Saturday, March 9, 2013

Looking To The Future

Living With Vehicles

a) London goes for bikes

traffic-free bicycle paths

b)  and charging electric cars

      In the Spring of 2011 the Source London electric vehicle program was launched. For an annual membership fee GBP100 (US$159) participants have access to over 1,300 public EV charging points located across the city. Once all those stations are up and running, which should be by 2013, London will have twice as many charging points as petrol stations. It’s a big step forward in an even larger scheme, which would see a network of Source charging points in cities across the UK.

c) Canadian cross country ev charging stations - FREE charges

      The stations are in motels, restaurants, etc. in a symbiotic arrangement between private businesses and the public.

 d) Inductive Electric Charging

     Inductive charging devices are already making their way into the home as a cable-free option to keep the batteries of everything from mobile phones to toothbrushes charged.

      The increasing availability of practical electric vehicles has also seen the technology attract the attention of those looking for for a cable-free way to charge EV batteries. See my previous blog about Bombardier busses.


     In 2009, Norwegian state owned electricity company Statkraft opened the world’s first osmotic power plant prototype. It generates electricity from the difference in the salt concentration The Statkraft plant has a capacity of about 4 kW. Now researchers have discovered a new way to harness osmotic power that they claim would enable a 1 square meter membrane to have the same 4 kW capacity as the entire Statkraft plant.


Herb "separates" an Oreo cookie

Robot HERB started out as a Segway-powered one-armed bandit that could locate and grasp coffee mugs or open kitchen cabinets. It has since been upgraded with an additional arm and three-fingered hands, and a sensor head equipped with cameras and Kinect-like sensors to help it interpret its surroundings and take on more complex tasks.

HERB finds the cookie using object detection and identification, positions its hand above it just right to actually grab it, and then gently but firmly twists the cookie apart with its other hand. Any bit of creme that sticks is carefully scraped from the cookie. using a mandolin.
It is reminiscent of Japanese robots such as WENDY that could crack open an egg, and its successor TWENDY-ONE  that could butter toast and help lift a person.

Related links:
     Korea shows off salad-tossing robot at Robot World 2012


a)  SpiderSense suit

It increases perception so a blind person can detect a person nearby. Kind of like the cars in my previous post. Small robotic arms packaged in modules with microphones that send out and pick up ultrasonic reflections from objects. When the ultrasound detects someone moving closer to the microphone, the arms respond by exerting a growing pressure on the body. Seven of these modules are distributed across the suit to give the wearer as near to 360 degree ultrasound coverage as possible.

b)  "New" Piano/Keyboard

Technology start-up ROLI recently unveiled a new type of instrument that blends the form of a standard piano with the electronic customization of a digital controller. The company's Seaboard GRAND is a keyboard that features flexible keys that allow the player to adjust each note in real-time. It looks like a regular keyboard with a soft covering, but each note actually flexes under a user's touch and produces a different pitch, volume, and timbre, depending on exactly where it's pressed.

OVER THE TOP (ideas in which I wouldn't buy stock)

a) Titanium rings - try to get one of these though airport security

b) a good idea - move your mail, keys etc. up to eye level - so you see it

c) Self destructing Chair (I can not think of any use for this - but it is innovative and funny)

Chair self destructs after being sat on 8 times. Like computer programs that are designed to be used only a certain number of times without paying..

Canada and USA on the Environment
     The following was reported in The Winnipeg Free Press, Feb 25, 2013:

Ottawa – A scientist discovers one of the biggest holes in the ozone layer ever found is sitting over the Arctic, but after his report is published in a respected scientific journal, the Canadian government won’t let him speak and writes his responses to median questions for him.
     Scientists at an international conference in Montreal are shadowed by government communications staff to make sure they comply with an order not to speak publicly on the issue of polar science.
      A reporter can’t get information from Canada about a scientific research experiment buts get the information from an American agency in mere minutes.”

      The watchdog group Democracy Watch in its latest report focuses on the current federal government's policy of restricting the free speech of scientists who work on climate change, natural resources, fisheries and other areas of the environment. The report shows clear evidence, both from government documents and journalists' records, of scientists being denied permission to speak to the media about their own work, or delayed to the point where the journalist's deadline has passed. The group points out that this muzzling of scientists harkens back to the government of George W. Bush, when U.S. scientists were restricted from speaking about climate change, a situation that has been completely reversed by current U.S. President Barack Obama. This issue of muzzling Canadian scientists prompted the "Death of Evidence" protest on Parliament Hill last summer.
     A second report, intended for President Obama, was put together by the United States Global Change Research Program, which was initiated by presidential decree in 1989 and consists of 13 government agencies, including NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the departments of Energy, Environment, Defense and many others.
What the president does with this report is another issue. On one hand, he did mention climate change in his second inaugural speech, but on the other hand, he has approved drilling for fossil fuels in the Arctic and is under pressure to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would deliver crude oil from Alberta's oilsands to the U.S.

     Both the Canadian prime minister and the US president are caught in a difficult situation, where the fossil fuel industry and climate change are having huge impacts on the economy, but for entirely opposite reasons. Dealing with one side comes at the expense of the other. The solution will not be easy or quick.

    The important difference between the U.S. and Canadian approaches to these issues is that the president is at least listening to the scientists.
Canada isn't even letting them speak.mice and BATTERY keyboards to mobile phones and toothbrushes juiced up. The increasing availability of practical electric vehicles has also seen the technology attract the attention of those looking for for a cable-free way to charge EV batteries. German automakers are taking the opportunity to put inductive charging of EVs to a real-world test as part of the "Effizienzhaus-Plus mit Elektromobilität" project.


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