Monday, May 20, 2013

Eesha Khare's Super-Capacitor Devices

Eesha Khare, 18, an Indian American has been awarded the Young Scientist Award. She has successfully designed, synthesized and characterized a novel nanorod electrode super-capacitor with increased energy density while retaining power density and long cycle life.

This work is an important initial step in introducing this new electrode material in super-capacitors to replace conventional batteries in flexible electronic devices.

In simple terms, she has invented something that will allow you to recharge your mobile within 20-30 seconds. Now, compare that to the hours that are required to charge the batteries currently being used in your cell-phones!

The super-capacitor is a tiny device that can hold a lot of energy in a tiny space. It charges very fast and can hold the charge for a long time.

This super-capacitor has a great future, especially in today's age where small smart devices are making great in-roads in our day-to-day life. So many times we are left stranded when the batteries in our mobile phones run out of power and require hours to recharge.

According to the young scientist, her devices can be used for 100000 charge-recharge cycles compared to about 1000 cycles for conventional batteries. She says that it also demonstrates a much higher cycle life compared to batteries.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Google Glass - The latest Gizmo from Google

The tech scene is really hotting up.

Google is all set to release its latest gizmo - Google Glass - a wearable headset with an camera, processor and a tiny display screen. The device offers bluetooth connectivity for connecting to your smartphone and wi-fi connectivity.
  • Glass has a 5MP camera and can take videos upto 720p.
  • According to Google, the high resolution display is the equivalent of a 25 inch high definition screen from eight feet away.
  • The MyGlass companion app requires Android 4.0.3 or higher and it enables GPS and SMS.
  • Glass uses Glassware. 
Glassware is the web services that can send content to and receive content from Glass. Features of this gizmo include - taking pictures and video, using search, getting directions, messaging, making phone calls, social networking through google+.
Here are some comments from folks that have already used the device...
You can see this cool video by Google - How it Feels

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

myFC PowerTekk - Charge your Mobile with Water

myFC PowerTrekk sounds like an amazing new product that could revolutionize the way we use and charge our electronic gadgets. Imagine not having to worry about low battery even in the remote places where there is no electricity.

myFC PowerTrekk is a charger that can be used for low-power device. It uses fuel cell technology and water.

Anders Lundblad a researcher at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and the founder of myFC is all set to launch what he claims to be the "world's first water activated charging device".

According to myFC...
myFC PowerTrekk is a portable fuel cell charger for use by outdoor enthusiasts who spend time away from the electricity grid. PowerTrekk provides instant power anywhere to electronic equipment such as mobile phones, digital cameras and GPS devices.

Anders says “Our chargers may be considered expensive now; but in the longer term, as they reach a mass market, they would go down in price.”

PowerTrekk is likely to be released in selected stores starting this month. I find the product exciting and would like to follow it. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Shape Shifting Devices - Morphees

Shape on Demand, Shape-shifting and Shape-resolution are the terms introduced in the research paper presented by the researchers led by Dr. Anne Roudaut and Professor Sriram Subramanian.

These researchers from the Department of Computer Science at University of Bristol will be unveiling the prototype mobile device - Morphee - that can change shape on demand. The team has built six prototypes using the latest technologies in shape changing material such as shape memory alloy and electro active polymer.

A video of Morphees

Dr Anne Roudaut said: “The interesting thing about our work is that we are a step towards enabling our mobile devices to change shape on-demand. Imagine downloading a game application on the app-store and that the mobile phone would shape-shift into a console-like shape in order to help the device to be grasped properly. The device could also transform into a sphere to serve as a stress ball, or bend itself to hide the screen when a password is being typed so passers-by can’t see private information.”

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Samsung Launched its Galaxy S4 yesterday.

Even as I am trying to take stock of the tech-gadgets I have come across and used, Samsung has launched its latest smartphone - the Galaxy S4. While the company is touting this as the best and fastest android phone available, I look forward to some good user reviews of the product.

A fast process and a hi-res 5" screen could really spice up the smartphone experience.
  • Full HD Super AMOLED 5-inch screen; 
  • 1.9GHz Quad-core Qualcomm Processor; 
  • 2GB RAM; 
  • Air View and Gesture; 
  • Smart Pause and Scroll; 
  • Infra Red remote; 
  • Temperature and humidity sensors; 
  • 13 megapixel camera
Lets wait for the reviews to come in.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Windows8 - My Opinion

I would like to present my opinion about Windows into two parts...
  • The back-end - Very Good
  • The front-end - Bad

The Back-End

I feel that in Windows 8, Microsoft has tremendously improved its back-end. I have been very impressed by the improvement in the Reliability, Multi-Tasking and Security.

These departments were traditionally been the weakness of earlier Windows versions. It is not surprising, because earlier Microsoft had not really given much credit to the Internet. It had not expected internet to become so popular.

I think Microsoft is fast covering lost ground in its back-end.
  • I like the way Windows now offers user-level security features, these where there in Windows XP but are much better now. 
  • I like the way it allows me to segregate Home, Office and Public networks.
  • I like the way it did not crash even once, even when some of my under-development applications really goofed up during testing.
But, the front-end is an entirely different story.

The Front-End

This section of Windows has disappointed me. In fact even though Windows presents itself as a GUI based operating system, it has seriously failed to keep up with the user expectations. I strongly feel that there is something not right with the its interface designers and planners. I think they forgot that Windows is an Operating System and not an application that users use to get their work done.

First they came up with some goofed up idea about some "jazzy" graphics with starting with its Windows Vista. Then they went overboard with its transparency based interface in Windows 7.
In Windows 8 they managed to tone overcome these mistakes, but then they end up blundering with some new Metro style start screen. It does not even let me easily layout my favorite app-icons and move them around.

This may have worked on small hand-held touch screen, but imagine how a user must feel when he/she is stuck with a single application on his 22inch or 30inch screen. I got a large screen so that I could open multiple applications and spread the relevant views across the screen so that I am able to enjoy the best of all together.

I have noted that while working, my development environment ie the VS-IDE occupies about 60-70% of my screen space. A small portion shows the latest stock market with rate tickers for the stocks in my portfolio, then there is a news-ticker, a weather app, some puzzle - a crossword or a sudoku.

I mean it is just not comprehensible why Microsoft felt that its users would be happy to run a single applications on the entire screen. Well... there are scenarios when I like the full screen approach, specially when I am watching a movie or playing some action game, but then these occasions are rare.

Frankly speaking, I mean if people can conceive and produce interfaces like Apple's Mac OS, IPhone's OS and Google's Android OS, why can't Microsoft build a better more customizable interface. I am sure the think-tanks at Microsoft will find a solution to overcome this.

What I use?

I am a solutions developer and my development work evolves around the following systems...

Operating System: Windows 7 and Windows 8
Server OS: Windows 2008 R2
Data Back-end: Sql Server 2008 R2 and Sql Server 2012
Windows Forms Front-end: Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Studio 2012
Web Based Front-end: Asp.Net 4.0
Smart Mobile Front-end: Android Apps

Over the last 20 odd years that I have been working as a freelancer, it has been my never-ending endeavor to keep up with the latest development versions of the platforms. For me the most important criteria in selecting a technology has been easy availability, wide-spread user-base.