Category Archives: technology

Australian invention for the micro-grid

“In distributed power generation, rather than having a massive centralized grid, you’re talking about much smaller micro-grids,” says Moghtaderi. “This system, in the Energy on Demand mode, has been designed for a micro-grid application. So essentially, if you deploy to a retirement village, and you hook it up to natural gas, that retirement village would be entirely independent of the national electricity network, and they can produce their own power and other utilities, 24/7.”

That quote comes from an exciting article I read in New Atlas today. Essentially, an Australian university – the University of Newcastle – and an Australian company called Infratech Industries have together developed ‘…a Chemical Looping Energy-on-Demand System (CLES)’ which not only generates electricity, but can store it as well.

CLES is the brainchild of Professor Behdad Moghtaderi of the University of Newcastle, and could well be the answer to Australia’s energy woes. Despite being a major exporter of natural gas, Australia has somehow mismanaged things so badly that now we are the ones likely to run out of power. It’s happened already in South Australia and is likely to happen in other states as well in the near future.

Tesla has offered to create a battery-powered fail-safe for us before next summer, but I’d much rather see Australia embrace a homegrown product, especially as it could lead to a rapid uptake of distributed power generation. If we get that right, we could export the technology to the rest of the world instead of continuing to rely on the export of resources. We have so much inventive talent here, let’s celebrate if for once instead of forcing it off-shore through lack of interest.

You can find the New Atlas article here:

http://newatlas.com/energy-on-demand-redox-home-electricity-generation-storage-system/49568/?utm_source=Gizmag+Subscribers&utm_campaign=127a37fcfe-UA-2235360-4&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-127a37fcfe-92416841

And now an apology. I’ve been missing in action a bit lately, and it’s due to a number of things. First, my teaching schedule exploded unexpectedly. Second, I’ve been trying to complete the print version of Innerscape, and that has required upgrading some of my most critical software to ensure that the finished product is commercially ‘legal’. [For ebooks I use Storybox, which is fine, but for print I have to use a commercial version of Word, and I only had a ‘Home and Student’ version before]. Finally, I haven’t been well. Since about June last year, I’ve had recurring infections in my teeth which have resulted in having one tooth pulled and root canal treatments on three others.

Despite all the treatments, and the associated cost, I developed another infection last week, and I now have to go see an endodontist. Endodontists are dentists who specialise in root canal treatments [amongst other things]. My first appointment is next week. Until then I’m on antibiotics that hurt my stomach and anti-inflammatories that also hurt my stomach. Not sleeping very well either so…those creative juices just aren’t flowing. I will try to catch up with your creativeness though. ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers

Meeks


Electric roads coming to a year near you

One of the biggest hurdles for electric vehicles to overcome is the…inconvenience…of batteries. With a battery-dependent electric car, you can’t just drive into a service station and ‘fill’er up’. You have to wait, but we live in a society which has lost the art of patience. That is why we need to change the way we build roads:

We already have huge, road-building machines that lay bitumen at phenomenal speeds, so adapting them to build new, electric roads should not be a major problem. Adapating existing roads would be more time-consuming and expensive, but as the video clip shows, the technology is doable. Just imagine never having to worry about ‘filling ‘er up’ again!

For more details, please read this Quartz article:

https://futurism.com/scientists-have-officially-started-testing-wireless-charging-roads-for-electric-vehicles/

Back in my post about distributed power generation via solar and Tesla batteries, I explained the idea of distributed power generation via our homes. The electric roads of the future could allow us to do something similar with transportation. Imagine a future in which the electricity grid is powered not by one or two huge, highly vulnerable power plants but by millions of distributed generators – in our cars, in the home, on top of our buildings etc. Instead of being at the mercy of prices set by power companies, we would become the power companies with onboard accounting systems updating our net ‘worth’ in real-time.

And who knows? Maybe after homes and roads, we’ll add small scale power generation to every object and device we use – like mini-generators in the heels of our shoes. So much better than Get Smart’s shoe phone. ๐Ÿ˜€

cheers

Meeks


Pod accommodation – in India

I first read about capsule accommodation in the 1970s when the first one opened in Japan. The amenities were pretty basic and that memory informed the creation of ‘short term transit pods’ in Innerscape. But time moves on, and the humble, claustrophobic pod has become high tech, finding takers in some of the world’s largest, and not so large, cities.

If you follow the link below it will take you to an article about the new pod hostel that opened in Mumbai, India. The photos look quite amazing with push button everything:

https://scroll.in/magazine/834487/a-night-at-indias-first-capsule-hotel-shows-that-mumbais-space-crunch-is-now-a-hospitality-fad

The article also gives a nod to the ‘Tiny Homes’ movement which I’ve featured before. And just in case you thought this could not happen in your city, think again. Pod hostels have now sprung up in China, Iceland and…ta dah…Australia, amongst others. You can find some interesting titbits in the video clip right at the end of the article.

I’m still not sure if I’d be able to lock myself in and sleep in a pod, but I’d love to try one on for size…just for fun. Then, I’d traipse off to a nice big hotel room and thank my stars I can afford it. ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers

Meeks

 


Saving the planet, one innovation at a time

This is a video of a new process that turns waste plastic into one of the components used in road building:

This is what I call innovation. ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers Meeks

p.s. Apologies but the Createspace article was pushed onto the backburner today. Manana?


Coal to Newcastle or #robots to #China UPDATE 18/4/2017

I was going to post a recipe for plum cake, but then I found this video clip on Quartz. What can I say? I like robots. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, this from China:

And this from…?

But I saved the best till last – the Teslasuit. It’s a full body haptic suit. For gamers to wear in conjunction with a VR headset.

The Teslasuit doesn’t exist…yet…but there’s a Kickstarter campaign to turn it into reality.ย 

Apologies, I was wrong – the Teslasuit does already exist and it’s being enhanced by its developers. This is what the still image looks like:

And these are two video clips that show it actually working:

There is also another video clip but you need Flash to play it and I don’t use Flash anymore. But for those that do, here it is:

http://www.bbc.com/specialfeatures/horizonsbusiness/seriessix/sharper-senses/?vid=p03xnpch

And finally, you can go to the website for even more information :

https://teslasuit.io/#intro

I am seriously excited!

Meeks


Neural lace – Innerscape comes one step closer!

Apologies but I’m high fiving myself like an idiot because of an article I just read in futurism.com:

https://futurism.com/within-the-next-decade-you-could-be-living-in-a-post-smartphone-world/

The whole article is interesting as it attempts to predict the near, medium and long term future of communications technology, but it was this paragraph that made me so happy:

This week, we got our first look at Neuralink, a new company cofounded by Musk with a goal of building computers into our brains by way of โ€œneural lace,โ€ a very early-stage technology that lays on your brain and bridges it to a computer. Itโ€™s the next step beyond even that blending of the digital and physical worlds, as human and machine become one.

The only thing I’m sceptical about is the time-frame. Tech that you carry and tech that you ‘wear’ is one thing, but tech that invades your brain is something else entirely. I’m sure there will be some maverick individuals who will ignore the risk and give the neural lace a try, but most of us will not jump in quite so quickly. Think desktop computers and the general public. The vast majority of people who use smartphones now either never learned to use computers properly or never felt comfortable with them – i.e. the gain did not negate the pain.

I think the concept of an in-built, brain-machine interface will be around for quite a while before some tech comes along that will make the interface, safe, painless and most of all, easy.

To me, easy is the operative word because, as a species, we always look for the line of least resistance. I just hope I’m still around when it happens as the next few decades are going to be very interesting indeed. ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers

Meeks

 


The birth of cybernetics?

Doctor Who fans will immediately recognize the concept of the ‘Cyberman’, but for everyone else, it’s a being that evolved from a biological base into a fusion of ‘meat + machine’.

In the Doctor Who series, the Cybermen are more machine than meat, but the concept stays the same. And it’s been a recurring theme in science fiction for decades. Anyone remember a TV show called the 64 Million Dollar Man?

But that’s all just make believe…isn’t it?

Well, no, no it’s not, not any more. Welcome to the world of David Eagleman. If you have any interest in what makes all life on earth tick, you will find this TED talk absolutely rivetting:

Did you watch it? Did it blow you away? Yeah, me too. ๐Ÿ˜€

There were a number of things in that talk that made me nod like crazy, but two really stood out:

  • the brain is a general purpose computing device, and
  • the concept of sensory substitution

As someone interested in biology, I sort of knew about the parts of the brain and how they functioned, but until quite recently, I assumed that brain plasticity [the ability of the brain to change itself when necessary] was restricted to fairly ‘small’ functions. And then I heard about Daniel Kish. He has no eyes, so everything you see him do, he does without using the physical pathways you or I use when we ‘see’ things. Instead, he makes clicking sounds and ‘hears’ them bounce off objects in their path:

Daniel Kish is an example of biological sensory substitution because he uses his hearing to provide data to the brain which the brain then interprets as a kind of vision. It’s real, it can be done, it’s just that most of the time, we humans prefer to use the easy path we learned as babies.

Just as a matter of interest, did you know that the visual cortex of a newborn baby is ‘unfinished’? Steropsis, or

The perception of depth produced by the reception in the brain of visual stimuli from both eyes in combination; binocular vision

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/stereopsis

is ‘learned’ in the first 18 months of a baby’s life. If something happens to disrupt this learning process, binocular vision will not develop. Instead, the child will learn how to see 3D using a process called ‘motion parallax’. I know, because that’s how I see, and I can play pretty fast and furious table tennis. ๐Ÿ˜€

The more I learn about the world, the more amazed I become at its incredible power. Is it any wonder I’m a sci-fi nut?

Special thanks to Museworthyman for pointing me towards that mind-blowing TED talk. Kindred spirits unite!

cheers

Meeks

 


-blush- ‘teledildonics’…

You should consider this a tech post with an R rating. You’ve been warned.

haptic-glove-2

http://fab.cba.mit.edu/classes/863.11/people/daniel.rosenberg/pf.html

Right. This really is a case of sci-fi made obsolete by reality. The image you’re looking at shows a pair of ‘haptic’ gloves at work. They allow the wearer to manipulate elements of a digital environment directly – i.e. no need for a mouse or keyboard or game controller. Essentially, sensors in the glove translate real world movement and pressure into digital movement and pressure.

I knew about these haptic gloves because I’m a gamer, and I like to think about new technologies that make gaming more fun. Not surprisingly then, my sci-fi story, Innerscape, contains many existing technologies, extrapolated into their possible future equivalents. One example is the evolution of the haptic glove into the full body gaming suit. But even modern day technology can be used in all sorts of ways. Most people see web cams and Skype as a useful tool for teleconferencing, or to allow friends to see each other and talk in real time. To the porn industry, however, the same technology is a great way to deliver a lucrative product.

Online porn is not something I know a great deal about, but it’s not something I can ignore, either. I do a lot of research online, and anything of a sexual nature can be bring up unexpected results – e.g., when I researched hermaphrodites for Vokhtah. I quickly learned to phrase my queries with great care, and that awareness informed my prediction that the porn industry would spear-head the development of immersive reality in Innerscape. Yes, I know, pun intended…

Despite this rather pragmatic view of the world, however, I had no idea that a real world company was already selling a primitive version of the immersive porn of my imagined future. What’s even worse, I had no idea that this real world company bears the same name [more or less] as a company I dreamed up for Innerscape.

[SPOILER: Leon lets the Woman in Red into his apartment when he sees that she’s delivering his brand new, top of the range, Real Touch gaming suit.]

The real world company already making haptic devices for the porn industry is called Realtouch Interactive.

I swear I am not making this up. I didn’t know about Realtouch Interactive until just now when I read about the latest developments in ‘haptic gloves’ on New Atlas. Imagine my surprise when the same article included a link to…’teledildonics’.

The link to that article is here:

http://newatlas.com/flex-n-feel-glove-long-distance-relationships/47900/?utm_source=Gizmag+Subscribers&utm_campaign=f1f477b260-UA-2235360-4&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-f1f477b260-92416841

You can find the link to ‘teledildonics’ yourselves. If you so wish. -cough-

Be warned though, in the article, a male writer test drives the ‘device’, and although the descriptions are not super graphic, they don’t leave too much to the imagination. Included in the article is information about how the company created its own tech in order to sync sight, sound and data. Just as I predicted!

I suppose this is the point at which I should explain why data has to be synced along with sight and sound. The haptic ‘device’ is hooked up to the computer via USB at the user’s end. At the ‘cam girl’ end, a slightly different device allows the professional lady to control the sensations sent to the user’s device. Thus, audio, video and the transfer of this haptic data has to occur at the same time or the effect is ruined.

Long term, however, this very same technology will drive something else I wrote about in Innerscape – teleoperations. This is where the surgeon and the patient are separated by long distances, but the surgeon can still operate via a robotic surgical tool.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling kind of shell-shocked. None of this technology was meant to happen for decades, yet here it is in 2017. Clearly, the tech will be enhanced and improved enormously in the coming years, but I still feel rather ambivalent about the whole thing. Yes, it’s nice to predict the tech of the future, but it’s not so nice to get the timing so very wrong. Oh well…back to work.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 


Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

Website :ย Kkaa.co.jp

via Tsubomi Villas by Kengo Kuma โ€” Mega Luxus

I have always loved the inspired simplicity of Japanese art and design, but this one really does take my breath away. Curves are the basic building blocks of nature, not straight lines, but I cannot begin to imagine how much work went into creating this organic, deceptively simple shape. Pure perfection.


A smelly but good news tech post

Apologies if this puts anyone off, but I’m really excited by this innovative way of dealing with sewage. Not only does it make something useful out of a big, smelly problem, it does so in a ‘relatively’ small space. [Conventional sewage works take up acres and acres and acres of land that could be used for other things].

To read how this innovative approach actually works, please read the article on New Atlas:

http://newatlas.com/mimic-nature-sewage-oil/46260/?li_source=LI&li_medium=default-widget

As a sci-fi writer I’m interested in all kinds of futuristic world building and one of my earliest ideas was for an ‘undercity’ built to replace much of Melbourne, post sea level rises that drown the lower reaches. Obviously, the new undercity would have to be built on much higher ground to avoid being drowned as well, but it would have lots of big advantages – temperature would remain more or less constant, bushfires would no longer be a danger and the land above the city could be used for productive agriculture. [At the moment, all Australian cities spread outward and our suburbs are built on land that would be better used for the growing of food].

One major problem with this undercity, however, was the issue of waste. I imagined food waste being ‘eaten’ by the SL’ick [synthetic life chickens that look like huge worms made of chicken breast meat], but I simply could not come up with an innovative way of dealing with the body wastes we humans produce. Until now. One small step for my world of the future, one large step for waste management. ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers

Meeks


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