Communications & IT
"Baxter" is a new category of robot that its manufacturer, Rethink Robotics, says is capable of applying common sense behavior to manufacturing environments. Priced from $US22,000, the company says that the robots are versatile and safe enough to work shoulder-to-shoulder with people as well as being cheap enough to allow manufacturers to compete with manufacturers in low-cost regions of the world.
The Japanese electronics manufacturer, Panasonic, has announced that it has developed an artificial photosynthesis process which converts carbon dioxide to organic materials by illuminating them with sunlight at an efficiency which is comparable with plants used for biomass energy. The discovery has the potential to allow the development of simple and cheap systems for capturing waste CO2 from incinerators and electricity generation plants and converting it into useful organic products. Panasonic researchers found that a nitride semiconductor has the ability to excite electrons with high enough energy for a CO2 reduction reaction. The CO2 reduction takes place on a metal … Continue Reading
For a long time, Apple products were the most easily repaired and upgraded computers on the market. Apple's new top-of-the-line MacBook Pro goes to the opposite extreme. The case is secured with proprietary pentalobe screws to prevent you from gaining access to anything inside. The RAM is soldered to the logic board. It can never be replaced or upgraded. The lithium-polymer battery is glued to the case – just in case you thought you might be capable of changing a battery. The display assembly is completely fused and there is no glass protecting it. If anything ever fails inside the … Continue Reading
Why does this volume of ink need this much packaging? This is a HP 564 Colour Ink Value Pack (which HP promotes as "avoiding wastage") and a HP 564 Black Ink Value Pack, which contains the same ink as one HP 564XL cartridge but in three cartridges with three times the packaging plus a large bubble pack. The Value Pack with three cartridges is $45; the single high capacity cartridge is $52.
NASA researchers have developed a system to help farmers better manage irrigation systems. The system uses data from NASA satellites, local weather observations and wireless sensor networks installed in agricultural fields to calculate water requirements of crops in individual fields and provide farmers with the information immediately. Water requirements and forecasts can be accessed from computers or handheld devices. Farmers can then provide crops with their exact water needs as it is needed – giving the same yield with less water. It is estimated that the system should improve irrigation efficiency by at least 20 to 25%.. The project is … Continue Reading
Using Google Earth To Monitor the Amazon
The Plumas and Sierra Counties in California are testing a smart grid using the television broadcasting system’s "white space". "White space" is the part of the broadcast spectrum left vacant when television broadcasting is switched from analogue to digital. It can transmit data significantly faster than the current standard Internet Wi-Fi, and can be broadcast for extended distances and through obstacles – making it ideal for use in smart grid communications. The Plumas and Sierra Counties are located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and present some very technical challenges with respect to wireless coverage – making them a good test … Continue Reading
The media is fond of quoting claims that the internet will soon be using more power than the airline industry, that it will consume half of all the electricity produced or that two Google searches release as much CO2 as boiling a kettle of water. The Google search myth arose from a Times article in January 2009 which said that "a typical search generates about 7g of CO2. Boiling a kettle generates about 15g". Urs Hölzle, Google’s Senior Vice President Operations, posted a response saying the typical search actually releases only 0.2 grams of CO2 – that’s 75 searches per … Continue Reading
A company called MiserWare Inc, which is a spinoff from Virginia Tech, has launched a free program for Windows and Unix which is claimed to reduce power usage by 30%. The program, called Granola, saves energy by applying dynamic voltage and frequency scaling to the CPU of the system. When a user is reading a website or working in a word processor, Granola scales down the power needed but when the CPU is running at full blast for graphics or other computing-intensive processes, the software draws more power. According to the company, "a good analogy is a dimmer switch on … Continue Reading
A smart grid delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using two-way digital technology to control appliances at consumers’ homes to save energy, reduce cost and increase reliability and transparency. Many governments see it as a way of addressing energy independence, global warming and emergency resilience issues. The United States Department of Energy estimates that modernization of US grids with smart grid capabilities would save between $US46 billion and $US117 billion over the next 20 years in that country alone. As a result, the Obama administration has committed $US7.1 billion to development of a smart grid. But the US is far … Continue Reading