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Innovation

  • Drone racing could be South Africa’s next big sport

    Drone racing might be South Africa's latest national sport, that's at least if Drone Racing Africa has anything to say about it. DRA is the " first fully funded drone racing league and series in Africa" geared toward promoting and growing the popular sport among all ages and genders Internationally, drone competitions and drone culture has become more prevalent an ingrained in society. Events such as Dubai's World Drone Grand Prix, and Hawaii's Drone World Championships are all pushing the awareness and intrigue of the sport. Now, Africa will be getting a taste of that action. Drone racing, and consumer drones, have been slowly...

  • Researchers use drones to find worrying news in ocean

    A research vessel tasked with studying the ocean's surface, has successfully used drones and other autonomous vehicles to discover new dangers to human and sea life. The Schmidt Ocean Institute vessel, aptly named Falkor, returned to port yesterday after successfully deploying 17 sampling stations to various parts of the world's oceans. "The sea-surface microlayer plays a vital role in the uptake and release of greenhouse gases, including methane and carbon dioxide via the ocean," said chief scientist from the University of Oldenburg, Oliver Wurl. "Even the latest models ignore what happens at the sea surface, we hope this research will change that...

  • New tech makes wind turbines cheaper, lighter and sturdier

    The WALiD (Wind blade using cost-effective Advanced Lightweight Design) project in conjunction with the Fraunhofer Institute, have developed lighter but sturdier wind turbine blades that could improve the technology's efficiency and longevity. Lowering the weight of the turbines could allow them to be assembled a lot easier as well as improve their stability -- in the ocean specifically -- and reduce the cost of wear and tear. Wind turbine blades measure up to 80m in length with a rotor diameter of 160m in order to produce maximum energy yields. One drawback of these turbines is that they can be extremely heavy....

  • Rwanda’s now using drones to deliver medical supplies

    Drones are all the rage these days, but they're being put to life-saving use in Rwanda, in the form of so-called Zip drones. Zipline teamed up with the Rwandan government for the project, which sees the drones able to drop blood, vaccines and other medical supplies to remote areas. "Zip is a small robot airplane designed for a high level of safety, using many of the same approaches as commercial airliners. It can carry vaccines, medicine, or blood. A fleet of Zips is able to provide for a population of millions. No roads, no problem," Zipline wrote on its website. The Zip drones...

  • Neotel, CDF to drive social-economic change in SA using tech

    Using technology to drive education, social-economic development and ultimately the country's future growth isn't just a governmental issue. This according to the Cape Digital Foundation (CDF) and Neotel. The non-profit CDF -- which is committed to "improving access to technology and digital opportunities in the Western Cape", and the decade-old telecoms held a joint media round table Thursday morning, to discuss the challenges surrounding South Africa's digital growth. And while Neotel has pledged its commitment to continued development in the country's broadband rollout, it also suggests that more yet needs to be done. "Neotel is committed to this as long...

  • Curro Grantleigh, Meridian Cosmo City win local leg of World Robot Olympiad

    Independent educational provider Curro saw two of its South African schools -- Grantleigh and Meridian Cosmo City -- walk away with gold and silver medals respectively at the World Robot Olympiad's national finals held in Pretoria earlier this month. This year's theme "Rap The Scrap" focuses on best recycling practices. Students were required to build LEGO-based robots which could reduce or manage recyclable waste. The Grantleigh team, consisting of 16-year old Dominique Spies and 15-year old Bonga Gumbi, designed a robot which sorts waste into its respective recycling containers at recycling plants. The team's robot had two minutes to complete its given challenge...

  • Observing supercooled atoms could improve semiconductor technology

    Atoms -- the building blocks of all matter -- remain as complex and mysterious as ever. Science, in general, remains this way due to the vast applications, research and discoveries which can still be made. This new study proves how much and how little we know about the world around us. Professor Martin Wolfram Zwierlein, the principal investigator at MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics, made a remarkable discovery along with the rest of his team. Freezing atoms to several nanokelvins (a temperature just slightly above absolute zero) the team trapped the slow-moving atoms in a lattice consisting of crisscrossing lasers. Using a powerful...

  • 5 amazing technologies that are yet to find their killer apps

    The history of innovation is essentially a love story. For any new technology to be embraced and find mainstream success, it first must find its soulmate, that one killer app that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts, and eventually makes its existence seem as if it were always inevitable. Think of long-vaunted, and long-stalled, augmented reality (AR) and the overnight impact of Pokemon Go, though there are hundreds of examples -- from the marriage of smartphones and apps to the mix of greater data availability and better computing power that has given a huge boost to...

  • Solar Impulse 2: a momentous creation for human aeronautics

    Back in the early 1900s when Wilbur and Orville Wright took off in the world's first  powered and sustained airplane, man knew that they could reach for the stars and beyond. Ever since the Wright brothers took off, the world has seen steady innovations in aviation; jet turbines, panoramic views, WiFi, I'm pretty sure that the brothers never in their wildest dreams imagined it to go this far. It seems another man is hoping the world will look to his crazy idea for new aviation and renewable energy breakthroughs. The Solar Impulse project, which started with Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, has...

  • The mall of the future: how to build smarter, digital shopping districts

    Since The Mall of Africa, South Africa's biggest single-phase shopping mall development opened its doors on 28 April, it has dominated social media chat lately, as much for its promise as its problems. Is it the mall built for the future like some say? My colleagues who have been brave enough to venture forth tell me that it is well-designed, but otherwise unremarkable from an innovation perspective. Me? I’ll stay away for now. My last foray into a shopping centre saw me on the hunt for a particular kitchen accessory for my wife, which I went to buy from a shop...

  • Stopping the ‘killer robots’: Memeburn interviews AI specialist Toby Walsh

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a topic not many can say they're experts in, and even fewer actually are. Enter Professor Toby Walsh, a world-renowned specialist in AI, and lecturer at the University of New South Wales. Professor Walsh is currently on the Executive Council of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, and a proponent of the 'Campaign to Stop Killer Robots,' and Editor-in-Chief on the Journal of Artifical Intelligence Research, among other things. He has been giving talks around the world on the subject of autonomous weapons, which included a TEDxBerlin talk. Memeburn recently had a chance to catch up with...

  • 5 ways innovation will change the job market, for everyone

    Digitally-enabled innovation is coming to every corner of the world, and no old business model or way of life will remain undisrupted. This means that there are a lot of jobs, especially the low value-to-cost, repetitive types, that are either going to be automated, or cut out of the production cycle entirely. New and exponential technologies, recently described as the fourth industrial revolution at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year, mean that the disruption of the workplace will happen at a much grander scale than anything we’re currently experiencing, and at skill levels previously thought too technical...

  • Chariot for Women, an Uber-like service for women launches this month

    Uber trips can be rather hair-raising for women if recent news reports are anything to go by. So it's rather refreshing to see one app rising to the challenge, called Chariot for Women. Marketed as a smart cab service for women only, the US app is the brainchild of former Uber driver Michael Pelletz and offers a number of standout features. For one, the service makes use of female cab drivers, but only children under the age of 13 and women are allowed as passengers. The service also utilises an in-app system to ensure passenger safety. "When the passenger requests a ride, a safe word...

  • 5 Megatrends driving the second wave of inclusive digital innovation

    Technological innovations, particularly in digital and mobile platforms, have boosted inclusive growth in developing African markets over the past several years. Inclusive growth is defined as economic growth and development that enables lower income segments to gain access to basic goods and services – at more accessible price points and of a higher quality than was previously possible. The mobile telephony revolution, which allowed for the proliferation of connectivity via low-priced feature phones, marked the first wave of innovations to spur inclusive growth in African markets. Mobile payment solutions like M-Pesa are a good example of this. New Delivery Models This...

  • SA ranks 30th globally in fostering innovation

    Attend enough South African tech events and you'll inevitably hear someone say that South Africa needs to do more to foster innovation. As it turns out though, the country could be doing a lot worse. According to a new report from The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), which shows ranks South Africa 30th out 56 countries in how its domestic policies support worldwide innovation. These countries, it says, make up more than 90% of the global economy. "Robust innovation is essential for economic growth and progress,” said co-author Stephen Ezell, ITIF’s vice president for global...