Have you HEARD?
Chinese drone manufacturer Ehang reports that it has successfully tested a flying taxi capable of carrying a single person, with luggage, weighing as much as 220 pounds (100 kg). The electric-powered Ehang 184 can fly at speeds up to 100 mph (161 km/h) for approximately 30 miles (48 km) on a single charge. Passengers choose their destination from a pre-determined list and the vehicle takes off vertically. A security system is designed to automatically land the craft if it detects any malfunction. The Dubai Transport Authority has announced plans to operate Ehang 184s by July 2017. http://3ds.one/ehang
MUSIC FELT BY THE DEAF
UK-based wearable technology fashion brand CuteCircuit has partnered with Germany’s Junge Symphoniker Hamburg Orchestra to bring the joy of music to the deaf and hearing impaired with the Sound Shirt. Blending fashion with interactive technologies, the wireless garment receives software-translated sounds from the various instruments, causing actuators to vibrate at similar frequencies. Each instrument “plays” in a different part of the shirt – bass on the stomach, violins along the arms – allowing the hearing impaired to “feel” the music.
MAKING THE VIRTUAL WORLD MORE REAL
The ability to feel virtual objects just became real thanks to Japanese startup exiii and its haptic device EXOS. Touted as the next interface for the virtual world, EXOS’ internal motor sends a reactive force to the user’s fingers, reproducing the textures of the real objects depicted by the virtual objects on display. The device’s four joints give the wearer sufficient freedom of movement to execute basic gestures like grasping or pinching. EXOS can be used in a variety of applications such as virtual reality gaming, piloting robots and drones, or in the medical field for rehabilitation programs.
A LIVE WIRE HAS PROMISING APPLICATIONS
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have discovered a common microorganism called Geobacter metallireducens that is widespread in the environment, but whose electrical properties enable it to replace electricity-conducting filaments in nanoelectronics. The microbial nanowire is more ecofriendly than existing nanowire materials, which require high temperatures, large amounts of energy and expensive or toxic materials to make. Derek Lovley, who discovered the microorganism’s application in nanowires, is working with his team to explore other applications, including medical uses and detection of noxious gases and chemicals in the environment.
ELEVATING BIODIVERSITY TO NEW HEIGHTS
Vertical forest, a term for vegetation that grows out of tall buildings and skyscrapers, was the brainchild of Italian architect Stefano Boeri. Boeri Studio embellished two residential towers in Milan, Italy, with 900 trees and more than 20,000 shrubs and floral plants, positioned based on how the façades of each building are exposed to the sun. The resulting ecosystem absorbs CO2 and dust, produces oxygen, protects humans from the sun’s rays and from sound pollution while adding to the city’s limited green spaces.