Tech Universe: Friday 18 October

By Miraz Jordan

Imagine being able to turn your ordinary bike into a smart-bike. Photo / Thinkstock
Imagine being able to turn your ordinary bike into a smart-bike. Photo / Thinkstock

STREET SMART: The FlyKly smart bicycle wheel puts a 250 W motor, battery and electronics inside a normal looking rear bike wheel. The motor turns on when you start pedalling. Control the top speed with settings on a smartphone app. The smart wheel offers speeds up to 25 Kph and can carry you up to 50 km. The wheel helps you ride up hills and recharges itself when you ride downhill, or recharge from a wall socket. The smartphone app lets you lock the motor, and gives you an alert if the bike moves without you, if it's stolen, for example. You can track the bike via GPS too. The app also learns your cycling routines and can suggest faster routes. The smart wheel weighs 4 Kg, so you won't be pushing too much extra weight around if the battery
does fail. Smart, very smart.

HOT OR NOT: The recently commissioned Ngatamariki Geothermal Power Station near Taupo is the largest facility of its kind anywhere in the world.

The 100 MW plant feeds energy converters with high-temperature geothermal fluid and then re-uses that fluid so it's not depleting water reservoirs. Using the heat without the water — that's clever.

NIGHT LIGHT: Look out the window. I bet you saw at least one streetlight. Kaal Masten's Spiritlighting is an ingenious streetlight:
it's a modular lamp post that can reach 18 metres in height, and is covered in solar panels. It harvests energy from the sun during the day and uses that energy to light the street at night. It doesn't need to be connected to the grid so could be used in out of the way places as well. Cities could install these amongst the regular streetlights
for those times when the power goes out.

METAL TO THE PETAL: When you absolutely have to get a photo of a bug or leaf or other tiny object you may be disappointed to find your smartphone lens just can't focus close enough. The Carson Optical LensMag macro lenses attach with a magnet, to give either 10x or 15x magnification. The magnet means the lens is easy to snap on or off, so you'll still have time to grab the shot. Keep them handy for snaps.

POP GOES THE WEASEL: A team at Disney Research created a paper-like material that harvests energy from simply tapping or sliding your fingers across it. That energy could then be used for LEDs or to add interactive features to books or magazines. To make the material researchers used paper, sheets of teflon and silver-coated polyester, conductive tape and some wiring. Conductive inks could also be used. Moving or rubbing the conductive sheets creates enough voltage to make simple animations. Add a capacitor to store energy so sounds are possible. Kids would love that in their books.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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