Tech Universe: Friday 25 October

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

SMOG BEGONE: In places such as China smog is a serious problem, often causing health problems and even death. A Dutch designer thinks he can vacuum the smog from the air. The idea is to use buried coils of copper to create an electrostatic field that attracts smog particles, creating a void of clean air. Beijing, where some vulnerable residents have recently been warned to stay indoors, will showcase the technology in a public park. The designer has already tested the concept in a 5x5 metre smog-filled room. Sysiphus would be proud.

COLOUR CODES: Thin-film solar cells are around 20% efficient, but a material like perovskite is nearly as efficient and much cheaper. Singaporean researchers hope to be able to use the material to make inexpensive light flexible solar cells on plastic, and are working on prototypes.

Perovskite also comes in translucent colours such as red, yellow or brown so solar cells may soon be a bit brighter and more cheerful. Aha, there's an advertising possibility, designing branding into solar panels via coloured cells.

PARKOMATIC: Honda are working on a system to park your car for you in places like shopping malls. Drop the car off at a designated spot and get out. The driverless car then locates an empty parking space and moves into it, avoiding unexpected obstacles. The system combines a car's own backing camera with overhead surveillance cameras to complete the task. Soon one won't need a chauffeur at all.

A TRIP OF THE WRIST: The miCoach Smart Run from Adidas wraps around your wrist and gives you GPS mapping, music, real-time coaching and the ability to monitor your heart rate. The smart watch also has Bluetooth so you can use headphones, WiFi and an accelerometer. The battery is good for 8 hours of use. How about making anklets instead?

POSERS: A program from the University of Washington uses a Kinect to help people with their yoga poses. Eyes-Free Yoga tracks body movements and gives users verbal instructions in real time for 6 yoga poses. As a person does yoga in front of the Kinect it measures the angles of their body and then offers instructions about how to move to better achieve the perfect pose. The program provides positive feedback too, telling users when they have their legs, arms or body in the correct position. The program should be specially useful for people who are blind or have low-vision. That's a nice replacement for an actual trainer.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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