Tech Universe: Friday 21 February

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

WARM HANDS COLD SNOW: Snowboarders and others who routinely go out and about in freezing temperatures may be interested in the Chaval Response-XRT heated gloves. Lithium-Polymer batteries provide enough juice for a full day of downhill skiing. The heavy leather gloves include a thin layer of polymer heating film and are programmed to be able to regulate the temperature separately in different parts of the glove as the hands cool or warm. How about some solar panels on there too?

SHINE A LITTLE LIGHT: Big stores like to know where their shoppers are in the building because then they can do much more personalised marketing, perhaps offering coupons based on what the shopper is looking at. Philips have a system that uses the store's lights to determine location. The idea is that connected lights in the store establishes a grid. An app on the phone exchanges data with the lights and so locates the shopper on that grid. The customer's phone app may then receive coupons, directions to complementary ingredients or other offers.

Even the lights are spying on us.

MOVE THE MOUNTAIN: There's a lot of work underway to find the best way to deliver drugs to tumours, but US researchers are working on bringing cancer cells to a drug instead. Glioblastoma cells in the brain move around by latching on to nerves and blood vessels. The researchers created a polymer rod 6 millimetres long. Inside is a thin film that mimics nerves and blood vessels. The brain cancer cells in tests worked their way up the rod, then met a blob of gel that killed them. Analysis showed the cancer cells were actually moving rather than just growing in a new spot. The technique could be useful for moving cancerous tumours to locations where they are more easily removed. Little did they know the fate awaiting them at the end of their journey.

MAPS IN SPACE: Need a good map of Ganymede, Jupiter's seventh moon? NASA has you covered with the first global geologic map of Ganymede. The surface of the moon is more than half as large as all the land area on Earth. The map combines the best images obtained during various flybys since 1979 and illustrates surface features, such as furrows, grooves and impact craters. That's sure to be handy if you're ever driving that way.

DONE WITH MAGNETS: To keep your food cold you put it in a fridge. That fridge uses a chemical refrigerant and a compressor to do its work. GE found a way to use a water-based fluid instead, passing it through a series of magnets in order to transfer heat. This magnetocaloric technology was developed more than a century ago but the materials it required to be efficient at room temperature have only recently been created. The team are currently working on making the device small enough to fit in a household fridge and in making a large drop in temperature require only a small amount of power. Let's hope it'll stop the fridge from whirring, buzzing, clicking and moaning too.

Miraz Jordan,

- NZ Herald

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