Tech Universe: Thursday 24 April

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A CLOSER LOOK: Your smartphone or tablet almost certainly includes a camera or two. The Micro Phone Lens is a tiny pliable lens that sticks to the device without adhesive and turns it into a microscope. The first model magnifies by 15 times, but a new lens in the works will magnify up to 150x. Focus by moving the camera. Once you've finished magnifying things just peel off the lens and store it in its case that can also be used as a stand. Simple.

LOOK, NO WIRES: Wireless charging usually needs to the device to be within a couple of centimetres of the emitter, and the power output can be low. Now researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have developed an inductive wireless charging system than can beam power up to five metres away.

A new mechanism called the Dipole Coil Resonant System makes the extra distance possible. One magnetic dipole induces the magnetic field while a secondary coil receives the electric power. At the moment the prototypes are too large to power a phone, but the system could be built into a home or office to power larger equipment such as TVs or fans. Better check the health risks first.

LIGHT AND BRIGHT: On the island of Jersey new street lights should help halve the power bills and have an impact on safety. They're switching to LED lights which use one third of the energy of conventional bulbs, and which should last for 100,000 hours without significant maintenance. Some lights will also be dimmed between midnight and 6 am. Officials also say brighter lights could improve safety of pedestrians wearing dark clothes. Though bright lights can also temporarily blind people and make it harder to see into the shadows.

SKEWED DATA: The Street View in Google Maps often includes images of house numbers that the map needs to interpret and use to help pinpoint locations. One problem though is that house numbers come in all kinds of shapes and forms, including being distorted and made blurry by capture angles. On the other hand, some websites use images of deliberately distorted text known as CAPTCHAs as a barrier to spammers, on the assumption a human being will successfully decode the text while a script won't. And we all know the frustrations of how that works out in practice. It turns out that Google's software can decode those distorted house numbers with 90% accuracy, unlike us mere humans. So who's got things back to front now?

THAT'S A SHOCK: In Japan your doctor might have you wear a LifeVest if you have heart problems. The LifeVest cardioverter defibrillator has 2 sets of electrodes. One set measures electrocardiogram, while the other delivers treatment shocks as required. If the vest detects a a life-threatening heart rhythm it automatically delivers a treatment shock in order to restore the normal rhythm. The vest is essentially a strap around the chest, held up with a halter, and an attached hardware device that can clip on to the belt. It may be of particular use for people with newly diagnosed heart failure. That could give a lot of people both peace of mind and new opportunities for daily life.

Miraz Jordan,

- NZ Herald

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