Wednesday, September 24, 2014

An Aerospace Engineer Has Completely Reinvented The Ice Cream Scoop


The midnight scoop kickstarter project ice cream gif

One of Michael Chou’s biggest pet peeves was not being able to scoop frozen ice cream.

“I couldn’t help but feel there was a better way,” Chou, a mechanical and aerospace engineer for the University of California San Diego, explained to The Daily Mail. “I like my ice cream frozen and hard – melting it with a hot spoon or letting it sit out for half an hour ruins it.”

So the 35-year-old Michigan father spent two years to invent the The Midnight Scoop, a “better ice cream scoop” that has the ergonomic design that allows you to scoop even the hardest ice cream.  

The midnight scoop kickstarter project ice creamWhat makes The Midnight Scoop different is that the curved end forces you to push the ice cream with your palm, thereby using the muscles in your arm and chest instead of with the weaker muscles in your wrist.

The key is in the handle which is curved to fit your palm and keep your wrist straight. The scoop is also specially designed with a thin and pointed end that can easily slice through ice cream.

Made from a coated and forged aluminium alloy, it will cost $50 with a lifetime warranty. The Kickstarter project has already exceeded it’s $17,500 goal by over $20,000 with still eight days left in the campaign.

The midnight scoop kickstarter project ice creamYou can donate to The Midnight scoop on Kickstarter here.

SEE ALSO: 10 Ingenious Reinventions Of Everyday Products

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This Stat About Digg Reveals Biggest Difference Between Starting A Tech Company Now And Ten Years Ago


Google engineer, servers

Vox's Timothy B. Lee has a great story on Digg's comeback. In it, he reveals a super interesting stat.

It's a stat that explains why starting a tech company today is so different than starting a tech company when Digg was founded, ten years ago. 

First some quick backstory.

Digg was founded in November 2004. By 2009, it had 30 million monthly visitors. 

Google wanted to buy it for a couple hundred million dollars.

But by 2012, Digg's traffic was down to 1.5 million visitors a month.

That year, Digg sold for $500,000 to a New York holding firm called Betaworks.

Now Digg is back up to 8 million visitors a month. It's not profitable for Betaworks yet, but executives say there is a "realistic plan" to get there.

Anyway, here's the stat: Back in 2012, when Betaworks bought Digg, it cost $250,000 per month to keep the site running, even with its tiny amount of traffic. Today, it only costs Betaworks tens of thousands of dollars per month, with 5x as much traffic.

The reason for the cost disparity: Back in 2012, Digg was run off of servers owned by the company. Today, Betaworks rents server capacity from another company. Digg is hosted in the cloud.

Running a company from the cloud is standard practice these days. Netflix is still running from Amazon servers. Before it was acquired by Yahoo, so did Tumblr. Probably all the startups you can think of run this way. Only the really gigantic companies out there now own their own servers.

So whenever you see a list of a bunch of silly startups and worry that there's another bubble going on, remember that all those companies cost a lot less to run than all the dotcoms or even early Web 2.0 companies did.

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This Is What Painting In Virtual Reality Looks Like


Tilt Brush app

Virtual reality is on its way, and it won't be just for gaming.

A great example is Tilt Brush, which is an exciting new app for the Oculus Rift that lets you paint in virtual reality.

Tilt Brush takes advantage of VR's unique characteristics by allowing you to create beautiful three-dimensional paintings using virtual paint, smoke, stars, and light.

In order to paint in all dimensions, Tilt Brush lets you rotate, flip, and reposition a grid that operates as a stationary plane in space.

For example, if you wanted to paint the ground of a forest, you would adjust the grid to be parallel with the virtual ground; if you then wanted to paint a tree, you would simply rotate the plane 90 degrees.

Tilt Brush Gif 2 large

When you're finished with your virtual creation, Tilt Brush will let you export it to a GIF form so you can share it, according to The Verge.

Tilt Brush is created by San Francisco design studio Skillman & Hackett, and while Tilt Brush is still just a prototype, they've already won a Proto award for their virtual reality user interface.

Unfortunately, you'll have to wait for the consumer edition of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset in order to try Tilt Brush for yourself. But in the meantime, you can check out another stunning creation below, or check out the full demo video here.

Virtual reality can't come soon enough.

Tilt Brush virtual reality painting GIF

SEE ALSO: The Best Apps For Your New iPhone 6

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Vuzix brings offline Nuance voice control to its smart glasses


If the only news you're waiting to hear from Vuzix is the smart sunglasses the company announced in January, well, this story isn't for you. But if you have one of the company's M100 smart glasses, then read on, because Vuzix has just released a big software update (version 2.0) with significant changes to the Android-based platform. Most significant, perhaps, is OS 2.0's offline Nuance integration for voice control -- and yes, that means it doesn't need the internet, at all, to work. The upgraded platform also promises longer battery life and faster performance, comes with redesigned user interface and desktop launcher, and supports Bluetooth Low Energy for music streaming and phone calls. As a nice plus, you can now download future updates over the air, while devs get a new SDK. All M100s from here on out will come preloaded with OS 2.0, but if you already dropped a grand to get one long ago, you can download the updated software from the Vuzix website.

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Source: Vuzix


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Evacuator Makes Jumping Out a Window a Sane Way to Escape a Fire


The Evacuator Makes Jumping Out a Window a Sane Way to Escape a Fire

If a fire starts on a high floor in a skyscraper, there's a good chance it could cut off the means of escape for everybody on the floors above. But a Dutch company wants to solve this problem with technology that's not dissimilar to what stuntmen use to stay safe.



This Flapping Device Makes Electricity From Wind Rushing Past Your Car


This Flapping Device Makes Electricity From Wind Rushing Past Your Car

As far as car accessories go, we have to admit this one looks pretty silly. But the Samsung scientists who made it could also be onto something. The flapping tongues inside are actually coated with gold, and when they rub up against a smooth plate, electricity is created through something called the triboelectric effect. It could be a whole new way to harness wind energy.



ARM's new processor should add oomph to smart appliances and drones


Microhip. Digitally Generated Image isolated on white background

If you have any smart device -- be it a phone, tablet, router, wearable or otherwise -- there's a good chance ARM's Cortex lineup is responsible for the brains behind the scenes. The company just announced the latest processor in its M-series, which is a set of low-power processors capable of handling embedded devices like smart home appliances, drones, automotive and wearables, which is focused on making said devices even more powerful. The M7, as it's called, comes with a 400MHz processor, packing more than twice the punch as the 168MHz M4 that came before it (and will continue to be available to manufacturers). It comes with support for more displays, motors, voice controls, connectivity, audio performance and improved GPS accuracy. In other words, the infamous Internet of Things should become even stronger and more powerful. ARM says that manufacturers are already building devices with the chip embedded, so it won't be long before we get to see if the extra power actually makes a difference in our everyday lives.

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The Most Talked-About Food In Every State


durian fruit

Researchers at the University of Arizona have released a study that reveals America’s food preferences based on the most commonly used Twitter hashtags.

Spotted on FirstWeFeast, the researchers analyzed 3.5 million tweet with food hashtags that were taken from Twitter’s API between October 2013 and May 2014. 

The original purpose of the study was to determine if what people hashtag and talk about on Twitter can convey information about their community and health, such as their likelihood of diabetes, their weight, and even their political preferences.

What they found was that our food preferences can actually reveal a lot about us. Diabetes sufferers, for example, were more likely to tweet about Mexican, fried food, or bacon. Food also delineated party lines, with Democrats tweeting about vegan food, brunch, and the deli counter, while Republicans were all about lunch, snacks, and #party.

The researchers created visual maps of the food patterns they found as well, such as which foods each state hashtagged the most on Twitter.

fav foods arizona university twitter results

Some of the findings were unsurprising, such as Texans loving brisket and Wisconsinites favoring sauerkraut. But other states had bizarre results, such as the spiky fruit durian being popular in Maine or Alaska loving to tweet about the herb tarragon.

It should be noted that these results don’t necessarily show the state’s favorite food, but the food that is most often hashtagged on Twitter. New York’s “prune” result for example was not about the fruit at all, but i! s instea d the name of a popular NYC restaurant.

fav foods by city arizona university twitter resultsThe researchers also filtered out the highest-weighted hashtag results for some major US cities where, it seems, everyone loves to get drunk. Mixed drinks were one of the most popular hashtags across the board (especially if they were bottomless), as was #wine, #foodie, and #brunch. 

fav meal arizona university twitter resultsLast but not least, researchers broke down the findings by region for the West, Midwest, South, and Northeast. The Midwest was most likely to tweet about breakfast and recipes, the Northeast loved its brunch, the South favored lunch as well as mixed drinks like bloody marys, and the West tweeted most about dinner and #foodporn.

You can read the paper online here or play with this interactive tool that allows you to create your own graphic visualizations.

SEE ALSO: The Best Food You Can Eat In Every State

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$30 Million And Three Years Later, Mysterious Payments App Clinkle Finally Launches


clinkle launches

At long last, the mysterious — and often controversial — payments app Clinkle is finally live

And it looks like it's a way different app than what it was first positioned to be. 

"Our goal is to completely modernize how payments work," the app's founder, Lucas Duplan, told Business Insider last year. "What we're trying to do is basically take your phone and have it for the first time be able to rival cash and credit cards. We've developed a way for consumers to download an app, no hardware needed, and achieve scale from a software point of view."

Instead, it now looks like it's a prepaid debit card program. And it looks like it's only available in "select colleges," according to its site. 

Clinkle will send you a physical card, which you can load and reload with money. 

Clinkle debit card

You can then earn what Clinkle calls "Treats." Treats can also be sent to friends. They can do things like refund a purchase you made, or even pay for a friend's purchase. But it's still a little unclear how these Treats work.

Clinkle can also be used to send money to friends, kind of like Venmo or PayPal. 

Clinkle signup

And that's about it. There are no fees to load money onto the card or use treats, although there are some fees involved, which are explained in the cardholder agreement. 

Clinkle Treats

This is a very different approach for the app, which was supposed to replace credit cards and cash. But it might not be a big surprise.

After Apple announced its mobile payments system, Apple Pay, Clinkle told Business Insider that it's no longer focusing on its original plans: "Last year, we made the decision to focus our product around consumer engagement, not the hardware layer of storing payment instruments, so we are excited that this will give customers yet another way to use their Clinkle card," Duplan told Business Insider in an email after the Apple event. "We look forward to working with Apple and others that will likely enter the space."

SEE ALSO: Uber's Biggest Rival Acquired A Startup That'll Help Make Rides Cheaper

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Soft octopus robots are equal parts speedy and graceful


Octopus robot in action

Soft robotics can go a long way toward recreating the graceful movements of fish and other animals, and it now looks like they're helpful for replicating some of the stranger creatures on our planet, too. A team of Greek researchers has developed an octopus robot that uses silicone tentacles and webbing to move as elegantly as the real thing -- it's convincing enough that small fish will follow along. It's also much faster than a previous attempts, which used stiff plastic to plow through the water. While the original robot moved along at four inches per second, its squishier successor moves along at a healthier seven inches. That's not nearly as quick as the real deal, which can reach 25MPH in bursts, but it's far more consistent with what you'd expect from a real critter this size.

However attention-getting this mechanical cephalopod may be, it isn't just for show. Scientists believe that a camera-equipped version could observe sea life without disrupting it, unlike conventional robots or humans. There's no timetable for when that would happen, but it won't be surprising if eight-armed automatons are eventually scouting underwater ecosystems everywhere.

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Via: Science News, Gizmodo

Source: IEEE/RSJ