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Tasty Tech Eye Candy of the Week (July 10)
By Tracy Staedter,
Seeker, 10 July 2016.

In this week's tech gallery, we look at leafy lights, Noah's Ark and a pair of shoes that morphs to your feet.

1. Modular Pod Plane


The Clip Air concept plane combines rail travel with air travel. A giant winged plane picks up train cars at a railyard and transports them cross country. A consortium of researchers led by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology plans to build a prototype within the next five to 10 years. A final version capable of transporting three train capsules would likely take another 50 years to develop. See how it works here.

2. Noah’s Ark Replica


In Kentucky, just 40 miles from Cincinnati, Ohio, a replica of the biblical Noah’s Ark vessel opened. The Ark Encounter is a 510-ft long attraction built by Christians, who say the biblical story of the flood was a historical event. Critics, however, frown on the US$18 million in tax relief given to the project and point at how the museum, which displays models of dinosaurs in the pens alongside bears and giraffes, contradicts science.

3. Robotic Luggage


This Segway-like, self-balancing auto-locomotion system called Olive does double-duty by getting travellers where they’re going while also carrying their personal items. The prototype was built by Iran-based Ikap Robotics and comes with a host of technology, including 3-D accelerometers and gyroscopes to keep it balanced, a tracker algorithm to identify its owner, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and an NFC lock that also works as an alarm. It won first place in the Service Robotics section of the 2016 Automatica Start-up World Competition in Munich, Germany.

4. VR Music Maker

SoundStage is virtual reality experience that lets any owner of an HTC Vive set up a music studio and jam without disturbing the neighbours.

5. Morphing Shoes


These shoes behave like a second skin. Called the X-Cat Disc, they were created by a team from shoemaker Puma and BMW Group Designworks. The top of the shoe is made from a seamless, flexible material stretched over a movable substructure. A disc works like dial to tighten or loosen internal wires to close or open the shoe.

6. Winged Probe for Titan


Saturn’s moon Titan has subterranean sea of liquid water and oceans of methane, so it’s no wonder scientists want to explore it. A new joint project between the Global Aerospace Corporation and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems proposes the Titan Winged Aerobot, a hybrid balloon/glider that would ascend and descend through the atmosphere without the need of a propulsion system or flight controls.

7. Mushrooms in Space


As part of the recent Future Engineers Star Trek Replicator Challenge, student scientists were invited to submit designs for inventions that would produce food for astronauts on long flights to Mars or even farther. Kyle Corrette from Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Arizona, won first place in the Teen Group (13-19) for his Melanized Fungarium - a mushroom farm. It’s designed to work in microgravity and, inspired by mushrooms growing near Chernobyl, grow fungi that convert the abundant ionized radiation in space into an energy source.

8. Leafy Lights


At the company headquarters for Philips, an artificial tree with 1,500 leaves adorns the atrium. Each of the leaves has a reflective surface that’s able to redirect, filter and reflect natural light coming from windows and skylights. A computer program manipulates the panels - a third of which also produce light - in a way that corresponds with the time of day or season to produce a variety of effects from bright to shadowy.

9. Vat-Grown Drones


Instead of building swarms of drones, researchers at BAE Systems and the University of Glasgow think that in the future, we’ll be growing tiny unmanned aircraft in vats of chemicals. Think of the vats as giant 3-D printers that assemble drones from the molecular structure up.

10. Zika Test


The mosquito-borne Zika virus threatens all of us, and now scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have created a tiny, inexpensive and electricity-free slide that looks for the genetic material from the Zika virus to identify its presence. The new test is efficient and costs about US$2 to produce, which could make it available to many.

Top image: The Ark Encounter. Credit: Ark Encounter Facebook.

[Source: Seeker. Edited. Top image and some links added.]