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Japanese Juice Company Invents a Robot to Feed You Tomatoes While You Run

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istock

If you’ve ever craved a bite of a juicy red tomato three miles into your 10-mile jog, then boy, does Japanese vegetable juice maker Kagome have a machine for you. On Thursday, Kagome announced the creation of the Tomatan, a mechanical tomato-dispensing backpack.

The Tomatan, which sits on the wearer’s shoulders and features an anthropomorphized tomato head and metal mechanical arms, can fit six mid-sized tomatoes. By pulling a lever in the robot’s foot, the athlete activates the machine, causing its arms to rotate over the runner’s head and hold a tomato in front of the wearer’s mouth.

Inventors at Kagome and Meiwa Denki, the company that designed the Tomatan, hope that the “humanoid robot” will aid runners during the Tokyo Marathon this weekend.

“Tomatoes have lots of nutrition that combats fatigue,” Kagome’s Shigenori Suzuki, who will wear the contraption during a 5 km fun run on Saturday, tells the Japan Times.

The Tomatan weighs in at nearly 18 pounds, but a lighter, 6.6-pound version, called the Petit-Tomatan, is also available. The Petit-Tomatan also features a timer that prevents the runner from binging on tasty tomato snacks too quickly.

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This Waterless Toilet Made of Mushrooms Could Be Key for Refugee Needs
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iStock

In many parts of the world, toilets remain out of reach. An estimated one in three people in the world don't have access to a toilet, and one in nine people don't have access to safe water (in large part because of that lack of toilets). A group of students from the University of British Columbia have come up with a new way to give people without plumbing clean, safe places to do their business, and according to Co.Design the key is mushrooms.

The MYCOmmunity Toilet, which just won the 2018 Biodesign Challenge, is a portable toilet kit designed for refugee camps that uses a mycelium (a mushroom product) tank to eventually turn human waste into compost. Everything needed to set up the toilet is packed into one kit, which users can set up into a small, sit-down toilet with a traditional seat and a tank for waste. The appliance is designed to fit into a refugee tent and serve a family of six for up to a month.

The toilet separates solid and liquid waste for separate treatment. Enzyme capsules can be used to neutralize the smell of urine and start the decomposition, and poop can be covered in sawdust or other material to tamp down odors and rev up the composting process. After the month is up and the tank is full, the whole thing can be buried, and the mushroom spores will speed along the process of turning it into compost. The kit comes with seeds that can be planted on top of the buried toilet, turning the waste into new growth. (Biosolids have been used to fertilize crops for thousands of years.)

The University of British Columbia students—led by Joseph Dahmen, an assistant professor in the architecture school, and Steven Hallam, a professor in the department of microbiology and immunology—competed against 20 other design teams at the 2018 Biodesign Summit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in June, taking home first prize. They hope to further refine the prototype in the future, and according to Co.Design, test it out at local music festivals, which, with their outdoor venues and high volume of drunk pee-ers, are the perfect venue to stress test waterless toilet technology.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Frenzel and Mayer Solutions
Clumsy? This Faux Airbag Will Protect Your Dropped Phone
Frenzel and Mayer Solutions
Frenzel and Mayer Solutions

While your Hello Kitty phone case may look fashionable, it might not do a lot to protect your cell phone if it’s dropped on a hardwood floor. Dozens of manufacturers have created rubber, silicone, and plastic cases that are intended to mitigate damage to plummeting devices, but they’re not foolproof. In 2015, Motorola conducted a survey in which they found 50 percent of cell phone owners globally had dealt with a cracked screen. An average out-of-warranty screen repair for an Apple iPhone is $200.

Fortunately, German engineering student Philip Frenzel has a solution. His AD Case is a slim add-on that houses four metal springs. When the device senses a free-fall via an accelerometer, the springs deploy and give the phone four points of contact buffering before hitting the floor.

Frenzel, who attends Aalen University in Aalen, Germany, won a Mechatronics Prize that acknowledges student innovation. The 25-year-old inventor got the idea four years ago after throwing his coat over a bannister and watching his brand-new cell phone fall from a pocket onto the floor. Finding bulky shell cases cumbersome, he tried expanding foam before settling on the spring-loaded approach.

While Frenzel has applied for a patent, he’s not the first to think of a deployed-protection case. In 2012, Amazon patented a device that would shoot compressed air to cushion impact, though they never brought it to market.

The AD Case is not yet commercially available, though that could change fast: Frenzel hopes to launch a Kickstarter in July. 

[h/t designboom]

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