Tag Archives: Daily Planet

Discovery’s Daily Planet dives into Shark Week

Shark Week certainly knows how to make a splash with big-name hosts and special events. The American Chopper cast (remember them?!), Les Stroud, Craig Ferguson and Andy Samberg have all taken a turn hosting; this year it’s actor-producer-director Eli Roth. The tentpole event for 2017 takes place on Sunday when former Olympic medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps gets into the water for Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White. Me? I’m more interested in what the folks at Daily Planet are doing.

Daily Planet‘s Shark Week coverage airs Monday, July 24, to Friday, July 28, at 7 p.m. ET on Discovery and features hosts Ziya Tong and Dan Riskin at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada in Toronto presenting truly compelling segments during special episodes of their nightly science series. One preview segment next week finds Tong in the water with the toothy critters.

“I’ve gone diving enough times with sharks that I don’t think my heart rate changed at all,” Tong says alongside her co-host after completing filming at Ripley’s for the day. “I was more concerned with getting the right shot than the fact there were these massive animals around me. I love them and they’re so beautiful.”

“This really drives home that we practice what we preach,” Riskin says of Tong jumping in the water with sharks. “We want to show that, for the most part, sharks are not vicious killers. We put the more valuable co-host in the water to prove that she wasn’t going to get hurt.” Debuting in 1988, Shark Week has become a must-see event thanks to show titles like Shark: Maneater or Myth?, Teeth of Death and Anatomy of a Shark Bite. This year boasts programs like Great White Shark Serial Killer Lives, Great Hammerhead Invasion and Shark Vortex. Those outrageous titles may attract eyeballs, but the truth about sharks is much more mundane.

“The truth is, we have lots of stories this week about people who are in the water with great white sharks without a cage and they’re fine,” Riskin says. “They know what they’re doing and they would never throw the kid from the Nirvana album into the water with a shark.” He adds these experts know how the predatory fish posture and communicate what their intentions are. The result? The charisma and fascination surrounding them is still there, but the fear drops. Segments that Tong and Riskin introduce on Daily Planet include “Touching Great Whites,” as Jean-Marie Ghislain and Martin Kochling leave their dive cages behind to swim with sharks off the coast of Guadalupe Island; “Liverless Sharks,” regarding the mystery surrounding sharks washing up on South African shores with their livers expertly removed; and “Dead Whale Feast,” which—from its description—could be the gross-out of the whole lineup.

“Marine biologist Choy Aming is on a whale carcass bobbing in the middle of the ocean and all of these different species of sharks start coming up and feeding on the carcass while he’s sitting on it,” Tong teases.

“It’s in the sun, it’s baking and it’s decomposing,” Riskin adds. “He said it was like standing on a school bus made of tissue paper and covered in olive oil. A carcass is full of calories and animals need calories. A carcass in the ocean; what a great place to be.”

Daily Planet‘s Shark Week coverage airs Monday, July 24, to Friday, July 28, at 7 p.m. ET on Discovery.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.


Daily Planet’s Ziya Tong and Dan Riskin pick their top toys of 2016

Like Christmas arriving every year, so too does Daily Planet‘s “High-Tech Toys” week. Airing next Monday to Friday at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Discovery Canada, the five days spotlight the outrageous, mind-blowing and exciting gadgets and gear of the year.

Yes, the Transformer Car, Teal High-Speed Drone, Climball and PancakeBot all look cool—and will be featured next week—but how do they rank with Daily Planet co-hosts Ziya Tong and Dan Riskin? And what are their other favourite toys of 2016? Note: there are only 24 days left to shop for them, so get moving!

ziyaZiya Tong
Boombox Painting: There’s nothing better than being able to combine art, music and technology, and all three come together perfectly in the Boombox Painting. So what is it? Well, at first glance it looks like a painting of an old school boombox—framed and everything—but the surprise is that the speakers are real! The company, Case of Bass, designed a shadowbox that contains all the gear so that the painting becomes a functioning speaker system that plays music via Bluetooth. Probably the best way to describe the aesthetic is that it’s super retro-futuristic.

Climball: I love the Climball because I often have to get tricked into doing exercise, and this is one very clever way to do it. Basically, it turns you and your game partner into a human version of the game Pong. The climbing wall tracks your movements and projects a virtual ball right on to the wall so that you compete against another player. It blends gaming and sport and certainly takes climbing indoors to a whole other level.

RC Surfer: I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of RC cars and RC planes, but one thing you may not have seen is an RC surfer. At just over 30 centimetres tall, the board and rider are perfect for the tiny waves that lap along the beach shore. Riding along the beach breaks however, the tiny surfer looks like it’s cruising through massive barrels. With a hollow design, the board automatically rights itself, allowing you to rock it like you’re in Point Break, without any of the wipeouts.

Flybrix Lego Drone: Like most kids, I grew up with Lego, and year after year I’m amazed by what these little blocks are able to create. And in keeping with the times, Lego has come up with a “make your own drone kit.” Connected via the Flybrix Bluetooth Flight Control App, now you can customize your own mini-drone and watch your ideas literally come to life, and take flight.

LeTrons Antimon: Leaping right out of the pages of comic books, the LeTrons Antimon is a real-life Transformer car. On the outside, it looks like a BMW 3-series, but the car can stand upright like an Optimus Prime! In its standing position, the “car” is able to move its robotic arms, fingers and even turn its neck and head. The future is really here friends, and on “High Tech Toys” week, we promise you’ll get more than meets the eye.

danDan Riskin
The Teal High-Speed Drone: It’s a quadcopter drone like you’ve seen all over the place by now, but this one is, (A) fast—like 120 kph fast—and, (B) open to developers who want to put their own spin on it. The folks at Teal envision an app store where developers share different ideas about how to make this drone hardware interact with games, utilities, and more. This high-tech toy isn’t out yet, but we’re watching this team make it happen.

Chariot Skates: These are like rollerblades, but bigger. Each skate has a giant wheel in front (as high as your knee) that rolls on the outside of your foot while you move. That allows your skates to handle rough terrain in a way no other skate possibly could. It also means more dynamic stability from rotational momentum, and thus a very different feel. I’m looking forward to trying these on this year. Bets are in on whether the fracture will be tibial or femoral.

PancakeBot: Pancakes are perfect, but now they can be “perfecter.” This Norwegian invention takes pancake batter as ink, extrudes it through an arm, and onto a hot grill. The result is pancakes shaped like the Eiffel Tower or really anything you want. In fact, you can even use your kids’ drawings as templates! You could even make a picture of a mandrake with a headache performing a jailbreak to get to a clambake on your pancake!

SeaXplorer: It’s an icebreaking luxury yacht from Damen in the Netherlands. The idea is to make even more of the world accessible than what those other billionaires get to see. This thing can take you from the North pole to the tropics to the South pole, and give you every opportunity to explore along the way. It’s fully equipped with SCUBA gear, small excursion watercraft, and more. This thing even has two helicopter landing pads, so if you and your significant other can’t agree which glacier to heli-ski from, you won’t have to bicker. (Helicopters not included.)

e-Go aeroplanes: This takes it up a notch—a personal one-seater mini-airplane. It’s like the “Mini Cooper” of airplanes. A propeller on the back pushes your carbon-fibre craft through the air with grace, but with enough punch to let you do a flip or two as well. Then when you land, the wings and canard come off so you can fit this thing in your garage. It’s perfect for supervillains, superheroes, and Daily Planet co-hosts. (Are you listening, Santa?)

Which of the toys Dan and Ziya have chosen would you like to see under your tree on Christmas Day? Comment below!

Daily Planet‘s “High Tech Toys” Week airs Monday, Dec. 5, through Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Discovery Canada.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.



Daily Planet spreads sci-tech cheer for all to hear during “High-Tech Toys Week”, beginning December 5 on Discovery

From a media release:

It’s beginning to look a lot like…“High-Tech Toys Week”! Santa’s helpers, better known as the team behind Discovery’s daily sci-tech series DAILY PLANET, are hard at work preparing for every tech toy-lover’s favourite week of the year, “High-Tech Toys Week”. Airing exclusively on Discovery beginning Monday, Dec. 5 through Friday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, DAILY PLANET explores a week full of boundless innovation and imagination.

From a life-size Transformer car to vertical air hockey, viewers are invited to join co-hosts Ziya Tong and Dan Riskin as they fill Santa’s sleigh with the season’s most exciting, outlandish, and coveted high-tech toys from around the world.

“High-Tech Toys Week” was the second most-watched theme week on DAILY PLANET during the 2015/16 broadcast year, trailing only “Future-Tech Week”. DAILY PLANET, the world’s only nightly science broadcast reaches more than 1.3 million viewers each week and continues to win the 7 p.m. ET timeslot among Canadian entertainment specialty channels during the 2016/17 broadcast year among all key adult demographics.

Highlights from DAILY PLANET’s “High-Tech Toys Week” include:

“Transformer Car”
The BMW can now shapeshift from a car into huge robot, thanks to a prototype designed by Turkish company, Letrons. The Antiomon is a real-life, nearly five-metre tall Transformer with driving capabilities. A total of five working models were developed by a team of 12 engineers, with each featuring a 35,000 hydraulic cylinder system that allows for quick and effective transformations. DAILY PLANET meets with the development team to discuss the Antiomon’s price tag in advance of its consumer debut.

“Teal Highspeed Drone”
George Matus was 11 years old when he flew his first drone and was immediately blown away. By 16, Matus was competing as a professional drone racer and acting as a test pilot for new aircraft. Today, Matus is the CEO of his own drone and software company, Teal. After years of flying, crashing, rebuilding, and modifying dozens of versions of drones, Matus has completed his dream drone, the Teal. The highly impressive unmanned aircraft flies at more than 120 kilometres per hour, can operate in wind speeds of 64 kilometres per hour, and has a built-in camera, GPS, and autonomous capabilities. From gaming and augmented reality to security applications and agriculture, Matus wants to make this drone do anything the imagination can conjure. Testing diffferent flight propellers and evaluating for speed, noise, and handling, Matus and the Teal team join DAILY PLANET as they race to get to market “the world’s fastest production drone in its class.”

What is the result when pinball, air hockey, wall climbing, and a splash of augmented reality mix together? Climball – a high-tech, fast-paced game combining augmented reality technology with rock climbing. The physically engaging game tracks the players’ movements while they compete to volley a virtual ball. DAILY PLANET climbs on board to get a closer look at the tech behind the newest way to get into shape.

“The PancakeBot”
Marking the very first food printer of its kind, the $300 PancakeBot is the brainchild of Miguel Valenzuela, a civil engineer, inventor, and father living in Norway. A container of batter is attached to PancakeBot’s mechanical printing arm where underneath sits a flat, heated griddle that acts as its canvas. Users can turn almost anything into a yummy breakfast treat – a child’s drawing, a product image, a team’s logo, or even a favorite piece of artwork. DAILY PLANET meets with Valenzuela, who spills the batter on PancakeBot’s food printing technology.

“Amphibious Helicopter”
Novelty car builder Jeff Bloch, also known as SpeedyCop, is the master of developing crazy, homemade cars. He’s built a fighter jet car, an upside down Camaro, and even a car that stretches out like an accordion – all capable of racing at 24 Hours of LeMons, a series of endurance races held on paved courses across the U.S. This year, Bloch recycled a damaged helicopter from the Vietnam War and transformed it into a mighty machine that can race on land and in water, making the gadget an entirely amphibious helicopter. Although it can’t take flight just yet, it has some truly astounding capabilities! DAILY PLANET meets Bloch to discuss how he intends to take these off-the-wall vehicles from the junkyard to the racetrack.

Many city drivers have experienced the congestion of downtown roadways during rush hour – the impatience, the frustration, and the worry. Well, Ford Motor Company is hoping to prevent commuter frustration with the “Last Mile Mobility Challenge”. One of this year’s finalists is Kilian Vas, a Ford engineer who has designed and built the Carr-E. An easily transported, segway-like vehicle, the Carr-E can propel motorist through all types of traffic. Carr-E’s ultrasonic sensors and built-in GPS allow it to navigate through busy streets, avoiding any obstacle thrown in its path. DAILY PLANET meets with Vas to test out the four-wheel, electric pedestrian assistant that could potentially be the next big breakthrough in urban commuting.


Daily Planet hosts pick their top tech toys of 2015

It’s one of the most anticipated weeks of the year for Daily Planet fans and it returns next week. “High-Tech Toys” week, airing next Monday to Friday, spotlights the outrageous, mind-blowing and exciting gadgets and gear of the year.

And while items like the Gotham Golf Cart, Flying R2-D2 and Mannen Caravan certainly look cool—and are shown next week—we decided to get Daily Planet‘s co-hosts, Ziya Tong and Dan Riskin, to give us their Top 5 picks for High-Tech toys they’d love to see under their Christmas trees.



Ziya Tong

Aira – For me, this sounds like a dream: a sweatshirt that gives you a soothing massage. Developed by a team out of Singapore, the idea behind Aira clothes is to have a massage therapist on-the-go with you. It comes with a smartphone app that controls small air-pressure units sewn into the back. So if you’re travelling and sitting for a long time, or just getting achy sitting at your office desk, this is the perfect one-click pick me up.

Zombie222 – Ask anyone at work and they’ll tell you that I’ve always wanted a ’68 Camaro, but being an environmentalist, this has not been an option—until now! We’re featuring a team that takes classic muscle cars and turns them into lean, green, electric machines. The Zombie222 is actually a ’68 Mustang, and this thing is fast. It goes 0-60 in 1.79 seconds!

Volvorii smart shoe – Move over Imelda Marcos, these new digital shoes will save you money and closet space, because they are multiple shoes in one. Designed with electronic ink technology, the shoes change colour and patterns to match your outfits. It’s kind of like wearing a chameleon on your feet. iShuu Technologies, the company behind the heels actually won the Louis Vuitton Prize for the design.

Triton subs – This is one high-tech toy that is seriously out of this world, and at a few million bucks a pop, well beyond most people’s price ranges. But if you’ve ever dreamed of being Jacques Cousteau and exploring the underwater world, this is the best way to do it. Triton subs fit three people inside and you’re surrounded by a glass bubble so it’s a 360 view. The deepest ones go down 36,000 ft! You can descend into an alien universe in just a couple of hours.

X2 Underwater jetpack – For the underwater adventurer, here’s something that’s a whole lot more affordable: the X2 underwater jetpack. Essentially it’s a system of high-powered thrusters that you wear on each arm. As a scuba diver, I love this because quite often when you’re swimming with sharks or dolphins, they are so much faster than human swimmers. Perhaps with these babies on I could catch up, and who doesn’t want to feel like Aquaman, or rather, Aquawoman. ;)



Dan Riskin

The toy industry is a major driver of technology. I mean, just consider the link between video games and computer processor speeds. So High-Tech Toys is a great way to not only see what the fun gadgets are this year, but to glimpse where tech is headed in general. Here’s my list of five toys it’s hard not to be excited about.

Thor Hammer – This is actually a one-of-a-kind piece built by Allen Pan in California. You know in the movies how only Thor can lift his hammer, Mjolnir? Well, Allen has made that happen by putting huge batteries, an electromagnet and a fingerprint reader into a Mjolnir just for him. So long as its placed on metal, it won’t release until his fingerprint is scanned. That means any other hero can lift with all their might, and never pick it up, while Allen can swing it around like Thor himself.

My very own Death Star – There’s a 3.2m Death Star sitting in Lafayette California that I should also have. It lights up and everything. It was built by a nerdy dad by hand out of electrical conduit pipe. It took a 70-foot crane to put it up. He did it for Halloween originally, but now that it’s up, why not leave it for Xmas, right? Anyway. I need that at my house. Then my neighbours can put up an Alderaan and we can see what happens.

Rumour has it we’ll have a couple of Inmotion V3 Electric Unicycles in the studio. I haven’t gotten on one yet, and there’s good reason to think I’ll break a leg trying to ride one, but there’s something about dangerous things that draws me in. Besides, if I master this thing, I’ll be able to ride it around the office. Just imagine the improved productivity. I can channel my inner “guy from the BC Comics,” and zip around all High Tech Toys Week. (That, or I’ll be on crutches).

There’s also Avalanche Project, a snow-mountain-bike with two side-by-side skis in the front and a tread on the back wheel, like a tank. It’s actually a prototype built by some students at L’Université de Sherbrooke. The genius behind this is that the front skis vary from parallel to snow-plow as a braking mechanism.

And I guess my fifth would be the R2-D2 drone, which flies just like R2 did in the prequel trilogy. This was built by the same guy who last year built a flying witch-on-a-broomstick (with my co-host Ziya’s face on it, of all things). Our video about that went viral on Facebook with tens of millions of views. I have a feeling flying R2 might hit a similar chord this year.

Daily Planet‘s “High-Tech Toys” Week airs next Monday-Friday at 7 p.m. ET on Discovery Canada.


Discovery’s Daily Planet kicks off Season 21 in style

It seems like just yesterday that Daily Planet debuted. With Jay Ingram at its helm, the show—then called @discovery.ca—launched with a goal to explore the scientific angle to current events. Twenty-one seasons later, Daily Planet continues on that path when the show returns to Discovery on Monday with “Extreme Machines Week.”

“We have people on the team who have been with the show since the very beginning,” says Dan Riskin, who has been co-hosting Daily Planet with Ziya Tong since Season 17. “We’re really proud to be representing them.”

Daily Planet shows no signs of slowing down, ratings-wise. Season 20 was the most-watched yet, the third year in a row a viewership benchmark was beaten. Tong, who has been at the helm since 2008 when she joined Ingram, thinks she knows why.

“We have all of these specialty theme weeks that we didn’t have in the past when I started,” she says. “We go off to the Consumer Electronics Show every year, we’ve got Shark Week now and we have a wonderful interactive audience that’s growing with us. It’s a very different show than it was 20 years ago.” She’s right. With themed weeks devoted to toothsome fish, high-tech toys, tornados, future tech and extreme machines, and reporting done at a fast-paced, almost fever pitch, Daily Planet has evolved alongside the science it reports on.

“It’s like learning with a wow factor,” Tong says. That fast pace extends behind the scenes too. Tong describes how seasons are planned well in advance, with on location filming of future segments happening during the summer. Those doc-style bits are intercut with the stuff the team learns about, writes up and reports on every day of broadcast. Deadlines are so tight, Riskin reveals, some floor segments are still being filmed when that night’s broadcast is underway.

“Extreme Machines Week” launches Season 21 with several interesting segments, including tech correspondent Lucas Cochran mounting a pogo stick on steroids, a gyrocopter pilot who aims for a world record and a unique job in Amsterdam: bicycle fisherman. Riskin jetted to the Netherlands’ capital to catch up with Richard and Tom, two dudes who pilot a crane and barge contraption that travels Amsterdam’s canals pulling discarded bikes out of the water. If the pair don’t keep up their task, the accumulated rusting metal—up to 15,000 bikes a year—will clog up the waterways. The segment also shows the duo pulling the hulk of the car out of the murk, leading one to wonder if other, more ominous, items have been discovered.

“The question everybody asks is, ‘Do you ever find dead bodies?'” Riskin says. “Yes, they do. It often happens in winter when somebody has to take a leak and they fall in. It’s hard to find a way out of those canals when it’s dark and you’re drunk.” Ah, science.

Daily Planet airs Monday to Friday at 7 p.m. ET on Discovery.