With rising energy costs and our growing arsenal of iPads, smart phones, and wearable monitors, we’re always on the lookout for new ways to power our devices. Perpetua Power, an Oregon-based startup, has invented a chip that can turn heat into energy – specifically the heat from your own body. When placed against your skin, the one square-inch TEGwear thermoelectric generator outputs up to three volts. One generator is enough to power headphones or a pedometer; a battery of them sewn into your favorite jumpsuit might even provide enough power for a phone. Maybe the TEGwear chip will be the intermediate step between old-and-tired fossil fuels and our fat-powered Energy Belt.
Image and story via Fast Company.
Text for blind people using the Braille alphabet has been around for some time. But instead of making separate books for the visually impaired, why not change the way we all read?
With Braille 2.0, you simply scan text with your finger. Tiny implants will digitalize the text and transmit it to an ear implant. The implant converts the text into spoken words that are projected into the ear.
Other applications of the system are also appealing for people with full vision. Adding the function of translating or explaining a word’s meaning will give readers a richer experience. Instead of looking words up in the dictionary, you scan it and get the meaning projected through your ear implant. Reading in the dark might even be possible. Now everyone can go to the library and pick up any book he wants to read, with or without vision.
Do you ever miss being able to smell the woods in an online travel journal? The odor of a new leather jacket in an online shop? Or perhaps you just couldn’t find the words in an email to describe the delicious scent of your freshly baked goods?
DigiScents did, or at least thought a lot of consumers in 2001 were encountering this gap in the day’s technology. The idea of adding smell to the way we communicate online unfortunately was not successful. Failing to surpass the prototype stage, its ambitious concept to link our rapidly growing technology use to more senses than our eyes and ears, actually does something more: It reveals the true colors of the technology we use.
Often cockroaches aren’t people’s best friends, but maybe in a few years you will be relieved when you see a cockroach. Researchers of the North Carolina State University succeeded in developing a new technique that will be able to move a cockroach in any direction. By doing this, they may be creating an opportunity to change the cockroach’s poor image into that of a life saver.
The technique has three main principles. First, to control the cockroach, they give it a backpack containing a microchip, with a wireless receiver and transmitter. This microchip communicates with a micro-controller, which is also stuffed into the backpack. The controller is wired by electrodes that are implanted into the antenna at the front of its body and the cerci at its abdomen.
The future of farming is not to be found in further mass-industrialization nor in the return to traditional farming with man and horse power, but rather in swarms of smart, cheap robotic farmers that patiently seed, tend and harvest fields one plant at a time without the need for damaging pesticides.
Nearly every adult in the Western world owns a personalized pet, sometimes more than one. It is treated with great care, fed when necessary and fitted to the owner’s wishes and needs. The car.
For decades this car is held close to the humans, since the car was not able to go out on its own. The car of the future is able to drive itself and this future is approaching fast. Today this, so called, autonomous cars are already able to drive safely through a neighborhood and to race on full speed at a race track. But how about the future?
Using fuzzy logic decision-making the car is definitely growing apart from us. Developers are designing vehicles that require less and less human interaction, so that in the near future we will be able to control the car just a little. In the end, the autonomous car will become uncontrollable and will use its own intelligence to drive and to decide. The artificial intelligence will get smarter, which will cause the cars to become beings with self-consciousness instead of the material as it used to be. It may become part of our uncontrollable next nature.
This pet we once had, may turn into an animal we cannot control any longer. Yet we still control it, but we may lose that control.
Roads are a ubiquitous, even defining aspect of our urban and suburban spaces. In the United States alone, parking lots and roads cover 16,000 square kilometers. So why must roads be gray, plain and a general waste of space? Dutch designer Daan Roosegarde, inventor of the Intimacy Dress, wants to take the technology from his Sustainable Dance Floor and apply it to the highway of the future.
The vibrations of cars over the road surface will create energy for streetlights and will power electric cars and scooters at charging stations. These “smart” roads could be further equipped with sensors to report ice, rain, temperature or traffic conditions. Roosegarde’s proposal for an energy-generating highway isn’t the first: There’s been plans for solar roadways in the US, electromagnetic roadways in China, and a piezo-electric road similar to Roosegarde’s in Israel.
Feeling grumpy and hungry? Unfortunately, the University of Tokyo’s Happiness Counter refrigerator won’t open up until you give it a big smile. The concept is based on the fact that smiling releases endorphins, but it seems like the pushy fridge is a quicker route to rage than to true happiness.