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The Last (and Ugliest) Pair of Glasses You'll Ever Wear

Also, a hummingbird turbine, and a 3D printed bicycle rides from Vegas to San Francisco.

Hummingbird Inspired Turbine Would Stop Bird Deaths

TYER Wind is a startup based out of Tunisia in North Africa. The company wanted to find a new way to convert wind power into energy that extended beyond the traditional turbine.

Over the years, wind turbine technology has become more powerful and efficient. According to the American Wind Energy Association, in late 2016, the United States had a little less than 76,000 MW of installed wind capacity from more than 49,000 wind turbines. That is enough to power 20 million homes every year. However, they kill about 200,000 birds per year, sustain a lot of wear and tear, and they need a lot of room to work.  

TYER set out to create a better solution, and it actually turned to one of the most efficient birds in the world for inspiration, the hummingbird.

Rather than blades, the TYER has 1.6 m wings made out of a carbon fiber-ABC composite that flap like a hummingbird, and only take up 3.56 m of total sweep area. The pre-industrial version, which could be smaller and more suitable for residential applications, has a rated power output of 1 kW, which is much lower than 2-3 MW turbines on the market today.

The machine is currently undergoing real world testing to learn more about its power efficiency, aerodynamic behavior, and material resistance, and stress over the mast. Depending out how the results shake out, an industrial version of this new design could mean more wind generators in smaller spaces, less maintenance, and less dead birds.

And if you need to know just how important this new development is, look no further than the company's sizzle reel.

Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses

Researchers from the Utah College of Engineering have developed an early prototype of smart glasses. While Google Glass was a misfire, this set of specs uses liquid lenses that automatically adjust your focus.

The glycerin lenses are enclosed by flexible rubber-like membranes in the front and back. The rear membrane in each lens is connected to three mechanical actuators that push the membrane back and forth like a transparent piston.

The lenses are placed in special frames that house the electronics and a rechargeable battery to control the actuators. In the bridge is a distance meter that measures the distance from your glasses to whatever you’re looking at using pulses of infrared light. According to the researchers, it only takes 14 milliseconds to refocus when you look at something else, which is about a quarter of a blink of an eye.

You load your prescription into the glasses using an app, and as long as you charge them up every night, since the charge only holds for 24 hours, this could mean that you have the same four eyes for your entire life. 

Now the team is working on a sleeker design and has created the startup, Sharpeyes, to bring them to market. But I think you can go to market with these right now, thick, bulky, and round frames have been on pop icons for years. And you know this marriage of gadget freak with geek sheik has just got those hipsters salivating. 

First Functional 3D Printed Bike Finishes Road Trip

From Las Vegas to San Francisco in 13 days on a 3D-printed bicycle. That was how long it took a pair of professional industrial designers from 3D-printing service bureau Sculpteo to ride their creation from CES 2017 in Vegas to the company's factory in San Francisco.

The Darwin Bike Project set out to create the first fully functional bike created using digital manufacturing. It took designers Alexandre d'Orsetti and Piotr Widelka seven weeks and $4,000 to create a bike that consists of 70 percent 3D-printed parts.

The team used SLS, DMLS and CLIP technology. While SLS and DMLS are pretty well known, Clip stands for Continuous Liquid Interface Production, a photochemical process used by Carbon 3D that produces parts that are mechanically strong, but still have a good surface finish.

All told, about seven critical components were 3D printed, including the brakes.

The pair chronicled their 600-mile journey in a set of YouTube videos, including when the bike started to become a little unstable towards the end of the trip when parts started coming unglued from the frame.

While the trip did prove the bike's strength and reliability, it also exposed a few areas that can be improved. It couldn't have been that dangerous. After all, they let the Sculpteo CEO take the bike for a spin on a Las Vegas sidewalk  — not to mention the test drive in Paris before the flew out to CES.

This is Engineering By Design with David Mantey. 

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