Tech Universe: Wednesday 16 January

By Miraz Jordan

New bracelet to track Disney guests. Photo / AP
New bracelet to track Disney guests. Photo / AP

IN THE BAND: Visiting Disney World? Before long you can forget buying paper tickets and instead wear an RFID bracelet that will grant entry to your hotel room and the rides, and let you make purchases. The bracelets will be coded with your credit card details, but will also allow Disney to track guest behaviour in minute detail. The MyMagic+ vacation management system and an app called My Disney Experience will make it easier and quicker for visitors to get around, while giving the company enormous amounts of data on how visitors behave. Which of course, is both a good and bad thing.

EXTREME POSITIONING: GPS has become very important in our lives, but it only works outdoors, and even then, sometimes not. Locata's ground-based positioning system projects a radio signal over a localised area, and it's a million times stronger on arrival than GPS.

The receivers are small enough to fit in a smartphone too. In recent tests the system worked to within 18 cm along any axis. Unfortunately complex urban environments can still block Locata signals, but on the other hand it works indoors as well as out. That would give the Find Friends apps a rather unsettling precision: not just at home, but in the kitchen, in the bathroom, watching TV.

SQUARE ROOT OF X: Current X-ray machines are huge and run on lots of electricity. A University of Missouri engineering team has invented a compact source of X-rays and other forms of radiation. The radiation source is around the size of a stick of chewing gum and could be used in battery powered handheld scanners the size of a cellphone. That could mean your dentist could take X-rays from inside your mouth, rather than exposing your whole head to radiation. Do we now need to worry about evil doers having handheld X-ray devices too?


PETS AT LARGE: Do you wonder where your cats get to while you're not around? The Tractive is a GPS pet tracking device with an app that gives you live updates on its location once it leaves a predetermined safe zone. The service will be available in Europe and the US initially, and sends data via the standard GSM network to the service's servers. A monthly fee will cover costs of the service. Now you can find out if your cat's been cheating on you with the neighbours.

FULL BONDED JACKET: HzO's WaterBlock waterproofing is intended to keep your gadgets safe from water, fizzy drinks, beer, juice and other liquids. It coats all the circuitry with a transparent shield of bonded molecules. The idea is that the devices are coated as part of the production process and are then safe from mud, sweat and liquids of all kinds. No more worrying about using your smartphone in the rain.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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