Michael Hanlon on the lack of true invention like what we saw between 1945 and 1971. Technology is booming, but it seems we are basically just making smaller and faster versions of things that were already invented 40 years ago. Most of what is happening in medicine, technology, civil rights, etc. seems to be expansion rather than innovation.
Shubham Banerjee is an inventor who earlier this year unveiled a braille printer that he was able to assemble with a Mindstorms LEGO kit and a few very inexpensive odds and ends from the hardware store. Here he is presenting a demo of the device in action. He has named the device a Braigo and has created a startup company with the intention to refine the design and put it on the market. Earlier this week, Intel Capital announced it would invest in the company. And what's the kicker to this story? Banerjee is only 13 years old.
Some genius inventor in South Korea has come up with a clean, easy way to unclog toilets without a plunger! (Maybe.) Introducing, the Pongtu!
Trigger Warning: Toilet with Brown Water
Trigger Warning: Toilet with Brown Water
Tim Jenison had a theory that Joseph Vermeer had made used of particular lens technology to make his paintings almost photo-realistic. To test this, he recreated the setting of The Music Lesson from scratch, harpsichord and all, and even recreated the theorised lenses using 17th century tools. For someone who doesn't know how to paint, he sure did a good job.
The Nordic Society for Invention & Discovery has brought never-before-seen and totally exclusive technologies into the world, such as the Aaltopuck (an ice hockey puck modeled after Alvar Aalto's Savoy Vase), the Flower Shell (a shotgun shell that shoots seeds into the ground), the Wall of Sound (an 8000-watt iPod dock) and No More Woof (a device that wraps around your dog's head and translates his or her brain waves to computerized speech).
The Invention Of The AeroPress
There’s really nothing bad to say about the device other than the fact that it’s a funny-looking plastic thingy. Then again, its inventor, Stanford professor Alan Adler, is a world renowned inventor of funny-looking plastic thingies; while Adler’s Palo Alto based company Aerobie is best known today for its coffee makers, the firm rose to prominence in the 1980s for its world-record-setting flying discs. This is the story of how Adler and Aerobie dispelled the notion of industry-specific limitations and found immense success in two disparate industries: toys and coffee.
Fail Better "The goal of FAIL BETTER is to open up a public conversation about failure, particularly the instructive role of failure, as it relates to very different areas of human endeavour. Rather than simply celebrating failure, which can come at great human, environmental and economic cost, we want to open up a debate on the role of failure in stimulating creativity: in learning, in science, engineering and design."
Simple new invention seals gunshot wounds in 15 seconds. (SLPopSci)
"If there is an assassination planned for the meal, then it is seemliest that the assassin should be seated next to he who is to become the subject of his craft" - Leonardo da Vinci: head of the kitchen, designer of horse-pulled nut-crushers, inventor of napkins, and assassination etiquette expert.
The Odon childbirthing device Argentinian car mechanic Jorge Odon saw this party trick. It occurred to him it could help with difficult births. It seems he may be right.
Eleven year-old Floridian Peyton Robertson figured out how to make a better sandbag: leave out the sand. After witnessing the damage hurricane Sandy caused across the nation, the concerned middle-schooler sought a way to help mitigate flood damage caused by the storms. Peyton fills his bags with a salt and polymer mixture which expands when wet. The bags also use an unique center-locking mechanism, allowing them to overlap for an even stronger flood barrier. [Note: not in America? Video won't play for you? Try this link instead.] [more inside]
A Boston inventor has created a cup and straw that detect the presence of date rape drugs. The cup and straw change color in the presence of the common date rape drug GHB.
American cinematographer Garrett Brown to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for the invention of the Steadicam (previously).
'News of impending fatherhood affects men in different ways. Some guys pump their fists. Others light cigars. A few flee. When 33-year-old Colin Furze learned that his girlfriend was pregnant, he channeled his paternal excitement into building the world’s fastest baby stroller.' The twin-exhaust, 10-horsepower, gasoline-fueled pram has four gears. And cupholders. And it can accelerate to 50mph in less than 30 seconds. [more inside]
Prototypes are usually the missing links in the evolution of human technology, the dead-ends of ideas that give way to the refinement of the final physical product. Prototypes aren't just for Darth Vader. While the legal back and forth between Apple and Samsung continues, a treasure trove of prototype designs for Apple devices has been released to the public, showing insights into various design approaches and feature enhancements, including larger form-factor iPads with and without kickstands and landscape ports and iPhones that parody the Sony logo, show a different layout for camera elements, and look remarkably like fourth-generation models, as far back as 2005. On the other hand, some have made prototypes into the end goal itself, such as the folks at Dangerous Prototypes, a site which features a new open-source electronic hardware project each month. Some are just gratuitous fun, while others are a bit more practical, such as one project that recycles old Nokia displays and another that provides access to infrared signal, useful for hacking together remote controls for all sorts of IR-based devices. Other prototypes of tomorrow's technology are less concerned with shrinking down the guts of the invention itself, to make it disappear, but rather on how we interact with and integrate physical representations of these ideas into our daily lives. Above all else, prototypes are always forward-looking and are therefore inherently optimistic expressions of human creativity: Even children are getting into imagining the world of tomorrow.
"Nature is not always the best designer, at least when it comes to things that humans must build and maintain. So the newest artificial heart doesn’t imitate the cardiac muscle at all. Instead, it whirs like a little propeller, pushing blood through the body at a steady rate. After 500 million years of evolution accustoming the human body to blood moving through us in spurts, a pulse may not be necessary. That, in any case, is the point of view of the 50-odd calves, and no fewer than three human beings, who have gotten along just fine with their blood coursing through them as evenly as Freon through an air conditioner."
Kirby Ferguson's fourth and final installment of Everything is a Remix: System Failure has been released. (Also on YouTube.) It covers intellectual property rights, the derivative nature of creativity, patents and copyright. Transcript. [more inside]
When Arunachalam Muruganantham hit a wall in his research on creating a sanitary napkin for poor women, he decided to do what most men typically wouldn’t dream of. He wore one himself--for a whole week. [...] It resulted in endless derision and almost destroyed his family. But no one is laughing at him anymore, as the sanitary napkin-making machine he went on to create is transforming the lives of rural women across India.An Indian Inventor Disrupts The Period Industry. [more inside]
How do you make a bicycle more visible to drivers at night? Create a new wheel-based lighting system: Vimeo / Youtube. Kickstarter campaign is finished and funded, (details of the design at that page) and the company is hoping to have them on sale by March 2012. Via. More. Demo videos. [more inside]
The way to make a very secure lock for your bike. Auf Deutsch, but the working of the device is clear. Webpage for the invention, Google Translated, apparently with a parts list.
Part 3 of the Everything is a Remix video series has been released, by New York filmmaker Kirby Ferguson. Previously on MeFi. See the entire series on Vimeo: Parts One, Two and Three. (YouTube versions and transcripts inside.) Official Site. [more inside]
A robber is cornered in a dead-end alley: He turns to face the police officer pursuing him, ready to fight. He pauses. The officer’s left forearm is encased in ballistic nylon, and half a million volts arc menacingly between electrodes on his wrist. A green laser target lands on the robber’s chest. He puts his hands up; it’s a fight he can’t win. [more inside]
Ever made an indie action film and needed something for that epic glass-break scene? How about the blackest black you can find? Want to adjust your boots so that they are mud repellant? Inventables has everything you need - for the budding inventor, busy set designer, or Q in training.
Josh Springer thinks his invention can eliminate lines for beer at sporting events. The Bottoms Up beer pouring system claims to pour beer up to nine times faster than normal serving methods by using the power of magnets.
Inducement Prizes -- Best known for the Ansari X Prize, the DARPA Grand Challenge and the Clay Mathematics Millennium Problems, inducement prizes have a long history, but their recent successes have led to increased government interest, viz. challenge.gov, and resulted in the development of vaccines, thanks in large part to the work of Michael Kremer.* [more inside]
The Automata Blog is packed full of interesting images, videos and information about all kinds of amazing automata, cool machines, mechanical music, orchestrions and kinetic sculptures. This month's focus is the history of vintage Japanese tin toy robots and the toy robot paintings by Steven Skollar.
PopSci: Archive Gallery: From Chicago to Shanghai, 138 Visionary Years of World's Fairs [more inside]
The contraption was "created from a mishmash of lenses and computer parts and an old Super 8 movie camera." It was the size of a toaster, ran off "sixteen nickel cadmium batteries, a highly temperamental new type of CCD imaging area array, an a/d converter implementation stolen from a digital voltmeter" and took 23 seconds to record an image to cassette tape. But when Steve Sasson and his team of Kodak technicians presented the world's first digital camera to the public in 1975, they were asked: 'Why would anyone ever want to view his or her pictures on a TV?' [more inside]
Today, Mexico announced new, tighter tariffs on American goods, including restrictions on U.S. chewing gum. Some say it's because of Teamsters, but the hatred of American chewing gum may harken back to a 19th century military coup. Exiled after numerous attempts to rule Mexico as a military dictator, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (yes, that General Santa Anna) spent part of his time in exile in -- of all places -- Staten Island. Santa Anna planned to fund his new army with a secret asset: he intended to sell chicle to the Americans. Although the General thought it had more uses, inventor Thomas Adams found the stuff fun to chew on. A few years later, Adams flavored his gum, inventing Black Jack Gum, the oldest continually-made chewing gum in the United States. Sadly, due to recent tariffs, General Santa Anna's army-building Black Jack chewing gum will now cost 20% more to export to Mexico.
The Menstruation Machine: an invention created by artist Hiromi Ozaki. "As a female designer I had one big problem I wanted to solve. "It’s 2010, so why are humans still menstruating?" "Fitted with a blood dispensing mechanism and lower-abdomen-stimulating electrodes, the Menstruation Machine is a device which simulates the pain and bleeding of an average 5 day menstruation process of a human (As a female designer I have done my best to simulate my own, at least)." Also: Menstruation Machine - Takashi's Take is a music video about a boy ‘Takashi’, who builds the menstruation machine in an attempt to dress up as a female, biologically as well as aesthetically, to fulfill his desire to understand what it might feel like to be a truely 'girly' girl. He determinedly wears the machine to hang out with his kawaii friend in Tokyo, but…"
How do you diagnose anemia in a third-world country without electricity? Use the salad-spinner-based thirty dollar centrifuge, developed by Rice undergraduate students Lila Kerr and Lauren Theis.
Nothing succeeds like failure. [H]istory shows that breakthroughs often spring not from carefully laid plans, but from mischance or even sheer, ridiculous accidents. A stovetop spill heralded vulcanized rubber; the potency of uranium was revealed when a rock was left in a drawer among photographic plates. And great research seldom follows an unswerving path. At RCA in Princeton in the 1950s, David Sarnoff exhorted his team to invent a flat television that could hang on a wall. “There were an enormous number of failures,” says Princeton historian of science Michael Gordin — and instead of TVs, the world got the Seiko digital watch in 1973.
Let me introduce you to the Lifesaver bottle. This very compact design (in both a bottle and a jerrycan form) allows someone to get clean drinking water in seconds. Their filters can last up to 20000 liters in the jerrycan form and 6000 in the bottle form. The price for this technology? $150 for the bottle and $400 for the top shelf jerrycan. [more inside]
Afsaneh Rabiei has created a new steel foam and this stuff is going to be everywhere within our lifetimes. In the article: "inserting two pieces of her composite metal foam behind the bumper of a car traveling 28 mph, the impact would feel the same to passengers as impact traveling at only 5 mph"...at 1/3rd the weight of solid steel.
Redesigned notebooks, repurposed toys, grow-your-own breakfast, paper radios, parental pants, and more - all from the mind of design fiction enthusiast Matt Brown
Everyone has fantasized about it, usually while scrubbing a floor or cleaning a toilet. Well, Frances Gabe did something about it: she invented the self-cleaning house, the one the future has been promising us for years. (This 2007 Weird America Interview/Tour mocks her, but it's the only video of the house I could find.) Just imagine: You put your dirty dishes back in the cabinets which double as dishwashers; the closets are laundry machines. Every room has wash, rinse, and dry buttons. [more inside]
"Pile is a new, radically relationist approach to data, structures and computing" invented by Erez Elul and supported by Peter Krieg (obit, much more in German here) promised much. In 2000, a company was founded (pilesys on archive.org), later a book was published ("The paranoid machine", by Peter Krieg.) [more inside]
From Matthias Wandel, the inventor of the wooden marble calculator and the non-wooden eyeballing game, now comes the wooden Jenga pistol and its successor, as well as the wooden geodesic cat storage device and wooden wasp sucker.
Making the Modern World presents a set of twisty little passages through the history of science and invention, from the eighteenth century to the contemporary era, brought to you by the UK's Science Museum.
Finally, finally - Zubbles are available for pre-order! Inventor Tim Kehoe has been searching for the elusive colored bubble for a long time. Through his experimentation he's stained his eyes a deep blue, along with his car, his kitchen, and his bathtub (he's also permanently stained the family dog). But in 2005, after 11 years and over $500,000 in funding, Kehoe successfully created a colored bubble that wouldn't stain. His invention, Zubbles, was given the "Best of What's New, Grand Award" from Popular Science. [more inside]
Wearers of Adaptive Eyewear can make their own prescriptions. The lenses are plastic bladders that change shape and corrective power with a small syringe. So far 30,000 people who may never be reached by an optician or afford conventional eyeglasses now have corrected vision. Recipients are now able to read, mend fishing nets, sew, and perform other tasks requiring good eyesight. The inventor, Oxford University professor Josh Silver, hopes his nonprofit organization can begin manufacturing and distributing up to 100 million pairs a year.
Thomas Edison's Concrete Houses From 1902 to roughly 1917, Edison was in the concrete business, and concrete houses would be one of his biggest failures. [more inside]
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