Tag Archives: digital trends

Flying cars just got FAA approval for testing

tfx-660 approved.jpg


Why drive a car (even if it’s autonomous) when you can fly one? That seems to be the question of the day at the Federal Aviation Administration, where test flights in U.S. airspace have just been approved. The celebrating party is none other than Terrafugia, a company that specializes in airborne vehicles. Its TF-X flying car will soon be whizzing around skies in northeast American for the purposes of further research and development. “It’s a significant milestone in the development of the program and we’re really excited to be moving forward,” Terrafugia spokesperson Dagny Dukach told R&D Magazine.

Terrafugia has been toying with the idea of flying cars for the last ten years or so, and their concept for the TF-X will feature semi-autonomous flight, meaning that you’d need less training to fly this car than you would to operate, say, an actual airplane. But there are still a number of issues that need to be worked out, including how the vehicle would be powered. Currently, the company plans for the TF-X to operate as a plug-in hybrid-electric, but exactly how this would come to fruition has yet to be determined.

If and when we do finally see the TF-X in real life, it will cruise at speeds of 200 miles per hour and will have a 500 mile flight range. And without any runway space needed for take off or landing, you could literally just lift off from your driveway.

So as excited as you are for self-driving cars to come to market, get even more pumped about the flying version.


Sadly, you won’t be able to jump in and take one of these cars to the skies anytime soon — the prototypes that have been cleared for flight are just mini versions of the real thing. Coming in at just two feet long and with a weight limit of 55 pounds, it will still be some time before we’re in Jetsons territory. Still, this latest development marks a huge step forward in the development of the technology, as Dukach: “The FAA exemption will allow Terrafugia to test the hovering capabilities of a one-tenth scale TF-X vehicle and gather flight characteristics data that will drive future design choices.”

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Hawk takes out quadcopter drone, reclaims the sky


 (Christopher Schmidt)

Filmed over Magazine Beach Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts recently, a large hawk gave Amazon a reason to rethink the company’s Prime Air drone delivery initiative. YouTube user and software developer Christopher Schmidt has been taking his Phantom FC40 quadcopter drone out into public areas to fly it around the skies a couple times each week. To capture 1080p video during his weekly flights, Schmidt uses a GoPro Hero 3+ Black attached to his quadcopter drone.

However, a large hawk took offense to the quadcopter drone loudly buzzing in the same airspace. The GoPro camera captured the hawk swooping in from above and slamming into the drone. At this point, Schmidt throttled down the props to avoid doing any serious damage to the hawk and the drone is filmed falling to the ground where it lands upside down on a grassy area of the park.

According to Schmidt, the hawk zipped away and was apparently unharmed from the encounter. Detailed in the description of the YouTube video, Schmidt states “As far as I could tell, the hawk came out unscathed, and having defeated his prey, was happy to retreat…The quadcopter came out unscathed as well.”

Related: A GoPro gave it’s life so you could watch this way-close volcano eruption

Of course, this isn’t the first time that birds have taken out a drone that was invading nearby airspace. During December 2013, YouTube user Buddhanz1filmed a similar scenario where an entire flock of birds started dive bombing his DJI phantom drone. Also filmed with a GoPro Hero 3+ Black, repeated attacks from the birds ripped the battery connector and control of the drone was slowly lost as it plummeted to the ground below. The crash landing in that video seemed much more devastating to the drone hardware.

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MIT students develop wearable cooling device that could make air conditioning obsolete

MIT students develop wearable cooling device that could make air conditioning obsolete

By Drew Prindle

Published November 03, 2013

Digital Trends
  • wristify-mit

We come across quite a lot of cool technology, but it’s not every day that we find something that can literally cool you down.

Developed by four engineering students at MIT, Wristify is a prototype wearable device that leverages the physical phenomenon known as the Peltier effect to reduce your body temperature.

The Peltier effect, named for French physicist Jean Charles Athanase Peltier who discovered it in 1834, describes the phenomenon of heating or cooling caused by an electric current flowing across the junction of two different conductors. As the current moves from one conductor to another, the transfer of energy causes one side to heat up and the other to cool down.

Wristify is basically a series of these junctions (called a Peltier cooler) powered by a small battery and attached to a wrist strap. When placed against the skin, the device makes you feel cooler by reducing the temperature of your wrist a few fractions of a degree per second for a couple seconds at a time. Over the course of a few minutes, this process will cause you to perceive a whole-body cooling of a couple degrees Celsius.

The team developing the device is still tinkering with it to figure out the optimal cooling cycle, but at this point in time they say the most effective method is to cool your wrist by 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.7F) per second for five seconds, and then turn off for 10 seconds.

The chief benefit of this device is that it offers a more personalized approach to temperature control, one that’s vastly more efficient than current heating and cooling methods. It takes millions of watts to raise or lower the temperature of an entire building, but Wristify can run on a small lithium battery. If everybody had one of these things on their wrist instead of relying on air conditioning or heaters all the time, the potential energy savings could be massive.

Of course, it’s still just a prototype, but the idea recently won the $10,000 top prize in MIT’s annual Making And Designing Materials Engineering Competition, and the team plans to put all that cheddar toward further development of the device.

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First 3D-printed metal gun

Texas firm makes world’s first 3D-printed metal gun

By Konrad Krawczyk

Published November 08, 2013

Digital Trends
  • 3D Printed Metal Gun.jpg

    Components for the first ever working 3D Printed metal gun. (SOLID CONCEPTS)

Depending on who you are, where you hail from, and where you stand on guns, 3D printing and related issues, this bit of news will either thrill and astound you, terrify you, or compel you to say “meh.”

But here goes: A company by the name of Solid Concepts has made the world’s first metal gun using a 3D printer.

Based out of Austin, Texas, the 3D-printed metal pistol made by Solid Concepts is based on the Browning 1911 firearm. Solid Concepts set out to make this gun in an effort to prove that they can make weapons that are fit for “real world applications.”

‘The industrial printer we used costs more than my college tuition (and I went to a private university).’

– Solid Concepts representative Alyssa Parkinson

To make the gun, Solid Concepts utilized a manufacturing process known as direct metal laser sintering, or DMLS. DMLS is a 3D manufacturing process used to make metal parts for the aerospace and medical industries. The application for DMLS in the latter example is specific to surgical tools, meaning it’s perfectly suited for the creation of precision firearms.

“The whole concept of using a laser sintering process to 3D Print a metal gun revolves around proving the reliability, accuracy, and usability of 3D Metal Printing as functional prototypes and end use products,” says Solid Concepts’ vice president of additive manufacturing Kent Firestone. “It’s a common misconception that laser sintering isn’t accurate or strong enough, and we’re working to change people’s perspective.”

While 3D printers are becoming more and more affordable all the time, don’t get the wrong idea: you can’t just slap down a couple thousand bucks for a MakerBot 3D printer and hope to make your own firearm from the comfort of your own garage.

“The industrial printer we used costs more than my college tuition (and I went to a private university),” said Alyssa Parkinson, a Solid Concepts rep. ”And the engineers who run our machines are top of the line; they are experts who know what they’re doing and understand 3D Printing better than anyone in this business.”

In other words, there’s a big difference between the gun made by Solid Concepts and the weapons made by Defense Distributed, a Texas-based firm that designed guns intended to be built using 3D printers in your home.

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Smartwatches to Compete With Smartphones?

A look at every smartwatch currently in development

By Simon Hill

Published August 26, 2013

Digital Trends

There is a cold war going on in tech. Almost every major tech player, and some new companies we’ve never heard of, is plotting and planning to win the war ahead: for your wrist. It’s unanimous: the oldest piece of tech: the watch, is now the device of the future. Smartphones and tablets are the fastest-growing technologies of all time, but smartwatches could take off in a huge way in the years ahead.

If you’re curious about what kind of technological wonderment may adorn a wrist near you, pull up a chair and get comfy as we run through all the facts and rumors about every smartwatch in development.

For the full list of smartwatches in development, visitDigitalTrends.com.

  • 1Neptune Pine

    Neptune Pine

    Billing itself as the first fully independent smartwatch (not sure everyone else will agree), the Neptune Pine allows you to make calls, take pictures, and go online to browse or catch up on email. It has a Micro SIM slot, front and rear-facing cameras (5MP for the rear-facing), and it runs Android. There’s also support for Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, and GPS. There are 16GB or 32GB versions for $335 and $395 respectively. It comes in black or white and is set to ship in December.

  • 2Apple iWatch

    CiccareseDesign/Federico Ciccarese

    The perception that Apple needs a new innovation has fueled the chatter about an iWatch. The rumor mill went into overdrive after CEO Tim Cook expressed a lack of excitement about Google Glass in a discussion about wearable tech.

    “I think the wrist is somewhat natural,” said Cook. “I think there are other things in this space that could be interesting. Sensors are exploding. It will become clearer over time.”

    In February, a Bloomberg report suggested that Apple had “100 product designers working on a wristwatch-like device.”

    The Wall Street Journal was quick to concur that Apple was indeed experimenting with a wristwatch device and had already discussed it with manufacturing partner, Foxconn.

    Engadget picked up on the curved glass rumor and dredged up a patent application for a slap bracelet that would include AMOLED technology, a virtual keyboard, and an energy gathering component whereby your body movement would help recharge the battery.

    In March, Bloomberg suggested the smartwatch could be more profitable than Apple TV (surely not a big ask so far?) and that Apple’s head of design, Jony Ive, has a special interest in watches.

    In June, Apple filed an application for the iWatch trademark in Japan, Russia, Taiwan, Mexico, and Turkey. We’re not sure how Apple will deal with the fact that the iWatch name has already been trademarked in the U.S. and Europe by other companies.

    In July, we heard that Apple was hiring new talent to work on wearable tech.

    KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested a late 2014 release for the iWatch and speculated that it might incorporate tech from Apple’s iPod Nano, specifically the touch technology, that it will sport a 1.5- to 2-inch display, and that it will make use of biometric technology.

    A 9to5Mac report in July revealed that the iWatch team was cherry-picked from various corners of Apple. It’s no surprise to find miniaturization experts and power efficiency engineers among their numbers. More interesting is the inclusion of team members from AuthenTec, the mobile security company acquired by Apple last year, and responsible for all the fingerprint sensor rumors. The biometric angle was given yet more mileage with the suggestion that fitness, medical, and sleep analysis experts are also involved in the iWatch project.

    The difficulties of operating a small touchscreen display have led to widespread rumors that the iWatch will support Siri for voice controls. This idea could date back to a 2011 New York Times blog.

  • 3Sonostar Smartwatch


    At the Computex 2013 trade show in June we saw the Sonostar smartwatch which has a 1.73-inch touchscreen E Ink display with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. It connects to your Android or iPhone via Bluetooth and offers information on calls, messages, social networking updates, and emails. It will also have a few dedicated apps. It’s going to cost $180 and it comes in black or white.

  • 4Geak Watch


    The Geak Watch runs Android 4.1 and it has support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and FM radio. It’s also packed with sensors to monitor your health and fitness. It has a 1.55-inch 240 x 240 pixel resolution multi-touch display, a 1GHz processor, backed by 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage. It apparently costs around $330 and you can pre-order now.

  • 5Google/Motorola Smartwatch

    There’s no doubt that Google’s Glass has been the focus of wearable tech excitement, but that’s because we know so much about it already. Google has a lot of fingers in a lot of other pies and a smartwatch design is certainly one of them. We’ve already seen Android-compatible smartwatches hit the market, though they are fairly basic in terms of features.

    With more powerful hardware designed by Google, we could see a device that actually runs Android and services like Google Now could offer easy interactivity. The context sensitive nature of the Moto X, with sensors that determine your desires by measuring your movements, could also work superbly well in a smartwatch. It could turn on automatically when you glance at it, and be ever-ready for voice commands. It’s even possible that Motorola will manufacture the smartwatch; it did release the MotoActv MP3 player and fitness tracker a while back.

    For more on this smartwatch and all others in development, visitDigitalTrends.com.

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