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Innovation

  • Thync is a headset device that uses electrodes to cheer you up

    On Friday afternoons, one can file out of the office and grab a beer until the late hours of the following day, knowing well that they will have time to sleep it off. The anxiety from the other weekdays is a lot tricky to deal with. Hangovers are universally hated at work offices, with good reason. Enter Thync, a headset that will cheer you up by using electrodes to stimulate your head. Isy Goldwasser, the CEO and co-founder Thync, a startup based in Silicon Valley, says that Thync produces a calming effect that is similar to how one feels...

  • This biodegradable drone made of fungi can disintegrate

    A team of researchers from a variety institutions, including NASA's Ames Research Centre, has developed a biodegradable drone that can disintegrate when it needs to, destroying evidence of its spying activities in the process. The drone is made of mycelium, the vegetative part of fungi, and has already completed its first flight. According to Lynn Rothschild of NASA Ames, when the need for the drone to self-destroy arises, it need only dive into a puddle and "no one would know if you'd spilled some sugar water or if there'd been an airplane there." Ecovative Design, a material science company developing a...

  • Watch this incredible robot re-enact a scene from ‘The Karate Kid’ [Video]

    In a recent video from Boston Dynamics, an engineering and robotics design company, a robot is shown doing karate. Yup, that's a thing now. This is the same company that made the animal like robots BigDog and Wildcat. The idea that robots will one day replace human beings is ridiculous but not ridiculous enough to immediately dismiss the idea entirely without entertaining it. In the video, the robot called Atlas, balances on one leg on top of cinder bricks and re-enacts a scene from The Karate Kid movie. Though we have seen robots leap over molehills seeing one do karate is...

  • Rosetta’s about to attempt its dramatic comet landing

    The Rosetta spacecraft’s Philae lander is attempting to land on the awkwardly named comet, 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The slightly-above 100kg probe will fall for seven hours. If everything goes according to plan, it will land on a suitable patch of the 4km-long comet. Stephan Ulamec, the head Rosetta lander, said that “The most critical point was and still is the landing itself, the touchdown on the surface. This is where we will need some portion of luck." Tiny margins, massive problems Even the slightest landing error could blow the mission. If Philae overshoots and misses the comet or approaches at a bad angle, the mission...

  • This Dutch student is building an ambulance drone

    Drones have a bad reputation, an almost irredeemable bad reputation even when proposed to be put to good use. The bad boy reputation is not uncalled for. Drones, though not on its own doing, have been responsible for some gruesome attacks. One student in Netherlands at the Delft University of Technology is attempting to put drones to good use. Alec Momont needed to complete a final project at university and he set out to find a positive use for drones. Momont was also driven by something greater than fulfilling course requirements. His parents had recently lost a neighbour to...

  • Google is developing a nanoparticle pill that will detect cancer, heart disease

    Google's quest to disrupt the health industry just got properly serious. While everyone else is fiddling around wearables and apps, Google is allowing people to consult doctors without leaving their houses and is now working on a nanoparticle pill that could identify cancers and other diseases before they become a problem. The product is being developed by the technology giant's highly secretive Google X division. The pill, Google says, would contain magnetic...

  • IBM’s Watson supercomputer is coming to SA healthcare centres

    You might recall IBM's supercomputer Watson beating a quiz game of Jeopardy in 2011. The event marked a pivotal moment in our world's history where a computer matched, or preceded, the skills and intelligence of a human being for the first time. Now, Watson is entering the medical industry in Africa. With Ebola weaving a thread of death through west African countries, from one country to the next, IBM and Metropolitan Health have announced the first commercial application of Watson in Africa. Watson -- the impressive computing platform that is able to interact in natural language with people --...

  • 12 new African innovations you need to know about right now

    A while back, we told you about the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. The prize, sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), covers a variety of engineering disciplines, including agriculture, nanotechnology, sanitation, security and mobile applications. The mandate behind the contest is to celebrate early stage innovations that will have a marked impact on the lives of people across the continent. The contest organisers have just announced the 12 semi-finalists, who were whittled down from a much larger field of entries from across 15 Sub-Saharan African countries. Each of the 12 semi-finalists will receive training and mentoring from...

  • Danish-developed robotic tongue out-tastes Belgian winetasters

    The annual World Blind Wine-Tasting Championships took place in the southwestern French town of Leognan in 2013. The settlement is near France’s wine-growing capital of Bordeaux, the port city nicknamed "La Belle Endormie" (Sleeping Beauty). Teams from different countries lifted wine glasses with utmost flair, sipped and allowed the wine to swirl in their mouths before unleashing their verdict. Belgium emerged as eventual winners, but the convention of wine connoisseurs, like everything in the universe, is about to get a violent shakedown. In Denmark, researchers have created an artificial tongue and wine connoisseur, a wine tasting robot that might unseat...

  • The Internet of Things: Imagining our connected future

    What do your fitness tracker, your fridge, car, thermostat, phone, TV, gaming console and the weather service have in common? They are all connected, or soon will be. These connected devices are referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) and -- for those who've been living under a rock -- it’s the next big thing. Just how big depends on the source. It’s estimated that, by 2020, the IoT will be worth between $7 and $19-trillion as an industry. By 2020, it is estimated that 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet. By then, there will be 7...

  • 5 significant innovations our smart homes will create by 2022

    From entertainment systems and washing machines in our homes to transport technologies and environmental control outside of them, connected devices open up a world of new possibilities. Gartner not only predicts the average affluent family home to carry over 500 hundred connected devices by 2022, it also highlights a couple of areas where opportunities for innovation might arise for business. Nick Jones, vice president and analyst at Gartner, refers to smart devices as those which have gained some level of sensing and intelligence combined with the ability to communicate. Gartner suggests that although a mature smart home won't exist until the...

  • 7 ways to make a dumb home smarter

    The buzzword "smart home" fits nicely alongside terms like "The Internet of Things". But the smart home is tangible, it is something. Best of all, it's something well within the reach of us, the little people. First off, what is a smart home? Explaining  A smart home is home automation. Remote surveillance, WiFi-enabled stoves, automated porch lights, flush-aware toilet bowls, stuff like that. With an internet-enabled device connected to a smart home appliance, the possibilities are fairly endless. Think of a remote control for your gate at home, but on a grand scale, and contained within an app on your phone...

  • Siemens is challenging these students to innovate real solutions to real problems

    This is pretty cool. Siemens has just announced the finalists in its Cyber Junkyard competition, which challenges students to design and build engineering solutions to 21st century industry problems. Now in its 11th year, the competition aims to promote engineering skills and encourage tertiary students to apply theoretical knowledge from the lecture halls in real-world settings has expanded to include a new business development component. Unlike previous years, where Cyber Junkyard participants had to recreate and improve a prototype innovation supplied by Siemens, this year's students were allowed to engineer a solution to any industry problem they chose. The projects...

  • Live in Cape Town? You can check out these autonomous quadrocopters in person

    Over the past few years there have been plenty of videos floating around online showing quadrocopters doing incredibly cool things, like playing the James Bond theme. In a lot of cases, the videos purport to show drones operating autonomously but it's always a little bit difficult to fully believe unless you can see them in person. Well, if you live in Cape Town, South Africa you can do just that. There is a free demo on 29 August at 16:00 at the CTICC, where a team of roboticists from Zurich will show how these machines dance, build towers, catch balls...

  • Screw the robot apocalypse, our tech future is all about doing good

    After a 20-something-hour flight, I am about to face an immigration officer in the United States – not always the best experience. It's my turn and I edge forward. "What is the purpose of your visit?" he asks me. "I am here for Microsoft's Imagine Cup," I respond. "That's great," he exclaims (surprising). "Are you one of the students? What have you built? Will it change the world?" Unfortunately I had to inform him that I am not a developer genius about to change the world, but he's right, there are students from 34 countries here that are about to. Microsoft created the...