Tech Universe: Tuesday 4 December

By Miraz Jordan

Excercise in a gym in Hull powers the gym's lights. Photo / Thinkstock
Excercise in a gym in Hull powers the gym's lights. Photo / Thinkstock

POINT AND SHOOT: The Intelligent Digital Tracking Scope from TrackingPoint keeps its eye on the target even when you don't. A shooter aims their rifle and scope at a target then uses a red button by the trigger to tag what they want to shoot. The rifle fires only when it's correctly lined up for the shot. Correctly identifying the target first is pretty crucial.

SWEAT IT ON: A new outdoor fitness centre in Hull in the UK is free for local residents. But as they use the equipment, not only do they get fit, but they also generate electricity. At the moment the gym powers its own lights, but they hope to eventually feed power back into the grid. Cheaper models could be used to charge up mobile phones. There are so many opportunities in daily life to do something useful.

FROZEN WINGS: As aircraft fly they may build up ice on the wings, which affects handling, safety and fuel consumption. Icing can also interfere with instrument sensors. Japanese researchers are developing a coating that contains microscopic particles of a Teflon-based material to help repel the water that otherwise turns into ice. Surfaces coated with particles ranging in size from 5 to 30 micrometres seem to repel the most water. The researchers hope the new coating can help prevent icing, where current systems have varying degrees of success in dealing with ice once it's already formed.

HIGH SHOTS: Lehmann Aviation's LA100 might appeal to photographers for those high shots. Launch the drone by tossing it in the air and it'll fly for 5 minutes at 80 to 100 metres, snapping photos all the way. You can mount a GoPro camera on top of or below the wing, or even use two cameras at once. The drone has a wingspan of less than 1 metre and weighs less than 1kg. It's made of foam and carbon fibre. If you hear a humming sound, look up and smile for the camera.

BATTERY PLANTS: The Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell from Wageningen University generates electricity from the natural interaction between living plant roots and soil bacteria. It could be used to generate power from rice paddies, green roofs, or anywhere plants grow, especially in wetlands. Plant roots secrete organic material as a result of photosynthesis. Bacteria break down the material and create electrons. Electrodes close to the bacteria harvest the electrons to create electricity. This system generates more power than fermenting biomass. Wire up your garden!

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