The Labor Day weekend is upon us, but technology is not going on vacation. This week, we highlight innovations including roll-up batteries, transparent artificial muscles, robots that clean your house and a brain grown in a dish, just to name a few.
In a project called Warrior Web, the US Military is developing a soft, lightweight under-suit for soldiers that would reduce injuries and fatigue while improving the wearer's ability to walk, run, jump or crawl over a wide range of terrain. Durable and washable, the garment would boost endurance using no more than 100 watts of power.
This week, Boeing rolled out its first 787-9 aircraft, a variant of the Dreamliner. It's I20 feet longer than the 787-8 and will carry 250 to 290 passengers, 40 more than the 787-8.
Elio Motors recently announced financial plans for the future of its three-wheeled Elio, which costs $6,000 and gets 84 mpg. By the end of 2014, it hopes to sell 68,333 units, ramping up to a full quarter-million per year from 2015 onwards. Auto experts think that might be reaching a little too high.
Eliza Grinnell, Harvard SEAS Communications
Jeong-Yun Sun (left) and Christoph Keplinger (right) demonstrate their transparent ionic speaker, which uses ions, rather than electrons, to vibrate a rubber membrane. The material could lead to artificial muscles, transparent loudspeakers and power sources that generate electricity when squeezed or stretched.
An innovative idea from Yanko Design improves upon the battery. They've created a solar power strip that, when flattened under the sun, recharges. Users then roll up the strip into the shape of a AA-sized, AAA-sized or C-sized battery. The tighter you roll, the smaller the diameter of the battery.
Adrian Perez Zapata
Designer Adrian Perez Zapata is a semifinalist in the 2013 Electrolux Design Lab competition with his "Mab" concept for cleaning a house. The system incorporates hundreds of mini-robots that go forth and scrub, dust, sweep and shine. When they're finished, they return to a spherical home base to be recharged.
Madeline A. Lancaster
A team of European scientists has grown parts of a human brain in tissue culture from stem cells. The organoid, which took 20 days to grow, exhibited growth patterns seen in a developing, fetal brain and developed specific brain regions, such as the cortex and the hindbrain. Here all cells are in blue, neural stem cells in red and neurons in green.
Scientists at the TU Delft have built the world's smallest drone that comes with its own control system. The Lisa/S weighs just 0.07 ounces and measures only 0.8 x 0.8 inches. The micro aerial vehicle could be used for environmental surveillance as well as building reconnaissance.
In his latest visualization project, the Pittsburgh-based artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm imagines what the net household income of each neighborhood in NYC would look like if it were reflected in building height. The result: a towering cityscape of green, 3-D bars, where every $100,000 of net worth corresponds to one centimeter on Lamm’s map.
Robot enthusiast Adam Conway turned a drone into a flying Wi-Fi hotspot. Conway, a product manager at Aerohive, which provides corporate IT networks, used a quadrotor frame, some plywood, and an old router to build a drone that can provide a Wi-Fi connection over the local LTE phone network. Such a device could be handy in a post-disaster scenario or in areas lacking Internet.