HIGH STEPPERS: A new running shoe from Adidas will add a spring to your step — literally. Polymer blades cover the sole of the Springblade shoe, calibrated to suit the average weight of a person wearing it. The rear blades are thicker than those at the front of the foot. The blades compress as your foot strikes the ground and add explosive energy to the liftoff. You probably won't want to take these near mud.
A SENSOR OF SMELL: It seems melanoma cells have a unique odour that can be detected and distinguished from normal cells by carbon nanotubes coated with strands of DNA. Recent studies have proven the concept and could lead to the development of a handheld sensor that may even be able to detect other diseases too. Dogs did it first.
DRY SHIRTS: If you're the kind or person who invariably spills their lunch down their shirt then perhaps you should invest in a can or two of NeverWet. Spray on a couple of layers of basecoat and a couple of layers of topcoat then food and drink won't stick to your shirt again. The superhydrophobic coating completely repels water and heavy oils. The product's available in some US stores. No word though on how long a coating lasts.
THE QUICK NET: The O3b project aims to bring the Internet to people in nearly 180 under-connected countries via 12 satellites. The first four satellites were launched recently to help cover a region between the latitudes of 45 degrees North and 45 degrees South. The O3b satellites will orbit at 8,062 Km and weigh only 650 Kg each. Their comparative small size and proximity to Earth will make communications fast and relatively cheap, and allow the "other 3 billion" people with restricted Internet access to join those of us with good connections.
With the Internet availability in place it's then just a question of finding devices and power.
FLAT CHANCE: There are times when large numbers of people suddenly need accommodation — refugees are one example. Commonly tents are used but they tend to be hot in summer, cold in winter and not very durable. Refugee families may need to stay in a camp for years while a tent may last only 6 months. IKEA and the UNHCR have developed a flatpack house for refugees. A metal frame of pipes, wires and connectors can be assembled without special tools. Lightweight, durable, insulated panels attach to the frame. Roof sections include solar panels for lights and cooking. For those with nothing this could be a very important something. IKEA Foundation.
Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz