Tech Universe: Wednesday 13 November

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / NZH
Photo / NZH

COOL SCOOPINGS: Tis the season to scoop up some ice cream and the Belle-V scoop may make it easier. The scoop has an angled elongated head that works with your wrist, rather than against it, making it much more ergonomic and easier to use. It's made from a single piece of solid die cast aluminium that helps channel body heat through to warm the ice cream at the scoop's tip where a slight lip helps collect the ice cream into a ball. Scream now.

A LONG HOT SHOWER: When you have a shower an awful lot of water goes down the drain. The Swedish OrbSys Shower purifier aims to reduce how much water is wasted by capturing water from the drain, purifying it in moments to drinking water standard and then sending it back through the shower head. The recycled water needs very little heating because the process is quick enough that it stays very warm anyway. The closed loop saves more than 90% in water usage and 80% in energy every time you shower, using maybe 5 litres rather than 150 litres of water for a shower.

That one's a keeper.

SMALL PRINT: The Peachy 3D photolithographic printer comes in at US$100. That's a very low price for a 3D printer, but then it comes as a kit that can be glued together. A 3D plan of an object is sent from a computer as an audio wave form via the headphone jack, while microphone input helps control the printing process. The tiny printer uses a controlled laser beam along x and y axes to cure a block of resin into a hard object. A salt water drip system floats the block of resin to control the height of the finished object. Start small then build up.

WALKING IN SPACE: NASA's Robonaut aboard the International Space Station has a torso, head and arms, but no legs. Now those legs are on the way. Once they're attached Robonaut will be 8 feet, or nearly 2.5 metres, tall. That could make the robot a bit of a liability on board the ISS, but since it doesn't need oxygen it could work outside on extended spacewalks. How much actual walking is involved in a spacewalk anyway?

SMILE FOR THE PHISHERS: Typing a PIN into your smartphone is surely a pretty safe thing to do. After all, anyone watching is unlikely to be able to see what you type. Well, apparently not, according to a team from the University of Cambridge. Software called PIN Skimmer can watch your face via the bult-in camera and record taps as you type on the built-in keyboard. Then the app can correlate the information and deduce the number you typed. With eight-digit PINs the success rate was 60% after 10 attempts. This could be used maliciously when you enter a code for online banking, for example. The phishers will have it down when they suggest that the camera image of your own face assures security.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

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