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Six energy-harvesting gadgets powered by people

By Cat DiStasio

People power is perhaps one of the world’s greatest untapped sources of renewable energy. Smart devices that harness kinetic energy from everyday human activities help the environment in more ways than one. By turning motion into useable electricity, human-powered gadgets help reduce reliance on fossil fuels and batteries that damage the planet. At the same time, kinetic gadgets encourage people to keep moving, thereby supporting a healthier lifestyle. From a dance floor that turns your sweet moves into a luminous display to a clever motion-powered light that keeps runners safe at night, we’ve rounded up six amazing gadgets that take advantage of human movement.

Running for the light

For runners, or anyone else interested in being active after dark, this motion-powered light is a dream come true. Battery-powered headlamps and body lights can flicker out without warning, leaving you invisible after the sun goes down. The Million Mile Light is a small, clip-on LED lamp that draws power from a runner’s movement, and emits a continuously flashing light bright enough to ensure that motorists will be able to spot a pedestrian over 200 yards away. The lamp promises a 100,000-hour lifespan, making it a long-term sustainable lighting option for all sorts of night owls on the go.

Dancing with the LEDs

Imagine a place where you could dance, dance, dance the night away and then head home knowing you’ve helped generate clean energy. It’s not a far-fetched idea thanks to Energy Floors’ kinetic energy-generating dance floor. To demonstrate the tech, the company created a translucent floor with a dynamic LED display powered by motion from each shimmy and shake. Motion is transferred through the floor to a small generator, and each 30-inch square floor tile can produce up to 35 watts of sustained output.

Pedal-powered charging

This bike made from bamboo is green in more way than one. Mexico-based consortium Bambootec created a clever bicycle that harvests pedal power and turns it into renewable energy. Small gadgets like smartphones and MP3 players can be recharged via a connected power adapter on the go. The bike also sports a navigation dashboard in the handlebars that measures distance and time. The frame is made mostly from bamboo, a sustainably harvested grass, so the bike has a low environmental impact from its origins to its operation.

Powerful footwear

The simple act of walking could power your small electronic devices — and it could happen sooner than you might expect. University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers created a pair of insoles capable of generating 20 watts of energy from footsteps. The invention prompted the founding of InStep NanoPower, a startup working to produce shoes with the energy-generating insole built right in. Footwear that doubles as a power source would be a boon to busy urban dwellers, college students, long-distance backpackers and anyone else who puts in a lot of steps over the course of a given day.

An energy-harvesting shopping mall

A suburban shopping mall seems like an unlikely place for renewable energy generation, and yet it makes a lot of sense because there’s lots people walking around. Pavegen, a clean tech firm, installed 68 kinetic floor tiles in a Johannesburg mall last year to raise awareness about the problems rural villages face with unreliable power grids. The tiles power an interactive data screen that displays real-time footfall data, while harvesting electricity to power struggling communities elsewhere in South Africa. The Sandton City shopping mall sees over two million footsteps each month, which translates into a substantial amount of energy and a major impact in the lives of people who simply want light, heat and other basic amenities.

Wearable energy-generating fabric

A team of Georgia Tech engineers recently developed a hybrid textile that uses solar power and kinetic energy to produce clean energy. The futuristic fabric could be used to create wearable clothing, household window dressings and even camping tents. Solar cells made from polymer fibers and triboelectric nanogenerators meshed with wool threads are woven together to create a flexible, lightweight, breathable fabric capable of generating substantial amounts of electricity. The material’s inventors are working on ways to make it waterproof and to improve its long-term durability. It will be quite a while, then, before you can buy a shirt that can charge your smartphone, but we’re getting closer.


Recommended Reading: President Obama on science and innovation

Barack Obama:
Now Is the Greatest
Time to Be Alive
President Barack Obama,

The White House Frontiers Conference took place this week to “explore the future of innovation here and around the world.” President Obama is also guest editor for the November issue of Wired where he discusses science and other advancements in both essay and interview form. Above is the president’s writing on technology and more. There’s also a joint interview with MIT’s Joi Ito where the two discuss AI, self-driving cars and and other futuristic topics with Wired’s Scott Dadich

Pandora Rebrands for the First Time in 11 Years
John Paul Titlow, Fast Company

Pandora still hasn’t revealed what it’s doing with the pieces of Rdio it swiped up, but the company did unveil a full rebrand this week that’s a lot more visually appealing.

First! How ‘#WhoIsNeil’ Gamed Trump’s Twitter Bots
Alyssa Bereznak, The Ringer

The quest to discover who was behind a Pro-Trump Twitter bot led to a podcast and app that might outlive the mogul’s political career.

How Youtube’s Miranda Sings Made the Move to ‘Haters Back Off!’ On Netflix
Kaitlyn Tiffany , The Verge

You need to read this article. It’s really bootiful. Juss saying.

Losing Face: How a Facial Recognition Mismatch Can Ruin Your Life
Ava Kofman, The Intercept

Facial recognition is an important tool for law enforcement, but as one man in Denver found out, it can also wreck your life when the wrong person is identified.


The one mistake people make when asking for tech support – CNET


No matter how good-looking it is, your computer is a thing, it has no feelings.

Dong Ngo/CNET

If you’re ever seeking tech help for computer issues, here are some tips: Be specific, take screenshots, explain what is happening and not what you think is happening.Whether you’re asking a tech-savvy friend (like me!) for advice or calling AppleCare support or the Geek Squad, using this tip will get you the help you need in the fastest way possible. So what do I mean by “be specific”?

Let me give you an example of an experience I had just a couple days ago. A friend called and told me she had “no internet.” I took her through my usual process of restarting the modem, the router and her computer, all to no avail. I suggested she check the lights on her network devices and all the cables too. Everything appeared to be working properly, and frankly, I started thinking I wouldn’t be able to help her that night. Finally I asked “How did you find out you had no internet?” And that’s when we solved the problem.

As it turned out she’s written a URL down on a piece of paper and then tried going to the site based on the what she’d written. The problem was she’d unfortunately misspelled the address so the browser was 404-ing, giving her the impression that the internet was malfunctioning. The fact that she got the URL wrong is irrelevant. I’ve made similar mistakes before. We all have. This was an issue of ineffective communication.

The point is, saying “I have no internet” doesn’t provide enough information about the problem to the person trying to identify your issue. Instead of stating what the end result is (or, as in the above example, what you think it is) describe the sequence of events that lead you to believe there was a problem in the first place.

For example, don’t say “My computer won’t let me log in,” instead say, “After entering my name and password, I proceeded to login and saw this error message.” Better yet, take a picture of that error message with your phone in case your friend or tech support person needs more info.

In my experience, it often takes longer to find out what the issue actually is than it does to fix it. The more specific you can be, the less time you’ll have to wait to get up and running again. Good luck!


Android Central 310: Galaxy Note 7 hot takes

Andrew, Alex, and Daniel dive headfirst into the fiery depths of the Note 7 cancellation.

How much did Samsung know before the phone was widely released, and why didn’t the company catch what was causing the first batch of phones to overheat before sending replacements? And, ultimately, how will this affect the way people look at Samsung as a company, and its future products?

Thanks to this week’s sponsor:

  • Harrys: Use promo code AC to save $5 off your first purchase — start shaving smarter.

Podcast MP3 URL:


ICYMI: The alcohol creating energy and removing pollution

ICYMI: The alcohol creating energy and removing pollution

Today on In Case You Missed It: The University of Colorado, Boulder is diving into a beer project with a surprising twist: Researchers have managed to use beer brewing runoff to grow a species of fungus that not only cleans the water but can also be used to create lithium-ion batteries. Meanwhile the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is helping paralyzed people regain a sense of touch through a robotic arm, by implanting electrodes in the participant’s brain.

The flexible phone display for music is here, and the BMW concept motorcycle that had everyone talking is here. In case you’re friends with someone on Tinder, they should know about this story. As always, please share any interesting tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.


Coen brothers are writing ‘Dark Web,’ the Silk Road movie

Heads up, Fargo fans: Fox is making a movie called Dark Web about Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, and the studio enlisted the help of the Coen brothers. The siblings are on board to write the film’s screenplay based on the Wired series that tells the story of Ulbricht’s empire and its fall in the hands of authorities. Silk Road was once a thriving online black market selling illegal drugs, weapons and even the services of hitmen, where buyers and sellers dealt in Bitcoins as their main currency.

Ulbricht, who was known in the community under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts, began building it back in 2010. Five years later, he was sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted on seven charges of money laundering, drug trafficking, conspiracy and computer hacking, among other things. The controversial figure also ordered a hit on five people, including a blackmailer, according to a transcript of his conversations with assassins that Wired published. While DPR paid for the hits, nobody actually got killed.

As if those elements weren’t enough to make a good thriller, one of the federal agents who investigated the case also received a six-and-a-half year sentence. He was found guilty of stealing $800,000 worth of Bitcoins from the marketplace while the feds were investigating the case.

It’s unclear if the Coen brothers will also direct Dark Web, but we’re sure a lot of people will be thrilled if they sign up for that part, as well. Besides the crime thriller Fargo, they also directed and wrote a number of other award-winning films, including True Grit, No Country for Old Men and Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter


Apple Has a Temporary Workaround if the Home Button Fails on an iPhone 7

With the introduction of the iPhone 7, Apple did away with the classic click-mechanism home button in favor of a “solid-state” pressure sensitive one that uses haptic feedback to mimic traditional button presses.

The programming that controls the Taptic Engine-powered feedback is deeply integrated into iOS 10, so much so that it appears Apple has been able to come up with a temporary workaround when the iPhone’s diagnostic software senses that the technology is playing up.

MacRumors forum member ‘iwayne’ shared the above picture of his iPhone 7 display after the device unexpectedly turned itself off while charging and the haptic feedback began malfunctioning after a restart. A dialog prompt warns that the home button is in need of repair, but presents an alternative onscreen home button for temporary use until the phone has been turned in to Apple for servicing.

MacRumors has previously noted that the Taptic Engine can become unresponsive if the OS freezes, which forced Apple to change the reset process for the iPhone 7 series. Apple has also apparently safeguarded against instances when the button’s haptic system breaks completely, but whether or not its failure rate is any better than a physical button remains to be seen.

Rumors suggest Apple will ditch the iconic home button entirely for next year’s “iPhone 8” in favor of one built directly into an edge-to-edge display, but it’s unclear how Apple intends to implement button-based recovery methods for instances in which devices freeze or stop responding completely.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tag: Taptic Engine
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Kigali Amendment reached to cut use of planet-warming HFCs

Today, more than 170 nations have settled on a plan to cut the use of hydrofluorocarbons (or HFCs), a refrigerant that causes warming in the Earth’s atmosphere. Called the Kigali Amendment for the location of negotiations in Rwanda, it’s the result of seven years of work to expand the Montreal Protocol reached in 1987. That deal phased out the use of ozone-depleting chemicals, and by adding to it, this agreement carries its legally binding weight as a treaty, without needing to wait for ratification like last year’s Paris Agreement.

The gradual reduction of HFCs is scheduled to start in 2019 for countries like the United States, with China and 100 others pledging to take action in 2024, followed by other countries including India and Pakistan in 2028. While countries including the US had reportedly pushed for a faster schedule, scientists cited by the Natural Resources Defense Council said it will avoid “early 90 percent of the temperature increase that HFCs could have caused.” In a statement, director David Doniger said the group’s estimates show this agreement “will avoid the equivalent of more than 80 billion tons of CO₂ over the next 35 years.”

HFCs were introduced in the 80s as a replacement for those ozone-depleting chemicals, but while they’re said to represent a small fraction of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, they trap heat and do more to warm the climate than carbon dioxide. They’re used in refrigerators, air conditioners, insulating foams, inhalers and other applications, and will be replaced by more climate-friendly chemicals. The new agreement could avoid up to half of a degree of global warming by the end of the century, which will help reach the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to under two degrees.

Source: ABC News, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York Times, BoingBoing


How to watch porn on PlayStation VR [NSFW]


Porn isn’t out of reach when you’re using PlayStation VR.

Playstation VR has finally arrived, and so of course you might be asking the important questions. Like whether it’s possible to access porn while using it. Sony has a varied history with the adult entertainment industry, so that’s a pretty solid query. Have no fear though, you can definitely watch your adult entertainment using PlayStation VR and we’ve got all the details for you below.

Read more at VR Heads


Tesla Model S is the best-selling US luxury sedan, by a wide margin

Third-quarter sales of the Tesla Motors Model S electric sedan surged 59 percent from last year to 9,156 units, the company confirmed to Autoblog today. The sales are about five percent more than our previous third-quarter estimate, since that was a guess based on Tesla’s disclosure of its global quarterly sales. Bloomberg News, which first reported the US sales figures, said the Model S was the country’s best-selling luxury sedan in the third quarter, and by a wide margin. Tesla also sold 5,428 Model X vehicles during the quarter, Tesla confirmed.
The Model S sales were almost double the sales figures for the No. 2 US luxury sedan, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and more than double the sales of the BMW 7-Series. No other model moved more than 2,000 units during the quarter. In all, the Model S accounted for almost a third of the country’s third-quarter large luxury sedan market, which also includes models from Audi, Lexus, Porsche, Jaguar, and Maserati.

Our prior estimates, which assumed that 55 percent of Tesla’s global Model S sales are in North America, had Tesla selling 8,691 Model S vehicles during the third quarter. Either way, the Model S continues to be a category-defining vehicle.

The better-than-previously-reported news marks a bit of positive direction for a company dogged by investor concerns that it’s burning through too much cash, especially as it prepares to complete its acquisition of solar-energy service provider SolarCity. CNBC recently cited an analyst note from Oppenheimer’s Colin Rusch that estimated that Tesla may need to raise as much as $12.5 billion by the end of 2018 in order to stay financially solvent. Tesla chief Elon Musk refuted any notion that the company would need to raise additional cash by the end of the year in a Tweet last week.

Via: Automotive News

Source: Bloomberg

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