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Entries in technology (5)


4 Bizarre Ideas for Dealing with China's Pollution Problem

China’s air pollution problem is getting worse every year, with 2013 levels literally measuring off the chart. As the issue worsens, we have to wonder, how do urban dwellers cope?

Beyond those stylish SARS-style masks, the Chinese are starting to get pretty creative in their ideas:

Smog-killing bicycles. A British artist living in Beijing has created a prototype for a bicycle that “eats” smog using a gas mask and air filter. (See video above.) No word on when – or if – this incredible idea might take off.

A giant electromagnetic vacuum. A Dutch designer has developed an "electronic vacuum cleaner" to remove smog from city skies. It uses buried coils of copper to create an electrostatic field, which draws in smog particles to create areas of clean air around it. The designer is currently working with the mayor of Beijing to use the technology in a new park in the city. (See video above.)  

Weather modification. The Chinese government claims they’ve successfully modified the weather on certain days. How exactly? By shooting rockets into the sky and inducing rain showers, which help to clear the smog – temporarily. (See video above.)

And, when all else fails…

Filtered nose plugs. Shanghai residents have apparently gotten so fed up with the smog, they’ve started using nose plugs with miniature air filters. And, when those aren’t available, some are trying good old fashioned cigarette butts. (Which, according to the New York Times, does not actually work.)

Here's hoping that the giant vacuum or smog-killing bike idea actually makes a bit of difference for the Chinese. Even if the ideas go nowhere, we're sure that they'll kickstart the kind of innovation that's required to solve this problem for good.


First Time Ever: Renewable Energy Investments Top Fossil Fuels 

Last year was the first time that investments in renewable energy exceeded those in fossil fuels, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Even in a recessed economy, investments in wind and solar power hit $187 billion last year, compared to the $157 billion that was funneled into natural gas, oil and coal.

What accounts for this switch? Renewable energy subsidies have increased, for one thing. Last year, they exceeded $66 billion. People also seem more willing to look into solar and wind energy -- perhaps especially because of the recession.

As even more new energy innovations emerge, it will be fascinating to see how society reacts.


3VR to Take Singapore by Storm This Week

There's nothing like a spirited discussion with great entrepreneurs to get the creative juices flowing!

This week, InHardFocus' own Steve Russell, chairman of 3VR Security Inc., is co-hosting a unique Q&A session for a group of up-and-coming Singapore entrepreneurs. Along with Scott Rafer, CEO of Lookery and MyBlogLog, and Christine Songco Lau, head of Google developer relations, Steve will discuss entrepreneurialism, new media and technology, and whatever else comes up!

The event is set for Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Merry Men (86 Robertson Quay, #01-02) in Singapore. In the area? To register, click here


LG’s Thinq Cleans Your Home, Feeds Your Dog While You’re Away  


LG has introduced Thinq, a new technology that could change your everyday life for the better –- and help you to rely on machines even more!

All you need is a wireless network and LG Thinq-enabled appliances, and you’ll be able to clean your home, program your washer and dryer, and feed your dog using your smartphone.

Ultimately, LG Thinq technology seeks to save energy (by letting you remotely control the temperature on your fridge, for example) and enable us to manage our homes more easily.

Start with the LG vacuum robot, HOM-BOT. Using your smartphone (or tablet), you can program HOM-BOT to clean certain rooms on certain days and even watch via built-in camera as it feeds your pets. In the near future, LG washers, dryers, fridges and dishwashers will also be Thinq-enabled.

A little over-the-top? Sure. But as your next vacation comes to a close, you might find yourself wishing you could do your laundry, feed Fido, clean the carpets and start the oven before you even walk in the door.




IBM Peeks into the Future

IBM released its annual "Next Five in Five" list of five innovations expected over the next five years.

Among the predictions are advances in transistors and battery technology that will allow devices to last 10 times longer.

Today's lithium-ion batteries could be replaced by batteries that use the air we breathe to react with energy-dense metal, eliminating a key inhibitor to longer lasting batteries.

"If successful, the result will be a lightweight, powerful and rechargeable battery capable of powering everything from electric cars to consumer devices.

"Better yet, in some cases, batteries may disappear altogether in smaller devices by reducing the amount of energy per transistor to less than 0.5 volts and relying on a technique known as "energy scavenging," IBM said.

Also on the horizon: 3-D and holographic cameras that fit into cellphones allowing video chat

with 3-D holograms of your friends in real time.

Personalized commutes are another development seen by IBM scientists, who are already at work on using new mathematical models and predictive analytics technologies to deliver the best routes for daily travel.

"Adaptive traffic systems will intuitively learn traveler patterns and behavior to provide more dynamic travel safety and route information to travelers than is available today," IBM said.

Human beings will also increasingly become "walking sensors," providing valuable data to fight global warming, save endangered species or track invasive plants or animals that threaten ecosystems around the world.

"In five years, sensors in your phone, your car, your wallet and even your tweets will collect data that will give scientists a real-time picture of your environment. A whole class of 'citizen scientists' will emerge, using simple sensors that already exist to create massive data sets for research," IBM said.

Finally, IBM said, scientists will find ways to better recycle heat and energy from data centers to do things like heat buildings in the winter and power air conditioning in the summer.

"Up to 50 percent of the energy consumed by a modern data center goes toward air cooling. Most of the heat is then wasted because it is just dumped into the atmosphere. New technologies, such as novel on-chip water-cooling systems developed by IBM, the thermal energy from a cluster of computer processors can be efficiently recycled to provide hot water for an office or houses," IBM said.