The New Energy Efficient Ride that Elon Musk Hates
Mar26

The New Energy Efficient Ride that Elon Musk Hates

Toyota has officially rolled out an affordable, eco-friendly car that can drive for 300 miles, takes less than five minutes to refuel, and comes with three years of free gas. It’s everything fans of zero-emission car culture could love, and the biggest name in electric cars hates it. Toyota’s Mirai (“future” in Japanese) will be one of the first mass-market cars to run on hydrogen fuel cells, where compressed hydrogen gas is converted to electricity, leaving water vapor as the only exhaust. As opposed to getting plugged in overnight, the sedan will need only about three minutes to get back to full charge. However the Mirai has found a surprisingly forceful critic in Elon Musk. The electric-car pioneer and founder of Tesla Motors has called hydrogen fuel cells “extremely silly,” with his main critique being that hydrogen is too difficult to produce, store and turn efficiently to fuel, diverting attention from better sources of clean energy. “The best-case hydrogen fuel cell doesn’t win against the current-case batteries. It doesn’t make sense, and that will become apparent in the next few years,” Musk said last month in Detroit. Bob Carter, a Toyota senior vice president, slapped back at Musk by criticizing his focus on battery-powered cars: “If I was in a position where I had all my eggs in one basket, I would perhaps be making those same comments.” Toyota has been adamant in its defense of hydrogen, saying it will give drivers faster refueling times and better range than the typical battery-powered electric car. While they are not the only automaker pushing hard on fuel cells, Toyota has been one of its biggest supporters, opening its more than 5,000 fuel-cell related patents up for free and saying it wants to build and fund new fueling stations, first in California and then stretching to the east coast. Although Mirai production began in December, Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, marked Tuesday as the official roll-out date. “For us, that date marks a new start,” Toyoda said. “This is not to reflect on the past, but rather to celebrate Toyota’s new start, where we take a fresh step towards the future.” At 300 miles, the Mirai offers the longest range of any electric vehicle on the market. However, to sell successfully in America, the cars will need a nationwide infrastructure for refueling. They make little sense anywhere else now but in California, home of the nation’s few existing hydrogen refueling stations and where tens of millions of dollars are being invested to build 28 more. Toyota plans to sell the Mirai for about $45,000 in the U.S., including approximately $13,000 in federal and California incentives. A dozen workers will hand-craft the cars without the use of a conveyor belt, producing only three a day.  The small-batch operation will roll out 700 vehicles...

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WIN-911 Alarm Notification Software Adds Layer of Protection to SCADA Systems
Mar25

WIN-911 Alarm Notification Software Adds Layer of Protection to SCADA Systems

In the past, monitoring the safety systems of any facility was a challenge. Personnel in charge had to be highly trained to know exactly what every light and sound meant. In many cases, they also had to be present at the control panel at all times to respond to an emergency in a timely manner. But, what if an alarm system could simply call the right people for help, telling them exactly what was wrong? WIN-911 Software does precisely that, improving performance of safety and maintenance personnel in facilities around the globe in the process. The software utilizes parameters already set in place by existing system control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. The program essentially acts as an efficient middleman, quickly translating messages from the warning system into messages that are easily accessed and understood. Founded in Houston in 1974 in response to growing demand in the field of process control automation, WIN-911 is the recognized industry leader in alarm notification software. Used in more than 10,000 facilities spread across 65 countries around the globe, company representatives say that adding their software to any monitoring system can reduce personnel costs, raw material waste, energy costs, and machine maintenance costs. From manufacturing and automated production to preservation efforts that protect local ecosystems, WIN-911 can be integrated into virtually any number of preventative systems. For nearly all alarm systems, the task of informing a response team of the exact nature and location of a problem takes quite a bit of precious time. What sets WIN-911 apart is its intelligent decision matrix that is able to prioritize and relay accurate information about every alarm. Graded responses are provided based on the issue, and early warnings provide an opportunity to solve an issue before it becomes an expensive – or dangerous – problem. The biggest advantage WIN-911 software has is it’s ability to interface with mobile devices and contact available personnel wherever they may be. The pager and lexicon system, which sends workers an alert on a pager that they must then translate using a lexicon, has now been made obsolete by the Mobile-911 system. WIN-911 will send prioritized voice messages to assigned personnel describing the nature and location of any generated alarm, eliminating guess work and improving response times. WIN-911 is revolutionizing alarm notification alerts in every industry imaginable. Patrolmen, caregivers and maintenance workers no longer need to spend countless hours staring at a computer screen waiting for the next potential emergency. They can receive alerts from anywhere and respond immediately. The roster of those using the company’s alarm notification software includes Charter Communications, Cliffs Natural Resources, Bank of America, and Archer...

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A Faster Way to 3D Print
Mar24

A Faster Way to 3D Print

Carbon3D unveiled their Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) 3-D printer at the TED Conference in Vancouver last week. Their new technology allows CLIP to extrude objects from a pool of UV-sensitive material as opposed to using lasers on solids like conventional 3-D printers. Ultra-violet light is shined through an oxygen permeable membrane in the bottom of the pool to harden the resin. The process is 25-100 times faster than other printers. Dr. Joseph DeSimone, CEO and co-founder of the company, demonstrated CLIP onstage by extruding a sphere of material in seven minutes, something that would have taken a standard 3-D printer ten hours to accomplish. This version of the printer is quite small and is able to create objects no larger than four inches wide and up to a foot tall. The demonstrations were all in polyurethane materials to form hard plastics. The company claims that it is also capable of printing rubber-like materials. Both of these materials are very useful in engineering and prototyping. Dentistry may also have a use for CLIP. Competing companies are already marketing small 3-D printers for the industry and CNC milling machines to make crowns onsite in about 15 minutes. Using CLIP could cut that time by half. Another possibility is the movie and entertainment industry. They would be able to use the technology to create concept models and props in a fraction of the time currently required. Carbon3D has not started selling CLIP yet, but they hope to have it on the market within a year. They are well funded for the next phase of their development. The small start up has raised over $41 million in capital so far from companies like Silver Lake Kraftwerk and Sequoia...

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Easy Button Move Over, This One Has Pizza!
Mar19

Easy Button Move Over, This One Has Pizza!

Ordering pizza has always been easy. Everyone can do it: harried parents, busy multitaskers, children, and even the heavily inebriated. But what if it was as simple as pressing a button? La Comanda, an Italian start up company, has provided the answer. Introducing the future of pizza orders everywhere: the Click’N’Pizza. The Click’N’Pizza is a large, round magnetic button that you can place on your fridge. Once pushed, it sends your favorite pizza order to your favorite pizza place and a pizza is sent to your house. Simple as that. CEO and Founder of La Comanda, Carlo Brianza, is passionate about pizza and simplicity. “I can order my favorite pizza with one click,” he said, holding down a checkered button. “This is the real one click,” he added. “Not the Web one click.” The circular button connects to your Wi-Fi to send orders electronically and has a battery that lasts up to 10 days. It is rechargeable via a micro USB cable. Pushing the Click’N’Pizza is reminiscent of the Staples Easy button (an obvious predecessor). The button stores your address, contact and payment information which is entered beforehand. Once your basic information is programmed, you can enter up to four of your favorite pizza orders. The number one selection can be chosen with a simple push of the button. The other options can be selected via a click wheel, like an iPod. Once you’ve made your selection, hold down the button and an exuberant “Pizza is coming!” message lets you know that pizza is on it’s way. The Click’N’Pizza button was introduced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. On March 2nd, La Comanda announced a partnership with Pizza Hut in North America. Pizza Hut branded buttons will appear in select locations this summer. If The Hut isn’t your favorite chain, have no fear; Brianza has stated that more partnerships are coming. Click’N’Pizza is only just the beginning of the one-click empire Brianza has planned. The possibilities include: Click’N’Taxi to call the local car service; Click’N’Coffee to restock on your favorite coffee pods; even Click’N’Fedex to summon the delivery guy when you have a package to be delivered. Plans include an idea to team with an online food delivery service, which would allow you to choose any restaurant you prefer and store your favorite takeout order on the button, as well. Of course, whether or not any of this actually happens will depend on the market’s desire for whimsy. There is no doubt the button is a little faster than ordering a pizza via smartphone or laptop, and it’s definitely more fun. But how much will people be willing...

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Beauty and Function: The Swiss Introduce a New Line of Smartwatches
Mar18

Beauty and Function: The Swiss Introduce a New Line of Smartwatches

These days, it seems the most trendy accessory a person can wear is a smartwatch. Wearing one might earn you a little cred among your tech savvy friends, but it certainly won’t win you any awards in fashion. Even the Apple Watch designed by Sir Jonathan Ive looks awkward in comparison to a classic, beautifully hand-crafted Swiss timepiece. Luckily, it seems the Swiss are not content to accept beauty over brains. Last week, three iconic Swiss watchmakers – Alpina, Frederique Constant and Mondaine – announced their own line of intelligent watches. From the outside, the new timepieces are designed to look and act like traditional precision mechanical watches. They even maintain the laser-cut analog displays and hands. However, on the inside these watches are powered by the same technology found in Jawbone fitness wearables. Utilizing low-power Bluetooth, the watches will be able to connect to an app installed on your Andriod or iOS smartphone, allowing you to track your activity levels, sleep cycles and even get reminders to move around if you’ve been sedentary for too long. If you want to check your stats quickly, without pulling out your phone, the watches also have a secondary analog dial on which you can view them. Fullpower, the company which provides the technology within each piece, claims the watches will run for 2 years on a single battery, eliminating a key weakness of many fitness bands. “More than half of the people who use wearable fitness trackers take their devices off to charge them and never put them on again,” he said at the watches’ unveiling in San Francisco. “These are watches you’ll never have to charge,’ says Fullpower CEO Philippe Kahn. You won’t have to worry about them falling behind the times either; the watches’ firmware can be updated wirelessly and the silicon module in each timepiece can be swapped out as technology improves. Kahn believes the new line of watches will appeal to a different consumer than the typical Apple Watch or Samsung Gear user. “There are billions of people on the planet who wear watches,” he says. “Apple will dominate the smartwatch market out of sheer brute force, but there’s still plenty of people who want something that helps keep track of their health but still looks elegant.” The three Swiss companies are expected to introduce about 10 models of smartwatches for men and women. Don’t expect a break in the price, however. The watches will be significantly more expensive than digital smartwatches, with base prices starting at $1,000. They will be available in stores starting in...

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