Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
 
July, 31st 2015
5:43
 

When I was younger, my little brother had a set of trains – the really cool ones where you took a big wooden board and put down fake grass and trees and little buildings.  The whole thing ran on electricity provided by a transformer that you plugged into the wall outlet.  The tracks were metal and the cars seemed to always be toppling over.    We spent hours with that setup – it was so much fun!

A love for railroads seems to be part of every child’s DNA; something that many really never outgrow!  There have been steam engines, trains powered by coal, diesel, electricity; a ride on a train used to be a luxury and there are pictures that make folks really nostalgic.  We’ve upped our population & we keep improving the technology to meet the changing needs of our planet…

Here’s another cool innovation from the European continent:

Biodiesel to Power Swedish Train Line

Swedish operator Inlandsbanan AB has said it hopes to convert its entire fleet of passenger and freight vehicles to bio-diesel by 2020.  Inlandsbanan AB has received funding from the EU to assess the feasibility of converting its diesel trains to RME, a biodiesel produced from rapeseed.

 

Rapeseed is grown for the production of animal feed, vegetable oil for human consumption, and biodiesel; leading producers include the European Union, Canada, China, India and Australia.

“Can’t ya hear this whistle blowin’?”  Do you have a plan for alternative fuel?  Take it to the rails!!

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July, 30th 2015
5:14
 

Have you noticed?  Everywhere you turn, it seems that emoji’s are flooding our written communications.  Originally meaning pictograph, the word emoji literally means “picture” (e) + “character” (moji).  As funny as they sometimes are, Intelligent Environments is capitalizing on the security aspect of these funny ideograms.

“The Emoji Passcode plays to humans’ extraordinary ability to remember pictures, which is anchored in our evolutionary history,” Intelligent Environments quotes memory expert Tony Buzan as saying. “We remember more information when it’s in pictorial form, that’s why the Emoji Passcode is better than traditional PINs.”

Passcodes made up of emoji are reportedly more secure, as offering a choice of 44 emoji means there is a total of 3.5 million possible permutations. That’s a lot more impressive than the 7,000-odd non-repeating PIN permutations. Using pictures should also prevent criminals from identifying significant numbers associated with an individual’s life, such as birthdays or anniversaries.

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What do you think?  Would you like to pick a string of 4 emoji’s to secure your vast bank account?  :-)

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Lots of people spread lots of (what we politely refer to as) manure when they are speaking or writing.  There are tabloids and blogs and conversations overheard that reek of the stuff.   BUT – there’s a real world application for manure in the farming sector of the economy that is beneficial  (and maybe less toxic than gossip or rumor?), and there’s new tech to help with precise application… Read about it here:

Digi-Star Introduces Rate Control

Manure SpreadersLook – The first step to assessing soil health is to simply look for ...

 

Digi-Star LLC is headquartered in Fort Atkinson, Wis., with additional facilities and businesses in the Netherlands and United Kingdom. Digi-Star LLC is a global supplier of electronic sensing equipment, precision sensors, displays and software used by farmers and other equipment operators to precisely measure and analyze valuable data from critical farming processes.

Here’s some press about the award they’ve garnered for their technology:  Digi-StarNT8000iEarnsAward

There’s a “world” of farming tech to be explored – visit this site by clicking the logo to learn more:

  ASABE  (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers)

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July, 28th 2015
5:32
 

WOW – I’ve just had quite an education on the advancement of the mirror.  I always thought it was just a “dumb” piece of glass that is reflective.  Boy, was I wrong!

Now there are things called augmented mirrors – and there are MANY.

Here’s what I’ve learned with a little internet searching…

MirrorMirror developed by students at Purdue University, gives the user not only their reflection, but other important information such as the latest news, emails and even bus schedules.

The prototype was produced during BoilerMake2014, a 36-hour hackathon at Purdue University. It uses facial recognition technology that causes relevant information to be displayed when the user looks into the mirror.

“The mirror will display general information most of the time, but when it recognizes a user it will display their information such as emails or scores of the latest game,” says team member Nick Molo. “With our open development platform, anyone who has the ability to build an app can do so and share it with other users.”

Even going back to development of the 2011 Cybertecture Mirror there was the intent to present users with a wealth of information while looking at their reflection. Described as a reflective window into a digital life, this internet-connected, intelligent mirror can augment your reflected image with weather and news, check for messages or social network feeds, let you watch a TV program, give you information on your state of health and can even act as a personal exercise coach.

blog cybertecture mirror

Please note that these newfangled mirrors do not come cheaply!  I guess you’d have to weigh the cost against the advantages received to see if it will be on your wish list of additions to your home decor :-)

What do you think?

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Seahorses are those almost comical looking creatures that inhabit shallow tropical waters in temperate climates.  They are really cool to look at and are a particular favorite of children.  Watching one “swim” can inspire wonder…how DO they do that anyway?  (Since I never made it much past the dog-paddle stage myself, observing a seahorse in motion is quite fascinating for me!)

But there’s more to the structure of a seahorse than meets the eye – and their specific skeleton and musculature may lead the way to improved technology and less stiffness when we move forward on invention of the next generation of robots!  Traditionally, our attempts to make robots have had some problems when it comes to mobility.  Further, the exoskeletal properties of the seahorse could lead to improvements in body armor or protective materials.  A study was led by Michael Porter, an assistant mechanical engineering professor at Clemson University in South Carolina that has been published online in the Journal Science.  His findings are quite amazing!

Read about it here:

Seahorse’s Amazing Tail

 

Could Inspire Better Robots

 

seahorse

The seahorse Hippocampus abdominalis at the Seattle Aquarium.
Credit: Dominique Adriaens

 

The piece linked below has some really interesting stuff about these little guys, too.  Give it a look-see…

Secret of the Sea Horse:How Creature Got its Curve

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