Israeli Designer Creates Gas Mask for the Fashion-Conscious

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Let’s face it – gas masks might be incredibly useful in case of a catastrophe, but they’re not the most fashionable accessories and often make it difficult for users to interact with other people. But Israeli industrial designer, Zlil Lazarovich, is trying to change the way people perceive gas masks. She has created the world’s first ‘Social Gas Mask’ which not only looks sleek and stylish, but also allows for seamless social interactions.

With the new Social Gas Mask, you can enjoy movie nights on your couch, go outside without having people stare at you, and pretty much do everything you normally do. “The large window allows to show a greater range of facial expressions by exposing the upper cheeks, eyebrows and full width of the eyes area,” Lazarovich says. “The wide, cheeky shape of the filters gives the impression of a wide, healthy and happy face instead of a long, skeleton-like one. As opposed to current masks that often hide the user’s face, restrict communication and facial expressions, and look like an alien, the Social Gas Mask has a number of features designed to offer an empowering image and a positive experience.”

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Norwegian City’s Ingenious Bicycle Lift Makes Cycling Uphill a Breeze

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The city of Trondheim in Norway is the first and only one in the world to have a lift specially designed to help cyclists travel uphill. The contraption is called ‘Trampe’ and it can get you up a very steep hill with practically no effort on your part.

Trampe was first opened in 1993, and quickly turned Trondheim into a very popular tourist destination for cyclists. Over 200,000 cyclists have used it to go up a 130-meter hill, with no accidents reported so far. In 2012, the original lift was dismantled and replaced with a more industrialized version in 2013, called the CycloCable.

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Engineers Build Coolest Water Gun Ever

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Finally, we have an engineer who’s putting his degree to proper use! 27-year-old Londoner Alex Bygrave has used all his technical know-how to come up with the ultimate invention – an awesome Gatling water gun. Believed to be the world’s most sophisticated Gatling-style weapon of its kind, the gun features a 10-liter water tank, six barrels and a 40-foot firing range.

Alex spent 50 hours designing and building the pistol from scratch, making use of 55 separate parts made of everyday objects. “I had to first break down the mechanics of how the Gatling gun worked, and then build it up using a mix of all sorts of components,” he said.

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Meet Hitchbot, the Robot Hitchhiking His Way Across Canada

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While picking up hitchhikers is generally considered unsafe, Canadian motorists are going to find it difficult to refuse this cute, fun-loving robot. His name is Hitchbot, and he’s about the size of a six-year-old child. Equipped with a GPS, 3G wireless connectivity, a camera, and a built-in child booster seat in its bum, he will soon try to catch rides all the way across Canada – from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.

Throughout the coast-to-coast journey that starts on July 27, Hitchbot will be completely by himself. He is expected to find rides by signalling with the only movable part of its tiny body – his arm. He can talk too; researchers are expecting him to be able to charm his way into getting the rides that he needs. Along the way, he will even share all his adventures via social media. “It’ll sort of be like having an out-of-control teenager in your car, taking pictures of you and posting them on Facebook,” said David Harris Smith, the brains behind the project.

“Simply put, I am a free-spirited robot who wants to explore Canada and meet new friends along the way,” Hitchbot declares on his website. According to Smith, “Hitchbot can ask people if they have a story they would like to share with others and this would be posted as video to Hitchbot.me. We will moderate posts to avoid inappropriate content.”

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The Most Connected Man in the World Uses 700 Sensors and Systems to Record Every Detail of His Existence

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They say meditation can make you self-aware, but it looks like technology can do the job too! 45-year-old American software developer Chris Dancy, the world’s most connected human being, uses a range of sensors, devices, services and apps that gather real-time data about his activities and the environment around him. A total of 700 systems monitor his every mood and move, and being ‘the most quantified human’ has helped him know himself better than ever before. “I spent the last four years connecting all the devices that I wear to all the smart technology in my home, and piping all that data through to a single online platform, so I can search my entire life. I call it my ‘inner-net’,” he said.

Dancy doesn’t just stay connected for fun, he puts all the data to good use. By constantly monitoring his movements and eating habits, he has managed to lose 100 pounds. “I now know what to drink, what to eat, when to sleep and when to actually make myself get up. Very simple things like that,” he said. “It’s body and mind hacking. Just like we hack computers and any type of data, your body and your mind is the greatest information system humanity has ever known and understanding it makes it hackable.”

“When I touch something, I try to make sure it’s a something that I can get information out of so I can track, then search it, visualize it and share it with people who might want that piece of it,” Dancy added. He got the idea to stay connected after realizing that he was putting a lot of information online and if one of these services went out of business, relevant information would be lost. “It really started with me having a desire to digitally collect what I was creating.”

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Jesus-Inspired Miracle Machine Turns Water into Wine

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Up until a few days ago, Jesus was the only one who could turn water into wine. Now it seems anyone can do it. All they need is one of these $499 miracle bottles, water and some special ingredients. The aptly named Miracle Machine is pretty straightforward – water goes in, wine comes out. And there’s a sachet of flavors for various types of wines, of course, as with all instant foods. Created by the founders of a California company called Customvine, Miracle Machine is currently up on Kickstarter for much needed funding.

To use Miracle Machine, all you need to do is add the ingredients sachet to the bottle, choose the type and style of wine from a menu, add water and start the machine. Then, all you need to do is wait. Thankfully, the waiting period isn’t a pain – you don’t have to keep opening the bottle to check if the wine’s ready. Instead, you can connect the bottle to your smartphone, and an app will monitor the progress for you. It will alert you when the fermentation is complete (a process that takes about three days), and the wine is ready to consume.

Kevin Boyer, CEO of Customvine, is a sommelier who also founded the Boyanci winery in Napa Valley. Miracle Machine is his brainchild, in collaboration with Philip James, a British entrepreneur and founder of the wine site Lot18. “Just like a Bible miracle, it literally turns water into wine, with just the addition of a few ingredients in a fraction of the time and cost it would normally take,” said Boyer.

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The European Space Agency Has a Sound System So Powerful It Can Kill You

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For those of you who like your music loud, here’s a fun fact: sound can kill! Only if it’s greater than 135 decibels, that is. You’re not likely to get such high-power sound waves on your iPod, but there does exist a sound system that could kill you – the European Space Agency’s monster sound horn.

The horn is the most powerful of its kind in Europe. When turned to maximum volume, there’s absolutely no chance of survival. It is a part of ESA’s Large European Acoustic Facility (LEAF), a test chamber used to perform acoustic noise tests on spacecrafts to make sure no damage occurs during rocket launches.

The sound test chamber is 16.4 m tall, 11 m wide and 9 m deep; one of its walls houses the massive horn. When nitrogen is shot through the horn, it can produce incredibly powerful sound – over 154 decibels. The effect is something like standing close to multiple jets taking off at once – enough to permanently deafen a human.

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The iPod of Prison – What Makes Sony’s 15-Year-Old Pocket Radio So Popular with Inmates?

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Now that smartphones are so popular, it’s hard to think of a world without them. But I remember a time when bulky portable music players were all the rage. I had a Sony Walkman myself as a kid; it was one of my prized possessions. No one uses that kind of devices anymore, or so we think. Even though Sony’s portable audio players don’t hold much market share, there is a special group of people who still use and love them – American prisoners.

An AM/FM radio that was specially built 15 years ago by the Japanese company for this market is still unmatched by any rival brand. The Sony SRF-39FP (Federal Prison) is so popular with inmates, it has been dubbed the ‘iPod of Prison’. Why is it so special? Let’s find out.

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240-Year-Old Writer Automaton is the Ancestor of Today’s Computers

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“The Writer” is a clockwork automaton created in the 1770s by the Swiss-born famous watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz. The mechanism, designed to write words and sentences of up to 40 characters, still works perfectly after almost 240 years, baffling everyone with its complexity. The very concept of a machine that could mechanically reproduce the human act of writing was well ahead of its time. Moreover, it must have taken a lot of time, patience and resourcefulness not only to put the idea into practice and build the mechanism, but also to give the machine the look of a boy.

The Writer uses cam technology: as the cams move, the cam followers interpret their trajectory and move the boy’s arm accordingly. The cams play an important part in the mechanism because they control not just the strokes of the pen, but also its pressure on the paper. Indeed, as Professor Simon Schaffer states in BBC Four’s documentary “Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams”, The Writer is “one of the most remarkable realizations of cam technology”. Another fascinating detail regarding the mechanism of the automaton is that it can write any word (and, therefore, any sentence) and follow the text with its eyes. What makes this possible is the fact that the wheel controlling the cams is composed of signs and letters that can easily be re-arranged in any order to form various combinations. Actually, the fact that it is “programmable” makes The Writer the ancestor of modern computers.

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The Danbocchi – A $600 Cardboard Box for People Who Value Their Privacy

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You know those moments when you’re surrounded by a sea of people and all you can think about is being alone in a tiny room? Ok, maybe that’s just me, but he point is now you can isolate yourself from the world pretty much anywhere and anytime, thanks to the Danbocchi. This ordinary-looking cardboard box is is soundproofed up to 30 decibels, so as long as you do it in a low voice, you can talk to yourself, scream, or sing without worrying about people hearing you.

The Danbocchi might seem like the perfect accessory for hikikomori, Japan’s reclusive youth, but in fact, it was designed for ordinary people who want to sing karaoke or play video games at high volume without disturbing their neighbors. If you live in an apartment with really thin walls, you probably know how annoying loud neighbors are, particularly at night, but thanks to the Danbocchi sound-dampening box, noise is no longer a problem. Just step inside, close the door, and be as loud as you can. According to the Danbocchi official site, if someone is singing karaoke at 90 decibels inside the box, it only sounds like 60 decibels to people outside of it, which is about a normal speaking volume.

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Software Developer Teaches Homeless Man How to Code and Build an App

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One day, Patrick McConlogue announced that he was going to teach a homeless man JavaScript and help him code his own app. Patrick, a 23-year-old software programmer, passed a certain homeless man every day while on his way to work and decided to run the idea by him to see if he was going to be the one.

“The idea is simple,” Patrick wrote on his website. Without disrespecting him, I will offer two options:

1. I will come back tomorrow and give you $100 in cash.

2. I will come back tomorrow and give you three JavaScript books, (beginner-advanced-expert) and a super cheap basic laptop. I will then come an hour early from work each day-when he feels prepared-and teach him to code.”

Sure enough, the ambitious homeless man, named Leo,  decided he wanted to learn how to code,  thinking that the money could be easily spent in a week while the knowledge would be a great asset to him in the future. “He told me I could have a laptop and learn how to do something and I figured it could turn into something more,” Leo said. “It’s not like I don’t have the time to learn to do it.” Leo has been homeless for two years after he lost his job as a life insurance agent and came home only to find out that his rent went up as a consequence of luxury condominiums being built near his apartment. Despite his bad luck, Leo cared to mention that he was not unhappy or desperate when Patrick offered to teach him. Even though he believed “coding was something that went over like, a dessert” most likely thinking it meant “coating”, the man wanted to diversify his abilities so that he could once more be able to sustain himself financially.

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The Pavlov Poke – A Shocking Way to Cure Facebook Addiction

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Frustrated by the amount of time they spent on Facebook during workdays, two MIT doctoral candidates have created the Pavlov Poke, a keyboard palm rest that sends electric shocks whenever the user spends too much time on ”email, social networking, or other online distractions”.

Robert R. Morris and Dan McDuff are both Ph.D. candidates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but like millions of other internet users out there, they are also social media addicts. After estimating they waste a combined 50 hours a week on Facebook, the two decided to take a new approach to fighting social media addiction by using electroshock therapy to keep users from wasting most of their days on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Named after the well-known Russian psychologist who performed behavioral experiments on dogs, the Pavlov Poke is a keyboard accessory programmed to send electrical shocks into users whenever they spend too much time scrolling through their Facebook news feed or browsing on distracting websites. The shocks are strong enough to make you react, but while they are unpleasant they are not dangerous.

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ECO-Cycle – Tokyo’s Amazing Underground Bicycle Storage System

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Tokyo is such a crowded place that even finding a place to park your bicycle can be a daunting task. But leave it to the Japanese to find a genius solution to this growing space problem. The ECO-Cycle Park is an automated bicycle storage system buried 11 meters under the city streets that can hold up to 200 bikes.

Although Japan is one of the world’s leading car manufacturers and its public transportation system is probably the most advanced on the planet, the bicycle is still a very popular means of getting around in the busy traffic. Unfortunately parking spaces are at a premium, and owners are often forced to leave them on the sidewalk where they become obstacles for pedestrians. To solve this problem, Japanese company Giken Seisakusho, which specializes in tidal and flood protection systems, created ECO-Cycle, a series of five underground storage bicycle storage facilities where owners can safely “park” their bikes in just 8 seconds. The buried cylindrical structures are only seven meters wide, but deep enough to safely store up to 200 two-wheel vehicles each.

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The Fake TV – A Simple and Ingenious Burglar Deterrent

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According to statistics, most break-ins take place in unoccupied houses. The Fake TV, a simple device that uses LED lights to give the impression someone is watching television inside promises to keep burglars away.

Leaving the TV on to make it look like someone is at home when you step out for the evening is a simple and effective way of tricking burglars, but what happens when you’re away for a long period of time or if the power runs out while you’re away? Blaine C. Readler, an engineer and award-winning novelist from Rancho Bernardo, California, has created a simple and effective device that mimics the alternating colors and vibrancy common in television shows, news programs and commercials, and runs on a timer programmed to turn on at dusk and run for four or seven hours. “I was stepping out for dinner and as my routine, was leaving the TV on to indicate somebody was home,” Readler told Pomerado News. “I turned to see if there was a visible signal flickering on the blinds and it came to me that you do not see the TV, just the light shining on the blinds.” He started experimenting with LEDs and watching hundreds of hours of television programs to see if he could replicate the images without a steady blink or flicker. After a long trial and error period, he manged to get the Fake TV to render scene changes, camera fade effects and the natural dynamic effects of television programming.

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Get Served by a Robot Bartender at Germany’s Robots Bar & Lounge

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Some bars use intriguing names just to attract clients, but the Robots Bar & Lounge in Ilmenau, Germany really lives up to its name. This unique venue not only has a technology-inspired decor, but also a humanoid robot bartender that mixes drinks and makes small talk with patrons.

The Robots Bar & Lounge just opened late last month, but it’s already hugely popular in the town of Ilmenau thanks to Carl, an unusual bartender who fits right in the techie atmosphere of the place. Carl is a humanoid robot built by mechatronics engineer Ben Schaefer out of parts from disused industrial robots. Schaefer says that although progress has been made in the field of robotics artificial intelligence is still in its infancy, but by placing a robot in an environment where it can observe and interact with real humans it’s much easier to test the programming and make necessary improvements than it would be in a closed laboratory. Apart from evolution, Carl’s secondary goal is to bring humans and robots closer together, and prove that “scenes from science-fiction movies are quite possible”. So far, the likable bartender is doing a great job, entertaining clients with his drink-mixing skills and the occasional small-talk. Unfortunately, his speech recognition skills and ability to interact are very limited at the moment, but like all bartenders he is a very good listener. To make sure he doesn’t bump into things and spill the drinks on his clients, Scahefer equipped Carl with a belt of sensors.

 

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