Our airways are guarded- 24⁄7! This interesting finding has been reported in the March issue of the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology in the paper titled “Volatile-Sensing Functions for Pulmonary Neuroendocrine Cells”. According to this finding, there are olfactory receptors located in the membranes of Neuroendocrine Cells in our lungs. These lung receptors when activated, say, by acrid smoke or some pungent odor, trigger the release of airways constricting hormones by the PNECs (Pulmonary Neuroendocrine Cells).
Intel announced Edison, a processor for wearables at CES 2014. CEO Brian Krzanich introduced this 22nm technology, dual core, Quark SoC based processor capable of running Linux and other Operating Systems, with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. It supports Wolfram Alpha and have its own dedicated Edison-Centric App Store! Intel demoed the potentials of this “Pentium-Class PC in the form factor of an SD Card” through some interesting applications. The more interesting ones were a pair of battery less, energy harvesting earbuds that track biometrics while playing audio, a charging bowl that charges wearables dropped in them (such as the smart earbuds) and a clip-on smart baby monitor that can be linked to an Edison powered bottle warmer that warms and readies itself whenever the monitor sends the signal that the baby is hungry as suggested by her movements.
Fresh, clean, sweet water is a blessing. Life depends upon it. In the developing world many lose their lives because of its scarcity. Access to clean water for the masses in the developing world is, therefore, a great challenge. To take up this issue Gabriele Diamanti has come up with his Eliodomestico, a solar household still. It is an “open project free to the people who need it”. The hall mark of this still is its simplicity - no electricity, no filters zero environmental impact and very easy maintenance.
Human communication is too big a task to be left to words only, but in real life these are all we have-words- to communicate. Now, Sensoree, an externalized intimacy focused entity, has come up with their Mood Sweater, a wearable tech that acts as a canvas for the dynamic painting of the wearer’s inner feelings - all in real time. It is as if an electronic Van Gogh is continuously painting your heart on your sweater using light of different colors instead of paints!
Despite all the mind boggling progress that technology has made, the sensation of taste has mostly eluded the brave researchers and smart engineers with regards to its creation, storage and transmission. The reason lies in the way these efforts have so far been made i.e., the use of an array of edible chemicals to produce different taste sensations which is unrealistic as these chemicals are difficult to store, mix, manipulate and transmit over the net.
Technology at times just leave us speechless. When it gets combined with ingenuity, the experience becomes all the more dramatic. This has been amply demonstrated by British Airways and the geniuses at Oglivy, the ad-agency, through BA’s new “interactive billboards” located in London’s Piccadilly Circus and Chiswick. Part of BA’s “Magic of Flying” campaign, these billboards apparently interact with the BA’s plane flying overhead. The display changes to a child standing up and pointing at the BA plane when one flies by.
In this age of emails and texting when the old fashioned snail mail is at the brink of extinction, Australian Postal Services have come up with a great innovative idea that is sure to put a new life in the half dead body of snail mail- Video Stamp! When a gift is sent using Express Post or Express Courier International Service, the sender simply sticks a stamp - a Video Stamp (essentially a personal QR code)-on the packet, scans the stamp using a special smartphone app and then records a video message of up to 15 seconds for the recipients at the prompt.
Want to improve the efficiency of solar cells? Just play rock! That is exactly what scientists from Queen Mary University of London and Imperial College London have recently reported in their paper titled “Acoustic Enhancement of Polymer/ ZnO Nanorod Photovoltaic Device Performance”. Essentially these scientists grew nano rods from Zinc Oxide. They covered these tiny rods (billions of them) with a polymer thereby creating a solar cell and then the boom box was brought into action.
NASA has recently made history in space communication - a record breaking data transmission rate of 622 Mbps between earth and NASA’s ‘Lunar Atmosphere And Dust Environment Explorer’ (LADEE), NASA’s space craft orbiting the moon across a distance of 238,855 miles (384,000 Km). This feat was achieved using a pulsed laser technology instead of the conventional radio signals. This experiment, known as LLCD (Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration) in NASA’s parlance, was carried out using MIT’s brewed technology which includes the LLCD system, flight terminal and the primary ground terminal.
A long battery life is one of the most important features of any mobile device; smart phones or tablets. Increasing battery endurance through smart, energy efficient processor design and more suitable computing models is an area of intense activity. One approach to this goal is the emerging model of Approximate Computing. Trading precision for energy reduction through smart, disciplined and deterministic designs is what constitutes Approximate Computing. It spans energy saving (though imprecise) hardware designs, energy efficient (though approximate) algorithms, programming languages to leverage new, energy aware, hardware and processor designs, etc.