Tech Universe: Tuesday 18 June

By Miraz Jordan

Designers have created the largest container ship in the world. Photo / Thinkstock
Designers have created the largest container ship in the world. Photo / Thinkstock

HUGE ON THE SEAS: The largest ship in the world is the container ship Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller. It's designed for slower speeds and maximum efficiency, emitting 50% less CO2 per container moved than the current average on the Asia-Europe route. The Triple-E class vessel carries 18,000 twenty-foot containers and is 400 metres long, 59 metres wide and 73 metres high. A waste heat recovery system saves up to 10% of main engine power. That's a lot of cargo in one place.

WHEELING ALONG: Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute aim to make it easier for some people who use electric wheelchairs to both control their wheelchairs and to communicate. The new device hooks in to the wheelchair's CAN bus, where all wheelchair data converges, and provides Bluetooth connections to smartphones and other gadgets.

It allows users to check emails, surf the web, find accessible toilets and routes and to check how the chair's battery is doing so they have enough power for their next journey. Future development could allow users to work with home automation systems too. Wheelchair as hub sounds very practical and useful.

COOL BLUES: Tired of fruit in the fridge going bad too quickly? Add a few ultraviolet LEDs and the fruit may last longer. US researchers tested exposing strawberries in a fridge to light from energy efficient UV-LEDs that work well in chilly conditions. After 9 days the strawberries showed no mould, retained most of their moisture and still had good colour. The UV light can be hazardous though so if fridge makers incorporate it they will have to ensure the light shines only when the door's closed. That shouldn't be too hard.

ROUND AND ROUND: The Whetar urban wind turbine can apparently produce 5 times more power than standard wind turbines, while creating little noise and little vibration. The trick is in the 2 double contra-rotating rotors encased in a specially constructed housing duct. The two rotors cancel each other out, as far as noise and vibration are concerned, while accelerating the air to produce more power. The turbines also take much less space than others and can be mounted on lighting poles, the roof or even the front lawn. Start working on that second mortgage.

BIKE UNDERGROUND: In places like Tokyo space is precious and while cycles are a great way to travel about parking them at your destination can really clutter up the streets. So how about underground bike parks? Eco-Cycle Underground Parks whisk your bike away to secure storage out of the weather and away from potential thieves. Set up an account and attach a small tag to the front forks. When you arrive at a parking station the front wheel is clamped in place and the machinery draws the bike into the system. An elevator takes the bike down to an empty storage slot. To retrieve the bike swipe your membership card and the bike is returned. That definitely beats carrying a lock and finding a spot to lean your bike against.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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