A LOVELY BUNCH OF COCONUTS:
Tokelau is home to around 1500 people and its highest point is 5 metres above sea level. Pretty much all its fuel — kerosene, gasoline and natural gas — is shipped in from New Zealand. But not for long: solar photovoltaic cells and batteries will take over by next year. And if the sun's not enough, coconut oil will fuel a purpose-built generator. Researchers estimate
that 600 square metres of solar cells and 600 coconuts per day will meet all the power needs. I wonder why wind and marine power don't feature too?
AIR SUPPORT: In Tomball, Texas, the police are covering more ground
with a gyroplane. It's a tiny 2-seater with no doors or roof, that resembles a helicopter but costs a whole lot less. A rear-mounted propeller provides speed, while angled blades overhead gain lift from the air flowing beneath them. It takes off and lands in a short
distance and can hover at a relatively low speed. Because it uses regular petrol it costs only around $50 per hour to operate. Soundslike a great idea for anywhere without too much wind or rain. More at Jalopnik.
CAMPERBOAT: The Sealander Amphibious Camping Trailer is a nifty wee 380kg caravan, or boat, depending how you want to use it. Double sealed air chambers prevent capsizing, while a small electric motor drives you around on a lake. It's a little under 4 metres long and only 1.6 metres wide and easy to tow behind your car. Inside are seats that fold out to make a bed, cooking and bathroom facilities, fridge
and heating. Specially handy if a flash flood swamps your camp site. Red Ferret and Sealander have details, and there's video here.
COHERENT HEADLIGHTS: Lasers offer a coherent, focused beam of light that can be pointed at a specific place. They're also highly efficient. BMW engineers are developing laser headlights with a reduced energy consumption that could mean fuel savings too. The lasers won't shine directly on the road, but will be converted into a
form that's suitable for use in road traffic. They should mean less dazzling for oncoming drivers, and because they're tiny they may allow for changes in headlight positioning and body styling. Just so long as there's no way at all those lasers can shine directly on to anything they could damage. Read about the BMW i8 concepthere.
A PHONE IS A PHONE IS A PHONE: Be honest: your smart phone is really just a tiny computer that can make phonecalls. Some people, especially those born in the earlier decades of last century, find cellphones of any kind rather tricky to use. Yet a phone they can keep in their pocket would be ideal. John's Phone sorts out that problem. It makes phonecalls, and can store 10 numbers on speed dial. It can take almost
any kind of SIM, and use most networks. It clearly shows how much charge the battery has — a charge that lasts up to three weeks on standby or 4 hours for talking. On the back is a cleverly attached paper address book and pen. The phone has three volume settings: mute, normal and loud and can vibrate too. A small screen also displays recognised numbers. If you actually want a cellphone and not a computer this sounds ideal. More on John's Phone here.
- Miraz Jordan knowit.co.nz