I write a Tech Universe column for the NZ Herald. This is a fun assignment: Tech Universe brings 5 headlines each day about what’s up in the world of technology. Here are the links from last week.
Tech universe: Monday 05 July 2010
- BLOWN AWAY: Blunt umbrellas — a Kiwi innovation — withstand even Wellington gales. What it takes is double struts, floating ribs and special Blunt strengthening tips. Hang on! Brolly Sailing could be the latest Wellington sport!
- IBM IS SUPER GREEN: 17 of the 20 most energy efficient supercomputers in the world are built by IBM. Each system produces more than 773 Megaflops per watt of energy. Whereas I flop when I have no energy.
- 3D WATER TETRIS: Layer 3 artificial waterfalls and carefully time the drops. Then project images on the water to create a 3D display. So when do we get touchscreen? Video:
- DRIVER CHARGES: Washington, California, Arizona and Tennessee are setting up 15,000 electric vehicle charging stations. A charge could take as little as 15 minutes. A better buzz for drivers.
- DRIVE BY LASER: A vibrating vest and puffs of air on the face could allow blind people to drive cars, according to Virginia Tech. Sensor lasers and cameras help drivers ‘see’ where they’re going. Shouldn’t the tech be compulsory for all of us?
Tech universe: Tuesday 06 July 2010
- GROW YOUR OWN HOME: Urban designer Mitchell Joachim would like us to grow our own homes by grafting living plants together, using a special scaffolding. The homes would also absorb carbon from the air. Do we get architects, landscapers or interior designers to help?
- ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE: Microsoft InstaLoad lets you insert batteries in a device without worrying about which way round they should go. Both ends of the battery include both positive and negative terminals. Plug and play.
- TOUCHY FEELY: Put on 3D glasses and hold hands with a robot. This could be a new way of training doctors and others who need to learn how things feel during surgery or medical exams. The HIRO III haptic interface robot gives kinesthetic feedback through your fingertips. Not just cold hands, but steely.
- YOU’RE SOAKING IT IN: Sand may be just the thing to keep your skin supple. Coating droplets of skin cream with silica nanoparticles lets researchers control how the skin absorbs the cream. Wait, there’s more: you can scrub and moisturise at the same time!
- ROUND CARBON: A new method for recycling plastic turns it into tiny spheres of pure carbon. The spheres can be used in paint, batteries and filters or many other things. In my day it was called soot.
Tech universe: Wednesday 07 July 2010
- SPACE BOMBS: In the 50s and 60s the Americans and Russians detonated hydrogen bombs in space. The Starfish Prime explosion was seen even in New Zealand.
I have an idea: let’s explode a nuke and see what happens.
- SPLIT WHEELS: The HMK 561 electric bicycle’s carbon fibre frame splits each wheel in two. An electric charge stored in the frame drives the bike. There are no pedals either, just foot pegs. Footloose and pedal free.
- FAST FEET: Treadways motorised shoes aren’t exactly stylish, but they take the ‘walk’ out of walking. Powered by lithium-polymer batteries they’ll quickly get you from the bus to the front door. Then just sit back and plug in your feet.
- CRIMINAL PLATES: Cameras in New South Wales detect car number plates that recognition software matches to a database. It’s the Automatic Number Plate Recognition system. At 6 plates per second it can pick out plenty of infringing cars. The quick eye of the law.
- BLACK BOX CAR: The Intel Connected Car tracks how you drive. If you have an accident it can report back on your behaviour. It could also report potholes in roads, and stop you from driving the wrong way on a one-way street. Yaaay, the Nanny car.
Tech universe: Thursday 08 July 2010
- FIRST LIGHT: Europe’s Planck telescope operates at minus 273.05 C to survey the Cosmic Microwave Background. Its first full-sky image finally shows the structure of our galaxy. Old, cold and gold.
- EYE POWER: A Canadian filmmaker, known as EyeBorg, replaced his artificial eye with a battery-powered, wireless video camera. It runs for 90 minutes on a charge. He’s also planning a live feed to the Internet. What colour were those films he makes?
- EYE ON YOUR CAR: In Europe Audi Cam outfits car mechanics with a two-way radio and a headset video camera so you can watch and chat while your car’s being serviced. Oh no, a backseat mechanic.
- LAPTOP CAR: A little Mira electric car travelled more than 27 hours without recharging, powered only by laptop-style lithium-ion batteries. 8,320 of them. I reckon my laptop gets better mileage: it runs about 5 hours on one battery.
- MOUSE HANDS: Point, scroll, click — the ‘Mouseless’ computer mouse does all the usual stuff, but without the mouse. Instead an Infrared camera watches how your hand is moving on the desk. What we actually want: Look ma, no hands!
Tech universe: Friday 09 July 2010
- GET THE SHAKES: Care for a massage while you drive? The safety car seat vibrates for the entire ride, but if a vehicle moves into your blind spot one part vibrates more intensely to alert you. Driving home in rush hour could be more relaxing than you’d ever thought.
- WIRELESS PARKING: Sick of driving round and round the block to find a carpark? In Barcelona wireless sensors report vacant parking spaces to displays on the street or an in-car Navigator device. Network problems: the new cause of road rage.
- OOPS, IT STUCK: Researchers accidentally found a pressure-sensitive adhesive made from soya beans while trying to create an adhesive for wood. It’s cheaper and more eco-friendly than existing petroleum-based adhesives, and could be used for packaging tape or stick-on notes. Another in the grand tradition of accidental adhesive discoveries.
- ON YOUR BIKE: So long as you’re pedalling you might as well charge up your cellphone. The USB Bike Generator rubs against the bike wheel, produces electricity and provides power to USB devices. With a USB kettle you could make coffee while cycling.
- SMART BANDAGE: A Bacteriosafe smart bandage will detect and treat infection in wounds. Nanocapsules release antibiotics if a wound becomes infected and change colour to show harmful bacteria are present. Sickly green takes on a new meaning.