No More Tying Shoelaces

Tying shoelaces can be a challenge to children with autism, and shoe-wearers of all kinds find it odd that we’re still fastening our shoes with bits of string in the 21st Century.  Zubits has revolutionized the process with their magnetic closures, which you lace into once, and then fasten and unfasten with the magnetic buckle. They come in a variety of colors and work with any standard lace-up shoe.

Video by Zubits


I Just Like It: Audio-Technica Headphones

Audio-Technica may not be a familiar name to all, but they make the best headphones for my money. For several years I’ve owned a pair of low-priced ATH-FC700s which I use daily (not sure if they still make them). Apart from the crystal-clear sound, the headphone’s cable and ear-cushions have remained fully intact (unlike some other brands, where these parts tend to wear out after a year or less. If the cable wears out, that pretty much renders the headphones useless).  Audio-Technica headphones score consistently high on Amazon’s customer reviews, which is not surprising based on my experience with the ATH-FC700s. Here’s a video review by MKBHD of the higher-end ATH-M50x:

Robot Teaches Autistic Kids to Communicate

The NAO robot, made by French company Aldebaran Robotics, is a humanoid about the size of a 1-year old that walks, talks and plays games. Kids seem to like interacting with the robot, and researchers are now using it to teach communication and empathy skills to ASD children. More info on the ASK NAO (Autism Solution for Kids) project at the Aldebaran Robotics website. Video from NBC via the Aldebaran Robotics Youtube channel.

Graphene Could be Best Water Filter Ever

This could be big. The world is facing a water crunch, at least when it comes to the stuff we can drink. Salt water covers 80% of the planet, but making it potable costs a bundle in energy; either to boil seawater (to release freshwater steam) or force it through inefficient filters to remove impurities. So far, only rich countries like Saudi Arabia or Singapore can afford desalination plants to do the job. That could change. Some years ago, researchers at Manchester University discovered they could create layers of Graphite only one atom thin, called Graphene. Scientists at MIT then discovered that Graphene is potentially a highly efficient water filter, one that requires very little energy to force the water through. This could mean that poorer countries will be able to afford desalination plants, which could in turn convert large arid regions into fertile farmland.