Tech Universe: Thursday 20 March

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A NEW HEADING: A migraine may leave you lurching towards a darkened room but you may be able to head for a headband instead. The Cefaly electrical nerve stimulation headband positions an adhesive electrode on the forehead. The headband then sends precise micro-impulses to stimulate the trigeminal nerve which in turn produces a relaxing effect. During the 20 minute session you can rest or carry out normal activities. That could help a lot of people.

HOT OR NOT?: The bad guys on TV shows may hide, but thermal imaging soon picks them out. A team from Singapore though has developed a device to control thermal camouflage and invisibility using thermotic materials. The device could block thermal signatures, leading to invisibility, and provide illusionary camouflage at the same time. The team say they can control the shapes, material properties, distributions, and locations of the thermal illusions using bulk natural materials without sophisticated fabrication.

In the device an inner layer first insulates and hides the thermal image. Then an outer layer converts that thermal image, for example converting an image of one man to produce an image of two women. Nice way to make an army look bigger.

BOOKS IN A BOX: At North Carolina State University's Hunt Library clever design, and a Bookbot, saved 18,600 square metres of space by storing its 2 million books in files boxes. Press a button on a console and the Bookbot will pull the correct box from the storage system and deliver the book to you in moments. Scan a barcode and the Bookbot delivers a box and tells you where to place the book so it can be returned to storage. That definitely beats walking up and down rows of shelves with your head tilted at an awkward angle to read the spines.

GO FOR GREEN: Cars stop and start as traffic lights help or impede the flow around town. Audi's Traffic Light Recognition technology aims to help the flow and reduce the stopping and starting. The system establishes a link between a car and the traffic light network via the central traffic computer in each town or city. A display on the dash shows the driver the speed that will allow them to pass through the lights during a green phase, or if they're stopped, the remaining time until the next green light. If the vehicle has a stop start engine the system will also ensure the engine's switched on 5 seconds before the light turns green. The system could reduce CO2 emissions, and save fuel. Steady as she goes.

TRAFFIC SHAPING: How long do you need to cross a pedestrian crossing? The time might vary depending on how many other people are using the crossing at the same time. And where crowds build up traffic that has a green light may have to wait, leading to congestion. In London the authorities plan a trial to take data from low resolution sensors and cameras and use it to monitor how many pedestrians are waiting at a junction. If many pedestrians are waiting the system then adds a few seconds to the allowed crossing time. One sensor monitors crowd density, while another counts numbers of people entering and waiting within the waiting zone. The system is to be tested outside Balham and Tooting Bec Tube stations. What about weather slowing people down too?

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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