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Batteries & Capacitors: The Best of Both Worlds

clock March 26, 2011 00:55 by author Jeremy

What happens when you combine the energy storage of a battery with the charging rate of a capacitor? Hopefully, you'll get something like what Professor Paul Braun of Illinois has developed.

Braun (middle), along with postdoctoral researcher Huigang Zhang (right) and graduate student Xindi Yu (left), has developed a three-dimensional nanostructure for battery cathodes which allows for drastically increased charging and discharging, without losing overall capacity.

The downside is that the process of assmebling the inner parts is time-consuming; however, research can be easily picked up and continued since the processes are not limited to a particular type of battery. The group has already demonstrated usage in both Li-Ion and NiMH versions.

These types of batteries could be especially useful in electric vehicles. If research is continued in this field, it could be another candidate for future use, which would eventually mean the replacement of current types of batteries.

Source: news.Illinois.edu



Kyocera's Concept Phones Mimic Human Emotion

clock March 25, 2011 00:59 by author Jeremy

I know what you're thinking: those look like the phone cases that envelop your whole phone. Right? Wrong. These are actually some concept phones brought about by Kyocera. The idea behind them is that the phones will change shape based on certain circumstances: some will bend to your hand's grip and size, while others will re-form depending on your mood.

According to Kyocera, "70% of how we communicate is through our non verbal body language. This means only 30% of our intended message is conveyed through telecommunications. Realizing the nuances of unspoken communication, these surfaces morph to physically convey emotions to the call recipient."

How would it actually change based on your mood? Better yet, where would the battery be if the phone will continue to mold based on certain situations? Kyocera's answer lies with their definition of Biomimicry: "a polymer battery laminated with polytronic technology, provides the structure of this device."

Check out a few of the nifty shapes these (hopefully real in the future) phones can mold into:

 

Source/pictures: engadget.com



HTC Thunderbolt and Kyocera Echo, Released March/April 17

clock March 16, 2011 01:16 by author Jeremy

Two phones that have been teased around the web for a while now are finally getting official release-statements: Verizon's HTC Thunderbolt and Sprint's Kyocera Echo. The former is going to be the first smartphone on Verizon's 4G LTE network, and will be available March 17 (just two more days!). Meanwhile, the latter smartphone will be out on April 17th (just two more days! ...oh, and a month on top of that).

What's so special about these two, you ask?

As mentioned previously, the Thunderbolt is the first 4G smartphone using Verizon's LTE network, which should provide faster download/upload speeds. The Thunderbolt will come with a 4.3" display, an 8-megapixel rear camera with 720p HD recording, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chatting, and the latest 1GHz Snapdragon processor.

This, of course, should be a power-hog, so expect to charge your battery quite a bit. The Thunderbolt has already been delayed several times due to poor battery life, relating to issues around signal strength. These issues have been fixed, and there's even news circulating of an extended battery being offered by HTC, which will have roughly 2750mAh (almost double the phone's stock battery of 1400mAh). The phone-stand also comes back, just for your viewing pleasure.

Meanwhile, on Sprint's end, we'll be seeing the Kyocera Echo, a dual-screen smartphone that offers "simul-tasking". Consumers can use the two screens to simultaneously check their email, text message, browse the web, and more. During the Sprint event in February, they showed how the dual-screen phone could be used for gaming: The Sims was demo'ed with the top screen showing the game, and the bottom screen showing the control buttons. Alternatively, you could also converge both screens together (not physically, of course!) to use them as one large viewing apparatus. Nifty, indeed.

The smartphones of today just keep getting smarter, it seems.



Aerogel: Frozen Smoke, or Pure Awesome?

clock March 11, 2011 01:25 by author Jeremy

Well, it certainly looks like something the future would hold, doesn't it? Aerogel, also known as "frozen smoke" (can that name get any cooler?) is currently one of the world's lightest solids. It contains MWCNT - multi-walled carbon nanotubes, which are so small that thousands of them can fit on just one strand oh human hair.

Aerogel currently has many potential uses, ranging from detecting toxic substances to improving robotic surgery. One of these possible applications even includes something that could affect our daily lives: batteries.

Thanks to carbon nanotubes and the large surface area that they provide, aerogel is capable of storing vast amounts of energy. If used in conjunction with present-day batteries (whether they be lithium, alkaline, or other types), the aerogel could very likely increase the capacity that a single battery can hold.

"This has many potential applications and could really open up new areas to explore that we haven't even imagined yet," says Associate Professor Lei Zhai, who worked on the engineering team for aerogel. Along with Zhai were postdoctoral associate Jianhua Zou; University of Central Florida professores Saiful Khondaker, Sudipta Seal, and Quanfang Chen.

Source: UCF Today

 



iPad 2 - Faster, Thinner, and App-tastic

clock March 4, 2011 01:08 by author Jeremy

 

Apple's event on March 2nd held big news for tablet-lovers across the globe: the official release of the iPad 2, being sold in stores starting March 11. Steve Jobs himself took a break from his medical leave to narrate the event, which shows just how important the arrival of the iPad 2 is.

To quote the ever-so-popular Daft Punk, the iPad 2 is, simply-put, "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger". Jobs claimed that it was roughly 33% thinner than the previous model, and comes with not only a dual-core processor but also the new A5 chip, which supposedly works 9x faster than the A4 chip in the original iPad. However, it will retain the same 10-hour life span per charge.

One of the most exciting pieces announced during the event was, oddly enough, a cover. Not to be confused with a "case" mind you, as Jobs specifically mentioned a few times during the event. This new iPad Cover (iCover?) uses magnets to clip onto your iPad 2 with precision. The Cover can be manipulated in several ways: use it as its name implies (which will also clean your screen thanks to the material used on the iPad-side), or use it as a stand in either horizontal- or vertical-view. The Cover will come in either polyurethane for $39, or leather for $69; each type will have 5 different colors of your choosing.

Jobs also placed a heavy emphasis on FaceTime, which can be used from either the front or back camera. These cameras will definitely come in handy, as one of the newest additions to the iPad 2 is the introduction of an HDMI-out plug.

  

Now, imagine FaceTime on your extra large television at home, thanks to this handy little plug. The same plug even allows your iPad 2 to be charged simultaneously.

The iPad 2 will have 2 new arrivals on the app market: iMovie and GarageBand.

  

iMovie will let you become the director of your own films. By using the cameras, or uploading videos from your computer, you can edit the movies by mixing and matching, cutting and pasting, or even overriding the sound with various sound effects.

  

Meanwhile, GarageBand is exactly what it sounds like: be your own band. The app comes with a variety of instruments, ranging from your classic guitar to various types of pianos. The music from these touch-intuitive instruments can be recorded, edited, and uploaded.

 

 

With the iPad Cover, Facetime, front-and-back cameras, an HDMI-out plug, and 2 new apps, it's clear that Apple pulled all the stops on this creation. Now, the only question that remains is, are you going to buy one?

Source/Pictures: engadget.com



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