Archive for the ‘Inventions’ Category

The wonder material graphene is capable of some pretty amazing feats. It’s 200 times stronger than steel despite being a thousand times thinner than a piece of a paper.  In fact, a single sheet of it is strong enough to support the weight of an elephant concentrated onto the tip of a pencil.

In the near future it may replace silicon in computers, be used to create flexible displays and more efficient solar cells.  It’s a building block like no other, the very lifeblood of the futuristic society we will soon find ourselves in.

As time goes on more and more uses are being discovered for it just as more and more of its amazing properties are being unlocked. The Graphair water filter that can make ocean water drinkable is one such use.  But as it turns out there are plenty of other uses for graphene.  Uses that we can’t even begin to imagine.

Lucky for us one of those uses has already been discovered.  And it addresses a problem that is near and dear to all of our hearts: repelling mosquitoes. That’s right.  Graphene can now be used to create a line of clothing that would deter mosquitoes.

As Engadget puts it, “Graphene, the highly flexible supermaterial used to build solar cells (and perhaps one day foldable phones), is also a powerful mosquito repellent. A team of researchers at Brown University discovered that graphene-lined clothing not only is an effective physical barrier to mosquito bites, the carbon-based material also changes their behavior. The study, which was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that graphene blocked the chemical signals that draw mosquitoes to other living beings in the first place.”

This is a truly remarkable discovery furthering graphene’s place in the Idea Hall of Fame.  And begging the question: what else is it capable of?!

Image result for mosquito bite comic

Is mosquito repelling graphene clothing the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,554 – Zucklight

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, has already invented something that has changed the world.  Now, he’s hoping to do it again by creating a device that would help people fall asleep.  Or at least fall back to sleep.

As Zuckerberg himself describes on Instagram:

“Being a mom is hard, and since we’ve had kids Priscilla has had a hard time sleeping through the night. She’ll wake up and check the time on her phone to see if the kids might wake up soon, but then knowing the time stresses her out and she can’t fall back asleep. So I worked on building her what I call the ‘sleep box’. It sits on her nightstand, and between the hours of 6-7 am it emits a very faint light — visible enough that if she sees it she’ll know it’s an okay time for one of us to get the kids, but faint enough that the light won’t wake her up if she’s still sleeping. And since it doesn’t show the time, if she wakes up in the middle of the night, she knows to just go back to sleep without having to worry about what time it is. So far this has worked better than I expected and she can now sleep through the night.”

Similar to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept Zuckerberg gave the idea away for free in hopes that someone would build it for him.  Which is exactly what happened in the form of a product known as the Zucklight that has launched on Kickstarter.  And to be honest it actually sounds like a very desirable product, coming chock full of additional bells and whistles including:

  • Wireless Charging
  • Temperature, Humidity and CO2 Sensors
  • Sound Audio System
  • 2 Extra charging coils for wearables

Personally, I’m not sure if a sleep box would work for me.  Wouldn’t wondering what time it was stress you out just as much as knowing?  And can’t you tell what time it is from other clues in your surroundings such as whether or not it’s light outside? But at the same time I could see how a sleep box could be helpful, if for no other reason than it would make people pick up their phones less, which would lower the chances that they get sucked into checking their messages and emails when checking the time.  Meaning that Zuckerberg may have invented something that makes people use Facebook less.  Ironic? Yes. Worth losing sleep over? Not anymore.  


Is Zucklight the Greatest Idea Ever?

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An action packed week.  Even more so than usual.

1. The most habitable exoplanet yet.

Scientists have found water vapor in the atmosphere of an exoplanet making it the most habitable place we’ve yet found!

As Wired puts it, “On Wednesday, a team of astronomers from University College London announced that they detected water vapor in the atmosphere of a ‘super-Earth’ planet outside our own solar system. This is the first time water has been detected in the atmosphere of an exoplanet that is not a gas giant, which the researchers say makes it the most habitable exoplanet currently known. The planet, known by the catchy name K2-18b, is 110 light years away and orbits a red dwarf star about half the size of the sun. The planet is twice the size of Earth, eight times as massive, and orbits its host star once every 33 days.”

Image result for water in atmosphere of exoplanet

2. New lens works better than human eye.

A revolutionary new lens could transform every optical instrument from cameras and eyeglasses to telescopes.

According to Endgadget, “A new breakthrough could soon revolutionize the design of almost every optical instrument in use today, including cameras, eyeglasses and telescopes. Combining recent developments in artificial muscle and flat lens technologies, a team of researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have created a new lens that functions a lot like the human eye. Not only is the instrument capable of focusing in real-time thanks to an elastomer muscle, it features none of the bulk of a traditional spherical lens. It can even do some things the human eye can’t, including adjusting for astigmatism and image shift, two variables that lead to blurry vision.”

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3. Miracle Sheets.

A new brand of bedding could revolutionize home hygiene.

As Futurism puts it, “Miracle brand products are woven with anti-microbial silver that kills 99 percent of bacteria, meaning they stay cleaner and healthier much longer than a typical pillowcase or washcloth. To put it in more precise terms, Miracle’s products can be washed three times less often than other silver-free products because they’re essentially self-cleaning. How does silver accomplish all this? It all comes down to the precious metal’s ions, which naturally carry a positive charge that draws in bacteria and other microbes like a magnet before destroying them before they reproduce.”

Having to clean and do laundry less often? It’s a miracle!

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4. Liquid Magnets.

The list of amazing accidental discoveries just got a little bit longer.

According to Futurism, “Scientists created a metallic liquid capable of maintaining a magnetic field for the first time in history — and they did it entirely by accident.

University of Massachusetts Amherst engineers were working on 3D-printing liquids when they discovered that the droplets of iron, oil, and water were able to maintain a magnetic field, the researchers told Live Science, a first for any liquid.”

The discovery could lead to the invention of programmable tools.

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Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Google Glass and other augmented reality displays haven’t fully caught on yet but perhaps that’s because the technology is too broadly applied, an approach that might not work since mainstream appeal would require tech that it also aesthetically pleasing.  A niche approach may work better as witnessed by the fact that Glass may have found a home in factories as an enterprise tool.  Further evidence that the niche approach may be best now comes to us from an unlikely source: the swimming pool.  In the form (pun intended) of AR infused swimming googles that provide Michael Phelps wannabes with all the information they need to improve their performance one stroke at a time.

According to Digital Trends, “Athletes wearing the goggles can view their performance metrics on an augmented reality display that is built into the lens. Swimmers can see their stroke rate, distance, pace, split time, and more on the integrated display. Because it is an AR overlay, the swimmer’s view of the pool and other people in the water are not obscured.  [In fact] swimmers can customize the goggles allowing them to choose which two metrics they want to see on the swim screen. Swimmers also can decide when each parameter appears — while swimming, after turns, or during rest. When they are done swimming, the swim details are sent to the Form mobile app where it can be analyzed and shared with coaches as well as the Form community.”

For swimming fans this is a real game-changer for instead of having to choose form over function they can now use Form to improve how they function.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Image result for form swimming goggles

Is Form the Greatest Idea Ever?


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Snoring is something that affects all of us.  Either because we know someone who snores or because we’re the guilty party ourselves.  There have been attempts in the past at curing snoring but nothing has completely eliminated the problem to date.  Until now that is.

That’s because there’s a new product in the market that seems to actually be capable of curing snoring.  Regardless of how you sleep or what kind of pillow you use.

Inverse sums it up:

“What exactly is Smart Nora? It’s a three-piece system that detects when you’re snoring and moves your pillow so you resume natural breathing. The three parts are

• An insert you put in your pillow—it works in any kind of pillow. It doesn’t matter where you lay your head on the pillow or whether you sleep on your back, side, or stomach.

• A small device called the pebble, which is shaped like a computer mouse, that detects snoring.

• A portable case you place by your bed that inflates the pillow when the pebble detects snoring.”

It really is that simple.  Detect snoring, move pillow, rinse and repeat.  Now I’m not sure that I would want to use this device personally.  I’m the princess and the pea capable of detecting the slightest disturbance in my sleeping area.  My fear would be that I would feel the pillow insert or wake up when the pillow moves.  But if you’re not a super light sleeper and snoring really is ruining your life, then maybe Smart Nora is worth a shot for you.

Image result for smart nora

Is Smart Nora the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Load bearing exosuits that help people carry excess weight will likely have a place in society in the near future.  Most likely in factories or on battle fields as a means of transporting supplies.  That much is obvious.  What’s not so obvious is the idea that the average person may soon be utilizing them as well.  And yet that’s exactly what may happen thanks to newly designed robotic shorts that can help people cover more ground!

As Scientific American puts it, “A pair of fitted shorts may not look much like the high-tech robotic exoskeletons of Hollywood films. But this seemingly simple device, which tugs on the wearer’s legs with each step, probably represents the first exosuit capable of significantly assisting humans in both walking and running.

Until recently, no exosuit design had succeeded in reducing the amount of energy required for both types of motion. Earlier generations of such suits, also known as wearable robots, had stumbled in that challenge because of the different biomechanical actions required for walking versus running. Now researchers have developed a soft device that can automatically detect whether the wearer is walking or running and provide the appropriate assistance for either movement.”

Exactly how much assistance are we talking?!

According to The Verge, “By having someone run and walk on a treadmill while wearing the shorts and measuring the amount of oxygen they consumed while breathing, the researchers calculated that the metabolic cost of walking and running were reduced by 9.3 and 4 percent respectively, compared to running without wearing the shorts. That change in effort is the equivalent of feeling 16.3 pounds or 12.6 pounds lighter, respectively.”

As a recreational hiker who often laments how hard it is to traverse long trails without a willingness to go backpacking this technology could be a real game-changer.  By feeling lighter I could travel farther since there would now be less resistance dragging me down.  Less strain on my knees and back as well.  In theory, not only could I go farther but now I could move quicker too enabling me to cover more ground in less time.

This amazing breakthrough comes to us from researchers at Harvard University and is a big step forward compared to prior attempts at inventing similar technology.  Hopefully, the research continues to advance and we’re all bounding around our favorite hiking trails in no time at all.

Image result for robotic shorts

Are robotic shorts the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Last week while driving through the Arizona countryside I pulled over onto a scenic overlook in order to take some pictures of an epic sunset.  I was enjoying the views when suddenly my evening was disrupted by the sounds of an annoying drone buzzing overhead.  Was the drone taking pictures of me?  Or just of the sunset?  Oblivious to the fact that it was ruining my life?  Either way, it was annoying and I had to leave the area immediately.

Fortunately, there may soon be a solution for dealing with noisy drones.  A new approach to designing aircraft that could revolutionize artificial flight.  And it’s all thanks to researchers from M.I.T. who have invented a plane capable of flying without any moving parts.

As Reuters puts it, “Some 115 years after the first powered flight, scientists have developed a radical new approach toward flying in the form of a small, lightweight and virtually noiseless airplane that gets airborne with no moving parts like propellers or turbine blades…[the] unmanned airplane [is] powered not by engines that burn fossils fuels but by ion wind propulsion, also called electro-aerodynamic thrust.  The aircraft, called Version 2 EAD Airframe, or V2, weighs only 5.4 pounds (2.45 kg) with a wingspan of 16-1/2 feet (5 meters).”

Considering the size of the test craft and the duration that it flew for we clearly have a long way to go before we’re designing jumbo jets in this same manner.  But it is an interesting proof of concept at the very least.  One that could hopefully pave the way for noiseless drones at the very least.

Image result for plane with no moving parts

Is a plane with no moving parts the Greatest Idea Ever?

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