• When Glenn Martin was a boy, in 1969, he watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Afterward, he imagined a not-too-distant future in which humans had bases on Mars and flew to work with personal jetpacks.

    Later, in 1981, when he was an undergraduate studying biochemistry in New Zealand, Martin wondered why the future had not yet arrived.

    “I was a bit disappointed it hadn’t happened,” said Martin, now 53 years old. “One night at the local watering hole we had a discussion [where we asked] ‘why don’t we have our jetpacks? Why don’t we have our bases on Mars?’ And I went back to the science library and started researching it.

    Three decades later, Martin has realized his boyhood dream. His jetpack, which is called the Martin Jetpack, has been cleared for manned testing by New Zealand’s aviation authority. It can fly for 30 minutes and reach heights of 5,000 feet and speeds of 60 mph.

    Asked if it’s safe, Martin said, “In comparison with a light helicopter or something like that we believe

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  • This Smart Pen Spell Checks As You Write

    If you think the pen has stopped evolving then you haven’t heard about Lernstift, a pen that spell checks your words as you write.

    German for “learning pen,” Lernstift has a built-in motion sensor that transfers data via Wi-Fi to a handwriting recognition engine that immediately recognizes misspellings and poor calligraphy. The pen vibrates when you make a mistake.

    Lernstift was created by Falk Wolsky, a German software developer and inventor, who quickly partnered with Daniel Kaesmacher to bring the pen to market. It currently operates in German and English, but any language is possible, said Kaesmacher.

    “The idea for Lernstift was born from a family moment,” explained Kaesmacher during a Skype interview. Last October, Wolsky’s wife was helping their son with his homework when she noticed he was making several spelling mistakes because he wasn’t focusing. She later joked to Wolsky that she wished there was a pen that could shock their son into attentiveness.

    “He heard that [and]

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  • Revenge of the Typewriter

    When was the last time you received or wrote a typewritten letter? Better yet, when was the last time you so much as saw a typewriter?

    The elegant, antiquated word processor became obsolete long ago but they haven’t ceased to exist. In fact, they may even be due for a comeback -- that is, if Jack Zylkin, an electrical engineer from Philadelphia, has his way.

    Zylkin, a typewriter enthusiast of sorts, has devised a simple electrical method for turning any typewriter into a computer keyboard. He calls it the USB Typewriter kit; after installing it, you can write a letter on a typewriter and have an instant backup copy on your computer.

    In essence, you can write an email, or post to Twitter and Facebook -- any computer application you want -- with a typewriter.

    “Realistically speaking, most people don’t have the space on their desk or time to use a typewriter in their daily lives,” said Zylkin in an interview conducted over Skype. “With the USB typewriter, I hope to take the magic of old

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