Tech Universe: Thursday 8 March

By Miraz Jordan

NFC (Near Field Communication) could turn the human body into a data channel for smartphones. Photo / Thinkstock
NFC (Near Field Communication) could turn the human body into a data channel for smartphones. Photo / Thinkstock

THE HUMAN CABLE: Near Field Communication may let your phone transmit data when it's touched to another phone but Ericsson are exploring the idea of using the human body as a data channel. In a proof of concept they've shown how a phone in your pocket could send data when you touch a suitably equipped door handle, or play music from your phone through a speaker you touch. It'll be interesting to see how this one develops. More at BBC Click

LEAKY TRANSISTORS: While encrypting data may keep it safe from an attacker trying to break into it, the technique may not be immune to eavesdropping on the signal. Cryptography Research recently demonstrated easily listening in on the radio signals leaking from the transistors in smartphones as they used their secret key on the data.
That pattern of radio signals gave away the key in use. There's always a way around if you look hard enough. Technology Review has details.

FARM THE WIND: A new wind turbine farm in Hawai'i is being built on Oahu's North Shore. 30 turbines will generate 69 MW, or around 5% of the island's annual electricity needs. The new farm will be the largest wind energy facility in Hawai'i. Hot air's good for something after all. First Wind. More information at FirstWind.com.

FOR THE HIGH JUMP: High altitude balloons fly to around 40 kilometres above sea level with scientific research experiments as their payload. That height takes them above 99% of Earth's atmosphere. The Near Space Corporation is now building a commercial launch facility in Tillamook, Oregon to handle payloads ranging in mass from hundreds of grams to thousands of kilograms. And if the balloon bursts? Do we really want thousands of kilos of stuff plummeting to the ground from that height?Network World.

CABLE JUMP: Remote areas pose a huge challenge to high-speed digital communications, where cabling across rough terrain can be almost impossible. A team of researchers from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany say their millimetre-wave wireless bridge can carry up to 20 billion bits of data per second across gaps between cables, for example across a lake or valley. Unlike a laser link, these millimetre-wave signals continue to work through fog, rain, and dust. "Neither snow, nor rain, nor fog, nor dust stays these courageous waves from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." Details at the Optical Society.

- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz

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