Tech Universe: Thursday 28 March

By Miraz Jordan

Abod homes could be a better substitute for tent cities. Photo / Thinkstock
Abod homes could be a better substitute for tent cities. Photo / Thinkstock

HOUSE FOR U: An Abod is a tiny home that can be constructed by 4 people in one day using stock materials. It's intended as a home for slum dwellers or people who have been left homeless by a disaster such as a hurricane. The building is in the shape of a catenary arch, so it resembles an upside down U. The lightweight home can include kitchen, bathroom and various other options. Translucent panels allow for natural light. Basic units are around 3 by 3.5 metres, though add-ons can extend that, and units can be connected together. Simple, and elegant — a great solution.

BIG BOTTLE IS WATCHING: Do you have a fancy container for pills that lets you divide them up by weekday so you know which ones to take when? It still doesn't help you remember to actually take the pills. AdhereTech's smart bottles will change all that. The bottle includes lights, speakers, a battery that lasts 45 days, 3G and LTE, and sensors that measure humidity and how many pills are left inside.

Your pharmacist sends your medication regimen to AdhereTech's servers which communicate with the pill bottle. If you forget to take your meds you could get a phone call, text message or email to prompt you, or the bottle itself could light up or chime. If the bottle still doesn't detect that you've taken out a pill it could contact your doctor or family. Then there's just that gap between taking the pill out of the bottle and remembering to swallow it.

WASH MONITOR: Hospitals are full of sick people, some of whom die from an infection that comes about because of their visit. Hospital staff are required to wash their hands thoroughly to help alleviate this problem, but not all do. The IntelligentM bracelet vibrates when its wearer has scrubbed sufficiently. It reads RFID tags on hand-washing and sanitising stations and includes an accelerometer that detects how long an employee spends washing. RFID tags can also be placed outside hospital rooms and on some equipment. The idea is to help staff monitor themselves, though managers can also collect data from the bracelets for analysis. Add a few more tracking sensors to the bracelets and that could start to be very intrusive technology.

DATA SHAPING: Sometimes the Internet is pretty crowded and traffic can come to a bit of a standstill. Major events such as the Olympic Games, for example, can put a strain on networks as large numbers of people and devices try to send messages, videos and other data all at the same time. Now Monash University have found a way to squeeze in extra data, making more efficient use of the available channels. By tweaking the way data is transmitted over long distances they were able to transmit a signal of 10 terabits per second over more than 850 Km. That compares to a standard ADSL 2+ speed of around 6 megabits per second. This technique for transmitting data means existing infrastructure could carry vastly more data, alleviating the need to keep laying more cables. Doing more with what we already have: that's the best kind of improvement.

DRINK AND BE DRIVEN: In a New Orleans taxi when you develop a thirst? No problem, if you're in one of the 250 taxis that now feature a drinks machine. A touchscreen display in the car lets you order a soft drink or iced tea that's dispensed from a vending machine in the back of the seat. Drinks cost 99 cents and are paid for by credit or debit card. What, no chippies to go with it? PSFK.

Miraz Jordan,

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 18 Apr 2014 19:02:49 Processing Time: 586ms