• Real-Life Mario Karting!

    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,

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  • Can Your Manicure Do This?

    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

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  • 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

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