VIDEO Show and Tell: Two very cool "world-changing" inventions


Photo credit: Nathan Godding

I was sleepily trying to focus on my L.A. Times today, and came across two very cool tech items that opened my peepers and I had to share. They're both conceivably "world-changing" in their own ways.

First, the ketchup bottle that lets you use every single drop. But wait! The product that makes that possible has even more potential than eliminating annoying pounding on Heinz 57 bottles! Introducing LiquiGlide:

In what could be a disruptive technology for the ketchup industry, an MIT professor has found a solution to getting the last sticky globs of ketchup (or honey or jelly) out of a bottle.

No word yet on how it could affect ketchup sales, but the technology uses a new type of food-grade coating that has the slipperiness of a liquid, but the rigidity of a solid. 

Okay, that's already awesome, but it gets better. Think big. Bigger than ketchup bottles. Bigger than cosmetics bottles. Bigger than honey jars. REALLY big:

As a mechanical engineer who develops nano-engineered surfaces and coating technologies, Varanasi usually works on large-scale energy and water projects, like developing surfaces that keep ice off wind turbines and airplanes or dust off of solar panels.

His other research projects include inventing coatings that enable oil and water to flow through pipes with greater efficiency and considering solutions for how to cool nuclear reactors more effectively.

LiquiGlide is food grade and made of FDA-approved food materials. Kripa Varanasi, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT who runs the group that developed LiquiGlide, said, "It could even be made of organic food materials for the Whole Foods crowd."

Works for me.

On to invention number two: A 2-wheel car? Or untippable motorcycle? Whatever it is, I want one (unembeddable, excellent video at link):

"It brings the safety of a car on the motorcycle platform."

Lit Motors calls it the C-1... It uses gyroscopes to stay balanced in a straight line and in turns in which drivers can, in theory, roll down their windows and drag their knuckles on the ground.

Is it a motorcycle? A car? Neither. It's an entirely new form of personal transportation, presuming it gets off the ground.

The all-electric vehicle is fully enclosed and uses a steering wheel and floor pedals like a car. But it weighs just 800 pounds and balances on two wheels even when stopped, making it more efficient than hauling around a 2-ton four-wheeler and safer than an accident-prone bike. [...]

The C-1, or Concept 1, uses the same type of electronically controlled gyroscopes as the Hubble Space Telescope. Two counter-rotating gyroscopes are mounted into the floor of the vehicle, working together to maintain balance in a turn, a straight line or at rest.

Sadly, it doesn't go into production until 2014. They're shooting for a top speed of 120 miles per hour and 220 miles per charge using an 8-kilowatt-hour lithium iron phosphate battery pack. The starting price would be $24,000, which is comparable to a high-end Harley-Davidson.

Of course, the GOP would call these new-fangled gizmos socialist Marxist attempts to increase spending on things people, you know, use, and might even buy, and we can't have that.