DeLorean hovercrafts, roll-up TVs and more in this week’s Staff Picks


jeff van campJeff Van Camp: Oh. My. Science.

We don’t cover science much on Digital Trends, but we damn well should. It’s awesome. Whether it’s listening to Radiolab or perusing the regular science sites, there’s always a bunch of strange and interesting stories to read. Is any of it true? Oh, probably not. Science is always fluid, but hey, look at some of the stupid stuff I learned today.

Today alone, science found an antidote for cyanide, a fact that should bring about a sigh of relief for every secret agent on the planet. Does that not impress you that I know that? Well how about this doozy: some scientists just spent a ton of time confirming that watching TV isn’t associated with death … if you’re someone who just survived breast cancer. Holy wow, that’s interesting! Not impressed? Well, okay, I’m not sure what’s wrong with you, but did you know that the thinning ozone layer is changing the patterns of Earth’s ocean currents? Yeah dude. It’s happening.

Of course, like photos, news is always better when it’s about me. Today I learned that I’m probably going to have a heart attack if I don’t get married soon. Yep. Marriage reduces your risk of heart failure. Someone should change the lyrics to that Beyonce song: “If you like your pulmonary system, then you better put a ring on it.” But hey, there’s hope. While one scientist was proving that I’m at risk of a heart attack, another developed a new nanomaterial that can be used to make better artificial hearts. How about that. Saved by the bell. I will use this artificial heart to play my new Wii U. And what a smart move it was. I also learned playing with “virtual superheroes” may lead me to act more virtuous in real life. I’m guessing playing Zombie U is pretty much the same thing. What’s a few head shots between friends, anywa


caleb denisonCaleb Denison: Roll your own TV; just don’t smoke it

What if you could just roll your TV up, stuff it in a tube, and take it wherever you wanted? The technology to make that happen is already here, folks, and it is just a matter of time until we can buy it.

One of the cool things about the OLED displays everyone has been going ga-ga over lately is that they are thin, flexible, and fairly resilient. In fact, sometimes I think that’s the real reason Samsung and LG came out of nowhere with curved OLED TVs at CES 2013 earlier this year: just because they could. But I digress.

Fujifilm (you know, that company that made the film you used to stick in your camera?) is taking its expertise in, well… film, and coming up with some really fascinating stuff. In the video below, you’ll see how the company has developed a film that can be used as a both a speaker and a sort of microphone. But Fujufilm engineers think this film could also be paired with an OLED display, essentially yielding a rollable or retractable TV. This could potentially kill projectors for good, but its portability suggests a multitude of other possibilities as well. That begs the question: Where would you take your TV if you could just roll it up and hit the road?

Jennifer Bergen

Jen Bergen: This new Antarctic research lab looks straight out of Star Wars

The British Antarctic Survey’s Halley research station, located on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica, has been around since 1956. but the original is long gone. See, the problem with having a research station in Antarctica is that about three feet of ice pile up every year, burying buildings one inch at a time. The first four Halley stations were buried and crushed. The fifth, built on steel legs that could be painstakingly extended, lasted 20 years, but eventually succumbed to the ice.  

However, Hugh Broughton Architects have created the Halley VI Antarctic research station, which looks like something straight out of Star Wars. According to Architectural Record, Halley VI consists of eight modules that sit on “extendible hydraulic legs” that can move themselves out of the rising ice when they need to. Not only that, Halley VI’s legs have giant skis that’ll allow it to be easily towed by bulldozers to a safer area when the station needs to leave the area completely.

Large enough for 50 researchers to live in, Halley features a hydroponic salad garden, a climbing wall, and is lined with Lebanese cedar, which was chosen for its scent. With negative-60-degree temperatures, 100-miles-per-hour winds, and long stints of permanent darkness, these researchers need a well-designed station to live in as the conditions are ripe for depression and stress. From what we know about the Halley VI, it looks like the British Antarctic Survey may have finally got it right.


natt garun

Natt Garun: The Internet talks about race in tech journalism, leaves minorities out of it

We live in what is supposedly a post-racial world – A place where all men and women are created equal, and opportunities are unbiased. Yet, those are all theoretical values. This week, Internet conversationalists blew up in flames after Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jason Calacanis called out a piece written by Jamelle Bouie, saying that the lack of minorities in the tech world keeps minorities out of tech journalism. Calacanis rebutted this idea, saying race had nothing to do with it and that if you just tried hard enough, you will make it.

So, what are minorities supposed to make of this? Are there not enough of my minority brothers and sisters because we don’t work hard? Calacanis claims he persevered and succeeded. But here’s the thing: He’s white, male, and has everything working for him in this industry. You can read the conversation as recapped by Buzzfeed here and form your own opinions, but you should also note that most of the people participating in that conversation are white, male or both.

So what’s the real issue at hand? Why are there so few minority tech reporters in the industry? It all stems from STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Historically, these fields have been dominated by white males, therefore there are mostly white males working in places like Silicon Valley. When there are mostly white males working there, only they have the insider knowledge to talk and write about it. I don’t know how much we can do today to make that change, or earn girl geeks to right not to be judged by their physical appearance, but if we don’t keep the discussion up, tomorrow everyone will just go back how this world always was. And no one will remember that the Internet once had a fight about the races and genders represented on it.


Amir IliafarAmir Iliafar: DeLorean hovercraft caught cruising around San Francisco Bay

Not only is the DeLorean DMC-12 one of the most iconic cars in the history of film, it’s one of the most iconic cars ever built — even if it was kinda cruddy. And while the stainless steel-paneled car never really caught on with that marginally important group of people known as consumers during its three-year lifespan, it still lives on in the dusty old DVD collections of the masses – and apparently those with a dream in their hearts and time on their hands.

As you can see, this YouTube video uploaded by Terry Barentsen captures a DeLorean hovering around the San Francisco Bay. The hovercraft/time machine was constructed back in 2010 by Matthew Riese, a grad student who raised money for the project on Kickstarter. While not a real DeLorean, the seafaring vessel is based on the blueprints of a popular hovercraft kit and modified to look like the iconic car. Top speed for the haphazard hovercraft is said to be 44 mph, nowhere near the required 88 mph, so uncheck that time machine option. Roads you say? Great Scott! Where this DeLorean is going it won’t need roads – just water… and flat surfaces. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go watch this video another 20 times…

Emerging Tech

Tiny animals discovered in Antarctic lake deep beneath the ice

Scientists have made a surprising discovery in Antarctica: the carcasses of tiny animals including crustaceans and a tardigrade were found in a lake that sits deep beneath over half a mile of Antarctic ice.

If you're looking for a good laugh, here are 70 questions to ask Siri

Siri has come a long way since her first appearance on the iPhone 4S in 2011. We know she can make appointments and give directions, did you know she can make you laugh too? If you want proof, here are lots of funny questions to ask Siri.

Don't use streaming apps? Try the best free media players for your local music

Rather than using music-streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? You totally can with these top-of-the-line drones

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.
Emerging Tech

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allow physicists to extend their study of the universe and matter at the smallest level.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Emerging Tech

Glowing space billboards could show ads in the night sky

Look up at the night sky in 2020 and you might see an ad for McDonald's floating among the stars. A Russian startup is working on a project that uses a constellation of small satellites in low-Earth orbit to create glowing ads.
Emerging Tech

New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo has developed brainwave-reading headbands which can reportedly help reveal if students are concentrating in class. Here's how they're being used.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.
Emerging Tech

Hexbot is a modular robot arm that does everything from drawing to playing chess

Who wouldn’t want their own personal robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That's what Hexbot, a new modular robot, promises to deliver.