Tag Archives: new technology

This Crystal Clear Solar Cell Could Turn Every Window into a Power Source

Sep 2, 2014

Luminescent solar concentrators (LSC) produce electricity by focusing sunlight on a small area, which works in a similar way as setting fire to dry leaves using a magnifying glass.

However, the problem is that they are quite large and not so attractive, as they have the function, but lack beauty. There have been attempts to integrate solar concentrators with windows, but, as a result, they altered the color and transparency of the glass.

Now, material engineers at Michigan State University have designed totally transparent solar concentrators, which could be built into windows without blocking the light and disturbing the view, or even used on smartphone screens.

No one wants to sit behind colored glass,” said the lead researcher of the study Richard Lunt in a press release. “It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco. We take an approach where we actually make the luminescent active layer itself transparent.”

The researchers achieved this by developing a system that diverts wavelengths invisible to the human eye. In particular, the concentrator absorbs light in the ultraviolet and near infrared spectrum and then transmits it in the infrared.

After this, the light is directed to the photovoltaic cells, which generate electricity. Since we are not able to perceive the ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths, the material remains transparent and looks to the human eye like ordinary glass.

The new technology is very promising but needs some improvements in terms of efficiency. The solar concentrator developed by the scientists of Michigan State University reaches only about 1% of solar conversion efficiency. However, they hope to increase it to 5%, as there are some non-transparent luminescent solar concentrators that are operating at an efficiency of about 7%.

Of course, there are other solar technologies that are far more effective, such as conventional solar panels that are typically installed on the roofs of the buildings, which absorb a wider range of wavelengths and thus reach 15-40% of solar conversion efficiency.

At the same time, the transparent technology has the potential to be used in a variety of applications, including commercial and industrial use.

As Lunt said, “It opens a lot of area to deploy solar energy in a non-intrusive way. It can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader. Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there.”

Image credits: Yimu Zhao

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Science Just Invented a Simple, Painless Way to Get Superhuman Vision

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Smart gun technologies

Smart gun technologies making weapons more accurate — and more deadly

By Gene J. Koprowski

Published July 19, 2013

  • Tracking Point gun.jpg

    In the action-thriller “The Bourne Legacy,” Pentagon black ops assasin Aaron Cross takes down an airborne CIA drone with a rifle from more than a mile away. With TrackingPoint’s tech, anyone can perform such a trick. (TRACKINGPOINT)

  • Supergun sketch.jpg

    TrackingPoint borrows the target-locking technology from jets to turn any rifle into a super accurate sniper gun capable of consistently hitting a target at over 1.75 miles. (TRACKINGPOINT)

The marriage of technology and weaponry is creating a growing but expensive class of “smart” guns that promises to boost security, improve accuracy — and make guns even deadlier. But even gun-rights advocates aren’t sure that’s such a good thing.

“Are there any legitimate gun owners who are calling for this technology for safety? I haven’t heard of one,” said Jim Wallace, executive director of the Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League, in a recent interview.

One example is a newly unveiled “supergun” from TrackingPointthat emulates the target-locking technology from jets to turn any rifle into an ultra-accurate sniper gun capable of consistently hitting a target from 1.75 miles away.

“With [this] technology, shooting a hunting rifle is like being a pilot in a fighter jet,” Jason Schauble, CEO of the Austin, Texas-based company, told FoxNews.com. “You tag a target, and lock onto it. Then you engage the target for a shot.”

‘It won’t take years to learn to shoot long-range. Just minutes.’

– Jason Schauble, CEO of TrackingPoint 

Other gun rights groups strike a more measured albeit still cautious approach.

“The National Shooting Sports Foundation does not oppose the development of authorized user recognition technology for firearms,”wrote NSSF Senior Vice Presidentand General Counsel Larry Keane on the group’s blog. “What the industry does oppose are ill-conceived mandates … on the use of this conceptual technology.”

Smart gun boosters say the new weapons will reduce accidents with rifles or other guns at home. That’s the point of Yardarm Technologies innovation, for example: a geo-location system that tracks a gun and can remotely lock it (or fire it).

“Suppose you and your family are on vacation in Las Vegas, and your firearm is back at home. Wouldn’t you want to know in real time if an intruder, or worse a child, is handling your gun?” said Bob Stewart, Yardarm’s CEO, in a statement to the media. “We want the gun owner to stay connected to their firearm, no matter what the circumstance.”

Jim Schaff, vice president of marketing for the company, acknowledged the controversy, but thinks the technology is ready for the mainstream.

“This kind of technology needs to be accepted by the consumer,” he told FoxNews.com. “We’re developing technology in a way that is helpful to users but not too controversial.”

YardArm’s tech should be ready in a prototype form within 60 days, Schaff said.

Some gun users are dismissive of smart gun technology such as TrackingPoint’s, which sells its sniper rifle as a package for as much as $22,000 or more. They prefer riflemen to get their skills the old fashioned way: through years of training.

“It’s a very expensive piece of machinery, and very heavy, requiring extensive training, learning and practice for it to be of any use at all at mile-plus distances,” said Jameson Campaigne, a board member of the American Conservative Union and a staunch advocate of Second Amendment rights.

Campaigne told FoxNews.com would-be shooters should hunker down, go to a rifle range, and get trained by a retired gunnery sergeant.

But they don’t have to, TrackingPoint says. Its tech means that a new era in precision marksmanship is emerging — an era they call the “democratization of marksmanship.”

“We use technology that’s a network tracking scope integrated with a normal firearm,” Schauble told FoxNews.com. “We make it into a smart rifle. There’s a ballistic computer in it. There’s the ability to track targets. There’s a Wi-Fi server that allows it to record video of everything.”

A retired U.S. Marine Corps officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Schauble tells FoxNews.com the rifle will give hunters or military combatants the ability to control for weather and other environmental factors as well as human error.

“This allows the shooter to take only the good shot,” he said. “We’re selling it to the commercial market for long-range hunters and shooters. We’re also in discussions with various elements of the U.S. government about implementing the technology.”

Smart guns may finally have their day, after years of development. The New Jersey Institute of Technology showed a personalized gun in 2005 with biometric sensors in its grip and a customized trigger that tracks a shooter’s hand size, strength, and grip style. It was programmed to recognize only the owner, or anyone the owner authorizes.

Even Colt got in the game, developing a bracelet in the late 90s that emits a radio signal that stirs a mechanism inside a weapon to allow the gun to be fired.

Today’s models improve on those ideas. Schauble said TrackingPoint’s new gun technologies include gyroscopes and magnetometers in the rifle, which give the rifle consistent results.

“It won’t take years to learn to shoot long-range. Just minutes,” he told FoxNews.com.


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First 3D Printed Working Automobile to be Made


In my continuing effort to preach to the world that the biggest revolution in technology in our lifetimes is 3d printing, here is yet another example.  The first “printed” car is to be manufactured and available in two years.  For other stories on this topic, type “3d printing” into the search box on the Home page.  You really should, the technology is already here, and it is amazing.

First 3D Printed Car To Hit The Roads In Two Years 

From NoCamels on 3/11/2013 at 4:27 PM

Avner Meyrav, NoCamels – Israel Innovation News

It might just be the precursor to the next industrial revolution and slowly but surely, 3D printing is expanding its presence into the realm of manufacturing. Now it seems that one of the first major industries to benefit from 3D printing is the same one that spawned the assembly line revolution – the automotive industry.

Israeli company Stratasys, already a major player in the field and its subsidiary, RedEye On Demand, will be part of a project aimed at putting the first 3D printed car on the roads within two years, in partnership with KOR EcoLogic.

“A future where 3D printers build cars may not be far off after all,” says Jim Bartel, VP of Stratasys and RedEye On Demand. “Jim Kor and his team at KOR EcoLogic had a vision for a more fuel-efficient car that would change how the world approaches manufacturing and today we’re achieving it. URBEE 2, the name of the car, shows the manufacturing world that anything really is possible. There are few design challenges [3D printing] capabilities can’t solve.”

A car built from 40 pieces

KOR EcoLogic will be in charge of the design end, building every inch of the car using computer aided design software. The design will then be turned into reality using RedEye On Demand and Stratasys printers. While standard cars have hundreds or even thousands of small parts, the URBEE 2 will be built using only 40 extremely complex interlocking pieces, made possible by 3D printing.

The material used to build the car will be a strong but lightweight plastic and the two-passenger vehicle will be able to travel at speeds of up to 70mph. According to Bartel, the car will also be highly fuel efficient. To prove it, Bartel explains, his team will try to set a world record by traveling in the car from San Francisco to New York City on only 10 gallons of fuel.

“As a mechanical engineer, I’ve always believed we could use technology to help us solve some of society’s greatest challenges, like minimizing our dependence on oil and reducing ozone emissions,” says Jim Kor, president and senior designer for Winnipeg-based KOR EcoLogic.

He adds: “How cool is it that American manufacturing can evolve to tackle these challenges head-on? Our team is excited to launch URBEE 2, putting a next-generation vehicle on the road that will eventually be sold to the public.”

URBEE 2 was preceded by URBEE 1, a prototype built entirely using 3D printing in 2011. While serving as proof to 3D printing’s potential, the car had no side mirrors or windshield wipers – both of which will be included in its updated version.

“With the Urbee 1 project, I learned that product design is nearly unencumbered by considerations on how parts can be made with digital manufacturing. That liberation is incredibly powerful and holds a lot of potential for the future of manufacturing,” says Kor.

.ORG-Connection: NoCamels.com is the leading news website on Israeli innovations in English. It covers all the latest Israeli innovations in the fields of technology, health, environment and lifestyle.

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Airless Car Tires

This is an older article from a nearly over a year ago, but I thought pretty cool anyway.


Bridgestone goes airless in tire concept for Tokyo show December 3, 2011 by Nancy Owano (PhysOrg.com) —

Visitors to the 42nd Tokyo Motor Show are to witness a new breed of airless tires from Bridgestone. Interest in the general press is already humming because of the material, design, and features of the Bridgestone debut on show. The concept tires use recycled thermoplastic, outside tread included. Fittingly colored green, the tires are being promoted for their green advantage of being completely recyclable.

The spokes are made of reusable thermoplastic resin. In design, interest is drawn toward the thermoplastic fins, staggered so that connections to the hub and the rim do not torque and there is no structural breakdown. The tires’ resin spokes radiate from rim to tread. They curve to the left and right to support vehicle loads. Bridgestone is not the first to experiment with an airless tire concept. Observers point to Michelin’s debut in 2005 of its airless Tweel tires. These were seen with much interest as a novel departure from the traditional wheel hub assembly, though concerns were raised in some quarters about their being noisy and vibrations at high speeds.

The name Tweel is a combination of the words tire and wheel. Michelin used polyurethane spokes arrayed in a wedge pattern. In describing differences between the Michelin and Bridgestone concept, observers say a key contrast is in size of the ribs. Michelin’s tires were viewed as more suitable for military applications—this is not like the Bridgestone concept, which is suited for something more consumer-driven. Another tire concept innovator has been Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. The company announced in October this year its airless tire concept which relies on mechanical rather than pneumatic support.

Yokohama introduced its tire concept earlier this year at a design expo in Japan. Bridgestone’s airless tires have a deeper structure of plastic ribs than either of the other two approaches, and it has a higher aspect ratio, according to Plastics News. Obviously, the key benefit for the consumer will be seen in the fact that the Bridgestone tires cannot suffer punctures. On the other hand, these have a way to go before seeing car commercialization. The tires are in prototype stage only and due for further evaluations. The company has tested the tires, nine inches across, on single-seater electric carts in Japan. Observers see similar uses, at this earlier level, as potential for use in motorized golf carts, lawnmowers and vehicles for the elderly.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2011-12-bridgestone-airless-concept-tokyo.html#jCp



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3D Pen – Draw 3D Art!

The world’s first 3D printing pen: Yours for just $75

The 3Doodler, 3D printing pen

Come September, if everything goes to plan, the world’s first 3D printing pen will go on sale for $75. The pen, called the 3Doodler, essentially allows you to lift your flat sketches off the paper — or, if you wish, to actually draw in three dimensions.

3Doodler is a Kickstarter project, and in under 24 hours it has obtained more than $500,000 in pledges — significantly more than its $30,000 target. As you can see in the video below, the inventors have already created an impressive prototype — and now it’s time to bring the 3Doodler to market. The target price is $75 for a September 2013 release. The inventors say they have already located a Chinese manufacturer who is capable of meeting these targets. The final device should 24mm (1in) thick and weigh less than 200g, with an external power brick that accepts 110-240V.

In essence, 3Doodler is a standard 3D printer, but your hand controls the print head instead of a bunch of computer-controlled motors. (See: What is 3D printing?) Inside the 3Doodler is a filament feeder (which accepts ABS or PLA plastic), a heating element, and an extruder — and that’s about it. The melted plastic comes out of the extruder and very quickly sets. As far as we can tell, the plastic oozes out of the extruder at a set rate — so depending on whether you want a thin (weak and flexible) or thick (strong and rigid) line, you move the 3Doodler quickly or slowly. For strength and flexibility, you just go back and forth over the same section, building up a web of plastic tendrils (like in the Eiffel Tower above).

Judging by the massive support for 3Doodler on Kickstarter, it’s safe to assume that people are really excited at the concept of a freehand 3D printer. It’s not hard to see why, though, if you were a child who dreamt of drawing sketches that literally jump off the paper. The actual reality of freehand 3D printing might be a little more complex than most users bargain for, but to that end the inventors have teamed up up with professional artists to provide 3Doodler backers with templates/stencils that you can simply fill in. The Kickstarter page also seems to lack any evidence that 3Doodler is capable of drawing straight lines, but hopefully it’s just a matter of using a ruler.

A collection of 3Doodler objects

Moving forward, this could be a very exciting stepping stone for inventors and hobbyists alike. While 3D printers have revolutionized rapid prototyping tool, the 3Doodler is even faster; it adds a whole new dimension (!) to back-of-the-napkin brainstorming. To begin with, I suspect it will be quite hard to create meaningful sketches with a 3Doodler, but in time — and with a whole range of usability tweaks and add-on accessories that I’m sure will follow — the 3D printing pen might become as ubiquitous as the 2D Bic ballpoint. (See: 3D printing: a replicator and teleporter in every home.)

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Human Enhancement Dangers

In my opinion, the two technologies that will effect us the most in the immediate future, are 3d personal printer manufacturing, and human enhancement.  We are nearing a time when we can replicate or build nearly anything in our home, and in which we will no longer be human.  We will start human, but will be updated to receive technology, correct defects, and enhance our abilities.  Here is a cautionary story on the latter topic:

Scientists raise the alarm on human enhancement technologies

The Royal Society, along with the Academy of Medical Sciences, British Academy, and Royal Academy of Engineering, recently concluded a workshop called Human Enhancement and the Future of Work in which they considered the growing impact and potential risks of augmentation technologies. In their final report, the collaborative team of scientists and ethicists raised serious concerns about the burgeoning trend, and how humanity is moving from a model of therapy to one in which human capacities are greatly improved. The implications, they concluded, should be part of a much wider public discussion.

Specifically, the report expressed concerns about drugs and digital technologies that will allow people to work harder, longer, and smarter. The resulting implications to work and human values, they argue, may not necessarily be a good thing. It’s quite possible, they argue, that employers will start to demand (either implicitly or explicitly) that employees “augment” themselves with stimulants such as Aderall.

Scientists raise the alarm on human enhancement technologies

Similarly, the workshop considered the potential for other smart drugs that can enhance memory and attention, as well as physical and digital enhancements such as cybernetic implants and advanced machine-interfacing technologies.

From the report:

Work will evolve over the next decade, with enhancement technologies potentially making a significant contribution. Widespread use of enhancements might influence an individual’s ability to learn or perform tasks and perhaps even to enter a profession; influence motivation; enable people to work in more extreme conditions or into old age, reduce work-related illness; or facilitate earlier return to work after illness.

At the same time however, they acknowledge the potential efficacy and demand for such technologies, prompting the call for open discourse. Again, from the report:

Although enhancement technologies might bring opportunities, they also raise several health, safety, ethical, social and political challenges, which warrant proactive discussion. Very different regulatory regimes are currently applied: for example, digital services and devices (with significant cognitive enhancing effects) attract less, if any, regulatory oversight than pharmacological interventions. This raises significant questions, such as whether any form of self-regulation would be appropriate and whether there are circumstances where enhancements should be encouraged or even mandatory, particularly where work involves responsibility for the safety of others (e.g. bus drivers or airline pilots).

Indeed, the details of the report, while most certainly reasonable, are also exceedingly obvious. In a way, it’s as if the workshop participants are late to the show and only now trying to get the word out. And in fact, given the popularity (and rampant misuse) of stimulants such as Provigil and the tremendous interest in nootropics (i.e. cognitive enhancers), the report does seem long overdue.

The panel’s recommendations, such as further investigations into ensuring safety, affordability, and accessibility are most certainly welcome. And their suggestion that some of these enhancement technologies — whether they be pharmaceutical, regenerative medicines, or cybernetics — should be regulated by the government is spot on. Given the potential for personal misuse — not to mention the potential exploitation by employers — would most certainly necessitate the need for regulatory oversight.And perhaps most encouragingly, rather than reacting hysterically and calling for an outright ban on enhancement technologies, the panelists have outlined a roadmap for getting these technologies integrated into our lives in a safe and effective way.

The entire report can be read here (pdf).

Top image via Royal Society et al. Inset image: drugs.com

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