July 2013

Science & Technology
  • Researchers at the University of Maryland outlined how wood, treated with carbon nano-tubes and a small amount of tin (to enable conduction), could replace the metal traditionally used to manufacture the frames from which electrodes are suspended within batteries . The idea is that wooden frames will deal more effectively with the continually expanding and contracting electrodes, opening up the possibility of replacing lithium with the more abundant and cheaper sodium (the ions of which are five times larger).  More.
  • GigaOm ran a profile on a cheap, fast and simple test, comprising a sensor within two nano-particle coated paper strips, for bacteria in drinking water that is being developed by a team from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. More. The site also looked at work being conducted by MIT and the University of North Carolina to commercialise techniques to produce large batches of coated nanoparticles, which have numerous medical and electronics applications. More.
  • British Airways announced that it will be trialing reusable ‘electronic paper’ luggage tags, onto which flight information can be transmitted via a passenger’s smart phone. The tags have a five year lifespan and could be introduced widely from 2014. More.
  • The BBC published an interesting article on computational photography, which applies new techniques to capture more data and enable better image quality and manipulation, including changing the focus of the photograph after it has been taken. More.
  • Garmin announced that it has  developed a portable ‘head-up display’ for cars, which works by projecting sat-nav information from a smart-phone app onto a reflector lens or reflective plastic film attached to the windscreen. The device will reportedly cost around $130 when it becomes available. More.
  • A team from North Carolina State University has pioneered a process of 3D printing liquid metal. This is made possible by using a gallium/indium alloy that is liquid at room temperature but forms an oxide skin on exposure to air, enabling printing of shapes that maintain their form. This may lead to the development of stretch-resistant electrical connections with applications in wearable technology. More.
  • London-based Loowatt received £1m from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Israel-based Beyond Verbal raised $1m to further its verbal emotion-detecting software.
  • Psychology Online announced that it has received £500k funding. The company delivers one-to-one therapy over the internet.
  • Waygo, which develops a visual translation app that works without data connection, raised $900k to roll out the technology across a number of languages. More.
  • Outerwall announced the acquisition of electronic recycling kiosk operator EcoATM, at a valuation of $350m. More.
  • San Francisco-based Versal launched its publishing platform for online education courses. The service offers a number of tools to encourage interactivity and will reportedly open up to third party developers to encourage the development of further tools. More.
  • MoneySupermarket reported a drop in profits as a result of changes to Google’s search algorithms.
  • A study conducted at UCLA found that eudaimonic well-being, which arises through having a sense of purpose in life, engenders greater health benefits than hedonic well-being. which results from behaviour or a stimulus. More.