1. Coca-Cola Turns Empty Bottles Re-usable

    As part of its global sustainability program, Coca-Cola has launched ‘2ndLives’, a line of 16 innovative caps which can be screwed onto bottles after consumption, transforming them into fun and useful totally new objects, such as a paintbrush, water squirter and pencil sharpener, among others, and encouraging consumers to reuse and recycle plastic. Coca-cola has partnered with advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather china for the campaign, where 40,000 free bottle caps will be distributed this year with soda purchases. It will roll out later in Thailand and Indonesia.

  2. Detecting Counterfeit Goods with a Smartphone

    Tiny, colorful microparticles able to be read with a smartphone could make it easier to verify the authenticity of goods or cash. The tiny particles, developed at MIT, are equipped with colored stripes of nanocrystals. These crystals will glow brightly when exposed to nearinfrared light, and the colors of the stripes can be tuned for each individual product. Each particle can carry six nanocrystal stripes, and the stripes can be created in one of nine colors—allowing for a wide array of combinations. In theory, customers or merchants could determine the authenticity of goods by using a smartphone equipped with a magnifying glass and a near-infrared light source, such as a laser pointer.

  3. Volvo’s Inflatable Car Seat Concept

    Volvo has introduced an inflatable car seat concept, making the bulky devices easier to carry and store. Designing car seats is not new territory for Volvo, who introduced what they call the first rear-facing child seat 50 years ago. The new inflatable seat can pack down to the size of small backpack, allowing it to be stored in an airline carry-on compartment, and is equipped with a quiet pump system able to fully inflate it within 40 seconds. The seat can even be inflated remotely, via a Bluetooth connection, and weighs only 5 pound (half the weight of a standard car seat). The seat is still in the concept stage—not yet ready for market—and will require vigorous testing to assure parents that is safe for use.

  4. Google’s New Self-Driving Car

    Google unveiled its latest self-driving car, designed to operate safely and autonomously without requiring human intervention. They won’t have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal… because they don’t need them because the software and sensors do all the work. The vehicles will be very basic, but they will take you where you want to go at the push of a button. And that’s an important step toward improving road safety and transforming mobility for millions of people. The main aim of the project is not luxury, comfort or the speed, it is the safety and accuracy. The car has two seats (with seatbelts), a space for passengers’ belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the route. It can still go for a top speed of 25 mph.

  5. LithiumCard Hypercharger Fits in a Wallet

    The credit card-sized LithiumCard “Hypercharger” fits in a wallet, and can deliver up to two amps of energy to charge a device quickly and safely. Vastly surpassing its funding goal on Indiegogo, the LithiumCard uses of ‘HyperFET drive technology’ to determine the device’s ideal charging profile in order to optimize the charging speed—enabling it to charge a device’s battery up to 1 percent per minute. Devices are charged via a pop-out micro-USB connector that lays flush against the LithiumCard until needed, and the device itself can be charged by its own UBS connector. The LithiumCard also features a bypass charging system that allows it to be charged while it is charging another device.

  6. Self-Healing Polymer Can Heal Scratches at Low Temperatures

    Researchers have developed a self-healing polymer able to mend itself quickly and repeatedly at low temperatures. Previous versions of self-healing polymers have required either a network of embedded capsules containing the healing agent or needed to be subjected to high temperatures to active their healing properties. The new polymer, in contrast, is made up of a “switchable network” of specialized fibers or molecules that have been crosslinked by a reversible chemical reaction. The network can be broken down into its base components and then reassemble when exposed to heat, light or a chemical substance. The method can be applied to a number of plastics, and could also have applications in adhesives, composite materials, rapid prototyping and scratch-resistant paint.

  7. Transparent Film Harvests the Motion of Water

    Energy-generating toilets may not be far away, thanks to a transparent, flexible film able to harness the motion of water and convert it into electrical energy. Youn Sang Kim and his team created the film by adapting a transducer using dielectric materials. Submerging the dielectric materials in water causes a double layer to form around their outside, and variations between that layer and the water will generate an electric charge. The team has demonstrated that the motion from a 30 ml droplet of water is enough to power an LED. The electrodes used in the technology are flexible and transparent, so they could be applied windows and roofs as well as toilet bowls—anywhere they can capture the energy of moving water.

  8. Tilt Cup Concept

    After washing the cup, water causes mildew to form. Water flows along the wall of the regular cup and causes bottom to be damp. If you turn the cup upside down, moisture cant be exhausted because of airtight space. Introducing the ‘Tilt Cup’ by Huang Shi-hao solves this problem. When turn this chipped cup upside down, water flows along the wall and drain out through the gap. Tilt angle makes weight balance so cup can stand up by itself.

  9. Oddly Shaped Leveraxe Makes Splitting Wood a Snap

    The Leveraxe brings its unique lever-action to wood splitting, making the task both simpler and safer. The axe, from the Finnish company Vipukirves, eschews the typical, centered wedge head in favor of a uniquely-shaped head attached to the handle from the side. When the axe head hits and penetrates the log, the widened area of the blade causes the axe to slow down, preventing it from penetrating the log too deeply and becoming stuck. As the axe blade slows, its remaining kinetic energy and off-line center of gravity cause it to rotate and turn the blade into a lever—forcing the wood to split. Once the axe has completed its swing and chopped off the bit of wood, the axe head will land sideways on top of the chopping block, ensuring it does not continue toward the user’s legs.

  10. Ecorepel Keeps Clothing Dirt-Free

    Inspired by the way a water fowl’s feathers will repel water, the Ecorepel solution can keep fabrics dirt-free through several washings. The Ecorepel coating is made of paraffin wax—the same material used for years by sailors to treat their clothing—but this new version is cleaner and will last longer. The solution is made of long, honeycomb-shaped paraffin molecules that will form a lattice over each fabric fiber, repelling water while still allowing airflow. Coating the clothing involves dipping the individual pieces into the paraffin solution, wringing out the excess solution and then baking the coated garment at 300⁰F. The Ecorepel will wrap around the separate fibers as it dries, and it can stand up to repeated washings and rough wear.

  11. Gibson Memory Cable Captures Musical Moments

    The Gibson Memory Cable is equipped with a digital recorder, allowing guitarists to capture those moments of accidental genius. The Memory Cable consists of a high-quality instrument cable with a sleek, solid state recorder integrated into one end. The cable can be used like any other instrument cable, and the company says the recorder is easy to operate: simply press the center button to begin recording. The recorder can be set to record constantly or only when the instrument is being played, which saves storage space. When the inspired moment comes—the recording can be stopped and a new file begun, making it easier to find the saved files later.

  12. Modular CEF Traffic Lights are Easier to See

    Designed as a remedy for visual clutter, the modular CEF Traffic Lights simplify the streetlight design to make the signals easier to identify. Created as a Concept Design Entry for the 2014 iF Design Awards, the CEF Traffic Lights can be assembled in a variety of combinations. The modular design is cohesive, which allows any addons, such as video cameras or lights, to blend together—resulting in less visual noise and a more pleasant aesthetic.

  13. Kittyo Lets Cat-Lovers Play with Their Cats Remotely

    The Kittyo lets cat owners play with their cats and reward them with treats remotely while also allowing real-time interaction. Equipped with a laser, camera, speaker and treat dispenser, the Kittyo connects with the user’s WiFi to communicate with a smartphone via the companion app. The pet owner can speak to their cat or activate a sound to get its attention, which will bring it within range of the Kittyo’s camera. The owner can then control the Kittyo’s laser by swiping their finger on their smartphone screen while the Kittyo’s video camera records the action. A carousel in the bottom of the device can be loaded with cat treats to be dispensed when playtime is over.

  14. The CORTICA Coffee Mug

    Regular coffee mugs available in the market are plastic or metal which can affect the taste of the coffee and cause health risk associated with plastics and hot liquids. Regular porcelain mugs are perfect for coffee and unfortunately it cant be carried outside safely. Designer Robert Knox built the CORTIÇA Coffee Mug is a porcelain travel mug wrapped and insulated with cork. Cork is a perfect material to insulate and protect a porcelain mug and it keeps the coffee or tea hot, serves as a built-in coaster so you never have to worry about harming your furniture, and is impact resistant. You can order one of these from Kickstarter.

  15. Heineken Energy-Saving Beer Tapper

    Heineken has unveiled an innovative and simple new draft beer-dispensing design that uses less energy while also reducing greenhouse emissions. According to the company, the David XL Green draft system will consume 50 percent less energy than current systems and will keep the tapped beer fresh for one month. The increase in efficiency and freshness-capabilities are all due to a simple change—moving the keg closer to the tap. The chill unit and kegs of the David XL Green system are placed beneath the counter and the serving tap, significantly reducing the length of tubing usually required to draw a beer from the keg to the tap. This reduction in tubing means the keg does not have to be as chilled as usual. Additionally, the lines are disposable, so they are not at as much of a risk of contamination due to improper cleaning.

  16. LIX Pen Lets Users Doodle in the Air

    Hailed as the world’s smallest 3D printing pen, the LIX Pen lets users draw complex designs in midair. Designed to be comfortable to hold and easy to use, the LIX Pen can be powered by a USB port and takes only a moment to heat up. The plastic filament used to create the 3D object is inserted into the pen’s upper end, where it moves through a mechanism patented by the company to reach the hot-end nozzle. The nozzle both melts the filament and cools it down, allowing the user to draw complicated, 3D structures in the air.

  17. Dual-Frequency Ultrasound Could Help Predict Strokes

    Researchers have developed a dual-frequency ultrasound device able to determine when arterial plaque is in danger of breaking off, providing an earlier diagnosis of people at a high risk of stroke or heart attack. Current methods of detecting this vulnerable plaque rely on the use of a contrast agent, which is drawn to the areas of vulnerable plaque and highlights them in ultrasound images. However, the intravascular ultrasound devices that have been being used in this method are not very good at detecting the contrast agents. To improve the technique, the team created a dual-frequency intravascular ultrasound transducer, which operates on two frequencies to transmit and receive signals.

  18. UV LightBoard Bacteria-Resistant Keyboard Concept

    Designed in response to the amount of germs found on the average smartphone, the UV LightBoard concept combines keyboard illumination with germ-killing capabilities. An entrant in the 2014 iF Design Awards, the UV LightBoard features a transparent body and a UV light source positioned at the keyboards rear. The UV light is refracted and scattered throughout the keyboard, killing any bacteria on its surface while also providing backlight for the keys.