Newly Invented Glass Would Let Cracked Smartphone Screens "Heal" Themselves

iStock
iStock

The solution to cracked smartphone screens may not come from stronger glass or less-clumsy owners. Based on new research published in Science, it's possible that the phones of the future will feature glass that "heals" itself when shattered. A version of this new type of glass has been developed by researchers in Japan, The Guardian reports.

Graduate student Yu Yanagisawa invented the material by accident while attempting to make a glue. The substance he came up with behaved strangely: If he made cracks in the surface, he could make the fissures disappear after pressing them together for 30 seconds at regular room temperature (about 70°F). He also found that the material reverted back to its original strength after being left alone for a few hours.

The polymer, called polyether-thioureas, isn't the first invention capable of healing itself. Scientists have already come up with self-repairing rubber, plastic, and concrete, and earlier this year Motorola patented a display that fixes its own cracks when heated. But according to the study, this is the first hard material whose self-healing properties function at room temperature. Thanks to a special hydrogen-bond pattern, the polymer offers the same robust protection as traditional glass without the irreparability.

It's easy to see how the technology could be a game-changer for phone manufacturers. According to a survey by Motorola, half of people around the world have cracked at least one smartphone screen in their lives. One possible reason that companies like Apple prefer glass for their screens over soft, durable plastic is that glass is more easily recycled. Yanagisawa believes his new polymer could be an even more sustainable alternative, as it could lead to fewer broken screens and phones being tossed in the trash.

[h/t The Guardian]

Mickey Mouse Is Getting His Own Beats By Dre Headphones

Beats, Amazon
Beats, Amazon

Since debuting in a black-and-white cartoon in 1928, Mickey Mouse has grown into an icon recognized around the world. To celebrate the character's 90th birthday, Beats by Dre has designed him his very own pair of Solo3s, The Verge reports.

The special-edition, wireless headphones depict a pattern of classic Mickeys against a gray background. They come in a gray felt carrying case—a nod to the material used to make the Mickey Mouse ears sold at Disney parks. The purchase also includes an enamel pin and decal sticker commemorating the anniversary.

At $329.95, the Mickey headphones cost about $30 more than conventional Solo3 headphones, but it's not unusual for Beats to charge extra for limited-edition designs. In 2014, the company released Hello Kitty Solo2s for the character's 40th anniversary for $50 more than the headphones' standard selling price.

The Mickey Beats will be available starting November 11—a few days before the 90th anniversary of the premiere of Steamboat Willie. You can pre-order them on Amazon today.

[h/t The Verge]

This Smart Mug Alerts You When You've Had Too Much Caffeine

Ember
Ember

Since 2010, Ember has been giving perfectionists ultimate control over their morning coffee. Their travel mug lets you set the preferred temperature of your drink down to the degree when you're on the go, and their ceramic cup allows you to do the same in the office or at home. Now, in addition to telling you how hot your beverage is at all times, Ember lets you know how much caffeine you're consuming through Apple's Health app, CNET reports.

Ember's new feature takes advantage of the same Bluetooth technology that lets you control the temperature of you drink from your smartphone. Beginning October 17, you can connect your Ember vessel to your Apple device to keep track of what you're drinking. If you drink all your tea and coffee from an Ember mug, the Health app should be able to give you a rough estimate of your daily caffeine intake.

Ember wasn't originally designed to measure caffeine content, but its built-in sensors allow it do so. In order to maintain a constant temperature, the mug needs to know whether it's full or empty, and exactly how much liquid it's holding at any given time. The feature also gives you the option to preset your serving size within the app if you drink the same amount of coffee everyday. And if you like to drink specific beverages at their recommended temperatures, the mug can guess what type of drink it's holding based on how hot it is.

The new caffeine-calculating feature from Ember is especially useful for coffee addicts: If the mug senses you've exceeded your recommended caffeine intake for the day, it will alert you on your phone. Here are some energizing caffeine alternatives to keep that from happening.

[h/t CNET]

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