Archive for the ‘Inventions’ Category

Attention outdoor enthusiasts.  Staying off the grid while camping just got harder thanks to a new device that will work even without a signal.

According to BGR, “If you enjoy hiking, climbing, skiing, or any other activity that generally takes place in a remote area, we found something you definitely need to check out. Conversely, if you go to a lot of concerts or sporting events and you’re always frustrated when network congestion prevents you from calling and texting your friends, this is also a device for you. The BEARTOOTH Smart Walkie Talkie isn’t actually a walkie talkie. Instead, it’s a little box that connects to your phone via Bluetooth, and then you can use the BEARTOOTH app to talk, text, and even share your location or navigate to someone else’s location — all without any Wi-Fi or cell service. Ready for the best part? Depending on your surroundings and the terrain, these devices have a range of between 1 and 3 miles!”

Similar to Beartooth is Lynq.  A simple device that lets you find your friends in a crowd.

According to TechCrunch, “If you’ve ever been hiking or skiing, or gone to a music festival or state fair, you know how easy it is to lose track of your friends, and the usually ridiculous exchange of ‘I’m by the big thing’-type messages.  Lynq is a gadget that fixes this problem with an ultra-simple premise: it simply tells you how far and in what direction your friends are, no data connection required.”

This invention is basically my location within a location locator and goes to show just how much we’ve come to rely on modern technology.  Not having access to it at all or in certain situations is simply no longer an option.

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Is Beartooth the Greatest Idea Ever?


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I live right near a park which gives me picturesque views, quick access to a bike path, and relative quiet most of the time.  It’s perfect.  Except when it’s not.  The commotion from a birthday party being held in the Ramada.  The headache inducing repetitious music from an Ice Cream Truck.  The beautiful yet annoying cacophony of bird mating calls.  I love my apartment.  And yet there are times when I can’t wait to move out.  Noisy sounds and my inability to control them the likely cause of my downfall.

Thankfully, there may soon be something I can do about it.  Thanks to new noise canceling windows that can reduce noise pollution by 50%!

As Futurism puts it, “You can’t shut your neighbors up. But researchers out of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University have done the next best thing: they made noise-cancelling windows that can cancel out any harsh noise coming into your home.”

So how exactly does this amazing new technology work?!?!  If you’ve used noise-cancelling headphones the answer will sound familiar to you.

“The device is essentially an array of microphones and speakers that register the sound waves of loud noises coming in and cancel them out by playing an inverted version of the same wave — the waves’ peaks matched perfectly to the valleys of the other. When the inverted waveform and the original sound interact, they cancel each other out, leaving just mellow, ambient noise. All in real-time.”

Amen to that!

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Is a noise cancelling window the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Here’s a quick look at everything that caught my eye this past week:

Transition Contacts

Rejoice contact wearers.  You too can now have the ability to adjust to changes in lighting, just like glasses wearers.  Thanks to this breakthrough going out into the sun will no longer seem like a chore.

According to CNET, “The Food and Drug Administration last week approved photochromic soft contact lenses that automatically darken when exposed to bright lights. Johnson & Johnson says its Acuvue OasysContact Lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology can be worn daily for up to 14 days.”

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Have you ever wanted to learn how to code?  Well, now you can, in a fun and clever way, thanks to Google.

According to Engadget, “The app has a few legs up on other coding software. Not only is it free on the Google Play store, but it works in puzzles to make learning fun — and it has users learn JavaScript, a leading language used in many of the websites folks visit everyday. It’s already hit over 100,000 installs in the three days it’s been online, and most of the 1600 reviews are positive, so it seems like a great introduction.”

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Graphene Breakthrough 

Graphene, the wonder material that’s 200x stronger than steel, yet a million times thinner than a piece of paper, just received a significant upgrade that could finally help it replace silicon as a building block in the computer of the future.

As Extreme Tech puts it, “There are, broadly speaking, two major problems with graphene. The first problem is the difficulty in producing it at scale. The second is its electrical conductivity. The latter might seem like an odd problem, given that graphene’s phenomenal electrical properties are the reason semiconductor manufacturers are interested in it in the first place. But graphene’s unique capabilities also make it difficult to stop the material from conducting electricity. Silicon has a band gap — an energy range where it doesn’t conduct electricity. Graphene, in its pure form, does not. While a handful of methods of producing a band gap in graphene have been found, none of them have been suitable for mass production. That may finally change, thanks to a team from the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2), who have found a way to create a graphene bandgap that’s identical to silicon’s.”

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Are any of these the Greatest Idea Ever?

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I’ve written in the past about Enchanted Objects, items that elicit an emotional response when we use them.  There’s a pill bottle that glows when it’s time to take your medication, an umbrella that lets you know if it’s going to rain that day, and best of all, the proverbial wallet that gets harder to open as you approach your monthly budget.

On the one hand these objects are really just a part of the Internet of Things.  Nothing special.  But on the other hand, because of the way they make us feel, they’re so much more than that.  They’re real life examples of the objects from Harry Potter.  Whimsical every-day items that are seemingly imbued with magical properties.

But why stop at making items that look and feel like they could belong in Harry Potter when you could make an actual item from the series come to life!  That’s right.  We now have the Eta Clock, a timepiece that aims to mimic the Weasley Family Clock, enabling people to keep track of their loved ones’ whereabouts at a glance.

As the Verge puts it, “Unlike Mrs. Weasley’s version, the Eta Clock relies on modern technology rather than actual sorcery to accomplish the job. Using a companion app, each user can set specific locations on their phone corresponding to places like ‘work,’ ‘gym,’ or ‘school,’ along with more general categories like ‘abroad’ (when someone is outside their home country), ‘transit’ (if the individual is traveling faster than three miles per hour), or ‘lost’ (if the person’s phone hasn’t updated location in more than five days).”

According to their website, “The Stata Clock wall-hanging device works in conjunction with our Stata Clock mobile app. To get connected, simply download our app and share your locations. Our simple mobile experience uses minimal battery power and makes staying connected effortless.

Want a bit more privacy? Not a problem – privacy levels are set by each individual user. Best of all, you are in complete control of your data. We remove all location data from the cloud as soon as we send it to your clock and never keep it for more than 48 hours.”

Privacy concerns are obviously a huge factor with this product but the fact that the clock deals in generalities not specifics helps ease those concerns.  A parent would simply know that their son or daughter was out with friends.  Not specifically where they were.

Pretty magical if you ask me.

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Is the Eta clock the Greatest Idea Ever?

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One of the hallmarks of human ingenuity is our never-ending quest to one-up ourselves.  To make modes of transportation from cars to planes that go faster and faster.  To create rockets and spaceships that can take us farther and farther into space.  To create phones and computers that follow Moore’s Law, cramming more and more transistors onto chips as the devices themselves get smaller and smaller.

However, one technology that we have yet to perfect is the battery.  We have yet to find a way to make them cheaper or last longer.  Until now that is.  That’s because Australian researchers at RMIT University have created a Proton battery that runs on carbon and water.  Giving it the advantage of being made from abundant materials while also being rechargeable.  And best of all, this new battery gives off zero emissions as well.

Futurism explains how it works, “The RMIT battery can be plugged into a charging port just like any other rechargeable battery. What happens next is remarkably simple: the electricity from the power supply splits water molecules, generating protons, which bond with carbon in the battery’s electrode. The protons are then released again to pass through the fuel cell, where they interact with air to form water and generate power.”

The hope is that these new batteries could one-day replace our reliance on lithium-ion batteries.  Which is something that we desperately need to do considering the dwindling supply of rare-earth metals and other materials that are used to make them.  Luckily, that definitely seems like it will be possible.

As Engadget puts it, “The big advantage with proton batteries compared to fuel cells is efficiency. The latter must produce hydrogen gas then split it back into protons, which creates losses. But a proton battery never produces hydrogen gas, so the energy efficiency is comparable to lithium-ion batteries.”

We’re constantly driven to innovate at break-neck speeds.  To go faster.  To go farther.  To make things smaller.  To keep pushing the envelope.  Batteries not included.  Hopefully, this new Proton battery changes all that.

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Is a Proton battery the Greatest Idea Ever?

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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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