What is small enough to fit in an airliner carry-on bin and has the potential to save thousands of lives and millions of dollars worth of property? The answer is the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) – NASA’s next-generation hurricane-observing microsatellites, which are now being assembled at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas.
Virtual reality headsets, such as the Samsung Gear VR, are becoming more commonplace as manufacturers augment hardware, researchers improve technology, and designers create more virtual experiences. But if you want full-body virtual immersion, treadmills are one way to go. And the latest omnidirectional treadmill, the Kat Walk, provides greater freedom of movement with less constraints.
A waterproof shelter, sleeping bag and sleeping pad are three of the most important pieces of kit you’ll need when bedding down in the great outdoors on a cold night. Usually those three things are purchased, packed and set up separately, but Swiss startup Polarmond has a different idea. Its All-In-One sleep system rolls all three components into one unit with the goal of delivering a warmer, more comfortable night of sleep in temperatures down to -22° F (-30° C).
The primary component of the All-In-One sleep system is what Polarmond calls the sleep shell. This unit blends the features and functions of a bivouac sack, sleeping bag and sleeping pad. When compared to the tight confines of a mummy bag, the design opens things up with a multi-layered inner chamber.
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.
By now you’ve probably heard about virtual reality. (Heck, the technology has even found its way into a Hot Pockets commercial!) But while some of the more famous virtual-reality devices include the Oculus Rift ($350 for version two of the development kit) and the Gear VR ($200), you’ll find an intriguing device at the other end of the price spectrum.
Enter Google Cardboard. Originally introduced at the company’s developer-focused I/O conference in 2014, this device is made of (you’ve guessed it) cardboard, and is essentially a mount for a smartphone.
As of this week, drivers of BMWs may be a little less frustrated by traffic lights. No, they don’t now have the power to change red lights to green, but they can at least find out how long it’ll be before lights change color. This feature comes courtesy of a partnership with Orgeon-based startup Connected Signals, which makes an existing app known as EnLighten.
At first look, the Tetra-POD is a large, capable ATV trailer that can haul gear, tools and debris as an open tub or an enclosed box. A closer inspection reveals that it’s also a boat. With a few simple steps, the lid swings down to join the trailer body in creating a hull that can be motored out onto the open water.
We’ve seen a few products with a land-water split personality, but nothing quite the same as the Tetra-POD. The American Dream Trailer we covered just last month coupled a camping trailer with a rooftop rowboat. The Sealander amphibious trailer was another camping trailer/boat hybrid, and the Boatbox was a cargo-hauling roof box that doubled as a watercraft. While similar to each of those in certain ways, the Tetro-POD has a design and utility all its own.
Whether they’re floods, earthquakes or landslides, natural disasters have a nasty habit of cutting survivors off from aid by destroying bridges. While traditional portable bridges can already be set up in such situations, researchers from Hiroshima University recently demonstrated a new model that is said to be “the world’s fastest, largest, strongest, and lightest expanding temporary bridge.”
You might remember the Argus II implant from when it first gained market approval in the US back in 2013. The ambitious prosthesis is back, with researchers now looking to utilize the technology to treat patients with dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The effort forms part of a feasibility study, and early results are positive.
A new hotel that is staffed with robots has opened in Japan. The Henn-na Hotel (which translates as “Strange Hotel”), is part of the Huis Ten Bosch theme park complex in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture. Guests can also access their rooms via face-recognition, and are able to control room amenities via tablets.