Tag Archives: technology

Bendable aluminum battery recharges in a minute, won’t burst into flames

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Everyone is waiting for that revolutionary new battery tech that will replace lithium-ion, drastically increase battery life, and not burst into flames when something goes wrong. A team of scientists have just created such a battery, and they believe it is set to replace both alkaline and lithium-ion batteries.

The team is led by Stanford chemistry professor Honglie Dai. What they have developed is an aluminum and graphite battery and it ticks almost all of the boxes of a desirable battery design. It’s very cheap to make, it won’t burst into flames even if you drill a hole in it, recharge cycles without degradation are in the thousands, and in the form of a typical smartphone battery it will recharge in about a minute. One final revolutionary feature of this battery is the fact it can be bent and shaped without impacting performance.

Aluminum batteries have been attempted before, but this is the first viable one in terms of being a lithium-ion battery replacement. Dai’s battery consists of an aluminum anode, graphite cathode, ionic liquid electrolyte, and a flexible polymer acting as a casing. The reason the battery won’t burst into flames is the fact the electrolyte is just a salt that is liquid at room temperature.

Voltage and energy density is currently about half that of existing lithium-ion batteries, but the team is confident that can be greatly improved by doing further work on the graphite cathode. Where as lithium-ion batteries can be reliably charged around 1,000 times, the prototype aluminum battery already reaches 7,500 cycles. The fact it can be bent and shaped will allow manufacturers to have more flexibility with the design of gadgets such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, and smartwatches in the future.

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It seems all the ingredients are there for a battery that will quickly replace lithium-ion, and the only problem they need to overcome is that of energy density. If they can solve that, which the team is confident it can, we could finally have that revolutionary battery we’ve all been waiting for.

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The Waterproof iPhone Plan

The Waterproof iPhone Plan, and Everything Else You Missed Yesterday

We’ve heard it all before—waterproof iPhones. It’s a patent rumor that goes back years. But a new patent, posted yesterday, is Apple’s second water-phobic patent in as many months. Whereas the patent last month tackled nano-coating and silicon seals, this one focuses on making sure that no pesky H2O molecules sneak past your hardware buttons. But patents are just that—patents. But if Apple could make a smartphone completely waterproof without sacrificing design (which Jony Ive would never allow), well… that would certainly be something. [Patently Apple]

Amazon Echo: An Intelligent Speaker That Listens to Your Commands

Amazon Echo: An Intelligent Speaker That Listens to Your Commands

Amazon Echo is a speaker that has a voice assistant built in. If you ask it a question its got an answer. If you tell it to do stuff, it complies. Well, this is different.

Echo is an always-on speaker that you plop into a corner of your house and turns it into the futuristic homes we’ve been dreaming about. It’s like Jarvis, or the assistant computer fromHer.

When you say the wake word “Alexa,” it starts listening and you can ask it for information or to perform any of a number of tasks. For example, you can ask it for the weather, to play a particular style of music, or to add something to you calendar.

Of course voice assistants aren’t an entirely new concept, but building the technology into a home appliance rather than into a a smartphone makes a lot of sense and gives the technology a more conversational and natural feel. To that end, its got what Amazon calls “far-field recognition” that allows you to talk to it from across the room. It eliminates the clumsiness of assistants like Siri and Google Now that you have to be right on top of.

Besides being an assistant, Echo is also a little Bluetooth speaker with 360-degree sound. It stands 9-inches tall, has a 2-inch tweeter and a 2.5-inch woofer.

If you’re not near the speaker, you can also access it using an app for Android and Fire OS as well as through web browsers on iOS.

Right now, Echo is available by invitation only. According to Amazon, “invites will go out in the coming weeks.” It costs $200 for regular people and $100 for people who have an Amazon Prime account. If the speaker sounds good, it’s a steal given all of the extra functionality built in. This thing can’t get in my kitchen soon enough. [Amazon]

A Vivid Reminder From Banksy That Technology Can Enslave Us All

 

jcondliffe

Every morning you wake up, your hand scrabbling for the smartphone on the bedside table. Is there email, a tweet, a like on Instagram? You’re a slave to the phone, desperate for its digital hit.

Everyone does it, so how wrong can it be? Honestly, just like our very own Jesus Diaz pointed out last year, pretty wrong. Technology is wonderful sure: it can make our lives more efficient, allow unprecedented levels of communication, and expand our horizons.

But its draw can be too much. It can suck us in, take over our lives, turn us into simpering, whimpering, Facebook-loving wrecks. You don’t need to check your email as soon as you wake up; you don’t need to see if someone favorited your tweet as you go to bed. Of course you don’t. But you do, you can’t help it.

 

Banksy’s not shy of bringing together technological and social commentary, and his latest effort—really just a simple sketch that he posted to Twitter—is a stark reminder that our technology is increasingly an extension of us. A reminder that, sometimes, we rely on it too much.

But it needn’t be that way. To borrow Jesus’s words for a moment:

Perhaps we should just try be a bit more sensible about it—as with any other addictive substance. I like a good whisky, but I don’t have to drink three bottles of it every day. I can do the same with phones and tablets and computers: Play more Lego. Play more piano. Go outside. Don’t use the phone at all while I’m with others. Read. Walk. Go to the movies. Create something with my own hands. Get real.

So here’s to getting real. Thanks for the reminder, Banksy. [Banksy]

The Perfect Definition of This Goddamn Digital Life

Jesus Diaz

The Perfect Definition of This Goddamn Digital Life
 

Brazilian illustrator Felipe Luchi made this exquisite illustration for Go Outside Magazine. It’s the perfect definition of this digital life.

We are prisoners of our phones and tablets and all our digital crap. I am. You are. We all are. We get sucked into these stupid machines, see reality through them. Instead of empowering us, we insist on giving them our power. We even attach our feelings to them. It’s sad.

A few years ago, a friend of mine lived as a slave to her mobile—and her boyfriend, this blonde sailor with the looks of Thor Odinson and the brains of a shark penis. He had her around her finger and treated her like shit. Same old story.

One of the ways he played with her feelings was with the phone, torturing her with the timing of his replies. Waiting, always waiting for a reply, my friend slept with her phone on her chest every night. Why hasn’t he gotten back to me yet? Why is it taking him so long to write? The phone became some kind of totem, a love angst juju. It became her prison: empowering her with the ability to communicate, but simultaneously trapping her in dark silence. Then it illuminated: the addict’s fix, which only increased her dependance on the man and the device.

I know it wasn’t the phone’s fault. The technology is never to blame. We are. But the phone made this possible, and my friend is just one example of how persistent connectivity can degrade the human experience. It used to be that humans had the time and patience to enjoy other things in life. I’m an old bastard. I remember that. We’d stop and talk to people. We’d play on the streets and in fields. Find adventures. Invent them. Not only as kids. As adults too. It’s just not like that anymore, and it’s only getting worse.

Instead of using our phones and tables as tools of empowerment, we are increasingly turning them into prisons that consume our time and attention. Through them we have access to vasts islands of information, but that information is trapped in oceans of mud. We choose to dive in, and then we find it hard to get out. These devices allow us to create a permanent nexus between ourselves and our family, friends, and lovers. That’s good—in a way. The dark side is that we place too much importance on the digital bond, increasingly choosing to ignore the real world around us.

These devices were designed to be windows, yet we insist on turning them into walls; they surround our lives and hide reality. They become thick lenses through which we literally view the world that is just in front of our eyes. How many times have you seen someone standing in front of something amazing, and looking at it on the screen of their phone? A presidential inauguration, a birthday party, a concert… the Superbowl. The cellular traffic coming from AT&T subscribers in the Superdome’s network on Sunday was “a record 388 GB—80% more than last year.” These people paid thousands of dollars to watch the event live, and still ended up seeing Beyoncé through a screen. Why?

I’m guilty of this as well. And yes, it’s the tired cliché of a luddite—but I’m getting sick of it. We just can’t keep experiencing life through terminals instead of our own senses. We should do something about this. I know I will. And you can too. Not by leaving the Internet and our phones and computers completely. That’d be stupid.

No. Perhaps we should just try be a bit more sensible about it—as with any other addictive substance. I like a good whisky, but I don’t have to drink three bottles of it every day. I can do the same with phones and tablets and computers: Play more Lego. Play more piano. Go outside. Don’t use the phone at all while I’m with others. Read. Walk. Go to the movies. Createsomething with my own hands. Get real.

These are things that I already do, but I need to do more. I want to be even less connected to the virtual world, but more connected with tangible things. Read less of your bloody tweets and Facebook updates and Instagrams and not watch your stupid Vines. It’s just about getting some control back. Some self-control. I know I’ve done it before and it felt good. Now I just have to stick with it. Maybe a two-month sabbatical is a good start.

And yes, I know what you are going to say. It’s ok. Say it in the comments. Then you can go tweet yourself.

The Perfect Definition of This Goddamn Digital Life

China says new supersonic sub would reach San Francisco in 100 minutes

 

 

China claims it has found a way to create a supersonic underwater vessel that could travel from China to San Francisco in less than two hours using new developments in supercavitation. This could be extremely useful for travel—but also for the development of underwater weapons. In fact, this is a military project.

This technique was originally developed for Shakvala torpedo capable of reaching 230 miles per hour (370 km/h) developed by the Soviet Navy during the Cold War. The size of the bubble and the speed was limited.

Now this new Chinese research claims they have found a way to generate a much bigger air bubble, drastically reducing friction of large underwater vessels. They say they would be able to create a full-size supercavitating submarine capable of reaching the speed of sound underwater—about 3603 mph (5,800km/h). That or a sneaky, big ass supersonic nuclear missile, of course.

Jaguar designs windscreen that turns real racing into cool videogame

Jaguar designs windscreen that turns real racing into cool videogame

Jaguar designs windscreen that turns real racing into cool videogame

I would love to use this Jaguar augmented reality windscreen. It’s like turning your entire driving experience into a video game (I don’t know if that is a good idea or not but it sure looks like fun.)

The concept shows optimum racing paths, braking guidance and fastest lap times, as well as virtual cars displayed in 3D—using data recorded in previous laps—so you could practice against other drivers or even yourself.

While Jaguar obviously created this design for racing, not consumers, there’s no doubt that we will see the same type of augmented reality technology in future cars windscreens for route guidance, road information overlay or alerts on potential dangers ahead.

A blog about Technology, Video Games, Cars, Trends, that I almost forgot to tweet about

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