Tech Universe: Monday 14 July

By Miraz Jordan

Flare Pans. Photo / Lakeland
Flare Pans. Photo / Lakeland

COOK WITH FLARE: Are saucepans all the same? Lakeland's Flare saucepan breaks the mould, heating food 44% faster than conventional models. High-performance fins channel heat from a gas flame across the bottom and up the sides of the pan, resulting in really efficient, even heat distribution. The means the pans heat more quickly, saving both electricity and time. That also means the food cooks more quickly without burning or scorching. The pans are also available for other hobs, including electric, ceramic and halogen, and in various sizes, including frypans. Channeling heat: it makes sense.

FISH EYE VIEW: If you stand around in the river fishing do you worry that the fish will see you and be frightened away? If so, Columbia's polyester Solar Camo shirt may be right for you. Most of the time it looks like a plain blue shirt. When UV light hits it though the pattern and colour change, breaking up the solid blue into a blocky camouflage-style pattern of darker and lighter shades, with the aim of hiding you from the fish.

Fooling fish is fun.

NO CHARGE: Do you leave your phone charger plugged in at the wall even after disconnecting your phone? That wastes a bit of electricity as the charger's still using standby power, and there's a bit of a fire risk. The Finnish ASMO charger avoids both problems because it shuts down when you disconnect your phone, totally isolating itself from the electric grid. On the other hand, the device will automatically start charging when you plug its cable into your phone. That's an idea that should catch on.

A BIT DOTTY: British researchers found that by stacking a 7 nanometre thick layer of the phase change alloy germanium-antimony-tellurium between 2 layers of a transparent electrode they could use a tiny current to draw images. These stacks form nanopixels just 300 by 300 nanometres in size, and can be electrically switched on and off at will, creating coloured dots in an extremely high-resolution display. Any display based on this technology would have extremely low energy consumption because only those pixels that actually change would have to be refreshed. Just how high a resolution can the human eye perceive?

CRACKED: Bridges and buildings made of concrete may develop cracks over time. Those cracks may then become dangerous faults. Researchers at North Carolina State University have created a skin of electrically conductive paint connected to electrodes around the perimeter that can reveal where and when cracks form. A computer program runs a small current between two of the electrodes at a time, cycling through a number of possible electrode combinations. If the skin's conductivity decreases, that means the structure has cracked or been otherwise damaged. Sophisticated algorithms both register damage and determine where that damage has taken place. At the moment the technique has been successfully demonstrated on concrete beams less than a metre wide, but the next step is to scale up to larger structures. Surely this could be used beyond concrete?

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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