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Jul 10, 2013

The Ocotomask's Built-In GoPro Mount Allows a Hands-Free Life Aquatic

In the world's oceans, human divers are as mobile as a fish out of water. So, what, you think you're going to fend off an inquisitive shark or lascivious dolphin while holding a GoPro? Not likely, but that's where the Octomask comes in. Now anybody can be a modern Jacques Cousteau and keep their hands free for defending themselves under the sea.

The Octomask is exactly what it looks like—a snorkeling mask with a GoPro mount situated mid-forehead. The genius of this head-mounted device, as opposed to hand-held underwater housings, is that it records whatever you're looking at automatically. Plus the GoPro mount is integrated into the mask itself rather than being adhesively affixed as the stock dive mountis. On the other hand, the Octomask is twice the price and won't work with an existing mask but the ability to grapple against the deadly, deadly Jaguar shark make it well worth the cost. More here.

Jul 9, 2013

The Key To Never Forgetting Your iPhone's Charging Cable


Key-shaped USB flash drives have guaranteed we never forget to bring our important files ever again. And taking the same approach, Bluelounge's Kii guarantees you always have an emergency iPhone or iPad charger on hand—as long as you remembered to lock your home and bring your keys.

A 30-pin dock connector version of the Kii, available in black only, is the cheaper of the two at just $20. But if you've got the latest generation iPhone or iPad, you'll need to cough up twice that amount—$40—for the black or white Lightning version here.

Jul 8, 2013

This Plywood Chair Is Super-Stylish--and Affordable

This stylish chair may look super-classy—but don't be fooled: it's actually made from humble plywood.

It comes flat-pack style, its panels made from CNC-cut birch plywood all held together by hex screws. Named Jari—which literally means a place for a person or a thing—the design is apparently inspired by the growing number of single dwellings in South Korea.

Shown off at the Design & Art Fair 2013 in Seoul, there's currently no word on how much it will cost exactly—but expect it to be affordable. More here.

A Look Inside Nokia's Absurd Phone Testing Labs


Nokia phones are pretty sturdy. Sturdier than most, actually. And while all phones go through similar stress tests, we've got a look into Nokia's specifically. It's petty impressive!

Tumbling in boxes of dust, dropped on steel floors hundreds of times, splashed with rain and baked in tropical conditions. And the phones mostly come out just fine.

Jul 6, 2013

Say Goodbye To Hex Wrenches: Furniture That Assembles With Coins

If you're a college student or a young professional in your first apartment, you're probably well versed in assembling Ikea furniture. But soon after, those vital hex wrenches always seem to go missing, and when it's time to move your bedroom set, it's off to the hardware store to try and find a replacement. So thank goodness the folks at Nendo came up with a better solution: furniture that assembles using nothing more than the loose change in your pocket.

Developed for Kokuyo, a Japanese office furniture maker, the modular Ofon line is comprised of a series of boxes and panels that can be mix and matched to create shelving, filing cabinets, desks, and even dividers. And the various pieces all connect via a clever mechanism that can be locked and unlocked using a quarter, or similar sized currency. More here.

Silicone Pens Give You The Maintenance-Free Lawn You've Always Wanted

If you love the look of plants on your desk, but have a nasty habit of killing them through neglect, consider this faux greenery as an alternative. What look like tall blades of grass are actually unfortunately-named Pooleaf pens with long wisps of silicone coming off the end.

They're just $5 each, which isn't too shabby, until you realize you'll actually have to spend well over $100 to fill a pot to recreate the beautiful lawn effect. On the plus side, it will be incredibly obvious if someone steals one of your pens. More here.

iOS 7 Is Secretly Baby-Proof




Jul 4, 2013

This Is Our Solar System's Very Own July 4th Fireworks Display

While there will be plenty of fireworks later today, it's nice to know that our very own solar system will be joining in the fun, too—with comet ISON hurting toward the sun at a staggering 48,000 mph.

Unlike the fireworks you'll launch, this comet isn't burning—in fact it's pretty cold. As the comet moves closer to the sun it'll warm up, its rate of sublimation will increase, and it will appear brighter and its tail longer—and by November you'll be able to see it with your naked eye. More here.

Jul 3, 2013

Using Super Slow Motion to Study the Biomechanics of Flight


It's certainly not the first time we've seen hummingbirds in slow motion, but the engineer's perspective adds a new facet to our fascination with beasts that can fly. Thanks to hours of footage recorded in the lab, the researchers are making some progress identifying how the tiny moving parts of living aircraft work together. Take, for example, the shaking motion the researchers observed:
Students Andreas Peña Doll and Rivers Ingersoll filmed hummingbirds performing a never-before-seen "shaking" behavior: As the bird dived off a branch, it wiggled and twisted its body along its spine, the same way a wet dog would try to dry off. At 55 times per second, hummingbirds have the fastest body shake among vertebrates on the planet – almost twice as fast as a mouse.
So now we've seen it, which is just the beginning when it comes to engineering. Now someone has to figure out what purpose that shaking serves, and if it's useful, someone has to build a bot that can mimic nature. More here.

Ford's New Prototyping Machine Turns Sheet Metal Into Custom Parts


A modern assembly line can churn out a new vehicle every few minutes, but when carmakers want to build and test a prototype, it takes weeks to produce the dies and moulds needed to stamp out a custom one-off part. So Ford has developed a fantastic new prototyping machine that functions kind of like a 3D printer in that it can produce a custom part in mere hours. Except that instead of plastic, it works its magic on sheet metal.

Three-dimensional models from a designer's modelling software are sent to the machine, which uses a pair of robotic arms mounted above and below a flat piece of sheet metal. The robotic arms feature very precise points at their ends, which are used to warp, bend, and shape the 2D sheet of metal into a 3D object. And depending on the complexity and size of the part being prototyped, it can do this in mere hours.

It allows designers and engineers to refine, produce, and test a new or custom part again and again in a manner of days, without having to solely rely on software simulations. And while in its infancy the machine isn't quite fast enough to join an assembly line, it's the perfect tool for crafting one-off concept vehicles, or parts for special edition vehicles that aren't intended for mass production.

Jul 2, 2013

There Are 60 Billion Habitable Planets Littering the Milky Way

A new study suggests that there are as many as 60 billion habitable planets orbiting red dwarf stars in the Milky Way alone—twice the number previously thought and strong evidence to hint that we may not be alone.

A team of scientists has been reassessing the limits of the habitable zones around red dwarf stars, which are smaller and fainter than the sun. Based on simulations of cloud behaviour on extrasolar planets—previously ignored in calculations—the team of astrophysicists calculated new parameters for defining a habitable zone around red dwarf stars. This cloud behavior dramatically expanded the size of the zone, as Dr. Dorian Abbot from the University of Chicago explains:
“Clouds cause warming, and they cause cooling on Earth. They reflect sunlight to cool things off, and they absorb infrared radiation from the surface to make a greenhouse effect. That’s part of what keeps the planet warm enough to sustain life."
The result? Instead of there being on average approximately one Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of each red dwarf, there are in fact roughly two. In total, that means there are around 60 billion habitable planets orbiting red dwarf stars in the Milky Way.

Interestingly, because red dwarf stars are relatively small and weak, the planets now deemed habitable would have to orbit their star's once every one to two months. In turn, they'd become tidally locked—which is where one side of the planet would always face the star, like one side of the moon always faces Earth. So, better pack a jumper or two if you want to visit the other side. More here.

Jul 1, 2013

Skype 4.0 for Android: Same Skype, Totally New App


After announcing today's 100 million Android-download milestone, Skype celebrated the occasion with a totally overhauled, refreshed Android app that's supposed to "make your interactions easier and put conversations first." And with a cleaner, lighter, and lightening fast UI, it may just live up to its promise.

What does it do?

It's Skype, but stripped of all the extra crap that seemed to choke the old incarnations. You'll get three separate tabs, the first of which shows you all recent conversations, followed by your contacts, followed by your favorites. Small circles similar to Facebook's attempt at the now notorious chatheads carry your contacts profile pictures. You'll also be able to attach files and video messages, one of Skype's newer native app features. Get it here.

Jun 30, 2013

A Mobius Strip Track Makes Magnet Hovercrafts Even Cooler



Superconducting magnets are freakin' awesome. You should know this already. But the folks at the Royal Institution took it a step further with their futuristic upside-down, Möbius strip track that's fit for a racing game set in 21xx. Hopefully this is what the Hot Wheels of the future are like. Err, "Hot Superconducting Magnets," I guess.

But on top of the sheer cool-factor of seeing something hover upside down, you'll also get a nice explanation on how this kind of stuff actually works. It's not as great as getting an actual superconducting magnet car and accompanying track of your own, but here's to hoping.

Jun 29, 2013

It's Almost Worth Breaking Your Arm for this Crazy 3D-Printed Cast

Plaster casts are bulky, obnoxious, heavy, inevitably sweaty, occasionally pink. In short, they are no fun. But this 3D-printed "Cortex" cast could change all that. Sure, it looks a littlelike a fishnet stocking, but have you seen a old-fashioned cast lately?

A conceptual project designed by a Victoria University of Wellington graduate with the suspiciously awesome name Jake Evill, the Cortex cast is lightweight, ventilated, washable and thin thanks to its polyamide skeleton. But the bonuses aren't all for the wearer; the material of Cortex casts could be reused, unlike plaster.

It's just a concept and prototype for now, but ideally, computer software would be fed x-rays of the break and 3D scans of the limb, and design an appropriate cast shape for fixing it up, with the cast's densest parts concentrated around the actual break. The cast could then be printed out in pieces and assembled around the break with permanent fasteners. When all is said and done, it'd still have to be sawed off as usual.

Then there's the matter of time. Evill explains it this way:
At the moment, 3D printing of the cast takes around three hours whereas a plaster cast is three to nine minutes, but requires 24-72 hours to be fully set. With the improvement of 3D printing, we could see a big reduction in the time it takes to print in the future.
It sounds pretty good, but I'm seeing just one problem. How are you supposed write hideous signatures in Sharpie on surfaces that skinny? More here.

All the Hidden Chemicals That Are Lurking In Your Coffee


Caffeine. For most of us, that's the only chemical compound in coffee that's worth a damn. But that's far from the only thing that's hiding in that simmering cup of black (or light brownish) glory that you suck down every morning. Cockroach pheromones? Rotting meat-smell? Check and check. Drink up!

Jun 28, 2013

Everyone Who Records Video on Their Phone Needs to Follow This Rule


I understand that when you take a picture or video with your phone, it makes a lot of sense to hold your phone upright. It's more comfortable! It's totally natural! And though Instagram has helped fix portrait mode pictures by squaring them off, we still haven't solved the portrait video problem. It's awful to watch videos like that. Everyone who does it is just a bunch of scrubs.

Turn Your Phone is a 'No Scrubs' parody by Chescaleigh that makes fun of folks who just blindly refuse to change.

Bing Maps Has Revealed Russia's Secret Stealth Fighter Jet

Bing Maps is apparently really great at one thing: revealing top secret military information. After capturing a top secret military base, Bing has now caught a stealth Russian airplane that's been shrouded in mystery. The Bing Maps image above shows Russia's MIG Project 1.44, Russia's first attempt at building a stealth fighter jet. A jet that Russia might have sent to China to kick start China's stealth program. A jet that was supposed to be Russia's answer for the F-22 Raptor.

According to Foreign Policy, the 1.44 plane (it's the bigger plane in that image above) was designed with "stealth-like angles, an internal weapons bay and supposedly used electronic countermeasures and special coatings to help reduce its radar signature." The goal was to make the plane highly maneuverable and really, really fast. However, the 1.44 plane was supposedly shelved by Russia in 2001 and thrown in storage. The Bing Maps image shows that that's not exactly the case.

What's interesting is that China's J-20 stealth fighter (revealed in 2010) looks a lot like the Russia 1.44 plane. MiG denied ever giving 1.44 plans to China but a Russian official did say, "it looks like they got access...to documents related to the Mikoyan." If the plane is out of storage, maybe Russia has been sharing a little secrets here and there. More here.

Can a Helmet Made From Recycled Newspapers Really Protect Your Noggin?

As bike rental programs get more and more popular in big, tourist-friendly cities around the world, wouldn't it be great if occasional cyclists could get a temporary helmet on the cheap? That's the goal of the designers behind the Paper Pulp Project, who have designed a bike helmet made from recycled newspaper that costs less than $1.50 to produce, but is claimed to protect as well as a more expensive option.

So why wouldn't everyone opt for a cheap paper pulp helmet that its creator claims "meets stringent European safety standards" and easily survives drop tests? For starters, it's not the most weatherproof option, although a protective coating could let it survive the rain for a few hours. And after every accident it's pretty much a write-off, so regular cyclists will still certainly want to opt for more durable protection.

Renting a bike is a great way to leisurely explore a city you're visiting on the cheap, but as more and more tourists are taking to the streets in places they're unfamiliar with, the issue of bike safety needs to be addressed. And a disposable helmet that's just as affordable as a rented bike is the perfect solution to ensure that part of your vacation isn't spent in a hospital bed. More here.

Jun 27, 2013

Breakthrough Research Could Replace Insulin Shots With Pills

Whether you don't like needles, or whether you really don't like needles, there's some good news on the horizon: a special "bioadhesive" coating that was just developed at Brown University is bringing us one step closer to saying goodbye to injections and hello to things like insulin pills.

It's not like people are out there injecting drugs for just fun (well, except for the people out there who are injecting drugs just for fun); injections are crucial for administering protein-based drugs—like insulin—that can't make it through the stomach to the small intestine where they can get absorbed into the bloodstream. The bioadhesive coating developed by researchers at Brown not only lets doses get through unscathed, but also sticks them to the small intestine and dishes them out at controllable speeds.

When researchers coated tons of 500-nanometer particles with the bioadhesive, called PBMAD, and fed them to some lab rats, they found that a PBMAD coating is roughly 20 percent more effective at getting medicines through the stomach acid gauntlet and into the bloodstream than the previous best. And 65 percent better than no coating at all.

The next goal is getting the right medicines to the right parts of the body in the right quantities, but the recent studies have proven that PBMAD is a promising delivery mechanism. Insulin pills might still be a way off, but a future with less needles sounds like a future worth looking forward to. More here.

Jun 26, 2013

This Nesting Storage Beats Any Set of Russian Dolls

Moving house has never been easier than with this amazing set of nesting storage units. Designed by Sasa Mitrovic of TwentyTree, an amazing six pieces fit together seamlessly—and look great, too.

Called Matrioshka, the wooden storage units all fit inside the large orange armoire. Pull out the cabinets as and when you need them, or use them all from the off. They have a pretty 60s vibe about them that may or may not be to your taste, but they're damn practical regardless.

While they made their debut at the Milan Design Week earlier this year, they're now to be manufactured by SCSplus and Ergomade. Sadly there's currently no word on pricing. More here.

A Garbage-Crushing Trash Can You Control With Your Bare Hands

Who likes taking out the trash? Nobody, that's who. We'll do anything we can to avoid trips to the curb, or the garbage chute, including letting it pile up for weeks on end. But a giant mountain of stinking trash in your kitchen isn't the only solution. This stainless steel trash can includes a manual compressor letting you squeeze roughly twice the amount of trash into its 10 gallon capacity.

It's kind of like having your own personal garbage truck, except that it's not waking you up at six o'clock in the morning. At $200 it is a pricey alternative to less capable garbage cans, but you have to factor in all the quality time you'll be gaining with this. Not to mention the sheer joy when you're able to squeeze one more empty chip bag in there, instead of having to empty it. More here.

Jun 25, 2013

This Wooden Bicycle Is Beautifully Impractical

There's a natural charm to cycling that allows you to feel at one with the environment that surrounds you—but if that's not enough, maybe you need this bike that's made from the environment that surrounds you.

There's no way around the fact that a wooden bicycle isn't as practical as its metallic brethren. Wood just isn't naturally suited to frame building: it doesn't weather as well, is bulky, and rides strangely. But this amalgam of wood and steel is a triumph of old-school design and craftsmanship, and its looks make up for the material's shortcomings.

There's a lot to lust over here, from the wooden handlebars to the neatly jointed head and seat tubes. But the best thing has to be those beautifully curved wooden mud guards, that hug the wheels just right. Pricing is as yet unconfirmed—expect it to be high—but the bikes will finally go on sale in September. More here.

This Throne of Books Is Your Own Private Personal Library


There's an endless number of distractions that can prevent us from curling up with a good book. So the folks at the London-based design studio, Tilt, created the OpenBook chair. It's an oversized comfy seat wrapped in an empty library that you can fill with your favorite books and magazines, creating an oasis of reading in a sea of distracting electronics.

The upholstered wall, featuring racks for hanging newspapers and magazines on the outside, also provides a bit of extra privacy from noise, and of course a place to rest your head. And while the OpenBook chair is certainly a lovely spot to escape into your favorite book, it also provides the perfect place to show off your amazing taste in literature to friends and other guests. Just keep the Where's Waldos hidden in a back room. More here.

Jun 24, 2013

What Does 200 Calories Look Like?


Jun 23, 2013

Fruits And Vegetables Are More Aware Than You Think

You might not think that spinach knows what's up, but the produce in your fridge is still alive and aware. Which is creepy. But kind of awesome. According to new research, fruits and vegetables still have circadian rhythms up to a week after being harvested. And they respond to light patterns by producing chemical compounds to protect themselves against herbivores.

When researchers subjected fruits and vegetables to light and dark based on when insect predators sleep and wake, the plants recognized the patterns and generated protective compounds called glucosinolates in response. And when samples of cabbage were put on the same light/dark schedule as looper moth caterpillars they were damaged the least by the predators, compared with other samples on different light cycles.

Lettuce, spinach, zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots and blueberries all defended themselves similarly, though through different chemical mechanisms, when put on the looper moth caterpillar schedule. The research is interesting in itself, but more importantly has potential applications for reducing pesticide use in harvested crops. Though it may seem like protecting growing plants is the only goal, fruits and vegetables must also be safeguarded from pests after they are harvested. Plants' own defenses could reduce the need for harsh pesticides in the future. That zucchini knows when you eat ice cream in the middle of the night and it's throwing shade. More here.

What Are You Doing About Light Bulbs These Days?


There are the LED lightbulbs you know you should buy, and then there are the insane 10 for $10 sales that try to lure you back to the incandescent days. But betweeneverlasting light bulbs, app-controlled light bulbs and light bulbs that do the dishes and see into the future, it's pretty clear that change is upon us. Bulb life, light quality and price all factor in. What do you buy and why?

Jun 22, 2013

Researchers Have Found a Way To Cram 1,000 Terabytes Onto a Single DVD

Now that its bigger brother Blu-ray has stolen the spotlight, paltry 4.7 GB DVDs have slowly started to fade into obscurity. But could they be poised for a comeback? A trio of Chinese scientists have discovered a breakthrough process that could, at least in theory, allow a DVD to store a whopping 1,000 TB—or a full petabyte—of data.

The exact science and technology behind the discovery is detailed in this paper, but here's the gist of it in layman's terms. The storage capacity of a DVD is limited by the size of the laser beam burning the small pits that represent the streams of data. Blu-ray increased this capacity by switching to even smaller blue lasers, but the storage capacity of that technology maxed out as well.

You see, back in 1873, a German physicist named Ernst Abbe found that a beam of light focused through a lens could not be any smaller than half of the light's wavelength. And for visible light, which is used to burn digital media discs, that's around 500 nanometers. So instead of breaking that law, the researchers found a way to work around it using two beams of light that cancel each other out. And by ensuring the beams don't completely overlap, a much smaller beam can be created to burn even smaller pits on a disc, massively increasing its capacity.
There's a still a lot to be perfected before this technology could reach consumers. Like how these incredibly tiny pits of data can be actually be read after they're created. And since writing 1,000 TB of data would take forever, developing faster ways to burn discs will also be necessary before consumers are ready to adopt the new technology. But the prospect of DVDs and Blu-rays taking a quantum leap in storage capacity is still incredibly exciting. More here.

Jun 21, 2013

What Do You Think of Video for Instagram?



You're about to be able to cloak short video clips in vintage filters. Facebook just added video to Instagram, similar to Twitter's Vine app, only smarter. It has many more features than Vine—it looks like video sharing done right.

You'll Never Lose a Floating Cork Knife at the Bottom of a Lake

Are you planning an early summer lakeside knife fight? To ensure you have the upper hand grab one of these floating cork knives.

But really, how clever is this $26 blade? It's summer, so you're (hopefully) going to be spending a lot of time by the water. Maybe you're fishing. Maybe you're tending to the boat. Maybe you're camping near a creek. Whatever it is, you might need a knife. And this one won't swim away because it has it's always wearing its cork life jacket. More here.

Jun 19, 2013

Mars Had an Oxygen-Rich Atmosphere 4 Billion Years Ago

Though chances are Curiosity is going to come up empty-handed as far as living, potentially breathing Martians are concerned, four billion years ago might have told a very different tale. After recently examining meteorites and rocks from Mars, scientists have discovered that not only did Mars once have an oxygen-rich atmosphere, but it was developed over one billion years before Earth's.

Some of the rocks in question actually came from NASA's Spirit Mars rover, which scientists compared to Martian meteorites that had crash landed on Earth. Spirit's rocks, which came from a 3.7 billion-year-old section of the planet, show signs of early exposure to oxygen before they sank back into the terrain. The Martian meteorites, though, came from deep within the surface, which is why they appear virtually unaffected by any sort of oxygen-containing atmosphere.

Most exciting about this discovery, though, is the fact that an oxygen-rich environment is a very strong indicator for life. On Earth, we know that oxygen levels slowly increased thanks to photosynthesizing microbes, which just as well may have been the case on Mars. According to Professor Bernard Wood of Oxford University:
As oxidation is what gives Mars its distinctive colour, it is likely that the 'red planet' was wet, warm, and rusty billions of years before Earth's atmosphere became oxygen-rich.
Though it may still be mostly speculative at this point, there's a decent chance that all those wonderful pictures Curiosity beams down could actually be a peek into our planet's red, dusty future. More here.

Jun 18, 2013

Hidden iOS 7 Settings Reveal What Apple Is Working On


How to actually access the hidden settings is unclear as it doesn't appear to be readily available to everyone with the beta. The above video shows a handful of nice-to-have tweaks like the ability to nest folders within folders now that iOS 7 has pages within folders. You can even hide pre-installed apps!

Other hidden gems include gestures that are activated from corners or swipes from the edge. The latter of which can already be found in Mail and Safari, for instance. As 9to5Mac points out, we could see these new-to-iOS gestures for quicker app switching later on but not much else, as the settings are hidden and likely only for internal use. More here.

Why Haven't Mugs Told Us the Coffee's Temperature Until Now?

If you've got $38 to spare and a few weeks to wait for delivery, Brando's got a new temperature sensing travel mug that guarantees you'll never again burn your mouth on scalding hot coffee—or accidentally sip a stale brew that's gone cold.

A built-in thermometer lets the insulated mug report back how hot or cold its contents are via a two-digit LCD display on the outside. But if you can't make hide nor hare of the metric system mumbo jumbo it uses to display the temperature, the mug also has a heart on its side that glows blue, orange, or red, visually indicating how hot or cold your beverage is. Just don't expect your lawsuit against McDonald's to hold up when you're holding indisputable evidence your coffee was too hot to drink. More here.

Jun 17, 2013

They've Invented a Twist-Off Wine Cork and Life Will Never Be the Same

Just when you thought that mankind's genius could go no further, four years of research has given birth to a new apex in cork innovation. Please say hello to your newest wine-stopper, the Helix cork.

The product of a collaboration beween the industrious lushes at cork manufacturer Amorim and those at bottle-making company O-I, the new threaded, resealable design (and matching threaded bottle neck) is aimed at the "popular premium" wine market, which includes bottles that retail for between $8-$15, roughly. And while four years of research may seem a tad excessive, much of that time was spent waiting... and waiting... and waiting some more, allowing them to see whether or not the new cork had any effect on taste, aroma, or color. (Spoiler: it didn't.)

This kind of testing was necessary because the agglomerated type of cork used in the Helix is atypical of wine manufacturing. Since cork is cellular in nature, the presence of open spaces in a common, straight cork stopper is ideal—it allows the wine to fill those spaces, expand the cork, and form a tight seal. However, agglomerated cork is more granular, meaning fewer open spaces and less room for expansion. This would be a problem with a normal stopper, but the threaded design of the Helix creates its own tight seal, meaning oxygen can't escape on the sides while the density of the stopper prevents oxygen from escaping through the cork itself.

And its resealability is a major plus in the eyes of consumers, who want the convenience of a resealable container but still prefer cork to other methods of wine stoppering such as screw tops. According to Erik Bouts, O-I Europe president:
Cork is still by far the preferred stopper. Our research has found that at least 80% of consumers prefer the cork and glass combination for their wine. It has the highest-quality image in the market and now we have made it easier to use. And it is still the most sustainable option.
The Helix cork is being unveiled at Vinexpo in Bordeaux today, although its creators say it may still be two years before we start seeing it on shelves. So if you must have your fancy corks, until the day comes that we can leave the cork screws behind and securely reseal wine with ease, it seems your best option is to just finish the bottle. No one said being classy came easy. More here.

Origami-Inspired Clocks So Attention-Grabbing, You'll Never Run Late

Sometimes a piece of design is so interesting, it's hard not to drop everything and pay attention to it. Dressed in bright, bold colors, with sharp, tessellated forms, these origami clocks from U.K. firm Raw Dezign definitely fits the bill.

The clocks come in turquoise, yellow, and cream, and you can pick from gold, black, or silver hands. Each one is cast in resin, and the tickers are hand molded to give each clock face its own custom look. They go for $78 and ship in two to three weeks (because, you know how custom work goes). They're eye-catching, one-of-a-kind, and infinitely more interesting than clock of the run-of-the-mill cuckoo variety. More here.

These Stash Coins Are a Fantastic Way to Lose Your SD Card


The Man has his hand in your inbox, cops are intimidating citizens who film them beating other citizens, it's only logical to want to keep the private contents of your SD card, well, private. The Covert Coin from CCS Spy Gear is a precision-machined piece of retired US currency that are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing when closed. Which is great, until you accidentally deposit 16GB of files into a parking meter. More here.

Jun 16, 2013

Scientists Have Found the Ancient Secret of Indestructible Concrete

For the most part, we humans are better at things than we were thousands of years ago. But there are some things the ancients had down pat. Roman concrete, for instance, is just way better than anything we can whip up today. Finally, after some 2,000 years, modern-day scientists have figured it out. And it's a secret worth knowing.

Concrete, while often not exactly pretty, is a super important tool of city-building today. We've been using Portland cement (an ingredient in concrete) as a binder for nearly 200 years as a building block of modern architecture, but it just can't hold a candle to that old Roman stuff. There are concrete harbors in Italy that are still doing pretty well after thousands of years. Meanwhile, a modern-day Portland cement structure is lucky to last 50 years when exposed to saltwater.

Now, after years of research in labs across the US and Europe, scientists have figured out that the most robust Roman concrete is a specific mixture of lime and volcanic rock, the details of which have been published in this month's issues of the Journal of the American Ceramic Society and American Mineralogist.

The researchers described it this way in a press release on the subject:
The Romans made concrete by mixing lime and volcanic rock. For underwater structures, lime and volcanic ash were mixed to form mortar, and this mortar and volcanic tuff were packed into wooden forms. The seawater instantly triggered a hot chemical reaction. The lime was hydrated – incorporating water molecules into its structure – and reacted with the ash to cement the whole mixture together.
And it gets even better. Portland cement is environmentally messy to produce, accounting for some seven percent of the C02 modern industry produces. Roman concrete? Much, much greener. There's still a lot of work to be done in adapting traditional Roman construction techniques to today's needs. But the recipe is as good as ever. We just have to get cookin'. More here.

Jun 14, 2013

While solar power promises a lot, it's only ever going to help satisfy our energy needs if it becomes efficient enough. Fortunately, Sharp has just made the world's most efficient solar cell, which converts a staggering 44.4 percent of incident light into electricity. Take that, fossil fuels.

The cell uses a special lens-based concentrator system, which focuses sunlight onto the cell to help improve the efficiency Once the light's focussed, a stack of three photo-absorption layers convert it into electricity. Even then it's no mean feat to squeeze out an efficiency of 44.4 percent, and the process saw Sharp invest a huge amount of time in tuning the device's dimensions to focus the light properly and reduce losses between layers.

While it's impressive, you probably won't see one strapped to the roof of a house any time soon. Devices this exotic are more likely to end up on a spacecraft in the first instance, where efficiency trumps cost every time. That's not to say it won't ever make it to the domestic market—it might just take a little time. More here.

Microsoft Office for iOS: Complete Video Walkthrough and Hands On


A Two-Pound Cast Iron Tape Dispenser Guarantees One-Handed Operation

Any task requiring the use of clear tape would be a lot easier if you could snatch a strip of the sticky stuff with just one hand. And while there have been many complicated contraptions that promise exactly that functionality, Black+Blum have found a simpler approach that takes advantage of that perpetual force known as gravity.

For starters, the On a Roll tape dispenser is made from cast iron, and weighs in at a hefty 2.3 pounds. So no matter how hard you pull and yank on a strip of tape, its weight and grippy rubber feet guarantee the tape will break before the dispenser budges. And further taking advantage of gravity, the angled support keeps the roll in place without requiring additional components. Simplicity is the name of the game here, and if you want a tape dispenser that could probably survive a nuclear blast, this would be $44 well spent. More here.

Jun 13, 2013

Garbage Can That Looks Like the Mac Pro Is a Hot Item in Japan

Amazon Japan's official Twitter account even jokingly tweeted that the Ideaco garbage can "was not the new Mac Pro".

The gag worked. That tweet was retweeted over thirteen thousand times and favorited nearly three thousand times. And currently, this garbage can is ranked number deux in the online retailer's interior furniture best sellers. It's also Amazon Japan's best selling garbage can.

There are also the inevitable funny Amazon reviews, with people "warning" that this was in fact a garbage can and pointing out that it could not run Thunderbolt 2. There was even a wry worry about how the black cylinder could show dust.

But as one Amazon Japan reviewer noted, "It does have the innovative ability to hide the plastic bag by a concealing cover." Shame it can't run Thunderbolt, though! More here.

Jun 12, 2013

Wireless Pillow Speakers Put a Personal Home Theater In Your Bed

You may have spent a small fortune on the impressive home theater setup in your living room, but when you're watching TV in bed, are you really going to settle for the crappy sound coming from its tiny speakers? Of course not. But skip the redundant bedroom surround sound setup and go with these SoftSound pillows which feature a wireless set of stereo speakers built right in.

Instead of opting for Bluetooth, which most TVs don't have built-in anyways, the pillow gets a wireless audio feed from an included RF transmitter that connects to and sits atop your TV. Because the audio out connection on your TV isn't controlled by its remote, the $130pillow comes with its own soft remote that won't hurt if you accidentally roll over onto it, plus a sleep timer to ensure you don't wake up at four in the morning with it blaring in your ears.

Now all we need is someone to develop a sub-woofer mattress for the experience to be complete. More here.

Yep, That's a Helicopter Bicycle



OK, so none of us probably have any use for a flying bike, but it's alright to want one. It's perfectly natural. So just let the wild envy wash over you as this Frankenstein machine takes flight.

Developed by three Czech companies working in unison, the bike was demoed for the first time in Prague today, where it underwent a remote-controlled five-minute flight. The 209-pound rig with its four battery-powered propeller pods isn't quite capable of carrying around a real human being yet, so instead a dummy got the inaugural ride. Hope he enjoyed it.

Jun 11, 2013

Clever Trunk Dividers Stop Your Groceries From Taking a Wild Ride

It's all but guaranteed that the most hair-raising drives you'll have will be immediately after you fill the trunk with groceries, plants, and anything else you don't want to topple. But with these $13 Stayhold trunk dividers, you can hand your keys to a Hollywood stuntman and not have to worry about the bread being crushed by a jug of milk.

The solid plastic shields grips your trunks carpeting to keep whatever it's butt-up against securely in place. It can handle cargo as heavy as a toolbox or a suitcase, and unless you're putting air between the tires and the road, everything will be exactly as you organized it when you get to your destination. Now if only they made a version for kids. More here.

Jun 10, 2013

There Was Drinkable Water On Mars According To Opportunity

Opportunity, aka The Little Rover That Could, is still making important discoveries 10 years into its Martian jaunt. After the devastating loss of twin rover Spirit in 2011, Opportunity rallied and kept trekking, only to recently discover a fascinating rock near Endurance Crater.

One of the oldest rocks ever analyzed, the specimen shows that drinkable water once existed on Mars. Opportunity identified a type of clay mineral on the rock that is only formed in neutral water, like the water found on Earth. Steve Squyres, the principle Opportunity researcher, noted that Opportunity has found other liquids that could chemically be described as water in the past, but these samples were all closer to sulphuric acid. Curiosity recently found similar evidence of neutral water at Gale Crater. Squyres said:
It is really striking to me, how similar the stories are for the rocks at Gale and Endeavour crater.
Though the desert conditions on Mars have made other Martian water acidic, the findings contribute to theories that Mars may once have been habitable. Nice hustle, Opportunity. Way to be. More here.

All the New iOS Features Your Old iPhone Won't Get


As expected and widely reported ahead of today's keynote, Apple introduced a completely revamped iOS at WWDC. Not only did they ditch the skeuomorphic design scheme in favor of something a little more colorful and fun, the company added a handful of neat new features—some old, some new. But as with any major update to the mobile OS, there are a handful of features that won't be coming to older generation iOS devices. (Hint: It's because Apple wants you to upgrade.) 

Now, according to Apple "features are subject to change" and "not all features are available on all devices." Here's what you're getting and not getting based on each device. (And in some instances some services will be limited to 10 devices.)

AirDrop (which requires an iCloud account): iPhone 5, iPad(4th generation), iPad mini, iPod touch (5th generation)

Siri: iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad (Retina and newer), iPad mini, iPod touch (5th generation)

Panorama: iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (fifth generation)

Square and video formats and swipe to capture: iPhone 4 and newer, iPad 3rd generation and newer, iPad mini, iPod touch (fifth generation)

Filters in Camera: iPhone 5, iPod touch (fifth generation)

Filters in Photos: iPhone 4 and up, iPad (3rd generation and newer)

Jun 9, 2013

This Papercraft BBQ Will Make You Hungry Enough to Eat a Notebook

Summertime is upon us, and that means it's grilling season. You could go down to the store to pick up everything you need for a tasty BBQ, or you could just make do with what you can find on your desk. That second option is remarkably nice-lookin' but probably not the most delicious.

This drool-worthy yet stylized piece of art was put together by the French creative team zim & zou, and inspired by some illustrations that lept off the page but not quite into anyone's mouths. They wouldn't do too well on the grill either. Now if you'll excuse me I REALLY have to go get dinner. More here.


Jun 8, 2013

What Happens When You Use a Giant Construction Drill on a Car?


It's quite simple really, the car gets completely destroyed, screwed and mangled in every which way possible. The TR-150 construction drill completely eats the car alive to the point where it can no longer drill it anymore, it has to smash and pulverize it. Using construction tools for destruction is a beautiful thing.

Leaked Windows Phone Screenshots Finally Show a Notification Center

Windows Phone 8 is pretty, and there's a lot of things to like about it. But for every one of those there's also a glaring absence. Hopefully one of those is soon to disappear, leaked screenshots of an internal build of the OS shows that there's finally a notification center, presumably coming soon.

The screenshots were shared by a Redditor who bought a 920 off Ebay and found that it was running a peculiar OS: an internal beta. In addition to the notification center, there seem to be some improvements to multitasking as well, including the ability to close applications in that view.

As with any leak, there's always the possibility it's just a big fake, but there's nothing about this set of screenshots to make it wildly suspicious. On top of that, we know Microsoft's pushing out a Windows 8.1 update soon, and when an update comes to Windows Phone 8, you'd hope it would include something so basic as a notification center. Here's to hoping. More here.

Amazon Has a 3D Printer Section Now

3D printers just got a little more mainstream. Amazon has now opened its own 3D Printer page for the sale of printers and filaments so you can get all that jazz shipped right to your door with the greatest of ease.

Amazon is peddling the MakerBot Replicator 2, Afinia 3D Printer H-Series, 3D Systems' Cubify (not available), fabbster 3D Printer, Airwolf3D, and a couple of Chinese models as well as well as filament—both ABS and PLA varieties. You can also pick up books, CAD software, and other assorted parts there too.

It's just one small step to bigger 3d printer adoption; this doesn't make them any cheaper. But it's never been easier to pick one up if you're in the market. More here.

Jun 7, 2013

A Lego Segway Is as Ridiculously Wonderful as You'd Expect


Lego whisperer Simon Burfield has a knack for taking the plastic building toy well past the limits of what it was intended for. His specialty is building rideable creations including a full-sized wheelchair, and now a rather brilliant Segway clone.


It can easily support his weight, and even turns with a pivoting handle. The current version doesn't self-balance—yet—but that's totally within his grasp since the 'Legway' already has four Mindstorm NXT control modules on board. And Burfield claims he's already started construction on a larger version that promises to be even more amazing. Can you imagine the size of the box these sets would come in? The building instructions would be as thick as a phone book.

A Simple Design Tweak Makes Sleeping Bags Less Like Straitjackets

A tapering mummy-style sleeping bag is easier to travel with since they can be compressed extremely compact. But if you suffer from even a smidgen of claustrophobia, spending a night in one can be like sleeping in a straitjacket. To make them more comfortable and compatible with those of us who toss and turn, Nemo has created a spoon-shaped sleeping bag which provides extra space where it's needed, without sacrificing portability.

The $230 Rhythm 40 bulges at the knees and elbows to allow the occupant to easily roll over during the night, or strike a more comfortable sleeping pose that doesn't have them just lying on their back. The sleeping bag's also waterproof, for unanticipated leaks and floods in the night, and has a pocket in the hood for stashing a pillow. Suddenly, camping seems a bit less like roughing it. More here.

Jun 6, 2013

Intel's Prototype Thunderbolt Flash Drive Is the World's Fastest

You can officially stop bragging about how fast your fancy new USB 3.0 flash drive is. At the Computex show in Taipei Intel was showing off this hacked together prototype of adedicated Thunderbolt 128GB flash drive boasting data transfer speeds of 10 Gbit/s, or about twice as fast as USB 3.0's max. And now that Thunderbolt 2 has been introduced, waiting around for large files to copy to your flash drive could be a thing of the past.

Of course Intel had no word on when consumers could get their hands on the Thunderbolt flash drive, if ever. But there was plenty of interest in it, and as the protocol becomes more popular, it's safe to assume at some point these will move past the prototype stage—hopefully with that adorably compact form factor still intact. More here.

Jun 5, 2013

Sonar Could Let Your Body Talk to Machines Better

Sonar. Subs use it. Dolphins use it. And someday your own body might use it to detect and treat what ails you. Echolocation unlocking the quantified self.

Given that the human body is mostly water—about 60 percent—researchers at the University of Buffalo are currently developing miniaturized sensors that use ultrasounds to communicate with other embedded devices, like pacemakers, in the body to figure out what's going on under all that flesh.

What's different about this type of "body area network" is that it isn't relying on a series of sensors that use electromagnetic radio frequency waves but instead uses ultrasound, which Tommaso Melodia, PhD, UB associate professor of electrical engineering, says is far more efficient given the body's mostly liquid composition. Radio waves, you see, have a hard time penetrating through the human body, much less water. A cluster of devices sending radio waves back and forth to each other also generates a significant amount of heat, which isn't really something you want happening inside your body. Melodia's theory has garnered a five year, $449,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to further investigate this idea.

So, for example, if you're a diabetic and have embedded insulin pumps that are connected to a blood glucose monitor, the two could communicate via ultrasound to regulate insulin levels in real time.

We're obviously still years away from Melodia's ultrasound network becoming a reality but it's this type of wearable technology that will one day make the quantified self a reality. the NSF grant will allow Melodia and his team to begin modeling and experiment with an array of ultrasonic, wireless body sensors. More here.

Jun 4, 2013

Can We Invent Technology to Record Our Dreams?


Do you remember the dream you had last night? Last week? Last month? Probably not. Our sleepy imagination just vanishes without a trace. But... what if we could record our dreams? Like invent some sort of dream DVR. Then we would never forget.

AsapSCIENCE delves into the mysterious world of dreaming to answer the question of whether or not we can invent technology and software to translate our dreaming brain into actual recordings. It's sort of mind blowing how close we already are.

Watch Every Single Version of Windows Ever in One Exhaustive Video


A very patient soul spent hours and hours of his life installing each version of Windows from 1.0 to 8.0 Pro, then sped up the footage. The result? The entire history of the operating system condensed into just over an hour. Bonus points: Daft Punk's Random Access Memories as the soundtrack.

It's fun to see how antiquated Windows 1.0 looks against Windows 8's clean, Metro design, and the hour-long ride gives you a nice, big picture look at how far Windows has come (with a quick break for Doom and Reversi). More here.

Jun 3, 2013

The World's Thinnest 1TB Hard Drive Is Just 7mm Thick

If you're in the market for slimline storage, Western Digital has just the hard drive for you: it's latest offering, WD Blue, crams 1TB into a case that's just 7mm thick.

Small enough, in fact, to make it the world's thinnest 1TB hard drive right now. The small frame doesn't mean it skimps on features, though: it has motor shafts at each end to reduce vibration and improve tracking, secure parking to keep the heads away from the plates during shocks, and both electromagnetic and piezo actuators for more precise movement.

For $140 with a two year warranty, it seems like a pretty sweet deal—and should help all those exciting new Haswell ultrabooks stay as slim and slinky as possible. It's available as of today, for both OEMs and consumer alike. More here.

Vine for Android Is Finally Here

Vine, the very popular way to splice together six-second video vignettes, is now available for Android. Here's the Google Play link, which is live for your video-sharing enjoyment right now—after some initial delays, it looks like the download link is finally operational.

Twitter purchased Vine when it was still just a nothing startup late last year, and launched . Despite some early controversy, and questions about how fun/useful Vine actually is, the service has really blossomed over the last half-year into something both fun and useful, dragging millions upon millions of regular users into it's whirlpool of erratic filmstrips. (Vine claims it's got some 13 million users in tow.)

Jun 2, 2013

A Lamp Made of 200 Traffic Cones Is the World's Craziest Hazard Light

The minds behind "Planet: Under Construction" (PUC), on the other hand, put some 200 cones to a use that's awesome.

Made from a big, spherical metal frame work with a high-powered lamp in the middle and the 200 cones bungie corded on around the outside, PUC was created by the international architecture firm Woods Bagot for Vivid Sydney. It'll mark the entrance point to the festival at large until June 10th, suspended in the air by cables like some construction-working sun. Beats a shirtless dude waving an orange flag any day. More here.

Electrified Wolverine Claws Are Fabulously Ill-Advised


I think it's safe to say that we all want Wolverine claws. Sure, working out some of the logistics would be tough at first, but come on. You would feel invincible! And you could open plastic packaging really easily. To this end, Master James made a set of great looking claws at a machine shop. But they weren't awesome enough. So he electrified them.

Inspired by "Thor's Hammer," a Hack A Day project, James hooked his claws to the transformer from a salvaged oil furnace and let the sparks fly. He notes that he has no sense of how high the voltage is, which just makes the whole thing stupid amazing. Safety and the internet have never really mixed and this makes it all worth it. More here.

Jun 1, 2013

Unique Photo Shows the Ridiculous Size of America's First Spaceships

One of the things that always shocks me when I go to the Kennedy Space Center is the tiny size of the Mercury (left) and Gemini (right) capsules—the missions that jumpstarted the American space exploration program. This unique photo clearly shows how ridiculous these tin cans are.

It also shows how big the astronauts' gonads were. Look at them! These guys were actually strapping themselves to oversized photo booths attached to metal cylinders full of a few tons of explosive fuel. Even Gemini—designed to carry two humans and rendezvous in orbit—looks stupidly small. More here.

How Big Would an iPhone Be If You Combined All the iPhones Ever Sold

Very, very big. Like way bigger than the new World Trade Center big. Like almost double the world's tallest tower big. If you combined all the iPhones ever sold into a single gigantic monolith of a phone, it'd be 5,059 feet tall and 2,846 feet across. Ridiculous!

In Animal's very silly series Stupid Calculations, Josh Orter figured out the size of a ginormous iPhone by doing simple math with a lot of numbers. It's delicious arithmetic, to be honest. Here's a tasty sampling:
305,160,600 older models x 5.65 square inches=1,724,157,390² inches
51,131,400 iPhone 5’s x 6.83 square inches= 349,227,462² inches
TOTAL 2,073,384,852 square inches (14,398,506 sq ft or 330.54 acres or 0.516 square miles)
That was the calculations to figure out the area of the beastphone but to calculate the dimensions, he needed to jump through more hoops. Comparatively speaking, the giant iPhone would be wider than Central Park (2,846 feet vs 2,640 feet) and its surface area would dwarf the new World Trade Center (330.54 acres vs 23 acres).

Hell, if you wanted to pave a standard highway with all the iPhones ever sold, you could do so for 227 straight miles. Read the rest of the fascinatingly (but admittedly useless) report  here.