Tasty Tech Eye Candy Of The Week (July 26)
By Tracy Staedter, Discovery News, 26 July 2015.
By Tracy Staedter, Discovery News, 26 July 2015.
From the hum drum of asphalt highways to the outer limits of Jupiter's atmosphere, this week's tech is sure to please.
1. Plastic Roads
In the United States, highways and bridges made from asphalt and concrete are in dire need of repair. Dutch firm VolkerWessels thinks they might have a more sustainable solution to transportation infrastructure: turn recycled plastic into roads. The company claims that their PlasticRoads, which are still in the conceptual stage, hold up to temperature swings as low as -40° F and as high as 176° F and would last three times as long as asphalt. VolkerWessels is currently looking for a partner to develop a prototype.
2. Self-Filling Water Bottle
When biking on a hot day, it's easy to drink up all the water you brought along. But industrial designer Kristof Retezar has developed a water bottle that fills itself while you ride. The bottle is attached to a solar-powered device called the Fontus, which has chambers that condense moisture already in the air. Under the right condition, the Fontus can collect up to .5 litres of water in an hour.
3. Hotel Robots
It's hard to find good help. To that end, a new hotel in Japan has employed robots. The Henn-na Hotel (meaning "Strange Hotel") is actually part of a themed park complex in Nagasaki Prefecture. Here, reception robots check in guests and porter robots carry luggage to a room that can only be accessed via face-recognition technology. Inside, the lighting turns on and off according to whether or not motion sensors are activated and a comfortable air temperature is maintained by electromagnetic waves and temperature-controlled surfaces that transfer heat or draw it away, depending on the need.
Scientists would love to send a spacecraft to the planet Jupiter, but the massive pull of gravity at its rocky core would likely crush anything that made it through the stormy atmosphere. NASA researchers have a concept spacecraft called a WindBot that could explore the unpredictable and turbulent atmosphere, though.
In fact, the strong, chaotic winds are just the thing that would power WindBot. Taking a cue from self-winding wristwatches that keep on ticking as long as they're moved about here and there while being worn, WindBot would harvest energy from the ever-changing conditions in the atmosphere. The scientific team behind WindBot just got US$100,000 from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program to take their idea a step forward. Stay tuned.
5. Smell-Proof Garments
Let's face it; some people are just plain gassy. But they shouldn't let that stop them from participating in society. Just wear the Flatulence line of clothing from Shreddies. Jeans, underwear and PJs use an activated carbon lining to absorb, filter and neutralize the worst odours. Someone you love needs a pair now.
New Zealand inventor Jono Williams has welded himself a 33-foot-tall steel "treehouse" that gives him a 360-degree view of his surroundings. Although Williams didn't know how to weld when he began this project, he had the entrepreneurial spirit. While working as the director of his own I.T. company as well as working as plastics engineer and graphic designer, Williams spent three years planning and building the Skysphere.
Some of the amenities include voice-controlled commands, voice recognition entry, motorized doors that release excess heat, high-speed Internet, a Miracast projector, a wireless sound system, and a rooftop stargazing platform.
7. Deep Pool
The University of Essex in England is exploring the idea of building the world's deepest pool, which would be used to simulate the weightless conditions of outer space on humans and equipment. Working in partnership with Blue Abyss, the university's proposed pool would be 164 feet deep, about 30 feet deeper than the Y-40 diving pool in Montegrotto Terme, Italy, which currently ranks as the world's deepest pool.
8. Anti-Poaching Device
Conservationists are going to extreme measures to save rhinos. In South Africa, technology developed by UK biologist Dr. Paul O'Donoghue is being tested on animals to reduce poaching. It involves a tiny camera embedded in the rhino's horn. Paired with a GPS satellite collar and a heart rate monitor, the system constantly monitors the animal and its surroundings and transmits data to a central control centre. If something unusual happens, an alert is sent and rangers are dispatched.
9. Flying Car
This week the Mass.-based flying car company, Terrafugia, released new designs for its TF-X flying autonomous vehicle. Designed to be FAA-approved for the air and street legal for the road, the new model now has 300-hp engines and two tilting rotors that accommodate vertical take off, cruising and landing. Terrafugia plans to integrate a fully autonomous flight system as well. The Jetsons-like car probably won't be available for another 8 to 12 years, but hey, time flies.
10. Origami Bridge
A prototype bridge that opens and closes like an accordion was successfully tested this week in Japan over the Hongo River in Fukuyama City. The bridge could serve as a temporary expanse during disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis, which are common in the island nation and can cut off safe escape routes. The bridge could also offer an alternative passage during routine bridge repairs.
Top image: The Terrafugia TF-X autonomous flying car concept. Credit: Terrafugia.
[Source: Discovery News. Edited. Top image and some links added.]