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06/02/2009

Good News #59 - #66 - Video Games, Digital Decor, Stronger Concrete, Auto Energy, Robotic Wheel Chairs, Digital Duds, Cow Power, Solar Plane

Hello,

Below are eight GOOD NEWS ideas that again show us new possibilities...

ONLINE DIALOGUE JUNE 16: 
Based popular demand,  INNOVATING in HARD TIMES 2 will be held on JUNE 16 from 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EDT at the Global Dialogue Center. I will again be joining my longtime colleague, Debbe Kennedy to take our discussion to the next level. Hope you can join us!  LEARN MORE and REGISTER at this link: http://tinyurl.com/JUNE16Dialogue  Allow a few seconds for the url to open; login info will be sent via return email. 

Scroll down to see my good news ideas #59 through #66...
 

Joel Barker-- Joel

Joel Barker
futurist, filmmaker, author
www.innovationattheverge.com

 

HUMAN IMPROVEMENT

Videogames #59 - Videos Games Help Your Eyesight
It actually started six years ago with Daphne Bavelier's research on gaming and its effects on children's eyesight. She concluded that action gaming actually made eyesight more acute and better at doing certain tasks. Now, her team has shown that playing action computer games improves your ability to perceive contrast, which is especially important in dark situations.

The improvement from playing action games was 43% over those who just played non-action games like the Sims. This improvement may lead to a treatment of "lazy eye" or amblyopia which 3% of people in Europe and North America have. Already tests are starting to see if it can be effective.

Google:  Daphne Bavelier, Video game eye improvement, "lazy eye"

http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2009/03/action-video-games-improve-eyesight.ars

HOUSING

Digitaldecor #60 - Digital Decor for Kid's Bedrooms
I had been tracking digital clothing which allows you to change the color or pattern of your clothes but I missed an obvious use for digital materials--wallpaper!  "Smartbricks" is a material developed in Israel to make wall tiles that display full-color images. The really cool thing is that once you have chosen the image, it stays with no additional power. You only need to add power to change it. The tiles reflect light rather than produce it, so when you turn the lights off, there is nothing to distract you.

The company that developed this technology is now working on smart tiles that can show moving images. Smartbricks will debut in Japan by the end of this year thanks to Shimizu, a construction company. Right now it is very expensive--about $2500 per square meter; however, we know that as manufacturing ramps up that price will plummet. 
A thought: is this the beginning of the "holodeck" from Star Trek?
Google:  Shimizu,  "smartbricks"

URL:  http://www.screens.tv/article/11643/SmartBricks_will_turn_walls_into_displays.html

http://www.magink.com/page.php?id=7


MATERIALS

Nanoconcrete#61 - Nanomaterials Improve Concrete

Making concrete last longer and be stronger is an important goal for the 21st century. I wrote about a coating developed in Wisconsin that extends the life of concrete. Now comes a “nano” additive that dramatically reduces the penetration of salt into concrete. By reducing this penetration, the concrete stays stronger and breaks down much more slowly. And,  in the long run, this saves money for taxpayers!

This is actually a verge product because the concrete engineers got their inspiration from emulsifiers that are used in foods to thicken and give texture. My father was a scientist whose specialty was emulsifiers.


URL:  http://ciks.cbt.nist.gov/~bentz/PartIpaperfinal.pdf



ENERGY EFFICIENCY

GenShock
#62 - Energy for automobiles
From an unlikely source, MIT engineers have found a way to make electricity to power the electronics and charge the batteries in heavy vehicles. They have combined shock absorbers with electric generation. They call it GenShock. It converts the up and down actions of the shock absorber into electricity thus reducing the work of the alternator. The end result for heavy vehicles is a 10% improvement in gas mileage. For companies like Wal-Mart, Fed Ex, UPS, and Coca Cola, this could be millions of dollars per year in savings while reducing CO2 emissions.

Levant Industries, the company the students started,  is producing the shocks under a license with MIT. This is another great example of innovation at the verge!
You gotta love those MIT folks. They are really contributing to a better world!

Google: GenShock, MIT electric shock absorber

URL: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/shock-absorbers-0209.html

 http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/02/power-harvesting-shock-absorbers-can.html

http://www.levantpower.com/genshocksavings.html

TRANSPORTATION

RoboticWheelChair #63 - Robotic Wheel Chairs

Most of us don't have to use wheelchairs as a form of transportation. But for those who do (including some of our soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan), new developments offer profound possibilities. At the University of Zaragoza in Spain, researchers have developed a wheelchair that responds to the thoughts of its rider.

A computer interacts with the rider/driver and the powered wheelchair. It starts by using a laser to scan the area in front of the wheel chair creating a 3-D map of that space on a computer screen. The "driver" then looks at a specific point on the map to indicate where he or she wants the chair to go. The computer matches up the location the eyes have identified with the map and drives the wheelchair to that location, avoiding any obstacles that might be in the way. For those too disabled to even use their hands, this will be a godsend.

Google: "thought-controlled Wheelchairs" (Image: University of Zaragoza)


 URL:  http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227065.900-robotic-wheelchair-controlled-by-thought-alone.html

CLOTHING

Ink-tshirt #64 - New Digital Duds for Dudes

In #60 above, I wrote about digital wall covering and joked about digital clothing. The joke's on me because a Japanese company has developed a way to put a flexible light-emitting ink onto a cloth surface. The ink is tough enough to withstand multiple washings. The process is still very rough--only one color at a time and chunky pixels. But the company is experimenting with using ink jet printers to put down the glowing ink in much finer detail and believes that within five years they will have a commercial product. The light-emitting, digital T Shirt is on its way!

Google: Light emitting T Shirt (Image: Dai Nippon)

URL: http://www.ubergizmo.com/15/archives/2009/04/light_emitting_poster_from_dai_nippon_printing.html

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227066.000-press-print-for-a-lightemitting-tshirt.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=tech

ENERGY

Cowface #65 - Cow Poo Power & Fertilizer

Cow manure has been a big problem for at least the last 25 years as more cows have been put into larger and larger facilities. Now a Canadian company, EarthRenew, has solved the poo problem while also creating electricity. Their goal was to convert manure to a dry fertilizer which can be more easily stored and moved than just wet manure.

What they have done is simple genius. They start with natural gas to power a gas turbine generator to produce electricity. They sell 90% of the power into the grid at a profit. Then they take the waste heat coming from the gas turbine and use it to dry the cow poo which is then compressed into manure granules. The heat also kills the pathogens that may be lurking in the liquid manure.

Rich in nutrients, these granules slowly release the fertilizer over time, reducing the need for repeated doses.

EarthRenew believes that this could work for pigs and maybe even for human waste.  This is a great example of turning a problem into an opportunity.

Google:  EarthRenew

URL: http://www.earthrenew.com/

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/energy-efficiency-our-fifth-fuel

TRANSPORTATION

Solarpoweredairplane #66 - Solar-Powered Airplane
This is a dream for environmentally concerned pilots. An electric airplane powered by solar cells and some back-up batteries for night flight. This is a Swiss project led by Bertrand Piccard whose family has a long history of flight. The plane will carry one pilot, has 12,000 solar cells coating the wings, and four 10 horsepower engines that move it along at a leisurely 45 miles per hour.

Piccard's goal is to circumnavigate the world over a period of weeks, landing periodically to show off the technology and change pilots. The around-the-world target is for sometime in the year of 2011, but they plan first flight for September of 2009. I'm betting it will get huge publicity. It is from experiments like this that big ideas have come.

Google: "Bertand Piccard", "solar-powered airplane" (Image: Graham Murdoch)

URL: http://www.popsci.com/military-aviation-amp-space/article/2009-05/racing-sun

Check out another electric plane: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2008/08/the-company-cla/

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Comments

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Wonderful ideas. I agree with author.

Wonderful resources here after i will be updated. Thanks for the efforts to post this kind of leaf.

I am intrigued and fascinated with these digital decors for children. I can imagine adding video game characters into the walls.

I am not aware that solar power can be used in an airplane. I think that was an amazing idea.

You shared very nice and detail information with us .This article contain very useful things for us I am very excited bout this one it is so nice and very useful to us.Thank you for this information .

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