What’s new? 10 Ton Tent; Bedtime iPad; Watch My Lips; Alarmed Mirror; Does Your Fridge Need Spam Control? Is It Really 25 Years?; Solar Transport; Dashing Through The Snow; Google Science; Brick By Brick. Bike A Light; Sunny Side Up; Coffee Barred; Internet Starter Kit; Sahara Green. Yachting Kept Simple; Stratocams; Double The Carbon; Jammy Idea; Guided Dogs. Big Rig Wheelchair; Camel Shock; Water Hog; Bus Levels; Uphill Skiing.
Tech Universe: Monday 24 January 2011
- 10 TON TENT: The EDV-01 (Emergency Disaster Vehicle) is a Japanese container-type 6m x 2.5m x 2.4m house suitable for use after a disaster. The house can be transported by ship, train, truck or container-lifting helicopter. It’s a self-contained 2-storey unit with kitchen, bathroom, bedroom. It travels compressed and expands to full height at the destination. Solar panels and fuel cells provide power. At 10 tons it’s not exactly an emergency tent, but at least it should be durable. The video’s a hoot!
- BEDTIME IPAD: The ReadItLater web service makes it easy for users to save items to read later on a computer or handheld device. Their usage data suggests people are reading more in the evenings than at other times of day. iPad users, in particular, are reading a lot more between 7 and 11 pm. It’s just a shame we don’t know what this data point means.
- WATCH MY LIPS: Straining to hear your friends in a noisy cafe? Learn to read lips and your troubles may disappear. ReadMyQuips is an application for Mac or Windows that trains you in the art of lip-reading by showing video clips of a speaker with varying volumes of foreground and background sound. It’s a very handy skill for all fictional detectives, and anyone who frequents noisy cafes or pubs.
- ALARMED MIRROR: The NEC Avio Thermo Mirror (SX-01A) takes your temperature when you look at it. If your temperature’s too high it sounds an alarm and displays a red warning. The infrared thermography devices are intended for reception areas in companies and other institutions to help screen out those who may have a fever. You’d better not be ‘burning’ with anger while trying to put a corporate on the spot.
- DOES YOUR FRIDGE NEED SPAM CONTROL?: Do you need to buy milk on the way home from work in your flying car? If you’re not sure what’s in the fridge then some of the latest models let you check via the Internet or your smartphone. Unfortunately you have to manually update what’s put in or taken out, so you’d better train the teenagers well. Washing machines and ovens are joining in on the trend too, but until you have a Rosie to hang out the wet clothes that may just be FYI.
Tech Universe: Tuesday 25 January 2011
- IS IT REALLY 25 YEARS?: In January 1986 the Alvi brothers of Lahore, Pakistan introduced the first DOS-based computer virus to an unsuspecting world. The Brain Virus code actually included their names and address, and they told Time magazine all about it. The virus infected the boot sector of storage media such as floppies. It was only supposed to infect those who had pirated their software. Yeah, the road to hell and all that.
- SOLAR TRANSPORT: They’ve recently had a few problems with snow in some parts of the world: roads closed, for example. One US engineer is proposing solar-powered roads made of super-strong glass, rather than asphalt. The solar power would fuel heating elements embedded in the roads and keep them clear of snow and ice. Solar roadways could even supply power for other purposes too. It’s an interesting idea.
- DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW: Liquid Image snow goggles contain a wide angle video camera, up to 1080P, to record both video and audio of your skiing action. The Micro SD/SDHC card can record up to 32Gb of data. Lithium batteries should last 1.5 hours for video. The goggles themselves weigh around 240 grams. Olympic skiers should wear these!
- GOOGLE SCIENCE: The Google Science Fair is an online science and technology competition for teenagers around the world. Students build their experiment and submit it online, using various Google services such as YouTube or Google Docs. Hey, how about a Google Poetry Fair?
- BRICK BY BRICK: Lego: building blocks for fantasy worlds. An associate professor at Ohio State University has spent 1,000 hours of his leisure time over 2 years building a 1:100 scale model of Ohio Stadium. His model uses 1 million Lego bricks and measures 2.4 by 2 metres. The cost had it been built of all new bricks would have been around $75,000. That’s dedication on a massive scale. Watch the slideshow.
Tech Universe: Wednesday 26 January 2011
- BIKE A LIGHT: So many cyclists are injured or killed on the roads. Fluorescent clothing might help make them visible, but how about a jacket that includes flashing turn signals? Give your own washable jacket turn arrows with the instructions at Instructables and a few Arduino parts. Why stop at arrows? I’m sure it’d be easy to add some ‘cautionary’ short messages too.
- SUNNY SIDE UP: The US Marines are cashing in on the sun in Afghanistan. An experiment with flexible solar panels cut diesel consumption to 10% on one operation. Less diesel also meant fewer supply convoys with less exposure to attack. When in sunshine, go solar.
- COFFEE BARRED: Starbucks in the US has a new smartphone app that displays a barcode. Show the barcode to a reader to pay for your drinks. Charge up your smartphone’s app with a credit card or Paypal. Just wait till customers see how much they’re spending on coffee.
- INTERNET STARTER KIT: The UK government hopes to get some of the 9.2 million adults who aren’t yet online to buy cheap computers. A community organisation will refurbish PCs, equip them with open source software and sell them with subsidised Internet connections for as little as £98. Research has shown that going online can save people around £560 a year and open up jobs advertised nowhere else. We’ve come a long way in 20 years.
- SAHARA GREEN: The Sahara: a desert full of sand and not much else, you’d think. The Sahara Forest Project cleverly combines solar thermal power, biomass production and a Seawater Greenhouse to create sustainable agriculture in the Sahara, some distance from the coast. Catching and using wind, sun and evaporated water will allow crops to grow in the desert. This looks like an intelligent and exciting project.
Tech Universe: Thursday 27 January 2011
- YACHTING KEPT SIMPLE: How would you like to live at sea, be self-sufficient and carbon neutral? The 44 metre superyacht catamaran Ocean Empire LSV runs off solar power and wind energy, with space for 10 guests and 8 crew. A wave motion damping system keeps seasickness at bay, while its 2 hydroponic farms and fishing facilities help with the food supply. Reckon on US$25 million for the basic model. Go on, trade your house in Auckland for one.
- STRATOCAMS: The high altitude, long endurance Global Observer doesn’t have a crew. Just as well, since it’s expected to fly at almost 20 Km and stay aloft for up to a week, on its surveillance and communication missions. On a recent test flight, powered by liquid hydrogen, it reached 1,500 metres and flew for 4 hours. Global Observer has a wingspan of 53 metres, is 21 metres long, and can carry payloads of up to 180 Kg. That payload capacity could cover a lot of camera and comms gear.
- DOUBLE THE CARBON: At around 1,600 degrees C cerium oxide ‘exhales’ oxygen, while at lower temperatures it ‘inhales’ it. A prototype cerium oxide fuel reactor from Caltech removes oxygen from carbon dioxide or water, using sunlight concentrated through a quartz window. The reaction leaves products that are easily turned into fuels such as syngas. The reactor could capture waste CO2 from coal-powered electric plant chimneys and create more fuel from it. There’s a nice symmetry in that.
- JAMMY IDEA: Traffic jams are such a nuisance. In China, though, they’re epidemic. Smart businesses are offering jam rescue. A motorcycle with 2 riders arrives. One person takes over driving the car to the destination, while the other whisks the motorist quickly through the traffic to their meeting. Here’s a thought: just buy a motorbike in the first place.
- GUIDED DOGS: Auburn University’s Canine Detection Research Institute puts a backpack on a dog. The backpack contains a high resolution GPS system and radio modem to track the dog’s location. Side panels vibrate and emit a tone to command the dog. Signals can be sent from up to 6 Km, guiding the dog to a remote destination. Add a camera for a dog’s eye view. Maybe in future you could send the dog to the shop for a bottle of milk.
Tech Universe: Friday 28 January 2011
- BIG RIG WHEELCHAIR: In the UK, Jim Starr fitted out his wheelchair for snow, sand and surf. Unfortunately though, the caterpillar-treads, metre width and 220 Kg weight mean it can’t be classified as a wheelchair, so he can’t use it on the streets. It’s a monster chair, for sure.
- CAMEL SHOCK: In Dubai camel racing’s all the rage. But the jockeys are robots. That’s cool, but the story is that some robots have been secretly fitted with stun guns to shock the camels into speeding up. Luckily the police are onto the scam. Robot riders race rigged.
- WATER HOG: Masahide Ichikawa, in Japan, claims to have invented a motorbike powered by salt water and sunshine. The sun’s heat evaporates salt water to create sodium metal. When the metal’s mixed with water the chemical reaction powers the bike’s engine. A story that needs a pinch of salt…
- BUS LEVELS: Bored at the bus stop? In San Francisco 20 downtown bus stops have poster-size touchscreens, courtesy of Yahoo. While waiting for a bus you can play online games against travellers at the other bus stops. There’s a big prize for the winning neighbourhood. Just don’t forget to board the bus.
- UPHILL SKIING: What say you were on skis, towing a 10.5 horsepower 4-stroke engine that could give you a bit of a push? That’s what the Skizee does. The engine drives a single caterpillar tread, while a rigid ‘towbar’ means it can push you up hills. Ideal for the freelance skier who travels where there are no chairlifts. I’m sure 007 could have used this. I wonder if it comes in silent?
Notes: 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. Above are the links from last week.
While I find all the items interesting, some are just cooler than others. I’ve marked out those items.