Archive for the ‘Inventions’ Category

Lego meet Nintendo.  Nintendo meet Lego.

That’s what I immediately thought of when I first heard about Nintendo’s Labo, a new innovative way of playing with a Nintendo Switch that adds various accessories to the equation.  In order to get the accessories to work with the portable gaming console, you’d first have to build them, using sets made out of cardboard.

According to The Verge:

“Today, the company revealed a new initiative dubbed Nintendo Labo, which involves DIY cardboard accessories that can transform the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers into everything from a fishing rod to a piano to a full-on robot suit. These accessories are then used to control a variety of mini-games, essentially turning the Switch tablet into a tiny arcade. The goal of Labo is to get kids involved in playing games on the Switch in a more hands-on, tactile way.”

This is basically a better version of my own childhood, when my sister would get an actual Nintendo game to play with and I’d wind up playing with the box that it came in.  Kids today will instead get the best of both worlds.

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Is Nintendo Labo the Greatest Idea Ever?


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#1,243 – ScanMarker

Last year I read 19 books, a fair amount, but far short of my goal of 52.  There are plenty of reasons why I fell short of my target.  All the usual excuses you can think of: life getting in the way, being busy, traveling a lot, getting stuck reading something that I didn’t enjoy which killed my momentum, etc.  But there was also another reason why and that’s the simple fact that it takes me longer to read a book than the average person because I also highlight while I read and take notes and then transfer those notes into one of my journals.  This is often a very time consuming effort and one that slows me down considerably.

Thankfully there may soon be a quicker way for me to save interesting passages that I come across while reading: a highlighter capable of digitizing printed text.  Known as the ScanMarker, this amazing new invention is 30x faster than typing, can translate up to 40 languages, and can also read the text aloud while scanning for further reinforcement.  It can also scan two lines at a time in just one second.

A tool like this is a total game changer for a writer or student.  Having the ability to quickly and easily capture information without having to re-type it would save a ton of time.  As would capturing information the first time you see it so that you don’t have to try and figure out where you saw something weeks later.

Now all I need to help me finish the book that I’m working on is for someone to invent a handheld editing tool that’ll scan text, fact check it for you and then recommend any changes if need be.  We could call it the ScanMarkup.  The Next Big Thing in publishing.

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Is ScanMarker the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Greatness doesn’t discriminate.

Neurofiction: What if a book could read you? That’s the premise behind Neurofiction, a new literary form that would enable authors to create stories that would change based on a readers’ mood.  If the headset finds that you are actually rooting for the villain to prevail then that’s what will happen.  On the other hand, if you want a happy ending, you’ll get a happy ending.  The technology was first tested earlier this year using a version of Snow White.
Artificial Wombs: Easily the most controversial idea on this list, an Artificial Womb would serve the practical purpose of enabling premature babies to continue to develop as if they were still inside their mother’s wombs.  However, it could also lead to mothers purposefully choosing to extract their babies during the first trimester to avoid having to go through the child bearing process at all.  A move that would improve a mother’s quality of life and remove certain health risks while undoubtedly raising other more ethical concerns.

Blood Vessel Power: In the future we may have miniaturized hydroelectric power plants inside of our bodies that would use the flow of blood through our vessels to power medical implants or wearable electronic devices.

Real Fake Tans: When you get a tan what’s really happening is that your body is producing melanin to protect its skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.  Now that process can occur without actually coming into contact with the sun’s rays thanks to a protein, known as forskolin, that tricks the body into producing melanin.

Augmented Eternity:  By now we’re all familiar with Augmented Reality but an equally important trend in the future may be Augmented Eternity i.e. being able to correspond with dead relatives via an algorithm that can mix together a person’s emails, texts, social media posts, and other writings to create a realistic chatbot experience.  Is this a little bit creepy? Absolutely? Are people still going to try it anyway? Absolutely.

Edible Robots: Recent advances in AI and robotics could allow for a long-time staple of science fiction to come to fruition as we soon could swallow miniaturized nanobots that would then deliver drugs to specific targets inside our bodies.  But that’s not the weirdest part.  These edible robots might even be able to drive themselves directly into our mouths to get the process started.

Programmable Pasta: 4-D printing promises to revolutionize manufacturing with its ability to change an object’s shape over time once an accelerant is added to the mix.  One of the first commercial uses of this technology comes to us in the form of programmable pasta, spaghetti of various shapes that gets larger once you add water to it, driving down shipping costs along the way.

Electric Food: Finnish researchers have figured out a way to channel their inner Nikola Tesla and use electricity to create food.  By adding an electric charge to a specialized powder the scientists created food that was comprised of 50% protein, 25% carbohydrates, and the rest a mix of fat and nucleic acid.

The DBC: The Digitial to Biological Converter could make all of our 3-D printing dreams come true, allowing us to print out medications on Earth, or entire lifeforms on other planets.

The Brainternet: With Elon Musk and others working on ways to meld the human brain with technology it’s clear that neuroscience is the next great scientific frontier.  One early pioneer of the movement is the Brainternet, a project to hook up a human brain to the Internet, as just another node in the network.  This would allow for someone to type in a web address, say www.brainternet.com/craigshames, and see a feed of my thoughts.  Eventually, the goal is to make the flow of communication go both ways, so that information could be uploaded from the Internet to a person’s brain.

Gravity Blanket: It used to be that you were weird if you carried around a blankie with you.  In the near future you might be considered weird if you don’t.  That’s because we could soon have a blanket capable of improving our mood, thanks to the unique design of the Gravity Blanket, a 25 pound behemoth that strategically places weight on your body’s pressure points as you drape yourself in it.
DNA Breakthroughs: Believe it or not this entry has nothing to do with CRISPR.  Instead the weird DNA related breakthroughs are more practical.  First up is, Everence, a new tattoo method utilizing a special ink that’s been imbued with the DNA of either a living or deceased person.  This way you’ll always have your loved one with you at all times.  There’s also a DNA based sunscreen in the works that’ll ensure that you never need to apply suntan lotion again as it’ll never deteriorate once applied, and in fact, will actually get stronger and give you healthier looking skin over time as you use it.

Photoshop For Audio: In a year dominated by fake news, here’s a scary thought: a new tool may act like photoshop for audio, allowing for tricksters to mimic anyone’s speech.

Alcohol From Thin Air: A new breakthrough could enable carbon dioxide to be converted into other types of molecules.  Meaning that we could convert the driver of climate change into alcohol or any other carbon-based product that we want!

Ooho: And last but not least, we have the Ooho, quite possibly the weirdest thing on this list.  Ooho, is an edible water blob that you’d eat instead of drink, with the goal being to eliminate our environmentally harmful reliance on water bottles.

Honorable Mention: Slug inspired superglue, DNA video storage, universe in a lab, organic electronics.

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Artificial wombs.  Just because you’re weird doesn’t mean you can’t still be great.

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Anyone with kids knows how hard it can be to get them to brush their teeth.  Us adults sometimes struggle with the concept as well.  That’s because brushing our teeth is time consuming and annoying.  The kind of thing that we do because we have to not because we want to.  Thankfully, there’s a new solution that could eliminate the pain and hassle associated with brushing our teeth.  That’s right.  Thanks to the Unico Smart Brush we’ll soon be able to brush our teeth in just three seconds!  Actually, less than 2 seconds to be precise!

This incredible breakthrough comes down to simple math as they explain on their official Kickstarter page:

“According to dentists, the time we have to spend on tooth-brushing is 180 seconds –> 5.62 seconds for each of the thirty-two teeth we have –> 1.87 seconds for each of the three exposed surfaces of each tooth.”

This means that across your lifetime you’ll be spending 200 full days just brushing your teeth!  Unico aims to prevent that tragic loss of time by cleaning all sides of your teeth at the same time thanks to its retainer like design.

New Atlas explains how it works:

“Unico is essentially a mouthpiece containing an unspecified number of little brushes, with a micro-pump system sending toothpaste to each individual brush. These brushes are powered by a separate power unit that contains a motor and slots onto the mouthpiece.”

Impressive right?  No wonder they’ve blown through their fundraising goal, racking up close to a million dollars in donations when they only needed $90k.  Hopefully, this product will be as good as advertised when it finally comes out.  Which begs the question: what are you going to do with all your extra free time?!

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Is the Unico toothbrush the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Whenever somebody asks me why I don’t drink I usually respond by saying that I don’t like the taste.  Beer, champagne, wine.  It doesn’t matter.  They’re all acquired tastes that I don’t have the patience to acquire seeing as how I’m a picky eater.  Of course, that’s not the only reason why I don’t drink.  Primarily, it’s because I’m not a fan of the lifestyle.  Standing around a loud, crowded bar constantly getting bumped into while meatheads spill their beers on me, is not my idea of a good time.  I’d rather go to bed early, wake up early, and conquer the next day than deal with the after effects of a hangover.  But rather than explain all that I just revert to my standard, “I don’t like the taste”, retort whenever the topic comes up.

However, it looks like I’m going to have to come up with a new excuse the next time someone asks me why I don’t drink thanks to a new invention capable of changing the taste of any beverage.  After all, I’m not going to be able to avoid drinking beer now that I can have one that’ll taste like chocolate milk or whatever else I’d prefer.

As Springwise puts it:

“Craving a drink that is a bit more high-tech than your average martini? Well, you may be in luck. A team of researchers at the National University of Singapore, led by Nimesha Ranasinghe, have developed a programmable cocktail glass which is capable of tricking your senses into thinking that you are drinking just about anything.  Named the Vocktail, the glass and specially-designed stand contain scent cartridges and micro air-pumps to provide aroma; LEDs to alter the color of the drink; and two silver electrodes on the rim of the glass which stimulate the tongue to add salty, bitter or sweet notes. The Vocktail also comes with an app that allows drinkers to fully customize their own drinks.”

Just think about the possibilities that this Vocktail, or virtual cocktail, would enable.  Instead of needing to stock a full bar, you could in theory, just carry a few standard, run of the mill ingredients, and then “trick” your friends or customers into thinking that they really ordered their favorite drink, when in fact, all they ordered was a glass of apple juice.

Or if you find yourself in a social situation that doesn’t suit your tastes, say at a bachelor party where everyone is sharing a bucket of beers, or at a Sunday morning brunch where everyone is sharing some Sangria, you no longer have to avoid participating.  Thanks to the Vocktail you can now pound a beer or share a glass with everyone else because when you do, you’ll actually be tasting your favorite rum.

Or taken one step further, imagine the possibilities for the Vocktail to be used as an instrument of health, not just as another way to get drunk.  For example, what if I could drink a horrible tasting Kale shake or some other kind of vegetable juice concoction but have it taste like soda?  Or better yet, what if you could turn water into anything you wanted?  This would be a total game changer.  By replacing soda with water we’d finally have a leg up on putting an end to the obesity epidemic.

That’s why the Vocktail has the potential to be so transformative.  From enabling me to finally drink alcohol to enabling me to finally kick my soda habit, the Vocktail could change my life forever.  For better or for worse.

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Is the Vocktail the Greatest Idea Ever?

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I’m a light sleeper.  Even with ear plugs, a sound machine, and sleeping pills I still have trouble falling asleep.  That’s why I’m always on the lookout for tips, tricks, and hacks that could make it easier for me to fall asleep.  Which is how I came to find out about Bose’s newest offering, smart ear plugs.

What’s great about these plugs, originally designed by a company called Hush, is that they allow for two people, sleeping in the same room, to tailor their own unique sleep experience.  If I like to fall asleep to white noise but my partner needs total silence, that’s now possible.  If my partner snores and that bothers me, it’s now possible to block out that snoring.  If my partner and I wake up at different times, that’s cool too, our alarm clocks would be synced to our smart plugs, allowing us to gently ease back into consciousness at our scheduled times without waking up the other person.  Could you just imagine how transformative this technology would be in a college dorm room?!

So how do these amazing smart ear plugs work?!

According to Tech Radar, “Bose Sleepbuds will work by using noise masking. Unlike noise-cancelling technology that works by identifying unwanted sounds and playing an opposing sound (known as an inverted phase), noise masking works by playing a completely different type of sound in the hope of drowning out ambient noise.”

The article adds that, “at launch, there will be a range of noises available including: ‘ocean waves, waterfall, rain, stream, wind and country night. Other sounds include red noise (like white noise, but less harsh), airline cabin, dehumidifier and a ‘spa music’-like drone.’”

If you’re interested in learning more about these amazing ear plugs check out Bose’s Indiegogo campaign page.

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Are Bose’s smart ear plugs the Greatest Idea Ever?

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As wildfires continue to devastate thousands of acres in California it’s become increasingly clear that we need better firefighting tools.  Something that we could use to put out dangerous fires or even prevent them from forming in the first place.  The latter is where the Firesound drone comes in.

As the BBC puts it, “The Firesound is a firefighting flying saucer. The bright yellow, meter wide, autonomous disc is designed to patrol parks and forests, constantly looking for danger using smoke sensors and thermal cameras. Unlike UFOs from 50s B-movies, however, it won’t shoot out the kind of laser beams that might spark a forest fire.  Instead the Firesound will blast low frequency sound waves to extinguish small fires before they can spread.”

Essentially what Firesound does is use sound waves to move oxygen away from the fire, thereby removing its fuel source, and effectively starving it.  It’s an effective, low-cost method, that could wind up saving lives, property, and the environment and it comes to us from Charles Bombardier, the same designer behind the Antipode, the high speed airliner capable of traveling at Mach 24 and traveling from New York to London in just 11 minutes.

The Firesound can do a lot more than just put out fires though as it can also be used as a surveillance tool to help locate people who are missing.  Or, as Bombardier suggests, it could also be configured to provide wi-fi connectivity to a stranded camper so that they can signal for help.

Unfortunately, the Firesound wouldn’t be much help in fighting a large scale fire that is already burning out of control.  It also, may not be much help in preventing them either, considering that it’s just a prototype for now.  Hopefully it does wind up becoming a real product because the people of California can use all the help they can get.

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Is Firesound the Greatest Idea Ever?

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