Smart jewelry in the making

The nine different items that they will offer range from a keychain to leather and metal bracelets, necklaces, and pendants — each with a CuffLinc embedded inside.

These days, as advancements in wearable technology abound, it is easy to see that their focus is on function rather than form. But, for wearable technology to go mainstream, things will have to change.

This is what San Francisco-based start-up, Cuff, seems to have realised. Cuff announced a whole new line of wearables with an aim of making technology that you would want to wear and show off. The accessories are also quite different from the current wearables in the market. The company is positioning its product as a security system that can help you reach a pre-defined circle of people who you trust.

The whole system works on CuffLinc. It is a small black tracker that you can place in any of the nine different accessories that the company is coming up with. It comes with an accompanying iOS app that you can set up with your CuffLinc and find people from your contacts who use the product and build your network.

The iOS app lets you go more granular with the alert mechanism. By double-clicking the CuffLinc, you can send an alert to any one of the members in your network, without the rest of them getting to know about it. The vibration system can be customised to let the recipient know whether it is a real emergency.

The people at Cuff are already thinking of various features that they can add to the device down the line. Since it is connected to your phone via Bluetooth, they feel that it can be used as a remote to call various features, including skipping a song or taking a photo, or making your phone ring to get out of a date going really bad.

These new features, enabled through a software update, can be assigned different click patterns to trigger your phone for various activities. Charging the batteries is not a problem at all. CuffLinc comes with non-replaceable batteries and each battery powers it for a year. Once you have used it for a year, you will receive a notification that will ask you to buy a new one.

The company’s ‘fashion first’ sensibility seems to be more important than the technology used. They believe that if people do not want to wear your technology, then it will never really catch on. The nine different items that they will offer range from a keychain to leather and metal bracelets, necklaces, and pendants – each with a CuffLinc embedded inside. The metal pieces come with a silver or gold plating and the leather pieces come in two colours.

They do seem to be targeting the feminine market with these first pieces, but they are undoubtedly the most stylish wearables on the market. The company envisages other makers producing jewelry that will be compatible with CuffLinc, thereby making a collection. If you do not like any of the pieces in the first set, fret not, for something else down the line might suit your taste.

It will be some time before we are able to gauge the device’s success. For, the pieces (priced at $49, $99, and $199) are ready to be pre-ordered. If you would like one of these, visit their website and pre-order one now!

The company’s ‘fashion first’ sensibility seems to be more important than the technology used.

 This article was first published on The Hindu and is available at http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/smart-jewellery-in-the-making/article7224755.ece

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Companion Cube

We have, more often than not, come across a color that is so different and beautiful that we fall short of words to describe it. You’ve liked the colour so much that you want it on your bedroom walls. The problem is, the colour is on a leaf. You might want to pluck it and carry with you as a sample. But, unfortunately, the leaf will wither in a couple of days. This is where the SwatchMate Cube comes in the picture. This cube is a genius invention that lets designers and artists expand their colour palettes to just about any colour that Mother Nature offers. This little cube “records”, if you will, different colours and stores them for your convenience. While this does sound very strange, it has a simple and clever explanation.

The cube behaves like a “swatchgrabber”, where “swatch” refers to the recorded colour. It has an inner sphere that is situated inside along with a light source and a colour sensor to record any colour that is placed under it.

The cube will automatically record and save a specific shade irrespective of whether the object is a wall, leaf, or a flower. The device then converts your preferred colour into a usable and workable format. It sends the swatch to your smartphone and Photoshop using Bluetooth Low Energy. The cube’s memory can store up to 20 swatches internally.

The makers have created this cube with designers and artists on their minds. This makes it easier for them to draw inspiration from various surroundings with natural colours and also offer a limitless colour palette. In addition, they can colour-grade their images with SwatchMate.

This design is turning out to be extremely popular with people. The makers turned to Kickstarter to raise money for producing the cube. They wanted to raise AUD 55,000 and ended up raising an astonishing AUD 100,317!

With donations adding up to almost double their goal, they now plan to take it to another level by introducing additional features like a light intensity monitor and a thermometer.

The brilliance of this idea is sure to grab the attention of many. It won the Melbourne Design Award in 2013 in addition to the Sydney Design Award. The SwatchMate has also been shortlisted for the Brisbane Design Award in 2014.

This sure is a great invention that could help designers and artists tremendously. But, it is innovative enough to grab the attention of others as well!

You can buy one for $179.95 from their e–shop. Know more at http://www.swatchmate.com

This article was first published on The Hindu and is available at  http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/companion-cube/article7198902.ece

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Invisible paint for safety

Life paint is a retro-reflective, rainproof, washable spray-on paint that reflects light back towards its source, especially at night.

It is a good time to bike. With an increasing number of people gravitating towards cars and motorcycles, the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is shooting up every day. Cycling sure makes for a tremendous workout, and helps keep pollution levels in check, provided enough people choose to do so. However, cycling at night can be dangerous. To minimise this risk, Volvo has come out with a retro-reflective temporary paint that is more like the safety tape and reflective panels sewn into biking and jogging jackets than your average glow-in-the-dark spray. This paint, called LifePaint, is a by-product of the branding partnership between Volvo, creative agency Grey London, and Albedo100. You might get similar products in other countries, but they will not go by the name of LifePaint.

According to the makers, this spray-on product can be used on textiles and shoes, and just about everything, except leather. But, the product reportedly has problems sticking on to nylon and plastic. You can wash the paint off with your regular laundry detergent. It has an adhesive mixed with it that can cause irritation to sensitive skin types. So, you would be better off spraying it from a distance to make sure it comes off your clothing after one wash.

Also, the paint is rain-proof, as long as you have applied it on dry fabric. The bond between the paint and the fabric is broken by detergent, not water.

Once it has been applied, the paint is supposed to be invisible in daylight, as long as it does not have a bright light shining on it directly. By design, it is supposed to reflect light back towards its source (a lot like a reflective tape). At night, light from vehicle headlights will bounce off the paint and make everything smeared with it look like a glowing blob. And it is a lot easier to see a glowing blob.

LifePaint is intended for fabrics because Albedo100 has a number of permanent solutions, including “Permanent Metallic” that is supposed to be used on bikes, signs, and stencilled patterns.

While we are on the subject of water-soluble glowing paints, there is a water-soluble version of the paint called “Horse and Pets” that can be sprayed on horses, cats, dogs, and all the animals that keep running on to the road. This helps drivers spot them and avoid having to swerve or brake at the last minute.

A can of invisible spray costs about £12.99. While it is not the cheapest option available, it is definitely more affordable and versatile than glowing bikes!

Know more by visiting http://www.albedo100.co.uk

Find the original article at http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Motoring/lifepain-is-an-invisible-paint-for-safety/article7173629.ece

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Nothing goes undetected

Nano-sized Tess smells explosives better than a dog

All over the world, security forces depend on sophisticated equipment, trained personnel, and trained dogs in order to safeguard airports and other public places against the attacks of terrorists. A new electronic chip with nano–sized chemical sensors is about to make their job a lot easier.

This groundbreaking sensor that has been inspired by nanotechnology and devised by Professor Fernando Patolsky of Tel Aviv University’s School of Chemistry and Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and developed by a company called Tracense, can pick up the scent molecules of various explosives better than a dog.

Explosive sensors that exist today are bulky, expensive, and require expert interpretation in the findings. But the new sensor is mobile, inexpensive, and identifies explosives in real time with great accuracy. It can detect explosives in the air at a concentration as low as a few molecules per 1,000 trillion.

Using a single tiny chip that is made of hundreds of super sensitive sensors, Tess can detect ultra low traces of extremely volatile explosives in air. It can also fingerprint and differentiate materials from other non–hazardous stuff.

It can detect small molecular species in air (in real time) to concentrations of parts per quadrillion that’s four to five times more sensitive than any existing technological method and two to three times more sensitive than a dog’s nose.

It is sensitive enough to detect improvised explosives like TATP (triacetone triperoxide) that is used in suicide bombing attacks all over the world.

The clusters of nano-sized transistors that have been used in this detector are extremely sensitive to chemicals that cause changes in the electrical conductance of the sensors on surface contact.

When a single molecule of an explosive comes in touch with a sensor, it binds with it and initiates a rapid and accurate mathematical analysis of the material.

Animals are affected by a number of factors — weather, mood, working hours, state of health, the oversaturation of their olfactory systems, and other things.

Also, it is not possible for them to tell us what they smell. This makes automatic sensing systems smarter than dogs and work at least as well as, or even better than, nature.

This trace detector can identify many different types of explosives several metres from the source in real time. It has been tested on explosives like TNT, RDX, and HMX, which are used in commercial blasting and military applications. The makers have also tested it for TATP and HMTD. The last two are used extensively in homemade bombs and are very difficult to detect using existing technology.

This breakthrough has the potential of changing the way hazardous materials are detected and will provide people with more security.

When tiny amounts of explosives in the air can be detected faster, there’s hope that the world will be a lot safer.

Tracense has invested more than $10 million in research and development of Tess since 2007 and should go to the market sometime this year. Professor Patolsky, along with his team of researchers, has been conducting extensive tests on the prototype of this device.

Earlier published on The Hindu

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Brace yourself against radiation

Stemrad belt protects you from radiation exposure

People living in the vicinity of a nuclear facility live under a constant threat of leakage and exposure to radiation. The nuclear disaster that took place in the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011 is the most recent example of the damage caused when almost negligent measures are taken to protect the people from radiation exposure.

This is why the Stemrad belt was created – to protect people from life threatening radiation exposure. The belt has been created for the first people to respond to nuclear disasters and it claims to shield the wearers from the effects of gamma radiation by protecting the bone marrow.

Usually, the employees of a nuclear reactor are the first people to respond to a disaster, and usually the number can be anything between ten and fifty. But, in the event of more severe disasters (like the one in Fukushima or the Chernobyl disaster in 1986), the first responders usually receive support from surrounding fire and police stations. This raises the number of people potentially exposed to radiation to hundreds.

In order to keep the public safe, these brave men and women can be exposed to high doses of alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. Normal clothing can repel alpha and beta radiation, but gamma radiation causes severe damage to the bone marrow stem cells. The body cannot produce white and red blood cells, and platelets without stem cells. This can result in severe anaemia, leukaemia, or acute radiation syndrome. These conditions require bone marrow transplants, or else the patient is likely to die.

This belt shields the pelvic area that contains 50 percent of all bone marrow with a leaden harness. This means that it cannot provide full body protection against radiation. This could be a serious drawback because some of the most affected areas of the body include the thyroid and the liver.

The 15 kilograms belt is made of differently shaped lead plates that have been layered on top of each other, with Teflon tissue in between them to allow for flexibility. The frame is covered with a fire – resistant Kevlar fabric that ensures full protection against every factor involved in a nuclear disaster. The company says that the belt protects up to five percent of the bone marrow in a person’s body. This amount is enough to regenerate a new batch within a month’s time.

The belt has a Geiger counter built in that works as a gamma radiation monitor, thus keeping the wearer aware of potential dangers through a chirping sound. It also has a cumulative dose decimetre card that displays a scale of rads a person was exposed to.

The makers have already sold the belt in many countries like Israel, Japan, and Russia, and has pending sales in Germany and in the USA. Stemrad also plans to make a protective belt for civilians that will be lighter and more economical than the regular belt. Quite recently, three noble laureates joined the advisory board of the company – Aaron Ciechanover, Roger D. Kornberg, a prominent American biochemist, and biophysicist Michael Levitt.

Find the original article at http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/brace-yourself-against-radiation/article6805589.ece

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Smart jewellery for women

Meet Ringly – a beautiful wearable technology for women, a game changer in its own right

Smart jewellery has not received its due, especially from women. There is now one manufacturer in the market who is trying to bring about a change. There is a lot of evidence that indicates that women are the predominant adopters of most technologies, or that they outnumber men as prospective buyers of wearable gadgets. But, the gadgets available in this category are not appealing enough to enable women to adopt them.

Smartwatches, fitness trackers, and smart glasses are not popular amongst women because of the way they look, their pricing, or some functions. But, Ringly changes the whole game.

Wearable technology is expected to have a higher aesthetic standard because you wear them and other people look at it all the time. Some people even tend to judge you by it. However, Ringly does not look like a gadget at all. In fact, it looks like a ring you would wear to cocktail parties, and has a large precious or semi- precious stone set in a matte gold band. The ring is made of bronze- brass alloy and is plated with three microns of 18 carat gold. The water – resistant case it comes in feels sturdy and well made; a far cry from being cheap. When the gold wears away, it just looks a little less matte and shinier.

Apart from aesthetics, Ringly does a quite a good job of being a gadget. It sends discreet notifications and vibrates as you get notifications from your iPhone or Android smartphone. The alerts are sent via Bluetooth Low Energy, and you will be notified only of the most urgent ones. It sends notifications for calls, texts, emails, and appointments, in addition to those from your choice of apps – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Uber, eBay, and Tinder. If you choose any more, you will have to bear with your finger buzzing all day. If you want, the ring will flash a small light on its side for notifications. But, you have the option of shutting it off if you do not want the lights.

With the help of the accompanying smartphone app, you can set four different patterns of vibrations and five different colors for the light.

Charging Ringly is quite simple. It comes with a ring box that doubles up as a charging dock. You just have to keep the ring on it, and it will charge the gadget to run for another two to three days. The ring’s compact design makes it difficult to house a big power cell, and hence the battery life cannot be longer.

It definitely looks chic and fashionable, and as far as wearable technology is concerned, it remains one the nicest looking things in the market. You can pre-order one now for anything between $190 and $260. Go through https://ringly.com to know more.

Courtesy: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/smart-jewellery-for-women/article6760598.ece

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Get nostalgic with Timehop

A time capsule of your presence online

If you have ever had the wish to take a look at what you posted exactly one year ago (or two or three, for that matter), Timehop is the app for you. In order to use this app, you will have to create an account. It also has an option called Facebook Connect for those who do not want to go through the whole process of signing up. You will then have to link up your other social media accounts – Flickr, Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram. If you wish, you can link your camera roll to show the photos that you have taken in the past. This option, however, does not work well if you frequently delete photos to create space.

Its interface is clean and simple. Every year is colour coded. This way you will be able to see how long ago something was posted. It keeps everything separated. As a result, it is not a whole mess of stuff. It labels everything clearly so that you don’t miss out anything of your past.The posts in this app show you the platform on which you has originally posted and can fetch all the details and captions that you had posted with it. The headers for every year show what day of the week it was, and the weather (if available). This seems like a nice touch. It might seem embarrassing to look back at your timeline, but that is the point of a time capsule.

You can see the images in full screen with just a tap and see any Foursquare check-ins on a map. You will also be able to see all your Facebook and Twitter updates and the links are click-able. You can share any moment with others by tapping the Share button. You can send it across via email, SMS, Twitter, or Facebook. You can also share these moments on Timehop so that your friends (who are using the app) can see it.

Coutesy: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/gadgets/get-nostalgic-with-timehop/article6719291.ece

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The brains behind drones

A closer look at Airware, which makes the drones work

Technology is growing, and growing fast. A few years back, it would have been impossible to imagine that there would be robots flying in the sky that would be controlled by people on the ground!

The Iron Man movies gave a glimpse of what the future can be like with drones. They can be used for a number of purposes, including defending a country.

Airware does not make drones, and neither does it plan to. It fact, it makes the brains that make the drones work. If you want to order something from Airware, you will get a logic board that handles things like auto pilot and wireless communication, in addition to all the actuators and sensors you would want in a drone.

Drones seem quite spooky. When regular folks hear “drone” or “unmanned aircraft”, they first think of the highly controversial use, which is also quite terrifying, by the military powers of the world. This is quite sad, though. For, like most technology, drones are not inherently lethal. They are also not the killing machines they are projected to be. Drones have a number of uses that are perfectly innocent, and none of these involve shooting you from the sky or getting a lot like Big Brother. In fact, all of these require a robot soaring a few thousand feet above the ground.

In Kenya, people are building drones powered by Airware in an attempt to monitor the declining population of Northern White Rhinos to oppose poaching. In the slopes, the companies are working to build drones that will help them look for skiers who are lost. There are other teams that are working on building drones that will monitor their existing infrastructure for damaged power lines or gas lines by using high resolution infrared cameras. Drones are also being built to take care of delivering vaccines urgently and in researching air quality in various regions.

This distinction is important because Airware has no intention of working with the military forces of countries. They do want to move forward, but CEO Jonathan Downey claims that not a single of their dozens of clients and customers are focused on military.

The company wants to bridge the gap between military drone work, which is massively funded, and the nascent DIY drone community, also called the “personal Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” community.

Downey discovered his love for drones while studying at MIT, and the company came into existence in 2011. He, along with a few friends, entered a competition for building drones, and were quite surprised at the limitation and black – box – like structure of the all the drone technology that was available.

After a few years, that included a stint at Boeing, Downey entered the arena of building drones full time, and also raised a small seed capital to set things in motion. By the end of 2012, the money had run dry. The company managed to enter Y Combinator’s Winter 2013 class, just as the FAA was opening up to commercial drones in the US airspace, by a twist of fate and impeccable timing. After four months and a big demo at YC, they managed to raise the whopping amount of $10.7 million!

Courtesy: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/the-brains-behind-drones/article6719290.ece

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Writing again for The Hindu

I have never been good with words. In fact, I used to avoid writing at all costs. One day, a very good friend of mine told me about the unlimited possibilities that would present themselves to me should I be able to write. And he suggested a few books for me to start with. The first time I ever wrote anything, I felt surprisingly refreshed, and decided to make it a hobby..

One day, I decided to take this hobby further, and I started writing for The Hindu. Technology being one of my strengths, I decided to share my knowledge on the subject with the readers. This venture, however, lasted for only four years.

Now, after quite a number of years, I decided to take time out and keep writing. And have started writing again for The Hindu. My first piece came out today, and I would appreciate honest feedback!

Read http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/myo-the-latest-in-gesture-control/article5937553.ece

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