Tech Universe: Wednesday 23 July

By Miraz Jordan

Biking Glowes.
Biking Glowes.

A TURN OF THE HAND: Flash a hand signal while riding your bike to indicate a turn. With the Biking Glowes DIY kit you can make that a literal flash. The kit gives you what you need to add flashing LED lights in the shape of an arrow to your gloves. The KIT includes LED-beads, conductive thread, coin cells and coin cell holders, along with instructions. There's a fun project for a dark evening.

META METAL: Your polarised sunglasses can see through the glare of a sunny day on the water because they block out light that is horizontally polarised. Australian researchers have created a metamaterial that allows them to twist, or polarise, light at will, and switch the effect off and on directly. The material could lead to some interesting developments in electronics. The effect works by shining light onto pairs of meta-atoms, causing the top one to rotate and twist the light.

As for meta-atoms, they are a pattern of tiny metal shapes that make up the metamaterial. That all seems so very meta.

FLIGHTS OF FANS: The Airbus E-Fan 2.0 should be a very handy little two seater plane for training pilots. Its remarkable feature is that it's silent in flight, thanks to its two ducted-fan motors putting out a combined 60kW of power, with 120 lithium-polymer battery cells providing an hour of flight time. That's a lot of batteries to replace once they wear out.

THE SOUNDS OF SCIENCE: The Bioscope system being developed in Taiwan monitors a hospital patient's temperature, heart rate, movement and bodily noises, and transmits that data wirelessly to a computer that tracks their health. The bandages include a housing for sensor modules which can be swapped in as needed. Heart rate is measured through electrical activity at the skin surface, and physical movement via an accelerometer. Sounds are gathered through a contact microphone and temperature through a contact thermometer. The idea behind the system is to be able to monitor people more easily once they leave the hospital, and to be able to make basic diagnoses remotely. Listening to the body sounds like a good idea.

BEYOND YOUR GRASP: There are times when an extra pair of hands, or even just a few extra fingers could be useful: think about trying to open a drink bottle with one hand, for example. Researchers at MIT are developing a robot device that attaches to the wrist, adding what amounts to two extra fingers. The robot fingers move in sync with the wearer's real fingers to grasp objects of various shapes and sizes. The device could be useful for various everyday tasks, including lifting and carrying larger objects. That could be specially useful for those whose hands are too weak to hold on to objects for more than a moment.

Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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