Paris set up a fleet of 66 Autolib Bluecars as an experiment with car-sharing to reduce traffic congestion. Motorists can hire the 4-seater battery-powered cars for 30 minutes for 4 to 8 Euros (NZ$7 to $14) in addition to a 10 Euro per day cost for belonging to the scheme. Vehicles will be available from 33 charging stations. Each car can travel around 250 Km before needing to be recharged. Cheaper than a taxi I guess, but you have to get to the hiring station first.
4 ON THE FLOOR: The Athos bicycle from Contes Engineering in the USA blends BMX, Freestyle, Downhill and Motocross, but its unique feature is that it has 4 wheels. It has 4 wheel independent suspension with 8 inches of travel and disc brakes, front and rear. A differential sends your pedal power to both rear wheels. Four times the puncture problems. Read more at Contes Engineering and see video here.
HIDDEN BUGS: Kids play with using lemon juice to write secret messages in invisible ink. But real spies may like to use InfoBiology to do the job. Chemists at Tufts University, USA, engineered bacteria with fluorescent proteins that glow under ultraviolet light. They created 7 strains of bacteria, each of which glows a different colour. The bacteria can be grown in combinations to create a message with a cypher created from colour patterns. The bacteria are then 'printed' onto nitrocellulose membranes like paper. The bacteria can be further manipulated to glow only in the presence of certain antibiotic resistance genes and to lose fluorescence over time. Obviously these messages aren't for "Send help now" type messages. Wired has details.
DRIVING THOUGHTS: Nissan and the Swiss Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne have teamed up to try to create a consumer car that reads the driver's mind. For example, a driver may think about turning and the car will adjust its speed and road positioning appropriately. The system aims to use statistical analysis of brain activity and eye movement along with scans of the surroundings to predict a driver's intentions and evaluate their cognitive state. "You seem to be planning to turn left soon. Would you like help with that?" Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne.
SNAPPY SNAPPING: Any photographer knows that using filters on the lens of your DSLR is a handy thing, even if just to protect the glass. But filters are hard to attach and remove, with fiddly screw threads. Xume Quick-Release Adapters fix the problem by using adapters that attach with powerful NdFeB rare earth magnets instead. The system puts an adapter on each lens and on each filter or lens cap. After that a filter or lens cap just snaps on or off in a moment. Xume promise the magnets won't harm any of the electronics or other parts of your camera or accessories. Even keeping the lens cap on in a bag would save me some anguish. More at Xume Adapters and video here.
- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz