For less than a dollar you can buy a microscope that folds like origami

Foldscope brings microscopy to everyone

We’ve seen pocket watches, pocket cameras, and now with smartphones, we have pocket-sized computers. But how about pocket microscopes for students, scientists, and doctors? A research team at Stanford University created a foldable paper microscope to help equalize science education for less than a dollar.

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 Just imagine the possibilities for this small origami-based microscope, called the Foldscope. Even doctors and scientists in the poorest areas in the world could use the pocket scope to diagnose common bacteria and pathogens such as malaria. Read More

Bionic eye restores vision

Eyes aren’t the windows to the soul; they’re the windows to the brain

Biotechnology has become one of the fastest-growing areas of scientific research in the past 20 years, with new devices quickly going into clinical trials. We’ve seen successful bionic arms and legs, but how about a bionic eye? The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System provides sight — the detection of light — to people who have gone blind due to degenerative eye diseases such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. Both diseases damage the eyes’ photoreceptors, which are the cells at the back of the retina responsible for perceiving light patterns to pass along to the brain. The bionic eye implant takes the place of these photoreceptors.

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How does it work?

The system has three parts: a small electronic device that is implanted in and around the eye, a small video camera attached to a pair of glasses, and a video processing unit that’s worn or carried by the patient. Read More

Drones are coming to Disney World

Disney is imagining ways to use unmanned aerial vehicles in its entertainment productions

Drones here, drones there, but drones flying around Disney World? Yes, even the self-proclaimed happiest place on Earth is looking to get its hands on unmanned aerial vehicles. Though it seems like something that can only exist in a movie, Walt Disney World is envisioning flying robots that could animate giant puppets, carry projection screens, and act as floating pixels, called “flixels,” in virtual fireworks shows. Earlier this month, the company applied for the three drone-related patents.

One of the patent applications describes a system in which helium-filled, blimp-sized Disney characters could be tethered and controlled by a fleet of synchronized drones. Sounds a bit frightening, doesn’t it? Well, this way Disney doesn’t have to worry about getting puppeteers to do the job — and it gets better: Check out the illustration of a drone-enabled blown up puppet of Jack Skellington from the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas” below.

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Image via Disney.

According to Disney’s inventors, the unmanned aerial vehicles that light up with their own display screens could act as single pixels in a digital light show Read More

Electronic bracelet can charge your mobile devices

Charge your devices with style using the QBracelet

Wearables are all the rage lately, tracking your life and making things easier, but now they’re on to something greater: charging your mobile devices. The sleek and shiny electronic bracelet, called the QBracelet, promises to do just that.

Although it looks like nothing but a nice piece of jewelry, within the QBracelet you’ll find a micro USB connector for Android devices and a Lighting connector for the iPhone. Depending on the device that’s being charged, the company behind the bracelet, Q Designs, claims its internal lithium-ion battery will deliver a charge of up to 60%. It takes nearly 90 minutes to charge, and lasts about 30 days in standby mode.

QBracelet

To charge their devices, users can simply pull open the bracelet to access the USB connector. Read More

6 tech phobias that actually exist

With all this new tech comes all these new phobias

What comes to mind when you hear the word “phobia”? Heights, spiders, public speaking? Probably so, but with the quickly growing, tech-dominated world we now live in, new phobias are creeping their way into our lives. Although tech-related anxiety is not yet officially covered by clinical terms, it sure does exist. Read on below to learn more.

 

Nomophobia

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Image via wonderoftech.com

Short for no mobile phone phobia, nomophobia is the fear of losing or being out of touch with your phone. If you’re a phone addict, you know this feeling all too well. This phobia causes panic when your phone is unavailable, including losing reception, running out of battery life, and, of course, losing your precious communication device and feeling completely disconnected from the world. Hey, it happens to the best of us. Read More

Dad builds kids the ultimate NASA spacecraft simulator

Spacecraft includes LED lights, sound effects, switches, dials, and more

Remember that adventure you had as a kid when you jumped into that cardboard box and used it as your own personal spaceship to soar through the stars? Although that was most likely tons of fun, one awesome father took imagination to the next level with his homemade NASA simulator.

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Highsmith’s NASA spacecraft simulator. Image via makezine.com.

Earlier this year, the handy and creative Jeff Highsmith designed and built a mission control desk for his two sons. As if that wasn’t cool enough, it now interfaces with his new spaceship simulator, thanks to a fully functional intercom system. The spacecraft features LED lights, a robotic arm, real switches, buttons, and dials that trigger flashing along with sound effects, an iPhone mount that plays real NASA footage, and the best part: it also includes a bass shaker in the floor so the mini-astronauts on board can feel the rocket blasting off.  Read More

Satellite shoots geckos into space to study development in zero gravity

A group of geckos joined the 350-mile-high club for some very important reasons

Earlier this month Russia launched a satellite carrying five geckos into space to observe their mating activities in the zero-gravity conditions of Earth’s orbit. Various other organisms, including insects and plants were also placed on board for experiments. The satellite, called Foton-M, was launched on July 19th from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and is scheduled to re-enter Earth in September.

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The Foton-M satellite.

Last week, after making its first few orbits, the satellite stopped responding to commands from mission control, though the equipment on board was still sending scientific data back down to Earth. The biological experiment was thought to be lost, but on Saturday night communication was once again made with the spacecraft, and everything is now going according to plan. Read More

High-tech cooler pulls in millions of dollars on Kickstarter

Say hello to the 21st century cooler

Though they’re a necessary summertime item, most coolers are bulky and a nuisance to lug around on a hot day. How much better would it be if your cooler did more than just hold drinks? Inventor Ryan Grepper from Portland, Oregon plans to shed some light on that idea. He designed a new drink-carrying vessel called the “Coolest Cooler,” which took off on Kickstarter, reeling in more than $5 million from more than 21,000 backers.

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The Coolest Cooler is anything but ordinary. It includes a USB charger, an LED light, wireless speakers, and much more.

So what exactly is so special about this super cooler? According to Grepper, it was time these things got an upgrade, and the Coolest Cooler does so much more than keep your beverages cold. It features a built-in blender, a waterproof USB charger, an LED light, a bottle opener, gear tie-down, and removable wireless waterproof speakers. Read More

Turn your iPhone into a mouse for your iPad

The TabiMouse app transforms your iPad into a cloud-based PC

If you’re an Apple aficionado with an iPhone and iPad, the free new app by Tabitop might come in handy. Called TabiMouse, the app is able to convert your iPhone into a Bluetooth iPad-friendly mouse. The only catch is you must be willing to use your iPad as a cloud-based PC.

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The TabiMouse app transforms your iPhone into a mouse for your iPad. Image via Gizmag.

How it works

Since the TabiMouse app transforms the screen of your iPhone into a laptop-style trackpad, you simply slide your finger on the iPhone’s screen to correspondingly move the cursor on the iPad’s display. Read More

Students develop robotic gardening technology to be used in deep space

In cooperation with NASA, graduate students are creating a remotely operated plant production system for producing edible plants during long-term missions

To stay healthy, astronauts have to eat a balanced diet each day while exploring beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, and right now, NASA researchers are designing robots to tend gardens in deep-space habitats. Though it sounds like a concept straight out of Star Wars, a team of graduate students from the University of Colorado Boulder is developing the innovative technology to make it happen.

The students’ entry in the eXploration HABitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge, a university-level project designed to engage and retain students in science, technology, engineering, and math is called “Plants Anywhere: Plants Growing in Free Habitat Spaces.” They’re currently developing a Distributed Remotely Operated Plant Production System, known as DROPPS, which is a concept for producing edible plants during long-term missions to destinations such as Mars. Instead of an area set aside to be used for just vegetation, the idea behind the project is that plants will be able to be distributed in any available area in a deep-space habitat.

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University of Colorado Boulder graduate students Heather Hava, left, and Daniel Zukowski, second from the left, describe a computerized SmartPot, or SPOT. Image via NASA. Read More