Tech Universe: Friday 20 September

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

SAFE CHARGES: It's all very well to plug your phone or other USB device into a nearby computer or public charging point to grab a charge, but could malware be finding its way onto the device as well as power? Or maybe the charge point is secretly grabbing your data? Fortunately power and data don't use the same pins on a USB plug. And that's where the USB Condom device has its uses: it blocks the data pins while allowing the power pins to do their work. Simple but effective.

BANDED CLIMBERS: Some wristbands monitor sleep or steps. The ClimbAx is specifically for climbers. The pair of wristbands includes an accelerometer to detect arm motions and movements. A NAND memory chip stores timestamped data, and a 16-bit RISC microprocessor handles data. LEDs on the band signal various statuses to the wearer. Once processed the data gives a climber detailed information about moves and performance. These days it's all about the wrists.

THE STICKY SENSE: Researchers are developing a thin sensor that can be glued on to skin. Then it can sense the skin temperature over wide areas of the body with millikelvin precision. It still needs an external power source, but in time, perhaps that can be incorporated too. Now others need to work out how best such a sensor could be used. Before long these things will be as common and as easy to use as a sticking plaster.

CATCH MORE Ds: The Structure Sensor from Occipital sounds big, but it's actually tiny. It fits handily onto a mobile device such as an iPad. Then it can capture a 3D model of a room or maybe scan objects in 3D. Once you've captured the 3D image you could import it into a CAD app and send it off to a 3D printer. The device could allow make new interactive games possible. Its range is from 40 cm to 3.5 metres. A battery gives it up to 4 hours of active use, and 1000+ hours of standby. Infrared LEDs give the mobile device night vision. Every extra D enhances the image.

INDESTRUCTIBALL: Even a 270 Kg Aldabra Tortoise needs exercise, so what better than a game of ball? Fortunately the One World Futbol is pretty much indestructible so Ralph the tortoise at Oakland Zoo in California doesn't crush his toy when he lies down on it. The ball snaps back into shape when he gets up. Ralph's Futbol comes as part of a programme that's sending indestructible Futbols to zoos around the world. Even a lion's teeth or a bird's beak can't puncture the ball, As proven by Triton the lion in Johannesburg Zoo.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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