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When consumer video camera drones were initially launched way back when, people fretted about the personal privacy ramifications of airborne “eyes-in-the-skies” that can see over hedges as well as right into people’s bathrooms. Yet in reality, many drones on the marketplace came with such a broad angle lens that the regular backyard sun-tanner would be just a minor detail in any shot unless the camera was right up close. However, it was just a matter of time before some bright spark came out with a drone that crammed in major telephoto zoom capabilities…and lo and behold, 2 have been released just recently, one of which is so potent, it’s a little worrisome: the Walkera Voyager 4 has a mind-blowing 16x optic zoom which is essentially the same as a 10-1500mm zoom lens on a regular camera. But why would anyone, other than your local neighbourhood spy, want such power? Such zoom capability is often essential when filmmaking from the air, because regular airborne cams normally only have really broad angle lenses – this made them easier to fly, but at the cost of visual filming prowess. Certainly, there’s also the personal privacy ramifications, because having such zoom means it can film ‘close-up’ from a couple of neighbourhoods away, which is far enough that the person being observed has no chance of hearing it flying. But it doesn’t stop there, the Voyager 4 has another powerful attribute, particularly from a monitoring viewpoint. It may be set up to run via its own Wi-Fi network, up to 1.5 kilometres away, and it can also operate via a 4G wireless network which basically gives it a limitless range. Walkera hasn’t yet released pricing or availability information, however we are certainly looking forward to seeing exactly how the Voyager 4 compares to other high-end camera drones on the market.


Flow batteries are rechargeable energy storage systems that do their job by storing energy in contained liquid chemicals divided by a membrane layer. Once the battery has been filled by drawing electrons away from a positively-charged liquid mixture into a negatively-charged fluid, an electric current is created when the battery is turned on and the electron movement goes in the opposite direction from the negative to the positive solution. The resultant cell voltage generated by this electron shift is typically in the region of 2 volts. Researchers at Harvard University have now come up with a new way to create these alkaline flow batteries making use of a modified natural vitamin, known as vitamin B2. Initially, the researchers replaced the metal ions that normally reside within the products of acidic electrolytes, with organic compounds called quinones. This was followed by a research study where they created a quinone able to operate in alkaline fluids by replacing the original bromine additive with ferrocyanide, a common anti-caking substance used in kitchen salt. This work eventually led to the hunt for a much more environmentally-friendly quinone, before the researchers realised that the natural vitamin B2 could be used as a substitute. Making use of molecules such as vitamin B2 opened up a new world of similar natural molecules for the group to explore, with the goal of creating a high-performing, long-lasting, organic-based flow battery. Like vitamin B2, many of these molecular derivatives are non-toxic and are able to be manufactured inexpensively, so the scientists hope that their use could one day facilitate large, ineffective power storage from renewable sources such as wind and solar.


Simbe Robotics announced today a shop inventory robot that is able to drive around retail stores with the sole task of seeing to it that shelves are properly stocked with merchandise. This promises to reduce manual labor costs as well as missed income from customers who fail to find what they are looking for due to improperly stocked shelves. The robot, called Tally, features an assortment of sensors that allow it to navigate autonomously around a shop while at the same time scanning shelf inventory information. It primarily identifies out-of-stock and low-stock shelf items, but it can also respond to merchandise that has been incorrectly placed as well as any pricing anomalies. Unfortunately, it can’t yet deal with any of the issues that it does find, instead delivering information and suggestions back to store employees via the cloud. Tally also does not require any special physical shop layouts to carry out its task and can even work while consumers are going about their daily shopping, returning to its recharging station when it needs to. Monitoring stock levels can be a labor-intensive activity, and it is usually difficult to do reliably, so having a robot take over the responsibility is an ideal solution.



Qualcomm has recently released a few new specifics on its latest iteration of its chip for mobile devices, the Snapdragon 820. This new CPU, which is anticipated to start appearing in phones next year, will incorporate fast charging technology as well as the quickest LTE to date. Qualcomm has actually integrated an updated X12 LTE modem into its new CPU, providing LTE Advanced Category 12 in the downlink while the uplink features Category 13 . This will give download rates of as much as 600 Mbps while upload rates will be able to reach 150 Mbps. That’s quick enough to stream a 4K video clip in both directions at the same time, and all that with a lot of bandwidth available for other operations. Qualcomm is also incorporating the 802.11ad starndard for WIFI, which although you’re not able to use right now is likely to soon be taking over as the new common WIFI standard. The new CPU will also show radical changes in the amount of time it takes to charge mobile phones. Charging is one aspect where there is a great deal of development as of late and it has been a huge focus for rivals Samsung and Intel in recent times. It’s no surprise then that Qualcomm has chosen this chip to incorporate its new Quick Charge 3.0, enabling users to charge a regular mobile phone battery to 80 percent capacity in 35 minutes. We should start seeing the Snapdragon 820 appear in phones 2016.



A new gadget has been designed making angling a stroll in the park … or is it the sea! The Fish Call, as it is called, operates by simulating the sounds of fish that are feeding and is claimed to attract fish species of all kinds. The device is the creation of father-son team Jeff and Jack Danos, who themselves are novice fishermen. When Jack was 15, he and his father discovered what they refer to as a new sort of transducer that could make just about anything resonate. Several months of troubleshooting later and with the aid of a 3D printer has led to a milkshake-sized device that is destined for the angling market. Users simply press a button and then lob the device into the fish habitat where it resonates, replicating the sounds of feeding fish. This is claimed to sharpen the appetite of sea dwellers that can hear the device, attracting them and inducing them to nip at fishing lines, in the process helping you catch more fish than you otherwise would. The team has tested it out in both seawater and freshwater, and have caught some difficult-to-catch species like red fish and speckled trout with the device. The throwable tool can be anchored to the sea bed or it can be left to float on its own operating off a regular 9-volt battery which should last up to eight hrs.



At the MIT Media Laboratory, the Tangible Media Group thinks the foreseeable future of the computer is tactile. Revealed recently, the inFORM is MIT’s brand-new scrying pool for visualizing the user interfaces of the future. Practically like a board of living bricks, the inFORM is a structure that three-dimensionally alters form, enabling individuals to not just connect with online information but also hold hands with an individual many kilometers away. It’s essentially an elaborate Pinscreen, any of those executive workdesk playthings that enables you to make an approximate 3-D design of anything by pushing it into a base of smoothed pins. With inFORM, each one of those “pins” is attached to an electric motor manipulated by an adjacent laptop computer, which can reposition the pins to transcribe digital material in physical form, and is able to even have an effect on real-life materials as a result of being connected to a modified Microsoft Kinect.


Over the last few years, LED systems have led to debate in the growroom. The fundamental issue: Do they really work? LED lighting undoubtedly deliver on power savings and produce less heat compared to high-pressure sodium and metal-halide lamps (click on the link for an in-depth review of LED Grow Lights), however the majority of seasoned gardeners continue to be unconvinced. Perhaps the LED setup at Rocky Mountain High dispensary in Denver, Colorado will reform a handful of hearts. Chief growing publisher Danny Danko check outs this outstanding LED operation.


Ion Torrent systems uses a brand-new strategy to DNA sequencing, making it a lot faster, less complex, and even more cost effective than ever before. In contrast to alternative sequencing systems, Ion Torrent devices sequence DNA with a semiconductor chip, just like the semiconductor in your electronic camera. Although the microchip your electronic camera has a sensing level blanketed with countless pixels that decode light into electronic data, an Ion chip has countless wells covering those pixels. Any time a nucleotide is actually combined into an one strand of DNA, a hydrogen ion is produced. This is exactly how the Ion Torrent system decodes DNA, by reading this synthetic modification straight into the well on the chip. Essentially, each well functions as the tiniest pH meter ever made.

Home Improvement videos

Despite the fact that the traditional measuring tape is still a very useful device, that crinkled length of steel tape can sometimes not be the ideal tool for the job. And so Bagel was created to fill those niches better. Essentially, Bagel is a “smart” (as almost everything is these days) tape measure that provides three methods for measuring, integrated data storage, and a Bluetooth connection. The first mode of operation is called “String mode” and can be used to measure up to 3 meters in length, but instead of using a unwieldy piece of metal tape, Bagel uses a retractable length of string with measuring data presented on its integrated display. Unlike its metal counterpart, the measuring string can also be used precisely wound around the item to be measured giving a more exact measurement. The second mode of operation is useful if you have a distance greater than 3m but less than 10m to measure, and if you’ve only got a single hand available. Called “Wheel mode”, Bagel can be carefully rolled along a surface measuring the distance from the start of the roll to the end. Lastly, but by no means least, if you’re attempting to gauge the distance to a place out of reach, then there’s the “Remote mode”, which uses both a built-in laser pointer (as a quick guide) and ultrasound to determine the distance from Bagel up to 5 metres away. Bagel has a USB port for charging and can run continuously for eight hours on a single charge. Measured dimensions can be stored in the system’s on-board permanent memory, and the system can even capture a voice memorandum with each measurement to remind you of exactly what it was you were measuring at the time. Finally, all those measurements and memos can be sent by Bluetooth to your Apple or Android smartphone for later use. Bagel has been launched on Kickstarter recently and right now US $59 will currently get you a single unit with an expected delivery in November… if all goes to plan that is!

Do-it-Yourself (DIY) home improvement and home repair are very popular, almost recreational activities in the western world today and many a DIY enthusiast has made his or her mark with online video on just about any home building project or home repair need out there. In fact, one has to wonder if the traditional tradesperson is perhaps an endangered species given that there is now an almost endless stream of instructional DIY videos that can be followed by almost anyone with a little time and effort, and usually at half the cost of hiring a professional contractor. Of course, the availability and use of the building tools themselves do also present another obstacle to doing the job oneself, but then again the internet has come to the rescue with whole websites dedicated to figuring that out too. Even choosing the right tool for the job has led to dedicated websites that can help you make even that decision. Unsurprisingly, from this ocean of DIY home improvement videos have emerged specialised video channels dedicated solely to the art of ‘Do-It-Yourself’ home repair and renovation. HouseImprovements is one of the most popular ones with this particular video the first in a series about how to build a garden shed amongst the channel’s most popular! Who would have guessed that so many people needed to build a shed?

Music videos

Almost 5 years following his demise, a digital Michael Jackson appeared on stage at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards and once again amazed his followers. An incredibly life-like hologram of the star did a track from his 2nd posthumously launched album. Social media site was set alight with some folks cherishing seeing their beloved once again while others felt it disturbing. On Facebook, numerous heavy-duty viewpoints were shared right after the show. The novel holographic system was also employed to bring the late rap artist Tupac Shakur back to virtual life for a 2012 production at the Coachella music festival.

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