Volvo Car Body Panels Serve as Rechargeable Battery

At Volvo, the body becomes the battery

In a materials development project launched by the London Imperial College, nine European companies and institutes are developing carbon fibres and polymer resin that can store and charge more energy faster than conventional batteries are able to do. Volvo is the only car manufacturer participating in the project funded in part by the European Union.

 The material to be developed will be extremely strong and pliant. Thus, it can be shaped for use in building a vehicle's body panels. It also will be much lighter than today's batteries. According to Volvo, a car's weight could be reduced by as much as 15 percent if steel body panels would be replaced with the new material.

Cars of the future could be powered by their bodywork thanks to new battery technology

The researchers say that the composite material that they are developing, which is made of carbon fibres and a polymer resin, will store and discharge large amounts of energy much more quickly than conventional batteries. In addition, the material does not use chemical processes, making it quicker to recharge than conventional batteries. Furthermore, this recharging process causes little degradation in the composite material, because it does not involve a chemical reaction, whereas conventional batteries degrade over time.

The material could be charged by plugging a hybrid car into household power supply. The researchers are also exploring other alternatives for charging it such as recycling energy created when a car brakes.


Tomorrow's Volvo car: body panels serve as the car battery

Volvo Cars contributes its expertise
The project will continue for three years. In the first stage, work focuses both on developing the composite material so it can store more energy and on studying ways of producing the material on an industrial scale. Only in the final stage will the battery be fitted to a car.

"Our role is to contribute expertise on how this technology can be integrated in the future and to input ideas about the advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost and user-friendliness," says Per-Ivar Sellergren, development engineer at the Volvo Cars Materials Centre.

Initially, the car's spare wheel recess will be converted into a composite battery.
"This is a relatively large structure that is easy to replace. Not sufficiently large to power the entire car, but enough to switch the engine off and on when the car is at a standstill, for instance at traffic lights," says Per-Ivar Sellergren.


Raytheon XOS 2 Suit -- The Real Iron Man 2

Real-life Iron Man suit is better than predecessor

Second-generation exoskeleton robotic suit developed for the military unveiled

A new second-generation exoskeleton robotic suit developed for the military – and deemed the closest thing to a real-life Iron Man costume – was unveiled on Monday during a demonstration with Paramount Home Entertainment. 

The new robotic suit called Exoskeleton (XOS 2) – released by Raytheon Company – is lighter, faster and stronger than its predecessor, yet it uses 50 percent less power. Its enhanced design also means that it is more resistant to the environment.


Raytheon Company: Raytheon Unveils 2nd Generation Exoskeleton Robotic Suit

The wearable robotics suit is being designed to help with the many logistics challenges faced by the military both in and out of theater. Repetitive heavy lifting can lead to injuries, orthopedic injuries in particular. The XOS 2 does the lifting for its operator, reducing both strain and exertion. It also does the work faster. One operator in an exoskeleton suit can do the work of two to three soldiers. Deploying exoskeletons would allow military personnel to be reassigned to more strategic tasks. The suit is built from a combination of structures, sensors, actuators and controllers, and it is powered by high pressure hydraulics.

Observations: Exoskeleton defines a new class of warrior [Video]

The 95-kilogram XOS 2 is about 40 percent stronger than its 88-kilogram predecessor—the XOS-1 could lift about 16 kilograms with each arm, XOS-2 can lift about 23 kilograms.
Reduced power consumption is key to making the exoskeleton practical to the military. The system is powered by an internal combustion engine, and its electrical systems are run by a wire that tethers the XOS 2 to a power source. Raytheon decided not to use batteries because the company's engineers didn't trust the safety of Lithium-ion batteries in close proximity to the person wearing the exoskeleton.


Mozilla Seabird Mobile Phone Concept

Mozilla Labs dreams of projected keyboard phone • The Register

Mozilla Labs is touting a phone-of-the-future that would project a keyboard onto tabletops and read keystrokes with infrared sensors.

With a Friday blog post, Mozilla's research arm unveiled a concept smartphone dubbed Seabird. Cooked by New York-based designer Bill May, it's billed as "an experiment in how users might interact with their mobile content as devices and technology advances [sic]." Most notably, when attached to a desk dock, it would use built-in pico projectors to provide not only a virtual display but a virtual keyboard and a virtual touch pad as well.

Mozilla Labs » Concept Series » Blog Archive » Concept Series: Seabird – A Community-driven Mobile Phone Concept

Since Mozilla Labs launched the Concept Series with an open call for participation we’ve had thousands of people join in, share ideas and develop concepts around Firefox, the Mozilla projects and the Open Web as a whole.

In response to our open call Billy May, in early 2009, produced a throw-away concept for an “Open Web Concept Phone”. Working directly off of that community feedback, Billy has since finished the exploration with his concept “Seabird”.



Pico Projector




Collected from: Billy May : Portfolio


The Science of Chocolate -- Preliminary Cacao Genome Sequence Unveiled

Can science make chocolate taste (even) better? - The Week

Scientists have cracked the DNA code of the cacao plant. Will our future selves be tempted by yet yummier sweets?

Chocolate isn't an obvious candidate for a food that needs improving. But that hasn't deterred scientists at the candy conglomerate Mars, which recently announced they had nearly completed sequencing the cacao tree's genome. This could mean stronger, more resilient cocoa crops, and — perhaps down the road — better-tasting chocolate.

First rice, then wheat – now cocoa genome unravelled - Science, News - The Independent

Scientists have sequenced the genetic code of the cocoa tree, which they say could triple the yield of the disease-prone crop and transform the lives of millions of poor farmers in Africa and around the developing world who rely on it for their livelihood.

The Science of Chocolate: Studying a Cacao Tree’s Genome - TIME NewsFeed

As the CBC notes, approximately 2.7 million tons of cocoa is produced annually across the world. But farmers subsequently lose $700 to $800 million from the aftereffects of damages to cacao trees. By studying the genetic backbone of the plants, researchers believe they can produce trees with a higher immunity to disease, thereby improving the cacao pods' overall yield.

A Taste Of The Chocolate Genome - Science News

Competing teams announce impending completion of cacao DNA sequence

Two independent teams have completed drafts of the DNA sequence of the cacao tree, the source of chocolate, scientists announced September 15. Both efforts will eventually help breed plants that resist disease yet still bear superior beans, the researchers claim.
A team led by candy maker Mars, Inc., the U.S. Department of Agriculture and IBM announced the unveiling of a preliminary genome of the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, that’s available to the research community at www.cacaogenomedb.org.
The second team has a very detailed draft, says plant molecular biologist Mark Guiltinan of Pennsylvania State University in University Park. He and his collaborators have discovered hundreds of genes associated with disease resistance and with high-quality pods.

Penn State Live - Analysis of the chocolate genome could lead to improvement

University Park, Pa. -- The sequencing and analysis of the genome for the Criollo variety of the cacao tree, generally considered to produce the world's finest chocolate, was completed by an international team led by Claire Lanaud of CIRAD, France, with Mark Guiltinan of Penn State, and included scientists from 18 other institutions.

"The large amount of information generated by this project dramatically changes the status of this tropical plant and its potential interest for the scientific community," said Guiltinan, professor of plant molecular biology, Penn State.

Mars.com -MARS, USDA-ARS, And IBM Unveil Preliminary Cacao Genome Sequence Three Years Ahead Of Schedule

Landmark Research Effort Will Make Findings Publicly Available for Common Good 

Results to Benefit 6.5 Million Farmers Worldwide and Sustain World’s Cocoa Supply 
McLean, VA –Today, Mars, Incorporated, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), and IBM released the preliminary findings of their breakthrough cacao genome sequence and made it available in the public domain.  This is the result of a joint research endeavor to improve the cocoa growing process and represents a successful private/public partnership for the benefit of the world’s cocoa farmers, and a more sustainable world cocoa supply.

The preliminary sequencing of the cacao genome is a promising first step in advancing farmers’ ability to plant more robust, higher yielding and drought and disease-resistant trees. The results of the research will be made available to the public with permanent access via the Cacao Genome Database (www.cacaogenomedb.org) to ensure that the data remains perpetually open without patent, as well as to allow scientists to begin applying the findings immediately to crop cultivation efforts.  


Killer Squid Invasion

Man eating giant squid devouring fish stocks

DEADLY sea monsters have woken from the deep to cause carnage among some of the world’s richest fishing grounds.
Millions of killer giant squid are not only devouring vast amounts of fish they have even started attacking humans.

Two Mexican fishermen were recently dragged from their boats and chewed so badly that their bodies could not be identified even by their own families

Humboldt Squid - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Humboldt Squid (Dosidicus gigas), also known as Jumbo Squid, Jumbo Flying Squid, or Diablo Rojo (Spanish for Red Devil), is a large, predatory squid found in the waters of the Humboldt Current in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

They often approach prey quickly with all ten appendages extended forward in a cone-like shape. Upon reaching striking distance, they will open their eight swimming and grasping arms, and extend two long tentacles covered in sharp 'teeth,' grabbing their prey and pulling it back towards a parrot-like beak, which can easily cause dramatic lacerations to human flesh. The whole process takes place in seconds.

Recent footage of shoals of these animals demonstrates a tendency to meet unfamiliar objects aggressively. Having risen to depths of 130–200 metres (430–660 ft) below the surface to feed (up from their typical 700 metre (2,300 ft) diving depth, beyond the range of human diving), they have attacked deep-sea cameras and rendered them inoperable. Reports of recreational scuba divers being attacked by Humboldt Squid have been confirmed. [16] [17] One particular diver, Scott Cassell,[18] who has spent much of his career videotaping this species, has developed body armor to protect against attacks.[19] Each of the squid's suckers is ringed with sharp teeth, and the beak can tear flesh, although it is believed that they lack the jaw strength to crack heavy bone.[14]

YouTube - The Fierce Humboldt Squid - KQED QUEST

A mysterious sea creature up to 7 feet long, with 10 arms, a sharp beak and a ravenous appetite, has invaded ocean waters off Northern California. Packs of fierce Humboldt Squid attack nearly everything they see, from fish to scuba divers. Marine biologists are working to discover why they've headed north from their traditional homes off South America.


Under an orange moon, Jacquie and I are 75 feet deep in the Sea of Cortez waiting for demons to appear. As we search the black water below our camera lights, a green glow begins to move toward us. Bioluminescence is signaling the approach of a shoal of Giant Humboldt squid rising to investigate us. There’s no doubt they’re hungry…

Collected from: Squidly

YouTube - Giant Humboldt Squid Documentary

Checkout this trailer for the new Sea of Demons Giant Squid Documentary "Demonio Rojo"


Lemoptix Microprojector

Miniature device could allow a cell phone to project images on a wall | KurzweilAI

A new one-cubic-centimeter projector head that can be integrated into a portable computer or mobile telephone has been developed by  Lemoptix, a spin-off of Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), and the Maher Kayal Laboratory.

The projector uses very little energy, requiring on average 30% less current than the matrix- or LED-based technology currently available on the market. It should be available in 2011 for industrial applications, and the following year for consumer electronics, according to Nicolas Abelé, Technical Director of the start-up.

Researchers develop tiny projector (w/ Video)

The projector of the future, 1 cm3 of technology that can be integrated into a portable computer or mobile telephone, is about to take the market by storm.

This pocket works at a minimum distance of 50 centimeters, and enables the projection of images onto a surface equivalent to a 15-inch screen. During the last few months, the Lemoptix team has considerably improved the architecture of the optical head containing the laser light sources and the MEMS mirrors, thereby reducing the size of the whole device and its energy consumption. The manufacturing and assembly processes have also been defined, and the first sub-contractors identified. The company succeeded in raising 1.4 million Swiss francs of new funds at the end of August.

YouTube - The pocket beamer is a reality!

Maher Kayal, professor at EPFL's Institute of Electrical Engineering presents the beamer of the future: 1 cm3 of technology that can be integrated into a portable computer or mobile telephone. Nicolas Abélé, technical director of Lemoptix, explains the future developments of this new device.

lemoptix home

Lemoptix - Microprojector

MEMS Projection Principle

The uniqueness of the MEMS scanning mirror for projection is the ability to continuously scan from left to right and top to bottom, therefore enabling the use of a single MEMS mirror instead of a mirror matrix with a large number of digital mirrors.

The image/video is displayed by pulsing three laser light sources, Red Blue and Green, during the mirror scan, resulting in the creation of the image pixel-by-pixel. This proven projection principle is higly robust, as it has been used for decades in the CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) televisions.

The image color is achieved by mixing the three basic RGB colors with a so-called beam-combiner, largely used and validated in the medical eye-surgery industry.

What Could A Credit Card-Sized Projector Mean For Gaming?

Imagine a portable gaming device without a traditional screen using the projector to allow you to play your games wherever you please. Or integrating a camera with the projector to bring augmented reality games to an entirely new level, projecting the game itself into reality, instead of the other way around. Hell, you could create a gaming helmet with a transparent visor you could project first-person shooter HUDs onto.

With Lemoptix looking into creating an interactive version of the projector that would allow users to manipulate the screen using their hands, the micro-projector looks like a device that's definitely going to have a hand in the future of gaming.


Looxcie Wearable Camcorder

Looxcie, a Camera Recording Everything You See

Looxcie is a ~$200 camera you plug into your ear, which then records everything you see, following your field of vision. Several hours are recorded, with new stuff overwriting the old... and if you saw anything interesting, you click its button and have the last 30 seconds saved and shared on YouTube and other networks. To tune and manage the camera and see the clips you download an app onto an Android phone like Google Nexus.

techcrunch logo

Look YouTube, No Hands! Looxcie Introduces Wearable Camcorder

This is how it works: a user straps Looxcie on their ear, putting the camera roughly at eye level. The device can continuously record and store up to 4 hours of video footage, after which the rechargeable battery taps out. If something noteworthy occurs, the user presses an “instant clip” button, which will take the last 30 seconds and package it into a video file. Through Bluetooth, that file is sent to Looxcie’s companion mobile app, which can then be shared via e-mail, Facebook or YouTube. For impatient users, you can also configure the app to upload “instant shares” automatically.

For now, the mobile app is only available on Android devices, but Looxcie plans to roll out apps for the Blackberry, Windows and iPhone operating systems by the end of this year. If you have none of the above but still want to use a wearable camcorder, you can upload your files to your PC or MAC via a USB cord— of course, this effectively negates the instant-sharing functionality.

Looxcie, A Futuristic Wearable Bluetooth Camcorder | Gadget Lab | Wired.com

Looxcie looks more like a prop from Valve’s game Portal than what it actually is: a non-nerdy wearable camera, or a distinctly nerdy Bluetooth headset.


Then we get to the rub: The Looxcie costs $200, and the camera quality is crappy: your phone’s camera is undoubtedly better than the measly 480×320 pixel resolution and 15fps. On the other hand, it does look like a gun from Portal, so that might make it worth the price as a novelty Bluetooth headset for a really rabid fan of the game.


Development of High Energy Density Lithium-ion Batteries

Nanoscale materials for high-energy density lithium-ion batteries

NEI Corporation and the University of California, San Diego won a Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer contract from NASA to develop and implement high energy density cathode materials for lithium batteries. These lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries could be used in a variety of NASA projects - and in a wide range of transportation and consumer applications.

Lithium-ion battery - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A lithium-ion battery (sometimes Li-ion battery or LIB) is a family of rechargeable battery types in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge, and back when charging. Chemistry, performance, cost, and safety characteristics vary across LIB types. Unlike lithium primary batteries (which are disposable), lithium-ion cells use an intercalated lithium compound as the electrode material instead of metallic lithium.

Meng Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion - Department of NanoEngineering - UCSD

Lithium ion batteries have become a key component of portable electronic devices as they offer high energy density, flexible lightweight design and a longer cycle life than other battery systems. More efficient batteries are required in the development of advanced transportation technologies in order to reduce the use of imported oil and the emission of greenhouse gas. Electrochemical energy storage has been identified as a critical enabling technology for advanced, fuel-efficient, light and heavy duty vehicles. New materials need to be designed to achieve higher energy/power densities, longer cycle lives and better reliability for such applications.

The ability to synthesize precise and heterogeneous nanostructures at low cost opens the door to the development of new electrochemical energy storage materials that can revolutionize energy storage systems. The energy storage systems for renewable sources and utility scale applications must have ALL of the following properties optimized: (a) high energy density, (b) high power density (fast ion and electron transport), (c) good safety, (d) long cycle life (>10years), (e) use of low-cost abundant raw materials and (f) cost-effective synthesis. To meet these demanding goals, we utilize a combination of theoretical/computational and experimental approaches to develop groundbreaking energy storage schemes.

NASA funds development of nanoscale materials for high energy density lithium-ion batteries [Jacobs School of Engineering: News & Events]

An experimental battery powers a small yellow light (front, right) in a battery research laboratory run by NanoEngineering professor Shirley Meng at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Photo credit: UC San Diego   See more photos from the Meng lab on Flikr.

NanoEngineering professor Shirley Meng (left) works with NanoEngineering graduate student Michael Verde to hook an experimental battery up to a test light. Photo credit: UC San Diego (See more photos from the Meng lab on Flikr

Batteries on a workbench in the Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion run by NanoEngineering professor Shirley Meng at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Photo credit: UC San Diego  (See more photos from the Meng lab on Flikr

 The metallic disks are experimental batteries being tested in the Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion run by NanoEngineering professor Shirley Meng at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Photo credit: UC San Diego  (See more photos from the Meng lab on Flikr)


Book Flipping Scanning -- Digitize a Book By Rapidly Flipping Pages

Japan rapid scanning system can digitise book in one minute (w/ Video)

A prototype ultra-speed scanner capable of digitising a book in one minute will be built within two years, said the chief researcher of the team at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Information Science and Technology. The "book-flipping scanning" system works with a camera that can take up to 500 photographs per second, enabling it to record about 170 book pages in 60 seconds as a person thumbs through them.

This handout picture, released Thursday from University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, shows a prototype ultra-speed scanner capable of digitising a book in one minute, develped by professor Masatoshi Ishikawa of the Tokyo University.

IEEE Spectrum: Superfast Scanner Lets You Digitize a Book By Rapidly Flipping Pages

The system, developed by lab members Takashi Nakashima and Yoshihiro Watanabe, lets you scan a book by rapidly flipping its pages in front of a high-speed camera. They call this method book flipping scanning. They told me they can digitize a 200-page book in one minute, and hope to make that even faster.

The camera operates at 500 frames per second, with a resolution of 1280 by 1024 pixels. For each frame, the system alternates between two capture modes. First it shines regular light on the page and captures text and images. Then a laser device projects lines on the page and the camera captures that as well.

The scanned pages are curved and distorted, but the researchers found a way to fix that. The laser pattern allows the system to obtain a page's three-dimensional deformation using active stereo methods. So they wrote software that builds a 3-D model of the page and reconstructs it into a regular, flat shape.

Ishikawa Komuro Laboratory

Book Flipping Scanning

Digitalization of documents has become an important technology. The technical challenge is to realize an easy-to-use, simple, and high-speed scanning system. The key point is how the system can decrease the user’s workload when scanning document information on many pages.

Our Book Flipping Scanning is a new method of scanning large stacks of paper while the user performs a continuous page flipping action.

Here we report the core of this proposed technology, which is simultaneous sensing of 3D paper deformation and the information printed on the pages. Our prototype also has a novel function of reconstructing the document image from a distorted one based on a paper deformation model.


Action Video Games lead to Faster Decisions

CTV British Columbia - Video games improve decision-making skills: study - CTV News

Video games may not be a waste of time after all. A new study finds that playing certain kinds of games actually helps improve quick decision-making skills that can be used in all aspects of life, from driving to keeping track of friends in a crowd.

Cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester report the findings of new research, which show video game players make faster decisions – not just "trigger happy" faster decisions, but accurate decisions.

Video Games Lead to Faster Decisions that are No Less Accurate : University of Rochester News

The researchers tested dozens of 18- to 25-year-olds who were not ordinarily video game players. They split the subjects into two groups. One group played 50 hours of the fast-paced action video games "Call of Duty 2" and "Unreal Tournament," and the other group played 50 hours of the slow-moving strategy game "The Sims 2."

After this training period, all of the subjects were asked to make quick decisions in several tasks designed by the researchers. In the tasks, the participants had to look at a screen, analyze what was going on, and answer a simple question about the action in as little time as possible (i.e. whether a clump of erratically moving dots was migrating right or left across the screen on average). In order to make sure the effect wasn't limited to just visual perception, the participants were also asked to complete an analogous task that was purely auditory.

The action game players were up to 25 percent faster at coming to a conclusion and answered just as many questions correctly as their strategy game playing peers.
A test subject attempts to determine whether the erratically moving dots on a computer screen are moving left or right on average during a study at the University of Rochester August 24, 2010.

Participants in a University of Rochester study, "Improved probabilistic inference as a general learning mechanism with action video games", by UR professor of brain and cognitive science Daphne Bavelier played 50 hours of video games over multiple weeks. Players who played action games like Call of Duty 2 (pictured here) made quicker decisions than those who played slow-paced strategy games like The Sims without sacrificing accuracy.

Current Biology - Improved Probabilistic Inference as a General Learning Mechanism with Action Video Games

Current Biology, Volume 20, Issue 17, 1573-1579, 14 September 2010


  • Action video game experience is shown to improve probabilistic inference
  • Demonstrated via well-studied motion integration task and recent neural model
  • Generality of effect demonstrated with novel auditory decision-making task
  • Provides possible mechanism for wide transfer engendered by action game training