Tech Universe: Wednesday 16 October

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

THE WATER CYCLE: A bicycle is a great way to get around on the road, but a baycycle takes you across the water on San Francisco Bay. The BayCycle Project aims to get people cycling across the Bay on regular bikes attached to specially-made pontoons. Pedalling turns propellers providing propulsion, while waves send the rider more into mountain bike mode. Don't forget the lifejacket.

SENSING SUDDEN STOPS: For cyclists who stick to land the ICEdot Crash Sensor could be a brainy thing to try. It's a small device that mounts on any bike helmet. Pair it with a smartphone app and it can detect motion, changes in forces and impacts. If there's a bad enough impact the device sounds an alarm and initiates an emergency countdown. If you're OK stop the countdown otherwise it notifies your emergency contacts and sends GPS coordinates of the incident so emergency services can find you.

You just need to hope your emergency contacts are checking their phones.

AND THE WALLET SCREAMED: A Linquet is a small device that looks like a card. Attach it to your wallet, computer, keys, bag or some other valuables and set up a Bluetooth connection to your phone. The device also includes an audible alarm and flashing lights, a temperature sensor and a button that can be programmed for various purposes. If phone and device are separated by more than around 30 metres an alarm will sound, and timestamped data is sent to the cloud, so you can still locate lost items even if you don't hear the alarm. That means you could discover quite quickly for example that you've left your wallet behind. The devices are free but you pay for the service. It could be good to have a base station option for offices.

BIG ON SCANNING: An X-ray is a 2 dimensional image we're all familiar with, but a CT scan reflects X-rays to create a 3D image. That means an item can be measured and inspected non-destructively and without being touched. Size is a problem though, as X-ray machines are generally only big enough to scan a human being or perhaps a large animal. Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute have developed a huge CT scanner capable of scanning cars, airplane wings and even entire shipping containers. The object sits on a revolving turntable while an X-ray source and detector send data to a computer that then creates a 3D image. The system currently achieves a resolution of 0.8 mm, but the creators hope to achieve a 0.4 mm resolution soon.

READY, AIM, FIRE OUT: Do you have a fire extinguisher handy? Do you know how to work it? In Japan the Eco Throwable Fire Extinguisher is available. It's a small plastic bottle full of chemicals to put out a small fire that's just getting started, maybe giving you enough time to call the fire brigade. Throw the 500 ml bottle and it breaks, releasing a mix of ammonium phosphate dibasic and ammonium bicarbonate. The mix of chemicals apparently has an extinguishing capacity ten times that of water.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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