You know about the Echo and the Google Home, but do you know about the Butler In A Box? It was a voice-controlled smart home device in the 1980s, and could do many of the same things our smart speakers do today. Plus: it's the birthday of Dr. Mark Dean, a computing pioneer who helped create some of the most important technology we have, and also saw the future of technology quite a few times.
In warm months, we can open the window and let in fresh air - only that can also let in a lot of outdoor noise, too. A special sound-absorbing window design from a team at the National University of Singapore might let the air in without all the extra noise. Plus: firefighters in Medina, Ohio, rescue turtles and tortoises with some special equipment.
Lasso is a prototype for an in-home recycling system. Instead of dropping your recyclables on the curb, you'd put them in the machine, to be scanned, cleaned and broken down into the raw materials that companies buy to make new cans and bottles. Plus: meet AI Art House, a site selling wall art designed by software trying to emulate some of the all time great (human) painters.
Frost damage is a growing problem for fruit growers, but a team at Washington State University has developed a cellulose nanocrystal coating that can insulate the buds of grapes and cherries and keep them safe during cold snaps. Plus: a meteorologist who worked in Antarctica just got back the wallet he accidentally left there more than half a century ago.
We use hundreds of billions of latex gloves a year, for a lot of important reasons. Scientists at Cranfield University in the UK are developing an eco-friendly latex glove that uses less energy to produce and will biodegrade in weeks rather than centuries. Plus: today in 1997, Kenny G set a world record for longest single note played on a saxophone.
It’s The Birthday Of The Jukebox, The Old-School System For On-Demand Music (Cool Weird Awesome 425)
Today in 1889, inventor Louis Glass moved his "nickel-in-a-slot" into a saloon in San Francisco, beginning the age of the jukebox and giving the generations without smartphones and streaming services the chance to push a button and listen to a song. Plus: Chris Nikic has just become the first person with Down syndrome to finish an Ironman triathlon.
Before The Lightbulb, Thomas Edison Invented A Voting Machine – And Congress Said No (Cool Weird Awesome 411)
On this Election Day, here’s a story about an early and not-too-well-known effort to help count votes that came from none other than Thomas Edison. Plus: photographer Ryan Donnell has been documenting some of the most unusual polling places in the country.
Millions of people have back pain that just plain makes things harder to do. A team at Vanderbilt University has developed an exosuit that may ease all that back strain. Plus: how do you let an economist know he's won the Nobel Prize when you don't have his phone number? Have his fellow winner knock on his door in the middle of the night, of course.
Shoes only last for so long, but they're made from materials that last seemingly forever. Designer Shahar Asor has an alternate idea: shoes for kids with an expiration date. Plus: a pizza place in Brooklyn is letting customers order "comforting words" along with their food.
Shaving dates back tens of thousands of years, and it's gone in and out of fashion more times than we can count. And for a time in 1945, there was an idea to replace razors with a series of hair treatments involving X-rays (!) Plus: Hannah Grace is a makeup artist in the UK who has won lots of fans by turning herself into optical illusions.