I write a 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, 14 June 2010
- VIRTUAL ATHLETES: Reaction times of top gamers often rival those of fighter pilots and elite sports stars. Their physical fitness is another matter. Treadmill levels not included.
- BUSYBODY BRIEFS: Electronic biosensors in the waistband of underwear can report back on vital signs and maybe in future deliver drugs and medicine. Tie the feedback in to the computer games!
- SHORTER THAN LIGHT: How to make planes invisible to radar: make the body out of components smaller than the wavelength of radar. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s just dark.
- STORM RIDER: Rising tides from storm surges and tsunamis automatically raise the Neo Rise barrier to protect shoreline communities. Tsunami barrier? I’d still head for the hills.
- HIT THE GAS: Hydrogen powered cars will soon be tested in the UK. The cars can do 80 kph and travel up to 380 Km on the equivalent of 3 litres of petrol. Smoking!
Tech universe: Tuesday, 15 June 2010
- IPAD MENU: One Melbourne restaurant is replacing paper menus with an iPad full of endlessly layered information about the dishes and wines. As if choosing from half a dozen printed pages isn’t already hard enough!
- SOLAR CHAIRS: New solar panels invented by Michael Gratzel are flexible, easy and cheap to make and transparent. Useful as windows, they can even be used as furniture. Use these as chairs in the restaurant to power the iPads.
- CANINE GPS: Garmin DC 40 tracking collars and the Astro 220 receiver pinpoint exactly where your dogs are, up to 10 of them, even up to 11 Km away. Who let the dogs out?
- UNDERWATER BOOM: Carbon-nanotubes get around. Their latest job is underwater speakers, booming out like long-range sonar. The seabed: the new Party Central!
- PLASTIC EARS: Metal parts in cochlear implants or robotic limbs create problems over time. A young Australian scientist, Rylie Green, has created a bioplastic that blends in much better. Plastic ears: handy for the underwater party.
Tech universe: Wednesday, 16 June 2010
- TWO TON BIKES: The MotoCzysz E1PC (pronounced Motosizz) is an electric motorbike with a 12.5 kW h lithium polymer battery. The motor generates 100 HP and has shown its chops with a top speed of 225 Kph on the racetrack. Sizzling.
- TRASH TAKEOUT: Space litter could kill. NASA now track around 20,000 pieces of garbage out of the half million in orbit. Recently space trash almost took out the Space Station. It’s time to stop tossing the garbage overboard, folks.
- SHHH: 25,000 antennas across the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, France and Britain are trying to hear signals from the Big Bang. Together they make one giant radio-telescope with a diameter of about 1000 Km.
Is that the Big Bang, or just space junk swooshing by?
- A SCOOP OF CHIPS: Also working together: hundreds of Atom chips from netbooks can be glommed together to make a low-cost web server. The size of a credit card, it hardly uses any power. 512: the atomic weight of a server.
- 3D SOCCER: Sony’s 3D experience pavilion at Nelson Mandela Square features a 280 inch LED screen. Visitors to the pavilion will see highlights of the 25 matches filmed in 3D during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. No, don’t duck — you’re the goalie!
Tech universe: Thursday, 17 June 2010
- PRINT MONEY: Your new HP printer will have its own email address so you can print anything any time, by emailing it. Now, about that $32 million my uncle has in Nigeria…
- SIM CITY AFRICA: US soldiers are playing VR games. The Virtual Cultural Awareness Trainer clues them in to customs, culture and language in the Horn of Africa. No guano!
- TENNIS SERVICE: Fans with smartphones at Wimbledon can discover scores, find cash machines and avoid queues through a specialised augmented reality app. Can you order in strawberries and cream too?
- RED BLUE MOVIES: Microsoft’s new 3D TV screen tracks where you’re looking so it can project a separate image to each eye. Special glasses not required. How does it handle a pirate patch?
- MOTE EYE: A tiny light-sensitive chip behind the retina can let some blind people see again. Light falling on the chip sends electric signals direct to the optic nerve. Live cam with chips!
Tech universe: Friday, 18 June 2010
- CRUDE GESTURES: Take a cheap latex glove, add patches of colour, webcam and software. Bingo: your computer can read gestures or even sign language. Goody! A whole new way for the computer to misunderstand what I meant to tell it to do.
- SKIN PRINTS: Add specially cultured cells to an ordinary inkjet printer and you can print skin over a patient’s burn wounds. Well, in mice, anyway. But can you refill the cartridges?
- GPS FOR GPs: How you doing after that hip replacement? GPS could show how well patients are doing after surgery by tracking their movements. Add heart rate and blood pressure sensors for a fuller picture. ACC will love this!
- FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY: To study flight Japanese researchers made a robot Swallowtail butterfly. It bobbed and weaved just like a real one. The sting to come: wait till the Government adds a spy camera.
- LIGHT FLYING: How does a solar powered plane fly in the dark? It sets out on a sunny day. The Solar Impulse will attempt the first ever crewed 24-hour journey powered only by sunshine. Next up: figuring out how to use lunar power. Or is that just crazy talk?