Sure, houseplants are good for our health and wellbeing from a holistic, biophilic point of view. But what if they could track our environment and alert us to dangers the way wearable tech monitors our internal workings? Scientists from the University of Tennessee think that with the possibility of genetic engineering we may be able to update the famous "canary in a coal mine" idiom for the 21st century.
Ford's Manufacturing Employees Get a Boost From Wearable Exoskeletons
Ford is slowly rolling out wearable exoskeletons for its manufacturing employees to reduce injuries on the job. A collaboration between Ford and Ekso Bionics, the vests help support workers' arms while performing overhead tasks that may pose potential danger. It's the latest development in Ford's ergonomics research, which seeks innovative ways to improve assembly and production.
Carbon May Be Humanity’s Best Bet Against Climate Change
One of the most ambitious fights against global warming today is being fought on the carbon capture and sequestration front. Instead of viewing carbon as a problem, entrepreneurs across many sectors are viewing carbon as an economic and environmental opportunity.
Sayonara, Asimo! Throughout its 18-year-long life, Honda's humanoid robot delighted and inspired people around the world with charming antics and a peculiar walk. But Asimo's legacy lives on in Honda’s new companion and mobility-assistance bots, which debuted at CES 2018.
Solar Panels Get a Biological Boost
Researchers at the University of British Columbia may have strengthened the power of solar panels with one of humanity's closest neighbors: the E.coli bacteria. These same bugs that live in our bodies are extremely good at converting light to energy, and with a boost of genetic engineering, their ability to photosynthesize increases significantly. This advancement bodes well for regions with cloudy weather, such as the Pacific Northwest and Northern Europe.
Electric Paint Lights Up Limitless Creative Possibilities
In the 21st century, paint is so much more than a basic vehicle for color. From paints that serve as writeable surfaces to super black pigments that protect space-faring equipment, this ubiquitous substance can pull double duty in inventive ways. The next paint revolution comes courtesy of London-based startup Bare Conductive, which has found an inexpensive way to make carbon-based electric paint that can create circuits or perform cold soldering when it dries.
Architect Samar El Sayary believes the future of the Red Planet is green. His submission to 2017’s Mars City Design competition took home first place in the sustainability category for its inspiring use of robotic, mobile pods that will plant trees across the surface of Mars in protected skins that double as energy harvesters. Rather than relying on the sun, El Sayary explained, the pods will convert the vibrational energy from wind and cosmic rays into electricity that will sustain the flora within.
Urban Footprint Transforms Data into Better City Simulations
Software startup Urban Footprint, and their product of the same name, are looking to radically transform the way cities plan for the future. Their software program allows urban planners to test a range of scenarios and study a broad set of impacts, including traffic and commute times, walkability, carbon emissions, and effects on the local economy. The state of California was so impressed with this technology at a recent demonstration that it is releasing the software to over 500 of its cities, counties, and regional agencies through a partnership with Urban Footprint.
Greenhouses Map Out a Future for Life on Mars
Scientists at NASA have come up with the Prototype Lunar/Mars Greenhouse, which will allows astronauts to grow vegetables and fruits far from Planet Earth. Using bio-regenerative life support systems, the cylindrical and inflatable greenhouses will take in the astronauts’ expired carbon dioxide and pump out oxygen into the space cabin or human settlement. Humans will need to provide the initial supply of water, but greenhouses may eventually make use of lunar or martian water repositories.
Developed by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, e-skin is a self-healing, fully recyclable skin made of polymers and silver nanoparticles that can measure pressure, temperature, and vibration just like our own skin. Jianliang Xiao, the leader of the study, sees the skin as a way to make future human-robot interactions safer. “Sensing is critical because when humans being interact with robots, we want to make sure that robots don’t hurt people,” Xiao explained to Newsweek.