Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Public safety

With little electronic backpacks installed on their backs, giant flower beetles are being remotely controlled while in free flight. Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) gained insight into how the insects fly and identified the use of these beetles in areas such as search-and-rescue.

The thought of these little bugs sporting backpacks makes me chuckle, but if they will be of service with search-and-rescue, I’m all for it!

blog beetleThe beetles were first placed in a closed room equipped with eight 3D motion-capture cameras. Using radio signals transmitted to the backpack once every millisecond, the researchers selectively stimulated different muscles. By doing so, they were able to get the insects to take off, turn left or right, or hover in place.

Similar research is being conducted at North Carolina State University, except instead of beetles, they are testing with cockroaches.  It seems fitting that some of the peskiest bugs are put to work for us.

It might be fun to be the one to train these beetles (or cockroaches) in a very high tech way and have them follow your commands – releasing the inner animal trainer in you.

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The concept is a rolling classroom; its purpose is to bring hands-on tech education to classrooms and build interest in students for science and math as fun subjects.

Where there’s a spark, there’s a flame – and the blaze is growing!!  This Stanford University (California, USA) rolling classroom is reaching both students and teachers alike…

Read about their beginnings and their continuing journey here:



And if you’re inspired by their success, maybe this is a project you and your fellow students will want to take on at your university!  Click the pic for a guide…



Where will you roll?

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Paper maps have been used by humankind ever since it was necessary to document a location’s specifics for others.  Often, a map served to delineate boundaries or help groups travel to a previously unvisited destination – and there are a host of other uses for mapping.  More recently, maps have been added into the functionality of a myriad of handheld electronic devices – enhancing searchability and portability of a vast repository of information in a mobile device (no folding required!).

Now things have taken a step further…  Ordnance Survey has released a mapping tool which pulls together geographical, transportation and other types of local information including statistics on crime and other data

Read about it here:

Ordnance Survey releases


OpenMap mapping data


OpenMap UK

Source: OS OpenMap User Guide

The level of detail provided in a map of this type may revolutionize cartography…  At the very least, it’s another great way to keep yourself from getting lost!

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May 13th, 2015

The TV news is always bombarding us with stories of abductions and missing persons.  Carrying a cell phone doesn’t always give you added protection if you don’t have time to make a call during a threatening event.  Here’s a story on some tech that might help bridge that gap…it’s called Revolar and it’s

A Wearable That Promises


To Keep You Safe


“Jacqueline Ros, the CEO and Founder of Revolar came up with the idea for the product after her young sister had been attacked multiple times. She wished that her sister had had a “magic button” to call for help.”

Check out the Kickstarter Campaign and the Revolar product website.   Revolar logo

Is there work that you’re doing to help improve the safety of yourself and others?  Contribute to the Students For a Smarter planet blog and tell us about it!


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May 9th, 2015

When you are ascending inside a tall building, you wait impatiently for the ‘bing’ that signals you are about to take a ride.  Anyone who has ever stared into an open elevator car with someone already in it has likely asked this somewhat inane question: “Going up?”  There’s really only two choices for where the elevator is headed – up or down…  And if the elevator car isn’t heading in the direction you wish to go, you have several options:

  • if there’s more than one elevator shaft, wait for the next car to arrive and ask the same question of that occupant (hopefully they are going up!) and continue on your journey skyward
  • if there’s only one elevator shaft, ride down with the occupant, then reverse course (gives you a false sense of accomplishment as you are still moving, albeit in the opposite direction of where you wish to end up…)
  • allow the car to go down without you, punch the up button on the wall panel again & wait in the hallway whistling tunelessly, all the while being painfully aware of the time you are wasting
  • find the nearest staircase and plod your way up by foot (a great cardio workout if you have more than 6 flights to climb!!)

Having addressed the somewhat silly aspects of this desire for a ‘lift’, let’s get on to the more serious, as discussed in this article from The Washington Post

In an increasingly urban


world, energy efficient


elevators are imperative.


 Otis Elevator Company, the legendary manufacturer that invented the first safety brake, has been at the forefront of developing efficient, sustainable, people-moving technology for more than 160 years. Otis re-examined every aspect of the elevator to create an evolved, environmentally-responsible and highly efficient Gen2® elevator system.  By pairing innovative belt technology with the ReGen™ drive – which can harness electricity previously lost as heat – Otis elevators are 75 percent more efficient than conventional systems.


(If you’re not too tired from all that stair climbing, maybe this article will inspire you to create designs of your own to improve efficiency and environmentally friendly product technology…  And maybe you’ll be ‘going up’ – headed for a great new job?)



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