Gadget Notes

  Europe’s first ‘eTree’

There is now a ‘eTree’ rooted in central France… The solar tree, with giant square leaves that convert sunlight into electricity, was unveiled in the central French town of Nevers, recently. This town is the first in Europe to experiment with the technology developed by Israeli company Sol-logic, which was inspired by the acacia tree found in the Israeli desert and African savanna. The tree allows passers-by to charge their phones, surf the Internet or simply enjoy its shade. The futuristic-looking ‘eTree’ also supplies water and street lighting.

Extra pair of robotic hands with MetaLimbs

There is good news for all multitasking folks who wish they had an extra pair of hands. A team of Japanese engineers have invented a solution, which they call MetaLimbs. The Multiple Arts Interaction Metamorphism or MetaLimbs, is a set of robotic arms that reach around under human arms and are controlled by sensors attached to legs. Positional tracking balls on the knees and feet direct the arm movement, while a sock device allows the movement of toes to control the grasp of the robot hands. There are even haptic sensors on the robot hands that generate force feedback on the feet. The arms are intended to be worn while sitting, but can be used while standing, depending on the task at hand.

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This camera can see visible and invisible light

In a novel venture, scientists at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) have managed to create a digital imaging sensor that can capture ultraviolet, infrared and visible light at the same time, using graphene and quantum dots. The graphene/quantum dot hybrid system has helped create a high resolution image sensor that is sensitive to a huge range of wavelengths, from UV rays of about 300 nm, through the visible spectrum in the middle, and up to infrared light with a wavelength of 2,000 nm. The researchers say this is the first time that a single image sensor has been capable of detecting light across such a wide spectrum at once.

Paper fingerprints to fight forgery

Say goodbye to your fears of forgery; scientists at Newcastle University, UK, have found an inexpensive and easy way to validate the authenticity of any paper document just by taking a picture of it on a standard camera. The researchers analysed the translucent patterns revealed when a light shines through paper, to identify a unique ‘texture’ fingerprint for every single sheet of paper. Capturing the random interweaving of the wooden particles, they show that a unique fingerprint code can be captured and verified with 100 percent accuracy using a camera. They note that the fingerprinting process is reliable even if the paper is treated with rough handling such as crumpling, soaking, scribbling and heating.

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