Archive for Technology

BBC News – Researchers develop new system to ‘eliminate’ batteries

Posted in News with tags , , on February 11, 2012 by cykros

BBC News - Researchers develop new system to 'eliminate' batteries

Researchers at the University of Bedfordshire have developed a new technique for powering electronic devices.

The system, developed by Prof Ben Allen at the Centre for Wireless Research, uses radio waves as power.

Believed to be a world first, the team claims it could eventually eliminate the need for conventional batteries.

The university has now filed a patent application to secure exclusive rights to the technique.

‘Spare time’

Prof Allen and his team, including David Jazani and Tahima Ajmal, have created a system to use medium wave frequencies to replace batteries in small everyday gadgets like clocks or remote controls.

The new technique uses the “waste” energy of radio waves and has been developed as part of the university’s research into “power harvesting”.

Prof Allen said that as radio waves have energy – like light waves, sound waves or wind waves – then in theory these waves could be used to create power.

“The emerging area of power harvesting technology promises to reduce our reliance on conventional batteries,” he said.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

The emerging area of power harvesting technology promises to reduce our reliance on conventional batteries”

Prof Ben Allen University of Bedfordshire

“It’s a really exciting way of taking power from other sources than what we would normally think of.”

via BBC News – Researchers develop new system to ‘eliminate’ batteries.

So, every now and again we see information about this kind of thing. I still can’t help getting excited about it, and hopefully this FINALLY will be something we’ll be seeing within a year or two. This would be fantastic (and not more than a little awesome for homeless people who have to constantly seek a place to plug their devices in to recharge (if it’s news to you that many homeless people have devices, you clearly don’t realize how cheap devices have gotten…my phone was $10, no contract), or somehow find a way to go buy batteries).


Battery Desalinates Seawater | Chemical & Engineering News

Posted in News with tags , , on February 11, 2012 by cykros

Battery Desalinates Seawater | Chemical & Engineering News

For the first time, researchers have designed an electrochemical cell that can desalinate seawater Nano Lett., DOI: 10.1021/nl203889e. They think that its cost and efficiency eventually could improve on standard techniques of purifying seawater.

Worldwide demand for freshwater is skyrocketing as the population increases. Many of today’s desalination plants use reverse osmosis or evaporation, both of which require enormous amounts of energy to supply heaters or high-pressure pumps. To find cheaper, room-temperature, energy-efficient solutions, many researchers are looking to nanomaterials and electrochemistry.

The new system uses both. It first draws ions from seawater into a pair of electrodes. As the researchers pass current through the electrodes, electrochemical reactions drive chloride ions into a silver electrode and sodium ions to an electrode made from manganese oxide nanorods. Next, the researchers remove the desalinated water and release the trapped ions into a separate stream of waste seawater by reversing the direction of the electrical current. Although the pilot experiments were not automated, the researchers say that a pump could automate the process.

via Battery Desalinates Seawater | Chemical & Engineering News.

This is pretty awesome. Throw one of these on every boat ever, and you suddenly get rid of the whole “water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink” syndrome that has killed more than a few people over the years. And of course, being able to provide drinking water to less developed areas, or just areas with less potable fresh water, is also a major plus. THAT’s the power of German engineering.

‘Robo-camera’ threatens residents with prosecution | UK news | The Guardian

Posted in News with tags , , on February 7, 2012 by cykros

A council has apologised for installing a “robo-camera” in a housing estate garden which indiscriminately takes pictures of anyone entering, residents included, before warning them they are in a restricted area and face prosecution.

London’s Camden council said it recently installed the flash-equipped cameras in the borough to tackle antisocial behaviour but mistakenly activated the robotic voice message for one in the communal gardens of the Walker House estate, near Euston station.

In darkness the camera automatically takes a photo when triggered by a motion sensor. A voice then warns: “Stop! This is a restricted area and your photograph was just taken. We will use it to prosecute you. Leave the area now.”

In a statement the council said the Walker House camera was installed in September last year in response to an increasing number of complaints of antisocial behaviour. All of its similar cameras, manufactured by Q Star Technologies, can issue the verbal message but this was normally deactivated, it added.

“All flash cameras have the capacity to deliver voice messages when activated but in this instance it appears that voice messages were inadvertently activated when the camera batteries were replaced four to five weeks ago,” the statement said.

Camden said the cameras themselves were installed as “a temporary measure”, and added: “We do not want to stop residents from enjoying their open spaces and communal areas and under no circumstances would we want voice messages to be used in areas where they may be disturbed. The voice messages will be deactivated as soon as possible.”

via ‘Robo-camera’ threatens residents with prosecution | UK news | The Guardian.

Nice try to cover up this self-aware robot camera hell bent on prosecuting all humans :-P. We seem to have blown right through 1984 into its logical future…

Neuroscience could mean soldiers controlling weapons with minds | Science | The Guardian

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on February 7, 2012 by cykros

Neuroscience could mean soldiers controlling weapons with minds | Science | The Guardian

Soldiers could have their minds plugged directly into weapons systems, undergo brain scans during recruitment and take courses of neural stimulation to boost their learning, if the armed forces embrace the latest developments in neuroscience to hone the performance of their troops.

These scenarios are described in a report into the military and law enforcement uses of neuroscience, published on Tuesday, which also highlights a raft of legal and ethical concerns that innovations in the field may bring.

The report by the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science, says that while the rapid advance of neuroscience is expected to benefit society and improve treatments for brain disease and mental illness, it also has substantial security applications that should be carefully analysed.

The report’s authors also anticipate new designer drugs that boost performance, make captives more talkative and make enemy troops fall asleep.

“Neuroscience will have more of an impact in the future,” said Rod Flower, chair of the report’s working group.

“People can see a lot of possibilities, but so far very few have made their way through to actual use.

“All leaps forward start out this way. You have a groundswell of ideas and suddenly you get a step change.”

via Neuroscience could mean soldiers controlling weapons with minds | Science | The Guardian.

Something about the potential for this technology following a horrible path kind of irks me, but then, considering that we’ve deployed killer drones across the planet, destroyed a nuclear power plant with a computer virus, and pump our poorest citizens full of drugs and then hand them automatic weapons (and then some…), hey, may as well get interested in the science itself. I really am quite curious though as to whether this kind of thing may be getting interfered with through, say, emotional instability, or mental problems, that may even go undetected, or arise through war experiences. I could see a gun being directly controlled by, say, a PTSD flashback as being a very dangerous tool.

Oh, and my bad for totally spacing on this blog lately…I’ve still been posting this kind of thing to Diaspora, but I really should keep myself in the habit of using this, as it’s a bit more capable of doing various things.

One Per Cent: Electronic contact lens displays pixels on the eyes

Posted in News with tags , , on November 24, 2011 by cykros

The future of augmented-reality technology is here – as long as you’re a rabbit. Bioengineers have placed the first contact lenses containing electronic displays into the eyes of rabbits as a first step on the way to proving they are safe for humans. The bunnies suffered no ill effects, the researchers say.

The first version may only have one pixel, but higher resolution lens displays – like those seen in Terminator – could one day be used as satnav enhancers showing you directional arrows for example, or flash up texts and emails – perhaps even video. In the shorter term, the breakthrough also means people suffering from conditions like diabetes and glaucoma may find they have a novel way to monitor their conditions.

In February, New Scientist revealed the litany of research projects underway in the field of contact lens enhancement. While one company has fielded a contact lens technology using a surface-mounted strain gauge to assess glaucoma risk, none have built in a display, or the lenses needed for focused projection onto the retina – and then tested it in vivo. They have now.

“We have demonstrated the operation of a contact lens display powered by a remote radiofrequency transmitter in free space and on a live rabbit,” says a US and Finnish team led by Babak Praviz of the University of Washington in Seattle.

“This verifies that antennas, radio chips, control circuitry, and micrometre-scale light sources can be integrated into a contact lens and operated on live eyes.”

via One Per Cent: Electronic contact lens displays pixels on the eyes.

Now, to just make these things work with the Raspberry Pi, and get a nice easy to use portable input device for it, and we’re most of the way there to wearable computers. I have to say, I’m a little worried about playing high-res first person shooters on my retina…

How The CIA Uses Social Media to Track How People Feel – Jared Keller – Technology – The Atlantic

Posted in News with tags , , , , on November 9, 2011 by cykros

The Associated Press reports that the CIA maintains a social-media tracking center operated out of an nondescript building in a Virginia industrial park. The intelligence analysts at the agency’s Open Source Center, who other agents refer to as “vengeful librarians,” are tasked with sifting through millions of tweets, Facebook messages, online chat logs, and other public data on the World Wide Web to glean insights into the collective moods of regions or groups abroad. According to the Associated Press, these librarians are tracking up to five million tweets a day from places like China, Pakistan and Egypt.

via How The CIA Uses Social Media to Track How People Feel – Jared Keller – Technology – The Atlantic.

Just a confirmation that the more paranoid ideas we were already harboring are quite true. Smile for the birdie!

Verizon Wireless Changes Privacy Policy – Slashdot

Posted in News with tags , , , on October 17, 2011 by cykros

“Recently Verizon changed its home internet TOS to by default share your location with advertisers. Now Verizon Wireless has also changed its privacy policy to by default share your web browsing history, cell phone location and app usage as well. Whilst there have been a few stories on these changes, internet forums have largely been quiet. Where is the outrage? Or have we just come to accept that ISPs are going to sell our personal information and web browsing habits?”

via Verizon Wireless Changes Privacy Policy – Slashdot.

So. Anyone who remotely gives a damn about privacy should be taking this as their cue to ditch Verizon (though honestly, what you’re doing still with Verizon baffles me given their history). For those of you with no other worthwhile options (say, those of you with a choice between nothing but Comcast and Verizon for home Internet, or no choice other than Verizon and AT&T for cell phone use), you should take this as your cue to start using anonymization tools, because you ARE being monitored…no speculation about it.