For its new Civic Hybrid, Honda engineered a gasoline-electric powerplant that's more powerful (110 horsepower, up from 93) and fuel-efficient (50 mpg city/highway). To increase the torque and horsepower from the 2.8-inch-thick electric motor, engineers cleverly swapped the round wire in the motor's armature for a flat one. That switch let them cram more wire in, increasing the power density. During deceleration, when the electric motor becomes a battery-charging generator, the variable-valve-timing system seals the gas engine's cylinders.
If you use a DVD camcorder, cellphone or digital camera to record video, you typically have to jump through hoops to convert it into a format that most DVD-editing software will accept. That entails at least one separate conversion tool and the navigation of an alphabet soup of settings: DivX? MPEG-2? What resolution? What frame rate? Adobe's Premiere Elements 2.0 seamlessly imports and integrates footage from any source, so you can burn a DVD without worrying about formats. And it accepts video over the more ubiquitous USB as well as over Firewire. $100
It looks like Bubble Wrap, but BlastWrap isn't for cushioning eBay shipments. A BlastWrap-lined garbage can will dissipate a backpack-size-bomb blast in less than one thousandth of a second. The wrap's 2.75-inch compartments are stuffed with heat-treated perlite (the foamy pellets found in potting soil), a volcanic glass. The beads have a strong internal structure of sealed, air-filled cells. When a blast occurs, the cells are crushed one by one, minimizing damage to the surrounding area, while fire extinguishants snuff the fireball.
When an alarm in one part of the house senses smoke or carbon monoxide, it sets off its own 85-decibel siren and every other alarm's too, communicating over a wireless 915-megahertz radio network. The alarms also announce the location of the fire or CO leak. $80 per alarm
Imagine an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that could fly for days rather than hours, aiding soldiers on reconnaissance missions or supplying emergency communications to disaster-affected regions. AeroVironment, which built the first human- and solar-powered airplanes, has successfully flown a prototype of a UAV that will be able to remain at high altitudes for longer than a week at a time. Unlike earlier solar-powered systems, which had to power the vehicle and store enough electricity for nighttime flying, Global Observer uses fuel-cell-powered electric motors to drive eight propellers.
Sony's petite T350P finally frees you from the invisible umbilical of Wi-Fi. Although the laptop includes both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, it's the first to also incorporate built-in access to Cingular's EDGE wireless data network, giving you near-broadband speed (up to 135 Kbps) in about 85 percent of the country. 1.2GHz Pentium M; 10.6-inch screen; 60GB hard drive; From $2,100
So far, glass heating elements have operated in two modes: on and off. But the traces of metallic compound embedded in Engineered Glass Products's Thermique glass connect to electronic controls, enabling you to precisely regulate temperature. Look for the hot glass in windows, towel warmers and pool enclosures.
Armed with the Razer Copperhead, hardcore gamers can no longer blame ignominious defeat on the !@#$% mouse. Among its foe-fragging features is a first-ever tracking precision of 2,000 dots per inch and a one-millisecond response rate for the fastest and most accurate moves. It's also the only mouse to dedicate 32 kilobytes of onboard memory to saving different settings for different games, so you can go from the precision-demanding first-person shooter to a more casual role-playing fantasy without messing around in a control panel.
Imagine having a 10-gigabyte hard drive in your cellphone or a terabyte of space on your laptop. Perpendicular recording, a new way of writing data to
a hard disk, creates the possibility for these kinds of capacities, just as we're approaching the physical limits of traditional recording methods.
Hard drives store information by changing the polarization of microscopic magnetic bits aligned end-to-end on a surface called a platter. But you can pack in only so many bits before they interfere with one another, randomly switching orientation and turning your data into noise.
With this SD (Secure Digital) flash-memory card, you can move photos, songs or any other files from your device to your computer without cables or a separate card reader. Just stick the built-in USB plug directly into your computer. $80 (512MB) or $135 (1GB)