Tech Universe: Thursday 18 October

By Miraz Jordan

In 1907, instead of aerial drones, a German photographer used pigeons to capture aerial images. Photo / Thinkstock
In 1907, instead of aerial drones, a German photographer used pigeons to capture aerial images. Photo / Thinkstock

PHOTOGRAPHY FOR THE BIRDS: Using aerial drones for capturing images is all the latest thing, but back in 1907 a German photographer used pigeons for the job. He created a lightweight miniature camera and harness and trained carrier pigeons to carry it. Then he'd release the pigeons about 90 Km from home while a pneumatic system in the camera took images at regular intervals. Training the pigeons to carry the camera was one thing, but getting them to image the correct targets was quite another. PetaPixel details.

ROADS AT WORK: One section of of Cermak Road in Chicago is very special. It uses sustainable design techniques to improve the urban ecosystem, promote economic development, and increase the safety and usability of the street. Along with a lot of recycled materials, it uses photocatalytic cement that cleans the surface of the roadway and removes nitrogen oxide gases from the surrounding air.

The street features wind and solar power lights, including LEDs and points them correctly to preserve the darkness of the sky. Bike lanes, pedestrian havens and bus shelters make the street friendlier for those who aren't in cars, while roadside gardens use rainwater and divert rainfall away from sewers. Now for the rest of the streets. City of Chicago has more.

CARS AT WORK: Nigel is a Mini Cooper. It's not just any Mini Cooper though, but is fitted with 230 sensors that create a log of everything that happens in the vehicle. Users can see it all via an iPhone app. At the moment the app may point out milestone events, such as using the right-turn indicator for the 500th time. But the USC's Center for Body Computing believes that some sensors could monitor driver health instead. Although they're in the early stages of their work they suggest appropriate monitors could tell a driver their heart rate goes up every time they arrive home or at the office, or that certain sections of the route are polluted and affecting their health. Information is power. Fast Company explains.

SHOCKING SORES: Those who are bedridden risk pressure sores. The sores form when the skin compresses in one position and cuts off blood supply. The sores are not only uncomfortable, but cost hospitals around the world a lot of money. Doctors at the University of Calgary in Canada tested underwear that mimics fidgeting, which relieves the pressure. Electrodes in the underwear deliver 10 seconds of stimulation to the buttocks every 10 minutes for 12 hours a day. During a 1 month trial none of the 37 patients developed a sore. Ah, underwear for the dedicated hard-core gamers. BBC has further info.

PUMPED: People with diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar levels and perhaps administer insulin. The JewelPUMP from Debiotech in Switzerland carries 500 Units of insulin and is applied to the skin. A special Android powered phone, the JewelCOM, features an integrated blood glucose meter and uses dedicated SIM card security to communicate with the JewelPUMP. The pump itself includes a couple of buttons for administering doses if the phone is out of action. The patch is waterproof and includes an alarm in case it gets too hot. How long till someone hacks this to deliver other substances? MedGadget elaborates.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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