This chubby fellow is MIT's "double-bubble" concept aircraft, designed for super efficient passenger travel a couple decades from now. Along with other ideas (like Boeing's SUGAR Freeze), NASA is betting that jets like these will revolutionize commercial air travel.
There are solar-powered street lights and even trash-powered lamps, and now here's one powered by you and me. With exercise equipment attached to a streetlight, the kinetic energy the user expends is transferred into batteries that partially power the energy efficient LED lamps in the light system.
About this time every year, reporters (and, of course, our readers) have to suffer through a slew of April Fool's jokes from tech companies, inevitably promising amazing things and then ending with "ha ha just kidding sucks for you!" And it does suck for us, because we get really, really excited about tech that seems too good to be true, and it's always a bummer when it's not. We get all mopey, seriously. Ray buys himself a new cellphone. Kevin feeds himself a milkshake intravenously. And I — well — I just turn all the lights off, lock myself in a closet, and weep. This year, however, we noticed that a bunch of those "ha ha just kidding" moments really weren't, in that some or all of the tech behind the impossible gadgets actually does exist, more or less. So, to make ourselves feel better, we're going to take a look at five of this year's April Fool's tech pranks that could almost, almost be real.
The Wolke 7 concept, designed by Timon Sager, is "the perfect combination of travel and feeling at home." Slung underneath the doubled up zeppelins is a three floor house that includes all the comforts of home, along with several giant TVs, a hot tub, and what appears to be a full-size grand piano.
This concept (from NASA and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) is called AMELIA, which stands for Advanced Model for Extreme Lift and Improved Aeroacoustics. There are two relevant bits there: "extreme lift" and "improved aeroacoustics," and both of these things come from mounting jet engines on top of the aircraft's wing instead of underneath.
You know how OEMs have tugged and tweaked Google's stock Android OS to fit their needs and how it's a convoluted fragmented mess now? Nokia almost butchered Windows Phone 7's simple and elegant MetroUI interface with its own abominable skin....
It doesn't have crazy swept wings and it doesn't fly at Mach 7, but this concept aircraft from Boeing is what we'll all probably be stuffed into by 2045. It runs on cryogenic liquified natural gas, and beats the fuel efficiency by the current generation of passenger jets by a whopping 60%.
Designer Jeong Jaewan's UFO phone concept may look like an ordinary cellphone while at rest, but it's actually got a bending and folding modular body that unlocks all kinds of goodies. It also makes clever use of a technology that you could have in a smartphone very soon, too: in-phone projectors.
Aerospace companies and NASA have been exploring lots of different ways to deal with sonic booms, and most of their designs are similar: long, skinny aircraft with pointy noses designed to "mitigate" the noise problem. Researchers at Tohoku University are trying a completely different and awesomely retro-futuristic idea: a supersonic biplane that eliminates sonic booms entirely.
I don't know how long the Russians have been developing this concept for a supersonic business jet, but it must have started back when "2011" still seemed like a date way, way in the future. Oh well, at least it still looks futuristic. Apart from the paint job, anyway.