There was no Tech Universe on Monday or Tuesday.
Tech Universe: Wednesday 16 October 2013
- THE WATER CYCLE: A bicycle is a great way to get around on the road, but a baycycle takes you across the water on San Francisco Bay. The BayCycle Project aims to get people cycling across the Bay on regular bikes attached to specially-made pontoons. Pedalling turns propellers providing propulsion, while waves send the rider more into mountain bike mode. Don’t forget the lifejacket. BayCycle Project.
- SENSING SUDDEN STOPS: For cyclists who stick to land the ICEdot Crash Sensor could be a brainy thing to try. It’s a small device that mounts on any bike helmet. Pair it with a smartphone app and it can detect motion, changes in forces and impacts. If there’s a bad enough impact the device sounds an alarm and initiates an emergency countdown. If you’re OK stop the countdown otherwise it notifies your emergency contacts and sends GPS coordinates of the incident so emergency services can find you. You just need to hope your emergency contacts are checking their phones. ICEdot. Video:
- AND THE WALLET SCREAMED: A Linquet is a small device that looks like a card. Attach it to your wallet, computer, keys, bag or some other valuables and set up a Bluetooth connection to your phone. The device also includes an audible alarm and flashing lights, a temperature sensor and a button that can be programmed for various purposes. If phone and device are separated by more than around 30 metres an alarm will sound, and timestamped data is sent to the cloud, so you can still locate lost items even if you don’t hear the alarm. That means you could discover quite quickly for example that you’ve left your wallet behind. The devices are free but you pay for the service. It could be good to have a base station option for offices. Linquet.
- BIG ON SCANNING: An X-ray is a 2 dimensional image we’re all familiar with, but a CT scan reflects X-rays to create a 3D image. That means an item can be measured and inspected non-destructively and without being touched. Size is a problem though, as X-ray machines are generally only big enough to scan a human being or perhaps a large animal. Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute have developed a huge CT scanner capable of scanning cars, airplane wings and even entire shipping containers. The object sits on a revolving turntable while an X-ray source and detector send data to a computer that then creates a 3D image. The system currently achieves a resolution of 0.8 mm, but the creators hope to achieve a 0.4 mm resolution soon. Fraunhofer Institute.
- READY, AIM, FIRE OUT: Do you have a fire extinguisher handy? Do you know how to work it? In Japan the Eco Throwable Fire Extinguisher is available. It’s a small plastic bottle full of chemicals to put out a small fire that’s just getting started, maybe giving you enough time to call the fire brigade. Throw the 500 ml bottle and it breaks, releasing a mix of ammonium phosphate dibasic and ammonium bicarbonate. The mix of chemicals apparently has an extinguishing capacity ten times that of water. Japan Trends.
Tech Universe: Thursday 17 October 2013
- BABY BLUES: Many newborns suffer from jaundice. It’s easily sorted out with blue light therapy, but if left untreated can lead to cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, cognitive damage or death. Standard phototherapy devices are heavy, costly, hard to operate and require a steady supply of electricity — a problem in developing countries. The Bili-Hut is lightweight, collapsible and low cost, but most of all it can run for a month on a 12 volt car battery. It’s amazing to think that all it takes to save lives is a few blue LED lights. Little Sparrows.
- THE WOBBLE IN THE WALK: German researchers wrapped three-axis accelerometers round the ankles of 23 people with Alzheimers and their carers in the same home. In a blind analysis of the motion data, the team was able to discern Alzheimer’s patients from healthy control subjects 91% of the time. Those results were better than the standard diagnostic methods. That could mean such gadgets would be a good way in future to make earlier diagnoses and more easily monitor disease progress and treatments. It could probably also be added in to current fitness trackers with an alert feature suggesting a medical checkup. MedicalXpress.
- SMARTEN UP YOUR HOME: The Nest Protect device is a smart smoke alarm that also does a whole lot more. Its sensors handle smoke, carbon monoxide, heat, light, activity, and ultrasonic, and it connects via WiFi. It alerts residents via smartphone if it detects an unusual reading and knows which room it’s in for added detail. Control Nest Protect through an app or the website. Next we need a sensor to tell us when the WiFi goes down. GigaOm.
- FORK IT OVER: Eat more slowly and you may find you lose a little weight, thanks to the delay before our bodies let us know we’re full. It’s easy to forget to slow down though, which is where the smart HAPIfork plays its part. The electronic fork helps you monitor and track your eating habits, thanks to its online Dashboard and smartphone app. The fork looks like a slightly chunky normal fork, but in the handle are sensors and LED lights, along with a lithium polymer battery. The fork monitors how quickly you eat and later sends the data via USB to the online Dashboard. If you eat too quickly the fork alerts you by vibrating and flashing its lights. Now, where are the smart plates? Hapilabs.
- OFF ROAD, ON TRACK: Fancy a bit of off-roading in the snow, or perhaps just on open ground or the beach in summer? Der Ziesel out of Austria will certainly catch your eye with its rubber delta tracks and upright seat. The two-wheeler has a joystick for steering and electric motors powered by a Lithium-Ion battery. Top speed is 35 Kph. Safety features include a tubular steel frame with rollover protection, 4-point safety seat belt and body-contoured seat. The weight including battery is around 210 Kg though, so don’t go taking it out on icy lakes. Der Ziesel.
Tech Universe: Friday 18 October 2013
- STREET SMART: The FlyKly smart bicycle wheel puts a 250 W motor, battery and electronics inside a normal looking rear bike wheel. The motor turns on when you start pedalling. Control the top speed with settings on a smartphone app. The smart wheel offers speeds up to 25 Kph and can carry you up to 50 km. The wheel helps you ride up hills and recharges itself when you ride downhill, or recharge from a wall socket. The smartphone app lets you lock the motor, and gives you an alert if the bike moves without you, if it’s stolen, for example. You can track the bike via GPS too. The app also learns your cycling routines and can suggest faster routes. The smart wheel weighs 4 Kg, so you won’t be pushing too much extra weight around if the battery does fail. Smart, very smart. FlyKly.
- HOT OR NOT: The recently commissioned Ngatamariki Geothermal Power Station near Taupo is the largest facility of its kind anywhere in the world. The 100 MW plant feeds energy converters with high-temperature geothermal fluid and then re-uses that fluid so it’s not depleting water reservoirs. Using the heat without the water — that’s clever. RenewEconomy.
- NIGHT LIGHT: Look out the window. I bet you saw at least one streetlight. Kaal Masten’s Spiritlighting is an ingenious streetlight: it’s a modular lamp post that can reach 18 metres in height, and is covered in solar panels. It harvests energy from the sun during the day and uses that energy to light the street at night. It doesn’t need to be connected to the grid so could be used in out of the way places as well. Cities could install these amongst the regular streetlights for those times when the power goes out. Inhabitat.
- METAL TO THE PETAL: When you absolutely have to get a photo of a bug or leaf or other tiny object you may be disappointed to find your smartphone lens just can’t focus close enough. The Carson Optical LensMag macro lenses attach with a magnet, to give either 10x or 15x magnification. The magnet means the lens is easy to snap on or off, so you’ll still have time to grab the shot. Keep them handy for snaps. Carson Optical.
- POP GOES THE WEASEL: A team at Disney Research created a paper-like material that harvests energy from simply tapping or sliding your fingers across it. That energy could then be used for LEDs or to add interactive features to books or magazines. To make the material researchers used paper, sheets of teflon and silver-coated polyester, conductive tape and some wiring. Conductive inks could also be used. Moving or rubbing the conductive sheets creates enough voltage to make simple animations. Add a capacitor to store energy so sounds are possible. Kids would love that in their books. Disney Research.