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Innovation

  • Paper-based battery to power small electronics?

    Researchers at Binghamton University have created a working bacteria-powered battery which can be used to power small or disposable electronic devices. What makes this creation even more impressive is that it was made on a single sheet of paper. The bio-battery's design could reduce fabrication time as well as bring down the cost of production. Assistant professor Seokheun Choi, part of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science, commented on the invention in a press release. "Papertronics have recently emerged as a simple and low-cost way to power disposable point-of-care diagnostic sensors," said...

  • Alternative electrolytes could stop exploding smartphones

    Researchers have identified dozens of electrolytes that could be alternative solutions to volatile liquids used in smartphones. Researchers at Stanford University used machine learning and AI involvement to find suitable electrolytes. Their findings were published in the Energy & Environmental Science journal. These new electrolytes could replace liquids used in batteries which power smartphones, laptops as well as other electronic devices. Lead author of the paper Austin Sendek, a doctoral candidate in applied physics, commented on the findings in a press release. "Electrolytes shuttle lithium ions back and forth between the battery's positive and negative electrodes," he explained. "Liquid electrolytes are cheap and...

  • Robotic hands are getting more touchy-feely

    A group of scientists at Cornell University have created a way for soft robotic hands to feel their surroundings internally, much like we do. The group was led by the assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and principal investigator of Organic Robotics Lab, Robert Shepherd. Their paper detailed how stretchable optical waveguides can act as sensors in a soft robotic hand. The paper, titled Optoelectronically Innervated Soft Prosthetic Hand via Stretchable Optical Waveguides, was featured in an edition of Science Robotics. Lead author of the paper Huichan Zhao commented on his findings in a blog post. "Most robots today have sensors on the outside of the...

  • Forget Trump: your cat can now own an eco-friendly White House

    Although we do love technology here at Memeburn, we can't turn our heads when a clever piece of simple design walks by. Especially if said design is a range of eco-friendly cardboard houses for cats. Poopy Cat, a pet accessory company based in Amsterdam, began life 2013 and crafts sustainable play houses for our furry friends. And the company's latest line takes inspiration from a few of the political happenings the world has endured in 2016. The White House is now available in sustainable cardboard form for your cats The company first began retailing biodegradable litter boxes, but took to Kickstarter a...

  • Cockroach-like ‘biobots’, UAVs may help future disaster relief efforts

    Researchers at the North Carolina State University have developed a way to map areas using a combination of both smart hardware and software, which could effectively help with relief efforts in disaster areas. With a little help from wirelessly-controlled UAVs (effectively drones) and robots that mimic the shape and movement of insects (called biobots), large unfamiliar areas can be surveyed and recorded. "The idea would be to release a swarm of sensor-equipped biobots -- such as remotely controlled cockroaches -- into a collapsed building or other dangerous, unmapped area," explained assistant professor and co-author of the research paper, Edgar Lobaton in a...

  • Make black and white photos blush again with this AI-powered tool

    Do you have a black and white photograph you just wished was in full colour? Well, this clever neural network tool from Waseda University academics might be just what you're looking for. The tool uses machine learning to intelligently (or, as intelligently as possible) shade a black and while image with appropriate hues, shades and tints. It effectively re-colours a black and while photograph based on features found within it. For instance, golf courses, hills and trees will naturally contain greens, while abbeys, arches and statues likely won't. The tool takes this information, and through best learned guess, adds colour. Using machine...

  • This Airbnb experience reveals Cape Town’s hidden arts scene

    Capetonians do enjoy bragging about their city. And why shouldn't we? Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities on earth. But while the city centre and surrounds get all the attention, there's a plethora of alternative, enriching experiences just a little south of Table Mountain. Airbnb invited Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille to experience on of its new Airbnb Trips experience. The company has moved on from offering simple hostels for travellers, to full-blown experiences hosted by locals. Cape Town is one of the first cities in Africa to get an Airbnb Trips experience, and one of 12...

  • Airbnb Trips: is it the future of travel and tourism?

    Travel and accommodation company Airbnb has announced a new program that sees the company take a massive leap into the tourism market. Dubbed Trips, Airbnb will no longer just allow people to search for boarding on the web, but now aims to make trips "easy and magical". Airbnb Trips launches on the company's app with three key focuses -- experiences, places and home. The company notes that a "flights" section will also be launched in the future. Users can browse what is effectively different travel packages posted by various hosts, complete with itinerary and a cute little video reel of what you...

  • 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...