Tech Universe: Thursday 07 November

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

INSPECTOCOPTER: The Black Hornet fits in a soldier's pocket but can silently fly a tiny camera and send video and still images back to the operator. The PD-100 Black Hornet Personal Reconnaissance System is a tiny drone that weighs around 16 grams. It looks like a toy helicopter but follows GPS waypoints to a target. It can only fly for around 20 minutes though before the battery needs to be recharged. The drone can do tasks like scouting ahead for possible ambushes or grabbing a look over the wall of a guarded compound. MacGyver would have loved it.

A PLUG FOR THE HURRICANE: Hurricane Sandy caused a lot of damage in New York, including flooding many tunnels. Now a new plug is being tested to stop up subways and the like in a future emergency. A strong inflatable tube deploys from a wall panel to conform to and fill the tunnel where it's installed. The plug is designed to keep out water, smoke, gas and other threats.

Let's hope they don't have to put it to use too soon.

DRIVE BY GAS: HGST's 6 terabyte hard drives hold 50% more data and use about 20% less power than conventional hard drives. Their drives are full of helium which reduces friction and vibration, allows the drives to hold data more densely and reduces the power draw. While using helium in drives isn't new, in the past the helium has slowly leaked out. The company says it's solved that problem and guarantees its hermetically sealed drives for 5 years. But after 5 years, then what?

CUTTING EDGE PHOTOGRAPHY: When surgeons are cutting out tumours they have to rely on sharp eyesight to distinguish tumour tissue from healthy tissue. A multispectral fluorescence camera system could make that a bit easier in future. Patients are injected beforehand with various fluorescent molecules that attach to the tumour and to sensitive items such as arteries or nerves. Then the area of the tumour is illuminated with a specific wavelength of light, causing different dyes to glow in different colours. The camera can then display to the surgeon exactly which is tumour tissue, which is healthy and which tissue must remain untouched. One camera can display up to 4 different dyes at a time. Clinical tests on humans should begin in 2014. Being able to find every last tumour cell could make a dramatic difference.

SEE IT, SAVE IT: Put on a special headband, clip your phone into it, equipped with a tiny prism lens, and then start looking at the world around you. When you show interest in something the phone detects your interest and records the scene. An app on the phone watches brainwaves and analyses them, assigning a score between 1 and 100. If the score exceeds 60 the neurocam starts recording. The developers think this could record information that's useful for lifelogging, shop owners or urban designers. And for on-the-spot news reporters, of course.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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