After Sharjah Blackouts, are Dubai and Abu Dhabi far behind ?

It is one of the biggest issues worldwide, electricity shortage. There are parts of India that have had these issues for a very long time. I remember Mangalore used to be without electricity for close to 8 – 10 hours a day. However, I have never really faced it here in Dubai, there was never a day without electricity. Oh wait there was this blackout in Jul 2005, I remember but for a few hours, caused a whole load of chaos. But otherwise there has not really been an issue with electricity.

Off late, Sharjah, the neighboring emirate to Dubai has had major issues with the blackouts, there have been major complaints from the residents that this blackout during the summer time is really bad. With the financial situation in the region and the country in general being difficult how is this going to effect Dubai and Abu Dhabi; the two biggest emirates with Sharjah. Dubai in general seems to be the place with the biggest issues out of the two.

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Indian Innovation for Charging Phones

We Indians are usually not knows for Innovation, but the culture is changing. Or should I say the mindset of people going from I need a good job to I need to start something of my own is coming in. And the basis of this seems to be innovation. People are beginning to think on why there is the need to develop stuff for other companies when you can make it as your own. In a case where this concept is getting more obvious, I would like to showcase some scenarios where Indian Innovators have come up with solutions for the country made by people in the country, which of course is a recipe for success.

In our journey we will start with Mobile Chargers, one of the biggest woes these days when it comes to mobile phones is the fact the batteries do not last. And Batteries not lasting is a even more of an issue in developing countries as there might be no electricity to charge them back on. Well lo and behold, these innovations will help.

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Traffic Lights …. Is there a way to improve it ?

[tweetmeme] There is an old saying, “If it is not broken don’t try to fix it !”. We all have been seeing the humble 3 colored traffic lights since we were kids. Infact On December 10 1868, the first traffic lights were installed outside the British Houses of Parliament in London, by the railway engineer J. P. Knight. They resembled railway signals of the time, with semaphore arms and red and green gas lamps for night use. The gas lantern was turned with a lever at its base so that the appropriate light faced traffic. Unfortunately, it exploded on 2 January 1869, injuring or killing the policeman who was operating it.

A lot of people have contributed to making the Traffic Lights the way it is today. Automatic control of interconnected traffic lights was introduced March 1922 in Houston, Texas. Actually more history of the traffic Lights can be seen at the Wikipedia page. That is not what I am writing about. I am actually trying to show that every breakthrough is a collective effort that combines and tweaks already existing ideas and technology in novel ways. So whats the breakthrough effort in the traffic lights, well first off … Bharat Electronics Limited in India, yes BEL in India, came up with a new concept of the traffic lights back in 2001. The traffic lights use solar cells, countdown timers, LED displays, programmable logic controllers and a dual power supply. The PV cells offer an alternative to conventional power, and generate enough daily energy to run the system for three days. The power requirement is 10 percent of conventional signals resulting in substantial energy savings of up to 60,000 Rupees per year for a single junction.

Well this was a great innovation that spread throughout the country as wildfire. But now more innovations are set to hit the traffic signal like you have never seen before. But hopefully they will reduce distraction and increase efficiency. So here are some examples:

The Virtual Wall conceived by Hanyoung Lee is designed to heighten driver and pedestrian awareness and to encourage both to follow crosswalk rules. The virtual wall which is made of plasma laser beams, shows virtual pedestrians jaywalking and ignoring traffic rules of pedestrian safety.

Yanko design, one of the most recognized design forums in the world, has also produced a re innovation of the timed traffic lights, yes, they have taken the concept of BEL and driven it to a bit more aesthetic / interesting way. Stanković promotes this stoplight as an eco solution in the following ways: If you’ve got the amount of time you’ve got to stop in front of you, you can shut your engine off, wait, be calm, and turn it back on again when the time is almost up. This not only lessens the amount of gas you use sitting still, but it lessens the amount of crazy madness you have wondering if the stoplight is stuck, or just really, really long.
Or even just adding the solar panels to the traffic signal and improve the aesthetics of the kinda ugly traffic signals. Well here are some interesting designs.
The inherent inefficiency of the three-light traffic signal is clearly demonstrated in this proposal for a two-light LED system, which produces the same three colors in one enclosure by combining red and green.
All of the above just goes to prove that there is nothing that cant really be improved on, unless we improve on things or attempt to improve on things, we cannot really push the envelope of existing innovations or existing products and services.
More information about the above signals here:

Recharge devices from your window

[tweetmeme] Batteries are an integral part of our lives in the 21st century and regardless of whether you use single use batteries or rechargeable batteries it is essential that you use them effectively so that you get the most out of your battery investment.

Rechargeable batteries currently are used for applications such as automobile starters, portable consumer devices, light vehicles (such as motorized wheelchairs, golf carts, electric bicycles, and electric forklifts), tools, and uninterruptible power supplies. Emerging applications in hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles are driving the technology to reduce cost, reduce weight, and increase lifetime.Unlike non-rechargeable batteries, rechargeable batteries have to be charged before use. The need to charge rechargeable batteries before use deterred potential buyers who needed to use the batteries immediately. However, new low self discharge batteries allow users to purchase rechargeable battery that already hold about 70% of the rated capacity, allowing consumers to use the batteries immediately and recharge later.

Now what would make these rechargeable batteries even more green would be to charge the batteries off the grid. Several alternatives to rechargeable batteries exist or are under development. For uses like portable radios and flashlights, rechargeable batteries may be replaced by clockwork mechanisms or dynamos which are cranked by the user to provide power. For transportation, uninterruptible power supply systems and laboratories, flywheel energy storage systems store energy in a spinning rotor for reconversion to electric power when needed; such systems may be used to provide large pulses of power that would otherwise be objectionable on a common electrical grid. One such solution that is coming in the form of an interesting product is the window battery charger.

The time being this is a concept which, despite a successful idea which underlies it, may not be realized. Not all are willing to pay for more expensive solar panels, preferring to charge the batteries in the traditional way. Charger reNEW Solar Battery Charger has two slots: the upper is placed battery that needs recharging, which is charged, automatically drops out of the lower slot.

Solar panels are located on the rear of the device. Charging can be placed either on the table, as shown in the image, or using suction cups attach to the window.