The electric race car is here, can it succeed?


Formula E’s electric race car, the Spark-Renault SRT_01E, is driven by Brazilian Formula One driver Lucas di Grassi in Las Vegas. (Hannah Dreier/Associated Press)

Here’s a look at six ideas that seek to have an impact on the way we live, work and play.

An electric race car.

Formula E will launch a 10-race season in September as a way for the FIA to promote the electric car industry. The cars — which emit a high-pitch squeal similar to a remote control car — have an estimated top speed of about 140 mph. Races will only be an hour, and drivers will need to switch cars as the batteries 25 minutes at best.

The cars lack the power of a traditional race car, but organizers think street courses with plenty of turns will be a strong place to showcase the vehicles.

The best companies ensure their employees don’t e-mail too much. From the Harvard Business Review:

CEOs recognize email as a problem. They see the endless CC: loops. They see protracted arguments that could be settled in 30 seconds of face-to-face conversation. As one CEO told me, “Email taps into this bad part of our brain where everyone wants to have the last word.” Smart companies come up with very specific rules to try to uproot that email culture. They require people to pick up the phone or walk down the hall. Culture is built from relationships between people. Email does nothing to build relationships, and can actually damage relationships.

Should doctors Google their patients?

Research has shown that it’s common for patients to lie to their doctors. If a physician’s job is to provide the best health care possible, seeing through those lies is a good thing. Google might help, but there are concerns about this process too. From The New York Times:

A nurse called me over to her computer. There, on MugShots.com, was a younger version of my patient’s face, with details about how she had been detained for cocaine possession more than three decades earlier. I looked away from the screen, feeling like I had violated my patient’s privacy. I resumed our medical exam, without bringing up the finding on the Internet, and her subsequent hospital course was uneventful.

I am tempted to prescribe that physicians should never look online for information about their patients, though I think the practice will become only more common, given doctors’ — and all of our — growing dependence on technology. The more important question health care providers need to ask themselves is why we would like to.

To me, the only legitimate reason to search for a patient’s online footprint is if there is a safety issue.

Tablets the size of a laptop screen. Via The Switch:

Samsung has debuted a 12.2-inch tablet, the Galaxy Note Pro. Apple is also said to be testing a tablet with a screen of about 12 inches. Would you want a tablet that large?

A desk that generates electricity as you pedal it.

The inventors of Pedal Power want to use bike technology for everyday tasks such as charging phones, or making food. They’ve raised more than $30,000 on Kickstarter. Learn more about them at The Atlantic.


(TREWGrip)

A full-size QWERTY keyboard for mobile devices.

This bulky full-sized keyboard has raised eyebrows at CES. The TREWGrip is designed to make it easier for you to type quickly. The keys are actually on the back of the device, so there’s a learning curve for new users. The inventors sought to raise money previously with a Kickstarter campaign. The size of the device makes it unlikely to be something most of us would carry around. See what it’s like to type on below:

Matt McFarland is the editor of Innovations. He's always looking for the next big thing. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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Matt McFarland | January 8