Australia Using Tides To Generate Power
Mar16

Australia Using Tides To Generate Power

As the world population grows, and climate change progresses, non-renewable resources are put under increasing strain. As a result, there has been an increasing focus on creating power generation systems that are fully renewable, pollution free, and effective. Of course, the usual suspects such as solar and wind energy have their place in the overall scheme of things. That being said, there is a new player in the renewable energy arena, and its name is wave power. It only stands to reason that such systems would eventually be engineered into existence. The earth is over 70 percent water, with oceans and weather systems that circulate this liquid all over the globe. The planet also has an outsized moon, which generates tides of significant size and power. Thus, the power of the tides and waves is one of the most reliable and long lasting sources of energy available to mankind. The wave experts at Carnegie Wave Energy certainly agree with this assessment, as is illustrated by their newest wave energy offering known as CETO 5. This project is named after an ancient Greek sea goddess, and offers the latest in wave energy translation technology. The project is built around a fairly easy to understand system that involves huge buoys, pumps, pressurized water, electric turbines, and desalination modules. It works like this: Modular buoys are completely submerged and tethered to high pressure water pumps which are mounted on the ocean floor. As the buoys are moved by waves and tides, they pull on the tethers. These tethers then drive the pumps, which move high pressure water through special tubes to an onshore power generation center. Here, the high pressure fluid powers electrical turbines, which produce copious amounts of current. At the same time, some of the water is moved to desalination tanks, and thus this system ingeniously produces not just emissions-free electricity, but clean and potable water at the same time. This new system has been providing some power to Australia’s largest naval base for some weeks now. If it lives up to its considerable promise, this modern wonder may just end up in a bay near...

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Disney’s “MagicBand” Improves Theme Park Experience
Mar12

Disney’s “MagicBand” Improves Theme Park Experience

As wireless technology and data systems continue to improve, many have worked on ways to apply these tools to enhance customer experiences. Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida has come up with a new wristband to be used in its parks that may shed some light on some exciting uses for this technology. Dubbed “MagicBand,” the RFID-equipped wristband helps visitors experience a more intuitive and convenient stay at the theme park. Users register online in advance and get their wristbands through the mail before their trip. The wristbands have been designed to hold any data a visitor may need while at the park. Placing wristbands to sensors, both of which sport matching Mickey designs, opens up the theme park’s many offerings – but with a twist. From the start of your visit, you can use the wristband to get to your hotel room via the Disney shuttle, comfortable in the knowledge that your luggage is being shuttled right behind you. The bands will contain your ticket info as well as credit card info to facilitate purchases. Certain restaurants on-site can identify you through the chip and deliver your pre-ordered menu items without having to ask who you are. This kind of dynamic data system is on the cutting edge of how companies relate to their customers. Disney has maintained its secrecy about how it plans to use this technology, but many have speculated that it will help streamline access to rides, suggest rides with shorter lines, or even pinpoint the location of lost children. For example, Disney can trace customers through the park to see which activities attract them at a particular time. Similarly, a family stuck in a long line might suddenly find a voucher for a nearby snack to make the wait more enjoyable. Because the wristbands have been built with multiple uses in mind, with batteries that last around two years, Disney may also choose to incorporate these technologies into their other business ventures to provide customers with more real-time information during their trips. While Disney is pioneering this technology, others are almost certainly devising their own plans to make use of hyper-local data to streamline their customer...

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IKEA Furniture to Include Wireless Charging
Mar10

IKEA Furniture to Include Wireless Charging

Even in a world where wireless technology has become the norm, most of us still find ourselves entangled in a mess of cables, cords and chargers. That may soon change for lovers of Swedish furniture requiring assembly. IKEA has announced that they will be selling a line of furniture with built-in wireless chargers. This means you will no longer have to worry about waking up to a dead battery when you forget to plug your phone in at night. The wireless charger in your nightstand will take care of it for you. Wireless charging uses a magnetic field from a base station to transmit power to a receiver in your phone or other compatible electronic device. Although the technology has been around for several years, it has not yet taken off on a large scale. However, with IKEA’s announcement as well as Samsung’s decision to include wireless charging technology in their Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones, this is certain to change in the near future, . This all sounds like a great convenience, but there are some drawbacks. First, you will need to own a device that is capable of being charged wirelessly. Not all are. In lieu of this, you can opt for a case or replacement back panel that will add wireless charging to your smartphone, but your device must be capable of actually using the technology. Another consideration is that, at the moment, there is no single standard. At this time there are two wireless charging options: Qi and Duracell’s Power Matters Alliance (PMA). If you have a device that uses Qi wireless charging, it will be incompatible with a charging station that runs on Duracell’s Powermat. The market has yet to decide which technology will emerge as dominant. Choose incorrectly and you may end up having to replace it with the other option later.  (Shades of VHS/Betamax.) The IKEA collection will include a selection of lamps as well as nightstands, tables and desks. Their wireless chargers will use the Qi standard, so if you plan to purchase one of the Swedish charging stations, you will want to make sure your device is Qi compatible or get a back panel or case that is. The furniture collection is expected to be available in North America by mid-April. As always, some assembly will be required, but installing the wireless charging pad will only require a few extra screws....

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National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees Announced
Mar06

National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have announced their list of the 2015 National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees. In order to be considered for induction, nominees must possess a valid United States patent that has had a profound effect on both scientific and social progress. This year’s inductees are: George Alcorn invented the Imaging X-ray Spectrometer, which significantly improved the ability of scientists to identify materials through their visual X-ray spectra and to gather analytical data on remote solar systems, including distant planets and stars. Mary-Dell Chilton conducted research in agricultural biotechnology that resulted in the first transgenic plant, which has made it possible to develop crops with increased yields, resistance to insects and disease and the ability to tolerate adverse environmental conditions. Jaap Haartsen led the invention of Bluetooth®, a wireless communications technology for the connection of devices over short distances. The market for Bluetooth® devices in 2014 was 2.7 billion devices and the Bluetooth® Special Interest Group (SIG) has more than 20,000 member firms using the technology in their products. Kristina M. Johnson and Gary Sharp are recognized as pioneers in polarization-control technology. Their inventions enabled high-speed spectrometers, color-management for business projectors and projection TVs, and the 3D digital-cinema. Their technology made it possible for movie-goers to see high-quality 3D at their neighborhood cinema, including movies such as Avatar and hundreds since. Shuji Nakamura invented the blue light-emitting diode (LED), considered groundbreaking in the field of semiconductor research. His blue LED enabled the elusive white LED, and he also invented the blue laser diode used in Blu-ray technology. Surgeon John Burke (honored posthumously) and MIT engineering and chemistry professor Ioannis Yannas collaborated on research Burke was conducting for burn patients. Together, they developed the first commercially reproducible artificial human skin that encouraged and facilitated new skin growth. Edith Clarke (honored posthumously), a pioneering female electrical engineer, invented a graphical calculator that greatly simplified the calculations necessary to determine the electrical characteristics of long electrical transmission lines. Marion Donovan (honored posthumously) invented a waterproof diaper cover, a predecessor of the disposable diaper; she patented it and sold the rights for $1 million. Constantly creating inventions to meet life’s everyday needs, she is credited with being one of a small number of successful women inventors of her era. Charles Drew (honored posthumously) was an African-American physician and researcher renowned for his groundbreaking work in blood plasma preservation. Thomas Jennings (honored posthumously) invented a process that he called “dry-scouring” – what we now call dry cleaning – and received a patent for his process in 1821, becoming the first African-American to be granted a patent. Paul MacCready (honored posthumously) changed how people...

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Google and Mattel Introduce New & Improved View-Master!
Mar02

Google and Mattel Introduce New & Improved View-Master!

One of the most popular retro childhood toys just received a major upgrade! The beloved View-Master, which has been around in one form or another since it debuted at New York’s World Fair in 1939, has undergone a huge change and is now joining the world of virtual-reality gaming. Over the past couple of decades, the popularity of the View-Master has declined because so many high-tech gadgets had come along to compete. Toy company Mattel finally decided to change that by partnering with Google to update the classic toy. Now, the View-Master has become a tool for virtual reality fantasy and game play.Similar in some ways to the popular Oculus Rift gaming device, the new and improved View-Master resembles the style of the older model, but with a thicker, more modern feel. To play it, you simply download the View-Master app onto your phone and then connect your phone to the device. Designed for ages 7 and up, this new technology opens up doors for both entertainment and education. With it you can take virtual field trips to far away places and learn interesting new facts as you play. For instance, the San Francisco tour takes you to popular tourist attractions like Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. You can also go back in time to when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and see the ancient lizards up close. As you view the 360-degree photography around you, informational texts will pop up to tell you more about what you are seeing. This partnership between Mattel and Google is still fairly new, but even more exciting things are planned for the near future. For instance, Mattel plans to add even more gaming features to the new View-Master, including fun interactive treasure hunts for kids. The company plans to integrate old photography footage from the toy’s archives, so classic favorites will likely be available as well. Right now the toy is only compatible with Android phones, but that is set to change before the item hits store shelves later this...

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