Tech Universe: Friday 16 August

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

EYES FORWARD: If your boss requires you to do an online training course you could set it to play and then do something else instead. One training company has a way to monitor how you interact with their courses though: it watches you and pauses if you look away for more than 5 seconds. The eye tracking app is still in beta but the company say it could give insight into the quality of the content. Focus better with your eyes closed or averted? That training's not for you.

SUN, SURF AND LAPTOP: Plenty of people would find a solar powered laptop useful, especially those in developing countries, in education or in the military. The rugged Sol laptop runs Ubuntu and derives up to 10 hours of power from solar panels built into an extra lid. An internal battery lets you use the laptop at night. The additional lid opens and then folds out to expose the panels to the sun, though they can be detached and connected with an extension cord so you can work inside while the panels gather sunlight outside.

2 hours of sun fully charge the battery, but a regular power adapter is included if you need it. An anti-glare film increases screen readability in the sun. Some models are also waterproof. In spite of all the extra hardware it still weighs less than 2.5 Kg. I imagine plenty of sports enthusiasts would be keen on this too.

BUILD YOUR OWN CAMERA: The Bigshot camera is specially designed as a learning experience for kids. The 3 megapixel camera arrives as parts that must be correctly assembled for it to work. Accompanying materials help the kids learn about what's going on, for example, how LEDs work. A hand crank lets the camera be used even if the battery has gone flat and a rotating lens wheel allows for regular, panoramic and 3D shots. The world needs more toys like this.

DRONING ON: A drone from AeroVironment uses lightweight gallium arsenide solar panels and batteries from Alta Devices to achieve 9 hours of flying time. That's about 3 times as long as most drones. This one can even run for more than 3 hours on batteries alone. So it sounds as though it could start flying at dawn and finish maybe after dark on shorter days.

HACK YOUR HEALTH: You may have heard of Arduino, but have you heard of BITalino? A BITalino board has multiple sensors, such as electrocardiography (ECG), electromyography (EMG), electrodermal activity (EDA), accelerometer and ambient light. The parts are designed to be easy to snap together and the board connects to computers, phones and other Bluetooth devices. BITalino has software for visualisation and recording, a set of programming APIs, a biosignal processing toolbox, and a framework for real time data acquisition. The hardware includes a modular wireless biosignal acquisition system, multiple inputs and outputs and can interface with other devices. Is there a plug for easy Government monitoring too?

Miraz Jordan,

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