Tech Universe: Friday 19 October

By Miraz Jordan

Who needs an unhelpful map? In future robots will be here to guide the way, then we can sit back as they start the head-scratching over indecipherable squiggles. Photo / Thinkstock
Who needs an unhelpful map? In future robots will be here to guide the way, then we can sit back as they start the head-scratching over indecipherable squiggles. Photo / Thinkstock

THIS SIDE OF THE BLACK STUMP: If someone asks us for directions in the street our answers aren't always very precise. We may mention "that street over there" or point out a direction with our hand. If autonomous robots in future are to be able to seek help from humans then they must also learn to interpret such symbolic location identifications. The Interactive Urban Robot Project in Europe aims to interpret speech and gestures so it can find its way from place to place without using maps or GPS. That's a massive undertaking: we humans having trouble enough understanding one another. IEEE explains. Video here.

AN EXTRA PUSH: Yamaha's JWX-2 power assist unit is designed to fit almost every wheelchair. The electric unit provides a bit of extra push when the wheelchair user needs it, such as rolling up a slope.

Most people have one arm stronger than the other, so the unit can easily be set to assist more on one side or the other. Beats having to ask someone nearby for help. DigInfo TV details. Check out the video.

UP HIGH; DOWN LOW: The trouble with making cat videos for the Internet is getting in the right position for filming. If the cat's on the floor you have to lie down for the best angle. If it's on a fence you may have to stand on tiptoe. The HiLO Lens for iPhone aims to solve the problem of pointing your phone the right way. The small right angle lens easily attaches to and detaches from the phone, meaning you could hold the phone parallel to the floor to get that low angle on your pet. Or hold the phone over your head and shoot downwards towards a crowd. The gadget itself is made with 3 lenses and a prism, rather than just a mirror, while a free app helps sort out any problems with the image. Get your phone ready for dealing with the crowds at the Hobbit premiere. HiLO Lens has more. Here's the video.

SINGLE FILE: The United Arab Emirates know a great deal about their citizens. Their Identity Authority holds more than 103 million digital fingerprints and more than 15 million digital facial recognition records so as to enhance security and help people avoid identity theft. They claim they have the largest biometric database in the world. So long as they don't have any kiosks they should be fine. Gulf News elaborates.

SUNNY DENMARK: The Danes are serious about solar power. The country as a whole has a target that 35% of the Danish energy supply will be based on renewables by 2020. Private households and public institutions are able to store surplus energy in the public grid, and the government are working on establishing smart grids. 36 MW of capacity is being mounted every month and the Danes expect to reach their goal for 2020 of 200 megawatt solar cell capacity this year already. Have a clear goal, a plan and stick to it. It works. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark has further info.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 23 Oct 2014 21:21:37 Processing Time: 251ms