Tech Universe: Wednesday 28 May

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

GO BANANAS: Ahh, fruit, fresh from the 3D printer. With a splash of this and a few drops of that you can create any fruit shape, taste, texture, size and flavour you choose. The 3D fruit printer from Dovetailed takes individual liquid droplets with different flavours and combines them into any fruit you design. The printer's specially aimed at chefs and anyone interested in adding creativity to meals. Banana shaped apples, anyone?

LIGHT ALL THE WAY: Light sensors, such as the one in your camera, are generally only sensitive to certain wavelengths, for example being able to detect visible light but not infrared. Researchers at the University of Surrey though used fullerene nanorods to create light sensors that can detect the full spectrum of light, from ultraviolet to visible and near-infrared. The sensors are flexible, and can be produced cheaply with conventional laser printers, rather than needing specialised manufacturing.

These sensors could increase the scope of what regular cameras can do, and make it cheaper for surgeons to view tumours before surgery. The photos could be amazing.

NO MORE SECRETS: If you like to know all about your car's performance and diagnose every glitch and twitch from engine noise to wiper blades, from brakes to airbags, then the MECH5 system might be exactly what you need. The cloud-based system gives you access on any device connected to the Internet to the data from your car's Electronic Control Unit. Plug in a small device to the car's diagnostic circuit and install an app on phone, tablet or computer. Then you can read all the data the car has and interact with it too, perhaps testing wipers, lights, window controls or any electronic system within the vehicle. Because all you need is an Internet connection you can run the diagnostics from beside the car or the other side of the world. This could allow a car's regular mechanic, for example, to diagnose and perhaps fix problems for a driver who has broken down while out on a trip. Fleet managers could find this particularly useful.

SOFT TOUCH: You're using a projector in a classroom and want to scroll or enlarge the image, or perhaps highlight certain parts or draw boxes and arrows. Rather than having to go back to the computer, Epson's EB-595WT projector allows you to touch the screen itself, either with a finger or a special pen. A touch sensor unit covers the projected screen with infrared light that detects a touch via a camera embedded in the main unit. That makes it possible to operate the tool buttons of an electronic white board and scale and scroll the screen with a touch. Teachers everywhere can only dream.

STAY IN TOUCH: If your phone and tablet have trained you to expect any surface to be a touchscreen then you'll be glad to learn about Thermal Touch from Metaio. The system takes data from both infrared and visible light cameras and blends it so that any object around you is touchable. The infrared camera detects the residual heat on an object after it has been touched and can distinguish between a touch and simply putting a finger near an item. Software could then use the touch to provide additional information, for example providing direction after you've touched a map. The system could work in future with glasses, like those from Google. In the prototype the cameras are attached to a tablet. Next: gloves with heatable fingertips for using the system in the cold.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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