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Innovation

  • Google Science Fair 2015 is officially open for submissions

    The difference between you and Ada Lovelace, according to Google, is that she tried things and you did not. Starting today, Google is accepting applications to its fifth Google Science Fair. Together with LEGO Education, National Geographic, Scientific American and Virgin Galactic, Google is looking for young researchers, explorers, builders, technologist, and inventors. The ethos of this year’s fair is that science is about observing and experimenting. Google is encouraging all interested parties to explore unanswered questions, which people have always been curious about, and in the process learning and always trying again. Google is looking for “something imaginative, or...

  • HTTP is getting its first upgrade since 1999. Here’s what you can expect

    While the web has gone through a lot of changes since it first came into existence in the early 1990s, the fundamental tech behind it hasn't changed since 1999. That's until now with the introduction of a fresh new upgrade to HTTP 2.0 (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), spelling faster page loads, more mobile-friendly and more encryption. HTTP is a big deal. It's the application that makes the web what it is -- enabling the transferring of packets of data between the user (your browser) and the server host (the website). Before recently confirming that the second version of HTTP, Mark Notingham --...

  • 3 ways innovation can kill your ability to do business

    Do you work for someone that never seems to stop thinking about the next big thing that needs to be implemented? You know the type? Rushing into the office and stealing productive time to call a meeting about some new idea he thought up on the toilet that morning, implementing untested ideas, and blaming the staff when they backfire? Or are you that person? Do you live in constant fear that the competition is getting one up on you? Are you convinced that your ideas are the best and should be implemented immediately without discussion? Has it occurred to you...

  • Bill Gates drinks water made from human waste

    Bill Gates, American business magnate, philanthropist, investor, computer programmer, and inventor, is committed to raising awareness around the issue of sanitation in developing countries. Gates funded Janicki Bioenergy, a small engineering firm based outside of Seattle, which makes water from human waste. And in a video released recently he drinks the water that the company has made from waste and announces that “It is water”. In a blog post, Gates writes that he, “watched the piles of feces go up the conveyor belt and drop into a large bin. They made their way through the machine, getting boiled and...

  • Watch live as SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rocket and tries to land it on a ocean platform [Update]

    Elon Musk’s Space X is scheduled to launch its Falcon 9 rocket today. This is a risky test flight that has 50% chance of being successful. “Executing a precision landing on an unanchored ocean platform is significantly more challenging,” the company wrote in a blog post. “The odds of success are not great—perhaps 50% at best.” The company will then attempt to land the Falcon 9's first stage segment on an ocean platform it calls an “autonomous spaceport drone ship.” While SpaceX has previously staged two soft landings in water, succeeding on this landing on a platform is a critical...

  • 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...