Tech Universe: Thursday 04 August

By Miraz Jordan

The Toyota Prius X Parlee bicycle.
The Toyota Prius X Parlee bicycle.

THOUGHT CHANGE: The Toyota Prius X Parlee bicycle is a prototype just now. It uses a monocoque carbon-fibre frame and is aerodynamic. It seems to have plenty of gears, for even the steepest slopes. What it doesn't have though is gear levers. Instead the rider trains an iPhone app to recognise their brain waves. Then they change gears by thinking about it. The rider wears a special cap and backpack to handle the thought-reading. The smartphone mounted on the bike can also monitor the rider's speed, cadence and heart rate. Very smart, for a bike.
Toyota Prius Projects has this and more. Check out the video here.

FOXY ROBOTS: Foxconn in China assemble products for Apple, Nokia, Sony and others. Over the next 3 years they intend to employ 1 million robots to replace some of the human workers. They currently employ 1.2 million humans and 10,000 robots. Do the robots get bargaining power?
Xinhua News has the story.

UNWIRED COUNTRY: Does your wifi die between lounge and kitchen? IEEE 802.22 has a standard for that, though actually it's meant for geographical regions, not just your house. The new standard is for Wireless Regional Area Networks (WRANs) and uses free spaces in the TV spectrum. It makes broadband wireless at up to 22 Mbps per channel available up to 100 Km from a transmitter. Our rural colleagues should be pleased. The IEEE set the specs.

DOGGED TRACKING: You may be being tracked on the web even if you try to avoid it. Some sites use a service called KISSmetrics that records what visitors do on a site and where they came from — and that's not unusual. But Researchers at U.C. Berkeley have found that even if you turn off cookies or enter privacy mode in your browser you still may be tracked. The persistent tracking software stores a unique ID for each user in places other than in a traditional cookie. Users must empty their browser cache between visits to evade the tracking code. "I am not a number. I am a person." Wired reports.

A LITTLE POWER: Researchers at Rice University, USA, have packed an anode, electrolyte, and cathode into a single nanowire to create both a battery and a supercapacitor. The entire nanowire is a few micrometers long and has a total area of about 0.5 square cm. The electrode materials are cheap and easy to synthesise at room temperature. The batteries could be used to power nanoelectronic devices. Rechargeable, we hope. PhysOrg explains the manufacture.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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