Have you HEARD?


Delivering water to drought-prone regions is one of humanity’s biggest challenges, so scientists from MIT and the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a device that uses the sun to harvest moisture from the air. The device uses a porous material made of zirconium and adipic acid, which collects water molecules at night. When heated, the material releases the water into a condenser. Currently at the proof of concept stage, early tests and simulations showed that 1 kilogram (approximately 2 pounds) of the material can produce a daily supply of drinking water sufficient for one person.


Improving firefighters’ visibility and reaction time in smoke-filled areas would save the lives of the rescued and rescuers alike. To achieve this goal, California-based Qwake Technologies has developed a computer vision technology called C-THRU. It uses augmented reality to enhance the shape and contours of the environment around firefighters in real time. By allowing firefighters to “see” through smoke, the new technology helps them to get in and out of fires faster than they could before.


Amper Music, an artificial intelligence (AI) music company, has enabled collaboration between AI and humans to create beautiful music. With Amper’s AI music technology, anyone – regardless of their musical training – can create a unique soundtrack by specifying parameters such as mood, rhythm, beats per minute and music style. YouTube pioneer and singer/songwriter Taryn Southern used Amper’s technology, coupled with her lyrics and vocals, to create “Break Free,” her single from the album “I AM AI,” the world’s first album to be entirely composed and produced by AI.


Researchers at MIT and Stanford universities in the USA, in collaboration with designers from London’s Royal College of Art, have developed mini-robots that can move over a wearer’s body to change the aesthetics and function of clothing. A magnet beneath the fabric keeps the “wearable” in place. The robots can be controlled by the wearer or respond automatically to environmental changes, can function as moving jewelry or adapt clothing to changing weather, for example by sensing rain and pulling the drawstrings on a hood. These dynamic accessories also can be paired with a mobile device to carry out simple tasks.


UK company Umbrellium is working to improve pedestrian safety with Starling Crossing (STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing), a responsive road surface with embedded LEDs that light up to warn of emerging dangers. Cameras monitor the movements of cars and pedestrians, while artificial intelligence algorithms predict each actor’s likely movements. For example, if a child runs toward the edge of the road, LEDs in the road surface light up to warn oncoming vehicles to stop. A first prototype installed in South London can withstand the weight of vehicles and features LEDs bright enough to be visible in full sunlight.

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