Tech Universe: Friday 11 October

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

SHAKEN TO THE CORE: If you live in a tornado zone you face the real dangers of not only losing your home but being unable to quickly find a secure shelter. The CORE house from Q4 Architects deals with both. At the centre of the normal looking house is an indestructible concrete core, able to be sealed off with heavy-duty tornado doors and hurricane shutters. Inside the core are beds, a kitchen, bathroom and access to backup systems. Around it are spacious but less tornado-proof rooms for regular living. The house combines the normal ease and comfort of everyday life with the secure shelter you need from tornados and similar disasters.

THE GRAND VIEW: It's so frustrating to find you've been pointing your camera in one direction while the action is happening just out of shot. The Geonaute 360 Video Camera can be used for stills or video and has three 8 megapixel wide angle lenses whose images are automatically welded together to build a 360 degree view.

A microphone, 2 hours of battery life and one-button shooting are great features, while the camera responds to a remote too. The camera shoots at 25 fps, and will also capture 150 degree vertical footage or images as well as 360 horizontal. Images and video are in standard formats, stored on a microSD card up to 64 gigabytes in size. That's a lot to look at.

BIG BIG DATA: India has a population of 1.2 billion, most of whom don't have bank accounts. Many also can't read or write. Poverty levels are high, as is welfare fraud, especially by corrupt officials. One problem lies in establishing and verifying identity, with many different inefficient systems in place, leading to duplicated documentation. The biometric Aadhaar system aims to get welfare to the right people in the most efficient way. It starts with fingerprints and fingerprint sensors, but also uses iris scans for those many agricultural workers whose fingerprints have been damaged. 1 million people are being enrolled in the scheme every day and the blade servers run about 300 trillion biometric matches per day.That's a massive system that reminds us just how tiny and cohesive New Zealand's population is.

PROP CIRCLES: Wind turbines commonly take the form of propellers atop a tower. The Peace Frontier ring turbine though resembles an aircraft's jet engine. The shape pushes air into a narrower stream, increasing both wind speed and generation efficiency. It also means the turbine can very quietly generate sufficient electricity with a wind speed of only 3 to 5 metres per second in urban areas. The whole thing is both lightweight and compact, so it could sit on a roof.

MAGNETIC BLOOD: We need iron — the right amount — for our physical wellbeing, but standard blood tests don't do a very good job of determining how much iron is in our blood. Researchers from Ulm University in Germany think they can make a more accurate assessment using tiny artificial nanodiamond to measure a protein called ferritin. Electrostatic interactions between the tiny diamond particles and ferritin proteins allow researchers to measure the weak magnetic fields ferritin produces. That in turn reveals how much iron is in the blood. It stands to reason all that iron would be magnetic.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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