Each time we take a step, up to 10 watts of power is lost as heat. It would be useful to be able to harness that energy and use it to power a cellphone or other device. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin are developing this idea using a technique called electrowetting. As the foot moves, conductive liquid droplets, such as mercury or galinstan, interact with a dielectric material to generate a small charge. In experiments only a few milliwatts have been produced, but the researchers hope to scale it up. You have to walk to talk. More at


ORWELL'S CAMERAS: We're being watched everywhere we go these days thanks to CCTV cameras. Researchers at Kingston University in the UK are working on artificial intelligence to recognise certain 'dangerous' behaviours, such as holding a gun, and then track a person across multiple cameras. Specific types of public behaviour are "trigger events" — perhaps a crowd of people running. When a trigger event takes place the system collates camera images from before and after the incident. The AI could 'follow' a person from where they were before the event to where they go afterwards. Bringing peace and harmony to all society. BBC has more info, including the name of the research team-leader.


WORMHOLE USA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a wormhole. Unfortunately it doesn't allow staff and students to instantaneously transport themselves across the galaxy. Instead it's a video and audio link with Stanford University, some 5,000 km away. An area with a video screen and microphones in each cafeteria has plexiglass domes above and below it. The domes help focus sound. The idea is to allow people to strike up casual conversations in a relaxed setting with folks at the other university. And definitely not to watch for suspicious behaviour. Boston.com has details.

SPEEDY SPIDER: Worried about how much energy the Internet sucks up? The University of Sydney's Spectral Phase Interferometry for Direct Electric-Field Reconstruction computer chip may help. The SPIDER chip measures signals where the phase of light is used to encode information — such as on the Internet. Unlike the current bulky and expensive laboratory equipment, SPIDER uses little energy although it operates at ultrafast speeds. Researchers say the chip will speed up high-precision broadband sensing and various scientific applications such as spectroscopy, molecular fingerprinting and attosecond physics. So the less energy it takes, the more we'll use
it. Science Alert has details.

ARTIFICIAL BRAIN: The SyNAPSE processor IBM are working on rewires its connections as it encounters new information. That's similar to the way a living brain works. The system uses 2 prototype neurosynaptic computing chips, each with 256 computational cores. One core has 262,144 programmable synapses, while the other contains 65,536 learning synapses. The system learns not by making physical connections but by paying more or less attention to input signals. In the long-term IBM want to build a chip system with ten billion neurons and hundred trillion synapses. Would you like more chips with those brains? More here.

- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz