Spectacular innovations always seem to be right around the corner. This week, we look at concepts that could become commonplace in the next few years, including edible mist, flexible touch screens, LED displays on vehicles and delivery drones. Above: This drone concept from Austrian firmWiGL Design
is aimed at the medical industry, where fast delivery of supplies and even organs can save lives. The drone takes off vertically and then transitions into a glider. A touchscreen offers secure locking and unlocking of contents.
General Motors has laid out the specs for its 2015 Corvette Z06, and the details are impressive. The car's 6.2-liter V8 LT4 engine will roar to life with 650 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful car the company has ever built.
Meza/Montemayor/Clarke/Greer at Caltech
A funny thing happens to materials on the nano-scale. Weak metal become strong and brittle materials become flexible. A team of researchers at California Institute of Technology want to capitalize on those traits and build supermaterials from the nanoscale up. Julia Greer and her team are exploring various nanostructures that allow scientists to incorporate hierarchical design into a material's architecture. The results could lead to very strong, lightweight materials or very thin, flexible materials that could be turned into any product you can think of.
Buildings just keep getting taller and taller. UK-based Chetwood Architects just unveiled plans for a pair of towers to be built in Wuhan, China. At 1 kilometer, the Phoenix Towers will be the world’s tallest pair of skyscrapers upon completion.
Charlie Harry Francis
The Edible Mist Machine produces 200 different flavors of mist that can be inhaled through a straw. The device comes from UK-based food inventor, Charlie Harry Francis, who has also created Popcorn Hairdryer, Nitro Ice Cream Buggy, Soup Washing Machine, Whirligig Glow in the Dark Ice Cream and the Olfactic Dog Nose just to name a few. The machine is not yet available for purchase, but can be hired for about US $1,100.
Thin, flexible electronic devices are closer than ever to becoming reality. German engineers at INM have found a way to print conductive nanoparticle ink directly onto thin plastic films. The material stays conductive even when bent, making it ideal for flexible electronics.
Si Hyeong Ryu via 2014 Electrolux Design Lab
Why not make good use of all that exercise? A concept treadmill, called The Wheel, dreamed up of industrial designer Si Hyeong Ryu, lets runners use their kinetic energy to wash clothes. The ring-shaped treadmill has canisters that can be filled with dirty clothes, soap and water. When the jogger runs, the motion spins the canisters, agitating the laundry.
The 2014 Camatte57 from Toyota is a cute little toy roadster meant to give kids an early appreciation for cars. A child can scan in his or her own artwork into a computer and have it displayed on the car's LED hood.
Eindhoven University of Technology
Adding wood fiber to ice makes a material called pykrete, which is three time stronger than pure ice. Who knew? A team of 50 faculty members and students from Eindhoven University of Technology, that's who. They want to use pykrete to build a 1:4 scale model of Barcelona's Sagrada Familia basilica. The 131-ft-high structure will be erected in Finland over a three-week period starting late this December.
Johann Kollegger and Benjamin Kromoser, TU Vienna
Concrete is strong, but forming it into a dome is expensive. Engineers Johann Kollegger and Benjamin Kromoser from the Vienna University of Technology have come up with a construction method that’s cheap and simple: inflating slabs of precisely shaped concrete that join together when they rise up.
If you’ve never heard audio from an actual high-end echo chamber experiment, it’s worth clicking around to find some samples. Your everyday echoes are mere whispers in comparison.
Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory in the U.K. are giving online visitors a chance to find out what they’re missing with their CloudChamber project. The lab has hooked up its acoustic reverberation chamber — typically used to test microphones and commercial materials — so that anyone can upload a sound file via audio service SoundCloud.
Uploaded sound files are piped into the echo chamber during the wee hours; evenings and nights when researchers aren’t using the facility. Audio is played out through a pair of loudspeakers in the chamber and simultaneously recorded in stereo for up to 30 seconds. The chamber itself is tiled with a hard plaster that absorbs very little noise, and no two surfaces in the chamber are parallel. The bounced around sound is then uploaded back online.
“This means sound in the chamber bounces around a lot, and therefore the chamber has a very long reverberation time — a measure of how long a sound is present in a room,” according to the CloudChamber project page.
Check out the CloudChamber playlist to see some of the audio files that have already been processed. In addition to a lot of minimalist techno tracks, you can hear recordings of various percussion instruments, beatboxing, random whoops and yelps, and even gunshots.