Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
Security and resilience
July 30th, 2015

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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Philips has announced that it plans to make 110,000 LED street lights in Los Angeles connected. The company will bring the lights online using new plug-and-play CityTouch technology. It is said to be quick and easy to install, and will allow the city’s lights to be monitored and controlled via the web.  Los Angeles will reduce its street lighting energy consumption by up to 70 percent, by switching to LEDs.

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The plug-and-play nature of the technology reduces the time and cost of programming and commissioning each fixture. Philips says the device can also reduce maintenance costs by around 20 percent, by automatically reporting faults.  And with reduced energy consumption comes reduced costs.

It would be pretty cool to be able to modify the lighting around my town!  Some streets aren’t well lit which makes it hard to detect the wildlife that may be lurking in your path.

Not only is this technology saving our planet by reducing our energy consumption, but it’s making it safer for it’s inhabitants!

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The squid is an intriguing marine animal. Squid are strong swimmers and certain species can “fly” for short distances out of the water.

And now scientists are developing camouflage systems inspired by squids’ color-changing skin. If successful, the result could be military clothing that can change its coloration to match the environment. But, there was a limitation which wouldn’t allow soldiers to avoid detection by infrared cameras at night.  Researchers from the University of California at Irvine are developing a stick-on covering that could let them do so.

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The new material utilizes the same protein that squids use to change color (Photo: Shutterstock)

Squids are able to rapidly change color thanks to cells in their skin known as iridocytes. These contain platelets that are made of a protein called reflectin. By adjusting the thickness and spacing of these platelets, the animals are able to change the manner in which their skin reflects light.

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While it’s still being perfected, the hope is that one day soldiers will carry rolls of the inexpensive stickers with them while on maneuvers. They could just apply them as needed, then peel them off and discard them afterwards.

More and more research is looking at what happens in nature to find ways to advance technology. Do you have any thoughts inspired by something in our environment that can improve the way we live or save lives?

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June 8th, 2015

We’ve all seen news stories about the atrocities being committed on defenseless animals in the wild.  There is a program that has been “launched” using drones to thwart poachers that seek to illegally obtain the tusks of the elephant and horns of the rhino.

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Elephants in Kenya, near the Tanzania border in 2014. AOPA file photo.

Air Shepherd, an initiative backed by the Lindbergh Foundation, is a not-for-profit that aims to preserve the environment through the use of technology.

The Air Shepherd system uses unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with infrared cameras and GPS.  These are designed to tackle after dark-poaching between the hours of 6:30 and 8:30 pm, a period which sees the poachers make their move after surveying animal positions during daylight.  Once the curtain of darkness is lowered, the hunters move in and kill the animals, quickly making off with their horns and tusks.

The pilot phase in southern Africa over the last two years saw more than 350 missions and logged 1,000 hours of flying time over a region where as many as 19 rhinos were normally poached each month.  During the testing period, not a single rhino was killed in an area where the drones were operating.

Please read more detail about this life-saving technology here.

What a great use of drone and “big data” technology!  Do you have any expertise that could literally save some of our planet’s inhabitants?

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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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