Floating wind farm
By 2020, the small island nation of Malta must get 10% of its energy from renewables, where they currently get less than 2%. Now, the island is considering Swedish company Hexicon’s proposal for the world’s largest floating windfarm, capable of 54 MW. The proposed site is eleven nautical miles offshore, and if its effects on bird migration and marine life check out, it could be operational as early as 2014. Congratulations, Malta! Alternative energy is a much better long-term investment than your jewel-encrusted bird statues. That’s the stuff dreams are made of.
Hollywood director’s deep-sea dive
This month, Hollywood director James Cameron plans to pilot the “Deepsea Challenge”, a custom-built one-man submersible, seven miles down into the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench. At the bottom, Cameron will spend six hours, collecting scientific samples and shooting footage for a documentary. If successful, and if he beats a similar attempt by Richard Branson’s Virgin Oceanic, Cameron will be the third person ever to dive to the bottom of the trench. I say James Cameron is exactly the filmmaker I would send. Who else? Michael Bay’s sub would explode. Woody Allen would complain the whole ride. And George Lucas? He would just make you long for his earlier nautical expeditions.
Self-checkout without bar codes
Toshiba Tec has developed a new supermarket scanner that uses image recognition to identify products, instead of bar codes. The company hopes the new device will be faster than current checkouts, especially for fresh produce, which typically does not come with barcodes. The image scanner should identify produce faster than manual input of the sticker codes. My problem at the checkout is that visually, I can’t tell an expensive, fancy, organic banana from a regular. Can you, checkout scanner? Can you?
Robot balloon cranes
Jeremy Wiley, founder of Tethered Air, has come up with an interesting way to quickly set up a temporary shipyard, by tethering a lifting balloon with four anchor cables. A payload cable would attach to each of the anchor cables, and the robotic crane can move around by shortening or lengthening the payload cables. Temporary shipyards could be set up to quickly get supplies to remote areas, such as disaster relief zones. Wow, we could put established shipyards out of business. But then, where are the mobsters going to meet? I love technology, but mob wars just aren’t as exciting on Skype.
Airbags for pedestrians
The 2013 Volvo V40 will come with the world’s first pedestrian detection system. A radar system in the car’s grille, combined with a camera fitted to the interior rear-view mirror, will identify a pedestrian stepping out in front of the vehicle, and if the driver does not respond in time, the system can emit a warning or even activate the brakes. Then, if the bumper sensors detect a collision, the hood is released and an airbag is deployed. Wow! Finally, a technology that can keep innocent people safe while I text and drive, and also eat cheeseburger. Finally, someone is thinking about those poor pedestrians!
Mercedes is marketing the F-Cell, their limited-release hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric car, with a campaign that boasts it is “virtually invisible to the environment”. So to promote the car, they covered a side of one with LED sheets that stream images captured from the camera attached on the other side of the car, like the car from that Bond movie nobody liked. It’s a great way to raise awareness of an electric car’s minuscule ecological footprint, but I’d like to see a similar campaign for my Hummer. Instead of LEDs, it’s covered in flamethrowers.