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iRobot's Scooba 450 is WALL·E without the feelings

Never Mop Your Floors Again

Pop quiz: The iRobot Scooba 450 is (a) a nice alternative to a cat, (b) going to sleep with your wife, (c) a really effective cleaning tool.

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The Last Light in the Universe

Why “Cosmos” is a Beacon of Hope

When I was little, the Discovery Channel ran cultural and wildlife documentaries and history specials. It was stuff that made me want to become a paleontologist. Now, the station runs shows like “Amish Mafia,” “Game of Stones,” and “Rods N’Wheels,” not to be confused with the similarly named — and similarly themed — “Fast N’Loud.” In these dark times, the upcoming Cosmos reboot offers a glimmer of hope.

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Foremost Eyes

UltimEyes and the Pursuit of Perfect Vision

Ever wish you could hit a 95 mph fastball? Us too. In lieu of that pipe dream we’ll happily take the ability to see a 95 mph fastball better while whiffing. Aaron Seitz — a neuroscientist at The University of California Riverside (UCR) — seems to have an answer with a new eye training app. His creation may have more far-reaching consequences than an increase in homers.

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Nanometers from the future

The (Super) Supercapacitor

In the past, researchers working with graphene faced incredibly high production costs — somewhere in the range of $100,000,000 per cubic centimer. The price isn’t particularly surprising, considering that the leading method involved hand-peeling layers of graphite with scotch tape and placing it on silicone wafers. In this video, Ric Kaner, a chemist at UCLA, explains how he set out to find a better production method…and ended up making a discovery that could change the way we interact with electronics.

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Competition meets innovation

Breakthroughs: 10 Technologies Changing the Olympics

It’s hard to believe the 2012 summer Olympics are already upon us. While this year’s events will feel familiar, the athletes and venues have unquestionably evolved. The same holds true for the technology used to capture, record and share their feats with the globe. Long gone are the games of stark naked athletes, replaced by…

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Battery Ram

Breakthroughs: Lithium-Ion Battery

The first lithium-ion battery was discovered around 35 years ago by an American chemist working for Exxon Research and Engineering. Their goal was to set out and create a new battery system for their fleet of specialized machinery. Little did they know, the discovery would eventually spark a global revolution for powering the mobilizing human…

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A chip off the future block

Breakthroughs: Microprocessors

The history of modern computing began in the 1950s with the development of reliable, discrete transistors, which were smaller, consumed less power, ran much cooler, and remained operational longer compared to the vacuum tube designs used in the first generation of computing. A true “explosion” in computing, however, came later in the 1960s during the…

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The birth of sensorship

Breakthroughs: DSLR Sensors

The birth of the DSLR can be traced back to a little camera company called Nikkor, which eventually became Nikon, and its relationship with a small government agency known as NASA. One of Nikon’s first major successes, the 35mm Nikon F, gained popularity in the U.S. with photographers covering the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Soon,…

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From WWII to you

Breakthroughs: Tinted Eyewear

Protective eyewear dates back to prehistoric times when Inuit people created snow goggles out of flattened walrus ivory. The accessory, before it was an accessory, also made its way through the ancient Roman and Chinese cultures as unique visual tools. It wasn’t until the early-1900s when tinted eyewear stepped unto the style scene, thanks in…

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Breakthroughs: NaturalMotion Euphoria Gaming Engine

The earliest video games like NIMROD, tic-tac-toe, Tennis for Two and Spacewar! were more like pet hobbies by MIT genius tinkerers than a mainstream entertainment discovery. They were born in the 1950s and 60s, out of basic radar display technology and consisted of an analog interface and vector-drawn dots. It wasn’t until the early 70s…

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Seamingly Ordinary

Breakthroughs: Micro-Welded Seams

Around the time when Samurai warriors last used metal armor in battle during the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, an entrepreneurial Norwegian fisherman named Helly Juell Hansen was busy creating another form of armor — oilskin jackets, trousers, sou’westers and tarpaulins to protect sailors from the cold and wet. Developed at first using coarse linen soaked…

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Audio on another level

Breakthroughs: Dolby Surround Sound

Audio manufacturers started using the term “high fidelity” in the 1950s as a marketing technique to help grow consumer interest in home stereos. Thanks to the new buzz word and a concerted industry push, the consumer home audio world soon entered “The Golden Age of Hi-Fi” in the 1960s. It was during this boom when…

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Third Eye Refined

Breakthroughs: RealD 3D Cinema

Some say the “Golden Era” of 3D cinema was in the 50s after Edwin H. Land developed a linear polarizing projection system and a set of companion glasses to view the format. The system used two projectors, placed behind different polarizing filters, to superimpose two images shot from slightly different perspectives onto the same screen….

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Clearly Ahead

Breakthroughs: Gorilla Glass

Since its inception in 1851, Corning Inc. has always fostered a culture of creativity and risk-taking. The benefits of this mindset have proved invaluable throughout the company’s history, as it weathered a roller coaster of technological advances by developing everything from auto and railroad parts, to light bulbs, televisions, telescopes, kitchen wares, camera lenses, and…

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Foot for your sole

Breakthroughs: Vulcanized Rubber Soles

At the start of the last century, mountain climbers wore what essentially amounted to wooden clogs on their feet. Soon, the first “tricounis” climbing shoe was developed, which featured a leather sole outfitted with steel cleats that improved traction on ice, but did little for rock climbers. To learn about how Vibram changed the footwear…

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Paving progress, one innovation at a time

Announcing | Breakthroughs: a 10 Part Miniseries

The spirit of innovation has almost always been about making life as we know it better, or at least a more pleasant experience. Sure, there have been some stutters like the weight-loss contraptions of the 50s, hydrogen blimps, and auto-tune, but these hysterical and sometimes horrific failures are mainly just bumps on a steady climb…