Tech Universe: Tuesday 26 February

By Miraz Jordan

A University has created a way to harvest moisture from the air to make into fresh drinking water, using a billboard. Photo / Thinkstock
A University has created a way to harvest moisture from the air to make into fresh drinking water, using a billboard. Photo / Thinkstock

DRIVEN TO DRINK: Billboards don't need to simply be blots on the landscape. Lima, Peru is a place where it seldom rains, although humidity is usually around 98%. The University of Engineering and Technology created a billboard beside the highway that harvests moisture in the air to make fresh, drinkable water, available through taps at the base. The billboard is expected to generate some 96 litres of water every day for the community.

It sounds like the kind of thing that should catch on quickly.

CHARGE CHARGE: In the UK the government will cover up to 75% of the estimated £1,000 to £1,500 cost of installing charging points for electric vehicles in garages and driveways. They also have funding available for local councils and train operators to install publicly available charging points.

That may help get electric vehicles moving.

POWER POWER: Residents of Feldheim, Germany, decided to take their town off the grid ond go with 100% renewable energy instead. 47 wind turbines and an array of solar panels provide the power they need, though residents must carefully monitor and adjust their usage.

Locally produced agricultural wastes help feed a biogas plant that runs heating systems, and helps reduce smells previously caused by the wastes. Residents now enjoy lower than average costs for electricity.

Their next plan is to build storage facilities that can hold enough power to meet demand for 2 days. Ah, the power of collective action.

BETTER THAN A MIRROR: Stand in front of one store in Tokyo and move around.

The mannequin in the window will mimic your movements. The MarionetteBot uses a Kinect to capture and analyse the movements of a person in front of it.

Then a motor moves 16 wires to make the mannequin's pose match. The mannequin was a hit with passers-by. How long did it take before passers-by tried rude gestures?

STRING THEORY: The Vo-96 Acoustic Synth is a small device that uses the harmonic content from strings, or any musical instrument, to create new sounds. On an acoustic guitar the battery-powered device sits between the sound hole and bridge and changes the waveforms the guitar produces as it's being played.

That's different from an electronic synthesiser that alters the sounds after they've been created. Fresh sounds are on their way.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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