Tech Universe: Monday 30 September

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Creative Commons
Photo / Creative Commons

ALL THE RAYS: GPS doesn't always work well in towns and cities because buildings reflect and interfere with the signals. The VRay antenna scans for millions of virtual signals every second then differentiates the valid GPS signal from the rest of the clutter. That should make GPS more reliable in built-up areas, and possibly even indoors. While this technique has been used before, mainly by the military, it was very costly and needed bulky equipment. The key to the new low-cost device is its small simple receiver that switches at high speed between dozens of elements. It's always handy to know where you are.

KEEP YOUR WHEELS ON: The day I found thieves had stolen my car's wheels was the day I invested in lock nuts. Bikes are even more vulnerable though to such theft. Sphyke's miniature combination locks aim to keep all the bits safely on your bike.

The tiny locks are available for the saddle, stem and front and rear wheels. That's a small, simple solution.

NUTTY BOTTLE: If you carry a water bottle with you, do you worry about how clean the water is? The KOR Nava water bottle includes a filter made from activated carbon created from sustainable coconut shells. The careful design means the bottle's easy to open, but the flip lid protects the spout from dirt and contamination and allows you to sip as though from a straw. The 700 ml bottles are made of BPA-free Eastman Tritan copolyester.

ROLL UP, ROLL UP: Engineers at the University of California have created a transparent, elastic organic light-emitting device. The OLED can be repeatedly stretched, folded and twisted at room temperature while still working at high efficiency and retaining its original shape. The material has a single layer of an electro-luminescent polymer blend sandwiched between a pair of electrodes made of a network of silver nanowires inlaid into a rubbery polymer. The team speculate that after further development this material could be used as screens for devices, in clothing or for medical tools. Are we heading at last for that roll-up computer?

FISHY ROBOT: Can a robot fillet fish? Apparently it can, as the Norwegians know. The robot uses a 3D colour scanner and some handy algorithms to distinguish species, work out the best place to cut the fish and determine volume so serving sizes are equal. The Norwegians plan to set up a fully-automated salmon processing line within the next couple of years. Next let's get the robots fishing to catch only the right fish and eliminate bycatch.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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