robot-kiost-korea/28165/

DFKI's robot ape to colonize the Moon?

If you thought the monkey-like robot AMEE seen in the Val Kilmer sci-fi flick Red Planet was a tad far-fetched, think again. The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and the University of Bremen are working on an ape-like robot called the iStruct Demonstrator that it classifies as a "Space Robot." Lately the mechanical monkey has been practicing how to walk and balance in the center's mock lunar landscape.
http://www.gizmag.com/dfki-robot-chimp-moon-space/28044/

Harvard's flying robot insect can now hover and steer

Almost since the beginning of their existence, robots have taken inspiration from one of nature's wonders: insects. Technological limitations typically prevent these robots from matching the small size of their many-legged muses, resulting in gargantuan examples like Festo's BionicOpter dragonfly. In stark contrast is Harvard's RoboBee, which is the first in the world to demonstrate controlled flight by an insect-sized robot.
http://www.gizmag.com/harvard-robobee-flying-robot-insect/27432/

BlabDroid robots want to interact with us humans

Sure, robots do all kinds of useful work from exploring Mars to imitating baby sea turtles, but when was the last time you had a conversation with one? Developed by artist Alexander Reben and filmmaker Brent Hoff, BlabDroid is a "social robot companion" that was originally used at the Tribeca Film Festival to get visitors to open up and chat about things that they wouldn't say to a human being. This proved so successful that the little cardboard robot is now the focus of a Kickstarter project aimed at putting it into production.
http://www.gizmag.com/blabdroid-robot/27207/

Teachable robot helps assemble IKEA furniture

Teaching a robot how to deal with real-world problems is a challenging task. There has been much progress in building robots that can precisely repeat individual tasks with a level of speed and accuracy impossible for human craftspeople. But there are many more tasks that could be done if robots could be supplied with even a limited amount of judgement. A robotics group led by Professor Sylvain Calinon at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) is making progress in solving this problem.
http://www.gizmag.com/robot-learning-assemble-ikea-furniture/27190/

DARPA's Robotics Challenge gives birth to new humanoid robots

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has published concept artwork depicting the robots that will compete in its ambitious DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC). The DRC will require robots to drive a car, travel through rubble, open doors, climb ladders, manipulate tools, and more. However, due to the current limitations in artificial intelligence, the robots will be teleoperated by a team of people behind the scenes. The idea is to advance robotics technology so that humans won't have to put their lives at risk in future disaster scenarios.
http://www.gizmag.com/darpa-robotics-challenge-humanoid-robots/24722/

Russia builds its first realistic female android

A few months ago, the Russia 2045 movement unveiled the first realistic Russian android head, based on its founder Dmitry Itskov. He's a big believer in the prophetic technological singularity, and claims that by 2045 we will have developed the means to transplant our minds into computers and android bodies. His android surrogate, built and programmed by Moscow-based Neurobotics, has been dismantled and turned into the country's first female android.
http://www.gizmag.com/russia-female-android/24675

Robosquirrels help with study of rattlesnakes

Rattlesnakes, beware! The next time you spot a succulent-looking squirrel, it might actually be a cold-hearted robot. More specifically, it might be a "robosquirrel," created by UC Davis professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering Sanjay Joshi. He built the robot squirrels as part of a study on rattlesnake behavior—a study which yielded some interesting results.
http://www.gizmag.com/robosquirrel-rattlesnakes-squirrels/

Ocean-powered robotic jellyfish could theoretically run forever [Jellyfish Power]

Researchers have created a silicone submarinal robot that gets about by mimicking the motion of a jellyfish. The robot is powered by heat-producing reactions catalyzed by its surface, and using hydrogen and oxygen present in the water as fuel. It's claimed that that the Robojelly, so named by its Virginia Tech creators, could run indefinitely, effectively drawing energy from the water in which it swims.
http://www.gizmag.com/robot-jellyfish/21896/

Honda unveils new ASIMO robot, and more

Ask anyone what their favorite real-life robot is, and chances are the majority will say "That one made by Honda, that looks like an astronaut." They will be referring, of course, to ASIMO. The self-balancing, walking bipedal robot is actually the latest in a long line of similar Honda robots, that began in 1986 with one named EO. The company has also created several versions of ASIMO itself, along with multiple copies of each, to the point that there are currently over 100 individual ASIMO robots in existence. Well, as of today, none of those can any longer be considered state-of-the-art. The newly-named Honda Robotics group has unveiled the latest and greatest ASIMO, that sports several new features over its predecessors - including the ability to act autonomously.
http://www.gizmag.com/honda-unveils-new-asimo/20425/

Robotic universal jamming gripper gets shooting capabilities [Robot gripper ready for the NBA]

Last year we looked at a universal robotic gripper, which was made by filling an elastic membrane with coffee grounds. The versatile gripper, which is attached to a robotic arm, was able to pick up a wide variety of objects, including a coin or raw egg, which are notoriously difficult for robotic grippers modeled after the human hand to deal with. Now the universal jamming gripper's developers have given it the ability to "shoot" objects some distance, which could enable it to sort objects into different bins, dispose of trash, or maybe even try out for the NBA.
http://www.gizmag.com/robotic-universal-jamming-gripper-shoots-objects/21461


BEER

These flowers change color when you feed them beer

Nature has done a pretty great job of making flowers all colorful and lovely to look at. Have you ever thought, though, that they might look even better even they changed color? That's what plant biotech firm Revolution Biotechnology (RevBio) thought, so it's modified plants to do exactly that.
http://www.gizmag.com/revolution-biotechnology-color-changing-flowers/36480/

Booze Joulies bring on the cooling, but won't water down your drink

If the only beer that you have on hand is tepid, you may be tempted to pour yourself a glass and throw in some ice cubes. As any connoisseur will tell you, though, ice cubes in beer is a definite no-no—as the ice melts, it dilutes the drink. That's where Booze Joulies come into play.
http://www.gizmag.com/booze-joulies-drink-cooling-cubes/33103/

Mixing your drinks: How to reduce the dehydrating effect of consuming beer after sport

Beer is often quaffed in the aftermath of a day of sports, despite the ill effects resulting from dehydration. However, a group of Australian Public Health researchers have now found that the bad effects of alcohol can be eased by adding a pinch of sodium to your beer.
http://www.gizmag.com/beer-sports-drink/28821/

LG Blast Chiller means you never have to drink a warm beer again [Coldest beer in minutes]

Few things can ruin a party like warm beer. You can pack ice around it all you want; you're still going to be waiting half an hour for it to get cold and probably still crack it open too soon. Someone over at LG must have attended one too many get-togethers that turned out this way, because the company unveiled a new refrigerator at CES 2012 that comes with the handiest feature since the built-in ice maker: a Blast Chiller that can cool a can of beer or soda to ice cold in just a few minutes.
http://www.gizmag.com/lg-blast-chiller-refrigerator/21054/

West Coast Chill lays claim to title of "World's First Self-Chilling Beverage" [Self-Chilling Beer? with all due respects to our co-author...

Miller Beer may have announced its plans to do so several years ago, but now someone else is actually going through with it ... releasing a beverage in a self-chilling can, that is. At the end of the first quarter of this year, Joseph Company International will be launching its West Coast Chill all-natural energy drink, which will come in the company's patented Chill Can. When buyers press a tab on the can, the temperature of the liquid inside will decrease by 30 degrees within three minutes.
http://www.gizmag.com/west-coast-chill-self-chilling-drink/21316/


FARMING

MIT's crop-saving drones at the readyMIT's crop-saving drones at the ready

Keeping track of crop health is an overwhelmingly tough ask for farmers, and things are only likely to get tougher with predictions of huge yield drop-offs in the coming decades. With a freshly-inked US$100,000 cheque tucked under its arm courtesy of MIT, startup RaptorMaps plans to get crop-mapping drones into the air this summer to better track their health and give farmers' harvests a boost.
http://www.gizmag.com/mit-crop-drones/37526/

Aquaponic urban farm puts seniors to work

Among the oft-cited benefits of urban farming are improved food security and production sustainability. According to Spark Architects, its Homefarm part retirement home, part retiree-run urban farm concept would achieve not only these, but improved health and community spirit among Singapore seniors. Many of the urban farm concepts featured in Gizmag are large outlandish blue-sky ideas. Some, however, are more realistically employable, like the Globe (hedron) rooftop fish farm. And others, like the Windowfarms indoor gardening system, actually become a reality. Though ambitious, Spark's Homefarm concept arguably falls into the employable category. Spark says that its actual aim is to "generate discussion about the many potentials that can emerge from the mixing of two typically separate realms." Specifically, in this case, it's referencing the combination of accommodation and facilities for seniors with an urban farm. It notes the context that Singapore has a significantly aging population, growing city populations and imports over 90 percent of its food. The Homefarm concept, it says, addresses all of these issues.
http://www.gizmag.com/spark-homefarm/

Plantui Plantation gives the smart garden room to grow

Harsh, cold winters and scarce arable land make growing crops a challenge in Finland. A team of entrepreneurs hailing from the icy nordic nation believe this gives them a certain authority when it comes to growing crops indoors. Launched on Indiegogo yesterday, the team's Plantui Plantation hydroponic smart garden is aimed at giving urban green thumbs the capability to raise almost any kind of plant indoors, up two meters (6.6 ft) in height.
http://www.gizmag.com/plantui-plantation-smart-garden/34848/

Floating off-grid greenhouse can feed two families

Italian design office Studiomobile has teamed up with the University of Florence's Professor Stefano Mancuso, who is the director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology, to produce a prototype floating greenhouse in a bid to improve food security in areas with little arable land. The Jellyfish Barge operates off-grid and produces its own clean water via an onboard system of solar distillation.
http://www.gizmag.com/jellyfish-barge-studiomobile/34815/

Open source greenhouse enables smartphone control of a veggie garden

Between potting parsley, curating coriander and tending to tomatoes, a vegetable patch requires a fair amount of work and even more know how. But what if you could call on an online community to keep everything in in working order when you hit the limits of your gardening prowess? The MEG Open Source Greenhouse is an internet-connected indoor microclimate designed to tap into the collective knowledge of green-thumbs around the world. MEG (Micro Experimental Growing) is the brainchild of a team of Italian engineers looking to demonstrate that just about anything can be grown in any location. The greenhouse is around the size of a vending machine and provides a microclimate which can be managed through a phone or tablet. Driven by an Arduino controller, the user can control important metrics to create the ideal environment of their plants to prosper. To this end, light cycles, ventilation, temperature, irrigation, soil acidity and alkalinity can all be managed via the app.
http://www.gizmag.com/internet-connected-greenhouse-smartphone-meg/34727/

Barsha pump provides irrigation water, but doesn't need fuel

Climate-KIC, a European-union climate innovation initiative, recently selected a jury of entrepreneurs, financiers and business people to award funding to what they felt were Europe's best clean-tech innovations of 2014. Taking first place was Dutch startup aQysta, a Delft University of Technology spin-off company that manufactures what's known as the Barsha irrigation pump. It can reportedly boost crop yields in developing nations by up to five times, yet requires no fuel or electricity to operate.
http://www.gizmag.com/aqysta-barsha-pump/34588/

Teenagers halve the time of crop germination

Google has announced the winners of this years Google Science Fair, an annual, worldwide science and technology competition for 13-18 year olds. This year's Grand Prize winner is a project that used bacteria to speed up the germination process of certain crops.
http://www.gizmag.com/google-science-fair-2014-winners/33937/

Toshiba expands to food production with indoor vegetable factory

Looking to take a bite out of Japan's food market, electronics giant Toshiba has announced plans to construct a vegetable production factory in Yokosuka. The factory will use optimized conditions to foster indoor plant growth, the company expecting its output to yield US$2,962,200 in annual sales.
http://www.gizmag.com/toshiba-food-production-vegetable-factory/32164/

Purdue researchers pursue cave corn

Scientists at Purdue University have come up with a way of growing corn in caves, but it doesn't involve some bizarre mating of maize and mushroom, but the manipulation of light and temperature.
http://www.gizmag.com/purdue-corn-cave-genetically-modified/32110/

Green roof to be installed at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn is set to have a green roof installed. The idea has been planned since before the arena was even built. Developers believe the new addition will be one of the largest and most impressive green roofs in the city.
http://www.gizmag.com/brooklyn-barclays-center-green-roof/


SPACE

Stephen Hawking's space probes eye the express lane to neighboring stars

The Alpha Centauri star system is a fair old hike. At 25 trillion miles (4.37 light years) away, it would take around 30,000 years for us to roll into the area, and that's if we hitched a ride on today's fastest spacecraft. If the latest idea from the cosmically inquisitive Stephen Hawking comes to fruition, however, we could reach this neighboring stellar system within 20 years of launch. The US$100 million Breakthrough Starshot program, which also has the backing of entrepreneur Yuri Milner and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, will investigate how small, lightweight spacecraft could be used to cut the travel time between us and our nearest star system. This could see these "nanocraft" zipping along at 20 percent of light speed, or more than 1,000 times faster than the spacecraft we use today.
http://www.gizmag.com/stephen-hawking-space-probe-stars/42785/

Growing greens on the Red Planet

When the first living visitor from Earth lands on Mars we might well expect it to be a man or a woman, but if students from the University of Southampton Spaceflight Society have their way, it could be one small step for a lettuce. That may seem more than a bit mad, but its part of an experiment to see if crops can grow in the Martian environment as a prelude to colonization.
http://www.gizmag.com/mars-one-lettuce-southampton/35424/

Simulated Martian and lunar soils sprout their first crops

When and if colonists ever arrive on Mars, they're going to need something to eat . on a long-term, ongoing basis. That's why several research groups are looking into the feasibility of growing crops on the Red Planet. One of those teams, from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, previously tried growing food plants in simulations of both lunar and Martian soil. Although those tests proved unsuccessful, that wasn't the case the most recent time around.
http://www.gizmag.com/growing-crops-martian-lunar-soil/42226/

Scientists plan to grow potatoes under Martian conditions [Spuds in Space!]

A new collaborative project between the International Potato Center (CIP) and NASA will see a crop of potatoes grown on Earth under the same conditions found on the Red Planet. The effort is not only a big step towards the goal of one day constructing a controlled farming dome on Mars, but will also demonstrate the potential of growing potatoes in inhospitable environments back home . something that the researchers hope will help tackle world hunger.
http://www.gizmag.com/cip-nasa-growing-potatoes-mars/41035/

"Magic" native Australian tobacco plant could be key to space-based food production

Scientists at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia have discovered a gene in an ancient Australian native tobacco plant that they say is the key to growing crops in space. The plant, Nicotiana benthamiana, has long been used in labs around the world to test viruses and vaccines due to the fact it has no immune system. Surprisingly, this trait has also led to the plant being extremely resilient, which is where space-based food production comes in. Although the lack of an immune system leaves the plant prone to disease, it frees up energy that would otherwise be used for defense to be used to germinate and grow faster and produce bigger seeds. While this isn.t necessarily advantageous in pathogen-rich environments, it does help the plant, which is known as Pitjuri to indigenous Aboriginal tribes, deal with its primary predator in the Granites area near the border of Western Australia and the Northern Territory—drought.
http://www.gizmag.com/australian-tobacco-plant-gene-space-crops/40253/

3D-printed ice shelter wins NASA's Mars habitat design competition

NASA has announced the winners of its 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge Design Competition. The contest sought architectural concepts for how 3D printing might be used to create shelters on the Red Planet. The overall winner, Ice House, would be built using the planet's predicted abundant water supply.
http://www.gizmag.com/nasa-3d-printed-habitat-challenge-design-competition-winners/39673/

Canadian firm patents inflatable space elevator

In space travel, the first step is always the most expensive, but why blast-off in a rocket if you can catch a ride on a space elevator? Canadian space firm Thoth Technology has received a US patent for an elevator to take spacecraft and astronauts at least part way into space. If it's ever built, the 20 km (12.4 mi) high Thothx inflatable space tower holds the promise of reducing launch costs by 30 percent in terms of fuel, and may even replace some classes of satellites.
http://www.gizmag.com/canadian-firm-patents-inflatable-space-elevator/38773/

NASA challenges public for ideas to make a Mars colony more sustainable

NASA has launched a public challenge with the aim of innovating technologies vital for the establishment of a colony on Mars. The agency is focused on a mission to the Red Planet, and has already taken the first vital steps. However, whilst simply reaching Mars with a cargo of healthy astronauts would be a monumental triumph, maintaining a permanent presence on so inhospitable a planet could prove to be a much greater technological challenge.
http://www.gizmag.com/nasa-competition-mars-colony/37441/

NASA's weird and wonderful NIAC 2016 selections

NASA has announced its 2016 selections for Phase 1 of its Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. As usual, the first round contains an impressive array of weird and wonderful technological concepts with the potential to revolutionize space exploration. NIAC selections for previous years have included bouncing rovers, innovative telescopes and even robotic squids. Phase 1 of the program awards each team $100,000 in funds aimed at facilitating a nine-month period of honing and analyzing their concepts prior to Phase 2 submissions.
http://www.gizmag.com/nasa-niac-2016/42766/

NASA-funded research seeks to produce breathable oxygen on Mars

Establishing and maintaining a permanent human presence on Mars promises to be one of the most technologically challenging ventures ever undertaken by our species. A key aspect of the endeavor is to create an environment in which human beings can survive and flourish . this requires a ready supply of oxygen. NASA is working with Indiana-based company Techshot Inc. in order to develop a solution with the potential to produce an abundant source of oxygen with minimal assistance from Earth.
http://www.gizmag.com/nasa-oxygen-terraform-mars/37466/

VARIES project proposes antimatter starship mission [More Antimatter Power]

As Douglas Adams said, "Space is Big—Really Big." And that's the major obstacle for travelling between the stars. But a new proposal published in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society promises to shrink that distance just a bit. Physics and technology consultant Richard Obousy claims that an antimatter starship that creates its own fuel from the vacuum of space itself would be capable of making a return journey to the nearest star and back within one lifetime.
http://www.gizmag.com/antimatter-starship/23345/

Growing greens on the Red Planet [Collard greens on Mars!]

When the first living visitor from Earth lands on Mars we might well expect it to be a man or a woman, but if students from the University of Southampton Spaceflight Society have their way, it could be one small step for a lettuce. That may seem more than a bit mad, but its part of an experiment to see if crops can grow in the Martian environment as a prelude to colonization.
http://www.gizmag.com/mars-one-lettuce-southampton/35424

Astronauts to get green thumbs with NASA sending veggie garden to the ISS [Vegetables in Space!]

NASA is sending fresh veggies to the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday as it launches its Vegetable Production System (Veggie) aboard the SpaceX Dragon CRS-3 mission.
http://www.gizmag.com/veggie/31613/

Modular planting system adds versatility to the living wall

The benefits to health and wellbeing of having plants and greenery around an office are well documented. A recent project by Ingameoffice is more than just a few pot plants, though. Its TYJ Office Building refurbishment uses a wall planting system in which plants can be moved around.
http://www.gizmag.com/ingameoffice-modular-vertical-garden-indoor-plants/31580/

Smart Herb Garden provides fresh herbs at home

It's always useful to have fresh herbs to hand in the kitchen, but they can easily wither if not well-fed and watered. Click and Grow wanted to overcome this problem. Its Smart Herb Garden is now available. It plugs into the wall and lets users grow their herbs without having to lift a finger.
http://www.gizmag.com/click-and-grow-smart-herb-garden/31450/

"Superparamagnetic" particles used to harvest phosphorus from polluted water [Get the phosporus out!]

Phosphorus is a mineral that's widely used in fertilizer, which itself has an unfortunate tendency to leach out of farmers' fields and into our waterways. Now, researchers have devised a method of retrieving some of that phosphorus from the water.
http://www.gizmag.com/phosphorus-superparamagnetic-particles/31399/

Nano technique boosts plant energy production and creates plant biosensors [Nano-Powered Plants!]

By embedding different types of carbon nanotubes into the cellular "power plants" within plants, a team at MIT has boosted plants' ability to capture light energy. The same approach could be used to create plants with environmental monitoring capabilities.
http://www.gizmag.com/bionic-plants-enhanced-energy-production-gas-detection/31256/

Farm 432: The handy kitchen appliance that breeds fly larva for protein [Flies for lunch!]

Flies are usually considered unwelcome guests in the kitchen, but one industrial designer is aiming to turn them into a renewable food source. Katharina Unger's Farm 432 concept is a fly-breeding device for home use that continually collects fly larva as a protein source for less squeamish diners. As unappetizing as it may sound, the designer hopes that convincing the Western world to add insects to its diet could help increase the planet's overall food supply.
http://www.gizmag.com/farm-432-fly-larva-food/28509/

Bitponics connects your urban garden to the cloud

Don't want to ask your creepy neighbor to check on your plants while you're on vacation? Take care of them from the cloud, instead. One of the latest products in the burgeoning Internet of Things, the Bitponics system is a "personal gardening assistant" designed to make hydroponics gardening easier. The system connects the garden to the cloud, letting gardeners keep an eye on their plants and exercise their green thumb even when they're away.
http://www.gizmag.com/bitponics-cloud-gardening/28119/

The Green Wheel would grow herbs and veggies, Halo-style

Back in the 80s, NASA envisioned a system for growing herbs and other edible plants in the zero-gravity environment of a spacecraft. Although it never got off the drawing board, that system consisted of a rotating ring with built-in hydroponics, which the plants grew on the inside of. Flash forward a few decades, and Italian design firm DesignLibero has taken that concept and re-imagined it as a consumer device, known as The Green Wheel.
http://www.gizmag.com/green-wheel-rotating-plants/22728/

WarmDirt keeps plants' roots frost-free [Dirt Power]

After a somewhat unsuccessful and rather expensive attempt at warming a greenhouse, electrical engineer Dr Craig Hollabaugh rigged up a system that keeps the winter chill away by warming the roots of his plants. The WarmDirt system has already helped his plants survive the coldest of Colorado's cold months, and is now getting ready to provide warmth to seedlings during the expected April freeze. This past season's survivors were all flowers but next winter, the setup will be used for growing veggies.
http://www.gizmag.com/warmdirt-electric-plant-root-heating-system/21980/

Device that harvests water from thin air wins the James Dyson Award

Young Melbourne-based inventor Edward Linacre has won the 2011 James Dyson Award, making it the second year in a row where the prestigious prize has gone to an Aussie. Linacre stole this year's competition with his Airdrop irrigation concept that collects water from thin air. The Swinburne University of Technology design graduate was driven to transform an ancient cooling technique into a new sub-surface irrigation system, following the enduring Australian drought that saw high levels of farmer suicide along Australia's Murray- Darling Basin.

http://www.gizmag.com/airdrop-wins-james-dyson-award/20471/

Windowfarms let you garden—appropriately enough—in your windows [Grow your vegetables in your window

Whereas the majority of vertical farming concepts and projects featured in Gizmag over the years have either been huge dedicated structures or add-ons to existing buildings, the Windowfarms system downsizes and personalizes veggie growing by placing an indoor farm in the window. The original plastic-bottle-based, do-it-yourself hydroponics system design has been available for a while now but the developers are getting ready to make a new, improved kit version available.
http://www.gizmag.com/windowsfarms-indoor-farm/20637/

The high-rise future of food production [High-rise farming]

Would you have ever thought it conceivable to grow vast amounts of produce in the heart of densely populated cities such as Hong Kong, Tokyo or New Delhi? A new model for agriculture is proposing just that. Vertical farming is the latest concept to address the impending crisis in world food production and follows the same methodology that town planners have used for years to cope with growing populations and space limitations; build up, not out. Aiming to bring food production to the places where most of the consumption occurs, the concept envisages specially designed skyscrapers that contain multiple levels of viable farmland providing all-year-round food production in a controlled, parasite-free environment.
http://www.gizmag.com/go/7500/

Engineers at Franklin W Olin College of Engineering designed a Mars greenhouse [Greenhouses on Mars!]

http://projects.olin.edu/marsport/

Solar panels keep greenhouses cooler in summer, let the sun through in winter [Solar panels for greenhouse HVAC]

Spain's ULMA Agrícola consortium and Tecnalia research center have developed a new type of photovoltaic solar panel for greenhouses that can generate electricity without an adverse effect on the crops grown within, while additionally providing cooling in summer. The system is designed to exploit the annual oscillation - the variation in the height of the sun's path across the sky over the course of the year. In theory, no solar radiation is compromised over winter, but surplus radiation can be diverted to electricity-generation during summer.
http://www.gizmag.com/umla-solar-greenhouse/21090/

Study finds sunshade geoengineering could improve crop yields [Sunshade Engineering]

In the face of potentially catastrophic effects on global food production, some have proposed drastic solutions to counteract climate change such as reflecting sunlight away from the Earth. A new study from the Carnegie Institution for Science examining the effects of sunshade geoengineering has concluded that such an approach would be more likely to improve food security than threaten it.
http://www.gizmag.com/sunshade-geoengineering-study/21225/

Bosco Verticale: the world's first vertical forest

Italian architecture firm Stefano Boeri Architetti hopes to merge vegetation and urban architecture, with its Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) project. The Milan-based firm has designed a model that could see the "reforestation and naturalization" of metropolitan cities, by growing forests sky-ways. "Bosco Verticale [is a] device for the environmental survival of contemporary European cities," says Stefano Boeri.
http://www.gizmag.com/bosco-verticale-vertical-forest/20194/

Urban Cultivator automatically grows greens indoors

There's no question that fresh herbs taste better than their dried counterparts, nor is there any denying that garden-fresh veggies are preferable to ones that have spent the past several days in a truck or on a supermarket shelf. People who are lucky enough to live in warmer climates can keep the fresh greens coming year-round, if they plant a garden. For those of us in colder regions, however, things get a bit more challenging come winter. We can rig up indoor herb gardens on windowsills or using full-spectrum fluorescent lights, but that can sometimes get a little complicated. If you can justify its price, however, there is an alternative—the Urban Cultivator.
http://www.gizmag.com/urban-cultivator-computer-controlled-hydroponics/21272/


POWER

Is harvesting energy from evaporating water a serious renewable energy prospect? [Evaporation Power!]

A recently published study estimates that up to 70 percent of the United States' electricity needs could be met through a newly devised system that harvests power from evaporation. This novel renewable power source uses bacterial spores to generate electricity and can sit on top of lakes and reservoirs.
http://newatlas.com/evaporation-energy-renewable-power/51510/

Shoppers in London can turn footsteps into electricity [Sole Power]

Bird Street, just off Oxford Street in London's West End, has undergone something of a transformation recently, going from an underused retail zone offshoot to the "world's first Smart Street." Designed to showcase the High Street of the future, it merges pollution-busting and sustainable technology with a traffic-free shopping and dining experience.
http://newatlas.com/bird-street-pavegen-clearair-airlite/50321/

New biofuel recipe mixes chicken poop and weeds [Poop power!]

They may give us an almost endless supply of eggs and nuggets, but industrial chicken farming comes with a tradeoff: it produces a lot of poop. To turn a con into a pro, researchers at Landmark University in Nigeria have developed a process that mixes chicken manure with an invasive weed to create a feedstock for making biofuel.
http://newatlas.com/chicken-poop-weeds-biofuel/49362/

Biofuel-friendly sugarcane has all the sugar and more oil

Amongst the arguments against growing crops for use as biofuel feedstock is the fact that they displace food crops. However, what if they could be grown on marginal land that wouldn't be suitable for food crops anyway? Well, that's the case with sugarcane. Now, genetically-engineered types of sugarcane may make it a more valuable source of biofuel than ever before. Led by the University of Illinois, a multi-institution team created varieties of sugarcane that have much more oil in their leaves and stem than unmodified varieties. That oil could be used in biodiesel production. It was assumed that this boost in oil production would result in less sugar production, although that turned out not to be the case. That's a good thing, as that sugar can be used to produce ethanol.
http://newatlas.com/sugarcane-oil/48851/

Superclean: Light and quantum dots turn plants into hydrogen

Hydrogen is often touted as a clean fuel source, as its use in cars only produces water vapor as a byproduct. The truth is though, that producing hydrogen in the first place can often be a process that relies on natural gas or other polluting chemicals that can damage the environment. Finding a way to produce hydrogen simply and cleanly would go a long way toward eventual use of the gas as a fuel source. And that's exactly what researchers at the University of Cambridge (UC) have done, adding to a host of other green possibilities that have been proposed for creating the gas.
http://newatlas.com/clean-hydrogen/48406/

Diamonds turn nuclear waste into nuclear batteries [Diamonds will be our best friends]

One problem with dealing with nuclear waste is that it's often hard to tell what's waste and what's a valuable resource. Case in point is the work of physicists and chemists at the University of Bristol, who have found a way to convert thousands of tonnes of seemingly worthless nuclear waste into man-made diamond batteries that can generate a small electric current for longer than the entire history of human civilization.
http://newatlas.com/diamonds-nuclear-batteries/46645/

"Starving" bacteria to double energy extraction from sewage [Number 2 Power!]

Global efforts to extract energy from sewage in forms such as heat, biogas and even electricity may get a boost thanks to the work of a team of biochemists and microbiologists from Ghent University in Belgium, who are collaborating on a pilot project with DC Water in Washington DC. Sewage from bathrooms and kitchens is a potential energy source because it contains various organic substances suspended in wastewater. If we want sewage treatment to be truly self-sustaining, the trick will be to find an efficient way to separate the organic matter from the wastewater . that way the wastewater can be recycled, and the organic matter can be used to generate bioenergy.
http://newatlas.com/starving-bacteria-turns-sewage-into-energy/46631/

Ecotricity wants to heat British homes with gas from grass

The old saying goes that you shouldn't let the grass grow under your feet, but a British green energy company sees that neglected greenery as the solution to the UK's energy needs. Ecotricity has announced plans to produce methane using grass harvested from marginal farmland that could one day heat 97 percent of British homes and create a whole new energy industry. Biofuels is one of those green energy solutions that sound promising, but keeps getting bogged down in the details. Animal waste might work, but how to collect it? Old frying oil could do, but are there enough chip shops? And energy crops, like maize, run the risk of turning needed food into fuel.
http://newatlas.com/ecotricity-british-gas-grass/46531/

Asian .super grid. the first step towards a global, interconnected, renewable energy grid

An Asia-based group of entrepreneurs has put forth a vision for a global, interconnected energy grid that connects energy users with renewable generation sources half a world away. Starting with an Asia wide super grid, GEIDCO is aiming for a connected world by 2050.
http://newatlas.com/geidco-global-interconnected-energy-grid/46411/

Mimicking nature turns sewage into biocrude oil in minutes [The shit hyou say!]

Biofuels are often touted as an alternative to fossil fuels, but many depend on raw materials that would quickly become scarce if production were scaled up. As an alternative to these alternatives, the US Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has found a way to potentially produce 30 million barrels of biocrude oil per year from the 34 billion gal (128 billion liters) of raw sewage that Americans create every day.
http://newatlas.com/mimic-nature-sewage-oil/46260/

Simple, inexpensive method for creating energy-harvesting wooden floors [Floor Power]

In the smart cities of the not-too-distant future, sidewalks might be able to generate power from the footsteps of pedestrians thanks to companies like Pavegen, but while costs have largely restricted this technology to public spaces like shopping centers . and soccer pitches . a new technique developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) could see homes powered by the same source for around the same price as conventional flooring.
http://newatlas.com/triboelectric-generating-floor/46079/

Smart bricks would enable walls capable of generating electricity, clean water and oxygen [Brick power!]

A lot of things are becoming "smart" these days, but bricks might not be something you'd expect to be added to the list. On the way to buildings that act like "large-scale living organisms," scientists at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) are developing smart bricks that would make use of microbes to recycle wastewater, generate electricity and produce oxygen. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs), which will be embedded in the bricks to give them their "smart" capabilities, have proven handy in the past, with researchers demonstrating how they can be used to generate electricity from human urine, dead flies or just plain old mud.
http://www.gizmag.com/smart-bricks-mfc/44643/

Latest bionic leaf now 10 times more efficient than natural photosynthesis [Leaf Power!]

Over the last few years, great strides have been made in creating artificial leaves that mimic the ability of their natural counterparts to produce energy from water and sunlight. In 2011, the first cost-effective, stable artificial leaves were created, and in 2013, the devices were improved to self-heal and work with impure water. Now, scientists at Harvard have developed the "bionic leaf 2.0," which increases the efficiency of the system well beyond nature's own capabilities, and used it to produce liquid fuels for the first time.
http://www.gizmag.com/bionic-leaf-2-more-efficient-photosynthesis/43691/

Electricity-generating paving tiles get some smarts

UK tech firm Pavegen has been harvesting pedestrian power with floor tiles that convert the kinetic energy of footsteps into electricity since 2009. Today, the firm has launched a new version of the tiles and, in addition to being more efficient, they are able to capture footfall data. Pavegen's tiles are built in such a way that they afford a degree of movement when they are stepped upon, which can then be used to generate electricity. They are primarily aimed at being used in high-footfall public locations, but they've also been used at events like the Paris Marathon and to light football pitches in Brazil and Nigeria.
http://www.gizmag.com/pavegen-v3-data-tiles/43270/

Urine-powered battery offers cheap energy source [No comment]

When most people think of bacteria and urine together, chances are good they think of a not-so-pleasant infection. For researchers at the University of Bath however, unifying these two thoughts led to the development of a battery that could harness "pee power" to bring energy to parts of the world that might not otherwise have access to it.
http://www.gizmag.com/urine-battery/42866/

Carbon dioxide from the air converted into methanol

The danger posed by rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide has seen many schemes proposed to remove a proportion it from the air. Rather than simply capture this greenhouse gas and bury it in the ground, though, many experiments have managed to transform CO2 into useful things like carbon nanofibers or even fuels, such as diesel. Unfortunately, the over-arching problem with many of these conversions is the particularly high operating temperatures that require almost counterproductive amounts of energy to produce relatively low yields of fuel. Now researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) claim to have devised a way to take CO2 directly from the air and convert it into methanol using much lower temperatures and in a correspondingly simpler way.
http://www.gizmag.com/air-co2-methanol-conversion-usc/41669/

Biofuels from coffee grounds could help power London

That morning cup of joe ahead of your daily commute may end up providing more than just the refreshing boost needed to tackle the day ahead. London-based company, Bio-bean, hopes to turn left-over coffee grounds into biodiesel for vehicles and biomass pellets to heat buildings.
http://www.gizmag.com/used-coffee-grounds-biofuels/39731/

Hybrid solar roofing system uses heat pipes to boost efficiency

You would think that the more sunlight that hits a solar panel, the better. When it comes to efficiency though, that's not the case . as photovoltaic cells heat up their efficiency decreases. To capture that heat and put it to good use, a team of scientists from Brunel University London has created a hybrid system that turns the whole roof into a solar generator.
http://www.gizmag.com/heat-pipes-solar-panel-brunel/39605/

Urinal prototype uses fuel cells to generate steady stream of electricity [Urine power]

Human urine has been turned into all sorts of things over the centuries. Alchemists distilled phosphorous from it, it was once used for the production of gunpowder, tanners employed it in great vats to tan hides, and it has served as the basis of a myriad chemical substances, including the first types of plastics. Now yet another use for this ubiquitous liquid has been created. Researchers working at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) have built a urinal that converts urine directly into electricity.
http://www.gizmag.com/urine-microbial-fuel-cell-electricity/36444/

Superconducting coil to slash costs and improve efficiency of direct-drive wind turbines

Conventional offshore wind turbines are expensive and complicated pieces of machinery . in a large part because of their complex and maintenance-intensive gearboxes. Dr Shahriar Hossain from the University of Wollongong (UOW) in Australia is looking to slash production costs and drastically improve efficiency replacing these gearboxes with a superconducting coil. Wind turbine gearboxes connect the low-speed shaft, which is turned by the rotation of the blades, to the high-speed shaft that drives the generator, increasing the rotational speed of the low-speed shaft from around 30-60 rpm to the rotational speed required by the generator to produce electricity—which is usually around 1,000-1,800 rpm. To avoid the cost, maintenance and efficiency-loss problems associated with the use of gear boxes, Dr Hossain, a materials scientist from the UOW's Institute of Superconducting and Electronic Materials with funding by the Australian Research Council in 2013 under the Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) scheme, is developing a magnesium diboride superconducting coil made from magnesium and boron that he says is very cheap and easy to manufacture and would allow wind turbines to operate with no gearbox at all.
http://www.gizmag.com/superconducting-coil-wind-turbine/35018/

Tulip solar power system gets its first commercial applicatioN [Tulip power]

For five years now, a Tulip concentrating solar power plant has been operating at a kibbutz in Israel. In January 2012, a second one sprouted in Spain. While both plants have been successfully pumping out electricity ever since, they were also both built as research and development exercises. Soon, however, the world's first commercial Tulip plant will be built for a paying client, in Ethiopia. Created by Israeli company AORA, the Tulip system is certainly unique. It incorporates a central tulip-like tower, surrounded by an array of sun-tracking mirrors on the ground. Those mirrors turn to track with the sun, reflecting and concentrating its rays onto the tower.s top-mounted "bulb" throughout the day. This causes the air inside the bulb to heat to temperatures as high as 1,000C (1,832F). That ultra-hot air is then used to run a turbine generator, thus creating electricity.
http://www.gizmag.com/tulip-concentrating-solar-power-ethiopia/35076/

New technique for generating electricity from mechanical vibrations

Electrical energy is normally generated through heat, motion, nuclear transformation, or chemical reactions, but now scientists at VTT Technical Research Center of Finland have devised a new method that involves mechanical vibrations. They figured out how to "harvest" the vibrational energy that occurs naturally when two surfaces with different work functions are connected via electrodes, and this energy could potentially be used to power wearables and other low-power electronics.
http://www.gizmag.com/mechanical-vibration-generate-electricity/34701/

Proprane-producing E. coli provide biosynthetic alternative to fossil fuels [E.coli: it's not just for diarrhea any more!]

Propane is an appealing fuel, easily stored and already used worldwide, but it.s extracted from the finite supply of fossil fuels.or is it? Researchers have engineered bacteria to create engine-ready propane out of fatty acids, and in the future, maybe even sunlight.
http://www.gizmag.com/propane-e-coli-biosynthetic-fossil-fuels/33621/

Sainsbury's supermarket to be powered entirely by its own food waste [Rotten tomato power]

While it would be best if supermarket food spoilage could just be avoided, British grocery chain Sainsbury's is taking what might be the next-best approach . it's about to start using its unsellable food to power one of its stores.
http://www.gizmag.com/sainsburys-food-waste-anaerobic-digester/33084/

Artists design giant PV-packing floating duck for the city of Copenhagen [Quackicity]

A group of British artists have conceptualized a giant solar harvesting floating duck as part of the 2014 Land Art Generator Initiative Copenhagen design competition. Energy Duck has been designed to generate clean electricity for the local residents of Copenhagen.
http://www.gizmag.com/energy-duck-copenhagen/33007/

Spark shaker brings kinetic energy to the developing world [Shake it up, baby]

In 15 years as a percussionist with British electronica band Faithless, Sudha Kheterpal has exerted her fair share of energy. She has now teamed up with designers and engineers to develop Spark, a shaker that produces kinetic energy to bring power to the developing world.
http://www.gizmag.com/spark-shaker-kinetic-energy-developing-world/32826/

Seatower's game-changing wind turbine foundations

Offshore wind farming combines the clean, green, environmentally neutral benefits of land-based wind turbines, while being a lot less visually intrusive ... and restricting the usual NIMBY opposition to crustaceans and invertebrates. It's currently a lot more expensive to install turbines out at sea, though, and that's restricting the sector's development. Which is why the Seatower Cranefree turbine platform could be such a significant step forward. Cheaper and easier to install, and requiring less gargantuan and specialized equipment than standard monopile foundations, the Seatower base could help offshore wind farms reach profitability a lot quicker.
http://www.gizmag.com/seatower-cranefree-offshore-wind-turbine-base/32031/

Novel technique produces ethanol from carbon monoxide

Ethanol may be touted as a more eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, but it requires a great deal of plant-based feedstock. Now, however, scientists at Stanford University have devised a method of producing liquid ethanol from carbon monoxide gas.
http://www.gizmag.com/ethanol-carbon-monoxide/31658/

Rainwater used to generate electricity

When we complain about the rain, other people will often say "Yeah, but it's good for the plants." Well, thanks to a microturbine-based system created by three students from the Technological University of Mexico, it's now also being used to generate electricity for use in low-income homes.
http://www.gizmag.com/pluvia-rainwater-microturbine/31379/

Seafloor carpet mimics muddy seabed to harness wave power [Wave power]

The seafloor carpet, a system inspired by the wave absorbing abilities of a muddy seabed being developed at the University of California, Berkeley, takes exploring wave power as a renewable energy source to some intriguing new depths.
http://www.gizmag.com/seafloor-carpet-muddy-seabed-power-waves/30945/

Biogasoline could be joining biodiesel at the pumps

By now, most people have at least a passing knowledge of biodiesel — it's diesel fuel made from plant or animal oils, as opposed to the more traditional and less eco-friendly petroleum. While it's a good choice for people with diesel-powered vehicles, those of us with gas-burning cars haven't been able to get in on the action ... although that may be about to change.
http://www.gizmag.com/plant-waste-biogasoline/30747/

Desert plants to be put to the test for aviation biofuel production

A discovery by the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SRBC) that desert plants fed by seawater produce biofuel more efficiently than other well-known feedstocks could help alleviate concerns surrounding the use of valuable arable land for such purposes.
http://www.gizmag.com/halophyte-aviation-biofuel-desert-plants/30583/

New Wave Energy wants to put power plants in the sky [Beam it down, Sparky]

UK based New Wave Energy aims to put aerial power plants in the sky with unmanned energy harvesting drones. The aim is to produce 400 MW of power, with networks of thousands of drones that can harvest both solar and wind energy and transmit it wirelessly to receiving stations on the ground.
http://www.gizmag.com/new-wave-energy-creates-aerial-power-plants/29849/

SUPA pulls the plug on table lamps

The Smart Universal Power Antenna (SUPA) system incorporates cordless lamps that receive their power by induction from a printed circuit board located on the underside of a tabletop. The result—no messy cords waiting to trip passers-by.
http://www.gizmag.com/supa-induction-cordless-lamps/28649/

New technique for turning sunshine and water into hydrogen fuel

A new technique developed by the University of Colorado Boulder team converts sunshine and water directly into usable hydrogen fuel. Solar plants using this technique could produce 100,000 kg hydrogen per day, which they claim is enough fuel to run approximately 5,200 hydrogen-fuel cell buses daily.
http://www.gizmag.com/sunshine-and-water-into-fuel/28563/

Octopus inspires silent propulsion system for boats and subs [Octopus Power]

Along with their writhing tentacles, octopi and squid sport another interesting feature . they swim not by swishing a tail, but by expelling a jet of water. This allows them to move very quickly and quietly. Scientists from Germany.s Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation have now copied this system, in a propulsion system that could ultimately find use in boats, recreational watercraft, or submarines.
http://www.gizmag.com/octopus-squid-propulsion-system/28135/

Mining the heavens: In conversation with Planetary Resources' Chief Engineer [Asteroid Power]

It wasn't long ago that asteroid mining was only found in the pages of science fiction. Now, with increasing interest in the commercial exploitation of space, companies are springing up to turn asteroids from things that Bruce Willis blows up, into raw materials for future travellers and colonists. One such firm is Planetary Resources, which is currently winding up a KickStarter campaign aimed at raising public awareness about asteroid mining by offering the public access to a space telescope. Gizmag visits the company.s Bellevue, Washington headquarters and talks to the President and Chief Engineer, Chris Lewicki.
http://www.gizmag.com/planetary-resources-interview/27952/

Delft explores kite power for rural Africa [Still More Kite Power]

The University of Delft has a program devoted to kite-based generation systems, with 20 years of research and development under their belt since Wubbo Ockels, the first Dutch astronaut established it. Now, members of the team are exploring practical niches where the compromises of kite-based power might pay off. One has just completed a trip through Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal discussing opportunities for rural African kite generation with governmental agencies, universities and companies in the renewables space.
http://www.gizmag.com/deft-kite-power-africa/28230/

TwingTec aims to harvest wind power using kites [More Kite Power]

Poised halfway between the complexity of Makani and the simplicity of SkySails, the TwingTec TwingKite (or simply Twing, short for tethered wing) uses an advanced lightweight construction to generate energy from the wind. It has been awarded 10,000 Swiss Francs by the Venture Kick start-up funding program.
http://www.gizmag.com/twingtec-kite-power/27977/

Google floats balloon-powered internet network with Project Loon [Loon Power]

Almost two-thirds of the world still does not have access to high-speed internet, but Google is determined to change that. Unfortunately, setting up an affordable infrastructure in remote areas is beyond even a huge multinational corporation's capabilities, which is why the company had to devise a completely out-of-the-box solution called Project Loon. As part of the project, Google recently launched a series of internet-enabled balloons into the stratosphere over New Zealand to provide broadband connectivity to rural areas.
http://www.gizmag.com/google-project-loon/27955/

Robots and worms join forces to spin silk pavilion [Silkworm Power]

Silk Pavilion by MIT Media Lab poses some interesting questions about how what it calls "biological fabrication" might fit into the future of making things alongside 3D printing and similar computer-aided cleverness. To make the silk and metal dome, the work begun by robotic weavers was completed by silkworms—6,500 of them.
http://www.gizmag.com/silk-pavilion/27785/

Europe joins race to store energy at the bottom of the ocean [Deep Sea Power]

"Imagine opening a hatch in a submarine under water. The water will flow into the submarine with enormous force. It is precisely this energy potential we want to utilize." This is how German engineer Rainer Schramm describes his idea for storing energy under the sea. By using surplus energy to pump water out of a tank at the seabed, the water is simply let back in again when there's an energy shortfall, driving turbines as it rushes in. The deeper the tank, the more power is generated.
http://www.gizmag.com/sea-floor-energy/27579/

PediPower device brings kinetic energy to heel [Shoe Power]

We.ve seen Pavegen's energy-harvesting tiles turning up in a variety of places to harvest some of the kinetic energy generated while walking or running over them. But a team of students at Rice University has put the shoe on the other foot with PediPower—a prototype device that attaches to a shoe to harvest energy generated when the heel hits the ground.
http://www.gizmag.com/pedipower-kinetic-energy-shoe/27591/

World's largest fat-burning power station to burn blubber from London sewers [Fat Power]

East London is set to play host to the world's biggest power station to run solely on fat, which will provide a much-needed use for the discarded fat which can block the city's sewer system. The station will generate 130 gigawatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power about 39,000 houses.
http://www.gizmag.com/fat-burning-power-station/27520/

Plug into a plant: A new approach to clean energy harvesting [Plant Power, or Power Plant]

Millions of years have evolution has resulted in plants being the most efficient harvesters of solar energy on the planet. Much research is underway into ways to artificially mimic photosynthesis in devices like artificial leaves, but researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) are working on a different approach that gives new meaning to the term "power plant." Their technology harvests energy generated through photosynthesis before the plants can make use of it, allowing the energy to instead be used to run low-powered electrical devices.
http://www.gizmag.com/capturing-plant-photosynthesis-energy/27458/

Streaming media: New fuel cell powers a mobile phone with pee [Urine Power]

Scientists at Bristol Robotics Laboratory have created a microbial fuel cell (MFC) that generates electricity from urine. Using the technology, they have been able to generate enough power to enable SMS messaging, web browsing and to make a brief phone call—all using the power of pee.
http://www.gizmag.com/bristol-robotics-laboratory-mobile-phone-urine/28345/

L'Uritonnoir puts festival-goers' urine to good use [Urine Power]

Festivals can be great fun, but aren't always so friendly to the local environment. Gathering that many people in one place tends to produce a large amount of waste, but it's the human waste that can be the hardest to dispose of cleanly. That's why French design group Faltazi has produced L'Uritonnoir, a portable, composting urinal for large festivals that helps to turn a bale of hay into usable fertilizer.
http://www.gizmag.com/luritonnoir-urine-into-fertilizer/27370/

Scientists remotely control live turtles [Turtle Power]

Last year, much to the delight of squeamish people everywhere, scientists were successfully able to remotely control the paths traveled by live cockroaches. They did so by wirelessly stimulating the insects. antennae and cerci sensory organs. Now, a group of scientists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have reported success in controlling the paths of walking turtles. Fortunately for the reptiles, the KAIST researchers. methods were considerably less invasive than those used on the cockroaches.
http://www.gizmag.com/remote-control-turtles/27253/

World's largest OTEC power plant planned for China [Ocean Power]

Lockheed Martin has been getting its feet wet in the renewable energy game for some time. In the 1970s it helped build the world's first successful floating Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) system that generated net power, and in 2009 it was awarded a contract to develop an OTEC pilot plant in Hawaii. That project has apparently been canceled but the company has now shifted its OTEC sights westward by teaming up with Hong Kong-based Reignwood Group to co-develop a pilot plant that will be built off the coast of southern China.
http://www.gizmag.com/otec-plant-lockheed-martin-reignwood-china/27164/

Pavegen harvests energy from Paris Marathon runners [Marathon Pavement Power]

While the term "electrifying" can sometimes be used to describe breathtaking performance in sports, it's not often you'll find it used for marathon runners. Yet, that's precisely the word I'd use to describe this year's Paris Marathon, which took place on Sunday April 7. You see, as the feet of almost 40,000 runners hit a 25-meter (82-foot) installation of special tiles at the beginning of the 26-mile (42-km) course, kinetic energy was harvested and turned into usable electricity.
http://www.gizmag.com/paris-marathon-kinetic-energy-tiles/27131/

"Algae-powered" building opens in Germany [Algae Power]

Splitterwerk Architects and engineering firm Arup have unveiled what is thought to be the world's first building to be powered partly by algae. Officially "unveiled" at the International Building Exhibition hosted in Hamburg, the design, dubbed the BIQ, has a "bio-adaptive" facade that is claimed to be a first for using algae within its glass louvers in order to generate energy, and provide shade, to a working building.
http://www.gizmag.com/algae-powered-building/27118/

Study shows North Atlantic wind farms could power the whole world

Wind is one of the cleanest energy sources available, and the US is sitting next to a gold mine. A new study has found that wind speeds over the oceans could allow offshore turbines to generate far more energy than a land-based wind farm . with the North Atlantic, in particular, theoretically able to provide enough energy for all of human civilization. In tapping into wind as an energy source, the US has for decades lagged behind Europe and UK, which are home to the largest offshore wind farms in the world, including the London Array and the Netherlands' Gemini wind farm. But the US is catching up: the country's first facility opened up off the coast of Rhode Island last year, and if the Trident Winds project goes ahead, it could snatch up the title of world's largest wind farm.
http://newatlas.com/offshore-wind-farm-atlantic-whole-world/51700/

PowerWINDows aims to rethink the wind turbine [Window Power]

Wind farms may be hitting the big time, but that hasn't deterred inventors and technologists from tinkering, or even reinventing, the turbine itself. In the past few months we've seen wind energy systems that use discs attached to hydraulics and even charged water droplets, but how about skyscrapers outfitted with rotating window panels? This is the idea behind the University of Wollongong's PowerWINDows concept, a modular wind turbine designed to have less of an impact on the surrounding environment.
http://www.gizmag.com/powerwindows-eco-friendly-wind-turbine/26995/

Paper Shooters cardboard rifle kit shoots paper ammo 75 feet [Cardboard Power]

Cardboard is a remarkably versatile material and capable of being so much more than mere disposable packaging—as highlighted by the cardboard bike, helmet, and church. We can now add functional toy rifle to the growing list of viable cardboard-constructed inventions, courtesy of the Paper Shooters build-it-yourself cardboard rifle kit.
http://www.gizmag.com/cardboard-rifle/27009/

Self-healing "artificial leaf" produces energy from dirty water [Artificial Leaf Power]

Back in 2011, scientists reported the creation of the "world's first practical artificial leaf" that mimics the ability of real leaves to produce energy from sunlight and water. Touted as a potentially inexpensive source of electricity for those in developing countries and remote areas, the leaf's creators have now given it a capability that would be especially beneficial in such environments—the ability to self heal and therefore produce energy from dirty water.
http://www.gizmag.com/artificial-leaf-self-healing/27004/

Crowdfunding success for 4th-grader solar-powered classroom bid [4th-grader power]

After looking into the pros and cons of nine methods of electricity production (including coal, geothermal, biomass, and solar), a group of 9 and 10 year-olds from Central Park School for Children in Durham, North Carolina decided that their classroom should be powered using only energy from the sun. They hit Kickstarter at the beginning of this month with a modest funding goal of just US$800 to help finance the installation of a small PV panel array—a target that was smashed in less than a day.
http://www.gizmag.com/kickstarter-funds-off-grid-classroom-bid/26841

Genetically modified microorganism could convert atmospheric CO2 into fuel [microorganism power]

While much research is being done on capturing carbon dioxide emissions at their source to reduce the amount expelled into the atmosphere, researchers at the University of Georgia's Bioenergy Systems Research Institute have taken a different approach to tackle the problem. Taking a leaf out of the process used by plants to convert CO2 into something useful, they have uncovered a way to take CO2 from the atmosphere and transform it into useful industrial products, including, potentially, fuel.
http://www.gizmag.com/atmospheric-carbon-dioxide-fuel-microorganism/26836

EWICON bladeless wind turbine generates electricity using charged water droplets [Bladeless Wind Power]

Wind energy may be one of the more sustainable sources of power available, but the spinning blades of conventional wind turbines require regular maintenance and have attracted criticism from bird lovers. That might explain why we've seen wind turbine prototypes that enclose the blades in a chamber or replace them entirely with a disc-like system. But researchers in the Netherlands set out to eliminate the need for a mechanical component entirely and created the EWICON, a bladeless wind turbine with no moving parts that produces electricity using charged water droplets.
http://www.gizmag.com/ewicon-bladeless-wind-turbine/26907

Sensor-packed 94Fifty basketball provides feedback to coaches and players [Basketball power]

"Practice makes perfect." It's an the old expression that InfoMotion is aiming to build on with some new tech. The 94Fifty practice basketball uses six built-in sensors to give players an array of feedback data and help identify what parts of their game they need to work on the most.
http://www.gizmag.com/94fifty-basketball-feedback/26488/

Volkswagen prepares to build the world's most fuel efficient production car [230 MPG Power]

Back in 2009, before the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt were ready for market, the world heard loud, overinflated claims of "367" and "230" mpg ratings. Talk is cheap, and actual EPA testing sent those ratings rocketing right back down to Earth at 99 mpg-e and 60 mpg, respectively. Volkswagen is the latest to get in on the 200+ mpg game, claiming its XL1 will be capable of 261 mpg (European cycle). Thanks to a radical approach that slashes weight, optimizes aerodynamics and wrings every last drop of fuel, Volkswagen may actually make good - or at least get close.
http://www.gizmag.com/volkswagen-xl1-most-fuel-efficient/

Goodyear BHO3 concept tire generates electricity [Tire power]

One of the biggest hurdles that electric cars face in going mainstream is range anxiety—that dreadful realization that you're in the middle of nowhere and your car might not reach the next charging station. To help combat this, Goodyear came up with its BHO3 concept tire, which generates electricity by converting heat and motion into current as the tire rolls ... and even when it's standing still.
http://www.gizmag.com/goodyear-bho3-electric-tire/36548/

NASA's basement nuclear reactor [Basement nuclear power]

If Joseph Zawodny, a senior scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center, is correct, the future of energy may lie in a nuclear reactor small enough and safe enough to be installed where the home water heater once sat. Using weak nuclear forces that turn nickel and hydrogen into a new source of atomic energy, the process offers a light, portable means of producing tremendous amounts of energy for the amount of fuel used. It could conceivably power homes, revolutionize transportation and even clean the environment.
http://www.gizmag.com/volkswagen-xl1-most-fuel-efficient/

Moth takes the driver's seat in smell-tracking robot [Moth Power]

In the future, we may have autonomous robots that follow scents to track down gas leaks, rescue disaster victims trapped in debris, or perform other duties. While the algorithms that drive such robots could perhaps just be made up from scratch, scientists from the University of Tokyo are instead looking to the insect world for inspiration. To that end, they recently created a two-wheeled robot that was successfully driven by female-seeking male silkmoths.
http://www.gizmag.com/robot-driving-silkmoths/26109/

Ping-pong gun fires balls at supersonic speeds [Ping Pong Power]

The fastest serve ever recorded by a ping-pong player moved at about 70 mph (113 km/h). Professor Mark French of Purdue University's Mechanical Engineering department and his graduate students, Craig Zehrung and Jim Stratton, have built an air gun for classroom demonstrations that fires a ping-pong ball at over Mach 1.2 (900 mph or 1,448 km/h). As the picture above shows, that's fast enough for the hollow celluloid balls to blow a hole through a standard paddle.
http://www.gizmag.com/how-to-build-a-supersonic-ping-pong-gun/26082/

Scientists turn light into a tractor beam [Tractor Beam Power]

From The Skylark of Space to Star Wars, no self-respecting science fiction spaceship would break orbit without a tractor beam on board. We.re still a long way from locking on to errant shuttlecraft, but a team led by Dr. Tomas Cizmar, Research Fellow in the School of Medicine at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, has turned a laser into a tractor beam that works on the microscopic level.
http://www.gizmag.com/st-andrews-tractor-beam/25974/

Fireflies bring us brighter LEDs [Firefly Power]

Fireflies ... they've allowed us to image the bloodstream and they've inspired the creation of a light that could run on waste. Now, they.ve helped an international team of scientists get over 50 percent more light out of existing LED bulbs. The secret lies in the insects. scales.
http://www.gizmag.com/fireflies-led-lights/25702/

Sisma Calce seismic fabric helps hold buildings together during earthquakes [Wallpaper power]

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.
http://www.gizmag.com/seismic-fabric/25664/

Pavegen kinetic energy tiles seek crowd-funding for school installations [Pedestrian Power]

"Create electricity, just by walking" is an evocative statement, and one which surely warrants some attention in these eco-efficient times when the need to seek alternative energy sources is well understood. Pavegen—a system for harvesting kinetic energy from foot traffic, and which the catchy soundbite belongs to—is now being put forward for crowd-funding through Kickstarter with the aim of raising enough money to fund two school projects, one in the U.S. and one in the U.K.
http://www.gizmag.com/pavegen-kinetic-energy-tiles-kickstarter/25633/

Ping-pong ball-sized Droplet robots work by swarming together [Ping Poing Power]

Imagine if you could harness the productivity of an insect colony—hundreds, if not thousands of miniature agents working together towards a larger goal—that's the future promised by swarm robotics. Potential applications, such as intelligent sensor networks, could have a wide-ranging impact on various industries. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder) are developing the technology with prototypes about the size of a ping-pong ball, which they have called "droplets."
http://www.gizmag.com/droplet-swarm-ping-pong-ball-robots/25467/

Ibasei's Cappa provides hydroelectricity on a small scale [Creek Power]

Despite being the most widely used form of renewable energy worldwide, hydroelectricity is generally reserved for large-scale commercial installations built around massive dams. Japanese company Ibasei has shrunk things down and removed the need to build a dam with its Cappa compact hydropower generator—a system that's designed to be installed along a river or waterway.
http://www.gizmag.com/cappa-compact-hydropower-generator/25430/

Plant root used to create eco-friendly lithium-ion battery [Plant Root Power]

Researchers have found an eco-friendly alternative to the metal ores currently favored in the electrodes of lithium-ion batteries. The new non-toxic and sustainable battery uses purpurin, a red/yellow dye extracted from the root of the madder plant that has been used for dying cloth for at least 3,500 years—meaning the substance can simply be grown rather than mined.
http://www.gizmag.com/madder-root-lithium-ion-battery-electrode/25412/

Nano-sandwich material claimed to boost solar cell efficiency by 175 percent [Nano-Sandwich Power]

Nano-sandwich material claimed to boost solar cell efficiency by 175 percent One of the main reasons that solar cells aren.t more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity is because much of that sunlight is reflected off the cell, or can.t be fully absorbed by it. A new sandwich-like material created by researchers at Princeton University, however, is claimed to dramatically address that problem—by minimizing reflection and increasing absorption, it reportedly boosts the efficiency of organic solar cells by 175 percent.
http://www.gizmag.com/placsh-sandwich-solar-cell-efficiency/25363/

Award-winning device harvests energy from railway track vibrations [Railroad Track Power]

Much of the abundant mechanical energy around us is irregular and oscillatory and can be somewhat difficult to efficiently tap into. Typical energy harvesting systems tend to be built for low power applications in the milliwatts range but researchers from New York's Stony Brook University have developed a new patent-pending electromagnetic energy harvester capable of harnessing the vibrations of a locomotive thundering down a stretch of track to power signal lights, structural monitoring systems or even track switches.
http://www.gizmag.com/mechanical-motion-rectifier-railroad-energy-harvester/25223/

Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell generates electricity from living plants [Plant Power]

Wetlands are estimated to account for around six percent of the earth's surface and a new Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell technology developed at Wageningen University & Research in The Netherlands could see some of these areas become a viable source of renewable energy. More than that, the developers believe that their technology could be used to supply electricity to remote communities and in green roofs to supply electricity to households.
http://www.gizmag.com/plant-microbial-fuel-cell/25163/

EnergySails harness wind and solar power to cut ship fuel consumption [Sail Power]

In the 400 years or so leading up to the adoption of steam power in the 19th century, sailing ships ruled the waves. In an effort to cut increasing fuel costs and reduce emissions, sails are set to once again prove their worth. But unlike the sails proposed by B9 Shipping and the Wind Challenger Project, Japan-based Eco Marine Power (EMP) is developing sails with an even more modern twist. Rather than just harnessing the power of the wind, EMP's EnergySail can be fitted with solar panels to also harness solar power.
http://www.gizmag.com/eco-marine-power-energysail-solar-sails/25005/

Saphonian bladeless turbine boasts impressive efficiency, low cost [Bladeless Wind Turbine?]

Tunisian green energy startup Saphon Energy has created a new bladeless wind turbine which draws inspiration from the design of a ship's sails, and promises to convert the kinetic energy of the wind into electricity at up to double the efficiency—and half the cost—of a typical wind turbine.
http://www.gizmag.com/saphonian-bladeless-wind-turbine/24890/

CalmSpace sleep capsule for office power naps

The rejuvenating power of naps has been known about for some time, with various studies showing that even a short nap can increase alertness. While a nap of around two hours is of most benefit as it encompasses all stages of sleep, a power nap of up to 30 minutes is certainly better than nothing. It's not long enough for you to enter deep sleep (and consequently risk feeling worse than before), but it's long enough to take the edge off your need to actually go to bed. Whether such evidence would ever be enough to persuade a company to provide designated areas for workers to sleep is unclear, but CalmSpace exists for that very purpose.
http://www.gizmag.com/calmspace-office-sleep-capsule/24859/

Kite power getting off the ground in Germany [Kite Power]

Despite offering numerous advantages over its rotating brethren, most notably the ability to reach the high-speed winds found at higher altitudes, kite-based energy systems are yet to really get off the ground in a meaningful way. But things are looking up. Earlier this year, NASA revealed it is investigating ways to improve the aerodynamics and autonomous flight control of kites for power generation applications, and now Berlin-based wind energy developer NTS GmbH has teamed with the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) to make their own kite energy system concept a reality.
http://www.gizmag.com/fraunhofer-nts-kite-wind-power/24843/

Air + water = gasoline? Not quite... [Air and Water Power]

Air Fuel Synthesis, Ltd. (AFS), a small company in the northern English county of Durham, has recently made headlines for a chemical process that claims to synthesize gasoline from air and water. In essence, they are using energy to unburn fuel so that it can be burned as fuel again—a great deal of energy. Sixty kWh of electric energy are used up to store 9 kWh of that energy in a liter of gasoline. When you take into consideration that gasoline vehicles are about 15 percent efficient, a car fueled with synthetic gasoline would use roughly 35 times more energy on a given trip than would an electric vehicle. Not, it would seem, a prescription for a commercially valuable green product.
http://www.gizmag.com/air-fuel-synthesis-gasoline-from-air/24739/

iRock: The power-generating rocking chair for iDevices [Rocking Chair Power]

We.ve seen plenty of iPhone and iPad chargers that harness power from eco-friendly sources such as wind and solar (or both), but Zurich-based Micasa Lab has turned to a different, relatively (but not completely) untapped energy source to keep the juice flowing in iOS devices—the rocking chair. But the iRock Rocking Chair doesn.t just use the power generated via rocking back and forth to charge iOS devices, it also powers speakers built into the chair's backrest.
http://www.gizmag.com/irock-rocking-chair/24802/

Deflecting asteroids with paint balls [Paint Ball Power]

How do you deflect a civilization-destroying asteroid that's heading straight for Earth? Shoot paintballs at it. This may sound like an exercise in futility, but if the calculations of MIT graduate student Sung Wook Paek are correct, then the sport of running around in the woods shooting splotches of paint at people on the weekends could get a lot more respect.
http://www.gizmag.com/paintball-asteroid-paek/24736/

U.S. Air Force goes vortex surfing to cut fuel consumption [Vortex Power]

The United States Air Force is taking flying lessons from geese and spiny lobsters. This may seem like the mother of all bureaucratic errors, but there's actually some pretty solid science behind it. In exploiting a phenomenon known as .vortex surfing,. the USAF has found that by having C-17 cargo planes flying in formation, it can reduce fuel consumption by up to ten percent.
http://www.gizmag.com/vortex-surfing-usaf/24582/

GeS "nanoflowers" could blossom in next-gen solar cells [Nanoflower Power or Sunflower Power]

Researchers have already turned to the humble sunflower for inspiration to design more efficient Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plant layouts, and now a team from North Carolina State University has developed a .nanoflower. structure out of germanium sulfide (GeS) that shows great promise for use in energy-storage devices and more efficient solar cells. The secret is the material's ultrathin petals that provide a large surface area in only a small amount of space.
http://www.gizmag.com/ges-nanoflower/24528/

Human Generator—new e-bike trades the chain for an alternator [Bicycle Power]

A bicycle born out of auto industry technology, the Mando Footloose makes claim of using the world's first chainless series hybrid technology for an e-bike. Like other pedal-assisted electric bikes, the bike combines manual and electric power. Unlike other pedelecs, it eliminates the chain and transforms the cyclist's motion directly into electricity.
http://www.gizmag.com/mando-footloose-ebike-alternator/24330/

Warp drive looks more promising than ever in recent NASA studies [Warp Power]

The first steps towards interstellar travel have been taken, but the stars are very far away. Voyager 1 is about 17 light-hours distant from Earth and is traveling with a velocity of 0.006 percent of light speed, meaning it will take about 17,000 years to travel one light-year. Fortunately, the elusive "warp drive" now appears to be evolving past difficulties with new theoretical advances and a NASA test rig under development to measure artificially generated warping of space-time.
http://www.gizmag.com/warp-drive-bubble-nasa-interstellar/24392/

Moo unveils NFC-enabled business cards [Business Card Power]

UK-based printing company Moo has given its business cards a post-smartphone remix by creating a design which imbeds a near-field communication (NFC) chip within, enabling it to interact with NFC-equipped smartphones.
http://www.gizmag.com/moo-nfc-business-cards/24341/

More human than human: AI game bots pass Turing Test [Humanness Power]

For five years, the annual BotPrize competition has been using a variant of the Turing Test known as a "Computer game bot Turing Test" to challenge programmers, researchers and hobbyists to create a bot for Unreal Tournament 2004 (UT2004) that is indistinguishable from a human player. Fittingly, in the centenary year of Turing's birth, not one but two teams have finally claimed the prize by achieving .humanness ratings. of over 50 percent. In comparison, human players received an average humanness rating of just over 40 percent.
http://www.gizmag.com/turing-test-ut2004-botprize/24308/

How bumblebees might get you faster overnight deliveries [Bumblebee Power]

By studying the behavior of bees, a group of researchers at Queen Mary University of London has documented and modeled the way in which the insects can fly from flower to flower and then come back to their hives expending the least amount of time and energy. The findings might lead to better, much more flexible ways to deal with problems ranging from building faster computer networks to creating more powerful microchips.
http://www.gizmag.com/bumblebee-flight-path-navigation/24258/

Suburban house to demonstrate net-zero energy usage [Net-Zero Power or NZERTF Power]

The opening of a suburban house doesn't usually warrant a ribbon-cutting ceremony, but a new house constructed in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is special. Built for the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the typical-looking suburban home is designed to provide researchers with a place to test various high-efficiency and alternative energy systems, materials and designs. As a result, the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility (NZERTF), as it is known, is expected to generate as much energy as a family of four living in it would consume in a year.
http://www.gizmag.com/net-zero-energy-residential-test-facility-nzertf/24138/

Spinach protein boosts efficiency of "biohybrid" solar cells [Spinach Power]

Popeye gets his strength from downing a can of spinach and what works for him also works for solar panels. Researchers at Vanderbilt University led by David Cliffel and Kane Jennings have come up with a way to dope silicon with a protein found in spinach to create a more efficient "biohybrid" solar cell that produces substantially more electrical current than previous efforts and may one day lead to cheaper, more efficient solar panels.
http://www.gizmag.com/spinach-biohybrid-solar-cell/24003/

Scientists develop remote control system for cockroaches [Cockroach Power]

much to the annoyance of home-owners everywhere, cockroaches are amazingly tough, and they.re able to squeeze into remarkably small spaces. These are some of the same qualities that researchers would like to see in tiny reconnaissance robots that could perform tasks such as searching earthquake-damaged buildings for survivors. Such adaptable, robust mini-robots would be quite challenging to create, however. A team of scientists from North Carolina State University are working on an alternative—sensor-equipped real cockroaches that are remotely controlled by human operators.
http://www.gizmag.com/remote-control-cockroaches/24015/

Flying drone controlled with mind power [Mind Power]

Researchers based at Zhejiang University in China have produced a system for controlling a quad-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle with the mind. Dubbed "Flying Buddy 2", the system uses a standard, commercially-available Electroencephalogram (EEG) headset, a computer and a Parrot AR Drone. The computer processes the data received from the EEG and converts it into control commands which are beamed to the drone via a Wi-Fi connection.
http://www.gizmag.com/ar-drone-quadrocopter-thought-control/23960/

Ants invented the internet? [Ant Power or Anternet?

Ask who invented the Internet and you.ll spark off an argument with everyone championed from DARPA to Nikola Tesla. However, two Stanford scientists claim that the inventor may have had six legs, antennae and a taste for disrupting picnics. Professor of biology Deborah Gordon and professor of computer science Balaji Prabhakar say that red harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex barbatus) use the same Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) in foraging that the internet uses to manage data transmissions—making a sort of .Anternet..
http://www.gizmag.com/ant-algorithms-internet/23905/

Bioengineered bacteria could produce fuel from CO2 [Bacteria Power]

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have succeeded in genetically altering Ralstonia eutropha soil bacteria in such a way that they are able to convert carbon into isobutanol, an alcohol that can be blended with or even substituted for gasoline. It is hoped that once developed further, this technology could help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and lessen the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by smoke stacks.
http://www.gizmag.com/bacteria-co2-isobutanol-biofuel/23880/

Agri-Cube grows mass quantities of vegetables in a one-car parking spot [Parking-Lot Power]

Daiwa House, Japan's largest homebuilder, has introduced a line of prefabricated hydroponic vegetable factories, aimed at housing complexes, hotels, and top-end restaurants. Called the Agri-Cube, these units are touted by Daiwa as the first step in the industrialization of agriculture, to be located in and amongst the places where people live, work, and play.
http://www.gizmag.com/prefab-garden-greenhouse-housing-complex-daiwa/23607

Advance could turn wastewater treatment into viable electricity producer [Wastewater Power]

In the latest green energy—or perhaps that should be brown energy—news, a team of engineers from Oregon State University (OSU) has developed new technology they claim significantly improves the performance of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that can be used to produce electricity directly from wastewater. With the promise of producing 10 to 50 times the electricity, per volume, than comparable approaches, the researchers say the technology could see waste treatment plants not only powering themselves, but also feeding excess electricity back to the grid.
http://www.gizmag.com/wastewater-treatment-microbial-fuel-cell/23700/

New research enables cursive writing with your eyes [Eye Writing]

Retaining the ability to communicate effectively can be one of the key challenges facing those who suffer a severe restriction in mobility. Conditions such as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can reduce a persons capacity for voluntary movement to the eyes only, though even this is not always possible. When eye movement is possible however, it offers an opportunity for communication and expression, as previously highlighted by the Eyewriter project. New research conducted at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris may offer a further breakthrough in this area by enabling writing in cursive using only eye movements.
http://www.gizmag.com/disabled-new-tech-write-cursive-using-eyes/23485/

Europeans turn to guayule and Russian dandelion as sources of latex [Guayule & Dandelion Power, Inc.]

A new generation of environmentally-friendly tires has been launched in Europe. Dutch tire company Apollo Vredestein has produced prototypes of tires manufactured using natural rubber made from guayule and Russian dandelion, the latter also the subject of research being carried out by Bridgestone. The prototypes will now move on to an intensive testing phase before they get to the production phase. The hope is to create an alternative to Asia's rubber monopoly, where the world's main source of latex, Hevea brasiliensis, mostly comes from.
http://www.gizmag.com/russian-dandelion-guayule-latex/23362/

Austrian algae biofuel-production technology to debut in Brazil [Algae Power]

The state of Pernambuco in Brazil's northeast is going to become home to the country's first algal biomass plant, thanks to an agreement between See Algae Technology (SAT), an Austrian developer of equipment for the commercial production of algae, and JB, one of Brazil's leading ethanol producers. The plant will produce algal biomass from natural and genetically modified strains of algae.
http://www.gizmag.com/algae-biomass-plant-brazil/23378/

Metamaterials could significantly boost wireless power transmission [Wireless Power Transmission]

The weird properties of artificially engineered metamaterials are at the core of research into invisibility cloaking, but engineers from Duke University in North Carolina suggest that these materials could also provide a boost to another of technology's quests - wireless power transmission. In this latest hard-to-get-your-head-around metamaterial scenario, it's not the cloaked object that "disappears" - it's the space between the charger and the chargee.
http://www.gizmag.com/metamaterials-wireless-power/18711/

The world's first SolarKiosk opens in Ethiopia [Kiosk Power]

On July 15th, the world's first SolarKiosk was officially opened near Lake Langano, Ethiopia. The portable solar shop was designed in Germany by Graft architects and provides an .autonomous business unit. that sells energy, products, tools and services. With approximately 1.5 billion people around the globe who remain without access to a stable source of light, the SolarKiosk is intended to provide a safe and affordable solution for inhabitants in off-the-grid areas.
http://www.gizmag.com/worlds-first-solarkiosk-ethiopia/23382/

Inexpensive device could allow the disabled to control computers with their eyes [Eye Power]

Bioengineers at Imperial College, London have developed a new computer controller for paraplegics that is not only more accurate and easier to use than current methods, but also uses inexpensive, off-the-shelf components. The GT3D device uses a pair of eyeglass frames with two fast video game console cameras costing less than UKP20 (US$30) each, which scan the wearer's eyes from outside the field of vision and provide .3D. control at much lower costs and without invasive surgery.
http://www.gizmag.com/eye-control/23321/

iBrain to allow Stephen Hawking to communicate through brainwaves alone [iBrain Communication OR Brainwave Communication]

Tech startup Neurovigil announced last April that Stephen Hawking was testing the potential of its iBrain device to allow the astrophysicist to communicate through brainwaves alone. Next week Professor Hawking and iBrain inventor, Dr Philip Low from Stanford University, present their findings at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference in Cambridge, England. In anticipation, Gizmag spoke to Dr Low about the potential applications of the iBrain.
http://www.gizmag.com/ibrain-stephen-hawking-communicate-brainwaves/23182/

NASA researchers aim to help get airborne wind power systems off the ground [Airborne Wind POwer]

Currently, land-based tower wind turbines are the dominant source of wind power, but they take up a lot of space and generally need to be placed in high visibility areas, such as the tops of hills or ridges. They are also located close to the ground, where friction from the Earth's surface slows the wind and increases its turbulence, negatively affecting the efficiency of the turbines. NASA engineers are looking at technologies that would help airborne wind power systems, capable of generating much more power, get off the ground.
http://www.gizmag.com/nasa-airborne-wind-power/23200/

University of South Carolina researchers convert T-shirt into energy storage medium [Teeshirt Power]

As manufacturers of smartphones and mobile devices strive to make their products increasingly portable, they repeatedly come up against the constraints of existing battery technology. However, Xiaodong Li, a professor at the University of South Carolina (USC) believes that we will soon be able to employ the clothes we wear to help overcome such challenges and to this end, Li has transformed T-shirt material into an energy storage medium which could one day be used to power portable devices.
http://www.gizmag.com/t-shirt-energy-storage/23175/

Two-faced solar cells boost yields by up to 50 percent [Two-faced Solar Power]

Israeli photovoltaics developer bSolar has developed a double-sided solar cell it claims can boost the energy yields of solar panels by up to 50 percent when installed vertically, or by between 10 and 30 percent in more typical installations. The "bifacial" cells rely on a back surface field (BSF) of boron rather than aluminum, which bSolar claims not only allows for an open rear face but also increases the efficiency at the front of the solar panel.
http://www.gizmag.com/bsolar-double-sided-solar-cells/23169/

Strain-detecting, carbon nanotube-infused "strain paint" [Strain Paint Power]

While wireless sensors for detecting the strain placed on bridges and buildings, such as the SenSpot, are easier and cheaper to install than embedded wired networks of sensors, they still need to be in physical contact with the structure being monitored. Researchers at Rice University have now developed a new type of paint, infused with carbon nanotubes, that could make strain detection of materials in buildings, bridges and aircraft possible without actually touching the material.
http://www.gizmag.com/nanotube-infused-strain-paint/23056/

Air Canada jet flies from Toronto to Mexico City using 50 percent cooking oil-derived biofuel [Cooking Oil Power]

This Monday, Air Canada became the latest in a lengthening list of airlines—including Lufthansa and KLM—that have experimented with running their airliners on biofuels during regular passenger flights. In this case, the aircraft in question was an Airbus A319, traveling from Toronto to Mexico City. It was tanked up with a 50/50 mix of regular aviation fuel and biofuel made from recycled cooking oil.
http://www.gizmag.com/air-canada-biofuel-flight/23040/

Wearable device generates electricity from walking knee movements [Knee Power]

If you.ve ever worn a knee brace, then you may have noticed what a large change in angle your knee goes through with every step you take, and how quickly it does so. A team of scientists from the U.K.'s Cranfield University, University of Liverpool and University of Salford certainly noticed, and decided that all that movement should be put to use. The result is a wearable piezoelectric device that converts knee movement into electricity, which could in turn be used to power gadgets such as heart rate monitors, pedometers and accelerometers.
http://www.gizmag.com/pizzicato-knee-joint-energy-harvester/22933/

Beamed core antimatter propulsion - more efficient, but don't hold your breath! [Antimatter Power]

Antimatter propulsion is the Holy Grail of spaceflight. When matter and antimatter react, the energy produced is several billion times larger than the thermomechanical energy resulting from burning a kilogram of a hydrocarbon fuel. Now a high school student has developed a new magnetic exhaust nozzle that would double the velocity of an antimatter-powered rocket.
http://www.gizmag.com/beamed-core-antimatter-propulsion/22654/

"Tin whiskers" could triple the capacity of lithium-ion batteries [Tin-Whisker Power]

For over 60 years, electrical engineers have been trying to minimize the problem of tin whiskers. Growing on tin-plated electronics, the needle-like structures get up to ten millimeters long, and can cause short circuits. Instead of trying to eliminate them, however, Washington State University's Prof. Grant Norton has been looking into ways of growing them—albeit in a controlled manner. His research has led to the creation of a tin battery anode, which he claims could triple the capacity of lithium-ion batteries.
http://www.gizmag.com/tin-whisker-battery-anode/22905/

SiGNa receives USAID funding to develop portable hydrogen power [Hydrogen Power]

SiGNa Chemistry, a company developing portable hydrogen fuel technology, has received funding from The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to take its research further. Hydrogen is an emissions-free renewable source of energy—however, logistic obstacles related to current considerations such as high-pressure tanks, and metal and chemical hydrides, have stymied its progress towards the mass market.
http://www.gizmag.com/signa-hydrogen-portable-fuel-cell/22820/

Record setting small-scale solid oxide fuel cell could power neighborhoods [Methane Power]

A new, small-scale solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) system developed at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (DoE PNNL) could be used for household and neighborhood power generation. Fueled by methane, the system achieves an efficiency of up to 57 percent, improving on the 30 to 50 percent efficiencies seen previously in SOFC systems of similar size. The PNNL researchers say the pilot system they have built generates enough electricity to power the average American home, and can be scaled up to provide power for 50 to 250 homes.
http://www.gizmag.com/record-efficiency-sofc/22772/

Leap Motion sensor offers 3D gesture control at an affordable price [Gesture Power]

Leap is now taking pre-orders for its Leap Motion sensor, a USB accessory that enables full control of your PC or Mac using simple hand and finger gestures. The company claims that its product is the most accurate gesture sensor available, and it costs only US$70.
http://www.gizmag.com/leap-motion-gesture-control-sensor/22644/

Chemical reaction eats up CO2 to produce energy ... and other useful stuff [CO2 Power]

While there are plenty of ways to make carbon-based products from CO2, these methods usually require a lot of energy because the CO2 molecules are so stable. If the energy comes from the burning of fossil fuels, then the net result will be more CO2 entering the atmosphere. Now a material scientist at Michigan Technological University has discovered a chemical reaction that not only soaks up CO2, but also produces useful chemicals along with significant amounts of energy.
http://www.gizmag.com/co2-li3n-reaction/22620/

Poultry scientists working on "chicken translator" [Chicken Power]

Any experienced chicken farmer will tell you, the relative contentment of the birds can be gauged by the sounds they're making. While this has generally been accepted as anecdotal folk wisdom, a team of scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia are now trying to scientifically verify it. They're hoping that their research could lead to better living conditions for the animals, lower costs to farmers, and higher productivity.
http://www.gizmag.com/chicken-sounds-computer-system/22587/

A winning idea for wall-climbing [Batman Power]

Last month we told you about a team of Brigham Young University engineering students, who created a clever Batman-inspired wall-climbing system. They were competing in the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory's 2012 Service Academy and University Engineering Challenge, in which teams had to design gadgets that would allow soldiers to safely and quickly ascend vertical surfaces. Given that the Brigham Young entry didn.t take first place, however, we thought it only made sense to take a look at the entry that did ... and that would be a little something known as the Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber (PVAC), designed by a team from Utah State University.
http://www.gizmag.com/pvac-wall-climbing-system/22540/

OriginOil and Algasol enter algae development deal [Algae Power]

OriginOil and Algasol, two companies working to develop algae into renewable fuel, have announced a collaboration on growth and harvest technology. The companies hope the partnership will help them reduce cost and improve performance, therefore increasing commercial prospects for algae as fuel source. Harvesting algae is one of the main cost drivers associated with this type of raw material. Algae are microscopic and live in suspension on liquid. When the time comes to harvesting it, the water/algae ratio can be as high as 1,000/1. In order to make it suitable for commercial applications, that ratio needs to be reduced to around 10/1.

IBM looking to put lithium-air batteries on the road [Lithium-Air Power]

One of the main challenges faced by the Electric Vehicle (EV) industry is so-called .range anxiety.. Current lithium-ion batteries will provide a range of about 100 miles (161 km), limiting the commercial adoption of EVs in a market accustomed to the range and supporting infrastructure of gasoline-powered vehicles. If existing lithium-ion batteries were scaled up to match the range capacity of gas-powered vehicles, they would be unfeasibly large and heavy. Lithium-air batteries, which have the potential to provide energy densities that rivals traditional gasoline-powered engines, are seen as a possible solution. IBM has been researching such batteries and recently announced that it's bringing two companies with experience in electric vehicle materials onboard to aid in their development.
http://www.gizmag.com/ibm-lithium-air-battery/22310/

iPavement embeds WiFi hotspots in the street [Pavement Power]

It seems that a lot of people have been talking about putting things in the road lately. Just within the past few years, we.ve heard about asphalt-embedded parking spot locators, power strips and coils, piezoelectric generators, and heat-harvesting water pipes. Now, a Spanish tech company has developed yet another piece of "street technology," known as iPavement—sidewalk paving stones that double as WiFi hotspots.
http://www.gizmag.com/ipavement-wifi-paving-stones/22325/

New theory could help clear fusion power hurdle [Nuclear Fusion Power]

While solar power harnesses energy produced by the Sun, fusion power seeks to harness the very process used by the Sun to generate a practically limitless supply of clean electricity. Despite decades of research and numerous breakthroughs, .net-gain. nuclear fusion is yet to appear. One of the hurdles is the so-called density, or Greenwald, limit that sees the plasmas within experimental fusion reactors (called tokamaks) spiraling apart and disrupting the fusion process. Now scientists have come up with a new theory as to why this occurs that, if proven, could provide a way to clear the density limit hurdle.
http://www.gizmag.com/fusion-power-density-limit-theory/22281/

Next-gen cargo ships could use 164-foot sails to lower fuel use by 30% [Sail Power]

Of the world's nearly 45,000 cargo ships, many burn a low-grade bunker fuel in their engines and produce pollution equivalent to millions of automobiles. To help reduce that toxic load and keep the price of shipping freight reasonable, engineers at the University of Tokyo (UT) and a group of collaborators have designed a system of large, retractable sails measuring 64 feet (20 m) wide by 164 feet (50 m) high, which studies indicate can reduce annual fuel use on ships equipped with them by up to 30%.
http://www.gizmag.com/next-gen-ships-sails-lower-fuel-use/22289/

Chery's Ant Concept portends an era of platooning [ANT power]

Chinese carmaker Chery has shown an interesting new concept named the Ant at the Auto China Show in Beijing today. The Ant appears aimed directly at utilizing the intelligent infrastructure proposed by General Motors China in its EN-V concept.
http://www.gizmag.com/cherys-ant-concept-portends-an-era-of-platooning/22267/

"Photochemical upconversion" could allow conventional solar cells to break 40% efficiency

While the overall efficiency of conventional silicon solar cells has continued to improve in recent years, the technology faces a natural theoretical limit at around 33%. This is because the laws of physics prevent the cells from absorbing photons below a certain energy level, meaning that this low-energy light cannot be converted into electricity is simply lost. Now researchers have found a way join two energy-poor red photons to form a single energy-rich yellow photon, allowing the harvesting of this part of the spectrum currently unused by single p-n junction crystalline silicon solar cells, and potentially enabling a record-breaking efficiency of 40%.
http://www.gizmag.com/photochemical-upconversion/22259

Cleaning could be getting cheaper, with reusable enzymes [Enzyme Power]

Enzymes are catalysts that boost chemical reactions by lowering the activation energy required for the reactions to occur. Added to detergents, they help break down the dirt into smaller pieces that can be more easily removed with water. While enzymatic detergents do work better than non-enzymatic ones, they are also more expensive. But what if the enzymes could be reused? A recent study by C.S. Pundir and Nidhi Chauhan, members of The American Chemical Society, may lead to cheaper laundry days and less in the way of valuable enzymes going down the drain.
http://www.gizmag.com/reusable-enzymes-cheaper-cleaning/22222/

Is asteroid mining about to begin? [Asteroid Power]

Planetary Resources, a new player in the commercial space industry, is backed by a host of tech and aerospace luminaries with an integrated personal net worth on the far side of US$30 billion. A press release from the company hints that it will look to establish asteroid mining operations in space.
http://www.gizmag.com/planetary-resources-asteroid-mining/22213/

Wind turbine to harvest energy and water from desert air [Wind Power]

We've all seen ice cold glasses and bottles dripping with condensation after cooling water vapor in the air, and though grabbing water out of thin air is not new, it took French inventor and Eolewater founder Marc Parent's umpteenth emptying of his air conditioner's condensate to envision harvesting atmospheric moisture on a commercial scale using wind turbines. After years of designs and prototypes, his proof-of-concept device, essentially a wind-powered refrigeration/condensation/filtration unit, was put in operation in the dry desert air of Abu Dhabi last October where it's been reliably extracting 130-200 gal (approx. 500-800L) of clean, fresh water a day ever since.
http://www.gizmag.com/eolewater-wind-turbine-energy-water-desert/22204/

Boeing 787 Dreamliner makes first-ever biofuel-powered Pacific crossing [Biofuel Power]

Boeing made headlines last June, when its new 747-8 Freighter crossed the Atlantic Ocean running partially on biofuel. Yesterday, one of the company's 787 Dreamliners set a similar milestone—it crossed the Pacific Ocean using a biofuel mix. It was not only the first time that such fuel has been used in a 787, but also marked the first biofuel-powered aircraft crossing of the Pacific.
http://www.gizmag.com/boeing-787-biofuel-pacific/22189/

Japan team creates world's first "crab computer"

Wouldn't your latest generation tablet be way cooler if it ran on live crabs? Thanks to Yukio-Pegio Gunji and his team at Japan's Kobe University, the era of crab computing is upon us ... well, sort of. The scientists have exploited the natural behavior of soldier crabs to design and build logic gates - the most basic components of an analogue computer. They may not be as compact as more conventional computers, but crab computers are certainly much more fun to watch.
http://www.gizmag.com/crab-computer-kobe/22145/

Wearable system wirelessly delivers power to implants [Implant Power]

When it comes to implantable electronic devices such as pacemakers, biosensors or drug-delivery devices, there are a few options regarding power sources. While batteries could be used in some applications, doing so would require surgically replacing the implant when its battery runs out. Radio wave-based and inductive systems are instead often used, in which power is .beamed. to the device from a source outside the body. According to researchers from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems, however, such systems often have a limited range, and are easily affected by factors such as location, position and movement. Instead, they.ve developed what they claim is a better, more versatile system.
http://www.gizmag.com/magnetic-power-transmitter-generator-implants/22123/

Sandia simulation suggests sunny skies for fusion reactors [Fusion Power]

In the beginning, there was the thermonuclear bomb - mankind had harnessed the energy of the Sun. Confident predictions abounded that fusion reactors would be providing power "too cheap to meter" within ten years. Sixty years later many observers are beginning to wonder if billions of dollars of effort has been lost in digging out dry wells. Now a new simulation study carried out at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, suggests that magnetized inertial fusion (MIF) experiments could be retrofitted to existing pulsed-power facilities to obtain fusion break-even.
http://www.gizmag.com/simulation-fusion-breakeven-sandia/21990/

Daihatsu Kei concepts bet on hydrazine as future fuel [Hydrazine Power]

It has been a tough couple of years for the Japanese motor car industry, not least for Daihatsu. On top of natural and man-made disasters, Japan's oldest car manufacturer, now part-owned by Toyota, has struggled to sell its super-compact .Kei. class vehicles outside of the home market. The company clearly feels however that the future will come to it, predicting demand for compact, zero-emission, hybrid powered vehicles, and has been developing a unique fuel-cell power source for just such a future since 2007. Leading the company's typically cute concept car range is the FC ShoCase - a vehicle suitable for the new fuel-cell.
http://www.gizmag.com/daihatsu-fuel-cell-showcase-concept-car/20842/

Researchers generate liquid fuel using electricity

While electric vehicles have come a long way in the past decade, they still have many disadvantages when compared to internal combustion engine-driven vehicles. The lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles have a much lower energy storage density when compared to liquid fuel, they take longer to .refuel,. and they lack the supporting infrastructure that has built up around conventional vehicles over the past century. Now researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a process that could allow liquid fuel to be produced using solar generated electricity.
http://www.gizmag.com/generating-isobutanol-using-electricity/22005/

Ocean-powered robotic jellyfish could theoretically run forever [Jellyfish Power]

Researchers have created a silicone submarinal robot that gets about by mimicking the motion of a jellyfish. The robot is powered by heat-producing reactions catalyzed by its surface, and using hydrogen and oxygen present in the water as fuel. It's claimed that that the Robojelly, so named by its Virginia Tech creators, could run indefinitely, effectively drawing energy from the water in which it swims.
http://www.gizmag.com/robot-jellyfish/21896/

Sandwich structure enables cheaper, more efficient hydrogen fuel cells

For the predicted hydrogen economy to become a reality, fuel cells must become more efficient and cost effective. Researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) claim to have addressed both these problems by creating a sandwich-like structure that allows more abundant materials to be used as catalysts in hydrogen fuel cells.
http://www.gizmag.com/sandwich-hydorgen-fuel-cell-ucf/21877/

Versatile Wind Harvester breaks from traditional turbine design [Quiet Wind Power]

From huge kites to sea-bound flywheels and roof-top installations to tree-like art creations, we've seen many different approaches to capturing energy from the wind. One design, though, reigns supreme - the tri-blade turbine tower. It's not exactly a trouble-free life at the top and there are those who do not look upon these monsters favorably, most often complaining about the noise and the not so picturesque view. With support from Nottingham Trent University's Future Factory project, Heath Evdemon is currently building a new type of wind turbine called the Wind Harvester that's claimed to be virtually silent, doesn't need to loom high over the landscape and can operate in a variety of wind conditions.
http://www.gizmag.com/wind-harvester-reciprocating-motion-wind-turbine/21565/

Power Felt generates electricity from body heat

Some day, your jacket may be able to power your iPod ... and no, I'm not talking about piezoelectric fabrics (which generate electricity from movement-caused pressure), nor am I talking about photovoltaic materials, although both of those could probably do the job. Instead, your jacket might be made out of a new thermoelectric material called Power Felt, that converts temperature differences into electrical voltage—in the case of the jacket, the difference between its wind-cooled exterior and its body-warmed lining might be all that was needed.
http://www.gizmag.com/power-felt-thermoelectric-material/21572/

The Sunflower focuses sunlight where you want it [Sunflower Power]

Some people have a cool, gloomy room in their house that receives little if any direct sunlight, even though it has a window. Should you be one of those people, and you want to save electricity, perhaps a home heliostat is what you need. Heliostats are motorized mirrored devices that move to compensate for the changing angle of the Sun as it moves across the sky, reflecting its rays onto a fixed target such as a window, photovoltaic panel, or solar oven. While almost all commercially-available heliostats are aimed at industrial users, Massachusetts-based company Wikoda is now offering what it claims is the world's only heliostat designed and priced for residential use.
http://www.gizmag.com/sunflower-residential-heliostat/21638/

Piezoelectric devices may soon be able to capture more energy from movement [Piezoelectric Power]

Of all the energy-harvesting technologies presently in development, piezoelectric devices offer some of the most intriguing possibilities. They work by converting mechanical stress, which can take the form of movement-caused vibrations, into an electrical charge. This means that things such as shoes, roads, keyboards—or anything else that moves or is subjected to movement—could be outfitted with piezoelectrics, which would produce power. Unfortunately, the range of vibrations that any one device can harness is presently quite limited. Research being conducted at North Carolina's Duke University, however, could change that.
http://www.gizmag.com/nonlinear-piezoelectrics/21596/

"Board of Awesomeness" evolves into mind-controlled "Board of Imagination" [Think Power]

Chaotic Moon Labs drew a lot of attention last month at CES 2012 with its motion controlled "Board of Awesomeness," a longboard that a rider controls by gesturing at a Kinect sensor on the front. Apparently though, that was just the beginning. So, how could the studio possibly improve on a skateboard that starts and stops just by having a person move their hands? By not having the rider move at all. The latest creation, the aptly named "Board of Imagination," moves forward just by having a user think about it while wearing an Emotiv EPOC headset.
http://www.gizmag.com/mind-controlled-board-of-imagination/21599/

Waste2tricity - turning garbage into electricity [Garbage Power]

February 18, 2009 It's common knowledge that the majority of electricity generation and waste disposal methods currently in widespread use are not very environmentally friendly. New British venture Waste2tricity aims to kill two environmentally damaging birds with one stone by taking carbon based waste, either municipal solid waste (MSW) or waste from business and industry, and converting it into clean electricity, thereby reducing the amount of rubbish going to landfill and potentially making a significant contribution to the UK electricity supply.
http://www.gizmag.com/waste2tricity-convert-waste-electricity/11028/

Tel Aviv University's astounding "quantum levitation" demonstration [Quantum POwer]

Maglev trains have been in development since before Luke Skywalker drove his first Land Speeder but, like personal rocket packs, the idea of levitating transport is taking a while to catch on. While this "quantum levitation" demonstration shown by the superconductivity group at Tel Aviv University at the 2011 ASTC annual conference in Baltimore doesn't mean we'll all be floating to work anytime soon, it does remind us of the amazing potential of this kind of technology.
http://www.gizmag.com/tel-aviv-university-quantum-levitation/20240/

Sunflowers inspire more efficient Concentrated Solar Power plant layout [Sunflower power]

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, such as the Gemsolar and PS10 plants in Spain, use arrays of mirrors (or heliostats) to focus a large area of the Sun's rays onto a small area, where the concentrated light is converted to heat that is used to generate electricity. While CSP has gained popularity in recent years with numerous plants being built around the world, they require a large area to generate the amounts of electricity needed to make them economically viable. Taking inspiration from the sunflower, researchers have devised a more efficient design that would allow such plants to be constructed on a much smaller area.
http://www.gizmag.com/sunflower-heliostat-csp-layout/21086/

http://www.gizmag.com/biofuel-cell-power-insect-cyborg/21036/

Eco Wave Power developing two new wave-power devices [Wave Power]

Israel's Eco Wave Power is just entering the second phase of proving its new wave energy harvest and conversion system that's claimed to produce cheaper energy than existing coal-fired power plants. Energy is captured by the influence of rising and falling waves on two proprietary float designs called the Wave Clapper and Power Wing, which are installed on existing, stable structures. The floats are said to be capable of gathering energy from both high and low waves, which is fed through undersea cabling to a land-based power plant for conversion to usable electricity.

http://www.gizmag.com/eco-wave-power-developing-two-new-wave-power-devices/20989/

Solar panels keep greenhouses cooler in summer, let the sun through in winter [Solar panels for greenhouse HVAC]

Spain's ULMA Agrícola consortium and Tecnalia research center have developed a new type of photovoltaic solar panel for greenhouses that can generate electricity without an adverse effect on the crops grown within, while additionally providing cooling in summer. The system is designed to exploit the annual oscillation - the variation in the height of the sun's path across the sky over the course of the year. In theory, no solar radiation is compromised over winter, but surplus radiation can be diverted to electricity-generation during summer.

http://www.gizmag.com/umla-solar-greenhouse/21090/

Researchers engineer microbe to make seaweed a cost-effective source of renewable fuel [Seaweed Power]

One of the biggest criticisms leveled at biofuels that are derived from crops such as wheat, corn and sugar cane, is that they result in valuable land being taken away from food production. For this reason there are various research efforts underway to turn seaweed into a viable renewable source of biomass. Now a team from Bio Architecture Lab (BAL) claims to have developed a breakthrough technology that makes seaweed a cost-effective source of biomass by engineering a microbe that can extract all the major sugars in seaweed and convert them into renewable fuels and chemicals.

http://www.gizmag.com/microbe-converts-seaweed-into-renewable-fuel/21168/

Piezoelectric generator creates power from shoes [Electricity-producing shoes? Sole power]

Could walking or running generate enough energy to power your cell phone or GPS device? Dr. Ville Kaajakari has developed an innovative piezoelectric generator prototype small enough to be embedded in the sole of a shoe that's designed to produce enough power to operate GPS receivers, location tags and eventually, even a cell phone.
http://www.gizmag.com/piezoelectric-generator-shoes/14945/

New wave of ocean energy to be trialed off the coast of Australia [Ocean Power]

Anyone who has ever been scuba diving in a bull kelp forest will tell you - the stuff does not stand still. The marine aquatic plant consists of a long skinny-but-tough stem (or stipe) that is anchored to the sea floor and topped with a hollow float, from which a number of "leaves" (or blades) extend to the surface. The result is a seaweed that extends vertically up through the water column, continuously swaying back and forth with the surging waves. The researchers at Australia's BioPower Systems evidently looked at that kelp, and thought, "what if we could use that swaying action to generate power?" The result was their envisioned bioWAVE system, which could soon become a reality, thanks to a just-announced AUD$5 million (US$5.1 million) grant from the Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources.
http://www.gizmag.com/biopower-biowave-kelp-wave-power/20733/

Quantum computer with separate CPU and memory represents significant breakthrough [Quantum Power]

John Martinis' research group at the University of California at Santa Barbara has created the first quantum computer with the quantum equivalent of conventional Von Neumann architecture. This general-purpose programmable quantum computer is realized using superconducting circuits and offers greater potential for large-scale quantum computing than the one-problem devices that have been demonstrated in this emerging field to date.
http://www.gizmag.com/quantum-computer-von-neumann/21340/

Pilot plant converts fruit and veggie waste into natural gas for cars [Leftovers Power]

Some readers might remember the Mr. Fusion unit in Back to the Future that Doc Brown fills with household garbage, including a banana peel and some beer, to power the iconic time-traveling DeLorean. While we're still some way from such direct means of running our cars on table scraps, researchers at Fraunhofer have developed a pilot plant that ferments the waste from wholesale fruit and veg markets, cafeterias and canteens to make methane, which can be used to power vehicles.
http://www.gizmag.com/pilot-organic-waste-biogas-plant/2140

Photovoltaic nanoshell "whispering galleries" trap light for more efficient solar cells [Whisper power]

For those unfamiliar with the term, a "whispering gallery" is a round room designed in such a way that sound is carried around its perimeter—this allows a person standing on one side to hear words whispered by a person on the other. Now, scientists from Stanford University have developed a new type of photovoltaic material, that essentially does for sunlight what whispering galleries do for sound. Not only does the material have a structure that circulates light entering it, but it could also result in cheaper, less fragile, and less angle-sensitive solar panels.
http://www.gizmag.com/nanocrystalline-silicon-nanoshell-photovoltaics/21391/>

Stanford system could allow EVs to recharge from the road, while moving [Pavement power]

The greatest obstacle standing in the way of electric-vehicle adoption - besides crafty, deceitful right wingers - is limited range. Electric vehicles can only travel 100 miles (161 km) on their best day. Because of the lack of electric charging stations and the amount of time involved in charging a battery, they just can't go as far as gas vehicles. A team of researchers at Stanford University recently made an important discovery in wireless charging technology. Their work could one day help solve the limited-range dilemma.
http://www.gizmag.com/stanford-wireless-ev-charging/21321/

New device to generate electricity from human breathing [Breath Power]

One of the biggest hurdles facing the developers of biological implants is coming up with a power source to keep the implanted devices ticking. We've seen various technologies that could be used instead of traditional batteries (which require the patient to go under the knife so they can be replaced) such as wireless transmission of power from outside the body, biological fuel cells that generate electricity from a person's blood sugar, and piezoelectric devices that generate electricity from body movements or the beating of the heart. Now researchers have developed a device that could be used to generate electricity from a patient's breathing.
http://www.gizmag.com/generating-electricity-from-respiration/20064/

Pacemakers of tomorrow could be powered by the beating of the heart [Heart power]

A heart-powered pacemaker may sound counter-intuitive, but in essence this is precisely what aerospace engineers from the University of Michigan are proposing. The engineers have come up with a prototype powered by vibrations in the chest cavity - vibrations which are caused mainly by the beating of the heart.
http://www.gizmag.com/heart-powered-pacemaker/21329/

MIT envisions DIY solar cells made from grass clippings [Grass Power]

Research scientist Andreas Mershin has a dream to bring inexpensive solar power to the masses, especially those in developing countries. After years of research, he and his team at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, along with University of Tennessee biochemist Barry Bruce, have worked out a process that extracts functional photosynthetic molecules from common yard and agricultural waste. If all goes well, in a few years it should be possible to gather up a pile of grass clippings, mix it with a blend of cheap chemicals, paint it on your roof and begin producing electricity. Talk about redefining green power plants!
http://www.gizmag.com/mit-diy-solar-cells-grass-clippings/21341

Salmon DNA used in data storage device [Salmon power]

Salmon ... they're good to eat, provide a livelihood for fishermen, are an important part of their ecosystem, and now it seems that they can store data. More specifically, their DNA can. Scientists from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany have created a "write-once-read-many-times" (WORM) memory device, that combines electrodes, silver nanoparticles, and salmon DNA. While the current device is simply a proof-of-concept model, the researchers have stated that DNA could turn out to be a less expensive alternative to traditional inorganic materials such as silicon.
http://www.gizmag.com/salmon-dna-data-storage-device/21027/

Eton (hand) cranks out new self-powered products at CES [Hand-Turbine Power]

While insufficient battery-life can be annoying in most mobile devices, getting cut off from the outside world because your radio has run out of juice can be much more serious. This is why Eton has been producing various devices powered by hand-turbines and solar panels for some time now. Today's CES Unveiled saw Eton demonstrating its latest FRX line of self-powered radios that come in three flavors—the FRX 3 and FRX 2, which both sport a solar panel and hand turbine, and the FRX 1, which features just the hand-turbine. Also on show was Eton's new Rukus portable Bluetooth sound system, which comes in battery- and solar-powered versions.
http://www.gizmag.com/eton-rukus-frx-series/21037/

Prototype system removes air pollutants and generates heat for livestock barns [Cow power]

If you've ever so much as stepped into a chicken or swine barn, you'll know that they can be very, very smelly places. When vented outdoors, the air from these buildings does more than just make the area stink—it can actually be a major source of air pollution and greenhouse gases. Fortunately, however, researchers from North Carolina State University and West Virginia University have created a system that not only helps clean the air going out of the barns, but it heats up the air coming in from outside.
http://www.gizmag.com/biofilter-cleans-heats-barn-air/21013/


ROBOTS & PETS

iFetch allows a dog to play fetch on its own

Playing fetch with your dog is surely one of life's high points. After a short while though, it can all get a bit tiring and just a tad boring. Your bouncing bundle of fun, on the other hand, would happily keep the game going for hours. Fortunately, technology is here to help. The iFetch from the Hamill family shoots out a ball for your dog to fetch, and when fido drops it in the opening at the top, it's fired back out again.
http://www.gizmag.com/ifetch-automatic-fetch-dog/28022/

Homecare telepresence robot undergoes real world testing [Robotic Home cAre

GiraffPlus is an EU-funded project that uses telepresence technology to monitor the elderly in their own homes. The system has already been tested in a demo apartment in Örebro, Sweden. Now GiraffPlus is being taken further afield to be tested in real homes in Sweden, Italy and Spain.
http://www.gizmag.com/giraffplus-elderly-homecare/27960/

Industrial robot to try its hand at sketching portraits

Pity the poor industrial robot. It spends countless hours toiling away at mindless manual labor, never getting a chance to explore its creative side. Well, next month at the CeBIT digital technology trade show, one such robot will get the opportunity. When visitors to the Fraunhofer display take a seat on a provided stool, one of the company's industrial robots will create a pencil sketch of them, then hold up the finished product for everyone to see.
http://www.gizmag.com/industrial-robot-pencil-sketches/21547/

New tech allows quadriplegics to discreetly control wheelchairs using their tongues [Tongue Power]

For those unfortunate enough to suffer from severe spinal cord injuries, the tongue is often the only extremity still under their control. To take advantage of this fact, engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed what they call the Tongue Drive System (TDS), a wireless, wearable device that allows the user to operate computers and control electric wheelchairs with movements of the tongue. The latest iteration, which resembles a sensor-studded dental retainer, is controlled by a tongue-mounted magnet and promises its users a welcome new level of autonomy with both communication and transportation.
http://www.gizmag.com/geogia-tech-wheelchair-tongue-control/21531/

Gizmag's top 10 cat gadgets

Felis catus, the domestic cat. They've been our companions for thousands of years, but if you're a cat looking for some comfort, distraction or just some new playthings, there's never been a better time to be alive. We recently looked at some fun apps for your cat to play with on your iPad or tablet, but if you're not inclined to let your feline loose on an expensive piece of modern computing equipment, read on. Whether your furry fleabag is a pampered Persian or an ear bitten moggy, Gizmag's top 10 cat gadgets have been compiled with Puss's pleasure (and yours) in mind.
http://www.gizmag.com/top-10-cat-gadgets/20623/

Home version of iPet Companion lets owners tele-play with their pets [Tele-play with your pets while at work]

If you own a dog or a cat and are having a hard day at work, wouldn't it be nice to be able to take a break and play with them? Well, if you've got the money, now you can do it—via the internet. A consumer version of a system already in use at some U.S. animal shelters, iPet Companion Home Version lets computer users remotely control dog or cat toys located in their home, watching their pets reacting to those toys' movements in real time. For some people, it could be the biggest workplace distraction since Facebook.
http://www.gizmag.com/ipet-companion-home-version/20088/

Microsoft robotics developer builds remote dog-sitting bot

When Jordan Correa and his wife both started working full time, they found themselves away from their home much more often, leaving their dog, Darwin, alone all day. Most people would have just had to leave the problem as is, or maybe get a part time pet sitter. But Correa, being a test developer for the Microsoft Robotics Team, came up with a solution right in line with his talents and built a dog-sitting robot, so he could play and speak with his pet over the internet while he's at work.
http://www.gizmag.com/microsoft-dog-sitting-robot/21488/

Remotely grooming a cat using a Kinect, Wiimote, treadmill and Nao robot [Groom your cat from your office]

The Kinectimals video game lets players pet a virtual pet on their TV screen, but Tokyo-based software engineer Taylor Veltrop has gone one step further. By pairing a Kinect sensor, a Wiimote, a treadmill and a Nao humanoid robot together, Veltrop has cobbled together a teleoperation system that allows him to groom his real life feline friend remotely.
http://www.gizmag.com/teleoperated-cat-grooming/20999/


ENVIRONMENT CLEANUP

Sponge made from layers of nanosheets shows promise in soaking up oil spills

Five years on and questions still remain over the Deepwater Horizons oil spill, where millions of gallons of crude oil were spewed into the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps the most pressing is how oil might be best cleaned up should such an environmental catastrophe occur in the future. A team of researchers in Australia claim to have found an answer, developing a special porous material that is claimed to soak up to 33 times its own weight in oil and organic solvents.
http://www.gizmag.com/sponge-nanosheets-oil-spills/40664/

Student-designed device reduces gas lawnmower air pollution by over 90 percent

Gas-powered lawnmowers are notorious polluters. Switching to an electric or reel mower is certainly one option, but a team of engineering students from the University of California, Riverside are developing another: an attachment that they claim reduces noxious emissions by over 90 percent.
http://www.gizmag.com/ucr-nox-out-catalytic-reduction-lawnmower-emissions/32872/

Palazzo Italia to get smog-purifying facade for Milan Expo 2015

Italian architectural firm, Nemesi & Partners, has revealed its award winning plans to clad Palazzo Italia in Milan with a smog-purifying facade as part of the Milan Expo 2015. The unique pavilion will be made from a special air-purifying cement created by Italcementi.
http://www.gizmag.com/palazzo-italia-milan-expo-smog-purifying-facade/32204/

University of Sheffield fights pollution with poetry [Shall I compare thee to a smoggy day?]

The University of Sheffield has revealed the "world's first air-cleansing poem"—a combination of a new work by award-winning writer Simon Armitage and a chemical formula developed at Sheffield by Professor Tony Ryan.
http://www.gizmag.com/air-cleansing-poetry-pollution-sheffield/32112/

Sustainable Grove Towers will "clean Mumbai's air"

Danish architectural firm 3XN has broken ground on an ambitious Mumbai-based project dubbed Grove Towers, that comprises two large sustainable mixed-use residential towers which are said to clean the local air.
http://www.gizmag.com/3xn-mumbai-sustainable-grove-towers/32034/

Oil-trapping mesh could be used to clean up oil spills

As we approach the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, scientists are still trying to develop better ways of removing oil from water. Now, researchers at The Ohio State University believe that they may be onto something. They've developed a stainless steel mesh that allows water to pass through, but that stops oil.
http://www.gizmag.com/steel-oil-spill-mesh/37040/

Sponges made from wood waste may soak up oil spills

Scientists from Switzerland's Empa research group have come up with a method of using waste to contain pollution . they've developed sponges made from cellulose by-products, that can soak up 50 times their own weight in spilled oil.
http://www.gizmag.com/nanocellulose-oil-spill-sponges/31939/

Air-purifying billboard does the work of 1,200 trees [Eat at Joe's—save the planet]

Peruvian scientists have installed an air-purifying billboard in the city of Lima, capable of doing the work of 1,200 trees and purifying 100,000 cubic meters of air daily.
http://www.gizmag.com/utecs-air-purifying-billboard-installed-at-lima/31931/

Oil spill-absorbing material inspired by cactus needles

Chinese scientists have developed a material that is able to draw tiny suspended oil droplets out of seawater—and it's based on cactus needles. It shows great promise for use in oil spill clean-up efforts.
http://www.gizmag.com/cactus-needle-oil-droplets/28635/

New inexpensive method to clean oil from water

The rainbow effect caused by varying thicknesses of oil film on water's surface might be pretty to look at but is indicative of polluted water. This .oil sheen. proves especially difficult to remove, even when the water is aerated with ozone or filtered through sand. But now a University of Utah engineer has developed an inexpensive new method to remove oil sheen by repeatedly pressurizing and depressurizing ozone gas, creating microscopic bubbles that attack the oil so it can be removed by sand filters.
http://www.gizmag.com/removing-oil-sheen-from-water/13382/

MIT researchers develop autonomous oil-absorbing robot to clean up oil spills

Over 800 skimmers were deployed in the Gulf of Mexico during the summer of 2010 to help clean up the Deepwater Horizon leak; however, it is estimated that these skimmers collected only three percent of the surface oil. Researchers at MIT have devised a system, called Seaswarm, consisting of a fleet of vehicles that may make cleaning up future oil spills both less expensive and more efficient than current skimming methods. A robotic prototype created by the researchers could autonomously navigate the ocean surface using cutting edge nanotechnology to collect surface oil and process it on site.
http://www.gizmag.com/seaswarm-autonomous-oil-absorbing-robot/16153/

Air bubbles used to contain oil spills

Although it may have missed the entry deadline for the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X-CHALLENGE, a new technology for containing oil spills at sea was recently unveiled. Developed by Norwegian research organization SINTEF, the system uses a curtain of air bubbles to contain spilled oil for easier removal, or to form a barrier around protected areas.
http://www.gizmag.com/air-bubbles-contain-oil-spills/18887/

New magnetic soap could be used to clean up oil spills

When oil gets spilled in a waterway, clean-up crews will often introduce a solution known as a surfactant. This is a detergent that lessens the surface tension between the water and the overlaying oil slick, causing the oil to form into individual droplets which then sink or get dispersed by wave action. Unfortunately, such detergents aren't entirely environmentally-friendly themselves, so the use of them on oil spills has been criticized as simply replacing one pollutant with another. Now, however, scientists from the University of Bristol have created a magnetic soap, that could be removed from the water once it had done its job.
http://www.gizmag.com/magnetic-soap-oil-spills/21204/

Laser un-printers could help save the trees

If you.re concerned about deforestation, you likely blue-bin the no-longer-needed sheets of paper that have been run through your printer. You should keep in mind, however, that even though the recycling of that paper saves trees, the process still requires considerable energy, and most recycled paper still contains some virgin wood pulp. What would be better is if there were an .un-printer. that took the toner off of the used paper, so you would be left with a blank sheet that you could reuse. Well, thanks to research being conducted at the University of Cambridge, there soon may be.
http://www.gizmag.com/laser-unprinters-remove-toner/21831/

New material shown to remove CO2 from smokestack effluent and other sources

In recent years, worries over global climate change caused by excess atmospheric carbon dioxide have led to a number of technologies all aimed at the same thing—capturing human-generated CO2 at the source. These have included the use of things such as edible sponges, molten salts and bacteria, to name just a few. Now, a group of scientists are claiming success with a process that has achieved "some of the highest carbon dioxide removal rates ever reported for humid air" ... and it uses a common and inexpensive polymer.
http://www.gizmag.com/polymer-captures-co2/21014/


GM looking to bring carbon fiber to mainstream cars

Carbon fiber is nothing new to the automotive industry. Race teams and exotic automakers have been using it to decrease weight and boost performance for years. However, due to the great expense of production, carbon fiber hasn't yet extended past these top-end applications. With a new partnership, GM seeks to bring the advantages of carbon fiber to mainstream automobiles
http://www.gizmag.com/gm-teijin-carbon-fiber-mainstream-cars/20809/

DARPA's Shredder Challenge is solved ahead of schedule

At the end of October, DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) launched its Shredder Challenge contest. The objective: create a system for reconstructing shredded papers, then demonstrate it by piecing together five documents, the shredded remains of which were posted on the contest's website. Although the contest had a December 4th deadline, the "All Your Shreds Are Belong to U.S." team correctly reassembled all five documents with two days to spare.
http://www.gizmag.com/darpa-shredder-challenge-solved/20732

My Robot Nation lets you build your own mini-robot

Following a month long beta, My Robot Nation has officially launched its new website, which offers everyone a chance to create their own personalized miniature robots. With the browser-based building tools, visitors to the website can customize a robot from scratch, which they can then order to be generated with a 3D printer and shipped to them. It may sound like a simple concept, but that simplicity is what sets My Robot Nation apart from other 3D printing services on the market.
http://www.gizmag.com/my-robot-nation-3d-printing-webgl-robot/20687/

The first lab-grown hamburger will cost $345,000 [A 345,000 Hamburger?

How much would you pay for a hamburger? How about US$345,000? No, it's not wrapped in edible gold leaf and held together with a skewer made out of a diamond stick pin that you get to keep. It's an ordinary burger that doesn't include the bun, lettuce, pickles or onions. It isn't even super-sized. This may seem like price gouging on a monumental scale, but it's actually the cost price for this particular burger. That's because even though it is a real hamburger made from real meat, it doesn't come from a cow at all. So where is all this heading? David Szondy investigates the past, present and future of lab-grown meat.
http://www.gizmag.com/lab-grown-meat/20625/

Autonomo - fully autonomous vehicle designed for the year 2030 [no-hands driving]

Charles Rattray's vision of what the automotive industry will be capable of by the year 2030 is far more feasible that it may seem at first glance. Autonomo, his fully autonomous vehicle concept, certainly looks the part, but should not be dismissed as just another flashy concept car. As car makers worldwide gear up to face the enormous challenges posed by congestion, pollution, and infrastructural deficiencies, Rattray's final year student project offers a glimpse into the world where these challenges are already a thing of the past. Inspired by biomimicry, sustainability, artificial intelligence and information technology in general, the concept draws on technologies that are already being developed in R&D centers around the world.
http://www.gizmag.com/autonomo-fully-autonomous-vehicle-designed-for-the-year-2030/20529/

New nanoparticle electrode could bolster large-scale storage of renewable energy

There's no doubt that sources of renewable energy such as wind and solar are critical to a clean energy future, but just as important is a way to store the energy generated for use when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing. Researchers at Stanford University are reporting the development of a new high-power electrode that is so cheap, durable and efficient that it could enable the creation of batteries that are big enough and economical enough for large-scale storage of renewable energy on the grid.
http://www.gizmag.com/stanford-high-power-electrode/20610

Prototype contact lens brings Terminator-esque vision a little closer

Fans of the original film in the Terminator franchise will recall how various bits of data were shown to be overlaid on the cyborg's vision - in particular, they might remember the list of possible responses that could be used when someone was angrily knocking on its door (for those who don't remember, its chosen response wasn't very polite). Such augmented vision systems are now a little closer to reality, thanks to work being done by a team of scientists at the University of Washington and Aalto University, in Finland. They have created a contact lens that displays information, which is visible to the wearer.
http://www.gizmag.com/contact-lens-projects-images/20588/

Cheap, simple composting toilet concept receives funding from Gates Foundation

Whatever you call it - lavatory, privy, latrine, crapper, loo or dunny - most of us take the humble toilet for granted. But in many parts of the world the absence of sanitary waste disposal is not just inconvenient, it can cause deadly diseases such as hepatitis, dysentery, trachoma, typhoid and cholera. Enter Marc Deshusses, a Duke University environmental engineer who has envisioned an innovative yet simple waste disposal system designed specifically for Third World countries that can be constructed from everyday items. Now, as part of a broad ranging project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Deshusses has received $100,000 to perfect and test the system in the laboratory before producing a prototype to field-test in 18 months time.
http://www.gizmag.com/gates-foundation-composting-toilet-duke-university/20422

NASA evaluating "tractor beam" technologies

NASA is looking to turn another staple of science fiction to practical use by studying ways to make "tractor beams" a reality. While none of the technologies under the microscope will be able to transport anything the size of a modified YT-1300 Corellian freighter—at least in the short term—the researchers will examine if it is possible to trap and move planetary or atmospheric particles using laser light so they can be delivered to a robotic rover or orbiting spacecraft for analysis.
http://www.gizmag.com/nasa-evaluates-tractor-beam-technology/20407/

RYNO self-balancing electric one-wheeler - just don't call it a scooter

When it comes to self-balancing personal transportation devices, it looks like the Solowheel, Honda U3-X, Uno and Segway could all be in for a little competition. Portland, Oregon-based RYNO Motors is currently in the process of launching its own entry in the weird-little-electric-vehicles race, which it appropriately calls the RYNO. Like Bombardier's EMBRIO concept, it has just one wheel. If nothing else, that feature will definitely get riders noticed.
http://www.gizmag.com/ryno-one-wheeled-scooter/20385/

Dissolving food stickers also wash your fruit

New York based electrical engineer and designer Scott Amron has come up with an idea that could transform the way industries label fruit and vegetables. You may not pay much attention to that fruit sticker on your apple or orange - though it's often frustrating to remove - and it usually just ends up in the trash. However, Amron is a man who has put considerable thought into that sticker, creating the Fruitwash label. Just as the name suggests, the new label dissolves into organic fruit soap that helps remove water-resistant wax, pesticides and fungicides.
http://www.gizmag.com/dissolving-food-stickers-wash-fruit/20392/

USB port-packing Starke bikes deliver pedal-powered mobile charging

With the proliferation of battery-hungry mobile devices that people now carry on their person when biking, we've seen a number of solutions designed to keep said devices charged up while on the go - from solar charging clothing and backpacks to add-on dynamo kits that allow devices to be charged via USB using power captured by the rider's pedaling. German bicycle maker Silverback has seen the need here and addressed it with its Starke 1 and 2 models, both of which feature a USB port powered by a dynamo hub.
http://www.gizmag.com/silverback-bike-usb-port/20339/

Boston Dynamics releases amazing video of its PETMAN bipedal robot

If you were tasked with testing clothing that was designed to protect soldiers from chemical weapons, it goes without saying that you wouldn't dress an actual person up in those clothes, then fire chemicals at them. If you just put those clothes on an inanimate mannequin, however, it wouldn't provide any information on how effective those clothes were when in motion, or in a wide variety of body positions. Well, that's where Boston Dynamics' PETMAN (Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin) humanoid robot comes in. The self-balancing clothes-testing machine can walk, run, crouch, and even do push-ups. Today, PETMAN's creators released the first-ever public video of the robot being put through its paces - and it's pretty impressive.
http://www.gizmag.com/petan-robot-video-released/20333/

HyQ - robotic Lipizzaner does more than just prance

HyQ is the Italian cousin of Boston Dynamics' DARPA-funded BigDog. Under development at Istituto Italiano Di Tecnologia (IIT) by a group of researchers led by Professor Darwin Caldwell, this Hydraulically actuated Quadruped robot is being groomed to navigate rough terrain, jump and run at speeds up to 15 km/h (9 mph). Unlike Boston Dynamics' quadrupeds, HyQ is not a heavy-payload machine designed strictly for military applications. Instead, the robot could be used in rescue missions, on construction sites, for forestry applications and whenever there is a need to access areas not easily accessible to ordinary machines. However, before HyQ becomes part of the everyday landscape, it has another important role to play as an open source research platform.
http://www.gizmag.com/hyq-hydraulically-actuated-quadruped-robot/20313/

Crossbow Snow Launcher goes one up in 'cold war' arms race

With winter fast approaching in the northern hemisphere and snowbound hostilities due to recommence in neighborhoods across the globe it might be worth updating your arsenal with this Crossbow Snow Launcher from The Sharper Image. With the ability to shoot snowballs distances of up to 60 feet (18 m) the device is sure to give you the upper hand in any Hoth-like conflict without the risk of tearing a rotator cuff.
http://www.gizmag.com/crossbow-snow-launcher/20306/

Scientists develop wireless braking for bicycles

Given that wireless gear-shifting for bicycles has been around for the past few years, perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that someone has now developed a wireless braking system. Created by computer scientists at Germany's Saarland University, the current prototype still looks a little boxy, but it does do away with cables and brake levers. According to computer algorithms that would normally be used in control systems for aircraft or chemical factories, the system should offer 99.999999999997 percent reliability - that means it would fail three times out of a trillion braking attempts.
http://www.gizmag.com/wireless-braking-for-bicycles/20150/

LED by LITE aims to brighten up night-time cycling

The arrival of high-intensity LEDs has certainly made a huge difference to the brightness of bicycle headlights. Some people, however, are now looking at using the bulbs not just as a means of lighting the cyclist's way, but of making their bicycles more visible to motorists. A couple of examples include the Aura and Revolights systems, both of which incorporate LEDs into a bike's wheel rims. Another system, that looks like it might be considerably less involved yet still effective, is called LED by LITE.
http://www.gizmag.com/led-by-lite-bicycle-lights/20290/

Stretchy pressure-sensitive material could serve as robot skin

Robots, prosthetic limbs and touchscreen displays could all end up utilizing technology recently developed at California's Stanford University. A team led by Zhenan Bao, an associate professor of chemical engineering, has created a very stretchy skin-like pressure-sensitive material that can detect everything from a finger-pinch to over twice the pressure that would be exerted by an elephant standing on one foot. The sensitivity of the material is attained through two layers of carbon nanotubes, that act like a series of tiny springs.
http://www.gizmag.com/stretchy-pressure-sensitive-nano-spring-material/20289/

Project Shellter developing 3D printed shells for pet hermit crabs

If you've ever bought a pet hermit crab, then you may remember also having to buy several sea shells with it. This is because the crabs don't have shells of their own, and instead have to find empty shells from other creatures and use those. As a hermit crab grows, it'll need to upsize to larger shells, hence the need to supply it with multiple choices. Unfortunately, every empty shell gathered for the pet trade is one less for the wild hermit crabs to move into. In places where the beaches have been picked clean, the crabs have reportedly resorted to using things such as bottles and shotgun shells. That's where Miles Lightwood's Project Shellter comes in—he's hoping to design 3D printed shells for use in the pet industry, and is seeking ideas from interested artists and designers.
http://www.gizmag.com/project-shellter-3d-printed-hermit-crab-shells/20272/

ITRI develops re-writable, bendy, and electricity-free e-paper

Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has developed a highly flexible electronic paper that's both re-writable and re-usable, and like the Boogie Board electronic memo pads, the technology doesn't need electricity to retain the screen image. The institute is currently in licensing talks with manufacturers at home and in the U.S., and has taken first prize in the Materials and Basic Science and Technology category of the Wall Street Journal's Technology Innovation Awards.
http://www.gizmag.com/itri-develops-rewritable-reusable-epaper/20271/

Microsoft HoloDesk lets users handle virtual 3D objects

Does anyone remember the animated version of Star Trek from the 1970s? The Emmy-Award-winning series was the very first outing for the now familiar Holodeck, although it was called the recreation room back then. Despite some landmark advances in holographic technology in the years since - such as the University of Tokyo's Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display - nothing has come close to offering the kind of physical interactivity with virtual objects in a 3D environment promised by the collective imaginations of sci-fi writers of the past. While we're not at the Holodeck level just yet, members of the Sensors and Devices group at Microsoft Research have developed a new system called HoloDesk that allows users to pick up, move and even shoot virtual 3D objects, plus the system recognizes and responds to the presence of inanimate real-world objects like a sheet of paper or an upturned cup.
http://www.gizmag.com/holodesk-lets-users-handle-virtual-3d-objects/20257/


PROSTHESES/DEVICES

Assistive device gives electronics-users a helping hand

While most of us use smartphones, tablets or computers with relative ease, doing so can be very difficult for people with upper-body mobility issues. It was with this in mind that Toronto's Komodo OpenLab originally introduced the Tecla. Now, the company has introduced its new-and-improved Tecla-e, which lets users control up to eight smart devices at once. Tecla-e gets connected to third-party assistive devices such as wheelchair driving controls, proximity switches or sip-and-puff switches, which allow users to input commands — it also has its own built-in light-touch button control. Those command signals are transmitted by Bluetooth to iOS or Android mobile devices, or to a computer, performing a variety of functions such as typing, selecting and scrolling.
http://newatlas.com/tecla-e/49186/

Test subjects type fast—using only their brains

When a person suffers paralysis, a fully functioning brain can be trapped inside an immobile body. More and more, brain-computer-interface (BCI) technology is coming to the rescue in such cases, allowing paralyzed people to do everything from operating a speech computer to controlling an exoskeleton using only their thoughts. Now researchers who are part of an international consortium called BrainGate have achieved another milestone, having developed a way for people to type at a faster speed than ever before possible using their minds.
http://newatlas.com/bci-fastest-typing-speed/48035/

Brain-computer interface lets "locked-in" people communicate for the first time

Complete Locked-In State (CLIS) is probably the most terrifying of medical conditions to contemplate. In CLIS, patients with fully functional brains are trapped in bodies that they have no control over whatsoever, and have no means to contact the outside world despite being fully aware of what's happening around them. Now a team led by neuroscientist Niels Birbaumer at the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering in Geneva has found a way to connect the brains of CLIS patients to a computer that allows them to answer simple yes/no questions.
http://newatlas.com/brain-computer-interface-locked-in-state/47693/

Brain-controlled robot lets physically challenged see the world

For those with severe motor disabilities, mind-controlled prostheses have long offered a sliver of hope that they might one day be able to regain some semblance of autonomy. While we've seen numerous examples of such prostheses over the years, most involve brain surgery and are still not ready for commercialization. As scientists continue to tinker with neuro circuits, Melbourne-based startup Aubot has skipped past all these complications to launch the Teleport, the world's first commercially available telepresence robot that can be controlled by thought.
http://newatlas.com/aubot-teleport-robot/47375/

Brain implant enables paralyzed woman to communicate by thought

The University Medical Center Utrecht (UMC) has announced the success of a brain implant in a Dutch patient suffering from ALS disease that enables her to operate a speech computer with her mind. Fifty-nine year-old mother-of-three Hanneke de Bruijne was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) in 2008 and can no longer move or speak, yet her mind is fully functional. The electrode implanted in her brain picks up brain activity and enables her to wirelessly control a speech computer to communicate with family and caregivers. What's more, she uses the technology not in a laboratory but at home and it is mobile enough to travel, promising a new life for those otherwise locked in non-functioning bodies.
http://newatlas.com/utrecht-mind-machine-interface/46475/

Thought-reading headset lets users speak their mind [An end to "What are you thinking?"

By combining a wireless connected EEG headset from Emotiv and an assistive communication app, California-based Smartstones is bringing the power of speech to those who have difficulty communicating verbally. The "think to speak" technology works by reading the brainwaves of the user and expressing them as phrases spoken through the app.
http://www.gizmag.com/brainwave-headset-think-to-speak/43264/

Mind-controlled prosthetic allows movement of individual fingers

Using the mind to control prosthetic limbs is a bold idea that is slowly becoming a reality thanks to several important advances in neuroscience and robotics in the last couple of years. Now a team of researchers is claiming another significant breakthrough in this area, building a prosthetic arm whose individual fingers can be controlled via the mind, right down to the pinkie.
http://www.gizmag.com/mind-controlled-prosthetic-fingers/41886/

Student-designed aid for the deaf converts speech to AR captions

Speech-to-text systems already exist, as do augmented-reality displays. Now, a group of New York City teens led by Daniil Frants (who interned at the MIT Media Lab when he was 14) have combined the two technologies to form the Live Time Closed Captioning System (LTCCS). Once up and running, it could revolutionize the way in which deaf people communicate with the hearing world.
http://www.gizmag.com/live-time-closed-captioning-system/40078/

Open Bionics adds superhero appeal to prostheses for kids

Historically, those born without a hand or have one amputated can choose prosthetic devices that focus on realism and, for a steeper price, fine motor control. Open Bionics has unveiled several new designs for the youngest of prosthesis owners, and paired small size with kid appeal. Swerving away from realism, these prostheses are literally modeled after superheroes. Calling these the world's smallest bionic hands, Open Bionics argues that for kids it transforms being different into being cool.
http://www.gizmag.com/open-bionics-superhero-prostheses-disney/39181/

Revolutionary mechanical hand adds a sense of touch to mind-controlled prostheses

A mechanical hand utilizing DARPA-developed neural technologies has become the first to allow a paralyzed patient to feel physical sensations through a prosthesis. The 28 year-old test subject was able to determine which mechanical finger was being touched whilst blindfolded, with total accuracy.
http://www.gizmag.com/darpa-prosthetic-physical-sensations-mechanical-hand/39398

Brain study comes to grips with the challenge of mind-controlled prostheses

A new study conducted by Brown University researchers has furthered our understanding of how the brain formulates a plan for picking up an object. In the long run, the findings could pave the way for more accomplished mind-controlled robotic prostheses.
http://www.gizmag.com/brain-grip-mind-controlled-prostheses/38728/

Low-cost prosthetic knee could let the impoverished walk normally

Some higher-end prosthetic legs are equipped with things like gyroscopes and accelerometers, in order to guide their knee joint through a more natural bending motion. In developing nations, however, such expensive prostheses usually aren't an option. That's why a scientist from MIT is developing a knee that could allow inexpensive legs to perform like the fancy ones.
http://www.gizmag.com/low-cost-prosthetic-knee/38736/

Blind rats navigate maze using implanted compass [See how they navigate!]

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have successfully used geomagnetic compasses to help blind rats navigate with a similar level of success to their fully-sighted counterparts. The team believes that the technology may be useful in helping blind people move around more freely. To compensate for the test animals' lack of sight, the team attached a geomagnetic compass (similar to what you might find in a smartphone) to the blind rats, combining it with a pair of tungsten microelectrodes for stimulating the visual cortex of the brain. The device automatically detects the position of the rats' heads, generating electrical stimulation pulses to indicate the direction that the animal is facing . such as north or south, for instance.
http://www.gizmag.com/blind-rats-navigate-maze-implanted-compass/36882/

Double amputee controls two prosthetic arms at once, using his mind

Researchers at the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) have successfully tested bilateral shoulder-level prosthetics, allowing a test subject to perform complex tasks using both arms simultaneously. The tests indicate that the system is quick to learn, and it could one day drastically alter the lives of shoulder-level amputees.
http://www.gizmag.com/double-amputee-mind-controlled-prosthetics/35321/

Uni allows deaf and hearing to communicate naturally [Eh?]

MotionSavvy has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for its Uni technology. The solution is a combo that helps deaf and hard of hearing people to communicate with non-deaf people who don't understand sign language in real time.
http://www.gizmag.com/uni-sign-language-translator/34247/

Signing robot developed as chatty companion for the elderly

Toshiba has introduced its own take on human-looking androids at Japan's CEATAC electronics trade show this week. The communication android has been built to communicate in Japanese sign language, requiring fluid and precise movement of its arms and hands.
http://www.gizmag.com/toshiba-communications-android-ceatac/34146/

Talk breathes new life into the alternative communication device market

For people with disabilities that affect their ability to speak, communicating with others can be very difficult. A new device known as Talk, however, is designed to help such people to do so. It senses dots and dashes made by the person using their breath, in order to spell out words.
http://www.gizmag.com/talk-morse-code-speech/33042/

FDA gives approval for DEKA prosthetic arm controlled by muscle impulses

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given approval for marketing of the DEKA Arm system, which is set to be the first prosthetic arm on the market that translates signals from a patient's muscles to carry out complex tasks.
http://www.gizmag.com/deka-arm-fda-approval/32011/

Powerful artificial muscles made from ... fishing line?

Scientist have used ordinary fishing line and sewing thread to create artificial muscles. With possible applications including robotics and prostheses, they're 100 times more powerful than human muscles of the same size. read
http://www.gizmag.com/fishing-line-thread-artificial-muscles/30960/

Eyewriter enables paralyzed artists to express themselves with eye-drawn art

For any person, the onset of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and associated loss of muscle function is a heartbreaking event, but for an artist the loss of creative expression must be felt keenly. Members of Free Art and Technology (FAT), OpenFrameworks, the Graffiti Research Lab, and The Ebeling Group communities have teamed-up with legendary LA graffiti writer, publisher and activist Tony Quan, aka Tempt One to develop a low-cost, open source eye-tracking system that will allow graffiti writers and artists with paralysis to draw using only their eyes. Their product, the Eyewriter, recently won the Interactive Award at the celebrated Brit Insurance Design Awards.
http://www.gizmag.com/eyewriter-art-paralyzed-artists/14566/

3D-printed prostheses give hope to amputees in war-torn Sudan

US-based technology company Not Impossible Labs, through its Daniel Project, has not only provided 3D-printed prosthetic arms for amputees in war-torn Sudan, but empowered the local community to continue the initiative in its absence.
http://www.gizmag.com/project-daniel-3d-prints-prosthetic-arms/30527/

Rehabilitative device bridges the gap between stroke victims' brains and hands

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have just announced a new approach to rehabilitating stroke victims. Their device acts as an intermediary between the brain and a non-responsive hand, receiving signals from the one and transmitting them to the other.
http://www.gizmag.com/stroke-therapy-bci/30005/

Designers create Leap Motion accessory to interpret sign language

Sydney-based Portuguese design duo Catarina Araujo and Sofia Santos, have devised a low-cost, practical necklace that uses Leap Motion to interpret sign language into written words. They have been selected for the second phase of the TEDx Youth competition.
http://www.gizmag.com/sign-language-leap-motion-device/29736/

Teen's inexpensive 3D-printed prosthetic could aid amputees in the third world

Easton LaChappelle, a 17-year old high school student, is developing an alternative to advanced prosthetic arms and hands using freely available online resources and the boom in inexpensive 3D printers. It has already attracted the attention of the White House and NASA.
http://www.gizmag.com/easton-lachappelle-3d-printed-prosthetic/28685/

OrCam aims to improve quality of life for the visually impaired

The OrCam is a small camera linked to a very powerful wearable computer. It sees what you see and through your finger-pointing understands what information you seek, relaying auditory feedback through a bone conduction earpiece. Using an intuitive user interface, the device can read text, recognize faces, identify objects and places, locate bus numbers and even monitor traffic lights.
http://www.gizmag.com/orcam-aids-visually-impaired/27784

Mind-controlled permanently-attached prosthetic arm could revolutionize prosthetics

Researchers based at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have developed the world's first thought-controlled, fully implantable robotic arm, which uses an amputee's own nerves and remaining muscles to afford a much more intuitive level of control than previously possible. Initial operations on patients are scheduled to take place during the Northern Hemisphere's upcoming winter.
http://www.gizmag.com/thought-controlled-prosthetic-arm/25216/

Researchers transmit braille directly to the retina of blind test subject

Second Sight's Argus II Retinal Prosthesis is definitely an interesting piece of technology, allowing a blind user to "see" objects, colors and movement in their environment. Ordinarily, this is done with the help of a video-camera-equipped pair of glasses worn by the user. In a recent experiment, however, researchers bypassed the camera, transmitting visual braille patterns directly to a blind test subject's retina.
http://www.gizmag.com/braille-argus-ii-retina/25157/

Mind-controlled robot avatars inch towards reality [Mind-controlled Robots?]

Researchers at the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory (a collaboration between France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology) are developing software that allows a person to drive a robot with their thoughts. The technology could one day give a paralyzed patient greater autonomy through a robotic agent or avatar.
http://www.gizmag.com/mind-controlled-robot-avatars/24994/

RSLSteeper launches third version of its bebionic myoelectric hand [Bebonic Hand]

Nigel Ackland could be mistaken for a cyborg. He has a high-tech robotic hand that looks like it started life as a Formula 1 car and its movements are alarmingly lifelike. It's called the .bebonic3. and is the latest version of bebonic series of artificial hands produced by RSLSteeper of Leeds, UK. The myoelectric hand has been under development for a couple of years now, but the bebonic3 is moving prosthetic limbs from Captain Hook to Luke Skywalker territory.
http://www.gizmag.com/bebionic3/24899/

Rat-like whiskers could help blind "see" with their fingers [Rat Whisker Power]

In an effort to enable blind people to navigate their surroundings more safely and effectively, researchers at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science have drawn inspiration from an unexpected source: rat whiskers.
http://www.gizmag.com/rat-whiskers-blind-see-fingers/24883/

Inexpensive device could allow the disabled to control computers with their eyes [Eye Power]

Bioengineers at Imperial College, London have developed a new computer controller for paraplegics that is not only more accurate and easier to use than current methods, but also uses inexpensive, off-the-shelf components. The GT3D device uses a pair of eyeglass frames with two fast video game console cameras costing less than UKP20 (US$30) each, which scan the wearer's eyes from outside the field of vision and provide .3D. control at much lower costs and without invasive surgery.
http://www.gizmag.com/eye-control/23321/

Students develop portable sign-language translator

Sign language is definitely a boon to hearing-impaired people when it comes to communicating with each other, or with non-deaf people who are trained in the system. If a hearing person doesn.t regularly deal with the deaf, however, then there's an obvious communication barrier. In order to address that situation, a group of engineering technology and industrial design students from the University of Houston have created MyVoice—a prototype American Sign Language (ASL) translator.
http://www.gizmag.com/myvoice-portable-sign-language-translator/22810/

RoChair offers a unique form of wheelchair propulsion [Wheelchair Power]

Imagine if the only way of propelling yourself on a bicycle was to reach down and turn one of the wheels with your hand. It would be pretty inefficient, yet that's essentially how a wheelchair works. Of course, wheelchairs are set up so that the push-rims can be reached very easily, but the propulsion process still comes down to the wheels being directly pushed forward by hand. ROTA Mobility, however, has an alternative. It's called the RoChair, and it's a wheelchair that is rowed by pushing and pulling on a front-and-center-mounted lever.
http://www.gizmag.com/rochair-lever-rowed-wheelchair/20128/

Teenage Honduran builds open source eye-tracking computer interface for the disabled

This unique and worthwhile project was put together by a 17-year-old electronics and programming whiz from Honduras, of all places. The Eyeboard system is a low-tech eyeball-tracking device that allows users with motor disabilities to enter text into a computer using eye gestures instead of a physical interface. This kind of system is not unique - there's plenty of eye tracking interfaces out there - but Luis Cruz has figured out a way to build the full system into a set of glasses for less than US$300, putting easier communication within reach of users in developing countries. He's also releasing the software as open source to speed up development. Personally, I spent my year as a 17-year-old in a series of heroic failures trying to impress girls with my air guitar.
http://www.gizmag.com/luis-cruz-eyeboard-eye-tracking-computer-interface/20500/

Haptic shoe could replace the white cane [Shoes that help the blind navigate

Within just the past few years, scientists have developed an impressive number of experimental systems designed to help the blind navigate city streets. These have included devices that mount on the wrist, are incorporated into glasses, are worn as a vest, and that augment a traditional white cane. A young researcher at Hewlett-Packard Labs in Bangalore, India, however, has come up with something else - a navigational device for the blind that's built into a shoe.
http://www.gizmag.com/le-chal-haptic-shoe-for-blind/20186/

"Bionic" leg anticipates the wearer's moves

It was not a good day for 16 year old Craig Hutto. On June 27, 2005, wading in crystal clear waters off a near-deserted beach 50 miles south of Panama City, Craig was attacked by an 8-foot bull shark and lost his right leg from above the knee. Today Hutto is a 6-foot 4-inch 23 year old studying Nursing at Middle Tennessee State. Fortunately for him, Nashville is also the home of Vanderbilt University where its Center for Intelligent Mechatronics has for seven years been developing an advanced prosthetic limb. They also happened to need a Lab Assistant to help them test it.
http://www.gizmag.com/vanderbilt-bionic-leg/20264/


TRANSPORTATION

Under the hood of University of Michigan's challenge-winning solar car

Earlier this month, the University of Michigan (UM) won the American Solar Challenge, a biennial competition to design, build and drive solar-powered cars across the US. Its car, Aurum, finished a remarkable 11 hours ahead of the second placed car, so we took a look at what makes it tick.
http://newatlas.com/university-of-michigan-aurum-solar-car/45013/
http://www.solarcar.engin.umich.edu/: for team contact info

Eco-minded commuters could soon be pedalling a PEBL

Perhaps you're one of those people who doesn't own a car, but who sometimes needs a vehicle that's a bit "more" than a bicycle. If you are, then Massachusetts-based better.bike has what you might be looking for. The company's fully-enclosed pedal-electric PEBL velomobile features some automobile-like amenities, while still being legally classified as an electric bicycle.
http://www.gizmag.com/pebl-velomobile/44467/

Pig manure may pave the way to sustainable road building

Researchers from North Carolina A&T State University have developed a process that uses pig manure as a low-cost replacement for petroleum in the production of road asphalt. In searching for bio alternatives, the group discovered that swine waste is especially rich in oils very similar to petroleum, at a grade too low to make gasoline but suited for asphalt. With funding from the National Science Foundation, the group developed a process that turns the waste into a black crude—the sticky binder that can be used to make asphalt. The cost to process the manure oil is US$0.56 a gallon, which is much cheaper and greener than current petroleum binders.
http://www.gizmag.com/pig-manure-asphalt/44110/

Audi just created diesel fuel from air and water

Audi is making a new fuel for internal combustion engines that has the potential to make a big dent when it comes to climate change . that's because the synthetic diesel is made from just water and carbon dioxide.
http://www.gizmag.com/audi-creates-e-diesel-from-co2/37130/

Poo-powered bus splashes down in the UK

One man's waste is another's man's bus fuel, so the saying might now go. Indeed, next time people in the UK go for a number two, they could be powering the number two bus. Geneco's new Bio-Bus is powered by gas generated via the treatment of sewage and food waste. It goes without saying that public transport systems around the world are moving to greener forms of power. Buses in South Korea and the UK, for example, are being powered from electricity from underneath the road surface. Not only is the fuel for the Bio-Bus said to produce fewer emissions than traditional diesel engines, but it is also locally sourced.
http://www.gizmag.com/geneco-bio-bus/34978/

Honda's FCV takes fuel cell vehicle concept a step farther

A year ago this month, Honda unveiled its hydrogen fuel cell-powered FCEV Concept. The car represents the basic platform upon which the successor to the automaker's currently-available (but limited-production) FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle will be based. Yesterday in Japan, Honda revealed a refined version of the FCEV, in the form of the FCV Concept. Like the FCEV, the FCV offers some major improvements over the FCX. These include a 33 percent smaller fuel cell stack that has an output of over 100 kW (134 hp) and output density of up to 3.1 kW/L . 60 percent better than the FCX's fuel cell. Additionally, its entire powertrain is located under the hood/bonnet, allowing for a roomier cabin that can seat five passengers as opposed to the FCX's four. While the FCEV can reportedly travel over 300 miles (483 km) per three-minute fueling, however, the FCV can manage 435 (700 km). Additionally, using the prototype Honda Power Exporter (pictured below), the FCV can supply electricity from its fuel cell in the event of outages. Using the prototype Honda Power Exporter, the FCV can supply electricity from its fuel cel...
http://www.gizmag.com/honda-fuel-cell-fcv-concept/34821/

Afkar electric cars will drive short distances autonomously

A team of engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA are developing a robotic system for electric cars that can independently find its way around unknown spaces, navigating around obstacles in order to find its goal. It is hoped that it will soon be capable of finding a parking space or charging station and parking there, safely without a single scratch.
http://www.gizmag.com/afkar-short-distance-autonomous-electric-car/34738/

Cadillac SRX converted into a self-driving car

Carnegie Mellon researchers have outfitted a 2011 Cadillac SRX with an array of sensors that allow the vehicle to navigate congested roadways and unobtrusively communicate with other vehicles and street signals.
http://www.gizmag.com/cadillac-srx-converted-self-driving-car/28966/

Beyond the hype of Hyperloop: An analysis of Elon Musk's proposed transit system

Now that the media kerfuffle surrounding Elon Musk's Hyperloop transit system proposal has settled down to a dull roar, it's a good time to step back and consider in detail some of the real innovations and difficult issues raised thorugh analysis of the 57-page Hyperloop plan.
http://www.gizmag.com/hyperloop-musk-analysis/28672/

Musk announces plans to build Hyperloop demonstrator

Elon Musk, the many-faceted founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX, has expanded his earlier Hyperloop reveal by announcing that he will develop and construct a Hyperloop demonstrator.
http://www.gizmag.com/musk-developing-hyperloop-demonstrator/28684/

OLEV-powered buses enter regular use in Korea

The South Korean city of Gumi.s transit system will see the addition of two electric buses that draw their power from the road using the Online Electric Vehicle (OLEV) system, in which electric cables embedded in the asphalt provide power to vehicles traveling on its surface.
http://www.gizmag.com/olev-buses-korea/28573/

Phytokinetic adds a touch of green to public transport

In an effort to bring a dash of green to gray concrete jungles, Catalan landscape artist Marc Grañén teamed up with green wall and roof designer Alex Puig-Grañén to perfect his Phytokinetic concept that adds a roof-top garden to public transport vehicles.
http://www.gizmag.com/phytokinetic-planted-roof/28523/

Israeli man creates bike from recycled cardboard [Cardboard Bicycles]

Israel-based Izhar Gafni has invented a working bicycle which is constructed almost entirely from recycled cardboard, and only costs around US$12 to manufacture. The cardboard bike is being touted as an ideal solution for city-dwellers who require an inexpensive and environmentally-friendly way to commute, in addition to a potential mode of transportation for people living in emerging countries.
http://www.gizmag.com/cardboard-bike/24573/

Students build an award-winning hybrid racecar

Last month we told you about a team of engineering students from Utah's Brigham Young University (BYU), who were competing in a wall-climbing contest using a Batman-inspired system that they created. While they may not have won that competition, the university recently alerted us to another one of its student engineering teams that did take first place in another contest—in this case, they designed a very fast, very efficient hybrid racecar.
http://www.gizmag.com/hybrid-blue-racecar/22640/

Batman-inspired wall-scaling system built by engineering students

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory wants to find a better way for airmen to scale tall structures or rock faces, so it did what just about anyone seeking new ideas does these days—it held a contest. Its 2012 Service Academy and University Engineering Challenge saw teams from 17 universities and three service academies showing off their wall-scaling systems, earlier this month at Wright State University's Calamityville tactical laboratory in Fairborn, Ohio. One of the teams, from Utah's Brigham Young University, devised an impressive system that was inspired directly by Batman's grappling hook-shooting, power winch-equipped gun.
http://www.gizmag.com/batman-grappling-hook-wall-scaling-device/22307/

Cadillac road testing semi-autonomous .Super Cruise. technology [No-Hands Driving]

While much work is being done to bring autonomous vehicles to the roads, the closest most of us have yet got is cruise control, which has actually been around since the 1950s, appearing as .Auto-Pilot. in 1958 Chryslers and Imperials. Now Cadillac is looking to update things with road testing currently underway on a semi-autonomous technology dubbed "Super Cruise" that offers fully automatic steering, braking and lane-centering in highway driving—under certain conditions.
http://www.gizmag.com/cadillac-super-cruise/22278/

Indian student's stunning personal transportation concept

Very little is known about this "single person transport system" concept dreamed up by the enigmatically-named product design student Sanu K R from Ernakulam on India's west coast, but one thing is clear: it's a head-turner.
http://www.gizmag.com/gyroscopic-personal-transportation/22060/

PAL-V flying car makes successful first test flight

With the PAL-V last appearing on our pages way back in 2004, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is just another flying car concept that never made it off the ground. But Dutch company PAL-V Europe NV has been busy in the past seven years having finalized the design concept in 2008 and testing a driving prototype in 2009. Now the flying-driving prototype has been put through its paces with video of the PAL-V’s recent successful maiden flight now released.
http://www.gizmag.com/pal-v-flying-car/22032/

Terrafugia Transition production prototype takes off [Flying cars?]

Of all the .flying car.-type vehicles currently in development, Terrafugia's Transition Street-Legal Airplane is quite likely the one that's closest to actual commercial availability. Yesterday, the New York-based company announced that on March 23rd, one of two production prototypes of the vehicle successfully completed its maiden flight.
http://www.gizmag.com/terrafugia-prototype-first-flight/22047/

Hiriko - the fold-up electric two-seater set for 2013 [Fold-Up Car?

That the Hiriko electric car prototype is small is obvious to anyone. Perhaps less obvious is that, in parking, the Hiriko becomes even smaller. Thanks to a folding mechanism that tucks the rear of the car in under the chassis, the Hiriko's length can be reduced to the width of an ordinary automobile. The result? It's possible to park three Hirikos in a single parking bay.
http://www.gizmag.com/hiriko-folding-electric-car/21506/

Nevada approves regulations for self-driving cars [Self-driving cars?]

Nevada is now officially the first state in the USA where the operation of self-driving vehicles on public roads is regulated by law. The regulations approved by the Legislative Commission of the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles set out guidelines for companies who want to test autonomous vehicles on public roadways. They also include a set of requirements for people who'd like to "drive" such vehicles.
http://www.gizmag.com/nevada-autonomous-car-regulations/21507/

KKL readies Gocycle G2 for March 2012 release

When the very last model of the award-winning first generation Gocycle electric bicycle was sold in February of this year, Karbon Kinetics Limited immediately announced plans to develop an updated version. The technical specifications have now been finalized and a manufacturing partner secured—so let's have a closer look at the upcoming Gocycle G2.
http://www.gizmag.com/gocycle-g2-march-2012-release/20436

Fisker Karma gets 51.6-mile range in electric mode in TUV tests

Having received certification, a 10 out of 10 fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions rating and an electric-only range of 32 miles (51.5 km) from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month, Europe's independent regulatory body, the Technischer Ueberwachungs Verein (or Technical Inspection Association in English) has given the Fisker Karma a more impressive 51.6 mile (83 km) range in electric mode.
http://www.gizmag.com/fisker-karma-tuv-range/20451/

Nissan doubles power density with new Fuel Cell Stack

Nissan Motor yesterday revealed a new Fuel Cell Stack for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) that packs 85 kilowatts into a 34-liter package. Through improvements to the Membrane Electrode Assembly and the separator flow path, Nissan has improved the power density of the Fuel Cell Stack to 2.5 times greater than its 2005 model, and in so doing has created a world's best 2.5 kW per liter power density. Similarly, by reducing the need for platinum by 75 percent, manufacturing costs have been reduced by 85 percent.
http://www.gizmag.com/nissan-doubles-power-density-with-new-fuel-cell-stack/20156/

Student-built electric car sets world land speed record of 155.8 mph

Brigham Young University (BYU) students are celebrating after setting a new land speed record for an electric car in the "E1" (under 1,100 lbs/499 kg) class. The record of 155.8 mph (250.7 km/h) set by the "Electric Blue" streamliner at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah was averaged over the two required qualifying runs, one of which saw the car reach a speed of 175 mph (281.6 km/h). The record marks the end of a seven year quest by BYU students led by Perry Carter who, having just retired as an associate professor, gets to bow out on top.
http://www.gizmag.com/electric-blue-streamliner-world-land-speed-record/20054/

World's oldest running car sells for US$4.6 million

The historically-significant 1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout which we wrote up a few weeks back has sold at auction for US$4.62 million. Apart from being the winner of the first automobile race in history, it's also the world's oldest running motor car, and now also the most valuable early motor car yet sold at auction. RM Auctions began the bidding at US$500,000 with the vehicle attracting a steady stream of bidders as the price immediately jumped to US$1,000,000 and moved swiftly past the expected price of US$2.5 million, with the gavel eventually falling at US$4,200,000 (includes 10% buyers' premium). The new owner joins an elite list of just five collectors to have owned the 127 year-old vehicle.
http://www.gizmag.com/1884-de-dion-bouton-et-trepardoux-dos-a-dos-steam-runabout/20090/

Version 2.0 of Focus Designs Self Balancing Unicycle now ready for primetime [Self-Balancing Unicycle]

Two things are certain in this crazy world - unicycles are cool and unicycles are seriously hard to ride. Well no longer. Now anybody can clown about on a unicycle and what's more, you don't even have to pedal. Thanks to Focus Designs and several years of development the learning curve required to master the unicycle has been reduced from several weeks to an average of 20 minutes, making it a viable and incredibly cheap-to-run personal transport.
http://www.gizmag.com/version-two-focus-designs-sbu/21237/

Another zero-emissions powerplant emerges - the Dearman Engine runs on liquid air [Zero-Emissions Engine Runs on Liquid Air]

A new zero-emissions engine capable of competing commercially with hydrogen fuel cells and battery electric systems appeared on the radar yesterday when respected British engineering consultancy Ricardo validated Dearman engine technology and its commercial potential. The Dearman engine operates by injecting cryogenic (liquid) air into ambient heat inside the engine to produce high pressure gas that drives the engine - the exhaust emits cold air. It's cheaper to build than battery electric or fuel cell technology, with excellent energy density, fast refuelling and no range anxiety. It just might be a third alternative.
http://www.gizmag.com/dearman-zero-emissions-engine/21201/

Chevrolet to conduct real-world tests of EN-V concept in Tianjin Eco-City

Last year, GM unveiled its EN-V (Electric Networked-Vehicle) concept in three flavors conceived by design teams around the world. In an effort to ascertain the real-world practicality of the two-seat, electric urban mobility concept, GM has begun work on the next-generation EN-V concept vehicle that the company plans to test in pilot demonstration programs in megacities around the world.
http://www.gizmag.com/gm-en-v-concept-vehicle/14617/


CLOAKS

Light barrier used to repel mosquitoes

You're in the middle of a great chat with friends on a warm summer night, and then "ouch" a mosquito interrupts your conversation with a bite on your forearm. Experimental physicist Szabolcs Marka hopes to make this occurrence a thing of the past, but in this case it's not aerosol spray or roll-on-repellant keeping the bugs at bay, it's a wall of light.
http://www.gizmag.com/light-wall-repel-mosquitoes/20448/

Researchers cloak free-standing 3D object using plasmonic metamaterials [Make it invisible!]

We've previously seen—or should that be "not seen"—invisibility cloaks in the laboratory that are able to render two-dimensional objects invisible to microwaves. Such feats relies on the use of metamaterials—man-made materials that exhibit optical properties not found in nature and have the ability to guide light around an object. Now researchers at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) claim to have brought invisibility cloaks that operate at visible light frequencies one step closer by cloaking a three-dimensional object standing in free space with the use of plasmonic metamaterials.
http://www.gizmag.com/plasmonic-metamaterial-invisibility-cloak/21223/

Researchers create invisibility cloak for sound []

Many of the current experimental "invisibility cloaks" are based around the same idea - light coming from behind an object is curved around it and then continues on forward to a viewer. That person is in turn only able to see what's behind the object, and not the object itself. Scientists from Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have applied that same principle to sound waves, and created what could perhaps be described as a "silence cloak."
http://www.gizmag.com/invisibility-cloak-for-sound/20933/

Vibration "invisibility cloak" could protect buildings from earthquakes

While "cloaking" technology may have once been limited exclusively to the realm of science fiction, regular Gizmag readers will know that it is now finding its way into real life—just within the past few years, scientists have demonstrated various experimental cloaking systems that prevent small objects from being seen, and in one case, from being heard. Such invisibility systems involve the use of metamaterials, which are man-made materials that exhibit optical qualities not found in nature. These are able to effectively bend light around an object, instead of allowing it to strike the object directly. Now, mathematicians from the University of Manchester are proposing technology based on the same principles, that would allow buildings to become "invisible" to earthquakes.
http://www.gizmag.com/earthquake-cloaking/21474

Event-hiding 'temporal cloak' demonstrated [Making it invisible]

Last year researchers at Imperial College London proposed that along with being used to cloak physical objects metamaterials could also be used to cloak a singular event in time. A year later, researchers from Cornell University have demonstrated a working "temporal cloak" that is able to conceal a burst of light as if it had never occurred.
http://www.gizmag.com/tag/metamaterials/


AIR/WATER PURIFICATION

Silicon Valley's latest high-tech gadgetry makes sewage water drinkable [Ick indeed!]

Drinking recycled urine may be the stuff of Dune novels, but officials in Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley are hoping its new high-tech purification plant will help residents get past the ick factor and eventually allow treated wastewater to flow through their faucets.
http://www.gizmag.com/silicon-valley-water-purification-sewage-drinkable/34377/

Need to filter some water? Just go peel a pine tree

In many parts of the world, the presence of harmful bacteria makes it vitally important that water from lakes or rivers be thoroughly filtered before being consumed. As it turns out, wood from pine trees works great.
http://www.gizmag.com/pine-sapwood-bacteria-water-filter/31035/

Scientists developing a seawater-desalination chip

Although various alternative technologies are being developed, the large-scale desalination of seawater typically involves forcing it through a membrane that allows the water to pass through, but that traps the salt. These membranes can be costly, they can get fouled, and powerful pumps are required to push the water through. Now, however, scientists from the University of Texas at Austin and Germany.s University of Marburg are taking another approach. They.ve developed a chip that separates salt from water.
http://www.gizmag.com/desalination-water-chip/28172/

New Philips product promises instant water disinfection [Simple water disinfection system]

There are presently a number of products available that use ultraviolet light to kill microorganisms in drinking water. Many of these are used on the water after it has been dispensed, requiring users to wait before drinking it. Others are fairly large, or require the water to be within a certain temperature range. Philips Lighting, however, has just released a compact UV water disinfection device known as InstantTrust. It is said to kill bacteria instantly, at the point of use, and at any temperature.
http://www.gizmag.com/philips-instanttrust-uv-light-water-disinfection/20415/

SteriPEN Freedom offers USB-powered water purification

Water purifier manufacturer SteriPEN has updated its lineup of portable products, with a UV-based unit called the SteriPEN Freedom. Billed as the smallest, lightest and first rechargeable UV water purifier on the market, it disinfects up to 16 oz (0.5 L) of water in 48 seconds.
http://www.gizmag.com/steripen-freedom-uv-water-purifier/20239/

Rydis rolls in with a robot air purifier Get a robot to purify the air in your home

An air purifier is typically set to clean a set number of square feet in a house or building, say 100 square feet (9 sq m). That means nearby rooms don't benefit, and you may even wonder about the perimeter of the room in which you have the purifier, and whether air particles in that area are being cleaned. The Rydis H800, a robot air purifier from Moneual, addresses these concerns by roaming the house in search of dirty air to clean and purify.
http://www.gizmag.com/rydis-moneual-air-purifier-robot/21217/

The LifeStraw makes dirty water clean [Device to create safe drinking water]

More than one billion people—one sixth of the world's population—are without access to safe water supply. At any given moment, about half of the world's poor are suffering from waterborne diseases, of which over 6,000—mainly children—die each day by consuming unsafe drinking water. The world's most prolific killer though is diarrhoeal disease from bacteria like typhoid, cholera, e. coli, salmonella and many others. Safe water interventions have vast potential to transform the lives of millions, especially in crucial areas such as poverty eradication, environmental upgradation, quality of life, child development and gender equality. LifeStraw was developed as a practical response to the billions of people who are still without access to these basic human rights.
http://www.gizmag.com/go/4418/

Waste glass could be used to clean water

While you may feel quite virtuous when you leave all your glass containers out for recycling, you might be surprised to know that much of your colored glass won't be used. That's because even though there's a fairly constant demand for recycled clear glass, glass in colors such as green, brown and blue isn't all that sought-after, so many recycling centers don't bother processing it. As a result, waste colored glass is now being stock-piled in some locations, waiting for a use. Thanks to research conducted at the University of Greenwich, however, that glass may soon be used for filtering pollutants out of ground water.
http://www.gizmag.com/colored-glass-water-filtration/20124/


BATTERIES

Solid-state magnesium-ion batteries could lick lithium

Lithium-ion batteries are the undisputed top dog of the battery world at the moment, but magnesium-ion devices have the potential to steal the crown . if scientists can crack the problem of finding an efficient electrolyte. Now a collaboration between Berkeley Lab, MIT and Argonne National Laboratory has developed a solid-state material that appears to be one of the fastest conductors of magnesium-ions, which could lead to safer and more efficient batteries.
https://newatlas.com/solid-state-magnesium-battery/52386/

Construction of the world's biggest Li-ion battery completed

Back in March, Tesla's Elon Musk promised to have a proposed battery storage system at the Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia up and running within 100 days, or he'd foot the bill. The project clock started ticking in September and the deadline for the big switch on is December 1, and South Australia's Premier Jay Weatherill has today confirmed that it's built and ready to "be energized."
https://newatlas.com/tesla-hornsdale-powerpack-battery-storage/52326/

Tesla is building the world's biggest battery in Australia

Tesla's Powerwalls are starting to find their way into homes, and one of their main selling points is the way they can keep a home up and running during a blackout. Now the company has ambitious plans to extend that functionality to an entire Australian state by building the world's biggest battery storage system to keep homes powered come hell(ish summers) or high water.
http://newatlas.com/tesla-powerpack-australia-biggest-battery/50382/

Battery-free phone harvests ambient energy to make calls

If you've ever been caught out with a dead phone battery in the middle of nowhere, take heart. A team of researchers from the University of Washington (UW) have developed a phone that requires no batteries. Still in the prototype phase, the basic phone harvests the minimal power it needs from ambient radio signals, yet can communicate with a base station to make voice calls.
http://newatlas.com/battery-lees-phone/50356/

How recycled glass bottles can become better batteries

Ask a regular smartphone user how they'd like to see the devices improved, and it's a safe bet that longer battery life would be close to the top of the list. Batteries made with silicon anodes could help boost that, and now a team at the University of California Riverside (UCR) has shown that these batteries can be environmentally friendly too, by being sourced from glass bottles headed for the scrap heap.
http://newatlas.com/glass-bottle-recycled-batteries/49148/

Can the Goodenough lab invent the battery to jumpstart the electric car revolution?

He's the 94-year-old co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery. She's a physicist with a less than conventional idea of building a better battery. Together, can they develop the technology that will finally deliver us from our dependence on fossil fuels and kickstart the promised electric vehicle (EV) revolution? In 2014, Maria Helena Braga, a physicist at the University of Porto, published a paper on a novel type of superionic glasses that could solve the problems preventing solid electrolytes from being used in commercial batteries: their poor ionic conductivity at acceptable temperatures and lack of stability with respect to the metal.
http://newatlas.com/john-goodenough-solid-state-battery/48247/

Low-cost, high-performing battery runs on urine byproduct [Make way for lithium-urine batteries!]

Batteries can be as simple as the lemon juice-powered toy car you made in high school, but developing a commercially viable battery from readily available and cheap materials has proven an elusive goal for many a researcher. The latest development on this score comes from Stanford University with the introduction of an aluminum-ion battery that uses an electrolyte made of urea, the main component of urine (after water).
http://newatlas.com/aluminum-battery-urine-power/47849/

The key to better rechargeable batteries may be in your blood

Traditional lithium-ion batteries may be on the way out, as scientists continue to overcome the obstacles holding back the longer-lasting lithium-oxygen batteries. The main issue is lack of efficiency and the build-up of lithium peroxide, which reduces the electrodes' effectiveness. But now a team at Yale has used a molecule found in blood as a catalyst that not only improved the lithium-oxygen function, but may help reduce biowaste.
http://newatlas.com/lithium-air-battery-blood-heme/46015/

A peek into the future of lithium batteries [No more explosions?]

In a great example of a low-cost research solution that could deliver big results, University of Michigan scientists have created a window for lithium-based batteries in order to film them as they charge and discharge. The future of lithium-ion batteries is limited, says University of Michigan researcher Neil Dasgupta, because the chemistry cannot be pushed much further than it already has. Next-generation lithium cells will likely use lithium air and lithium sulfur chemistries. One of the big hurdles to be overcome in making these batteries practical is dendrites - tiny branch-like structures of lithium that form on the electrodes.
http://newatlas.com/lithium-air-battery-dendrites-michigan/46020/

Lithium-air batteries are getting safer, cheaper, and longer-lasting

Packing plenty of energy in a small and light package, lithium-air batteries are a promising candidate for the battery of tomorrow: however, in their current state, these cells are still too complex, inefficient, and short-lived to be practical. Now, researchers at MIT have developed a new cell design that surmounts those obstacles and could lead to cheap high-performance batteries that power anything from personal electronics to fast-charging electric cars.
http://newatlas.com/lithium-air-batteries/44648/

Be-leaf it or not: Researchers make a rechargeable sodium battery using an oak leaf

The quest for a way to create a rechargeable battery from sodium rather than lithium took a somewhat unexpected turn last month when scientists from the University of Maryland and the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology from Beijing discovered that a baked oak leaf pumped full of sodium made a successful negative terminal for a proof-of-concept battery.
http://www.gizmag.com/scientists-make-oak-leaf-sodium-battery/41611/

Cheap, high-performance green battery runs on rotten apples [Give me your rotten apples!]

Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have repurposed discarded apples to build cheap and high-performance sodium-ion batteries, making a green technology even greener. The advance could find use in grid storage and, after further development, compete with lithium-ion cells to power portable electronics and low-end electric cars.
http://www.gizmag.com/sodium-battery-apples/41957/

Sodium battery contains solution to water desalination

Much scientific effort goes into shoring up both our energy and water supplies for the future, but what if both problems could be addressed by the same technology? Researchers at the University of Illinois have come up with a new battery design that not only relies on salt water to store and release electricity, but removes the salt ions from the water in the process.
http://www.gizmag.com/sodium-battery-water-desalination/41683/

Lithium-ion battery boost could come from "caging" silicon in graphene

A team at Stanford claims to have made a battery breakthrough that could boost the performance of lithium-ion batteries and also make them smaller and lighter. The researchers managed to remove two long-standing barriers to these improvements by putting silicon particles in graphene "cages."
http://www.gizmag.com/graphene-cages-silicon-anodes-lithium-ion-batteries/41583/

Lithium-oxygen breakthrough clears the air for boosted batteries

Boasting an energy density similar to that of gasoline, lithium-air (or lithium-oxygen) batteries may one day prove the panacea for the range-anxiety associated with electric vehicles. But first there are a number of challenges that need to be overcome, one of which is the unwanted buildup of lithium peroxide on the electrode which hampers this type of battery's performance. Scientists have now figured out a way that this mess might be avoided—an advance they say could lead to batteries with five times the energy density of those currently available.
http://www.gizmag.com/lithium-oxygen-air-batteries/41510/

"Water-in-salt" battery bodes well for greener, safer grid storage

Scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Army Research Laboratory have used high concentrations of salt in water to create safe, green batteries that could find use in anything from large-scale grid storage to spaceships and pacemakers. Many of today's batteries are designed so that, on first charge, their energy-carrying electrolytes will break down near the negative pole and form a so-called "solid-electrolyte interphase" (SEI) layer that is electrically insulating, but still lets ions through. The SEI allows the battery to operate at higher voltages and self-discharge more slowly. It is so important that commercial lithium-ion batteries include one, even though this means using a flammable electrolyte in a battery that can (in rare cases) quickly overheat. The safer alternative of a water-based electrolyte has been set aside for commercial applications because it was so far believed that no SEI could form in such a medium. But now, researchers Chunsheng Wang, Kang Xu and team have for the first time managed to create an SEI in an aqueous cell, in a result that could pave the way for safer and greener batteries.
http://www.gizmag.com/water-in-salt-battery/40514/

Greener, safer flow battery could store renewable energy on the cheap

mproving on their previous design, scientists at Harvard University have developed a cheap and highly adaptable flow battery that could prove ideal for storing renewable energy throughout the day. The battery is made using Earth-abundant materials, is much safer than previous designs, and could reach the market in as little as three years.
http://www.gizmag.com/alkaline-flow-battery/39606/

World's first "aqueous solar flow battery" outperforms traditional lithium-iodine batteries

The scientists that revealed the "world's first solar battery" last year are now, following some modifications, reporting its first significant performance milestone. The device essentially fits a battery and solar cell into the one package, and has now been tested against traditional lithium-iodine batteries, over which the researchers are claiming energy savings of 20 percent. It was last October that researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) first detailed their patent-pending design for a dye-sensitized solar cell also capable of storing its own power. With three electrodes rather than the typical four, it featured a lithium plate base, two layers of electrode separated by a thin sheet of porous carbon, and a titanium gauze mesh that played host to a dye-sensitive titanium dioxide photoelectrode.
http://www.gizmag.com/aqueous-solar-flow-battery-osu/38748/

"Origami battery" made from paper and dirty water for just a few cents

A foldable, inexpensive paper battery that can generate a small amount of electricity brings a new sense of power to origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. An engineer at Binghamton University in New York has developed a battery that creates power through the process of microbial respiration in a drop of dirty water on paper.
http://www.gizmag.com/origami-battery-bacteria/37970/

Tiny battery is made from lots of even tinier "nanopore" batteries

As electronic devices continue to get smaller, one question becomes increasingly pertinent . how will we power them? Well, smaller batteries would seem to be the most obvious answer. With that in mind, researchers at the University of Maryland have succeeded in creating a tiny battery that incorporates even smaller structures, known as nanopores. The battery is made from a postage stamp-sized sheet of ceramic material, with an array of millions of microscopic holes going through it . these are the nanopores, and they're each about one eighty-thousandth the width of a human hair.
http://www.gizmag.com/nanopore-tiny-battery/34694/

MIT's improved all-liquid battery could make renewable energy more competitive

Our ability to store energy has proven a big hurdle in the adoption of renewable energies. Researchers from MIT have developed a new battery system with a longer life that also costing less to make, a development that could make wind and solar more competitive with traditional sources of power.
http://www.gizmag.com/mit-all-liquid-battery-renewable-energy/33949/

Old tires may find their way back to cars—in their batteries

There may soon be a new use for discarded tires. Researchers from the US Department of Energy.s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have devised a method of harvesting the carbon black from them, and using it to make anodes for better-performing lithium-ion batteries.
http://www.gizmag.com/old-tires-battery-anodes/33583/

Sand-based anode triples lithium-ion battery performance

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed an anode using pure nano-silicon made from sand that improves the performance of lithium-ion batteries threefold.
http://www.gizmag.com/nano-silicon-anode-sand-lithium-ion-battery/32885/

New water-based organic battery is cheap, rechargeable and eco-friendly

A team of scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) are working on a water-based organic battery that is cheaper, more environmentally friendly and scales up better than conventional batteries.
http://www.gizmag.com/organic-redox-flow-battery/32739/

Dual-functioning electrolyte improves capacity of long-life batteries

A team of researchers is seeking to challenge the theory that the anode, cathode and electrolyte of a battery can only work independently, experimenting with a dual functioning electrolyte that supplements the cathode, resulting in a significant improvement of the battery's capacity and lifespan.
http://www.gizmag.com/dual-function-electrolyte-capacity-batteries/31899/

LithiumCard portable charger is the size of a credit card

There are plenty of portable phone chargers around, but often they are too bulky or too slow. US-based LinearFlux has tried to address both of those issues with its new LithiumCard charger. It's a credit-card sized device that can deliver a 1 percent increase in battery life per minute.
http://www.gizmag.com/linearflux-lithiumcard-portable-charger/31652/

Spongy material could charge phones using vibrations from cars

While it's already possible to wirelessly recharge smartphones in cars, those cars need to be equipped with a special charging pad. Thanks to a new nanogenerator, however, it might soon be possible to place the phone anywhere in any car, letting the vehicle's vibrations provide the power.
http://www.gizmag.com/piezoelectric-vibration-nanogenerator-phone-charging/30940/

Hybrid anode quadruples the lifespan of lithium-sulfur batteries

Researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have designed a new type of anode that increases lithium-sulfur battery-life by four times, bringing the technology closer to maturity.
http://www.gizmag.com/hybrid-anode-improves-lithium-sulfur-battery-life-by-four-times/30925/

Pomegranate-inspired electrode could mean longer lithium-ion battery life [Pomegranate power!]

A new electrode design inspired by clusters of pomegranate seeds overcomes some of the obstacles in using silicon in lithium-ion batteries, bringing a longer battery life for common gadgets like phones and tablets closer to reality.
http://www.gizmag.com/pomegranate-electrode-lithium-battery/30892/

Proton flow battery simplifies hydrogen power

Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have come up with the concept of a proton flow battery that could expand the reach of hydrogen-based electrical energy systems as well as provide a potential alternative to lithium ion batteries.
http://www.gizmag.com/proton-flow-battery-hydrogen-electricity-rmit/30818/

Sugar batteries could be greener, cheaper and store more energy than lithium-ions

Even today's best rechargeable lithium batteries do lose their ability to hold a charge after a while, and are considered toxic waste once discarded. In just a few years, however, they may be replaced by batteries that are refillable and biodegradable ... and they'll run on sugar.
http://www.gizmag.com/sugar-battery/30543/

MIT's flow battery could store solar and wind power on the cheap

A group of researchers at MIT has designed a cheap and high-performance membraneless flow battery, that could provide the grid infrastructure to help unpredictable wind and solar energy produce a much higher portion of our energy needs.
http://www.gizmag.com/flow-battery/28747/

Wood nanobattery could be green option for large-scale energy storage

Li-ion batteries may be ok for your smartphone, but when it comes to large-scale energy storage, the priorities suddenly shift from compactness and cycling performance (at which Li-ion batteries excel) to low cost and environmental feasibility (in which Li-ion batteries still have much room for improvement). A new "wood battery" could allow the emerging sodium-ion battery technology to fit the bill as a long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly battery for large-scale energy storage.
http://www.gizmag.com/wood-battery-energy-storage/28032/

Scientists create lithium-ion batteries the size of a grain of sand

While we.re currently witnessing the rise of tiny electronic devices such as biosensors, many of those devices do have one limiting factor . they still require not-so-tiny batteries, which ends up somewhat defeating the whole miniaturization process. Although some devices can get their power from external sources, scientists from Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have come up with an alternative ... functional 3D-printed lithium-ion batteries no larger than a grain of sand.
http://www.gizmag.com/sand-grain-micro-batteries/28107/

Spray-on lithium-ion batteries could shape the next generation of portable electronics [Spray-on Battery Power]

While battery technology has come a long way in recent years, it still places constraints on the size and shape of cellphones and other personal electronic devices. Researchers at Rice University are looking to solve this problem by developing a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can be painted on virtually any surface ... and early results are promising.
http://www.gizmag.com/spray-on-lithium-ion-batteries/23124/

Plug into any power outlet with ELVIIS smart EV-charging system [ELVIIS POwer]

A smart system for charging electric vehicles known as ELVIIS may leave the electric car industry all shook up - and for the better. The ELVIIS cross-industry research project would not only enable EVs to be recharged from any available outlet, but also use mobile and smart grid technology to establish the best energy deal for the consumer.
http://www.gizmag.com/elviis-ev-charging/21614/

Envia Systems claims energy density record for lithium-ion batteries [Lithium Power]

This Monday, California-based Envia Systems made an announcement that could mean big things for the mainstream acceptance of electric vehicles. The company claims to have broken the world record for energy density in a rechargeable lithium-ion cell, with an automotive-grade battery that reportedly has a density of 400 Watt-hours/kilogram (Wh/kg). Not only is that figure two to three times higher than what is currently possible with commercially-available cells, but Envia also claims that its battery should cost less than half the price of existing li-ion batteries.
http://www.gizmag.com/envia-systems-record-lithium-ion-battery/21653/

LG's WPD-800 turns wireless charging on its side [Wirelesss recharging of batteries]

Wireless charging of mobile devices is all the rage if the number of wireless chargers hitting the market is anything to go by. Until now, most of the units on offer follow the flat slab design ushered in by the Powermat and WildCharge that sees recharging devices laid down flat on the charger. LG followed that form factor with its WCP-700 Wireless Charging Pad but has come up with something slightly different for its successor, the WCD-800. The new unit is designed to hold the mobile device upright so you can watch a video or make a video call while the charger goes about its business.
http://www.gizmag.com/lg-wpd-800-wireless-charger/21679/

New tech allows lithium batteries to charge faster, and hold charge longer

For those of us using smart phones, an all-too-familiar problem is that of a dead battery. The computing power, as well as the multi-purpose abilities of modern-day phones is nothing short of amazing. However, until battery life catches up with the functionality, we're still forced to carry multiple devices. For example, what good is 32GB of memory to store music and movies if it leaves me with a dead phone after an hour or two of my favorite tunes? Even though my phone can easily handle the music and movie abilities of my iPod, I still carry the iPod. I still have a GPS in my car, even though my phone is more than capable. New technology from Northwestern University is aiming to change all that. Engineers there have created an electrode for lithium-ion batteries - the rechargeables commonly found in our devices - that allows them to run ten times longer, while only taking only one-tenth of the time to charge.
http://www.gizmag.com/lithium-batteries-charge-faster-hold-longer/20550/

Sony demos paper-fueled battery [Paper Power

We've heard of gadgets being powered by some pretty crazy stuff, but how about paper? Sony recently showed off a new bio-cell battery that breaks down paper in order to create power. A paper battery sounds a little bit far-fetched, but the technology works, and could potentially change how we power devices in the future. So how does it work? The process starts with an enzyme suspended in water. When paper is dropped in, the enzyme starts to break it down and produce glucose that can then be harvested and used to power a battery. Sony described the break down process as similar to how a termite might eat and break down wood.
http://www.gizmag.com/sony-paper-fueled-battery/20917

earthCell batteries promise near-zero waste and better value

If you really want to minimize the amount of toxins that you put into the environment, use rechargeable batteries. Disposable and rechargeable batteries can contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium, and with an estimated 3 billion batteries a year being discarded in the U.S. alone, the sometimes small amounts in each battery can really add up. Using rechargeables greatly reduces the number of batteries entering landfills, but many people don't bother buying them, or the chargers that they require. That's where earthCell batteries come in. They can be used like disposables, except that users send them away for for recharging or recycling when they're dead.
http://www.gizmag.com/earthcell-rechargeable-recyclable-batteries/20429/

Apple files patents for hydrogen fuel cell technology to power mobile devices [Hydrogen-fuel cell batteries for mobiles?]

Two recent patent applications by Apple indicate the company is looking at developing a hydrogen fuel cell system to complement the rechargeable batteries in a "portable computing device"—which could refer to Apple's range of mobile iDevices, its MacBook range of notebooks—or both. The applications say the technology could potentially power portable electronic devices for "days or even weeks," which would be sure to silence critics and users who have long complained about the poor battery life of not just Apple's, but all mobile computing devices.
http://www.gizmag.com/apple-fuel-cell-system-patent-application/20958/

Nissan developing 10-minute EV charger

If there are two obstacles that are still keeping the general public from embracing electric cars, those would have to be the vehicles' limited driving range and long charging times. Well, Nissan has achieved a major milestone regarding one of those two problems—last week, Japan's Nikkei news agency reported that the automaker has developed an experimental system that can fully charge an EV battery in just ten minutes.
http://www.gizmag.com/nissan-10-minute-ev-charger/20121/


SOLAR POWER

Wet 'n' windy portable turbine spins up battery power off-grid

While an outdoor adventure is a great time to switch off from the digital world, the modern mountaineer or connected camper might still want to send some snaps to social media. Battery life usually limits that luxury, but there's a tent-load of gadgets you could take with you to top up your devices, and now there's a new one vying for room in your backpack. Seaformatics' Waterlily is a portable turbine that can harness the power of both wind and water.
http://newatlas.com/waterlily-portable-river-wind-turbine/49150`

New efficiency record for large perovskite solar cell

Perovskite solar cells hold major potential for the future of renewable energy thanks to being cheap, easy to produce and are so flexible that they can even be sprayed or painted on surfaces. Now a team of Australian researchers has just set the efficiency record for the biggest perovskite solar cells so far. A team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia claims to have achieved a 12.1 percent energy conversion efficiency rating for a 16 cm2 (6.3 sq in) perovskite solar cell, which is at least 10 times the size of current certified high-efficiency perovskite cells.
http://newatlas.com/perovskite-solar-cell-efficiency-unsw/46772/

Totem poles bring solar power, comms and lighting to city streets

As cities look for ways to source renewable energy, cleanly charge electric vehicles and provide fast, ubiquitous communication networks, New York-based startup Totem has developed something called the Totem to deliver all three. What's more, it looks pretty good too.
http://newatlas.com/totem-smart-city-platform/46461/

Tesla's solar roof solution hides in plain sight

Tesla CEO, SolarCity chairman and general billionaire tycoon Elon Musk wants to see every rooftop go solar, but in a way that you don't see where the roof ends and the solar panels start. At an event in California on Friday evening, Musk unveiled a handful of new types of roofing tiles that also double as solar panels.
http://newatlas.com/tesla-solarcity-elon-musk-solar-roof-battery-tiles/46197/

Icehotel 365 will use solar power to stay cool

Every winter in Jukkasjrvi, Sweden, a magical hotel is constructed out of ice and filled with glittering ice sculptures and artworks. Then it melts away when temperatures rise. This year, though, an extra Icehotel is being constructed and the Arctic Circle's 24/7 summer sun will help it to stay frozen.
http://newatlas.com/icehotel-365/45418/

Under the hood of University of Michigan's challenge-winning solar car

Earlier this month, the University of Michigan (UM) won the American Solar Challenge, a biennial competition to design, build and drive solar-powered cars across the US. Its car, Aurum, finished a remarkable 11 hours ahead of the second placed car, so we took a look at what makes it tick.
http://newatlas.com/university-of-michigan-aurum-solar-car/45013/
http://www.solarcar.engin.umich.edu/: for team contact info

Solar cell sucks up CO2 and spits burnable fuel out the other side

Recreating a plant's ability to use sunlight to turn carbon dioxide into fuel, something known as artificial photosynthesis, is one of the holy grails of green energy research. Researchers have now edged closer toward this dream technology, developing what they describe as a game-changing solar cell that produces hydrocarbon fuels in the lab, with potential applications ranging from large-scale uses on Earth to providing power on Mars. The prospect of using sunlight to power our energy-intensive lifestyles has enough merit on its own, but what if we could suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere while we're at it? This two-pronged environmental panacea has inspired scientists eyeing a greener future, with artificial leaves, hybrid energy systems and moth-inspired photoelectrochemical cells just a few examples of how we are progressing toward this goal.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-cell-co2-burnable-fuel/44645/

Solar shelter shines a light on refugee integration

One of the problems that can arise when providing housing for asylum seekers is that communities can see a burden involved, but not necessarily a benefit. The SolarCabin refugee shelter is designed to tackle this, with a large, visible solar array used to produce a surplus of electricity that can help power the local area.
http://www.gizmag.com/home-away-from-home-solarcabin/44422/

Flower power: Transparent rose-petal skin enhances solar cells

We humans tend to pat ourselves on the back when we make strides in converting the sun's light into energy through solar technology, but plants have been doing much the same thing on Earth for thousands of years. Realizing this, a team of scientists lifted an imprint off rose petals and created a film that significantly boosted the efficiency of solar cells. Their findings have been reported in the journal Advanced Optical Materials.
http://www.gizmag.com/rose-petal-solar-cells/44034/

Solar-powered air-con uses heat to cool shopping center

Solar-concentrating thermal technology is being used to power the air-conditioning system of an entire shopping center in Australia solely from the rays of the sun. With around 60 percent of all energy used in shopping centers being consumed by heating and cooling needs, the new system could lead the way to significant power and cost savings in a range of large commercial spaces.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-thermal-energy-cooling-csiro/43908/

New world record set for converting sunlight to electricity

An Australian team has set a new record for squeezing as much electricity as possible out of direct, unfocused sunlight via a new solar cell configuration. Engineers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) achieved 34.5 percent sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiency, a new mark that also comes closer than ever to the theoretical limits of such a system.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-cell-electricity-efficiency-world-record-unsw/43384/

Giant wave-riding platform design puts solar power out to sea

Sea-based wind farms are becoming a common sight in many parts of the world, but why not floating solar power stations? Engineers at the Vienna University of Technology foresee a future where platforms 100 m (330 ft) long and covered with solar panels float on even heavy seas thanks to a new floatation system called Heliofloat. Still under development, Heliofloat uses flexible, open-bottom floats that are capable of standing up to rough seas that would destroy such a platform sitting on conventional tanks.
http://www.gizmag.com/heliofloat-platforms-solar-panels-sea-tu-wien/42986/

Casas Em Movimento homes turn to solar

Kitting your house out with solar panels is all well and good, save for the fact that they may spend a good part of the day unable to make the most efficient use of the sun's rays. That is unless your house is inspired by the humble sunflower, which turns and tilts it head to track the movement of the sun. This idea forms the basis of Casas em Movimento (meaning Moving Houses), a Portuguese firm spun-out from a project at the University of Porto. Its technology, developed in collaboration with the university's faculty of architecture, allows the main volume of houses to rotate and their roofs to tilt, maximizing the amount of solar energy that can be harvested.
http://www.gizmag.com/casas-em-movimento/41851/

Review: Soaking up sunlight with the Solartab solar charger

Solar panels come in a variety of guises designed to appeal to consumers looking for greener, plug-free ways to fuel electronics on the go. Prominent among these is Solartab, a portable solar charger and back-up-battery that hit the market in 2015 following a Kickstarter campaign in which it raised more than double its funding goal. We spent some time in the sun to see whether it was up to the task of keeping our devices happy and powered.
http://www.gizmag.com/review-solartab-solar-charger/41383/

Water good idea: Solar-powered home stores energy as hydrogen

Although solar panels can be used to power a home with clean energy, demand for power fluctuates during the day and excess power is often also produced. A new development in Chiang Mai, Thailand, reportedly solves these problems. It converts excess power to hydrogen and stores it for use later.
http://www.gizmag.com/phi-suea-house/41033/

Conductive ink significiantly improves the efficiency of solar water heating

Researchers at the Technological Institute of the Lagoon (ITL), Mexico, have created a nanoparticle-rich, superconducting ink that they have used to coat pipes of solar water heaters to increase their efficiency by up to 70 percent. The new coating was recently proven on the solar heating of a Mexican city sports complex swimming pool, where 2 million cubic meters (70.6 million cubic feet) of water were heated from 26 C to 37 C (79 F to 98F).
http://www.gizmag.com/conductive-ink-solar-heating/40139/

Study claims perovskite solar cells can recoup their energy cost within three months

Scientists at Northwestern University and the U.S. Department of Energy have found that perovskite cells, one of the most promising solar technologies of recent years, can repay their energy cost over 10 times faster than traditional silicon-based solar cells. The finding confirms that, once issues related to cell longevity are ironed out, perovskite cells could soon bring us solar energy on the cheap, and do so with less impact on the environment over their lifetime.
http://www.gizmag.com/perovskite-solar-cells-energy-payback-time/38550/

Desolenator churns out clean drinking water using solar power

Desalination may one day prove the savior for regions of the world where clean drinking water is scarce, but current technology dictates that this process is often expensive and energy-intensive. The team behind the Desolenator has high hopes of delivering water security to those in need, with a mobile desalinator that runs purely on energy from the sun. At a time when the planet.s population is set to grow substantially and rising global temperatures are adding further uncertainty to the supply of fresh water, considerable effort is going into advancing desalination technology and making it cheaper and more accessible.
http://www.gizmag.com/desolenator-clean-drinking-water-power-sun/35299/

New method could lead to cheap, spray-on solar power for flexible surfaces

Spray-on cells hold considerable promise for reducing the manufacturing costs of solar power. Within this field, colloidal quantum dots (CQD) have also been the focus of a number if research efforts, as they have the potential to soak up a wider range of the solar spectrum. Scientists at the University of Toronto have been aboard the quantum dot train for some time now and their latest breakthrough involves a new method for spraying solar cells onto flexible surfaces, a development that could one day see them coat anything from bicycle helmets to outdoor furniture.
http://www.gizmag.com/new-method-cheap-spray-on-solar/35100/

World's first solar bike path set to open in the Netherlands

The world's first solar bike path is set to open in the Netherlands next Wednesday. The SolaRoad will run through Amsterdam's northern suburb of Krommenie and will feature concrete slabs embedded with solar panels to convert energy from the sun into electricity for the grid.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-powered-pathway-netherlands/34613/

"Nanograss" boosts the efficiency of organic solar cells

A long sought-after "nanograss" structure promises to significantly boost the efficiency of organic solar cells by capturing light more efficiently while also allowing the use of cheaper, lower-grade materials.
http://www.gizmag.com/nanograss-solar-cell/34080/

World's first solar battery claimed to "run on light and air"

Researchers have created a dye-sensitized solar cell that stores its own power by "breathing" air to decompose and re-form lithium peroxide. Its creators believe the device, which effectively combines a battery and a solar cell in one, could reduce renewable energy costs by 25 percent.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-cell-battery-hybrid/34119/

ACE 1 stove cooks and charges with solar-assisted biomass heat

The ACE 1 stove from African Clean Energy combines elements of solar and biomass power to offer an eco-friendly cooking solution that also charges electronic devices. The stove is a cooking/charging solution for connected campers, developing nations and remote, off-grid dwellers.
http://www.gizmag.com/ace-1-solar-assisted-biomass-stove/33818/

Daymak kit uses the sun to boost your bike

Daymak Inc. has previously brought us some interesting innovations in the world of electric two-wheelers, including the world's first wirelessly-controlled e-bike, and the Beast off-road solar-powered scooter. Now, it's set to release its DDS e-bike conversion kit, that's powered by the sun.
http://www.gizmag.com/daymak-dds/33809/

Buddhist singing bowls could inspire highly efficient solar cells [There's ohms in them oms]

While completing his PhD at the University of Cambridge, Dr Niraj Lal found that just as Buddhist singing bowls retain vibrations and sound, miniaturized versions interact with light in much the same way. These "nanobowls" could serve as components in highly efficient solar cells.
http://www.gizmag.com/buddhist-singing-bowl-solar-cell/33794/

Transparent solar collectors may replace conventional windows

Researchers claim to have created a transparent solar collector which is so clear that it could replace conventional glass in windows. Dubbed transparent luminescent solar concentrators, these devices may have the potential to turn any see-through surface into a solar energy collector.
http://www.gizmag.com/transparent-photovoltaic-solar-cells/33434/

Sponge-like structure generates steam using lowest concentration of solar energy yet

Working at MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering, scientists claim to have created a sponge-like graphite-carbon material that helps convert water to steam using sunlight only one-hundredth as bright as that required by conventional steam-producing solar generators.
http://www.gizmag.com/sponge-structure-steam-solar-energy/33054/

Could a space-based solar farm become a reality by 2040?

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has revealed a complex roadmap involving a 1 GW extraterrestrial solar farm, a microwave beam and a man-made island in the Tokyo harbor, which it believes could combine to see solar energy collected in space and supply power to Earth by 2040.
http://www.gizmag.com/japan-solar-farm-space-2040/32029/

Solar Impulse 2 spreads its wings for the public

Bertrand Piccard and Andr Borschberg unveiled the Solar Impulse 2 on Wednesday. The result of 12 years work, the ultra-light, solar-powered airplane will attempt next year to fly around the world relying exclusively on solar power to keep it aloft for days and a time.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-impulse-2-public-unveiling/31595/

Waste-cooking solar toilet unveiled in India [Solar Potty!]

A solar toilet that produces enough heat to convert fecal matter into biochar has been unveiled in India. The project, developed at University of Colorado Boulder, was made possible with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has given the project another round of funding.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-toilet/31309/

Solar-panel skin could make Dutch homes energy neutral

A team of Delft University students has developed a concept for a solar-powered skin to be fitted to the typical Dutch home, better aligning its energy usage with 21st century power demands.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-panel-skins-dutch-rowhouses-energy-neutral-home/31104/

Solar Cooler keeps drinks cold using the sun instead of ice

The Solar Cooler, as its name implies, is a portable container for food and drinks that keeps its contents cold using a compact refrigeration system connected to solar panels. According to the designers, the cooler can hold a steady temperature of 42 F (5.5 C) for over 24 hours.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-cooler/30567/

Solspaces project to test year-round solar heating system

Researchers at the University of Stuttgart are preparing to test a solar heating system that uses a solar thermal system in conjunction with a sorption tank for storing heat collected by solar cells throughout the warmer months that can then be released when the mercury drops.
http://www.gizmag.com/solspace-longterm-solar-heat/29996/

Nuon Team wins World Solar Challenge

Delft University's Nuon Solar Team has won the Challenger class of the World Solar Challenge. Its solar-powered Nuna 7 vehicle arrived in Adelaide at 10:03 a.m. on the morning of the fifth day of the event, crossing Australia from north coast to south in a total of a little over 33 hours.
http://www.gizmag.com/world-solar-challenge-2013/29359/

GoSun: Portable solar oven cooks food in as little as 10 minutes

The GoSun Stove solar cooker uses parabolic mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a glass tube and cook the contents inside, allowing it to act as a portable convection oven. After the meal is done, it can be folded up into a small, lightweight bundle that fits easily inside a backpack.
http://www.gizmag.com/gosun-stove-portable-solar-cooker/29072/

ClicLite brings solar charging to your keyring

The ClicLite solar-powered charger is small enough that it can be attached to a keyring. Additionally, if its one included mono-crystalline solar panel isn't powerful enough for you, you can add on some others.
http://www.gizmag.com/cliclite-solar-powered-keyring-charger/28979/

Miele announces "world's only" solar-powered dryer

German domestic appliances manufacturer Miele has taken to IFA's stage and unveiled what the company cites as the "world's only" solar-powered tumble dryer, the T 8881 S EcoComfort.
http://www.gizmag.com/miele-solar-powered-dryer/28935/

Solar-powered EV ARC provides electric vehicle charging, wherever you want it

Envision Solar's EV ARC, or Electric Vehicle Autonomous Renewable Charger, is a portable electric vehicle charger requiring little setup and no infrastructure or grid connection. A company or city can use the EV ARC to instantly offer parking spaces with clean electric vehicle charging.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-powered-ev-arc-electric-vehicle-charging-wherever/28791/

Solar Decathlon 2013: Five solar houses to watch

Since its inception back in 2002, the biennial US Department of Energy-sponsored Solar Decathlon has given collegiate teams a chance to show off their best solar powered home designs. Gizmag takes a closer look at five of this year's 20 entrants which will compete in October.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-decathlon-2013/28275/

Student-built wheelchair runs indefinitely on solar power

A solar-powered wheelchair designed by students at the University of Virginia has won first prize in a competition, Change My Life in One Minute, to mark World Cerebral Palsy Day. Entrants to the competition were asked to come up with an innovation that could make a significant difference to a person with a disability. The solar-powered wheelchair can run continuously powered only by the sun.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-wheelchair/27822/

Solar Kettle boils water using the Sun's rays

Developed by British engineer James Bentham, the Solar Kettle can boil water simply by using sunlight. The portable thermos-like product uses a special thermal technology to boil water without the need for any power input, thus making it ideal for camping, picnics and outdoor activities.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-kettle/27594/

A 100 percent solar-powered boat that cost under $3,000 to build!

While it might not be the world's largest solar boat or the fastest, this modest home-built solar-powered boat does the job and comfortably accommodates six passengers. Dubbed .Firefly,. it was built by Canadian eco-enthusiast Dan Baker for an impressive CA$2,900 (US$2,845).
http://www.gizmag.com/100-percent-solar-boat-that-cost-under-2900-to-build/23273/

Quadrotor UAVs used to wirelessly deliver power [Wireless Power]

Not only are quadrotors fun, they're useful for applications like surveillance and are even showing promise in building construction. Here's a practical use we hadn't thought of though - remote wireless charging. The folks from NIMBUS lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are developing a quadrotor equipped with a system that uses strongly-coupled magnetic resonances to transmit power from its batteries to the receiving device without ever needing to make physical contact. The roboticists see this as a solution for powering devices that are otherwise inaccessible to conventional electrical sources.
http://www.gizmag.com/quadrotor-wireless-charging/22753/

Cheap, stable, printable liquid solar cells developed [Solar Paint Power]

Scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) have developed technology to cheaply produce stable liquid solar cells that can be painted or printed onto clear surfaces. The technology relies on solar nanocrystals that are around four nanometers in size - meaning you could fit more than 250 billion on the head of a pin. Their size allows them to be suspended in a liquid solution so they could be printed like a newspaper. The downside, commercialization of this technology is still years away.
http://www.gizmag.com/printable-liquid-solar-cells/22314/

Dow Solar rolls out Solar Shingles in California and Texas [Solar Shingle Power]

Installing photovoltaic panels is certainly the most common method of generating solar power on a rooftop, and in fact many people might think it's the only method. There is, however, an alternative—photovoltaic shingles. It makes sense, when you think about it ... why install weatherproof shingles and solar panels separately, if you could get one thing that combined both? Although there aren.t many manufacturers offering such products just yet, this month Dow Solar made its POWERHOUSE Solar Shingles available to consumers in northern California and central Texas.
http://www.gizmag.com/dow-powerhouse-solar-shingles/22309/

3D solar towers offer up to 20 times more power output than traditional flat solar panels

While we.ve looked at the development of solar cell technologies that employ nanoscale 3D structures to trap light and increase the amount of solar energy absorbed, MIT researchers have now used 3D on the macro scale to achieve power output that is up to 20 times greater than traditional fixed flat solar panels with the same base area. The approach developed by the researchers involves extending the solar cells upwards in a three-dimensional tower or cube configuration to enable them to better capture the sun's rays when it is lower on the horizon.
http://www.gizmag.com/3d-vertical-solar-towers/21952/

Carbon nanotube solar cells point to possible transparent solar window future

Imagine if every window of the 828-meter (2,717-foot) high Burj Khalifa in Dubai was capable of generating electricity just like a PV panel. That's the promise of solar window technology like the RSi and Sphelar cells systems. Rather than using costly silicon for window-based collection of solar energy, Dr Mark Bissett proposes using a very thin layer of carbon nanotubes instead.
http://www.gizmag.com/transparent-carbon-nanotube-solar-cell/21912

New production process could cut solar cell prices by half [Cheap Solar!]

Boosting solar cell efficiency is seen as a key factor in making them more practical, but there is another way of looking at the matter ... if the price of those cells were lowered, we could generate more power simply by using more of them. That's where Mississippi-based Twin Creeks Technologies comes into the picture. The company has developed a method of making crystalline silicon wafers which it says could reduce the cost of solar cell production by half.
http://www.gizmag.com/hyperion-half-price-solar-wafers/21846/

Multi-use solar collector inspired by lotus flower [Lotus Flower Power]

This rather novel solar collector draws inspiration from the lotus flower to provide small-scale solar energy - both electric and thermal - to domestic and small business users. The aptly named Monarch Lotus' (rebranded from the Solar Umbrella) 18 petals unfold to to form a 4-meter (13-foot) diameter flower that will, if development goes to plan, produce 3 kW of photovoltaic electrical power and 3 kW of solar thermal power per 100-kg (220-pound) unit in ideal conditions.
http://www.gizmag.com/monarch-lotus-solar/21668/

Solar energy-harvesting .nanotrees. could produce hydrogen fuel on a mass scale [Nanotree Power]

While hydrogen is considered a .clean. fuel because the only waste product it generates is water, the conventional way to produce it relies on electricity, which is usually produced through the burning of fossil fuels. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), have now developed a .3D branched nanowire array. that they claim could cheaply and cleanly deliver hydrogen fuel on a mass scale.
http://www.gizmag.com/hydrogen-fuel-production-using-nanotrees/21769

ELHASPA Electric High Altitude Solar Powered Aircraft makes first flight

There's no doubt that satellites have become an essential part of our daily lives, making things like communications, navigation, weather forecasting, and remote imaging all possible. Unfortunately, the orbiting objects can be very expensive, both to build and to launch into outer space. For some of the functions that they carry out, however, an actual satellite isn't required - a high altitude, long endurance (HALE) aircraft could also get the job done, and at a much lower cost. Some such aircraft have been powered by conventional fuel, batteries, and hydrogen. On November 13th, though, the Electric High Altitude Solar Powered Aircraft (ELHASPA) joined the ranks of HALE aircraft to fly using nothing but the power of the Sun.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-elhaspa-makes-first-flight/20685/

Solar Ship: The hybrid airship with a low-carbon twist

In recent times there's been a resurgence of interest in airships for military and commercial uses as evidenced by Lockheed Martin's High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator (HALE-D) and Hybrid Air Vehicles heavy-lift variant of Northrop Grumman's Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV). Like HAV's design, this concept from Canadian company Solar Ship is a hybrid airship that relies on aerodynamics to help provide lift, and like the HALE-D, it would have its top surface area covered in solar cells to provide energy and minimize its carbon footprint.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-ship-hybrid-airship/20263/

Nanoantennas could make for more efficient solar panels

Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic energy, and when they're picked up by traditional metallic antennas, the electrons that are generated can be converted into an electrical current. Given that optical waves are also a type of electromagnetic energy, a team of scientists from Tel Aviv University wondered if these could also be converted into electricity, via an antenna. It turns out that they can—if the antenna is very, very short. These "nanoantennas" could replace the silicon semiconductors in special solar panels, which could harvest more energy from a wider spectrum of sunlight than is currently possible.
http://www.gizmag.com/nanoantennas-for-solar-panels/20512/

"Shadow state" discovery could dramatically boost solar power efficiency

Researchers at the University of Texas say it is possible to hike the energy yield of solar cells by exploiting what they call a photon's "shadow state", doubling the number of electrons that may be harvested in the process. They claim the discovery could up the theoretical maximum efficiency of silicon solar cells from 31 to 44 percent.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-shadow-state/20930/

Researchers develop cheap and easy to mass-produce "solar-paint" [Solar paint power]

A team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana is reporting the creation of a "solar paint" that could mark an important milestone on the road to widespread implementation of renewable energy technology. Although the new material is still a long way off the conversion efficiencies of commercial silicon solar cells, the researchers say it is cheap to make and can be produced in large quantities.
http://www.gizmag.com/notre-dame-solar-paint/20925/

WakaWaka solar led lamp aims to light up Kenyan school [Solar lighting device]

Although we have entered 2012 approximately 1.5 billion people around the globe remain without access to a stable or safe source of light. Commonly in some of the world's poorest regions, kerosene lanterns are the standard form of night time lighting, which leads to the possibility of fires, explosions, asphyxiation and toxic fumes. Cheap, accessible solar lighting presents an obvious solution to this problem and the latest tilt at making this a reality is WakaWaka - a solar LED lamp concept that can fit snuggly onto a soda bottle.
http://www.gizmag.com/wakawaka-solar-led-lamp/20978/

Engineers at Franklin W Olin College of Engineering designed a Mars greenhouse [Greenhouses on Mars!]

http://projects.olin.edu/marsport/

Twice the height of the Empire State - EnviroMission plans massive solar tower for Arizona [Huge solar tower to be built in Arizona]

An ambitious solar energy project on a massive scale is about to get underway in the Arizona desert. EnviroMission is undergoing land acquisition and site-specific engineering to build its first full-scale solar tower - and when we say full-scale, we mean it! The mammoth 800-plus meter (2625 ft) tall tower will instantly become one of the world's tallest buildings. Its 200-megawatt power generation capacity will reliably feed the grid with enough power for 150,000 US homes, and once it's built, it can be expected to more or less sit there producing clean, renewable power with virtually no maintenance until it's more than 80 years old. In the video after the jump, EnviroMission CEO Roger Davey explains the solar tower technology, the Arizona project and why he couldn't get it built at home in Australia.
http://www.gizmag.com/enviromission-solar-tower-arizona-clean-energy-renewable/19287/

Solar panels made three times cheaper and four times more efficient

As regular readers will know, we cover more than our fair share of breakthroughs promising next-generation super-efficient solar cells. Everything from growing photovoltaic crystals, applying special coatings or using carbon nanotubes teases us with cheaper, more efficient solar energy - eventually. In this latest news, scientists are using current technology in a new type of concentrating array which they say is four times more efficient and three times cheaper than current solar cells.
http://www.gizmag.com/cuess-solar-panel-photovoltaic/14507/

University of Maryland takes 2011 Solar Decathlon crown

On the last two occasions, the overall winner of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon has gone to Germany's Technische Universität Darmstadt but this year the top honor has stayed with one of the home teams. As the name might suggest, the University of Maryland's winning WaterShed project features some novel innovations to make the best use of water, in addition to an intriguing internal waterfall that helps reduce the load on the structure's air conditioning system. Read on for a brief look at the top five winning projects, as well as the People's Choice.
http://www.gizmag.com/2011-solar-decathlon-winner/20104/


FLIGHT/SPACE

New frontiers: Drones deliver a raft of surprises in 2014

2014 wasn't the year that drones first entered the consumer lexicon, but it did see the notion of using these unmanned vehicles to our advantage become much more palatable. Package deliveries and carrying out conventional robotic tasks are some concepts that have defined the progress of drones in the past 12 months, but, as is typical of emerging technologies, the more their potential is realized the more they find uses in unexpected new applications. Let's have a look over some of the year's more surprising, yet significant, drone projects that promise to shake things up in exciting new ways.
http://www.gizmag.com/retrospective-drones-surprising-uses-2014/35353/

Sunseeker Duo makes first solar-powered passenger flight

Solar Flight has announced that husband and wife team Eric and Irene Raymond have taken to the skies together, making the Duo the first solar-powered airplane to carry two people.
http://www.gizmag.com/sunseeker-duo-first-passenger-flight/32331/

E-Fan electric aircraft makes first public flight

The E-Fan electric trainer airplane developed by the Airbus Group has made its first public flight. Currently a demonstrator for electric aircraft technology, Airbus says that is will be used as the basis for building a new pair of electric training aircraft models.
http://www.gizmag.com/e-fan-airbus-electric-plane/31823/

Astronauts to get green thumbs with NASA sending veggie garden to the ISS [Vegetables in Space!]

NASA is sending fresh veggies to the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday as it launches its Vegetable Production System (Veggie) aboard the SpaceX Dragon CRS-3 mission.
http://www.gizmag.com/veggie/31613/

Solar Impulse 2 spreads its wings for the public

Bertrand Piccard and Andr Borschberg unveiled the Solar Impulse 2 on Wednesday. The result of 12 years work, the ultra-light, solar-powered airplane will attempt next year to fly around the world relying exclusively on solar power to keep it aloft for days and a time.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-impulse-2-public-unveiling/31595/

TU Delft has developed the world's smallest autopilot

The Micro Aerial Vehicle Laboratory at the TU Delft faculty of Aerospace Engineering is claiming to have created the of the world's smallest autopilot module. The team's goal is to eventually create MAVs Micro Aerial Vehicles small enough to fit into your pocket.
http://www.gizmag.com/tu-delft-worlds-smallest-autopilot/28845/

Terrafugia Transition flying car makes first public flights

Terrafugia's Transition flying car recently made its first public flights at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. The Terrafugia team conducted two 20-minute flight demonstrations and also showed off the capability for the Transition's wings to be folded up so it can be driven about like a car.
http://www.gizmag.com/terrafugia-public-flight-demonstration/28701/

SpaceX Grasshopper successfully performs lateral divert test [Grasshoppers in Space!]

SpaceX's Grasshopper is a prototype reusable launch vehicle that's designed to perform a vertical landing back on Earth after delivering its payload into space. While it's already managed a few low-altitude test hops, yesterday it reached a new milestone by performing a "lateral divert test."
http://www.gizmag.com/spacex-grasshopper-lateral-divert-test/28704/

Puzzlebox Orbit brain-controlled helicopter is flying into production

For the last few years, Puzzlebox has been publishing open source software and hacking guides that walk makers through the modification of RC helicopters so that they can be flown and controlled using just the power of the mind. Full systems have also been custom built to introduce youngsters to brain-computer interfaces and neuroscience. The group is about to take the project to the next stage by making a Puzzlebox Orbit brain-controlled helicopter available to the public, while encouraging user experimentation by making all the code, schematics, 3D models, build guides and other documentation freely available under an open-source license.
http://www.gizmag.com/puzzlebox-orbit-brain-controlled-helicopter/25138/

TechJect's Dragonfly micro UAV flies like a bird and hovers like an insect [Dragonfly Power]

Given their impressive flight capabilities, it's not surprising to see researchers turning to the world of flying insects for inspiration when developing new kinds of micro UAVs. With their ability to both fly at high speeds and hover, the dragonfly would seem an obvious candidate for biomimicry, but we hadn.t seen any attempts to model a micro UAV on the dragonfly's four wing design—until now. A multi-disciplinary team from Georgia Tech has developed a robotic four-winged ornithopter called the TechJect Dragonfly that fits in the palm of a hand and combines the flight capabilities of a quadricopter, helicopter and fixed wing aircraft in one.
http://www.gizmag.com/techject-dragonfly-microuav/24900/

Sunseeker team building a two-passenger solar-powered airplane

Piloted solar flight has been a reality for some time, with even international flights now possible. Up to this point, such voyages have been a strictly solo affair, however the team originally responsible for the Sunseeker II intends to change this by manufacturing what's billed as the world's first two-seater solar aircraft—a motor glider named the Sunseeker Duo.
http://www.gizmag.com/sunseeker-duo-solar-airplane/24700/

Harvard's Robobee learning to fly

Harvard researchers are getting closer to their goal of developing a controllable micro air vehicle called the Robobee. The tiny robot was already capable of taking off under its own power, but until now it was completely out of control. By adding two control actuators beneath its wings, the robot can be programmed to pitch and roll.
http://www.gizmag.com/harvard-robobee-micro-robot-flight-control/

How to bake bread in space [Space Bread]

Space travel can be boring. Voyages to Mars or the Asteroid Belt may sound exotic and exciting, but the fact is that most of the time there's not much to see and not much to do. Wouldn.t it be great if morale on these long missions could get a boost by a reminder of home like fresh baked bread? Thanks to NASA's .Space Apps. program, that might one day be a reality. Sixteen-year old .citizen scientist. Sam Wilkinson has come up with a way to make bread simply and efficiently using carbon dioxide and a slow cooker that is designed to work within the limitations of a spaceship's galley.
http://www.gizmag.com/spacebread/22768/

New York to Beijing in two hours without leaving the ground?

Although there are similarities to the Startram concept we looked at recently, this take on maglev-like transport is all on terra firma and, if it ever eventuates, would take passengers from New York to Beijing in just two hours. Advocates of Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) claim it is silent, cheaper than planes, trains or cars and faster than jets.
http://www.gizmag.com/et3-vacuum-maglev-train/21833

Startram - maglev train to low earth orbit [Maglev Power]

Getting into space is one of the harder tasks to be taken on by humanity. The present cost of inserting a kilogram (2.2 lb) of cargo by rocket into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is about US$10,000. A manned launch to LEO costs about $100,000 per kilogram of passenger. But who says we have to reach orbit by means of rocket propulsion alone? Instead, imagine sitting back in a comfortable magnetic levitation (maglev) train and taking a train ride into orbit.
http://www.gizmag.com/startram-maglev-to-leo/21700/

Record-breaking supersonic UAV jet in the works

University of Colorado aerospace engineer Ryan Starkey is currently designing what he claims will be fastest, most fuel-efficient aircraft in its class. Known as the GOJETT, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will be powered by a new type of jet engine that he is also developing—the L-FX00. According to Starkey, that engine already has twice the fuel-efficiency of similarly-scaled jet engines, and he expects to double that efficiency again before the GOJETT's first flight.
http://www.gizmag.com/gojett-supersonic-jet-uav/21675/

ELHASPA Electric High Altitude Solar Powered Aircraft makes first flight

There's no doubt that satellites have become an essential part of our daily lives, making things like communications, navigation, weather forecasting, and remote imaging all possible. Unfortunately, the orbiting objects can be very expensive, both to build and to launch into outer space. For some of the functions that they carry out, however, an actual satellite isn't required - a high altitude, long endurance (HALE) aircraft could also get the job done, and at a much lower cost. Some such aircraft have been powered by conventional fuel, batteries, and hydrogen. On November 13th, though, the Electric High Altitude Solar Powered Aircraft (ELHASPA) joined the ranks of HALE aircraft to fly using nothing but the power of the Sun.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-elhaspa-makes-first-flight/20685/

Solar Ship: The hybrid airship with a low-carbon twist

In recent times there's been a resurgence of interest in airships for military and commercial uses as evidenced by Lockheed Martin's High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator (HALE-D) and Hybrid Air Vehicles heavy-lift variant of Northrop Grumman's Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV). Like HAV's design, this concept from Canadian company Solar Ship is a hybrid airship that relies on aerodynamics to help provide lift, and like the HALE-D, it would have its top surface area covered in solar cells to provide energy and minimize its carbon footprint.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-ship-hybrid-airship/20263/

Japanese Defense Ministry shows world's first spherical flying machine

Star Wars fans (like me) will get a vague sense of deja vu when they see this flying sphere in action. Weighing in at about 12 ounces (350 g), the 16-inch (42 mm) diameter flying ball can launch and return vertically, maintain a stationary hover and zip along at up to 37 mph (60 km/h). Coupled with the ball camera we reported on earlier this month, it could become a valuable reconnaissance platform. Who knows? In time, more advanced autonomous versions might actually be used to train would-be Jedi knights. Once again, life imitates art.
http://www.gizmag.com/japanese-spherical-flying-machine/20286/

Semi-human-powered flight project gets off the ground ... just [the Human Birdwings Project]

A Dutch mechanical engineer is working on realizing da Vinci's dream of human-powered flight, with some help from modern technology. Jarnos Smeets is the driving force between the Human Birdwings Project, which uses a rather ingenious combination of gadgets including an HTC Wildfire S and a Wii remote. He conducted his first successful test flight this week, even though he didn't get too far off the ground.
http://www.gizmag.com/semi-human-powered-flight-jarnos-smeets/21176/

Virgin claims its new jet fuel will have half the carbon footprint of others

Three years ago, Virgin Atlantic Airways grabbed some headlines when it experimentally ran one of its 747s on a mixture of standard jet fuel and biofuel. While some called it a publicity stunt, it was the first time that a commercial airliner had flown using biofuel—albeit only in part of one of its four fuel tanks. Today, however, the airline announced that it's developing an aviation fuel that will have half the carbon footprint of conventional fuel. The carbon savings won't result from how cleanly the fuel burns, but from how it's obtained.
http://www.gizmag.com/virgin-airways-low-carbon-jet-fuel/20126/

Flying wing prototype takes wind-power to new heights

Wind can be an unpredictable and unstable source of power, and high in the sky where it is more stable, it's difficult to exploit. Airborne wind turbines could provide a solution to this problem, but although the idea has been around since the 19th century, it's never been exploited on a larger scale. California's Makani Power aims to change that with its innovative flying wing turbine design. Wing 7 is essentially a cross between a UAV and a wind turbine that's tethered to a ground station from which it ascends to a height of around 1,300 feet (400m) and flies autonomously, generating up to 20-kilowatt of power in a 20mph (35km/h) wind.
http://www.gizmag.com/wing-7-flying-wind-turbine-makani-power/20109/

Pipistrel takes US$1.35 million first prize in NASA Green Flight Challenge

Two years ago, aircraft designers were invited to build an electric airplane that could fly at least 200 miles (322 km) in under two hours, using less than one gallon (3.8 liters) of fuel per occupant—or the electrical equivalent. Whichever plane performed best would win its makers a prize of US$1.35 million. That was the idea behind the Green Flight Challenge, a NASA competition that was managed by the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation, and funded by Google. Well, the challenge wrapped up last week, with the winners being announced this Monday. Pennsylvania's Pipistrel-USA team took first place, for its Taurus G4.
http://www.gizmag.com/green-flight-challenge-winner/20060/


HOMES/CITIES/NATIONS

Heijmans ONE: A prefabricated home for young professionals

The two-story home is designed by Dutch architects MoodBuilders and is built primarily from wood, measuring 9.2 x 3.5 m (30 x 11.5 ft) and rising to a height of 5.9 m (19.3 ft). The partly open-plan ground floor includes a kitchen, bathroom, and lounge area. A bedroom and small desk area is located in the mezzanine upstairs, and the home also features a small outdoor patio area. The Heijmans ONE is transported by truck, and on-site installation takes just a day. Though the home's roof-based solar array currently serves only to offset some of the costs of its grid-connected electricity needs, a Heijmans rep informed Gizmag that it's working on making the homes completely self-sufficient, energy-wise.
http://www.gizmag.com/heijmans-one-easily-transported-home/35373/

Like a rolling stone: Tiny Alpine cabin resembles an oversized rock

Here's an example of small living that's a little different from the norm. What appears on first glance to be a large boulder is actually a tiny cabin that contains all the basics you'd need for a short stay in the mountains. The cabin is the work of Swiss architecture firm Bureau A, and was recently installed in a sculpture park in the Swiss Alps.
http://www.gizmag.com/antoine-bureau-a-rock-cabin/35268/

Flat-packed Mini House 2.0 has electricity and a fitted kitchen

The virtues of a simple, low-cost and sustainable lifestyle have driven the growth of the tiny house movement. Jonas Wagell's Mini Houses embody these values. Having initially been designed as a weekend cabin or guest house, the Mini House is now in its second iteration.
http://www.gizmag.com/mini-house-2/35054/

POD-Indawo: Small living South African style

A team of designers and architects based in South Africa has produced this charming prefabricated tiny home designed especially for the climate and conditions of their country. The versatile POD-Indawo can operate on or off-grid, and sports a decent-sized porch and an upstairs sleeping area. With a footprint of 17 sq m (182 sq ft), the POD-Indawo is constructed from steel, aluminum, glass, and wood, and has a large glass facade and several windows for ventilation. The units are built in Johannesburg, South Africa, and can ship either as a basic shell or be outfitted with kitchen appliances, folding furniture, and storage solutions to suit. With a footprint of 17 sq m (182 sq ft), the POD-Indawo is constructed from steel, aluminum, glass, and wood, and has a large glass facade and several windows for ventilation. The units are built in Johannesburg, South Africa, and can ship either as a basic shell or be outfitted with kitchen appliances, folding furniture, and storage solutions to suit.
http://www.gizmag.com/lifepod-indawo-tiny-house/34854/

Green living: Gizmag's Top 10 sustainable houses

The cost of a house can be counted in dollars, but the construction and running of a house takes a toll on the environment that's harder to measure. Increasing numbers of people are looking to minimize both environmental impact and financial outlay by outfitting their homes with sustainable technology, and the resulting boom in sustainable building is driving new levels of architectural innovation. With this in mind, Gizmag highlights ten remarkable sustainable houses.
http://www.gizmag.com/gizmag-top-10-sustainable-innovative-green-houses/34712/

Green-roofed kindergarten constructed in Vietnam

Following our recent coverage on Vo Trong Nghia Architects' US$4,000 S House, the Vietnamese firm offers yet another impressive sustainable project that suits the particular local climate and needs. Located in the country.s Dong Nai Province, the Farming Kindergarten sports a huge green roof, a water-recycling and irrigation system, and is cooled passively.
http://www.gizmag.com/green-roofed-kindergarten-vietnam/34788/

Bigger isn't always better: The standout small homes of 2014

Constraints often fuel creativity, so it is perhaps unsurprising that despite inherent limitations in size and budget, the small living movement punches far above its weight in terms of innovation. With the end of 2014 fast approaching, Gizmag takes a look back at 14 of the best tiny homes that we.ve reported on this year.
http://www.gizmag.com/gizmag-top-tiny-homes-2014/34401/

Off-grid tiny home project crams all mod cons into a Matchbox

Living in a tiny house can be as much about lifestyle as it is the size of dwelling. Tiny house living naturally requires an efficient use of space, but that efficiency can also encompass other parts of life. Jay Austin's Matchbox embodies just that efficient, low-impact lifestyle.
http://www.gizmag.com/boneyard-studios-matchbox-tiny-house/34763/

Ultra-green complex in Cairo features a host of energy technologies

Plenty of new buildings are now being built with technologies to help minimize environmental impact. Few, however, do so to the extent that Cairo, Egypt's, upcoming Gate Residence will. The complex will feature windcatchers, geothermal cooling, solar panels, solar heater tubes and wind turbines.
http://www.gizmag.com/vincent-callebaut-architectures-gate-residence/34578/

Professor living in a dumpster for a year to investigate sustainable living [There goes the neighborhood...]

Lots of us make sacrifices for the environment, but few of us would consider supporting the cause by moving into a dumpster. Dr. Jeff Wilson of Huston-Tillotson University, however, is doing just that. Working with his students and the community, he's transforming an old dumpster and living in it for a year.
http://www.gizmag.com/dumpster-project/34288/

AIA's 2014 top ten green buildings in the US [Green buildings]

The American Institute of Architects has revealed its 2014 selection of top ten green buildings in the US. The list includes some lesser-publicized green-building projects, such as a homeless shelter, a treehouse, and even a Net-Zero energy courthouse.
http://www.gizmag.com/aia-top-10-sustainable-us-buildings-2014/31746/

Could you live in a home the size of a parking space? [Park yourself!]

A team of students and professors recently unveiled a prototype of what they cite as the future of urban living. The micro-housing unit is set on wheels and can fit into a standard-sized parking space.
http://www.gizmag.com/scadpad-micro-housing-tiny-house/31648/

Modular home comes delivered in a 10 foot box and is assembled "like an IKEA house"

House Arc, by Bellomo Architects, is a prefabricated off-the-grid housing solution that facilitates compact living. The project was originally designed as an environmentally sensitive and affordable method of housing that is not only functional but also attractive to the eye. Furthermore, it is designed to be easily packed and shipped to any location, where it can then be erected by the user or community. "We designed it to be a kit of parts that can be assembled quickly-like an IKEA house," says House Arc architect Joseph Bellomo.
http://www.gizmag.com/house-arc-modular-home/21486/

Paypal founder backs Blueseed "visa-free entrepreneurship and tech incubator" [Floating autonomous nations?]

Paypal co-founder and billionaire Peter Thiel, who is currently the Seasteading Institute's "most generous funder" has continued his commitment to creating floating autonomous states by backing Blueseed. The new initiative hopes to create a floating "entrepreneurship and technology incubator" off the coast of San Francisco, allowing the next generation of creative entrepreneurs to legally develop new technologies without US working visas.
http://www.gizmag.com/blueseed-visa-free-incubator/20952/

Paypal founder invests in floating autonomous cities

When creating new companies has become passé, why not start creating countries? So is the case for Paypal co-founder and billionaire Peter Thiel, who is currently the Seasteading Institute's "most generous funder." His support constitutes a bold move towards creating floating autonomous states. The initiative is inspired by the idea of creating cities that are free from political agendas and social construction. These "floating cities will allow the next generation of pioneers to peacefully test new ideas for government," says the Seasteading Institute. "The most successful can then inspire change in governments around the world."
http://www.gizmag.com/paypal-billionaire-invests-in-floating-autonomous-cities/19915/

CHIP House powered by solar energy, controlled with Xbox Kinect [Net-Zero Energy Home]

The CHIP House - which stands for "Compact Hyper-Insulated Prototype" - was started with the goal of creating a net-zero energy home (i.e. one that requires no external energy source), and it looks like the designers exceeded that target. The house actually generates three times as much energy as it uses thanks to solar panels and a host of energy saving measures. The incredibly energy efficient design would make the house stand out on its own, but the integrated Kinect controls and smart features push the CHIP House above your typical green-conscious home and into "home of the future" material.
http://www.gizmag.com/chip-house-solar-energy-xbox-kinect/21254/

Low-impact Hobbit home only cost US$4,650 to build

Simon Dale, with the help of his father in-law, has single-handedly built this low impact Hobbit house in the woodlands of West Wales. The eco-house, which rose from a muddy hole in the ground and took three months to complete, came in at under US$5,000 (GBP3,000)—demonstrating that you don't need to be architectural school graduate to come up with the goods. There's no need to be envious, however, because Dale will give you the plans and know-how to build your very own.
http://www.gizmag.com/low-impact-hobbit-home/20058/


MISCELLANEOUS

MIT researchers create camera that can see around corners

Fans of the classic 1982 science fiction movie Blade Runner will remember the ESPER machine that allows Deckard to zoom in and see around corners in a two-dimensional photograph. While such technology is still some way off, researchers in MIT's Media Lab have developed a system using a femtosecond laser that can reproduce low-resolution 3D images of objects that lie outside a camera's line of sight.
http://www.gizmag.com/camera-sees-around-corners/21892/

Fjord-cooled data center in Norway claimed to be world's greenest

Upon completion, Norway's Green Mountain Data Center will be the world's greenest server farm - according to its developers, at least. By piping cool water from a nearby fjord into the mountain halls that will house the server racks, its creators hope to eliminate the need for the power-hungry electric chillers that the sadly fjordless majority of the world's data centers require.
http://www.gizmag.com/fjord-cooled-data-center/20938/

Self-healing electronics may result in less expensive, longer-lasting devices

A hard material is impregnated with microcapsules that burst when the material cracks, releasing a stored liquid that hardens on contact with the air, thus repairing the crack ... it's a system that we've recently seen used in a number of applications, including self-healing concrete and polymers. Now, a research team from the University of Illinois is applying it to electronics. They have already created a system that automatically restores conductivity to a cracked circuit in just a fraction of a second.Self-healing electronics may result in less expensive, longer-lasting devices
http://www.gizmag.com/self-healing-electronics/20923/

Oculus telepresence robot incorporates user's existing netbook

When you think about it, telepresence robots are quite a neat idea. Not only do they allow you to see and converse with people in another location through video conferencing, but you can also move them about within that location—almost as if you were there in person, walking down the halls. Such devices typically don't come cheap, however. As with other robots, part of what you're paying for are their computerized "brains," along with all of their input/output peripherals. The Oculus Telepresence Robot, however, takes a different approach. It utilizes a user-supplied netbook to serve as its brains, eyes, ears and vocal cords. This results in a lower price, potentially opening up telepresence technology to people who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford it.
http://www.gizmag.com/oculus-netbook-telepresence-robot/20893

NASA working on a comet harpoon

Call it Ishmael. Actually, no, call it the Comet Nucleus Sample Return mission spacecraft. Regardless of its name, the NASA vehicle will be wielding a harpoon, not unlike the narrator of Moby Dick. Instead of hunting a white whale, however, it will be after a comet. Although the spacecraft itself is still a concept, its harpoon is in the works now.
http://www.gizmag.com/nasa-comet-harpoon/20865/

New MIT video camera shoots a trillion frames per second

We've been hearing about trillions in the news so much lately, it's easy to become desensitized to just what a colossal number that is. Recently, a team of brilliant researchers at MIT's Media Lab (ML) built an imaging system capable of making an exposure every picosecond- one trillionth of a second. Just how fast is that? Why, a thousand times faster than a nanosecond, of course. Put another way, one picosecond is to one second as one second is to about 31,700 years. That's fast. So fast, in fact, this system can literally slow down light itself and it does so in a manner unlike any other camera.
http://www.gizmag.com/mit-trillion-fps-video-camera/20843

Stratolaunch Systems announces "a radical change in the space launch industry"

Seven years ago, philanthropist Paul G. Allen collaborated with aerospace expert Burt Rutan, to create SpaceShipOne—the first privately-funded, manned rocket ship to fly beyond Earth's atmosphere, and winner of the Ansari X PRIZE. Now, in the post-Shuttle era, the two men have reunited to create a reusable vehicle for launching both manned and unmanned rockets into space. The project was announced in Seattle today.
http://www.gizmag.com/stratolaunch-systems-air-launch/20839

New 3D transistors could mean faster, lighter, cooler computers

Starting next year, computers will be available with three-dimensional transistors—these will incorporate vertical components, unlike the flat chips that we're used to seeing. This structure will allow them to have shorter gates, which are the components that allow the transistors to switch the electrical current on and off, and to direct its flow. The shorter the gate, the faster the computer can operate. While the new 3D transistors will have a gate length of 22 nanometers, as opposed to the present length of about 45, the use of silicon as a construction material limits how much shorter they could ultimately get. That's why scientists from Purdue and Harvard universities have created prototype 3D transistors made out of indium-gallium-arsenide—the same compound recently used in a record-breaking solar cell.
http://www.gizmag.com/indium-gallium-arsenide-3d-transistor/20825/

Twine wants to put your things on the internet

If you're the kind of person that sometimes finds themselves talking to inanimate objects around the house then it might not be too long before they start talking back—not directly but via an SMS, tweet or email. MIT Media Lab graduates David Carr and John Kestner are looking to hook household objects up to the Web via Twine, a 2.5-inch square (16 cm2) box with internal and/or external sensors that connects to a Wi-Fi network to enable it to send a message when certain user customizable criteria are recognized by the unit's sensors.
http://www.gizmag.com/twine-internet-of-things/20583

Using solar power to keep runways ice-free

When it comes to keeping airport runways clear of ice, there are several options, including the use of chemical, thermal, electric and microwave technologies. All of these methods can be expensive, as they require either a considerable amount of electricity, or a number of human workers. Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas, however, are developing a new system that would use the freely-available power of the Sun to keep runways from freezing up.
http://www.gizmag.com/solar-powered-runway-de-icing/20520/

Laser "sound visualizer" may lead to better loudspeakers

We've been following the quest for the world's best speakers for some time but remarkably, there's still room for improvement. A key issue that plagues proper sound reproduction (and thus its perceived quality) is a phenomenon known as deconstructive interference. This occurs when audio signals overlap and cancel one another out, creating dead spots which, until recently, have been very difficult to track. Now, a team from Britain's National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has figured out a clever way to make speaker sound "visible" - and they do it with laser light.
http://www.gizmag.com/laser-sound-visualizer-speakers-npl/20427/

Robotic avatar transmits real-time sensations of remote environment

Developing true robot surrogates that allow you to be in two places at once means duplicating all of our movements and senses in machine form. Given you can now make a video call on your phone, it's fair to say we have the sight and sound aspects pretty well covered, but the challenge of adding touch to the equation is formidable. The TELESAR V Robot Avatar shows just how far we've come in turning into telepresence into telexistence - it's a humanoid remotely controlled robot that boasts a wide range of movement along with the ability to transmit sight, hearing and touch sensations to its operator via a set of sensors and 3D head mounted display.
http://www.gizmag.com/telesar-v-telexistence-robot-avatar/20423/

Victorinox packs a 1 TB SSD into a pocket-knife [mentioned in box with OCZ]

Not all that long ago the availability of a 1TB solid state drive (SSD) was big news, now you can fit them in your pocket ... or in this case, your pocket-knife. Shown last week at CES, the Victorinox SSD features two interchangeable bodies - one with traditional Swiss Army Knife blade, scissors and nail file/screw driver combo, plus a second flight-friendly casing without any pointy bits. When the 1 TB model hits the market later this year Victorinox says it will be the world's smallest high-capacity SSD drive available.
http://www.gizmag.com/1tb-ssd-swiss-army-knife/21136/

OCZ releases world's first terabyte 2.5-inch SSD

If you're like me, you're waiting for storage capacities to increase and prices to decrease before ditching the traditional platter-based hard drive and jumping on the SSD (solid-state drive) train to take advantage of lower power consumption and faster boot up and access times. Having already released the world's first 3.5-inch 1 TB SSD in 2009, OCZ has now removed the capacity hurdle for laptops with the release of the world's first 2.5-inch SSD that is available in capacities up to 1 TB.
http://www.gizmag.com/ocz-octane-series-ssd/20251/

PumPing Tap concept literally ejects power cords to save energy [Automatically eject unused electrical device]

For years, environmentalists have warned that keeping electronics plugged in all the time wastes energy, even when a device is switched off. Even for less green-conscious consumers this lost energy can add up on the electric bill each month, so disconnecting unused devices is really a good habit for anyone to get into. But let's be honest, it's hard to remember to unplug each gadget every single time it's used. To help with this, designers have created the PumPing Tap, a concept electrical socket that can detect an unused power cord and physically eject it from the wall.
http://www.gizmag.com/pumping-tap-concept/20975
http://www.gizmag.com/bracketron-greenzero-chargers/20997/

Tech solution developed for disabled parking abuse

What does it mean when a parking spot is marked with a wheelchair symbol? If you answered, "It means I can park there as long as I'm going to be quick," you're wrong—yet you're also far from alone. Every day in parking lots all over the world, non-disabled drivers regularly use spaces clearly reserved for the handicapped. They often get away with it, too, unless an attendant happens to check while their vehicle is parked there. Thanks to technology recently developed by New Zealand's Car Parking Technologies (CPT), however, those attendants could soon be notified the instant that a handicapped spot is improperly occupied.
http://www.gizmag.com/disabled-parking-spot-sensor/20966/

Snapkeys aims to replace QWERTY keyboards on mobile devices [Four-key QWERTY Keyboard?

At next month's Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2012) in Las Vegas, tech start-up Snapkeys will be attempting to break the Guinness World Record for fastest typing speed. The company will be making its record attempt using volunteers (who it is currently in the process of recruiting), and its new 2i typing system for mobile devices. Unlike traditional systems that utilize a full QWERTY virtual keyboard that takes up much of the screen, 2i incorporates just four onscreen keys ... and they're all invisible.
http://www.gizmag.com/snapkeys-2i-mobile-device-typing/20963/

Insta-Fire lights on water, works as tinder, kindling and fuel [Instant Campfire]

In the wilderness, few things are as important as a fire. Unfortunately, getting a fire going - even with all the right equipment - isn't always easy. Insta-fire makes it easier. The fire-starting mixture burns hot and long enough to eliminate the need for kindling and possibly even fuel. It's also versatile enough to light in wet conditions.
http://www.gizmag.com/insta-fire-tinder-kindling-fuel/21153/

Camera system makes 3D models of anything placed inside of it [3D Camera system]

Obtaining a high-quality 3D digital model of a physical object can be a fiddly process, that often requires considerable user input. German research and development company NEK, however, is attempting to make things easier, with its OrcaM Orbital Camera System. Users just place an object inside of its "reconstruction sphere," then the system goes to work, automatically creating a near-perfect three-dimensional recreation of the object.
http://www.gizmag.com/orcam-orbital-camera-system/21163/

Tobii demonstrates Gaze Interface for Windows 8 at CES [Operate your computer with your eyes only]

Eye control innovator Tobii introduced and demonstrated its latest eye control technology at last week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Gaze interface for Windows 8 is said to take advantage of the operating system's large tile layout to offer users a superior interaction experience, that neither touch nor mouse alone can provide.
http://www.gizmag.com/tobii-gaze-demonstrated-using-windows-8/21148/

WiSPr acoustic termite detector works by "hearing" termites eat

Thanks to their habit of remaining concealed, the first indication people get that termites have invaded their home is after they've already wreaked their particular brand of wood-eating havoc. According to Associate Professor Adam Osseiran of Western Australia's Edith Cowan University, the yearly damage bill in the U.S. for termite damage tops US$12 billion, while in Australia they cause an estimated $1 to $3 billion damage each year. In attempt to reduce such damage, Osseiran and his team have developed an acoustic sensor that is so sensitive it can detect termite infestation by "hearing" them chew through timber. WiSPr acoustic termite detector works by "hearing" termites eat
http://www.gizmag.com/wispr-acoustic-termite-detector/21128

BodyWave lets you control a PC with your mind - without a heads [Operate your computer with only your mind]

A bio-feedback armband called BodyWave is the first of its kind to measure brainwave activity through the body, not the scalp. Instead of an EEG headset recording a user's concentration level, the Bodywave reads brainwaves at the arm by measuring the electric current given off by neurons firing in the brain. Bundled with an interactive software package called Play Attention, it reportedly enables interactive feedback and training towards peak mental performance. Apart from the obvious potential in sport, its ability to train attention and teach stress-control in mobile situations (much less obtrusively than wearing a headset) opens up wider potential. It has already found applications in education, industry and the military as well as in improving the lives of people with disabilities like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
http://www.gizmag.com/bodywave-arm-band-pc-mind-control/21116/

TOOB personal dome screen revamped [Home IMAX]

The creators of the original TOOB (Think Out Of Box) have spent the last two years researching and developing what they call the "world's first affordable dome screen." Dubbed "TOOB Earth," the 4 foot diameter mini-IMAX screen is big enough for two people to sit in front of and, while it will obviously grab the attention of gamers and film-fanatics, its makers also see applications for the screen in simulation, medicine and education.
http://www.gizmag.com/toob-earth-personal-dome-screen/21082/

Robotic strawberry pickers could be on the way

Now that we're moving towards automated orange-sorting and autonomous tractors, what might be the next step in replacing human agricultural workers with machines? Well, how about robotic strawberry pickers? That's what scientists from the UK's National Physical Laboratory (NPL) say could be on the way, thanks to a system that is able to identify ripe strawberries in the field.
http://www.gizmag.com/robotic-strawberry-pickers/20233/

Robot creates other robots out of foam

Appealing though general-purpose humanoid robots like C-3PO may be to many of us, real-life robots are usually most effective when they're designed for one specific purpose. In some situations, however, that purpose might not be known until the robot is in the field - at a disaster site, for instance, an autonomous robot might discover that it needs to squirm through debris, even though it wasn't designed to do so. One attempted solution to this problem has involved creating modular robots, that can take themselves apart and then reconfigure themselves as needed. Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania's Modular Robotics Laboratory, however, are taking a slightly different approach. They've created a robot that can build other purpose-specific robots, using electromechanical modules and self-hardening foam.
http://www.gizmag.com/foambot-builds-foam-robots/20234/

Logic gates created from DNA and bacteria could form basis of biological computers

DNA is often referred to as the building block of life. Now scientists from Imperial College London have demonstrated that DNA (and bacteria) can be used to create the fundamental building blocks of a computer - logic gates. Using DNA and harmless gut bacteria, the scientists have built what they claim are the most advanced biological logic gates ever created by scientists. The research could lead to the development of a new generation of microscopic biological computing devices that, amongst other things, could travel around the body cleaning arteries and destroying cancers.
http://www.gizmag.com/biological-logic-gates/20237/

Romo the robot uses your smartphone as its brain

When you think about it, smartphones are more than just fancy phones—they're actually tiny portable computers. Given that so many people now own these tiny computers, why should they have to pay to buy another computer that's built into an electronic device, when they could instead just use their existing smartphone as the "brain" of that device? That's the approach that has been taken by products such as the Bubo camcorder rig, and now also by Romo-The Smartphone Robot.
http://www.gizmag.com/romo-smartphone-robot/20139/

Winners announced for Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE

Last July, in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the X PRIZE Foundation launched the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE. As with previous X PRIZE competitions, this one was intended to encourage private sector scientific research, by offering a cash prize to whichever team could best meet a given challenge. In this case, teams had to demonstrate a system of their own making, that could recover oil from a sea water surface at the highest Oil Recovery Rate (ORR) above 2,500 US gallons (9,463.5 liters) per minute, with an Oil Recovery Efficiency (ORE) of greater than 70 percent. Today, the winning teams were announced.
http://www.gizmag.com/oil-cleanup-x-challenge-winners/20141/

Beam toothbrush reports your brushing habits to a smartphone via Bluetooth [Bluetooth for Teeth or Bluetoothbrush]

From heart monitors to cooking thermometers, almost any piece of tech seems to be equipped with Bluetooth and an accompanying smartphone app these days. Now it looks like even the simplest of items can get their own high-tech upgrade, as evidenced by Beam Technologies' upcoming Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush. The Beam Brush will monitor a person's dental hygiene using sensors that sync with an app, which will then track that data and offer incentives to improve their brushing habits.
http://www.gizmag.com/beam-toothbrush-bluetooth/21489/

Student scheme to protect Future-Manhattan from rising sea levels

A pair of students at the University of Pennsylvania have an audacious suggestion should rising sea levels make their presence felt in Manhattan, New York. Their scheme would see the installation of waterproof canopies to the lower stories of skyscrapers. Tingwei Xu and Xie Zhang say their idea has an "irreducible integrity," thanks to the canopies' various functions which, the students say, are each of equal importance. So in addition to keeping water out, these canopies provide additional structural support against lateral forces, provide green or agricultural space, and, judging by the visualizations, provide living and working areas in their own right.
http://www.gizmag.com/manhattan-sea-level-protection/21467/

Smart paint could slash costs of structural monitoring

Current monitoring of large structures such as bridges, wind turbines and mines generally relies on time consuming visual inspections that use specialized instrumentation and equipment. Translation: it's expensive. But if damage can be detected before any structural damage occurs, maintenance bills can also be significantly reduced and safety increased. Researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow are tackling the issue with a smart paint they claim not only detects microscopic faults before structural damage occurs, but does so at a cost of just one percent of current widely used inspection methods.
http://www.gizmag.com/smart-paint-structural-monitoring/21275/

Spray-on antennas could replace traditional towers [Spray-On Antennas]

Soon, you may be able to correct your cell phone's signal problems by spraying on an antenna. Researchers at the military technology firm Chamtech have developed a special aerosol spray that can essentially add an antenna to whatever it's sprayed on and improve the network coverage in the area. The spray essentially covers a surface with thousands of nanocapacitors. Those nanocapacitors align themselves on the surface, and create a wireless antenna for the devices located in the area. The idea is essentially the nanocapactitors take care of all of the hard work involved in finding a wireless signal, making it easier for your phone or tablet to get connected and stay connected to a network.
http://www.gizmag.com/spray-on-antenna/21454/

Levytator—the curvy, energy-saving escalator

For over a century, escalators have followed a fairly straight path—with the exception of a few spiral and curved escalators found in cities including Reno and Osaka. Now a researcher at City University London has developed a new type of escalator called the Levytator that is capable of following freeform curves. This is achieved by replacing the traditional rectangular steps with curved modules that also allows the modules to be placed in a continuous loop. Not only does this open up the design possibilities for architects, it could also cut energy usage in half compared to conventional escalators.
http://www.gizmag.com/the-levytator/20111/

Laser polishing machine could put hand buffers out of work

When it comes to laborious, monotonous tasks that are typically performed by hand, the polishing of hard materials has got to rank right near the top. Although a really lustrous shine may still require the human touch, scientists have now developed a process for getting a "good enough" shine, using lasers. Instead of removing a fine layer of the material's surface, which is what traditional buffers and polishes do, the lasers melt it.
http://www.gizmag.com/laser-polishing-machine/20087/

Livio kit wirelessly transmits internet radio to your car stereo

For those of us with iPhones, there are currently various apps that allow us to receive internet radio on our devices, but ... what if you're one of those people who usually only listens to the radio while you're driving? If your car has an auxiliary-in jack, of course, you can just run your phone into that. For the many cars that lack such a feature, however, now there's Livio Radio's Bluetooth Internet Radio Car Kit. Acting as a bridge between your iPhone and your automobile, it wirelessly receives an internet radio signal from your phone, then relays it onto the FM receiver of your car stereo.
http://www.gizmag.com/livio-radio-bluetooth-internet-radio-car-kit/20071/

Artificial vision used to detect rotten oranges and pick through mandarins

There's a reason that the oranges you see in the store usually aren't rotten—someone at a sorting facility has already looked over all the oranges coming in from the fields, and taken out the spoiled ones. This is typically done with the help of ultraviolet light, which illuminates the essential oils in the rinds of rotten oranges. Such an approach is subject to human error, however, plus workers can only remain in the vicinity of the harmful UV light for limited periods of time. Now, scientists from Spain's Valencian Institute of Agrarian Research (IVIA) have created a machine that does the same job automatically. While they were at it, they also came up with one that sorts oranges according to aesthetic appeal, and one that sorts mandarin segments.
http://www.gizmag.com/artificial-vision-orange-sorting/20184/

Madrona Labs launches computer music controller with touch-sensitive walnut playing surface

Even though touch-sensitive digital music interfaces like Roger Linn's LinnStrument offer users access to whole new worlds of sonic expression, there's still something very appealing about the feel of real wood beneath the fingers. The Soundplane Model A throws cold plastic playing surfaces out the window and presents players with 150 walnut keys incorporating patent-pending continuous capacitive sensing technology, for a computer music controller with the feel of an acoustic instrument.
http://www.gizmag.com/soundplane-model-a-computer-music-controller/20179/

App turns smartphone into a medical monitor

Users of the Pulse Phone app may be justifiably impressed at the way in which it lets them measure their heart rate, simply by placing their finger over their iPhone's camera lens. Well, a biomedical engineer at Maryland's Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has taken that concept several steps farther. Inspired by Pulse Phone, Prof. Ki Chon developed an Android app that measures not only heart rate, but also heart rhythm, respiration rate and blood oxygen saturation - all through a finger against the lens. Measurements made by the app are said to be as accurate as those obtained using standard medical monitors.
http://www.gizmag.com/app-measures-vital-signs/20200/

Throwable ball camera captures panoramic images

Taking pictures is about to get a lot more fun if computer engineer Jonas Pfeil and his colleagues have anything to say about it. A recent graduate from the Technical University of Berlin, Pfeil and his team designed and built a working prototype "ball" camera- a foam-studded sphere (about 8 inches in diameter) peppered with 36 tiny 2-megapixel cell phone cameras. Throw it in the air and it captures an image at the top of the ball's trajectory. Talk about redefining photography- one day, snapping pics may give way to "tossing" them.
http://www.gizmag.com/throwable-ball-camera-captures-panoramic-images/20168/

Flexible, heat-dissipating parts for electronics from spider silk? [Spider Power]

Over the years, we.ve seen Spiderman use his webbing to catch villains, swing between buildings, and even parachute from great heights. In all that time, however, the opportunity never came up for him to use it to conduct heat. As it turns out, it would have been perfect for the job. Although materials from living things generally don.t conduct heat well, a team of scientists from Iowa State University have discovered that spider silk does so 800 times better than any other organic material ever tested. Because the silk is also very strong and stretchable, it could have a number of applications in human technology.
http://www.gizmag.com/heat-conducting-spider-silk/21730/

Eight awesome things to come out of a 3D printer

For a few years now we've been wondering at all the possibilities that lay in store for 3D printing. Most of what's come out of this brilliant marriage of CAD software and mechanical extruders so far has been lots of small plastic chess pieces and other plastic trinkets, but lately we're starting to see 3D printing pushed to new heights, with some pretty remarkable results. Here's our brief list of some of the coolest items to come out of a 3D printer so far.
http://www.gizmag.com/3d-printed-objects-list/21693/

Condoms with QR codes track sites of safe sex [Condom Power]

Over the past few years, it seems almost impossible to even take a trip to the grocery store without bumping into dozens of QR codes - those square graphics that can be scanned with a smartphone camera to bring up all sorts of information. Now it appears a Seattle-based organization has found another place to put them: in your pants. In hopes of promoting safe sex, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest distributed 55,000 condoms with QR codes that track when and where people make the beast with two backs through their website, WhereDidYouWearIt.com.
http://www.gizmag.com/condoms-with-qr-codes-track-when-and-where-you-do-the-nasty/21649/

Japanese company plans to have space elevator "up" and running by 2050

A Japanese company is looking to take elevators to new heights. The Daily Yomiuri reports that Tokyo-based construction company Obayashi Corp. hopes to have a space elevator operational by 2050, carrying passengers and cargo in a vehicle that travels along a ribbon made of carbon nanotubes extending a quarter of the way to the moon.
http://www.gizmag.com/obayashi-space-elevator/21587/

Spud-scented bus shelters are ads for the nose Spud Power]

With the assistance of signage suppliers JCDecaux, McCain - makers of a variety of oven-cooked potato products - have come up with a novel advertising campaign to promote their ready-baked baked potatoes. Bus shelters in cities across the UK are to be fitted with smell-emitting advertisements designed to mimic the aroma of a slow-baked potato.
http://www.gizmag.com/smelly-bus-shelter/21505/

Philips Bio-light concept lights the home using bacteria [Bacteria Power]

The search for greener, more power-efficient lighting systems won't stop with compact fluorescents and LED systems if Dutch electronics giant Philips has anything to say about it. In an effort to embrace a truly natural approach to lighting, the company took a cue from fireflies and deep-sea creatures to create a (literally) green light powered not by electricity or sunlight, but by glowing bioluminescent bacteria.
http://www.gizmag.com/philips-bio-light-concept-taps-bioluminescence-for-home-use/20632/

Wear-resistant surfaces inspired by scorpions [Scopions against Graffiti

As any graffiti-removal specialist will tell you, sand-blasting is definitely an effective method of removing substances that have bonded onto hard surfaces. Unfortunately, sand or other abrasive particles suspended in air or liquid also have a way of eroding not just spray paint, but pretty much anything they encounter. As a result, items such as helicopter rotor blades, airplane propellers, rocket motor nozzles and pipes regularly wear out and need to replaced. Interestingly enough, however, scorpions live their entire lives subjected to blowing sand, yet they never appear to ... well, to erode. A group of scientists recently set out to discover their secret, so it could be applied to man-made materials.
http://www.gizmag.com/scorpion-inspired-anti-wear-material/21233/

Pavegen tiles harvest energy from footsteps [Pedestrian Power]

Can you imagine the power of 50,000 steps a day? Well, Laurence Kembell-Cook, the director of Pavegen Systems imagined it and created Pavegen tiles - a low carbon solution that aims to bring kinetic energy harvesting to the streets. Not surprisingly, the tile is receiving a great deal of attention as a solution for power-hungry cities with a lot of walking traffic.
http://www.gizmag.com/pavegen-tiles-kinetic-energy-harvesting/20235/

KiteGen looks to get wind-power off the ground [Kite Power]

Wind-power has rapidly evolved over the last decade to become a key part of the alternative energy mix with towering rows of turbines now dotting horizons all over the globe. One of the drawbacks to the conventional windmill approach is that they are still low to the ground, so why not go to where the winds are stronger and more consistent - up. Like the Magenn Air Rotor System, KiteGen technology is aiming to do just that. The system generates energy by guiding tethered kites over a predefined flight path in order to rotate a ground based turbine and, while only in the testing and planning phases, it looks to be a promising solution.
http://www.gizmag.com/kitegen-high-altitude-wind-turbine/20335

Matrix-style instant learning could be one step closer

How would you like to have the ability to play the piano downloaded into your brain? You might not end up with the same sense of achievement, but it sure would be a lot quicker and easier than years of lessons and practicing. Well, we're not there yet (and perhaps we never should be), but that sort of scenario is now a little closer to reality, thanks to research conducted at Boston University and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan.
http://www.gizmag.com/decnef-fmri-visual-learning/20857