EYE ON INNOVATION [Black Friday Edition]: Nifty Gifts for Techies

The season for gift giving has arrived, kicked off today by the frenzied shopping event Black Friday. With the holiday season in mind, consider these items for that techie on your list.

Makr Shakr. This robotic bar can make any cocktail you want and a whole lot more — shake up a martini, mix a mojito, thin-slice a lemon garnish, etc. It was a huge hit at the recent Milan Design Week, where furniture usually takes center stage. Makr Shakr is a collaboration between MIT Senseable City Lab and Carlo Ratti, an Italian architecture firm.

Ninja Coffee Bar. Fully programmable, this coffee maker can do it all: automatically brews java by various amounts, strengths, personal tastes; creates cappuccinos, lattes; includes a milk frother; and even features an iced-coffee function.

 

Small Drones. Drones are popular gifts this year. The BLADE Nano QX RTF Quadcopter is rated by Tomsguide.com as Best Drone for the Money — it sells for about $80. As Tom’s Guide muses, the drone won’t break the bank “if you happen to misjudge the top of a tree and get it stuck out of reach.” Speaking of drones, a recent Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award winner is the developer of another drone, the ultra-portable Sprite.

WooBots. These wooden transformers make “old-school toys look cool again,” says Popular Mechanics. The WooBots include an 18-wheeler cab named “Truck,” and a transforming Beetle, bus, jet fighter and warship.

 

Eye on Innovation is a weekly look at new technology, products and scientific advancements that we’ve mined from crowdsourcing sites and other corners of the Internet.

EYE ON INNOVATION: GPS Bike Computer Helps Riders Track Data, Stay Connected

Whether traversing a wooded trail on a mountain bike, or navigating an urban landscape on a more conventional road or touring bike, more riders than ever are using on-board bike computers.

The problem? There are hundreds of these GPS-equipped systems to choose from. Plus, as one reviewer commented on Bicycling.com, most of the units on the market are too complicated, “with intimidating button sequences and excessive bulk; I sensed that they were built for finding the nearest gas station, not accompanying cyclists to the tops of legendary peaks.”

One bike computer that seems to be simplifying things — though it’s not cheap — is the Elemnt GPS Bike Computer from Wahoo Fitness. As Wahoo boasts on its website, “No more confusing menus!” Riders will relate to that.

Photo from DCrainmaker.com

The Elemnt uses Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+ dual-band technology to pair up with all of a rider’s other cycling sensors. It tracks speed, cadence and power, feeding the data to a companion app. Riders can then program all of their ride goals and metrics and instantly share that data. Additionally, it has an easy-to-read display screen, so riders can keep an eye on the trail or street ahead, rather than fiddling with the computer.

Price: $330.

Eye on Innovation is a weekly look at new technology, products and scientific advancements that we’ve mined from crowdsourcing sites and other corners of the Internet.

 

 

EYE ON INNOVATION: Apollo Mission Pics Show NASA’s Pioneering Spirit

Our quest for innovation this week is a special shout out to those space exploring innovators at NASA.

Last month, more than 40 years after NASA’s historic Apollo missions orbited and landed on the moon, Kipp Teague, an archivist, released thousands of images from those missions on Flickr. Some photos have been previously published, but most have never been seen before.

As the New York Times reported, the archive comes unedited with limited information about the specifics behind each photo. Despite the lack of details, the images — and there are a stunning variety — are a treat to view.

Here are a few from Teague’s giant collection.

Eye on Innovation is a weekly look at cool technology, products and scientific advancements that we’ve mined from crowdsourcing sites and other corners of the Internet.

EYE ON INNOVATION: New Fridge Keeps Cool Without Electricity

A new powerless refrigerator uses evaporation to keep food cool and prevent items from spoiling.

Students from the University of Calgary put a new spin on refrigeration.

Great news for your next camping trip, yes, but even greater news for those parts of the world that are deprived of reliable electricity sources. As reported by Wonderfulengineering.com, for those who live in these regions, refrigeration isn’t just a way to preserve favorite foods, “it is a matter of survival itself…”

The idea for the electricity-free fridge recently captured first place in the Biomimicry Global Design Competition, sponsored by Montana-based Biomimicry Institute, which challenged students and researchers worldwide to develop nature-inspired products that address critical sustainability issues. Continue reading

EYE ON INNOVATION [Halloween Edition]: Surviving Zombies; Plus, Proto Labs’ Zombies

Nothing says Halloween like zombies. As a result, on this Halloween weekend, our Eye on Innovation features a column from the SolidWorks Simulation blog with the scary yet reassuring premise and title, “How an Engineer Survives a Zombie Apocalypse.”

Originally published last year by Desktop Engineering, the blog post offers engineering advice for zombie-proofing your house. As a SolidWorks Simulation, it leads readers through a step-by-step process to board up doors and windows just in case “the undead are stumbling over the horizon” toward your house on the day your car doesn’t start. Continue reading