NASA to Test Inflatable Living Modules on The ISS

When sending something into space, it is important to consider how big it is. Something large may be useful in space, but it is no good if it can’t be carried up there by rocket after all. Now NASA is hoping to make the best use of the limited space available by testing expandable modules on the ISS in the hopes that they can be used on future missions to Mars as living and working habitats. These inflatable modules will be getting a lift to the ISS as part of SpaceX’s next resupply mission aboard their Dragon cargo capsule.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, once in space, will be attached to the ISS and then filled with air, causing it to inflate from its packed size of just over five feet in-depth and almost eight in diameter to a far roomier 12 feet deep and over 10 feet in diameter, with pressure equalized with the rest of the station. The deployment won’t be quick, however, as it is the first of its kind and very experimental and a slow inflation will allow any faults to be detected before they become critical.

In order to be considered a success and considered for more deep-space missions, the module will first have to survive two years on the ISS. This won’t be easy and will test the module’s resistance to cosmic radiation, durability and long-term resistance to leaking. To get a taste of what the deployment will look like, NASA has released an animation displaying the inflation of the module (but at a much higher speed than reality.)

Image credit to NASA

Airforce Wants Its Jets To Have Lasers By 2020

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ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 16, 2014) The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

Everyone loves a good laser, be it shot into the sky at a festival, or at your favourite hero as they try to save the galaxy. Even the real world is liking them, with more and more of science fiction being created and used in the real world. The Navy have even created and mounted a rail gun onto a ship  while BAE are looking at magnetic force fields.  Now even the Airforce want to get in on the science fiction weapons and mount “lasers” onto their Jets by 2020.

Dubbed Directed-Energy weapon pods, the devices will be mounted onto jets and will use beams of directed energy to ‘burn’ missiles and UAV’s, with the hopes of being powerful enough to even combat other aircraft. With a large contract on the line several companies have come up with solutions, HELLADS (High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defence System), from General Atomics, runs off a single lithium-ion battery and is small enough to fit onto a predator drone.

With the possibilities of being mounted to both land, sea and air vehicles, laser technology could revolutionise the way we act against other weapons. With the ability to shoot down missiles and heat up and melt the components in vehicles laser technology could quickly become the new step in modern warfare.

Thank you Engadget for the information.

Image courtesy of LiveScience.

Smartphone Wi-Fi Will Be Smarter Than Ever Before With This New Tech

Up until now, Wi-Fi devices on your smartphones were able to connect to saved access points and act as a means of connecting you to the Internet. Sure, there are some apps that let you stream over Wi-Fi, but essentially it was not used to its full potential.

The Wi-Fi Alliance now came up with a new technology by the name of Wi-Fi Aware, which lets your smartphone do even more with its wireless power. The tech is said to allow your smartphone to communicate with nearby devices and exchange information. Think of it as a heartbeat, letting devices know it is present in the vicinity and gathering what other devices have to ‘say’ if they are near you.

Wi-Fi Aware is an alternative to low-powered Bluetooth connectivity and yes, this means it’s even better at saving power than just having your Wi-Fi always on. So how can this help you? It’s simple. Let’s say you have something you like on Facebook and can find in a store. Once you enter a mall and a store has the items you want on sale, Wi-Fi Aware will send you a notification about it once you get near the store. Have a friend you haven’t seen in a long time? No problem. If he is in town and near you, Wi-Fi Aware will tell you and ask if you would like to send him a direct message.

Essentially, Wi-Fi Aware is a smart way of keeping aware of what is near and of interest to you. This means that all information received is tailored to you specifically based on your interests, so it won’t tell you about what shoes are on sale early in the morning when all you want to know is where you can get the best deal on coffee.

We are not aware of any Wi-Fi Aware-enabled apps at the moment, but Wi-Fi Alliance officials say that the tech could land in social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn sooner than expected.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

A Future Where Nano Satellites Beam Information

Satellites provide the earth with the ability to run critical infrastructure which includes Telecommunications, Television Transmissions and even that annoying little Sat Nav who tells you it’s more convenient to take a shortcut through a swamp. But according to Anthony Previte who is CEO of the space company Terran Orbital, Space Satellites could provide all of us with even greater information tools to relay data.

This concept involves multiple constellations of “nano satellites” which are designed to provide small battery-powered sensors with a cheap data connection that never goes down. To explain this idea simply, imagine if every petrol station had a sensor fitted to each pump, if there was a petrol shortage in one part of the country, this information would be relayed to a Satellite and conveyed to the government with the aim of moving fuel around to solve this particular problem

As the internet is expanding even further, more and more industrial equipment is becoming connected to Networks with the aim of managing these operations more cheaply, sorry efficiently, no cheaply. The aim of Nano devices is to orbit 600 Kilometres over the equator, this compares to standard Satellites which fly around 36,000 Kilometres over the equator.

A fascinating concept also lies with the vision of using these sensors in disaster areas which are hard or impossible to be reached by traditional modes of transport. Say there is an oil leak, think Gulf of Mexico; a sensor could be dropped into the ocean via a plane to continually monitor the leak in real-time with the data being beamed to a Nano Satellite in space, the information would then be sent to a centre with the aim of tracking the events in real-time.

This concept has the ability to radically revolutionize the ways in which we are able to gain a clearer picture of events in the world.

Thank You MIT for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of Intelsat

Scientsits Find a Way to Wirelessly Transmit Energy across 55 Meters

Japanese scientists from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency have announced that they have been successful in transmitting energy wirelessly and with high accuracy, being able to microwave 1.8 kilowatts (just enough to heat a kettle) over a distance of 55 meters.

“This was the first time anyone has managed to send a high output of nearly two kilowatts of electric power via microwaves to a small target, using a delicate directivity control device,” a spokesperson for JAXA stated.

Before getting too excited, there is still a long way to go from here. The scientists’ ultimate goal is to set up solar satellites around 36,000 km of Earth’s surface in order to harness the Sun’s power and beam it back to the Earth’s surface via antennae. This means that, if proven successful, we could be looking at an unlimited energy solution. However, there is still a matter of taking everything from the planning stage to the actual application phase… and that takes time.

“But it could take decades before we see practical application of the technology – maybe in the 2040s or later,” the spokesperson stated. “There are a number of challenges to overcome, such as how to send huge structures into space, how to construct them and how to maintain them.”

Even so, given that the experiment will eventually take place and be successful, we are looking at one of the most important technological breakthroughs in human history.

Thank you Science Alert for providing us with this information

The Projector that can Turn Any Surface into a Computer Screen

A new kind of projector is currently seeking support on Kickstarter. Beam can deliver visual content to any surface through either a Bluetooth connection to an Android or iOS smart device or through its on-board WiFi capable computer.

With Beam, board games could be projected on to a coffee table, recipes to the kitchen worktop, or video chat to your living room wall. It can even be programmed to display alarm-triggered video messages to your spouse as she enters the house.

Speaking about the development of Beam to Wired, Jeroen van Geel, Chief Creative Officer at Beam Labs, said, “Everybody started sharing ideas on where they would place beam in their house, and almost all of them were in a different location.” He continued, “We were no longer limited by the traditional spots and could now freely dream up places where we would love to have a screen.”

Beam has already more than doubled its $200,000 Kickstarter goal, with 1,131 backers, still with 28 days left to run. Units are priced at $399 each.

Source: Wired

First Video of a Laser Beam Travelling Through The Air

Light travels fast. Very fast. So much so, that it just seems instant to us. But, for the first time ever, we can see for ourselves that it isn’t and that it does indeed travel.

Researchers at the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh have managed to capture a laser beam travelling through the air for the first time. In the video bellow, which was recorded at 20 billion frames per second and lasts 6 nanoseconds, we see the laser beam coasting through the air, with the protons of the beam reflecting off particles in the atmosphere.

Source: The Verge

Man Builds James Bond Inspired Laser Watch

A German man has built a James Bond-style laser watch.

Patrick Priebe of Laser-Gadgets.com says he received a great number of requests from YouTube viewers asking him to build a watch inspired by Bond’s watch in Never Say Never Again.

Although he’s managed to build the watch, he says that it probably won’t be cutting through metal anytime soon – it can only light matches and pop balloons. It does tell the time, but regular use of the laser isn’t going to make its time keeping function very useful, as the battery doesn’t last long.

Priebe, who has also built devices like those seen in Spider-Man and X-Men, says he may well sell the device, that’s if it’s legal.

Source: The Independent

USA Intends to Provide Internet to Villages via Laser

According to US technology news website, TechnologyReview, several US communications carriers are going to pilot a technology which will see a laser beam internet up to speeds of 2 Gbps through the air – meaning underground cables don’t need to be laid. This advanced laser and millimeter wave technology is said to be a replacement for conventional fiber, utilized in situations where the population is sparsely populated – including remote US towns and African Villages.

Why not mobile technology? The reports claim that although mobile technology is generally a good alternative, cables will still need to be run to telephone towers tracing to the ‘internet backbone’  – providing a huge cost for manufacturers. This new laser and millimeter technology will allow these US communications carriers to beam a data transmission at a distance of up to 10 kilometers without the need to dig trenches or erect towers. The first countries to be testing this technology are the United States, Mexico, Nigeria and some parts of Africa.

AOptix is the original inventor of this capability, claiming that they believe laser communications will provide an ideal alternative to optical fiber – once again due to the costing nature of laying cables. Data shows that in New York City, the cost of laying just one kilometer of fiber optic cable can cost up to $800,000.

This isn’t a simple point a to point b device either. AOptix claims that you can set up multiple devices to be set as a relay, allowing for 10km worth of transmission to take place per unit. There are a few possible issues with this technology that they haven’t covered in their releases however. How much do these units cost and do they need line-of-sight?

The announcement of this new technology also could have military use, but we’re very interested to know if it needs direct line-of-sight to function.

Image courtesy of Chiphell

Twisted Lasers Beam Data Across Vienna

In an interesting example of wireless data transmission, researchers in Vienna delivered digital data over 2 miles via twisted laser beams.

Using a technique known as “orbital angular momentum” (OAM) the scientists twisted a green laser beam into 16 patterns, successfully delivering data through what they call “turbulent air”. Each of the pulses delivered in the beam correlated to pixels from images which were then put back together and displayed at the other end.

The images were only greyscale and it wasn’t exactly a speedy transmission, but the researchers believe this method of data transmission could prove useful in the future, most notably in sending data many miles into space.

Source: Engadget

US Embassy in Berlin Receives ‘Beamed’ Graffitti to Protest NSA Spying Activities

It looks like a German artist has used a different form of “graffiti” to protest the NSA early this morning in Berlin. Oliver Bienkowski, a self-proclaimed “guerilla marketing expert”, has used a powerful projector mounted in a cargo van and beamed it on the US Embassy. The image is said to have illustrated a silly portrait of US President, Barack Obama, and a message: “NSA in da House”.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AUgmiIuFeU[/youtube]

The United States Embassy in Berlin is said to be in a heavily police-patrolled area near the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate and due to this, the police have peacefully shut down the projection within minutes, according to the video below, posted online by the group of German artists.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K866FXjjvdo[/youtube]

It is said that this is not the first time Bienkowski used the side of a building to express his work and protest. Last year, he projected the words “United Stasi of America” on another building structure to protest against spying activities, having the past year not being a good one for US-German relations.

A series of uncovered information have pointed out the extent of NSA surveillance activities in Europe the past year. German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, had her phone under surveillance by the NSA and there are still concerns of widespread surveillance of internet activities which pass through US servers. A CIA chief in Berlin has even been expelled by the Germans last year as a sign of its displeasure with US spy activities in their country.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information
Videos courtesy of The Verge

Chromecast Developer Restrictions Lifted With New SDK, To Make It Available Abroad Soon

Google has officially announced the release of the Google Cast SDK, allowing developers to integrate the Chromecast in their Android, iOS and web applications. Rishi Chandra, Chromecast MP, said that their “opportunity set is fairly large”, mentioning that he could see millions of mobile apps and websites adding support for the Google Cast.

When it first came out nine months ago, it had limited support available, along with a few select apps allowed on the platform, such as Pandora, HBO Go and Hulu Plus. Google also made a preview available for the SDK in order to give developers a taste of how to build their own apps on the platform, but did not allow them to publish their apps.

The newly released SDK offer developers simple ways to just beam a photo to the TV screen, without the need of integrated casting capabilities and the ability to build it from scratch. Chandra said that he will also want to see developers go further with developing new tech with the new SDK, having mentioning multiplayer gaming.

Google has also made some changes to the SDK, being part of the Google Play Services framwork now. This means that an Android update will no be required to get Chromecast applications on the platform, something that consist with Google’s efforts to make fragmentation less of an issue with Android.

We can see from the above that Google wants to really expand the Chromecast this year, attempting to fill it with apps and widening its Android grasp. Also, Mario Queiroz, VP of Production at Google, stated that Google is looking to make Chromecast available abroad soon.

Thank you Gigaom for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Gigaom