Tech Universe: Monday 21 October

By Miraz Jordan

Felix Baumgartner jumping from almost 39,000 metres. Photo / Creative Commons
Felix Baumgartner jumping from almost 39,000 metres. Photo / Creative Commons

ONE MAN DOWN: You and I might not have the means or the courage to skydive from almost 39,000 metres as Felix Baumgartner did last year. But now we can join him on his nearly 10 minute jump, thanks to the camera he had strapped to his body. The footage includes the spin where he nearly lost control just after he started the jump. Baumgartner reached speeds of more than 1300 Kph in his trip from the edge of space. That's a long way down.

ZIP IT UP: Zips were a great invention, but getting those two ends hooked together in the first place can be a struggle. The Magzip from Under Armour makes it a snap. It uses a strong magnet and a re-engineered clasp to automatically guide the two ends together. Snap. Zip. Ahh. Gizmodo.

GO PARK YOURSELF: Ford is working on cars that can park themselves, even if you're not inside the car. The Fully Assisted Parking Aid system controls steering, gear selection and forward and reverse motion so all the driver has to do to park the car is press a button. The system also finds empty spaces to park in. Average car width has increased over the years, but parking spaces have stayed the same size. Being able to get out of the car before it parks itself may save all the contortions when there isn't enough room to open the door properly. The system works in prototypes, now it needs to reach production models. Parking? No problem.

CALL THE BUS: In Helsinki some commuters have to change buses or trains several times. To make things easier a new minibus service called Kutsuplus, or Call Plus, lets travellers call up and pay for a ride from their smartphone and choose their own route. Unlike a taxi though, the minibus can be shared with other up to 8 other travellers, while software handles scheduling, optimal routes, and what the fare should be. The minibus fare is more than a bus but less than a taxi and the service is aimed at making it easier for travellers to continue using public transport. It sounds a lot like a shuttle service.

SLEEPS ON A PLANE: If you're willing to pay extra on one of JetBlue's transcontinental flights on an Airbus 321 you'll get a seat that lies flat or a mini-suite with a privacy door that creates a tiny cabin. Air tubes will let you customise the firmness of the seats. Those seats have 2 power outlets in sensible places for charging laptops and phones. You'll also be able to buy your own soft drinks from an onboard vending machine rather than waiting for the drinks trolley. What, no cheese and crackers?

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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