Friday, 29 August 2014

3 Game-Changing Pieces of Technology

When it comes to technology, we are constantly looking for better and easier ways to improve performance at work, during sporting activities and in our spare time.

We have three examples of ways new technology is being created to improve performance:

The Polo Tech Shirt
As wearable technology continues to grow, polo shirt manufacturer Ralph Lauren has unveiled a shirt that takes your biometric readings and then delivers the data to your smartphone. The fibres woven into the shirt’s core will enable users to track distance travelled, the amount of calories burned, their movements, heart rate and stress rate, all in real time.

What’s more, the fabric has been specifically formulated to increase blood circulation and aid muscle recovery too. Exciting stuff, but we will have to wait till 2015 to see them modelled in tennis tournaments.

Birds are nice enough animals, but for workplaces including farms, landfills and airports, they can be a pain. Nico Nijenhuis has been working on building robot hawks in order to trick lingering birds into thinking they’re about to be prey. Nico is also working on remote controlled Falcons and Eagles too, which shows we have come a long way since using scarecrows.

These remote controlled birds of prey will be hopefully be seen within the aviation and waste management industries very shortly, under the name of Clear Flight Solutions.

For those people opting for a bicycle to get them to and from work, news of an electronic bike might be off interest. A prototype e-bike has been created and has a battery pack that is integrated into the frame.

The bike, Vanmoof 10 Electrified, is said to have a top speed of 18 mph and a range of around 37 miles depending on traffic, the rider’s cycling style and the weather conditions. What is a real game-changer for this bike though, is its ability to make light work of hills. Hills might not be all that interesting for people in London, but for those further afield that hate getting to work hot and bothered, this new e-bike could be a real winner.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Electric Cars Could Say Goodbye To Wires In 2017

Advancing technology in cars has been a hot topic of late and it doesn’t look like it’s going to die down any time soon.

We spoke recently about the in-car technology that Google and Apple are turning their attention too, but it is cars in general that are dominating the headlines; more specifically, electric cars.

According to Anthony Thompson, VP of Development and Marketing for Electric Vehicles at Qualcomm, we can expect to see the first wireless charging cars by the end of 2017. As a nation that thrive on convenience and that share a hatred for wires, this news is quite a relief.

If there was one major pain about electric cars it would be plugging them in after every journey. But with help of Qualcomm’s Halo technology, this pain should be eliminated. Hoorah!

Even though we will have to wait until 2017 to see this technology in action, it does already exist on the safety cars used during the new Formula E Championship – the world’s first entirely electrical racing series.
In 2015 though, we can expect to see this wireless car charging technology used on the race cars themselves.

So, how will they work?

The wireless charging pads will be bolted to the ground on a flat surface as well as to the bottom of the electric car. Once both the ground and the car is fitted with these pads, all the driver will need to do is drive over the charging pad, park it and leave the car to start charging.

Anthony Thompson did mention that the cars fitted with this wireless charging technology won’t come cheap though. He also said, “The first wirelessly charging electric cars will be premium vehicles, eventually filtering down to other, cheaper models.”

There have already been a number of worries about the efficiency of the wireless pads compared to the cars being plugged in but Thompson explains that only around 10% is lost through the whole wireless system. In fact, he believes that their highest power unit can allow users to get up to 95% efficiency from the wireless charging pads.

Roll on 2017!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Technology Influences Influx of New Words

This week, the online Oxford Dictionary has released its latest intake of words and there has been a huge influence from social media and the internet.

Any new words, phrases or senses are always added to the website once the editors are happy with the information they have gathered from independent evidence and are sure that these additions will be widespread.

Abbreviations that are regularly used on social media websites, like Twitter and Facebook are among the new words. One of those is YOLO – a popular abbreviation that stands for You Only Live Once.

Technology, understandably, has a strong influence on the English language with a large number of the new words being entered coming from gadgets or ‘tech-savvy’ people online. Some of these include geocache, octocopter, responsive, smartwatch and, as mentioned, tech-savvy.

But, what do some of them mean?

Smartwatch – This is something we have mentioned on a number of occasions on the blog and is a piece of technology we are a fan of. The smartwatch does exactly what it says on the tin and is a computerised wearable device that is enhanced beyond timekeeping.

Octocopter – This is a multirotor or multicopter with more than two rotors and looks like a small helicopter. This remote-controlled device is often used to carry cameras to improve video or imagery. There are a number of large brands that have started using similar devices, including Google and Microsoft.

Responsive – This one is for the web world and refers to a web design approach that is aimed at crafting sites to provide a convenient and optimal viewing experience. Responsive refers to a web site that is resized, reformatted and has an adapted navigation in order to suit a wide range of devices (i.e. mobile phones and tablets).

Tech-savvy – This can apply to a large group of people and means when someone is proficient in the use of technology, especially computers and other similar devices.

Words like tech-savvy, responsive and smartwatch are all terms we are very familiar with but words like YOLO and binge-watch (to watch a number of programmes in a box-set consecutively) are quite unusual.

What do you think about the new influx of words?

Friday, 8 August 2014

Google Invests In New Glasses

As we all know, Google has been busy at work trying to perfect Google Glass but the internet super-giant is now turning its attention to other types of glasses.

Google has recently awarded a group of UK-based technology projects with large sums of money to help them develop their projects in order to change the world. In fact, there were ten groups in total, four of them were awarded £500,000 and the runners-up were awarded £200,000 each to help them progress.

There were a lot of interesting ideas among the groups and one of those top earners was the RNIB smart glasses. These glasses also bagged the People’s Choice award too, which was not an accolade that was given to them by the judges’.

The RNIB smart glasses are a wearable device that will allow people with sight loss the ability to “see” their surroundings. So, although Google Glass is going to be a helpful tool for a number of people, these smart glasses will offer so much more value to the world.

According to the MD of RNIB Solutions, Neil Heslop, 90% of those people who are registered as blind still have some degree of vision. He said, “The glasses work in a way that means the depth of the camera assesses shape, size and the positioning of those objects nearby enhancing them to make them appear brighter.”

This wasn’t the only project that appealed to Google though. Another intriguing idea was a wearable device that belonged to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and is intelligent enough to hear mosquitoes. With the aim of attaching to a wristband, this device aims to detect a number of different types of mosquitoes and will hope to prevent certain diseases.

There was another wearable that came close and that idea was formed from Android game technology and wearables. The idea is to improve the mental health of young people, which is something that often gets overlooked. This project was created by We Are What We Do and is in fact a game that helps to strengthen the emotional resilience of younger people as well as manage their stress levels.

So, although many of us just know about Google’s aim to bring us Google Glass, they are actually investing time and money in a number of more important, world-changing ideas to help society too.
Good ol’ Google!

Friday, 1 August 2014

What Is Cortana And When's It In The UK

For iPhone owners that use Siri every day and those that are familiar with Google Now, this news might not be all that exciting, but for Microsoft fans, Cortana could be the next big thing.

Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to hands free, voice operated personal assistants and helps Microsoft owners to find relevant information from the internet and also carry out tasks including informing you of any reminders you’ve set or any alarms you have pending.

Cortana has been available in the United States for some time, but for people here in the UK, we have been waiting for a bit too long. But, Microsoft had given us some hope just two weeks ago when they told us it would be released within the next fortnight and, true to their word, they have made it available to those people who want it.

Although, don’t get too excited just yet because it’s not the full version. This is the developers’ version and has been released as a test, but everyone can apply to get it. This may not be the full version but there is no doubt that we can get a better understanding of what the final version will be like.

The main reason we do not have the full version yet is because Microsoft are still trying to ensure the software understands English accents. When the full version is released Microsoft hopes it will be complete with a full English accent, but for now it is just going through some teething problems. The software has already worked out that when we say, “What are the latest football scores” it knows not to bring up the NFL results – so it’s a start!

So, having this version is great for the time being but when is the full version going to be available?

Well, O2 have recently announced that the full version will be arriving in the 4th quarter of the year, according to ExpertReviews. So, it is likely that Microsoft phone and tablets owners will have access to the full version between October and December.

For now though, the developers’ version will have to do.