Tech Universe: Tuesday 16 April

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

IN A SPIN: E-Volo's VC200 is a two-seater volocopter that should soon be granted a provisional airworthiness certificate. The developers aim for a flight time of more than 1 hour, and a speed of more than 100 Kph. The minimum flight altitude is around 2,000 metres. The electric Volocopter is a vertical takeoff and landing craft that uses many propellers placed within a circular frame above the body of the craft. The whole craft broadly resembles a helicopter without a tail. That looks like a fun way to fly.

ON THE GAME: The Reactive Grip from Tactical Haptics is a device for gamers that brings a more realistic sense of using weapons during a game. Slider bars in the handle move as the player uses various weapons in a game, for example simulating the kick of a gun or the resistance of fighting with a sword. The system also has potential for sportspeople and surgeons.

The developers hope to fund developer kits later this year. It seems slow going with making interactions with virtual worlds feel more realistic.

HANDS FREE: One US man who lost both hands after a vehicle accident now has bionic hands he can control directly or through an iPhone app. The i-Limb Ultra Revolution hands from Touch Bionics have 5 individually powered fingers, including a fully rotatable thumb. The app lets him choose from 24 different types of grip patterns. He can now easily pick up a pen or a lolly, use an electric drill, play pool or shake hands. Prostheses have made huge advances in such a short time.

DON'T HANDLE THE FRUIT: Fingerprints are still a really useful tool in crime fighting, but one area where they haven't been used is with food. It's pretty tricky to lift a print from porous surfaces like those on fruit and vegetables. Forensic scientists at the University of Abertay in Dundee modified a substance known as Powder Suspension and were able to lift high quality prints from onions, apples and tomatoes. Which goes to show that criminals should stick to their crime and not take breaks for snacks.

PLANE WORRYING: A commercial airline pilot and IT security consultant recently gave a talk that showed an Android phone with a special app could take control of a plane. The transmissions between an aircraft and the control tower aren't secured, so he used them to demonstrate the hijack possibilities on a virtual plane. What's next? No taking phones on planes?

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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