A 3-D pen that lets you draw objects in the air
February 21st, 2013
11:43 AM ET

A 3-D pen that lets you draw objects in the air

By Brandon Griggs, CNN

We're all doodlers by nature. Give most people a pen, paper and some down time, and they'll fill the margins with the fruits of their imagination.

But imagine if you could wave a pen in the air and create a three-dimensional rendering: A toy, a sculpture, a crude architectural model.

Soon you will. A Boston-based startup, WobbleWorks, has created what they are calling the world's first 3-D printing pen. It's called the 3Doodler, and it's been a sensation on Kickstarter, the crowdfunding site, since it debuted there Tuesday morning. The makers of the 3Doodler set a modest fundraising goal of $30,000; within 48 hours, backers had pledged more than $1.1 million.

"We knew it was a great product. But we didn't expect the response to be this fast," said Daniel Cowen, a spokesman for the gadget, which is still a prototype. "The velocity of the response caught us by surprise. It's phenomenal." FULL POST

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Filed under: Architecture • Art • Design • entrepreneurs • Innovation • Tech
Interactive dot map aims to show every person in U.S., Canada
January 22nd, 2013
05:31 PM ET

Interactive dot map aims to show every person in U.S., Canada

Do you ever feel like the place you live is just a dot on a map? Well, if you live in the U.S. or Canada, Brandon Martin-Anderson just made you a dot on a map.

The MIT graduate student has built an interactive online map that displays one dot for every resident of the United States and Canada, as counted by the most recent censuses. That's 341,817,095 dots. Hover over your town or city, and black smudges on the map gradually dissolve into dot clusters and then individual dots as you zoom in.

"The reason why it (the map) keeps getting shared around is that it intersects with everyone's personal narrative," says Martin-Anderson, a researcher at the MIT Media Lab. "People want to be a piece of something larger." FULL POST

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Filed under: Innovation • Internet • Tech
Vibrating steering wheel could help drivers navigate
A study participant grips a haptic, or vibrating, steering wheel in this driving simulator at Carnegie Mellon University.
March 28th, 2012
09:13 AM ET

Vibrating steering wheel could help drivers navigate

By Brandon Griggs, CNN

Trying to find an address in an unfamiliar neighborhood can be a challenge even with a GPS device.

Peering at the small screen on your dashboard distracts your eyes from the road ahead. The spoken navigation commands can be confusing – did she mean turn here, or at the next street? And pulling up your location on your phone while behind the wheel is dangerous.

Researchers at AT&T Labs and Carnegie Mellon University may have a solution: a steering wheel that uses haptic technology - the same thing that makes your phone vibrate - to alert drivers when it's time to make a turn. FULL POST

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Filed under: Innovation • Tech
App claims to predict to the minute when it'll rain
December 20th, 2011
09:02 AM ET

App claims to predict to the minute when it'll rain

By Brandon Griggs, CNN
 
Today's mobile weather apps offer radar maps that show jerky movements of blurry storm systems, along with vague forecasts such as "40% chance of precipitation."
 
But what if your phone could tell you precisely when and where it will rain?
 
Soon it may. Jack Turner and Adam Grossman, two web developers from Troy, New York, say they have invented a mobile app that makes remarkably precise short-term weather forecasts. Using radar data and your phone's GPS, it promises to tell you the exact minute it will begin raining or snowing your location, and how long it will last. FULL POST
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Filed under: Innovation • Tech
Lions who send text messages
November 25th, 2011
05:47 PM ET

Lions who send text messages

By Brandon Griggs, CNN

Conservationists in Kenya are receiving SMS messages these days from an unlikely source: Lions roaming the savannah.

No, the lions haven't somehow morphed into thumb-happy adolescents, texting messages such as "Just 8 a gazelle. Yum. LOL." Instead the animals wear GPS-enabled collars that send automated messages via wireless networks to researchers who map their locations.

"GPS collars have fundamentally changed the way that lion research is done, in that we are able to study lion movements in great detail in areas where it is usually impossible to follow them," says a post on the website of Living with Lions, one of the conservation research groups behind the project.

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The woman behind Apple's whimsical icons
Former Apple designer Susan Kare with one of her icons for the Macintosh.
November 24th, 2011
01:29 PM ET

The woman behind Apple's whimsical icons

By Brandon Griggs, CNN

You may not know her name, but you probably know her work, which still influences how we interact with our computers today.

She's Susan Kare, and she designed fonts and icons for Apple's original Macintosh, including the little trash can for discarding files and the computer with a smiling face. In that way, Kare helped people such as Steve Jobs pioneer the transition from controlling computers via text to the icon-based interfaces now common on touchscreen devices.

"You can find the myriad visual descendants of Kare’s sketches in desktops, laptops, tablets and phones today," writes Steve Silberman in a Public Library of Science blog post this week about Kare's work and legacy.

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Filed under: Art • Innovation • Tech • Thinkers