New Hoverbike Looks Like a Flying Dirt Bike

Scorpion hoverbike is as dangerous as it is interesting. Also, electronic tattoos get thinner, and extreme pitching in a Sikorsky helicopter.

Pitch or Die

Shark Tank proved to be not only be the world's most successful infomercial, but it also proved that the pitch could offer some entertaining value. People like the idea of deciding a start-up company's fate, and not only laughing at their failures, but being happy to buy in and feel like they are a part of the company’s success. But it seems as though the power of the pitch alone is no longer enough for fans, and it has birthed a new form of extreme pitch competitions.

A few weeks ago, the University of Oulu in Finland and the Business Kitchen held the Polar Bear Pitching event, where entrepreneurs dive into the ice seeking the lifeblood that is a venture capital infusion. The crowd "seal chants" as the contestants approach the ice bath, and the innovators can pitch as long as they can stand the cold. The winner this year, Virta, is an upstart EV charging business.

Well now, Lockheed Martin Ventures is jumping into the extreme pitch business with partners ClearSky and ARCH Venture Partners. The HeloPitch competition, which is now accepting applications, will fly entrepreneurs in a helicopter 1,000 ft. above the 2017 South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX.

HeloPitch will take place in a Sikorsky S-76D helicopter, where hopeful startups will beg for money in front of Lockheed Ventures’ VP, chief technology scout, and a partner panel.

The competition is open to companies in various development stages that are working within these focus areas:

Focus Areas:

  • Advanced materials and manufacturing
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Autonomous systems and robotics
  • Aviation technologies
  • Communications and sensors
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data analytics
  • Energy and power systems
  • Internet of things
  • Next generation electronics
  • Space technologies
  • Sustainability
  • Undersea technologies
  • Virtual and augmented reality

Here is my pitch: 

Electronic Tattoos Get Thinner

For smart electronics and wearable devices to experience widespread adoption, the devices need to become easier to make, and more comfortable. I mean, I'm happy to track my steps, but I just don't want to wear a clunky device no matter how sleek the design.

A group of researchers at Waseda University in central Tokyo may have found a way to make such devices more tolerable, or at least less noticeable. They have developed a new way to make electronic tattoos, which is essentially what we're calling simple wearable devices that adhere to your skin. That is, until someone comes up with a better buzzword. 

Using a household inkjet printer, the team has created free-standing, flexible and physically adhesive ultra-thin elastomeric films, or nanosheets, that they use as electronic substrates and packaging films. The printer prints conductive lines on the nanosheet to an electric element like a chip or LED that is sandwiched between theses 750 nm-thin elastomeric sheets. The entire device winds up less than 1 ÎĽm thick.

Thanks to the simple, low-temperature processes, the ultrathin structures achieve better adhesion, without using adhesive matter, and better elasticity and comfort, which is important when you’re wearing it on your skin. The proof of concept worked for several days on an artificial skin model.

In the future, these devices could be used as human-machine interfaces and sensors for as radically improved tools for medicine, healthcare and sports training. Really it’s just the step in between the watch and the implantable, and really, given progress in the implantable arena, it may never get it’s moment in the sun. 

Motorcycle-Inspired Hoverbike a Risky Ride

This week, New Atlas uncovered the Scorpion-3, a new motorcycle-inspired hoverbike from Russian company Hoversurf that seems as dangerous as it is interesting. The hoverbike uses four high-speed wooden props, that, as New Atlas states, seem mounted at a height perfect for amputation.

According to the company, the Scorpion single-seat aircraft is an electric-powered quadcopter that started as a crowdfunding project.

The company wanted it to look like a flying dirt bike, which I think they nailed, but while the company says that it is equipped with a safety system powered by state of the art flight controllers, special logical programing and passive elements with computer aided speed and altitude limiting, you can still imagine early adopters falling from the sky whenever a rotor fails and this thing flips over.

The company is calling Scorpion the "perfect hoverbike solution," but that might be a bit of a stretch. Call me old-fashioned, but I'd like to be a little less exposed to the rotors, and not sitting upright. Something a little more like Chris Malloy’s Hoverbike that the Army is currently adapting for field-supply missions.

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