Archive for the ‘Inventions’ Category

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.

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

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I’m usually not that paranoid.  I don’t think that the NSA is listening to my calls and I never feel as though as I’m being followed.  But even if I have to admit that I have thought about the possibility of there being hidden cameras in the hotel or Airbnb I’m staying in.

The same goes for public places.  Gym locker rooms.  Mall changing rooms.  There’s a million and one different places to hide a camera.  And not just in a perverted way.  Undercover cops, investigative reporters, even enterprising citizens with a cell phone camera that’s within range of a celebrity – everywhere you look there could be a concealed camera watching your every move.  Your laptop’s very own webcam could even be spying on you at this very moment while you read this.

Conditions surrounding your lack of privacy aren’t likely to improve anytime soon either.  As technology gets smaller and smaller and tiny sensors become more and more ubiquitous it’s just going to get easier and easier for people to plant detection and monitoring devices without being noticed.

Thankfully there will soon be something you can do about it.  A new technology that’s capable of finally giving you peace of mind.

According to Mental Floss, “Spy Associates, a maker of surveillance and privacy protection products, has designed a product that will help put worried travelers’ minds at ease. The company’s SpyFinderPro Hidden Camera Detector uses LED strobe lights to ferret out the reflective surfaces of various kinds of cameras. The company says the gadget works even when cameras are undetectable to the human eye, and even when they’re turned off or non-functioning.”

Such a technology, if it really does work as advertised, would be a total game-changer.  Allowing people to be free from the prying eyes of peeping Toms everywhere once and for all.

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Is a hidden camera detector the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,378 – HoverGlide

Last year, while hiking back from the famed Havasupai reservation in the Grand Canyon I almost died.  Dehydrated and physically exhausted after hiking 33 miles in two days, I was struggling to make it back out of the canyon over the final two miles of the trail.  If it wasn’t for the kindness of strangers who helped me out, I almost surely would have succumbed to the fatigue.  The 35 pound pack that I was lugging around the whole time my likely undoing.

Fortunately, the next generation of intrepid hikers making this magical journey will have an easier time traversing the treacherous terrain.  Thanks to a load bearing backpack that adjusts while you move, helping to lighten your load at all times.

According to Laughing Squid, “The HoverGlide is an ingenious backpack that constantly balances the interior load, making it seem lighter than it is. This balance is achieved with a sturdy rail upon which the contents float up or down, depending on how the wearer is moving.”

Originally designed for military use, the HoverGlide is a practical invention that millions of hikers, backpackers, and campers can put to good use.  A great introduction to what exoskeleton technology can mean for our future.

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Is HoverGlide the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Screens are everywhere these days.  The combination of desktop computers at work, TVs and iPads at home, mobile phones while we’re on the go, all serving to inundate us in a constant deluge of information.  That’s one of the reasons why I like to go hiking so much.  It’s one of the only true places where you can go and unplug from society.  But others aren’t so lucky.  People who live in major cities for instance, are subjected to a near constant pixelated plight, on subway cars, in stores, in the backseat of cabs.  Their senses under constant attack from hype, sensationalism, and all sorts of obnoxious stimuli.  Thankfully there may soon be something that we can do about this.  A simple solution that was staring us in the face this whole time.

If you work in an office you may be familiar with our savior, the simple film that one might affix to their computer monitor to block someone else from viewing what’s on their screen.  As it turns out if you take this same material and place it in a standard pair of sunglasses it will serve to block out anything on a screen while enabling you to still see everything else.

As Wired explains, “[the] IRL Glasses, which launched on Kickstarter this week, block the wavelengths of light that comes from LED and LCD screens. Put them on and the TV in the sports bar seems to switch off; billboards blinking ahead seem to go blank.”

For anyone who has ever been subjected to watching Fox News in a doctor’s office waiting room this invention is a real game-changer.  Just throw on a pair and run out to the store to pick up some wings during the big game, fully confident that you won’t catch the score on one of their TV screens.  Or use it while walking down the street to avoid getting bombarded with adverts.

One can easily imagine the peace and serenity these glasses would deliver.  Putting a pair on would almost be like stepping into a time machine.  Magically giving you the ability to see the world as it was, not as it is.  To revert back to a simpler time where imaginations roamed wild.  A time that we would all be well served to revisit on our own as much as possible.  And now, thanks to the IRL glasses, we can.

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Are the IRL Glasses the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Similar to the way we wrap our bodies in blankets for comfort, The Clam Pillow allows us to do the same for our heads, helping us to fall asleep quickly and peacefully.  To find out more about this incredible new invention I chatted recently with Clam Pillow’s founder, Todd Stecker, in order to learn more about what inspired him to create this unique product.

1. How did you come up with the idea for the Clam Pillow? Do you have trouble sleeping yourself?

First of all, thank you for taking the time to allow me to answers these questions. Being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, I have always had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. My mind continues to race even though my body is tired. The best night sleep for me is when I can dull out my senses such as sight and hearing. But I found the best solution was just to use a second pillow over my head because not only does it solve those two issues, but the feeling of being enclosed helps me shut down my thoughts and provides a feeling of being secure. Unfortunately pillows are designed to go under your head so they do not provide the best experience. Hence, The Clam Pillow was born. It truly is the first pillow designed to arc over your head and be that top pillow.

2. From when you first came up with the idea for the Clam Pillow to launching the Kickstarter campaign what has been the most challenging part of this process for you? Was it actually creating the product or the patent process? Something else?

Any product you decide to create always sounds like the best idea in your head. It’s like that common phrase “saying it and doing it are two different things”. I would say getting your concept and design into a final production ready working prototype is definitely the hardest part. You spent so much time working on a design and then to get a prototype which does not meet your expectations is really disappointing. You learn that there are limitations to the manufacturing process, materials you use, functionality you envision, and of course price point. They all have to intertwine before you have a product you can be proud to sell.

3. You mentioned on Kickstarter that you want to set up a designated fund to research whether the Clam Pillow can help people with autism. What made you want to go that route?

This is very important to me. As I mentioned previously, it is common to have sleep deprivation when you have Attention Deficit Disorder. However the chances of having a sleeping disorder when diagnosed with Autism are around 85%. In both of these diagnosis the reasoning is similar, our brain chemistry works a little differently and our minds continue to overthink even though our body is tired. I have several close friends who have been impacted by Autism, and from my observance I notice that covering or enclosing themselves helps them focus and dial down. You may have observed or seen on TV that many Autistic individuals wear hooded sweatshirts, the philosophy is the same here, it gives them that sense of security. The Clam Pillow provides that same sensation and functionality when you are sleeping. I truly believe this product can help these individuals. That is why a portion of proceeds will be dedicated to trials and research to test this theory.

4. After you complete the Kickstarter campaign what’s next for you and Clam Pillow? Will we see you on Shark Tank one day?!

The Kickstarter campaign is exactly what is sounds like. It is the first major step in both acquiring an initial audience and providing a sense of assurance that the market is there for you do get your product produced. Once we hit our goal, we then use our final design to create our final market ready prototype. Once that checks out, we are a green light to order the product in mass quantities to ship to our Kickstarter backers. The end goal of all this is to get product available for purchase through our website and then retail stores.

Shark Tank is certainly a dream. Not only to partner with great investors, but the exposure of being on that show is enormous all on its own. Maybe one day it will happen, and if it does, I will make sure I am ready.

5. What other innovations excite you? What do you think the Next Big Thing will be?!

New products and innovations are coming out faster than we can talk about them. The ability to create ideas into reality has never been as promising as it is now. We are transforming industries from conglomerates who make everything, to small companies who perfect and specialize in only a few things. I think that in itself is what excites me.

The next big thing, that’s a tough one. Technology will always be the next big thing, its just a matter of finding that perfect balance of useful features, beautiful design, and seamless easy integration with our everyday lives. If I had to place a bet, I would say augmented interactive technology is the way of the future.


If you would like to learn more about the Clam Pillow or donate towards its creation please visit their Kickstarter page.

Is the Clam Pillow the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Didn’t know who the smelly kid was growing up?  It was probably you.  Not sure who the smelly kid is in your workplace?  There’s now a device that can help with that, letting you know if you’re in danger of alienating your co-workers or if you’ve been unintentionally warding off potential mates this whole time with the noxious fumes emanating from your personal space.

As Engadget explains, “All you have to do with the Tanita ES-100 is turn it on, flip out the sensor and point it to a part of your body you’re concerned is exuding too much musk. It measures particulate matter and after 10 seconds, will display how intense your odor is on a 0-10 scale (0, you don’t smell; 10, you don’t have friends). Level 5 and above means it’s time for ‘smell care,’ though it might be more effective if it just told you to take a dang shower.

The stench scale goes both ways: if you’ve applied too much deodorant or cologne, the pocket-sized ES-100 will let you know if you should tone down the aftershave a little. The replaceable sensor is good for 2,000 uses, or about a year.”

Considering how easy it is for us to get used to smells in our environment, most of us may not even realize just how much we smell at any given time.  Or just how much our dogs or apartments smell.  Keeping a device around that could keep us informed could go a long way towards improving our personal hygiene.  Not to mention our social status.

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Is a body odor detector the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,362 – Amphibio

Before Lost, before Game of Thrones, before Westworld, there was another TV show that ruled the day.  A TV show that was either underrated or underwhelming depending on your point of view.  And truth be told, it was probably a little bit of both.  But that won’t stop me from holding SeaQuest DSV near and dear to my heart until the day I die.

Admittedly, some of the storylines were a little bit wonky.  Like the entire season spent on an alien planet.  And I didn’t always love the casting.  Michael Ironside was atrocious.  But that didn’t detract from the overall greatness that the show possessed.  Still to this day there are several episodes that have stuck around in my subconscious, floating around in the deep recesses of my mind like Darwin on an underwater recovery mission.

Sadly, we don’t have talking dolphins or underwater cities yet but we may soon have one piece of technology that would seem right at home in the fictional world that Roy Schneider and Jonathan Brandis once inhabited: a way to breathe underwater for hours at a time.

This amazing new device is known as Amphibio and it comes to us from Jun Kamei, a student at the Royal College of Art in London.  Or at least a prototype does.

According to I Fucking Love Science, “Kamei’s nifty little device uses a specially designed porous, hydrophobic material that replenishes oxygen in the water and releases carbon dioxide. It is inspired by water-diving insects that create their own little scuba diving set by creating a protective bubble of air around their body thanks to their water repellent skin.

The technology is easily 3D-printable too, which will be great for when we need them en masse. These ‘gills’ could replace heavy and cumbersome scuba equipment, making it more akin to free diving but for longer. This could have immediate applications for underwater rescue scenarios – the 12 boys rescued by divers from a flooded cave in Thailand, for example, where it took weeks to work out how to get the boys and the vital breathing equipment through those narrow tunnels.”

Or for a climate changed induced future where we’re all living in underwater cities.  A future, once imagined by SeaQuest DSV, that now seems rather more like destiny than fiction.  Now if only we could do something about that talking Dolphin tech.

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Is Amphibio the Greatest Idea Ever?

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