Stories tagged inventions

Using his head: On his recent trip to Africa, Presudent Obama tried out the new SOCCKET soccer ball.
Using his head: On his recent trip to Africa, Presudent Obama tried out the new SOCCKET soccer ball.Courtesy AP
Kids' soccer games in Third World nations can help provide needed power to electricity-lacking villages through this new invention of two college student. The SOCCKET puts a gyroscope inside a soccer ball, capturing kinetic energy generated by the ball's motion. That energy is stored in a battery in the ball. A cap can be popped off the ball at night exposing a socket to the battery. Thirty minutes of kids' soccer action can power a LED light for three hours. Here's we're you can learn more and see the ball in action.

http://unchartedplay.com/soccket/

This kid is contributing to alternative energy development: In his own way.
This kid is contributing to alternative energy development: In his own way.Courtesy jellywatson
I guess that the guy who invented the Super Soaker squirt gun is also kind of an all-around engineering genius. His company is currently developing a new kind of solar panel that converts heat (instead of light) into electricity. It could be a really big deal, or it could be slightly misplaced enthusiasm (see the "Bloom Box".)

In any case, read about it here. It's sort of exciting technology, and the inventor, Lonnie Johnson, has an interesting story.

I see the ramp is already in place. Teams are furiously working this week to build their contraptions. How much flight will be generated Saturday at the Red Bull Flugtag on Harriet Island? What? You don't know what Flugtag is? Click the link to learn more, see video and learn about the Minnesota competitors. You can also check it all out for free Saturday from 1 to 3:30 p.m., directly across the Mississippi River from SMM.

Dec
06
2009

Eureka!: At last!  The world will be mine!
Eureka!: At last! The world will be mine!Courtesy Saperaud
Looking for a winter “project”? Why not invent something during your hibernation. You might make a million dollars! Or, in the case of an Amsterdam artist slash space engineer, who must enjoy a good laugh, you could invent a wacky mirror and convince the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences to give you 80,000 Euros for your amazing “scientific instrument”! Called the Cyclops Mirror, when you look through it, your right eye sees your left eye and vice versa. As you get closer your reflection turns into a single cycloptic eye. Cool. But 80,000 Euro cool? Haven’t I seen this at the House of Mirrors at the carnival?

For the more ambitious, you could invent something practical or even wacky and sell it online. For the environmentally friendly scientist, how about inventing a wooden cell phone? Too late. Check out this biodegradable wood phone that even has a camera. How about solar power technology? What soccer fan wouldn’t want a solar powered soccer ball shaped mini fan for those heated summer games. Or for those cold winter days, how about solar powered hat and mittens (I might have to get a set of these)!

Want to get rich quick in two ways? Invent some metal detector sandals and then go find some ancient treasures! Just strap on these groovy shoes and keep your hands free for carrying your treasure hoard. The detecting device strapped to your ankle is discretely hidden under your trousers so the neighbors don’t think you are on house arrest!
Treasure Island: If only Jim Hawkins had the handy new metal detector shoes, he wouldn't have ran into trouble with those pirates!
Treasure Island: If only Jim Hawkins had the handy new metal detector shoes, he wouldn't have ran into trouble with those pirates!Courtesy Wittkowsky

Check out these websites for more invention fun, get started on your next great creation and take over the world!

http://www.ideaconnection.com/new-inventions/
http://www.inventionreaction.com/
http://www.livescience.com/inventions/

Sep
28
2009

Last week Japan's Honda Motor Company unveiled a new invention, the U3-X personal mobility device, pictured in the short video here. As one might expect from the folks who brought you ASIMO, a humanoid robot that can even recognize faces, the U3-X looks a lot like something you might see in a futeristic Sci-fi movie.

Instead of pedaling, this battery operated unicycle moves in whichever direction you lean, sort of like a Segway Personal Transporter (and in my opinion, just as awkward). To me it looks like it might be a little precarious, but Honda claims that the U3-X is easy to use. They hope that this invention will be useful to commuters and the elderly. They claim that it's small size, light weight (less than 22 pounds), and easy-to-use design make it an ideal transportation device for people who live in crowded cities.

Sound like fun? Well, unfortunately the invention is still so new that you can't even buy one. For now you're stuck with a regular old unicycle.

You can read more about the U3-X and see a longer video on National Geographic News.

Jan
08
2009

Recycling plastic: A patent on sorting, grinding, and reusing plastic for manufacturing or energy
Recycling plastic: A patent on sorting, grinding, and reusing plastic for manufacturing or energyCourtesy Meaduva

Don't throw it away. Recycle.

Each day millions of tons of plastic and organic products are "thrown away". Where is "away"? Probably a land fill. A better idea would be to somehow recycle these materials into a useful product, or use it as a source of energy.

Plastic and cellulose waste recycling idea "owned"

A new patent application claims that a blend of waste plastic and cellulose from plant material can make a good building material or the plastic/cellulose mix could be burned for fuel. (click to view patent application, 38pg PDF)

It would be beneficial to develop a process that can efficiently and cost effectively convert multiple types of waste byproducts into useful materials usable for: (i) heat and/or energy generation; and/or (ii) structural, sound attenuation, and/or insulation materials.

Do you think "Recycling" should be patented?

Would someone explain what this patent does? To me it claims to own the concept of turning garbage into stuff or burning it. If someone works out detailed methods of doing what is described in the blockquote above, would they have to pay money to the person who patented the concept?

Sources:
" Invention: Recycled trash construction materials" New Scientist
Abstract: "Blending Plastic and Cellulose Waste Products for Alternative Uses"

Jun
12
2008

It's...a powedered donut with a bite missing: No! It's a dust bunny biting another dust bunny.
It's...a powedered donut with a bite missing: No! It's a dust bunny biting another dust bunny.Courtesy kiwehowin.
I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve always been very good at picking images out of clouds. Before anyone else can see anything but a boring ol’ cloud, I’m all, “Hey, look, it’s a bunny’s tail,” or “that one looks like a huge damn cotton ball,” or “that one looks like smoke,” or “can you see the snowdrift in that cloud?”

If the world is a party, I am the life of the party (I don’t get invited to a lot of “actual parties,” so this is good).

It’s frustrating then that some modern day Da Vinci, am Einstein for the 21st century, a veritable living Stephen Hawking, has invented a custom cloud-making machine, a device that can make clouds that look like anything you want.

If anyone in the world can look at a cloud, and immediately say, “Hey! It’s obviously a balled up gym sock,” where does that leave me and my God-given talents? It leaves me in the gutter. Or dead. I’m like a latter day John Henry. JHenry, perishing beneath the horrible, diaphanous advance of technology.

Slow down there, JHenry, and explain.

Former magician Francisco Guerra, not content to play God the old fashioned way, making clouds with smoke stacks and cooling towers, has created a machine to create custom shaped clouds out of soap and helium. The clouds are limited only by your corporation’s imagination, ranging “from Mickey Mouse to the Olympic rings.” No doubt this pervert will come up with something even more obscene than either of those images, I’m sure.

My only solace here is that the custom clouds, or “Flogos,” still sound a little crappy—although Guerra is working on machines to produce them on a large scale, Flogos are only about 3 feet in size, they generally hover at around 500 feet, and can drift up to 30 miles before they evaporate. I feel like a 3-foot-tall Mickey Mouse, 50 stories above your head, and drifting into the next county would have somewhat less than an impressive impact. Then again, the Flogo machine can produce a cloud every 15 seconds, or so, so I guess you could make a small army of Mickey Mice.

So the world moves on, leaving JGordon behind. If you need him, look for his body in the mountains, with his hammer in his hand.

Or look for him in a cubicle, holding a pencil and a photograph of himself.

Popular Mechanics lists 10 inventions that the world is waiting for. All we need is somebody to invent them. So let’s get cracking! (What? No jet pack?)

Oct
13
2007

Science Town, USA: Also the place where the zipper was invented.
Science Town, USA: Also the place where the zipper was invented.

A panel of scientists has produced a list of the ten most significant scientific achievements developed in the Chicago area:

  1. The first controlled nuclear reaction
  2. Invention of the cell phone
  3. Hormone treatment for prostate and breast cancer
  4. Invention of magnetic recording
  5. Developing treatment for malaria
  6. The first skyscraper
  7. Discovery of the top quark
  8. Discovering chromosome abnormalities in cancer
  9. Inventing carbon-14 dating
  10. Discovering how the human body makes insulin

(Not sure if I consider #2 a noteworthy achievement, but there it is...)

Chicago also has an annual program called Science in the City. Wouldn't it be cool to do this for the Twin Cities, too?