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Research makes lithium batteries live longer

aprile 17, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Anode

No one seems to realize the strain that the batteries which power our electronic devices have to withstand, especially while our MP3 players, mobile phones and gizmos become more and more powerful and demanding in terms of power needed to operate them.

Therefore, the life of normal rechargeable lithium-ion batteries is hard, and in order to significantly improve their performance, a research team from Georgia Institute of Technology is working on a new type of electrodes, made up of silicon-based composite materials.

Currently, the batteries’ electrodes are made up of graphite, and generate an electric current by transferring lithium ions between the cathode and the anode. The silicon electrodes can transfer those ions at a speed 10 times higher, thus also increasing tenfold the battery capacity, and of course the duration of a single recharge.

The problem at this stage seems to be stability of this new type of electrodes; in fact, at each charge/discharge phase, the material in the electrodes expands and contracts. If you replace a graphite particle with one of silicon of the same size, the expansion and contraction would soon end up cracking the electrode.

Researchers are working in this direction, using nanoparticles which, along with solving this problem, allow storage of a larger amount of energy in a smaller battery, thus considerably increasing (up to 10 times, as said before) a battery’s capacity and power in the same size.

In a not so distant future, the batteries of our mobile phones, for example, might get smaller and need to be recharged only once every month or two: you will finally have no trouble when you forget your battery charger at home before leaving for your holidays!

Alzheimer patients at home? Keep them under control via GPS

aprile 16, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Alzheimer

Those who live the unfortunate experience of having a loved one struck by Alzheimer, know how difficult it can be to live with the effects of this cunning disease, the holes in the memory, the lapses of reason and unconscious acts that it causes in the people it targets; these patients need attention and care around the clock, to prevent them, for example, from leaving home without being aware, finding themselves in trouble to find the way back.

Fortunately, technology comes to lend us a hand, with a monitoring system that, by using GPS positioning system, helps us to locate our misplaced loved ones within a few minutes, by precisely indicating their position thanks to some sort of monitoring bracelet which uses GPS location to monitor its wearer’s position.

The GPS locator is connected to a main unit and, as soon as the patient exceeds a preset maximum distance, the unit would immediately send an alert and indicate his position, giving you the time to intervene and avoid further problems. The maximum distance can be set at different levels, according to the patient’s condition: the better their state, the more freedom of movement he or she will have.

The Trusty Bip system allows you to monitor up to 40 patients at the same time, and therefore can be used inside a hospital or treatment center, especially if there is a park where the patients may inadvertently run into trouble finding the way back to their rooms. Aside from being useful for daily care, it gives the opportunity to live with the disease in a more relaxed way, making life easier both for the patients and for those who take care about them, be it nurses, doctors or family members.

Flexible solar powered wrist displays

aprile 16, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Display

Technological instruments keep on getting thinner and lighter, and certainly, among those who are most likely to appreciate these characteristics and features, are soldiers and military personnel operating in war zones, who would certainly find themselves in trouble if they were to carry heavy and bulky electronic equipment along with battery packs.

For this reason, Hewlett-Packard is working on the prototype of a display, made up of flexible and lightweight material, powered by solar cells, which can be wrapped around its user’s wrist, or sewn over the uniform, and be used to display maps or operating instructions, making the soldiers’ job easier, and relieving them from having to carry up to 30 kilos of electronic material alone, not to mention the military equipment and weaponry.

These flexible displays, manufactured using the E-Ink technology, are computer screens almost entirely made up of plastic, light and flexible enough that they can be wrapped and tucked inside your backpack. This technology provides a huge step forward in cost reduction during the production process of such devices, as they can be produced in rolls, just like normal paper, and then cut according to the required size.

It is easy to appreciate the possible saving in terms of time, cost, space and logistics, especially when compared to the current chain production of normal LCD screens, of what could in a near future become the standard In computer monitor technology.

For the moment, just like in many other fields of technology, these displays are being tested in a military environment, with small screens approximately the size of a wallet. Should they prove reliable and efficient, HP would start producing them in bigger sizes, and they might pretty soon start showing up in our homes.

GPS video camera records your position and speed

aprile 16, 2010 Technology No Commenti

GoBandit

Strange that no one ever thought about it before, although, considering how fast video technologies are developing, we should have expected that, sooner or later, we would end up seeing the first GPS video camera.

We are talking about a normal “action cam” type recorder, those which can be mounted on the helmet of a race car driver of a skier, to take point of view footage of car races or extreme sports activities. This type of camcorders, aside from a leisurely use, can turn out to be very useful also in the military field, or for law enforcement agencies or police, to shoot video footage of anti crime operations or combat actions, without diverting attention from the operation.

And it is from this kind of need that stems the GPS camcorder, manufactured by GoBandit, which along with the typical digital recording features and a 2Gb memory card which can be expanded up to 16 Gb, is also waterproof up to one meter of depth, and can display on screen 8as well as save on the recorded file) the geographical coordinates of its location, its altitude and the speed at which it is moving.

This feature is very useful especially in the military field, to retrace a target, a missing or wounded soldier or a point of interest at a later stage, or during rescue of survivors after a natural disaster.

The GoBandit GPSHD video recorder is also equipped with an infrared remote control, to be able to operate it even from a few meters away, and thanks to its sturdy chassis, it is particularly suitable for uncomfortable or dangerous situations, when you need to use both hands, letting the helmet-mounted camera do its job without human intervention.

GPSHD will be available in June in the US, Australia and Europe, at a retail price just below 400 dollars.

Keep your home under control thanks to the video camera alarm clock

aprile 15, 2010 Technology No Commenti

radiosveglia

If you are afraid that during your absence someone might sneak inside your home and steal valuable items, or you have doubts about your spouse’s faithfulness, and you want to be reassured while you are far away, maybe on holiday on the other side of the globe, so that you can relax, sleep well and enjoy your well deserved rest, now you have a solution to help you.

What at a first glance may look just like the ordinary clock that everyone has on their night table, is actually concealing a high resolution video camera on the inside, which turns this device into a real spy alarm clock, capable of recording images and sounds, and not only.

In fact, by connecting it through a WiFi router to your normal home wireless network, the video camera clock can transmit over the Internet the result of its job. In the same fashion, again over the Internet, through a simple control panel you can modify its settings according to your needs, adjusting the sensitivity levels and the activation sensor parameters.

In fact, the wireless video camera alarm clock is capable of getting started automatically, as soon as its sensor detects a movement or a sound in the room, and can immediately send its recordings online, where you can easily view them later; alternatively, you can choose to receive an immediate notification by email as soon as the video camera picks up some activity.

This way, in case of danger, you will be able to act immediately, and for example, if burglars entered your property, you can notify the police or a security provider, so that you can go back to enjoying your holiday or your business trip.

Electromagnetic fields, an invisible enemy

aprile 14, 2010 Technology No Commenti

radiation

On any moment of our ordinary day, we do not immediately realize that we are continuously exposed to radiations which are highly dangerous for our health, and that come as electromagnetic fields. These invisible waves that fill the air are coming from everyday use objects, common objects we cannot live without because of our modern needs.

In the 21st century, we cannot imagine ourselves living a life without using a mobile phone, without a WiFi network to use Internet at home, or without microwave ovens to defrost our foods or cook a quick dinner, maybe while listening to some good music from the radio.

Well, all these devices we can no longer live without have a common characteristic: they all emit, in different quantities and frequencies, some electromagnetic fields (EMF) which, in the long run and with a continuous exposure, can seriously damage our health, for example by causing tumors on the central nervous system.

During the recent Radiation Research Trust meeting which took place a few weeks ago, a research showed that those who start using mobile phones during their teen age, have a 5 times higher probability of being affected by this type of cancer. In fact, the kids’ brain, during its years of final growth, is in a position of higher risk compared to an adult person’s brain when exposed to the fields generated by these devices.

The waves coming from FM or taxi radio equipment, or from TV, pose a relative threat, while the cellphones are ten times more dangerous, all the way up to the peak of EMF pollution that can affect those who are living near a military radar, a radio transmission station, or those who work inside these installations and are close to the source of radiation.

Those who really cannot live without their mobile phone, should at least try to send more text messages and make less calls, thus preventing their brain from being exposed to direct radiation.

After a personal rocket, here comes a personal aircraft

aprile 14, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Puffin

Just yesterday we talked about the possibility of trying out a personal Jetpack offered by a tour operator, and today we will bring you the latest news from the world of personal flight, right out of NASA. In fact, the space agency has just presented its prototype which can make a man feel like a bird, although, strangely enough, it borrows its name from a bird that is famous for its strange shape rather than for its flying skills: its name, in fact, is Puffin.

Puffin is the prototype of a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, with a tail that ends in what looks like four short legs, which are used for landing. Once it takes off like a helicopter, this personal aircraft flies in horizontal position, with the pilot lying face down in the direction of flight.

Puffin has a length of approximately 3.70 meters and a 4.40 meter wingspan, for an empty weight of 140 kilos, plus 45 Kgs of batteries and, of course, the pilot’s weight. It is powered by an electric engine which supplies a maximum power of 60 HP, enough to fly it at a max speed of approximately 240 kilometers per hour, with a maximum range of around 80 kilometers at cruise speed.

The name comes not only from its not-so-sexy shape and from its canopy which resembles the bird’s beak, but most of all because the puffin is considered to be an environment-friendly bird thanks to its extreme cleanliness, just like this prototype which, thanks to its electric engine, does not pollute the air around it and helps fulfilling the age-old dream of flying.

A new design for the latest Flip micro video recorder

aprile 14, 2010 Technology No Commenti

Flip

Flip miniature video recorders have achieved a status of worldwide standard in this particular field, thanks to their extreme ease of use and to the trademark USB port which can be flipped (hence the name) and used to connect it to any PC to download its footage in a matter of seconds.

Now, to further improve its usability and allow its users to watch the videos shot even without a PC, Flip has just launched its latest model of micro video recorder, called Slide HD.

As the name may suggest, Slide HD is equipped with a sliding screen, which can be tilted and placed at an angle to enjoy playback of your video if you do not have a laptop computer handy.
Because of its design, which makes it slightly thicker, its size is a tad bigger if compared to other Flip models, but still we are talking about a very small device which will not be heavy on your pockets.

Slide HD has an embedded memory capacity of 16 Gb, twice as much as other models, which allows it to store up to 4 hours of high definition video with a resolution of 1280×720 pixel, or up to 12 hours at a lower resolution rate, and can also be used as a portable drive to store not only movies, but music, pictures and documents, for a price of approximately 280 dollars.

When you want to download the recorded files on any computer, all you have to do is flip out the USB port and plug it in, and thanks to its proprietary software you will not need any installation to transfer files. Battery life is quite short (around 2 hours), which makes it advisable to have the battery charger on you just in case.

Anti sleep driving alarm, to stay awake on the wheel

aprile 13, 2010 Technology No Commenti

antisonno

Those who, either for work or just for holiday, have experience of driving for long and boring hours, especially when travelling at night, know very well that the number one enemy for safety on the road is the moment when sleep takes over, which can cause them to lose control of their vehicle, be it a car, a bus or a truck, with the potentially tragic consequences that one can imagine.

To provide assistance in protecting drivers against this kind of accidents, technology lends us a hand, thanks to the availability of an anti sleep driving alarm, which helps them to stay awake, and maybe decide that the time has come to stop for a short nap, before going back on the wheel to resume their journey towards the final destination.

The earpiece, which looks just like a hearing aid device, is worn on the back of the ear. While the head is in vertical position or slightly tilted, everything is fine; when the sensor housed inside the device detects that the head is tilted at an angle that exceeds 30 degrees, possibly because the driver is falling asleep, it will immediately let out a powerful and loud sound, capable of awakening the driver and allowing him to regain control of his vehicle, thus avoiding any possible accident or collision.

The anti sleep alarm turns out to be very useful not only on the road, but also for those who are doing sensitive jobs that require a high level of concentration, especially if this happens during the wee hours of the night. For example, security personnel, hotel receptionists, night porters, TV operators, or students who need to stay awake for long hours to prepare for an exam. For more information about anti sleep alarm, we recommend that you visit the Endoacustica website.

For safety in the house, your stairs light up automatically

aprile 13, 2010 Technology No Commenti

To reduce energy consumption and protect the environment, to add a touch of class in your house, or more simply (and much more importantly) to make sure that no one gets hurt while walking up or down your flight of stairs, especially during the night, the German design studio Interactive Furniture has just launched its latest project, a flight of automatically illuminated stairs.

The system, called Stair Lights, is made up of LED lights which are turned on or switched off one at the time, showing you where to go by illuminating the steps while you are walking towards the upper or lower floor, and at the same time by switching off the light on the steps behind you.

Thanks to this, especially at night, the risk of stumbling or missing a step because of sleep, while you are walking downstairs to the kitchen for a glass of water, is significantly reduced. Furthermore, Stair Lights proves extremely useful not only to show you the way at night or to add a particular note to your furniture, but especially as a valuable support in houses inhabited by elderly people, or by visually impaired persons, who might have a hard time when walking at home, and find a priceless aid in the possibility of avoiding trouble when moving from one floor to the other.

The lighting system for your staircase works thanks to a laser beam, connected to an infrared transistor which works as a sensor; when the bean is interrupted, the LED light ahead of it is immediately turned on, and it is automatically switched off a few seconds after the beam returns to a continuous state.

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