One ring to rule them all … Wireless Electricity

The future of devices and the future of technology is something that you would see a lot of on this blog. So I am certain that you would ask what is that one technology that might change the future for the good. I have written about it before and had highlighted Power Generation as that one technology.

Today well I will add to it, and say Power Generation and Power Transmission. Why transmission, Well Wireless Electricity is here. What I saw today is a revolutionary innovation in technology front. I must say it will change the course of future for human race. Its called WiTricity. As the name suggest, its Wireless Electricity. WiTricity Power is about ransferring electric energy or power over distance without wires. The new system exploits simple physics principles and can be used to charge a range of electronic devices over several meters. One of the first devices to implement this technology is the Palm Pre and its touchstone charger. It still implements charging with touch. But in the future as the technology spills into mainstream devices we will see more interesting implementation.  Here is their presentation at TED.

It has been more than 100 years since this technology was initially discovered. Researchers attribute the delay to develop the technology to limitations of well-known physical laws and a simple lack of need. Only recently have modern consumers obtained a high number of portable electronic devices which currently require batteries and plug-in chargers. Pioneered by the principles of one of the greatest Modern Minds in Physics Nicola Tesla. Can you imagine where we would use these things ??

Consumer Electronics

  • Automatic wireless charging of mobile electronics (phones, laptops, game controllers, etc.) in home, car, office, Wi-Fi hotspots … while devices are in use and mobile.
  • Direct wireless powering of stationary devices (flat screen TV’s, digital picture frames, home theater accessories, wireless loud speakers, etc.) … eliminating expensive custom wiring, unsightly cables and “wall-wart” power supplies.
  • Direct wireless powering of desktop PC peripherals: wireless mouse, keyboard, printer, speakers, display, etc… eliminating disposable batteries and awkward cabling.

Industrial

  • Wireless power and communication interconnections across rotating and moving “joints” (robots, packaging machinery, assembly machinery, machine tools) … eliminating costly and failure-prone wiring.
  • Wireless power and communication interconnections at points of use in harsh environments (drilling, mining, underwater, etc.) … where it is impractical or impossible to run wires.
  • Wireless power for wireless sensors and actuators, eliminating the need for expensive power wiring or battery replacement and disposal.
  • Automatic wireless charging for mobile robots, automatic guided vehicles, cordless tools and instruments…eliminating complex docking mechanisms, and labor intensive manual recharging and battery replacement.

Transportation

  • Wireless charging for existing electric vehicle classes: golf carts, industrial vehicles.
  • Wireless charging for future hybrid and all-electric passenger and commercial vehicles, at home, in parking garages, at fleet depots, and at remote kiosks.
  • Wireless power interconnections to replace costly vehicle wiring harnesses and slip rings.

Some Other Applications

  • Wireless power interconnections and automatic wireless charging for implantable medical devices (ventricular assist devices, pacemaker, defibrilator, etc.).
  • Wireless charging and for high tech military systems (battery powered mobile devices, covert sensors, unmanned mobile robots and aircraft, etc.).
  • Wireless powering and automatic wireless charging of smart cards.
  • Wireless powering and automatic wireless charging of consumer appliances, mobile robots, etc.

Coupled with another technology

Scientists at the Imperial College London’s Department of Aeronautics say they have created a plastic that can store and release electricity, revolutionising the way we use phones and drive cars. It means the cases of mobiles and iPods could soon double up as their power source — leading to gadgets as thin as credit cards. The technology could also lead to flexible computer screens that can be folded up and carried around. The material is not really a battery, but a super capacitor — similar to those found in typical electrical circuits. Even the car of the future could be drawing power from its roof or the door, thanks to the new material.

Now that is a place I want to live in, Really looking forward to the plastic storing electricity and wirelessly charging itself . Beam me up Scotty 😉

Indian Innovation

India and Innovation have the first 2 characters the same, but in reality there is huge gap between both. I was just watching the Bollywood movie “Guru” based on the life of Dhirubai Ambani, who started off as a small time worker with Arab merchants in the 1950s and moved to Mumbai in 1958 to start his own business in spices. After making modest profits, he moved into textiles and opened his mill near Ahmedabad. Dhirubhai founded Reliance Industries in 1958. After that it was a saga of expansions and successes; By 2007 the combined fortune of the family (sons Anil and Mukesh) was 60 billion dollars, making the Ambani’s the second richest family in the world.

So what happened to the rest of them ? Since then there have not been too many businessmen or innovators that have come out of India, there was of course the occasional Mr. Narayan Murthy and Mr. Azim Premji, who took 15 years to build an IT empire but there have not been too many innovations. I guess there is one question that people keep asking within the IT community – “Why we don’t hear Google/Twitter like stories from India?” After all India is the global superpower in computing these days or at least thats what we like to say.  We have always been a service oriented company and not product based. Why don’t we have a Office package from India, or a Programing language from India ? I guess its because deep down we Indians are people who like security in jobs and so we do not venture into the unknown of business, innovation and startups. One of my favorite blogs at the moment, pluggd.in writes this :

For India to find its place in the sun in the years to come, R&D based excellence – or, innovation based solutions – is mandatory. That if India’s destiny lay in just being a low cost supplier of the world’s goods and services, then the tryst with that destiny would be short -lived. But if India’s destiny lies in being an international leader in the supply of goods and services then it has no choice but to embrace innovation and R&D based excellence.

Over the past 57 years, India’s share in world trade has shrunk from over 2% to about 0.6% today. Of India’s top items of merchandise export are in traditional commodity items like textiles, gems and jewelry, leather, chemicals, engineering goods, minerals, and agroproducts. The value-added by India in the commodity items is minimal and hence prone to significant international price pressures. Due to the lack of investments and innovation along the entire value-chain, from design to marketing to technology to the business model itself, these industries capture just a tiny share of their global markets. These industries have grown in large part due to the natural advantages enjoyed by India of which an abundant supply of low cost labour is a significant part. In the world of tomorrow, innovation has to take centre-stage if these industries are to have positions of dominance on the world stage.

Non-traditional businesses like IT services and pharmaceuticals have grown significantly in the last decade and are now recognized as having “arrived” on the global stage. Both these businesses are knowledge driven and employ a significantly different profile of employees than the traditional businesses. It is therefore imperative that with their arrival on the global stage, with their access to world class talent and capital, cost & quality led advantages, and with high global demand, they do not become complacent and lose their leading positions much like the traditional businesses have done.

With over 300,000 engineers graduating each year, India is sitting on a human capital goldmine that most countries can only dream about. However, the issue of global leadership isn’t one that’s only about numbers. After all, with only 7000 engineers graduating each year, Israel with 6.5m people has over 100 innovative companies listed on Nasdaq! And India with over 250m head of cattle – the world’s largest – is not even a player in the global dairy business!

Things are not all bad though, Pluggd.in reports on the new Startups that are getting churned out of  India. In fact this is also being highlighted by Discovery channel who is showcasing a few of the innovations coming out of India. Small but still Innovative.

Pomogranate Seed seperator

Mobile Operated Switches for remote operation

Mini Wind powered Mobile Charger Unit

Tree climbing Apparatus / Mini Washing Machine / Modified Scooter / Amphibious Bicycle

There are more videos at the MissionPacific channel of Youtube. I am not sure if many people know about these innovations in the country, and about how many venture capitalists / innovators who are willing to take up some of these devices for production in the huge market that is India.

How does Google do it ??

Google is the one company that people dream of working, and they just make it like a “kid in a candy store” feeling for everyone who gets to peek into anything Google. Arguably one of the most technologically advanced company on the planet. Everyone likes Google, (of course there are those who hate it for privacy issues etc) and nearly everyone I know uses at least one product from them. The Search Engine being the most popular. How do they do it ? well, Google has a lot of Data Centers which do the searching, mapping, document processing, productivity management, Chatting, waveing and tonnes of other things, and present it through our web browsers to us.

A data center is a fancy name for a warehouse-like building that contains thousands of servers. Because these servers consume a lot of electricity, there is a great deal of electrical equipment required to bring the power to the servers, including equipment to provide power in the case of a utility power failure. Typically 10-20% of the incoming power is lost in this machinery. We first focused on streamlining this equipment with a goal of eliminating most of the waste.

Google’s data centers are the object of great fascination, and the intrigue about these facilities is only deepened by Google’s secrecy about its operations. After years of secrecy, Google held its “Data Center Efficiency Summit” last year, where the company showed off one of its Data Centers and custom web servers – all in a bid to evangelize for energy efficiency. The green angle means that everything has been planned for optimum power use, from the 1AAA shipping containers (sporting over a thousand servers each) that make up the core of its operations, to the servers themselves – each containing its own 12-volt UPS. This design is said to boast a staggering 99.9 percent energy efficiency, as opposed to a standard centralized UPS setup which at best would only score 95 percent. According to CNET, these are efficiency levels that the Environment Protection Agency of America doesn’t envision as practical until at least 2011.

Check out some of the videos below where Google shows off its Data Center capabilities and innovations

Google believes its data center operations give it a competitive advantage, and says as little as possible about these facilities. The company believes that details such as the size and power usage of its data centers could be valuable to competitors. Google says this data center has slots for over 45,000 servers in 45 containers.

Leading from the front Google is one of those companies who has grown to the size it is because of the love of its fans and also because they always make the right moves into the market. From energy efficient Data centers to giving away profits of the previous years to rebuild crumbling economies, they are really telling companies how to be socially responsible. (We’ll let go of all the privacy issues for the time being)

Also worth a look is the tour of Google’s water treatment facility. Google uses water to cool the hot air the servers produce. Most Google data centers use chillers to cool the water by refrigeration, but one data center in Belgium is experimenting with the use only of the less power-hungry evaporative cooling.

For more information regarding Google Data Centers Check out the link here.

The story of stuff, we are just consumer numbers …

Its been about a year since someone sent me a viral video about the Story of Stuff, and I was enlightened, frightened, and motivated all at the same time. Historically, I have been a person who has spoken about made presentations about and actually published presentations about going green. And after seeing the video again, I realized that I am not doing nearly as much as I could be doing. The video attacks the linear economic model that our economy is currently based on. Some of the info. presented is new, a lot is repeat, but it’s brought together in a very clear and compelling way. You can download and watch the video also on their website http://www.storyofstuff.com/

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever. Since the film was posted, viewers in over 200 countries have visited the site over 7.5 million times. The Story of Stuff is more than a video cleverly explaining the life cycle of stuff. It’s a catalyst for awareness that gets people thinking about how all of our stuff is connected to environmental and societal issues.

Here is my list of 10 little and big things we can do, to make a change :

  1. Power Down: A great deal of the resources we use and the waste we create is in the energy we consume. Look for opportunities in your life to significantly reduce energy use: drive less, fly less, turn off lights, buy local seasonal food (food takes energy to grow, package, store and transport), wear a sweater instead of turning up the heat, use a clothesline instead of a dryer, vacation closer to home, buy used or borrow things before buying new, recycle. All these things save energy and save you money.
  2. Waste Less: There are hundreds of opportunities each day to nurture a Zero Waste culture in your home, workplace, community. This takes developing new habits which soon become second nature. Use both sides of the paper, carry your own mugs and shopping bags, get printer cartridges refilled instead of replaced, compost food scraps, avoid bottled water and other over packaged products, upgrade computers rather than buying new ones, repair and mend rather than replace … the list is endless!
  3. Talk to everyone about it: At work, your neighbors, in line at the supermarket, on the bus… A student once asked Cesar Chavez how he organized. He said, “First, I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.” “No,” said the student, “how do you organize?” Chavez answered, “First I talk to one person. Then I talk to another person.”
  4. Make your voice heard: Write letters to the editor and submit articles to local press. In the last years, and especially with Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the media has been forced to write about climate change. As individuals, we can influence the media to better represent other important issues as well. You could use your social networks like Facebook and Twitter for the same as well.
  5. Detox: Many of today’s consumer products — from children’s pajamas to lipstick — contain toxic chemical additives that simply aren’t necessary.
  6. Unplug: The average person watches TV over four hours a day. Four hours per day filled with messages about stuff we should buy. That is four hours a day that could be spent with family, friends and in our community.
  7. Park and Walk: Car-centric land use policies and lifestyles lead to more greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel extraction, and conversion of agricultural and wildlands to roads and parking lots. Driving less and walking more is good for the climate, the planet, your health, and your wallet.
  8. Change your light bulbs: Changing light bulbs is quick and easy. Energy efficient light bulbs use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer than conventional ones. That’s a no-brainer.
  9. Recycle your trash: Recycling saves energy and reduces both waste and the pressure to harvest and mine new stuff. Unfortunately, many cities still don’t have adequate recycling systems in place. In that case you can usually find some recycling options in the phone book to start recycling while you’re pressuring your local government to support recycling city wide.
  10. Buy Green: Shopping is not the solution to the environmental problems we currently face because the real changes we need just aren’t for sale in even the greenest shop. But, when we do shop, we should ensure our support businesses that protect the environment and worker rights.

I am sure you can think of many more uses of the same, the point is we need to do something. Anything.

India Shining: A Technology update – Part 1 the Military

Republic Day brings about great memories of National Cadet Corps camps, Parades, Republic Day Parade preparations (although I never made it there), my National Defense Academy Selections (which I missed cos of some certificates) well all in all my what-might-have-happened-if career in the Indian Defense; But most of all it reminds me of my childhood days when I would sit glued in front of the television on Republic Day parade when India showed off her military competency or at least the weaponry that we have stacked.

Over the years, I watched the parade slowly change from borrowed technology and bought technology to indigenous technologies taking over. However, I think we all believe that its happened very slowly, especially after we have been watching US based military technology in Hollywood movies, it is getting relatively difficult to impress us. The Indian Government has been increasing the defense budget considerably to develop some of the most ambitious projects undertaken by the scientists from India. All of us know that some of the most popular organizations from the Defense sector have made it through this recession without too much of a hitch, in fact they are some of the most profitable organizations within the government sector and we can figure why.

Getting back to the Republic Day, this year is no other than the previous years we have had. India is going to go in all guns blazing to display some of its technologies that are now on the brink of commissioning. India’s first Indigeneously built multi role fighter aircraft christned ‘Tejas’ (formerly LCA – Light Combat Aircraft) is going into operations at the Indian Air force this year, no wonder that it will make an appearance at the Republic Day this year. Although it has had its share of  hurdles for the proposed ‘Kaveri’ engine, the swelling costs, R & D costs etc, the Tejas is a testament of Indian Engineering at par with the best in the world. However, one would have loved to see it fly rather than just being a display. Continuing on the Air force front, the Medium Combat Aircraft another ambitious technological leap from the makers of the Tejas (HAL) and Sukhoi 30-MKI (Sukhoi Industries) who are now working on the specification of the latest Multi Combat Stealth Fighter; is supposed to be better than the the American F22 Raptor, can you imagine that. (Have a look at some of the Artists Impressions (Credits – Alexander Dueller)

Another major highlight of this year’s Republic Day Parade would be the showcasing of the Indian Army’s Arjun tanksand the ambulance-tracked vehicles, “Smerch” multiple rocket launcher systems, engineer reconnaissance vehicle, indigenously built “Sarvatra” bridge, infantry combat vehicles and ICV-based communication vehicles of the Army along with the “Agni” ballistic missile, “Shaurya” canister-launched hypersonic surface-to-surface missile and “Rohini” radars from DRDO. (Check out Equipment of the Indian Army from Wikipedia)

Apart from all the actual military equipment, the Indian Army is looking to introduce Eco friendly technologies in the outposts, by that I mean power generation from renewable sources. Why ? well first of all out Military is in need of such technologies to provide for basic amenities in the remote outposts and also the maintenance and installation costs are going to be far lesser than trying to get to areas like the Siachen Glacier, the highest battle field of the world. It would also help to save the glacier from pollution, as also to cut down on the cost of the fuel and logistic efforts.

All in all it might be an amazing Republic Day parade this year, unless the weather decides to play spoil sport with fog. For all of you who might be interested to see the republic day parade and who might not have access to Doordarshan like me, can check out the parade here online.

Copenhagen, Hopenhagen or Hipocratagen ??

There has been enough material and discussions worldwide on the newly coined “Climategate” referring to the leaked emails from the American Climate Monitoring agency and I am not referring to that. I am also not refering to all the debate about wether the climate change saga has anything to do with human impact on the planet. On that front I am absolutely certain that we humans are responsible to a large extent. So then what am I talking about ??
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The hippocrates that are attending the summit. I was actually quite interestingly looking for the world leaders who are visiting the summit to actually lead by example in terms of using eco aware transport, stationary and or eco aware services. So I started to look up to check on all those technologies that are displayed on green design and technology websites, to actually be used at the summit, like some shown on one of my favourite sites Inhabitat. But instead I stumbled Upon this article in the telegraph. If I were one of the leaders at the summit my head would bow down in shame ..  I have some exerpts from the article.
Copenhagen climate summit: 1,200 limos, 140 private planes and caviar wedges

Copenhagen is preparing for the climate change summit that will produce as much carbon dioxide as a town the size of Middlesbrough.
Ms Jorgensen reckons that between her and her rivals the total number of limos in Copenhagen next week has already broken the 1,200 barrier. The French alone rang up on Thursday and ordered another 42. “We haven’t got enough limos in the country to fulfil the demand,” she says. “We’re having to drive them in hundreds of miles from Germany and Sweden.”
And the total number of electric cars or hybrids among that number? “Five,” says Ms Jorgensen. “The government has some alternative fuel cars but the rest will be petrol or diesel. We don’t have any hybrids in Denmark, unfortunately, due to the extreme taxes on those cars. It makes no sense at all, but it’s very Danish.”
The airport says it is expecting up to 140 extra private jets during the peak period alone, so far over its capacity that the planes will have to fly off to regional airports – or to Sweden – to park, returning to Copenhagen to pick up their VIP passengers.
And this being Scandinavia, even the prostitutes are doing their bit for the planet. Outraged by a council postcard urging delegates to “be sustainable, don’t buy sex,” the local sex workers’ union – they have unions here – has announced that all its 1,400 members will give free intercourse to anyone with a climate conference delegate’s pass. The term “carbon dating” just took on an entirely new meaning.
Instead of swift and modest reductions in carbon – say, two per cent a year, starting next year – for which they could possibly be held accountable, the politicians will bandy around grandiose targets of 80-per-cent-plus by 2050, by which time few of the leaders at Copenhagen will even be alive, let alone still in office.
The US, which rejected Kyoto, is on board now, albeit too tentatively for most delegates. President Obama’s decision to stay later in Copenhagen may signal some sort of agreement between America and China: a necessity for any real global action, and something that could be presented as a “victory” for the talks.
You can read the whole article here. And another article here for the climate change naive guys.

Measure it to Save It !

Metering, one word that will be the buzz word in the next few years to come. In fact so much so that Google has enteres into the utility metering race to provide all of us with information that can help us save money as well as do our part for the environment.

I have spoken about this for sometime, Google has an ideal platform that can help it foray into the households of people, this looks like a right step in the right direction for google. Microsoft made it big, only once it entered homes of people; its now google’s turn. Check out google’s video for it.

In fact they have joined hands with GE to plug into the power grid.

I also highly suggest checking out the GE smart grid site as well here.
For those of you who are thinking wow this is a new initiative, well it isi’nt. Google is following footsteps of some of the great thinkers in the same industry. You can check out some of the leaders below