Posts Tagged ‘ Technology ’

Internet of Things – A Future Thing

Of all the technology buzz that are trending right now, perhaps the biggest one out of all is the Internet of Things. It is the one that’s going to give us the most disruption as well as the most opportunity over the coming decade, it could completely transform our way of living in future. The concept of Internet of Things first became popular in 1999 and since then this buzzword has been floating around and experts estimate that the LoT(Internet of Things) will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020, but what does it actually mean, what does Internet of Things mean?

Here’s something about it:

Internet of Thing is about connecting devices over the internet, letting them communicate with us, with other devices and applications via a network. It refers to the ever-growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for internet connectivity, and the communication that occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems. It revolves around increased machine-to-machine communication; it’s built on cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors; it could make everything in our lives from household appliances to highways, from streetlights to seaports “smart.” In a nutshell, Internet of Things is based on sensors, cloud computing and a network(or internet-enabled devices).

Let’s talk about a very few examples of the Internet of Things:

Home’s light control system integrated with sensors to switch off/on the lights depending on whether there’s anyone in a room or not, alerting you of any suspicious activity on your phone and make it possible to switch off/on lights remotely; windows and doors fitted with sensor and could detect of windows and doors openings and violations to prevent intruders, and alert you of the same by texting on your number; informing you about running appliances when you are not at home, and allowing you to switch on/off remotely to save energy or to avoid accidents. A smart fridge which could text you if its internal cameras find there is none left, or that the carton has past its use-by date; energy and water supply consumption monitoring by sensors and applications to suggest/advice you how to save cost and resources.

LoT  or Internet of Thing is more than smart appliances and smart homes. It scales up to include smart cities, think of connected traffic signals that monitor utility use, or smart bins that signal when they need to be emptied, and industry with connected sensors for everything from tracking parts to monitoring crops. Constructing smart building, bridges, highways, use of smart cement equipped with sensors to monitor stresses, cracks, and alerts you to fix problems before they cause a catastrophe. If there’s congestion/damage on road, the same sensors in the concrete will detect it and communicate the information via the wireless internet to your car or on your phone to alert you.

It has limitless applications and potential, and of course there are some concerns too. This technology is full of possibilities and it’s often difficult to decide in early stage what it will bring up in coming years and will it be truly ground breaking or not.

Here’s a video on it by Intel:

Reference: The Internet of Things

Bringing Texture to Your Flat Touchscreen

It could be possible in future we could feel the texture on touchscreens. Scientists have taken a closer look at bringing texture to touchscreens and have found that under circumstances, people can feel “virtual bumps.”

Here’s something which has been published on this research:

Northwestern University and Carnegie Mellon University researchers reported a fascinating discovery that provides insight into how the brain makes sense of data from fingers. In a study of people drawing their fingers over a flat surface that has two “virtual bumps,” the research team is the first to find that, under certain circumstances, the subjects feel only one bump when there really are two. Better yet, the researchers can explain why the brain comes to this conclusion. Forces felt by the fingers as they travel along a flat surface can lead to the illusion that the surface actually contains bumps. This “virtual bump illusion” is known in the haptics field. Intrigued by this phenomenon, the scientists decided to make use of it.

By leveraging the virtual bump illusion, we were able to design a meaningful experiment that shed light on the way the brain integrates information from multiple fingers,” said Colgate. “Our big finding was ‘collapse’-the idea that separate bumps felt in separate fingers are nonetheless experienced as one bump if their separation happens to match that of the fingers.”

The researchers presented two virtual bumps with the use of haptic technology, with the distance between them varying across trials, to volunteers. When bump and finger spacing were identical, the volunteers said that they felt the two bumps as one. “Our findings will help us and other researchers figure out how to design haptic technology to produce certain tactile effects,” said Michael Peshkin, one of the researchers. “Haptics-giving a feel to objects-just enhances the physicality of a person’s experience.”

This new research and its experimental results on “haptic illusions” could one day lead to flat-screen displays featuring active touch-back technology, we could in future see screens where you can feel certain components, such as making your touchscreen’s keyboard actually feel like a keyboard.

Kilobots form Synchronised, Complex Shapes

Recently a report came up on 14 Augsut’14 which says Harvard researchers have designed a swarm of small, mobile robots which are able to organize themselves into large shapes from random starting points with minimal initial human assistance. This technology is in research from few years, and referred as “Kilobots”.

The Kilobots are a team of 1,024(210 being a conveniently binary number) simple robots that operate as a collective to complete the assigned task, much like the Borg in Star Trek or termites in a termite mound, and been shown to demonstrate the ability to swarm together to form complex shapes like the letter “K”, or a starfish. The researcher team at Harvard first introduced their Kilobots in 2011, and this time they have built one thousand of it. The research is another step in the development of artificially intelligent self-organising systems that will affect everyday life in the future.

Each robot can bounce an infrared signal off the ground to another bot beside it, allowing it to sense where it is in relation to others in the swarm. Bouncing that signal can also ensure that one’s robotic neighbors are on the same page for when and how a task is supposed to be carried out . Knowing where other robots are is essential when it comes to locating objects in a given environment and bringing them back to the home base.

Professor Radhika Nagpal (from Harvard School of Engineering and applied Sciences) said: Increasingly, we’re going to see large numbers of robots working together, whether its hundreds of robots co-operating to achieve environmental clean up or a quick disaster response, or millions of self-driving cars on our highways. Understanding how to design ‘good’ systems at that scale will be critical.

The results of the experiment are published in the journal Science.

Reference:

Charging Phones Using Everyday Noise

Charging Mobile Phones using soundMobile phones may someday be able to recharge using the sounds around them. This can be possible with the help of piezoelectric property of zinc oxide, when the zinc oxide nano-rods are squashed, stretched or bent, they produce a voltage. The nano-rods can be coated onto various surfaces in different locations making the energy harvesting quite versatile. The zinc oxide nano-rods respond to vibration and movement created by everyday sound, such as our voices too. Researchers are working on it from many years to design a nanogenerator which can be used to power devices like mobile phones and now they somewhat succeeded in it.

Few years ago, a few Korean scientists had proposed using sound to charge mobile phones. They explained that it could be done by utilizing piezoelectric effect, in which zinc oxide nano-wires converted sound-caused vibrations into electricity. At the time, the researchers couldn’t generate enough of a voltage to actually charge a phone. But now as per recent research, scientists from Nokia and Queen Mary University of London have succeeded in doing so.

Scientists from Queen Mary University of London and researchers at Nokia built a mobile device that can be refueled when everyday background noise, including traffic and music, is converted into electricity. In future, it could be possible to charge mobile phones using everyday background noise such as traffic, music, cheers from a football field or chatter from a coffee shop and our own voices.

Scientists are now able to generate five volts by using this method, which is enough to charge a phone. Certainly, this technology can change the way we charge our devices if it will make its way to the smartphone industry. It’s still a thing of future and matter of research so far.

Reference: Mobile phones come alive with the sound of music

Eco Newspaper – A Concept

The invention of computers, e-readers, tablets, smartphones and other such devices has had brought down our use of paper to a considerably lower level. Imagine how much paper work would have been carried out if there would be no such devices. With the more advancements and utilization of the technology we will cut down the use of paper more in coming decades. There is a concept of Eco newspaper which can do that by replacing the traditional style of newspaper reading if it comes into reality in future.

As per the Eco newspaper concept, there will be a projector device that can project the daily news on the table counter-top. It’s not just about projecting text and imagines on table but you can flip pages on the projection as you would normally do in case of traditional newspapers. You can also select your newspaper as it will be connected to internet or to multiple cloud services of different news providers. The news then will be updated daily through these cloud services of news providers. It will also use a bio-battery power instead of normal battery to just make it more Eco-friendly. A variety of other digital functions can also be integrated into this Eco Newspaper. Perhaps the invention would also be able to read the reports to those who are visually impaired.

 

eco newspaper projector

The concept of Eco newspaper will not only use technology to its best advantage but also to cut down on the newspaper waste and conservation. E-reader already changed the concept of reading from paper binding books and now it is time to move on to the another level.

eco newspaper future technology

Designer: Shen Guo

Source and Reference: http://www.yankodesign.com/2012/09/10/the-daily-news/

Transparent Stretchable Foldable Electronic Display on the Horizon

OLED_Technology_Smartphone

Img Credit: Wikipedia

At present, organic light-emitting device (OLED) technology is being used in display screens of many of the smartphones and some of the televisions; actually OLED technology is not really a new idea. But now the researchers from UCLA’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a smart OLED version which is stretchable, foldable, and transparent.

Researchers have developed a transparent, elastic organic light-emitting device (OLED) that can be repeatedly stretched, folded and twisted at room temperature while still remaining turned on and retaining its original shape which could help revolutionize the electronic display technology. To make this OLED, the researchers worked in layers. The top layer is a protective cover. Next is a transparent electrode, and underneath that is a polymer that lights up when an electrical current hits it. Underneath that polymer is another transparent electrode, followed by another cover. The electrodes are made of a network of silver nanowires inlaid into a stretchy rubbery polymer which allows the device to be used at room temperatures. The network of wires makes a crosshatch pattern, and each point where the wires cross lights up, making a pixel.

The researchers stretched and restretched the OLED 1,000 times, extending it 30 percent beyond its original shape and size, and it still continued to work at a high efficiency. In another test to determine the material’s maximum stretch, the researchers found it could be stretched to more than twice its original size while still functioning. In addition, it can be folded 180 degrees and can be twisted in multiple directions. But there are still some technical challenges like the material is sensitive to air, so there has to be a way to seal it in the same way current glass displays shield their sensitive components. Researchers around the world are racing the clock tackling this obstacle.

For sure, with advancements in this technology it could lead to the new horizons of electronic display and much more. Imagine an electronic display stretching like rubber, or as transparent as the crystal clear water, or a curtain that illuminates a room, or a smartphone screen that have adjustable sizes, or displays which can be flex with a person’s body and all of these being made from the same material.

The research appears in the current issue of the journal Nature Photonics.

Harnessing Wireless Signals

It’s not a new thing that radio frequency signals can be used as both a power source and a communication medium, and moreover, the problem of wireless power has been in research since the time of Tesla. There have been perpetual researches on this topic since many years. As radio frequency signals are both the power source and the communication medium, therefore, we can re-purpose radio frequency signals that are already around us into both a source of power and a communication medium.

This technology can be useful in some of the way but it has some pitfalls too. Like it depends on radio frequency signal, so apparently it is useless at the places where there is no radio frequency signal, its effect on the other wireless system or on those from which it draws power or on anything other, will be useless in the Faraday cage like places. That is the one side, now how can it help the humans: well! It can be useful in number of ways; can be used in smart devices like phones, watches, sensors and any other wearable electronic device. This technology can be embedded into smartphones (or into other battery dependent devices) and when the battery dies, the phone could still be used for communication by using radio frequency signals. In a nutshell, this technology has ample of things to offer.

I recently read an article which says a team of researchers from the University of Washington is working on this kind of technology. They have created a wireless technology which they describe as Ambient Backscatter, which takes advantage of the TV and cellular transmissions that already surround us around the clock. It transforms existing wireless signals into both a source of power and a communication medium. The researchers built small, battery-free devices with antennas that can detect, harness and reflect a TV signal, which then is picked up by other similar devices. Using ambient backscatter, these devices can interact with users and communicate with each other without using batteries. They exchange information by reflecting or absorbing pre-existing radio signals.

There is always someone working on something somewhere around the earth, and as there are endless possibilities, so there can be endless creation which can be created by connecting the right pieces in the right place!

Reference: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130813130328.htm