Tech Universe: Wednesday 12 February

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

HIGH ON SNORING: Snoring can be very disruptive, but the Snore Activated Nudging Pillow with included microphone could be helpful. If it detects snoring it automatically inflates an internal air bladder which increases the pillow's height by nearly 8 cm. That's enough to wake you so you turn over and stop snoring. No 40 winks with that nudging.

RIGHT LIGHT: Wear a headlamp and it shines a light in the direction you turn your head. That may be fine for following a path, but doesn't work so well for something like reading. The Mola Headlamp by Snow Peak does things a little differently. It uses gravity and a counterweight to compensate for the difference between head movements and eye movements. That means the light shines on where you're looking, rather than where your head is pointing. The feature can be easily turned off if you don't need it though. Heady stuff. Wired.

BRAIN GAMES: If you're a professional skier you probably have your fair share of collisions and crashes, and a helmet will protect your brain. The Skull Orbic H.I. MIPS helmet by POC is made from Expanded Polypropylene and can withstand numerous impacts before you have to replace it. The helmet includes a system of stress-strain sensors in the liner that record, collect and memorise any deformation. Once one or a combination of impacts exceed a predefined level an indicator light turns from green to red. Then it's time for a new helmet. Go for green.

BREATH OF LIFE: Australian researchers developed an optical fibre laser that emits 25 times more light than other lasers operating in the mid-infrared frequency range. At that wavelength many important hydrocarbon gases absorb light, meaning this could lead to more sensitive analysis, perhaps to use breath as a diagnostic tool for diseases, or to detect dangerous gases. For example, if someone has diabetes their breath will contain traces of acetone. Maybe a routine breath test will one day be something that happens at the doctor's office rather than in a car.

ALL FALL DOWN: Falls can be a problem for older people who may not be able to get up again. If they live alone it may be hours or even days before help arrives. Some people carry an emergency alarm, but if they don't have it on them or if they're unconscious that doesn't help much. The safe@home system takes another approach. Sensor boxes are installed on the ceiling like smoke detectors. If a box detects an emergency, it notifies an alarm unit in the home which immediately phones or uses the Internet to call for help. The system uses highly sensitive optical and acoustic sensors that determine the location and condition of a person as well as their movements within a room. It can detect a fall and a motionless state and also responds to cries for help. Tests have gone well and the system may be on the market late in 2014. Can it distinguish between a fall and a nap on the couch though?

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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