The first heavily marketed products that claim to use graphene — the substance that potentially will revolutionize many industries — appeared this year. One of those products — a tennis racket from the Head company, is a triumph of marketing. It's less than clear whether the so-called graphene tennis racket, which is selling very well indeed (and there are now many slightly different models), is a triumph of engineering.
Read MoreComputer-milled dental crowns3-D carving (rather than printing), for teeth
The 3-D printing revolution gets most of the attention, but 3-D carving has already added a very real bite to modern healthcare. Dentists (and engineers) are leading the way. Read MoreRats! Choose at random!A complicated way to say: 'Flip a coin'
Considerable expense and effort are thrown at the question: What will people choose?
Which cell phone? Which features? Which dinner entrée? Which school? Which local political candidate? Which stock or bond? Which financial advisor? Which job candidate? Which job? Which hole to stick your nose in, if you're offered a choice? Read MoreFashioning fashionable offerings of all kindsFifty shades, by Gray
Fashion matters, if you are doing anything that can have multiple combinations (such as making clothing, researching drugs, packaging bundles of financial entities, creating apps, whatever), and if you want people to choose YOUR thing rather than choose the combinations other people are offering. Read More
Lena Groeger does a fabulous breakdown of what works and what doesn't — what visual bits are clear to people, and what are confusing or frustrating — in designing the appearance of everything from mobile apps to infographics to various other products. Read MoreElectromechanical discerning devicesSuperpowers for baristas
The world is still trying to standardize World Standards Day. Read More
Marc Abrahams is editor of the magazine Annals of Improbable Research and organizer of the Ig Nobel Prizes. He collects research that makes people laugh, then think. Marc writes books (including the new This Is Improbable Too), and, since 2003, a column in the The Guardian. He is or has been a columnist for The Harvard Business Review, Zeitwissen, Le Scienze, Cómo Ves, Embedded Systems Design, Design News, Byte, and other magazines. Marc has written 19 science mini-operas, and been the protagonist in a Japanese manga. In an earlier phase, he developed optical character recognition software at Kurzweil Computer Products, and then founded Wisdom Simulators, a creator of educational software. He is married to Robin Abrahams, who writes the Miss Conduct column in the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine.
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