If you’re feeling a little bogged down by winter’s wrath, fear not. When others are snowed in, you can simply whip out your inflatable snow shoes and continue your commute as nimbly as Legolas on the snow-laden mountains of Middle Earth.
Three motorcyclists competing in the final race of the international MotoGP circuit this month will have extra injury insurance, in the form of wearable airbags. Alpinestars's Tech Air Race suit uses an onboard computer to sense the subtle differences between regular track turbulence and the motion associated with an impending crash, and it fires fall-cushioning airbags on the shoulders and collarbone (an oft-injured area for racers) before the biker hits the ground.
Packing for space missions has always faced weight limitations due to fuel costs. But NASA's successful test of an inflatable heat shield signals a way forward for future spacecraft to reenter Earth's atmosphere, and maybe even land heavier loads on Mars.
It seems increasingly rare to see a new gadget these days without a touchscreen. However, touchscreens' versatility is both the technology's biggest strength and its weakness. We've lost the tactile memory we associate with our television remote controls or old cell phones, where we knew and could feel exactly where the buttons we needed were without bothering to look. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are trying to combine the benefits of both, by adding a latex overlay on top of a touchscreen that inflates to create a tactile surface.