This Could Be Big

  • Smartphone Battery Charges in 30 Seconds

    David Miller at This Could Be Big 2 yrs ago

    Doron Myersdorf has had a busy couple of weeks. When we sat down with him during a quick trip to New York, the Israeli inventor had been taking phone calls from investors and smart phone manufacturers who want a piece of what may be revolutionary technology.

    His start-up company, StoreDot, has invented a smartphone battery that they claim can charge in only 30 seconds.

    “Actually we charge faster,” Myersdorf said confidently, “but our limitation is the outlet cannot provide all of the current that we need, we can charge in 5 seconds.”

    As people, we’re programmed to understand incremental advancements in technology, shaving a bit of weight off smartphones, increasing memory and added battery life. But reducing the hours it takes to charge a smartphone down to seconds is greeted with wonder and skepticism.

    According to Myersdorf, the secret to the technology is that the charge is implanted into the phone. “Basically when you unplug it from the outlet it will continue to charge your phone,” he says, “it will keep charging but you won’t know about it, but the battery charges as you go.”

  • Your Brain on Electricity: Does It Make You Learn Faster?

    Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big 2 yrs ago

    It’s midnight the night before a final exam, and you just opened a book for the first time. Cramming at this hour will probably take most of the night and yield unpredictable results.

    For those unfortunate students who have found themselves in that foxhole, the following revelation is for you: psychologists have invented a “thinking cap” that could help you learn faster.

    In March cognitive psychologists at Vanderbilt University published a report in the Journal of Neuroscience showing that we can alter our learning ability by pulling and pushing a gentle and minute amount of electrical current through the brain for 20 minutes.

    The experiment uses two electrodes, one on the subject’s cheek and one on her crown, secured by an elastic headband -- “the cap.” While this technique is non-invasive, the report’s authors cautioned that this experiment must only be conducted inside a lab setting with scientists trained with the proper equipment.

    Alternatively, the reverse effect was noticeable when the current ran in the opposite direction. “When you flip the direction of the current flow,” Reinhart said, subjects displayed “smaller performance monitoring brain activity and slower learning.”

  • Coffee Cups Inspire Breakthrough in Emergency Shelters

    Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big 2 yrs ago

    In reporting for this video blog the past year, I’ve learned that some of our most innovative ideas are hiding in plain sight.

    Case-in-point: The Exo Housing Unit, a rapid-response solution to supplying shelter to disaster victims. These lightweight, yet durable units made by Reaction are practical to deploy because they stack on top of each other like disposable coffee cups -- the very object that inspired the Exo's creation.

    “One morning I was drinking coffee,” said Michael McDaniel, CEO of Reaction, and the Exo’s creator, “and, literally, I pulled a coffee cup out of a big sleeve of cups to make coffee... and that’s when it dawned on me: coffee cups.”

    That moment of clarity came to McDaniel in 2005. At the time, he was tinkering with ways to make disaster shelters both structurally sound and easily deployable on a mass scale. An Exo unit has sloped walls that are stackable like coffee cups; in turn, organizations can max-out cargo space with dozens of units when deploying them to relief zones.

    “Most people, in the past, try to modify or adapt existing structures,” McDaniel said. “So they go in and adapt a shipping container and cut windows, [which] compromise the structure.”

  • Glow-in-the-dark Ice Cream

    David Miller at This Could Be Big 2 yrs ago

    From his lab in Buckinghamshire, England, “experimental ice creamist” Charlie Harry is creating ice cream flavors that make Ben and Jerry’s look vanilla. He’s made flammable sprinkles, edible mist, even ice cream made from a fire extinguisher.

    But one of his new inventions will have you seeing ice cream in a whole new way: in the dark.

    Using an ingredient that that you won’t find at your local ice cream shop, Charlie Harry has created a glow-in-the-dark ice cream that lights up when you lick it.

    The secret ingredient: synthesized jellyfish protein. “I love when people think it contains jellyfish, it doesn’t, it contains a synthesized version of the luminescence protein.”

    Right now he’s making a lemon and vanilla flavor, but it could be made with any flavor, “You could even have it jellyfish flavor if you wanted to,” says Harry.

    When will we be able to line up on a hot summers night to try it? While it’s perfectly safe to eat, according to Harry, it still needs to go through the approval process. Once that’s taken care of it should be available to the public.

  • Modern-Day Noah Makes Tsunami-Proof Boat

    David Miller at This Could Be Big 2 yrs ago

    From his backyard in Palo Alto, Calif., Chris Robinson is building a tsunami-proof capsule out of epoxy and plywood that he hopes will be strong enough to survive a tsunami and save the lives of those inside it.

    He’s a user experience designer by trade and looks at everything as a challenge. “What could you do that you could just climb into in your backyard,” Chris asked himself, “instead of climbing in your car and being chased by a wave?”

    The earthquake and tsunami that devastated Fukushima, Japan, had a profound impact on him. Chris lived in Japan after college and taught English in Fukushima for a year. He met his wife there; many of the places that were destroyed by the tsunami were places he and his wife frequented when they were dating.

    “The idea that tsunamis happen and have that destructive force and there really wasn’t, at that time, any kind of viable plan to survive it other than just get to high ground,” bothered Chris and was the challenge that lead him to build the capsule.

    Until then, he’ll continue building the capsule which he uses on the weekend for camping with his two sons.

  • Boats Make Better Tasting Whiskey, Or Do They?

    Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big 2 yrs ago

    If you’re in the alcohol business, you should be in the bourbon business.

    After flat-lining in previous decades relative to vodka and other spirits, sales of bourbon, a whiskey distilled from corn and aged in charred-oak barrels, are soaring. Distillers are exporting $1 billion worth of American whiskey abroad, triple the amount exported in 2002, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. And domestic sales of bourbon are up 40 percent since 2008 -- a sudden growth spurt that has distillers racing to meet demand and others trying to differentiate themselves.

    Among the latter is Trey Zoeller, the Louisville, Kentucky-based founder of Jefferson’s Bourbon, who made waves by placing a batch of barreled bourbon on top of waves -- or rather, aboard a large ocean trawler that roamed the seas for three years.

    Bourbon, says Zoeller, derives 70 to 80 percent of its taste from the maturation period inside a charred-oak barrel over several Kentucky summers and winters. Time is crucial. And short of inventing a time machine, you can’t speed up that aging process. Or can you?

  • Super-Cheap Paper Microscope Could Save Millions of Lives

    ABC News at This Could Be Big 2 yrs ago

    Imagine if clinics in developing countries were equipped with an inexpensive yet durable tool that could help medical personnel identify and diagnose a variety of deadly diseases like Malaria, Chagas disease, or Leishmaniosis? For millions of people around the world waiting to be diagnosed and treated, such a tool could be a life-saver.

    Manu Prakash, a professor at Stanford University and his students have developed a microscope out of a flat sheet of paper, a watch battery, LED, and optical units that when folded together, much like origami, creates a functional instrument with the resolution of 800 nanometers – basically magnifying an object up to 2,000 times.

    Called Foldscope, the microscope is extremely inexpensive to manufacture, costing between fifty-cents and a dollar per instrument. And because the microscope is assembled primarily from paper and optical components the size of a grain of sand, it is virtually indestructible.

    Foldscope also differs from the microscopes typically found in science labs because it’s not only portable, but it also has the ability to project an image on any surface, allowing a larger group of people the ability to look at an image simultaneously.

  • The Holy Grail of Pizza Boxes

    Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big 2 yrs ago

    Everyone has an opinion about which pizzeria is best in town, but only one person can tell you which pizza box is the best in the world: Scott Wiener, the Guinness World Record holder for the world’s largest pizza box collection.

    A self-described pizza enthusiast and the proprietor of Manhattan’s sole pizzeria tour, Scott’s Pizza Tours, Wiener, 32, has amassed a collection of more than 600 pizza boxes from at least 45 countries -- all of which he stores in a single closet inside his Brooklyn apartment.

    But Wiener isn’t a hoarder; he’s a pizza box expert. There’s a difference (he has even published a book about pizza box art) and that difference entails vital knowledge.

    According to Wiener, almost two-thirds of the pizzas eaten in the United States are placed in delivery boxes. To put that into perspective, “that’s, like, 2.1 billions pizza boxes a year eaten out of pizza boxes,” said Wiener.

    How? Watch the video above and discover what could quite possibly be the world’s most advanced pizza box.

  • A Password That You Won’t Forget But Always Changes

    David Miller at This Could Be Big 2 yrs ago

    What if you never had to remember an electronic password again? No more password combinations of capitalized and lower case letters, no more resetting those passwords when you invariably forget their combinations. What if all you had to remember was a pattern of six boxes within a 6x6 grid that never changed?

    Winfrasoft, a UK based security solutions firm, believes they’ve cracked our password woes with their new application, PINgrid. PINgrid promises two things: A password you won’t forget and a password that always changes.

    It’s a 6x6 grid of constantly changing numbers that you can load on your phone or desktop. The user only needs to remember their unique pattern of six boxes and enter the numbers that appear in their pattern. Meanwhile, the numerical password changes each time a user logs in.

    While it sounds tempting to get rid of numerical passwords, some logistical questions need to be answered. How will pattern-based passwords be implemented into our existing infrastructure? Will every ATM and desktop have a grid in the future? Or will we have to take out our phones to load PINgrid, creating another hassle altogether?

  • Turn MP3s Into Vinyl Records

    Andrew Lampard at This Could Be Big 2 yrs ago