This Could Be Big
- Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big20 hrs ago
Admit it: you’ve wondered what real-life Mario Kart would be like.
OK, I’ll stop projecting. Personally, I take my Mario Kart very seriously and have several lifelong rivalries with friends to prove it. I just wish they all had been with me at SXSW in Austin, TX, this year so that we could have settled the score once and for all with the real-life version.
That’s right, real-life Mario Kart.
And no, this wasn’t just go-karting with Nintendo branding plastered all over the karts. I’m talking Mario Kart essentials in real-life: speed bursts, turtle shells (of sorts) and four-player split screens.
In order to cross-promote Nintendo’s new Mario Kart 8 with a new Pennzoil motor oil, the two companies joined forces to create the most accurate version of the beloved racing game on a real-life track (that wouldn’t result in an injury lawsuit).
Here’s how it worked: each kart was outfitted with an RFID tag reader that registered RFID tags on the track. These tags were item icons: speed bursts, turtle shells, etc. When a kart hit a speed burst icon, it sped up; when it hit a turtle shell, it slowed down. Each race consisted of three-and-a-half laps around the RFID-laced track.
- Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big12 days ago
If there’s one problem with extension nails (so I’ve heard), it’s not being able to type easily with them on a smartphone. Touchscreens register body energy through fingers, but fake nails don’t conduct energy.
Dr. Sri Vellanki, a Montana-based dermatologist, kept bumping up against this problem and decided to solve it. “Some people have bigger hands and long nails and those things get in the way and aren’t very accurate,” she said.
Nano Nails, Dr. Vellanki’s invention, are fingernail styluses that look like regular nail extensions. They’re made with a conductive polymer that conducts your body energy so that your phone’s touch screen registers your touch. As a bonus, Nano Nails can be manicured just like any other nail extension.
“It has a flat tip, which activates your touch screen,” said Dr. Vellanki. “When you use it you can really see what you want to touch.”
Each Nano Nail lasts at least one week, said Dr. Vellanki. They will come in two sizes, small and large, and will cost $12.99 for a packet of four. Dr. Vellanki said Nano Nails are being packaged for sale and will be available soon.
- Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big15 days ago
Ann Makosinski was just another teenager with another science project when she joined her local science fair in Victoria, Canada, last year. Her invention, a flashlight that is powered solely from hand heat, took second place at the competition.
Ann, 16, and her parents, both of whom are HAM radio operators and like to fiddle with electronics, were satisfied with that result.
“It’s a very simple project,” said Arthur Makosinski, Ann’s father. “It has four electrical components. Let’s move on and do something different.”
But had Ann left her project in Victoria, situated just 25 miles north of Washington State, the world may have missed out on a light source that doesn’t use batteries, solar power or wind energy.
Think about that for a moment: a flashlight that shines for as long as you hold onto it. No more scrambling for and chucking away AA batteries. It could have an immediate impact on more than 1.2 billion people -- one-fifth of the world’s population -- who, according to the World Bank, lack regular access to electricity.
- Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big21 days ago
Efforts to create virtual reality in video games have been well documented. But what about making virtual objects touchable?
At Disney Research Labs in Pittsburgh, engineers are doing just that with two separate tactile projects that employ haptic technology. Haptics stimulate touch sensations, making virtual objects feel real.
The first project is called Aireal (think “air-real”), which delivers tactile air bursts in mid air. These air bursts, created by powerful sound compressions, correspond with virtual balls on a monitor so it feels like the on-screen ball is hitting you when you touch them. Likewise, when you swat the air burst, the on-screen ball is also swatted. All of this is accomplished without a wearable device.
The second tactile project, called Tesla Touch, allows you to touch objects on your tablet. When you swipe your finger over an image of sand, you can feel the friction of the grains. This is accomplished by exciting an electrode with an electric signal, which creates friction when a finger touches the screen.
- Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big26 days ago
The telephone game is played all over the world (it's known as Chinese whispers beyond North America). It involves a group sitting in a circle and starts with someone whispering a message into their neighbor's ear.
The message is then passed around the group until it makes it back to its originator; if the message is still intact, the group wins.
I can't remember ever taking part in a telephone game where the message wasn't altered in some way. But had I had an "Inshin-Den-Shin" microphone, pictured above, there wouldn't have been a contest.
Named after a Japanese expression for non-verbal communication, the microphone converts a spoken phrase into an inaudible signal that is relayed through the speaker’s body. When the speaker touches another person’s earlobe, that second person will hear what the speaker said into the microphone.
So whisper, touch, transmit. It's the telephone game, perfected.
The microphone was created by the Disney Research Lab in Pittsburgh. The lab conducts secret R&D for Disney, in essence discovering the magic that goes into the “Magic Kingdom.” (ABC News is owned by The Walt Disney Company).
- Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big29 days ago
The Magic Kingdom is synonymous with Walt Disney World, but that name could easily stand in for Disney Research Pittsburgh, a Disney-owned research facility in -- you guessed it -- Pittsburgh.
To see why, look no further than one of the lab’s latest creations: a musical plant.
Called the “Botanicus Interacticus,” this sonorous plant emits a harp-like melody when its petals are touched. How? By placing an electrode in the plant’s soil, engineers can map a hundred different frequencies around the plant.
When someone sweeps those frequencies by touching the plant, a computer connected to the electrode registers the touch and translates it into musical notes that play out from a speaker. This would also work on any conductive object, including a human being.
Music just seemed like an appropriate output for this technology, explained Jessica Hodgins, Disney Lab Pittsburgh’s director: “It could be be triggering computer graphics, a light show, or any other kind of signal.”
Hodgins shrouded the lab’s mission in secrecy. She would only divulge that they conduct R&D for Disney’s amusement parks and its consumer products. Full disclosure: ABC News is owned by the Walt Disney Company.
- David Miller at This Could Be Big1 mth ago
Americans like their beer, so it’s no surprise that food makers have been trying to infuse the flavor of beer into a variety of foods for years. We have beer flavored ice cream, beer can chicken and even beer-battered shrimp.
And now, Jelly Belly, the risk-taking creator of such jelly bean flavors as Buttered Popcorn, Tabasco and Moldy Cheese are taking a spin at infusing the flavor of beer into a jelly bean. They call their creation “Draft Beer.”
This new bean is flavored to taste like a crisp refreshing beer right out of the tap. Jelly Belly spent three years tinkering with the recipe until they created a flavor they thought matched the taste of draft beer.
Our question: can you realistically create a sweet treat that resembles the bitter and hoppy flavors of beer?
To find out, we took Draft Beer jelly beans to bars in New York City and had bartenders, professionals who spend their working day around beer, taste test them. Watch the video above to see if Jelly Belly got it right.
- Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big1 mth ago
Protein bars are a convenient and filling snack on-the-go. But with many well-known bars containing high amounts of sugar and using chemical proteins, they may not be the most nutritional option for your workout or hike.
A rash of upstart protein bar companies are seeking to change that by offering protein bars made with protein from crickets instead of from soy, whey and almonds.
That’s right, crickets. -- (cricket noise) --
EXO, a new startup founded by Gabi Lewis and Greg Sewitz, two recent Brown University graduates.The duo came up with their cricket bar iteration in their senior year when Lewis told Sewitz that he was looking for a healthy protein bar for his gym workouts.
Sewitz, who had just attended an environmental conference where he learned about edible insects as a method for combating food insecurity, suggested to Lewis that he make protein bars with cricket flour.
“When Greg suggested crickets, my mind instantly made that psychological leap to thinking of crickets as something disgusting,” said Lewis, “as something we don’t eat in the West as a traditional food source.”
- ABC News at This Could Be Big1 mth ago
Projecting an image is simple - if the surface you're projecting it on is white and flat and in a dark room. However, projecting an image onto a transparent surface is much more complicated and expensive. But a research team at MIT has developed a new and affordable transparent display system that may one day change the way we look at store windows and windshields.
The secret to MIT’s breakthrough display is a coating of silver nanoparticles on top of a thin transparent surface. These nanoparticles can identify certain wavelengths and colors, while letting the rest of the information from the projector pass through.
This technology would allow stores to project images and information onto their windows in real time. Subway trains could post minute-to-minute service changes and delays, and your car would be able to display information right on the windshield.
As opposed to other transparent displays, which are embedded with expensive electronics, this new technology has to potential to be much less expensive than other costly displays like Google Glass. Installing it would be as simple as tinting a window, and cheap enough to implement on a wide scale.
- Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big1 mth ago
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The Hubble Space Telescope has produced somejaw-dropping images from space, such as the famous “Pillars of Creation” and the Horsehead nebula.
But the Hubble will soon encounter some stiff telescoping competition from a ground-based telescope so large it has been dubbed “E-ELT ,” aka the European Extremely Large Telescope.
The telescope is being designed by t he European Southern Observatory, which will begin construction on a desert mountain top in Chile as soon as Brazil’s parliament ratifies the ESO’s charter and becomes a member state.
With a reflecting telescope that will measure more than 39 meters (127.95 feet ) in diameter, the E-ELT will be the largest telescope ever made.
According to Jochen Liske , an ESO astronomer, the E-ELT will probe for extra-solar planets with Earth-like masses and conduct direct imaging of larger planets. By analyzing light from distant galaxies, the E-ELT will help astronomers understand more about how stars are formed.