Tech Universe: Wednesday 15 May

By Miraz Jordan

It will be safer to cycle at night with a Revolights bike light kit. Photo / Thinkstock
It will be safer to cycle at night with a Revolights bike light kit. Photo / Thinkstock

LIGHT CYCLE: Revolights City v2.0 bike light kits are riveted right into the rims of the wheel. The light shines forwards onto the road, but also makes the bike visible from all angles. The white light stays at the front of the front wheel, while the red rear light stays at the back of the back wheel. The arcs of light are formed by LEDs powered by Lithium-ion batteries and programmed to detect your speed and blink on as they pass the front or rear of the bicycle. Batteries last about 4 hours and can be recharged via USB. That's some pretty clever engineering.

EASY PHONE HOME: Should your 4 year old have their own cellphone? After all, if there's an emergency it would be great for them to be able to call you for help.

But on the other hand there are plenty of risks and costs to be considered. The 1stFone is designed for very young children. It's quite small, can be programmed with up to 12 numbers but doesn't have a screen or internet access and can't send texts.

Which just leaves the lessons about what constitutes an emergency.

THE WRITE PHONE: Folks in the US with a hearing problem can get some help from a screen on their phone. The Hamilton Captioned Telephone uses the free US Captioned Telephone Service to display the words spoken by the other party on a 7 inch backlit color display as you participate in a phonecall. Luckily you can choose a font size if your eyesight's not too great either.

VIRTUAL TUNNELS: Old-fashioned robbers would tunnel into a vault to extract quantities of cash from a bank. These days it takes a computer and co-ordinated raids on ATMs. Recently a worldwide gang of criminals drained $45 million dollars from ATMs in just a few hours by using bogus swipe cards with fraudulently increased withdrawal limits. First attackers breached a couple of Middle Eastern banks and tinkered with access codes and withdrawal limits. Then data was loaded onto random cards that use a magnetic strip, such as hotel key cards.

Finally operatives all over the world used the cards to withdraw cash from ATMs.

See what can be achieved with a bit of planning.

HERE TODAY AND GOOGLE TOMORROW: NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey have been making images of our planet for 30 years or more, and now those images have been put to good use. Google Timelapse lets you view images of various parts of the globe in sequence from 1984 to 2012 so you can easily observe changes. For example, watch the Aral Sea dry up, or as irrigation appears in Saudi Arabia. Be prepared for some disturbing viewing.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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