Latest technology news, including new product releases, and tech industry  information

Magnet cooker puts new spin on 'off-the-grid' living

posted 11 Oct 2014, 14:08 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 11 Oct 2014, 14:09 ]

LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (REUTERS) - Turning heads at a recent design exhibition in London, the cooking pot heats up from the inside as it spins.

Called the Mag Cook, it uses in-built magnets that are spun using a pull-cord, with the rapidly alternating north-south polarities creating an electromagnetic frequency which in turn generates heat.

Co-designer Ashley De Garmo says the Mag Cook could offer users freedom from traditional energy sources.


"You know, once it's set up it's completely off the grid. You don't have to worry about any other kind of input. You don't have to worry about paying for electricity. Once you have it, then it produces the energy."

De Garmo and his team have two prototype designs on display; the cooking pot and this induction ring.

He says the simplicity of the technology and its portability mean the Mag Cook could be a valuable tool in scenarios where people have been cut off from power supplies.


"That is something where you want it to be portable, but once it's over there you don't want any of this input. You don't want it to be reliant on electricity. You want it to be sturdy and be able to operate. And I see there's a good potential market within disaster relief."

De Garmo says the next challenge is to find a mechanism to keep the magnets spinning, and the energy flowing, for as long as it's needed. But he says there are various practical solutions available.


"Have it set up being powered by like a windmill or having a weight coming down which would turn the gear. There's a lot of different ways of actually getting that energy into the device."

The team says these proof of concept designs show how the technology could lends itself to many applications, including heating in homes and water purification.

And in an era of soaring energy bills, the chance to generate heat 'off-the-grid' with magnets, may offer an attractive alternative.

NASA video shows twisting solar eruption and flare

posted 11 Oct 2014, 07:13 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 11 Oct 2014, 07:16 ]

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captures stunning images of a solar flare which peaked on October 2nd. While intense flares can interfere with GPS and communications signals on Earth, this flare was M-class - just one-tenth as powerful as the biggest ones.

IN SPACE (NASA/SDO/WIESSINGER) -  NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has recorded images of a mid-level solar flare, which peaked at 3.01pm EDT (1901GMT) on October 2.

The eruption of solar plasma came from an active region on the right side of the sun, according to NASA.

Of most concern to scientists is usually the size and direction of the coronal mass ejection (CME) that accompanies such flares. A coronal mass ejection can send billions of tonnes of solar particles into space. If directed towards Earth, that energy can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground, although in this case, scientists say the flare was classified as an M7.3 flare. M-class flares are one-tenth as powerful as the most powerful flares, which are designated X-class flares.

The instrument recording the images, the SDO, was launched by NASA on February 11, 2010. It is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the Sun. Equipped with a group of four sophisticated telescopes called the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), the SDO can observe and transmit highly detailed images of the Sun in different wavelengths.

The images coloured in teal are observations made in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, regarded as ideal for visualising material at the very hot temperatures of a solar flare.

Microsoft CEO criticized for suggesting women not ask for raises

posted 11 Oct 2014, 06:54 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 11 Oct 2014, 06:56 ]

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, takes criticism for suggesting that women not ask for raises, during a tech conference intended to celebrate the role of women in the computing industry.

 PHOENIXARIZONAUNITED STATES (OCTOBER 9, 2014) (ANITA BORG INSTITUTE) -  Microsoft Corp's chief executive officer suggested on Thursday (October 9) that women in technology should not ask for raises but have faith in the "system", bringing a torrent of criticism and causing the executive to backtrack after the statement.

Satya Nadella, who became CEO in February, was asked how women should get ahead in the tech world at a three-day conference in PhoenixArizona, intended to celebrate women in computing.

"It's not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along," Nadella said, according to a recording on the website of the event, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

"Because that's good karma," Nadella continued. "It'll come back because somebody's going to know that's the kind of person that I want to trust."

Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College and a member of Microsoft's board, immediately challenged Nadella, saying his viewpoint was "one of the very few things that I disagree with you on," eliciting a few cheers from the audience.

The two went on to hug on stage, and the audience warmly applauded, but Twitter rounded on Nadella and his comments became fodder for jokes.

Nadella later tried to patch up the damage.

"Was inarticulate re how women should ask for raise," he tweeted several hours after his remarks. "Our industry must close gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of a bias."

Nadella also admitted his error in a memo to Microsoft employees which was posted on the company's website.

"I answered that question completely wrong," said the memo. "I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work. And when it comes to career advice on getting a raise when you think it's deserved, Maria's advice was the right advice. If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask."

According to recent research by the American Association of University Women, last year women were paid 78 percent of what equally qualified men received, although there is some data to suggest the pay gap is less in the tech sector.

Only 29 percent of Microsoft's more than 100,000 employees are female, according to data recently released by the company.

Smart Jacket to monitor health and fitness on the run

posted 10 Oct 2014, 07:08 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 10 Oct 2014, 07:09 ]

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (REUTERS) -  Engineers Mexico are keeping pace with the latest advances in wearable technology.

Alejandro Garcia and his team from Autonomous University have developed a jacket called "Podium" that allows a runner to keep tabs on their performance and vital signs in real time.

The jacket is equipped with a series of sensors that gather data on the users heart rate and body temperature as well as performance info like calorie burn and distance. That data is fed to microprocessor which then relays it to a smartphone via a bluethooth connection.


"I think it is relevant there is a jacket that is able to measure elements that are necessary for the runner such as heart rate. The runner will be able to determine if their heart rate goes over a certain limit, the phone will then send a signal or generate an alarm. The same goes for temperature."

That functionality allows runners to maximize their performance. Garcia says his team used a waterproof breathable fabric that protects the electronics while keeping the runner comfortable.


"We designed several versions of the jacket until we came up with a design that could cover the electronics throughout the human body. A jacket with laser printed water-proof material that allows for holes so that the person running is able to keep cool."

Garcia says the jacket is constantly charging thanks to a thin layer of solar panels situated on the runners back. The engineers have already commercialized the design and plan to start filling orders early next year.

Zuckerberg pledges Facebook's support for India's ambitious internet program

posted 10 Oct 2014, 06:50 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 10 Oct 2014, 06:52 ]

Mark Zuckerberg pledges Facebook's support to meet India's ambitious program to connect a billion people to the internet and help support the government's education, health and social initiatives.


NEW DELHIINDIA (OCTOBER 10, 2014) (ANI) -  Facebook Chief, Mark Zuckerberg, met India's Information and Technology (IT) Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, in New Delhi on Friday (October 10), pledging to help the government's Digital India initiative, an ambitious plan to connect a billion people to the internet.

India has the second highest number of Facebook users in the world after the United States, but still only about 243 million out of 1.25 billion people have access to internet.

"To help out with this amazing Digital India initiative that the administration is focused on, connecting more than a billion people to the internet is going to not only improve the lives of a lot of people in India but helping to spread the innovation and the imagination of the Indian people will help everyone around the world and we are very excited to help out in whatever way we can," said Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg and Prasad also discussed ways in which the social networking giant could help promote education, health and social initiatives throughout the country, which include female empowerment and plans to clean up the River Ganges.

"Facebook is willing to work in India in the field of broadband retailing, e-education, e-health and also in the spread of many other government programmes in the manner they have been doing in the other parts of the world," said Prasad.

Zuckerberg is in India on a two-day visit to promote the app that has provided access for many people in underdeveloped areas to basic online services.

The Facebook co-founder's arrival in India comes close on the heels of visits by Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Jeff Bezos of Amazon.

He is also due to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi later on Friday.

Twitter's Turkey Hit Exposes Vulnerability

posted 22 Mar 2014, 03:13 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 22 Mar 2014, 03:14 ]


R Reports - Twitter and its dedicated army of users may be getting the last laugh-staging a "digital coup" after Turkey's prime minister- a heavy Twitter user himself- blocked the social media site.

The Twitter ban came ahead of bitterly contested elections. Tech-savvy Turks- including the country's own President- quickly found a workaround- with a little help from Twitter itself.

Mashable's Lance Ulanoff:


"The really fascinating thing now what they are doing is they are spray painting on walls the DNS changes you need to make to re-access Twitter. I mean that is how the public has changed. That is how tech savvy people have become."

The hashtag #TwitterisblockedinTurkey among the top trending hashtags in the world.

The ban came after Twitter ignored requests to remove content related to a political scandal.

But while this incident likely won't impact Twitter's bottom line- it's not the first time politics has gotten in the way of social media- and some countries, like China, are more effective in their bans.


"It is a big risk. Certainly because the biggest markets for the social media networks are the developing nations, are the nations where they haven't really built a stronghold or gotten a foothold or - in the U.S. they are saturated, so they are looking outside the U.S. to really grow."

Those risks are no secret to investors says S&P Capital IQ's Scott Kessler:


"These companies, to a large extent, highlight pretty extensively in the context of public SEC filings that there are risks related to countries and governments that choose to not make these offerings available in a broad sense or in a selective sense. And the fact is, that really we don't see these as very impactful to these companies or their businesses."

Twitter says it hopes official service in Turkey can be restored soon.

Boeing P-8A Poseidon Deployed To Search For Malaysia Flight

posted 21 Mar 2014, 11:58 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 21 Mar 2014, 11:58 ]

Malaysia (Next Media) -   The U.S. Navy has sent its premier surveillance plane to join in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The $35-billion Boeing P-8A Poseidon, originally designed to find and sink submarine ships, was first sent to Kuala Lumpur from Okinawa, where six other Poseidons are stationed. From Malaysia, the plane took off to patrol the eastern Indian Ocean.

The P-8A is fitted with a maritime radar at its nose, enabling all-weather imaging and classification of ships and submarines. The plane is also equipped with electro-optical and infrared sensors capable of heat detection. A magnetic detector at the tail of the plane serves to identify metallic objects in the ocean by picking up disturbances in the magnetic field.

Typically, a creeping line search pattern is employed when the search area is large while an expanding square search pattern is used when the search target is believed to be in a small area.

The P-8A is equipped with a number of armaments, including the AGM-88 Harpoon anti-ship missile, but will conduct the Malaysian flight search unarmed.

Three Australian and two Japanese surveillance P-3 Orion ships joined the P-8A in the search. A Norwegian merchant ship was also sent to the area on Thursday (March 20) with more ships from the British and the Australian navies to follow over the weekend.


International Business Times, Naval Technology

Nature's Death Knell: How A Frog's Love Song Is A Bat's Dinner Bell

posted 21 Mar 2014, 09:37 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 21 Mar 2014, 09:38 ]

GAMBOA, PANAMA (REUTERS/WOUTER HALFWERK/RACHEL PAGE/SMITHSONIAN TROPICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE) - It's the sound of love...a mating call from the male tungara frog.

But it might be the last sound this frog ever makes, because for the frog-eating fringe-lipped bat, it's like an invitiation to dinner.

The battle between frogs and bats is one of the most intriguing in the animal kingdom -- and new research by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama sheds light on the evolutionary race.

Researcher Rachel Page says the tungara frog is forced by circumstances to put itself in great danger during mating season.


"It has to call from water, not like a lot of frogs (who) call from vegetation or land. This frog cannot fully inflate the vocal sac unless it's in water. So, it makes itself very conspicuous to predators.

Predators like the bat, can quickly home in on the frog via the sound of its mating call, reflecting off the ripples produced by the vocal sac in the water.

The bats' powers of echolocation were put to the test in experiments with rubber frogs placed on speakers next to two trays of water. While the speakers emitted the mating calls, the water in one tray was made to ripple. When the bats were released, the researchers say nine out of ten showed a preference for the prey located next to the ripple pool.


"So it's this classic conflict of natural selection on the one hand and he needs to be inconspicuous, avoid predators to survive. And yet sexual selection on the other hand, without attracting a mate he can't reproduce, he can't pass on his genes. So, it's this conflict between these two opposing selection pressures."

The researchers say there is hope for the tungara frog yet. The bats in the study lost their hunting advantage on ponds cluttered with leaves, which interfere with the ripples.... Although it may take another evolutionary leap before the frog learns that lesson.

Autonomous Drones Learn To Fly As A Flock

posted 20 Mar 2014, 13:41 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 20 Mar 2014, 13:42 ]

Hungarian researchers have developed drones that can fly as an autonomous flock, opening new possibilities for the artificial pollination of crops or search and rescue missions. The scientists originally set out to build flying robots to help study collective motion in animals, but ended up with drones that can fly cooperatively without any central control. Rob Muir reports.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (REUTERS) - Swarming in the evening sky over a field near Budapest, ten quadcopters are instructed to form a circle. The need no other directions. They are designed to communicate with one another to fly cooperatively, like birds in a flock, and they fall into line, each knowing its neighbour's position.

The autonomous quadcopoter technology is the first of its kind. It's being developed by a team led by Tamas Vicsek at ELTE University.

TAMAS VICSEK, PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR AND PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS AT ELTE UNIVERSITY,  "The big jump in our case is to have them cooperate with each other, to have them act on their own, and outdoor in an autonomous way. For this they have to communicate with each other and the communication has to be fast enough and reaction time has to be short enough."

They do it, using a combination of GPS signals for navigation and radio to communicate. A small but powerful computer mounted on each quadcopter translates those signals into commands governing direction and speed, according to Gabor Vasarhelyi

GABOR VASARHELYI, ROBOTIC PROJECT LEADER , "Instead of someone holding a remote control and manually controlling the drone we have hardware that automatically calculates these steering signals."

And the team have brought an unprecedented level of sophistication to their flock. Vicsek says that when instructed to fly through an imaginary channel, his drones will line up and take their turn.

The implications of their work for industry, Vicsek says, are already becoming clear.

TAMAS VICSEK, PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR AND PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS AT ELTE UNIVERSITY, "One of our favourable examples for potential application is just to release a fleet of these drones over an agricultural field and tell them that 'cover the whole field and look for any problematic places or artificial pollination is a potential application so just cover everything and so the farmer can take 50 of these, release them, give them the co-ordinates of only the field, the borderline of the field, the rest is done automatically by these drones."

But that day is still some way off. The technology is not perfect and Vicsek and his team hope to refine it with camera vision, bringing another dimension of control to mechanical flocks that will one day function reliably on their own.

Erdogan Takes To Campaign Trail - Via Hologram

posted 20 Mar 2014, 10:57 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 20 Mar 2014, 10:58 ]

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has experimented with advancing technology by using a 10-foot high hologram of himself as a way to reach more voters. Erdogan is currently campaigning for his ruling AK Party in bitterly fought municipal elections that have been marred by violence. Jim Drury has more.

IZMIR, ISTANBUL AND ANKARA, TURKEY / BERLIN, GERMANY (REUTERS / POLYVISION HANDOUT / PRIME MINISTRY) - When it comes to campaigning, controversial Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is always prepared to try something new.

Erdogan's been premier for 11 years but at this rally in Izmir, he chose to project a new image in true 21st Century a hologram

The 10-foot tall, 3D projection was designed by Turkish company Polyvision. Executive chairman Aret Yildiz says he is excited about the technology's potential.


"You can use this technology in every field, including politics. There aren't many examples of this in politics. Only two or three politicians have used this technique. So we have seen it's making a big impression on the world. I think this could be used in any field."

Erdogan pre-recorded his speech in front of a green box while his image was reflected through 3D holographic beams.

It allowed him - or at least his image - to reach a larger share of the electorate. Yildiz says the AK Party leader has started a trend.


"We have been already doing business in various circles but with the Prime Minister this technology reached out to a wider group. Local elections are coming so we are receiving requests from candidates. We're offering and producing projects for them."

A controversial leader who divides opinion at home and abroad, Erdogan is currently fronting AK's campaign in bitterly contested local elections. Using hologram technologymay be one way, not only to reach a wider audience, but to do it in relative safety.

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