Not a day goes by without a new gadget being touted as the next best thing, but how many of these are actually useful or necessary? We’ve come across a bunch of inventions that use energy in unique ways — it’s up to you to decide if they’re game-changing or destined for the junk drawer.
Whatever you decide, there’s no doubt these gadgets will tap into your inner geek.
The robotic bee’s knees
While battery powered technology has leapt ahead in light years, batteries themselves are lagging, with most smartphones and laptops needing to be charged once a day. The same thing applies to smaller-sized drones, which have only enough charge to remain airborne for a matter of minutes.
To overcome this, the Harvard Microrobotics Lab has developed tiny robotic ‘bees’ that use static electricity to ‘perch’, conserving energy and extending the length of the robot’s battery life up to 1000 times.
According to the scientists behind the ‘robobees’, the uses for small drones with a longer battery life include: "providing a bird’s-eye view of a disaster area, detecting hazardous chemical or biological agents, or enabling secure signal transmission in ad hoc communication networks".
Whether or not this is life-changing for the rest of us, you’d have to admit that the idea of tiny flying robots is just a bit scary and, at the same time, kind of cute.
Let there be lunch!
The GoSun Solar Oven has to be one of the more practical inventions to hit the scene, using nothing but the power of the sun to cook almost anything. Plucked from the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016, GoSun was one of 14 startups chosen to compete in the CES Hardware Battlefield.
Although GoSun didn’t win, it did achieve Honoree status in the CES Innovation Awards. All this recent attention, a hugely successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign, and articles in a raft of mainstream media outlets, has ensured that the GoSun Solar Oven isn’t one of those inventions that never sees the light of day.
And speaking of light, that’s all you need to run the oven, which can heat up to an amazing 280 degrees Celsius simply by drawing on solar energy. There’s no fuel required and, based on the principles of a solar hot water system, the inner glass tube heats up while the outside of the oven stays cool to the touch.
Inventor Patrick Sherwin is a solar expert, so there’s no gimmick here; just a commitment to a lightweight, efficient and portable cooking method that doesn’t involve burning anything. And, through targeting sales to the leisure and camping market, Patrick wants to help finance the roll out of the GoSun to countries where wood and charcoal are the only options for cooking fuel.
Meet BRIXO, more than just Lego™ with lights
Every now and then you come across something that is truly genius, and BRIXO blocks meet that definition. Created by self-confessed science nerd, Boaz Almog, and financed by a hugely successful Indiegogo campaign, BRIXO blocks are a merging of the Internet of Things (IoT) with traditional Lego™, propelling the legendary building blocks into the digital age.
So what is BRIXO? As stated on the Indiegogo campaign page, ‘BRIXO's electric bricks are normal sized building blocks that are anything but normal. It's like Lego™ on steroids, if steroids also gave you superpowers and taught you new languages.’
Completely compatible with Lego™, BRIXO blocks are powered by a low voltage in-built battery (chrome plated for safety) that means you can create … well, just about anything your imagination comes up with.
There are three types of blocks — Trigger, Connector and Action — which, when joined together, can connect via Bluetooth to your phone, respond to triggers such as sound or light, and, of course, power any of your BRIXO/Lego creations.
So, if you’re a Lego obsessive, or even if you’re not, make sure you check out BRIXO. We can pretty much guarantee a jaw-dropping experience.
Fancy a side of baked beans with that?
Like something out of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, or Wallace & Gromit, the ‘Breakfast Machine’ was created by British retirees Peter Browne and Mervyn Hugget to provide their wives with the perfect breakfast, and to give people a good laugh.
And laugh you will, as Peter Browne talks you through the ingeniously complicated and surprisingly high tech contraption that took the pair 1000 hours to put together. Made of aluminum and steel, and using eight microprocessors to power thirteen DC motors, stepper motors and servos and gears, the Breakfast Machine heats water, brews tea, boils eggs, makes toast and deposits the morning newspaper on the table.
Testimony to the inventiveness of the human mind, the Breakfast Machine also speaks volumes about Peter and Mervyn’s utter dedication to their wives, and really, who could ask for more?