Tech Universe: Thursday 27 June

By Miraz Jordan

Volvo has a self-parking car.
Volvo has a self-parking car.

A WALK IN THE PARK: Volvo would like to save you the agony of driving round a huge car park looking for an empty spot. Their concept car finds and parks in a vacant space all by itself, without the driver inside. It's also smart enough to interact with other cars and pedestrians without calamities. Transmitters in the road let the driver know the service is available. The driver activates Autonomous Parking from a smartphone then walks away from the car. They can pick the car up later at the same place. That could be so handy in parking buildings.

BOTTLE, WHAT BOTTLE?: Look, if it's a frosty cold drink you're after then why not just make the bottle out of ice? In Colombia, known to be rather warm, Coke have launched a bottle made out of ice. No need to deal with an empty can, glass or plastic bottle, just drop it on the ground when you're done. It's an eco-friendly bottle, for sure, unless you consider how much energy it must take to keep the bottles frozen from factory to end customer.

SUN AND WIND: Wind turbine? Solar power? Why choose? The McCamley turbine encases wind turbine blades in an outer frame topped with solar cells. The structure is friendly to bats and birds too as the outer frame keeps them away from the blades. The lightweight turbines are designed for cities and intended to go on top of buildings, with several legs to distribute the load. The design is compact and makes hardly any noise. There are so many options these days for alternative power.

SIMPLY LIGHT: It seems everyone wants to bring light to developing countries so they can get away from kerosene lamps. The S1 Solar LED Lamp is another contender. A day's charge with the integrated solar panel allow the LEDs to provide 4 hours of light. Or, with access to grid power, a couple of hours charging will do the trick. The light has an adjustable handle so it can point towards the sun in the day or hang from a wall or stand on a table at night. Maybe they could add in a tiny wind power generator too?

UP, DOWN, UP: How often does your electricity go out? It's a nuisance when it does, but after all, in places like New Zealand the power supply is pretty reliable.

Of course, you may lose Internet for a bit, but the power comes back, your modem flashes its lights and all's well. Not so in places like Africa where the electricity supply is really unreliable. That's where the BRCK modem comes in to keep you online whatever happens. It works like a mobile phone, switching between wi-fi and 3G when a fixed line network is down. Add a SIM card to connect anywhere in reach of a cell tower. An 8 hour battery and an antenna to boost signal strength mean it can work almost anywhere. It'd be very handy for disaster relief too.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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