Battery Efficiency Improved 400 Times by Accident!

Everything these days uses batteries of some kind or another, from the smartphone you use to text your friends to the tablets and electronic tools you use at work or school every day. In a surprising twist, researchers at UC Irvine may have discovered a way to increase the time a battery holds the charge by complete accident.

The discovery comes as the researchers were looking at creating a solid-state battery using an electrolyte gel, similar to the ones developed by Cockrell School of Engineering in Texas. The idea was to use the gel to replace the lithium inside a battery, a component that corrodes and creates the nasty smelling ooze you get on batteries you find at the back of your kitchen draws when you go looking for just one more battery.

Using gold nanowires to store the electricity within the battery, the new design lasted through 200,000 recharges without any significant decline in battery life or corrosion, something which they can’t explain. Reginald Penner, the lead author of the paper, stated that they “don’t understand the mechanism of that yet”.

Lasting more than 400 times longer than a traditional battery, Penner explained their experiment was like pouring water between two cups, the end results was the new batteries losing only 5% of their charge over 200,000 times.

While a great start to making effective batteries, introducing gold to any electrical component increases its cost and raises the question, could this new style of battery, combining a gel with thin wires of metal, use something other than gold to achieve similar results?

Carbon Nanotubes Can Self-Assemble Themselves at a Distance

Nanotechnology is part of a whole new stage of technology, the ability to create microscopic machines that can perform tasks such as replacing torn knee ligaments or as was previously found it could be used to double hard drives space. Part of nanotechnologies problems is that if it is damaged, you are talking about a tiny tear. Self-repairing technology can help with that, enabling machines and devices to not only protect themselves but also repair some of the damage that has been done to them, and researchers at Rice university have taken it a step further by letting carbon nanotubes self-assemble themselves all with just a little remote prompt.

The researchers at Rice university posted a video to YouTube that shows a series of carbon nanotubes gather together and assembles themselves into a wire. Remember when you broke your favourite pair of headphones because part of the cable broke but you could never tell what part? With this technology, you could simply place your headphones in a force field created by a Tesla coil and watch at it repairs itself.

Described by one of the scientists sons as “spider-man webs”, the video clearly shows that this technology could be used in creating self-building/repairing technology, similar to that found in the self-healing gel that Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas showed off a few months ago.

Obama Would Veto ‘Anti-Net Neutrality Bill”

The power to veto something is a strong one, and many governments have the power in place for specific reasons. Though rarely used it can often be what makes or breaks a law or new piece of legislation. In this case, the White House has stated that it would veto the ‘No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act’ on the grounds that it is very anti-net neutrality.

H.R. 2666 would appear at first glance to support the concept of net neutrality, with its author Adam Kinzinger, the republican representative for Illinois, saying that regulating broadband rates would create “significant uncertainty for ISPs” while also discouraging “investment and unique pricing structures or service plans”.

The sly part of the new bill, which the Electronic frontier foundation spotted, was that the FCC would have to stop summoning companies to explain a new trend of data exception schemes. These schemes like the T-mobile binge service, see companies making deals with certain providers and then not counting their content towards your data usage. Unlimited videos from certain sites? Sure, but videos on every site will be throttled.

In the White Houses letter, they state that the bill “would restrict the FCC’s ability to take enforcement actions to protect consumers on issues where the FCC has received numerous consumer complaints.” The White House then continues to say that the bill would also cause issues in the future as it ” could limit the Commission’s ability to address new practices and adapt its rules for a dynamic, fast-changing online marketplace”.

The letter finishes by saying that “if the President were presented with H.R. 2666, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”.

Amazon Bans Bad USB Type-C Cables

Everyone knows about USB cables. Used for everything from transferring important information from one device to another to charging your devices, they are seen everywhere and the USB Type-C Cables are no exception. Some people were put off when a google engineer fried his Chromebook using a bad cable from Amazon, a move which has now made Amazon ban bad USB Type-C Cables from its site.

USB Type-C (also known as USB-C) is loved for many reasons, from their lack of orientation, no more finding if you’ve put the cable in the wrong way round on the third or fourth time, to the fact that both ends are identical, meaning that there is no right and wrong end, there is only the right ends!

USB-C are also twice as fast as USB 3.0, a standard that barely took off before people noticed USB-C’s popularity. With speeds of up to 10Gbps and the ability to output up to 20V(100W), the USB-C is quickly gaining favor to replace the variety of USB connections that came before it. Sadly with the recent interest in the connector, some people have taken to selling some not so great copies. Listed under their prohibited electronic listings, Amazon now ban any USB-C cable that can be described as:

Any USB-C (or USB Type-C) cable or adapter product that is not compliant with standard specifications issued by “USB Implementers Forum Inc.”

With the ability to report and have bad cables removed from the site, hopefully, fewer people will have to lose their precious devices to cut price and bad quality products.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Battery Could Last Two Days on a Single Charge

Since the introduction of Apple’s first generation iPhone, mobile handsets have become more than a basic communication tool and many users rely on a huge selection of applications. While this provides incredible functionality on-the-move, the use of WiFi, mobile data and multiple applications at once puts a huge strain on battery life. Usually, it’s quite common for mobile devices to require daily charging especially if you’re a heavy user. This really is a major flaw of modern handsets, and reduces the convenience factor of having a music player, camera, and mini-PC in one portable device. Furthermore, there’s been a recent trend to prevent users to replacing the internal battery. This really does have a significant impact because over time the battery’s charging capacity decreases, and owning two batteries can help in an emergency.

According to Tweaktown, this could be an outdated concept on higher-end phones in the near future. A Russian blogger, Elder Murtazin claims he’s been using the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S7 and the battery reportedly lasted 17 hours on a single charge. Not only that, this was achieved with the screen brightness at 100% while playing video content. Murtazin also tested the handset with 75% brightness with LTE enabled and this resulted in a charge of over two days! These numbers are extremely impressive but it’s important to adopt a cautious approach. The source might be genuine, but it’s only from one user, meaning there’s no substantial evidence at this time. However, battery technology is destined to improve and a more power-efficient manufacturing process on the CPU should help matters.

Hopefully, modern handsets will be able to provide superb functionality without impacting on essential longevity. Manufacturers need to move away from the absurd notion of soldering the battery onto the PCB and giving consumers the option to make their purchase last longer.

Image courtesy of PCAdvisor

EE Power Bars Recalled Due to Safety Concerns – Again!

Mobile phones, tablets, handheld games consoles, many things these days can be charged off of a USB port and while many use their PC’s or laptops to charge their devices, some have taken to other ways to charge them. From a plug, a USB adapter or the more mobile solutions, people are able to store and charge with devices as small as your watch.EE made headline news when it revealed that it would be releasing their Power Bar’s, a small tube which you can plug into your phone or tablet and give it that last-minute boost.

EE made headline news when it revealed that it would be releasing their Power Bar’s, a small tube which you can plug into your phone or tablet and give it that last-minute boost. With the added incentive to be able to pop into any EE store and replace your drained power bar with a charged one, they became quite popular and many companies followed suit. That was until trouble struck. Back in April, EE gave out over a million Power Bars only to then have to recall any Power Bar with a E1-06 model number, thanks to the “small risk” of them bursting into flames and exploding.

This wouldn’t be too bad for them, except that EE has now identified a “very small number” of incidents where Power Bars can overheat, this means you could end up with a flaming battery in your pocket pretty quickly. As a result, EE is recalling every Power Bar that was ever handed out, as detailed in their statement released today on their website.

To help give you a little motivation if you are an “eligible” EE Customer, upon returning your Power Bar to an EE store, you will receive a £20 voucher.

With no information about a possible replacement or Power Bar Version 2.0, I can only praise EE for taking the hit and saying that the risk (no matter how small) is still too great.

Self-Healing Gel Now Carries Electrical Charge

We’ve all had that moment when we’ve heard the crack, the snap or the crunch. Be it your favourite USB drive, your screen or even your laptop, accidents happen and things get damaged. The worst part about this is it’s normally one or two small things that stop you from using that technology again, but what if that changed? What if when you saw your USB stick crunch into a weird shape, you held it together and found it still worked?

Thanks to research scientists at Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas, you could soon see that happening with technology and more. Revealed as the first of its kind, the researchers have managed to develop a self-healing gel that not only repairs and connects electronic circuits but can also carry a charge within itself. The gel not only carries a charge but also repairs itself without external stimuli, such as having to shine a light or heating up the gel, meaning that you wouldn’t have to put your phone on the radiator to fix it. The image shows the gel even holding its own, after being cut in half.

Guihua Yu, a mechanical engineering assistant professor at Cockrell School, stated the gel could be used at ‘soft joints’. The gel could even be applied overtop of traditional joins in hardware, allowing you to continue using old technology while allowing the self-repairing gel to go to work.

Imagine if we had these in the old sliding phones, the ones where the ribbon connecting the screen broke every few months. That’s just the tip of the gel pack for this technology, what would you like to see this technology used for?

London Cabs Set To Allow Contact-less Payments By 2017

So there you are, having been busy rushing around London doing your shopping and decide you want to quickly grab a taxi back home, only to find you won’t be able to because you don’t have any cash on your person. It happens and normally the alternative for people these days is either to walk it or use alternative transport such as Uber. With the app based service looking to only grow and grow, not taking in mobile and card payments has limited London’s cabs. This could be set to change though as soon as mid-2017.

Transport for London (TFL) and Mayor Boris Johnson have agreed to move proposals for the scheme that would see all taxi’s requiring the capability to accept card payments, including contactless. This chance could be seen as soon as October 2016, just in time for next year’s Christmas rush, a welcome change I bet for the 86% of the people who responded to a consultation saying that they wanted cards accepted.

TFL have agreed to bring down the cost of transactions charges from 10% to around 3%, this meaning that you won’t be charged extra (after the additional 20p increase that’s set to come in earlier in the year).

With services like Uber and other forms of public transport already taking card and contactless payments, is it about time that Taxi’s joined the fold?

Tesla Demonstrates New Snake Like Charger

We’ve all seen the spaces, car parking areas with small rods sticking out the floor and a big sign saying “electric car parking space”. With electric cards on the rise, charging them is becoming more and more important to companies and their users. One of the big issues is the cable you need to plug in. Imagine leaving your car pumping fuel into itself while you went into the supermarket to do your shopping? Now imagine not having to plug your car in at all, instead it plugs itself in! Tesla’s new charger does exactly that.

Back in December, Elon Musk, product architect at Tesla Motors tweeted saying that they were working on a charger that “automatically moves out from the wall & connects like a solid metal snake”. Today, they revealed that project.

The actual design does look like a solid metal snake, and the way it moves just seems to be like it’s taken the concept from a creepy science fiction film.

Soon you may just have to park up and walk away as your car gets plugged into and charged while you’re doing your weekly shop, nothing could go wrong right?

Thank you to the Verge for providing us with this information.

Bolt Electric Motorbikes Arrives With Connectivity

In theory, the notion of an electric motorbike is a good idea and brings benefits which include easy charging, being cheap to run and eco-friendly. The problem lies with both choice and also the life and charge time of the battery; this is where a start-up by the name of Bolt Motorbikes comes to the fore.

The Bolt M-1 is designed with two driving modes which are helpfully named Economy and Sport mode. Firstly Economy mode, this is the setting which will go up to a speed of 20 mph while utilizing far less of the battery, this means that an average consumer can travel further without needing to stop for a charge. The second setting is the sports mode; this is designed to be used for off-road purposes, i.e. similar to a mountain bike.

The Bolt M-1 can go as far as 50 miles on a single charge, which is quite impressive considering an average petrol powered car is around the same in distance. The charge time depending on how you use it, is between 90 minutes and 5 hours, which is pretty good considering it’s an improvement on earlier generations of electric-powered motorbikes.

That’s not all; the bike also comes with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, which means that it’s possible to connect a phone to your bike, it’s going to be a surreal moment when scrolling through the connect options for it to then say, “connecting with motorbike” Images are below of what it intends to look like.

Thank You Bolt Motorbikes for providing us with this information

Europe Gets New Laws to Protect Net Neutrality

It’s the weekend and you decide you’re going to pop over the channel to go do a bit of shopping and enjoy a bit of Europe. While you’re abroad you realise you need to make a few quick phone calls, and maybe send a snap chat of what your buying, maybe even video chat an order from your friend for real french cheese or Belgium chocolate. Suddenly the biggest bill is your phone bill, with data roaming charging you for every single use of your phone, and even costing the people who have never left the country. This will soon change.

As of June 15th 2017, roaming charges will be scrapped in Europe. This means that everyone in Europe will pay the same price no matter which European country they are in. This does come with a catch though, in order to prevent abuse of foreign and local networks there will be a “fair use limit”. This means that after a certain amount of use you will find yourself being charged a basic fee, ultimately stopping people from grabbing cheap SIM cards abroad and using them as their main SIM.

On April 30th 2016 new net neutrality laws will come into effect, these will effectively ban not only “fast lanes” (where people pay extra for a service provider to prioritize their connection) and prevent internet service providers from blocking or throttling online content. While this seems to be a case for celebration, EU networks will be allowed to put aside a specialist part of their network for “higher quality” service. While under the condition that this doesn’t affect other people’s access to the rest of the internet, it does leave them open to a broad definition of “specialized services”.

Have you been charged for using your phone abroad? What was your biggest bill?

Thank you Engadget for the information.

Image courtesy of ItsAGadget.

Volkswagen Now Offering Apple Watch App

The Apple Watch has been available to consumers for a little while now and we’ve seen how resilient they are when faced with the likes of a blender and tattoos; not very well is the answer if you didn’t click the links. It was only a matter of time before we started seeing an influx of apps pop up from various sources, but the automotive sector was one I was least expecting.

Porsche and BMW have already created apps for the wrist hugger and it doesn’t involve vibrations every few seconds when you’ve done another mile. I’m still a little confused if this is to actually benefit consumers or if they want to ride the hipster fame wave.

Volkswagen’s offering is very similar to the Porsche app, it will allow the Car-Net to sync with the watch so you have key car information pop up on your arm.

“Need to remotely lock/unlock your doors? You can do it from your Apple Watch. Want to check the fuel level or charge status? You can do it from your wrist. Need to set up a speed or boundary alert? No need to pull the phone from your pocket or purse.”

You can already do all of this with the current iOS app, but now you don’t have to dig into your pocket to check the charge so you can avoid the high potential of dropping it; the expensive paperweight seems to be making itself useful. The Volkswagen Car-Net app will be available in the Watch app store if you want to download it.

Do you own or plan on owning an Apple Watch? Would you use an app like this to monitor your car? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to MotorAuthority for providing us with this information.

Phoneception: Charge Your Phone with Your Friends

Have that one friend who is always mooching from you? Well, time to add to that list of things that are mooched, as a new Indeiegogo campaign is raising money for a double-headed microUSB cable that will charge one phone using another phone. Named the Juicer, this device might be your best friend, or the bane of that one person who you always hate to see.

Sporting a very simple design, plug the end with the green dot into the device you will be using to charge, and the end with the red dot into the device needing charging. The makers of the Juicer are hoping to raise %65,000 via Indiegogo to finalize the design and start production. Surprisingly, that large goal doesn’t equate into a massive price, as a simple $10 gets you access to one of the first units when they become available, hopefully  this August. Even if they do debut a little late, with the ever-increasing use of phones and tablets, users alike will gladly wait for this, rather than carrying that bulky wall charger.

Source: Gizmodo

Portable Smartphone Battery Pack Roundup Review

Introduction


Today we’ll take a look in to a few different portable battery pack offerings from companies from around the globe. You’re quite possibly just like me – in the beginning you weren’t exactly certain why people would want or need to invest in a portable battery and maybe even thought of them to be quite useless. Then came along my Galaxy S4. As great as the phone performs, even when I’m out and about at tech expos’ or traveling around, my phone will be flat in a few hours – even with all precautions possible taken.

Screen brightness down, check. GPS off, check. Wireless disabled, check. Background applications closed, yep. Then, as your 6th hour away from a USB port rolls around, you hear that all-too-noteable “bloop bloop” – your phone is warning you that only 15% of your battery remains. In comes our hero, in the form of a 5,000 mAh – 11,000 mAh power bank. If you’re going to take most large-brand consumer phones into account, they’ll be providing you with an average battery sizing of around 2,600 mAh – as seen in Samsung’s Galaxy S4. If you’re running a 5,000 mAh battery pack and take into account some small power losses along the way, you’re looking at about 1.8 full charges of your device.

We’re not here to tell you if you do or don’t need a power bank in your life, but here are some packs that we think are worth a look at. The full list of products in this roundup and their pricing is as follows:

Uber Under Fire After Raising Prices in Sydney

Uber has been under fire today after the ride sharing app put prices up in Sydney following the alleged terrorist hostage crisis in the city. The app raised prices in the Sydney area before quickly backtracking.

Prices were raised up to 4 times the normal rate, according to the BBC. The company responded to the backlash by refunding some customers and offering free rides out of the Sydney central business district. They also tweeted that the price hike was to encourage more drivers to get in the area to help people get home.

“We are all concerned with the events happening in Sydney. Uber Sydney will be providing free rides out of the CBD to help Sydneysiders get home safely. Our thoughts are with those affected and the NSW Police Force. We are in the process of refunding rides.” – Uber.

Source: BBC News

Chinese University Uses Urine to Charge Smartphones

A teaspoon of gray powder, a small amount of mineral water and a splash of urine was the chemical concoction that Sichuan University students used to charge their smartphones from dead to 100% recently.

Yes, you read it right – urine. The three science and engineering students completed this project as part of the Discovery 2014 national youth science innovation and future experiences national finals. Utilizing a gray magnesium hybrid powder that is calcium based as the core of their fuel, this device uses the powder to react with water, generating hydrogen gas into a hydrogen fuel cell. Oxygen then reacts with this concoction to form water in the battery, charging the ions with the reaction resulting in emission of power.

According to estimates, the total amount of gray powder used is 15 grams which costs only 1.54 yuan ($0.25 USD) in the local market. Combining this with 150 grams of water (or urine if water is not available) will see your Samsung Galaxy S3 Smartphone charge from dead to full battery levels three times. Lianfeng research claims that this form of mobile power source can be used for all aspects of travelling and outdoor adventures, alongside possible military applications due to it’s small and easily operable nature and the ability to replace often-scarce water with human waste.

Bear Grylls will be proud – once again there’s another use for urine other than survival tactics.

Image courtesy of apartment therapy

Bad Hotel Reviews Attract $500 Fee

Have you ever posted a negative review of service on Yelp or other public review sites? If your host had their function at Union Street Guest House, you might be doing them a great disservice.

Located in Hudson NY, this guest house has been said to charge $500 USD for negative reviews left on their website – the money for which comes out of the wedding couples deposit.

“Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not,” reads an online policy. “If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.” Page Six

Not only will they keep the $500 if the couple themselves leave a negative review, but if any of the guests do so you’re also in trouble. If the review is deleted, your deposit is fully refunded.

Since this information has come to light, people are quite outraged and many have started leaving negative reviews on the companies Yelp page, with one politely stating:

Just want to keep flushing down their ratings in toilet.

Booooooooooo” Valenz L. on Yelp

Unfortunately, we have been unable to find any official statement from the guest house regarding this issue.

Have you been a victim to a similar story? Let us know.

Image courtesy of Union Street Guest House

ADATA Elite CE700 Qi Wireless Charging Station

Introduction


ADATA is brand synonymous with memory and storage solutions. For more than a decade they have established a strong relationship with their customers that consists of average consumers and business professionals around the world. With constant innovation and a determination to produce only high quality products that will exceed consumer expectations, ADATA will continue to be at the forefront of our culture’s technological growth.

Anyone that keeps up to date with their technology news can already see that most manufacturers are targeting the mobile device segment no matter the relevance to their core product stacks. Mobile devices have become such a critical part of our everyday lives and I for one still have a hard time fathoming how our culture was able to survive without things like email, instant messaging, or even mobile computing. We are a culture that constantly has our eyes glued to our phones and tablets to get through each day.

But how exactly are we constantly powering these devices? Traditionally the standard charge cable is the primary method of choice. But with technology constantly evolving we are always looking to improve the experiences that we have with these products. What is the obvious next step for charging your devices? Wireless charging of course. A freedom from the cluster of cables that we are so used to dealing with. That’s where ADATA comes in and brings us the Elite CE700 Qi Wireless Charging Station.

After a quick opening of the packaging you can see the the contents are pretty basic, but that’s okay because there’s not much needed to use this type of product. The box contains the user guide, micro USB charge cable, and the unit itself.