Tech Universe: Wednesday, 29 May

By Miraz Jordan

A new smart soccer ball can help track statistical data. Photo / Thinkstock
A new smart soccer ball can help track statistical data. Photo / Thinkstock

IN THE BALL: A new smart soccer ball and soccer boot from Adidas report back statistical data to a tablet or computer. A dedicated app can pull up info such as speed, rotation, distance and direction of the ball. The ball contains motion sensors, to detect pressure, angle, and which foot you kicked it with. You do need to remember to charge the ball before a game. Soon there will be nothing left in life that doesn't need charging.

ON WATCH: Aeryon's SkyRanger drone can fly for 50 minutes, recording visible light or infrared images as it goes. It takes off and lands vertically, and can hover for precise observations. The drone grabs 15 megapixel still images and streams 1080p video with embedded geotags and metadata. What's more the whole thing weighs only 2.4 kg and folds up to fit in a small carry bag. You never know now who or what is watching you. =

STEAMING BIKE: It takes a certain kind of person to strap a hydrogen peroxide-powered rocket to their bicycle. The other day in France one cyclist did just this and reached a top speed of 262 Kph. The highly concentrated liquid hydrogen peroxide mixes with a catalyst, breaking down into heat, water and oxygen. That creates steam that's almost 350 degrees C. When pushed through a rocket nozzle it propels the bike, fast. So really the bike's just a way to hold the rocket.

BEE COOL: As Kiwis we have a fondness for buzzy bees, but that usually refers to the wooden toys. A new Buzzy bee from the US was developed specially to help distract kids (or adults) when they need an injection or have to have blood drawn. Buzzy is a small vibrating bee-shaped device with a unique ice pack. It crowds out pain by sending stronger motion and temperature sensations down the nerves instead. Along with the buzzing bee there are game cards to help keep kids distracted while blood's being drawn. Clever.

DEAD TREES: The concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere is steadily increasing. At Columbia University researchers have created filters made from a plastic material that absorb large amounts of CO2 when they're dry and give it back when they're wet. The CO2 filled filters could be particularly useful for glasshouses that are sealed to avoid losing water and heat. Plants respond well to CO2 and it's often used to enhance growth. It seems an indirect route since plants take up CO2 anyway and have other benefits for the environment.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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