Tech Universe: Wednesday 26 March

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

POUNDING SECURITY: There are around 45 million fake £1 coins circulating in the UK and the Treasury aren't very happy about it. In 2017 a new £1 coin will be minted, incorporating Integrated Secure Identification System technology to help defeat counterfeiters. ISIS has three tiers of banknote-strength security and can be authenticated via high-speed automated detection. The 12 sided coin will be composed of two different coloured metals, making it harder to mimic. Wouldn't it be better for counterfeiters to work with larger denominations for greater rewards?

WATER WATER EVERYWHERE: The oceans play a critical role in regulating the changing climate and weather. The better we understand the oceans, the better our weather and climate information can be. The mission of the 16 Challenger autonomous underwater Gliders is to cover 128,000 Km around the five ocean basins. They will sample the most energetic currents associated with the basin scale gyres and gather data about the oceans.

Each Glider is a 2.2 metre autonomous underwater vehicle that moves through the ocean at a forward speed of 25 to 35 Km per day in a saw tooth-shaped gliding trajectory. It derives its forward propulsion through a buoyancy change and steering by means of a tail fin-rudder. A GPS and various sensors provide dead-reckoned navigation. The gliders will carry sensors that capture continuous readings of ocean temperature, salinity, and currents.

DEEP VISION: Infrared imaging usually requires a combination of technologies to see near-, mid- and far-infrared radiation all at once, and some sensors typically need to be kept very cold. Graphene sensors can see the whole spectrum but don't absorb enough light to be useful — until now. US researchers added an insulating barrier layer between two graphene sheets so they could explore how light-induced electrical charges in the graphene affected a nearby current. They were able to measure the current changes in top and bottom layers and deduce the brightness of the light hitting the graphene. They created a tiny device that could eventually find its way into contact lenses so you could spot people in the dark, heat leaks in houses, monitor blood flow, identify chemicals in the environment and even see deep into the layers of paint in an artwork. Not quite X-ray vision, but maybe better!

THE PRICE OF VIDEO: Most shops you go into probably use ordinary light bulbs, creating a fairly uniform illumination across the store. Panasonic's Space Player changes that. The system combines the functions of traditional lighting and video projectors into a projection spotlight. A laser works as the light source to both light an object and project video or product descriptions onto the surrounding space. The light can be controlled remotely and play from SD cards, tablets, computers or over a Wi-Fi network. It'll be interesting to see how that could develop in the hands of very creative people, and maybe it could find a use in theatre too.

GET THE DROP ON DRUGS: The Mission district of San Francisco doesn't have many tall buildings and is fairly flat which makes it a good spot for drones to deliver drugstore items because aerial mapping is easier. The company QuiQui intends to use drones that will fly below 150 metres any time of day or night, delivering orders in less than 15 minutes. When the drone arrives at its destination it will text the buyer who will use an app to release the package. That should help stop thieves from intercepting parcels and delivery to a wrong address. Now train the dog to fetch the parcel and you won't even need to leave your sickbed.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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