Tech Universe: Friday 25 January

By Miraz Jordan

Deep Space Industries plans to mine near-Earth asteroids for precious metals. Photo / Thinkstock
Deep Space Industries plans to mine near-Earth asteroids for precious metals. Photo / Thinkstock

DEEP ROCKETS: Deep Space Industries has some big plans: to mine near-Earth asteroids for precious metals. In 2015 it will send uncrewed FireFly spacecraft to explore asteroids that fly near Earth.

In the following years DragonFly spacecraft will bring back samples from likely candidates. It all depends on sponsorship though: they're looking for investors. The next big thing or the next bust?

THE SIZE OF WATER: Researchers at Monash University want to help clean toxins out of water and believe a highly-porous Metal Organic Framework, or MOF, they've developed could do the job. The MOF is a cluster of metal atoms connected by organic molecules whose pores are all exactly the same size. That means the MOF can be customised to capture specific substances by tailoring the size of the pores. In tests the MOF filtered out and absorbed paraquat but no other contaminants.

This could also lead to devices to quickly and easily test for specific contaminants in water. That's a high-tech sieve.

HIGH ON GLASS: Ever wondered how people with giant high windows keep them clean? In future perhaps they'll use a Winbot. The robot attaches to a window with suction, assesses the size of the window and plots an efficient path for cleaning it. Then it traverses the window, while its cleaning pads remove dirt and dry the glass. If it has a problem an alarm lets you know. Now it just needs a way to climb up to the skylight.

BRIGHT IDEA: The Japanese Gura-pika LED torch turns on automatically in an earthquake. It can be cranked by hand or recharged via a wall outlet, and contains a built-in radio that is always tuned in, even if the device itself is turned off. If Japan's Earthquake Warning Alarm is activated the torch sounds an alarm. A handy USB port lets you power other devices. The torch glows bright for up to14 hours and the radio works for about 6 hours on a full charge. Being able to charge other devices is handy.

ELECTRIC YOU: The TEGwear chip is only a square-inch in size, but it generates up to 3 volts of electricity via heat taken from your body.
That's enough to power sensors or sports monitors. The chip must either be touching your skin or separated by only a thin layer of cloth. At least that's small enough to be inconspicuous.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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