Tech Universe: Friday 30 May

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

WANT YOUR EARTH TV?: Do you have broadband at home? What say you were living or working on the Moon — would you want it there too? Of course you would. Luckily researchers can make that happen. A demonstration signal transmitted data over the 384,633 kilometres between the Moon and Earth at a download rate of 622 megabits per second. Upload achieved 19.44 megabits per second. Four separate telescopes in New Mexico sent pulses of infrared light. Since turbulence in air can disrupt a signal 4 signals were sent in order to increase the chances of one getting through without problems. A receiver mounted on a satellite orbiting the moon collected the light and focused it into an optical fibre that can be amplified and sent further. Having shown the technique works, a signal like this could be used in various space missions, even as far as Mars. Priding will be very interesting, once there's commercial opportunity involved.

BLOWING IN THE WIND: Liam seems like a perfectly good name for an almost silent wind turbine you could have at home.

Its yearly output averages between 300 and 2500 kilowatts, depending on wind speed and roof height. The turbine itself weighs only 55 Kg and has a diameter of 1.5 metres, though a miniature version is also available with a diameter of 75 cm. Liam produces only around 45 decibels of sound, or around the same level as rain. The spiral shape of the blades draws wind into the turbine, so others can be placed nearby without being affected. It seems like every home could have one.

CAN SEE THE TREES IN THE FOREST: Finland has 30 billion trees in its dense forests — about 70% of the country is forested. That's a problem for power companies trying to work out where they can run lines and to monitor existing lines. Usually they survey areas from helicopters which is both expensive and time-consuming. The Sharper Shape company though say drones could do the job instead. Their Octocopter drone is fitted with 8 rotors and a Lidar. It collects data that is then processed to create a model within a centimetre accuracy of all the poles, pylons and isolators. What's more they can model every tree and vegetation growth so a power company can understand risks to the lines. The system is fully automated, drastically reducing the amount of time required to complete a survey. One problem they face though is getting clearance from authorities for the drones to fly without a nearby human operator. Drones: so useful, yet so worrying.

WHEELS DOWN: Parents of young children may have to deal with special car seats, strollers, accessories and of course, the child itself even for a trip to the shops. The Doona transforms between stroller and carseat with an easy fold. A cover can protect the car seat from possibly dirty wheels and the seat buckles in just like any other. Many parents will be glad not to have to carry the car seat around; wheeling is so much easier.

MOVING HOUSE: If you live in an 18 square metre apartment then you may consider a folding bed to help make the most of the very limited space. The CityHome, designed by MIT, is a very special folding bed that allows you to transform the space into whatever you need. It's about the size of a cupboard and contains not only a bed but also a dining room table, kitchen surface, a cooking range, a closet, and multipurpose storage. Internal motors produce each item as required when you wave a hand, speak a command or touch a panel. The whole thing can also move a metre or so each way, meaning you could squeeze up space in an area you're not using for the moment to make another area larger. That's one kind of mobile home.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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