Tech Universe: Wednesday 30 October

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

TRAVEL, AIM, FIRE: What better to do with an asteroid than to blow a hole in it? The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency have successfully tested a cannon that will ride on the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft in 2014 to the asteroid known as 1999 JU3. JAXA aims to create a small artificial crater on the 920 metre diameter asteroid so they can gather samples that haven't been weathered by exposure to space. Hayabusa 2 should reach the asteroid in 2018 and begin its return to Earth in 2019. If anyone ever starts mining asteroids it could be a long slow process.

THEY LED THE WAY: New York is going LED: over the next few years all 250,000 street lights will be switched over to LED bulbs. Their long life and low energy usage will save the city some $14 million per year. The current high-pressure sodium street lights last around 6 years, but the LEDs are expected to last for up to 20 years before they need to be replaced.

Then imagine adding solar panels to at least some of the lights.

STREET SMARTS: In Copenhagen they plan to network 20,000 LED street lights in 2014. The idea is to create a smart network that can improve energy efficiency and lower operational costs, and also allow the lights to be controlled remotely. Bring on the light shows.

LIGHT RELIEF: Just imagine: you're sick enough to be in an intensive care ward but alert enough to be oppressed by the uniformly bleak ceiling and walls. Philips has developed a luminous ceiling that uses coloured LED lights to simulate dynamic daylight and play comforting visual content. The system's being used by the Charité Campus Virchow Clinic in Berlin to help reduce stress. Staff can customise lighting designs with 15,400 LEDs to help each patient feel more relaxed. Warm and cold white lights also help make the room feel as though it's lit by the light from a clear sky in summer, and day and night lighting ties in with our natural rhythms. Pilot studies suggest the system works well. Perhaps they could try that in prisons too.

WHILL TO RIDE: The Whill Type-A electric 4-wheel drive wheelchair features specially engineered wheels and rollers that can freely move forwards, backwards and sideways. That means the chair can turn on the spot, yet the wheels are big enough to not get stuck in cracks even 7.5 cm wide. The wheelchair can handle grass, dirt or gravel roads and snow. The arms slide and fold out of the way when not needed and the seat slides forward so you can easily get in and out. After 5 hours of charging the battery you can travel up to 24 Km. It's starting to sound like a sports vehicle.

Miraz Jordan,

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