This week we look at the future of travel and amazing ways to store and create renewable energy.
With this touchscreen, called Thumbles, users twist and turn tiny autonomous robots that move around on top of a projected screen. The moving robots serve a couple of functions, among them providing force feedback or representing virtual objects on the screen, such as molecules.
Maryland-based energy company, Solar Wind Energy Tower, wants to build their namesake: a tower that generates renewable energy. The huge tower would rely on sunlight to heat the top, where water vapor mists into the air. As the vapor evaporates, the air cools and drops, creating wind up to 50 miles per hour. That wind powers turbines at the bottom that generate 500 megawatts of electricity. The company wants to have the tower built near the Arizona-Mexico border by 2018.
Croatian based automaker, Rimac, recently received $11 million to push the dream of their electric-powered Concept One sports car into the realm of reality. These are high-end electric vehicles that have four electric motors cranking out 1,088 horsepower and 1,180 foot-pounds of torque. The car goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds and has a battery range of 373 miles. Six cars have already been ordered for $1 million each.
This electrochemical supercapacitor is about a hundredth of an inch thick. Developed by researchers at Rice University, the battery-like device is simpler and safer than lithium-ion. The supercapacitor charges quickly with a high current rate and discharges in a short amount time. It retains 76 percent of its capacity over 10,000 charge-discharge cycles.
Not all drivers are smart and so it helps to have a smart bike. The Vanhawks Valour, a carbon fiber Bluetooth-connected bike, has sonar sensors that detect when a car has come into the cycler's blind spot. When that happens, it delivers a vibration to the handlebars, warning the rider that a car may be encroaching on your personal ride bubble. Other sensors measure speed, distance and calories burned, and riders can use a smartphone app to track the data.
An interesting exhibit at La Gaîté Lyrique, an art center in Paris, uses medical imaging and a mirror to give attendees a unique view of their body. Created by Xavier Maître, a medical imaging researcher at the University of Paris-South, the experience uses a Kinect camera to track a person's movement. Software analyzes whether the person is male or female and then provides a real-time animation that moves with the person, showing him or her how their organs and muscles move.
The Agua Caliente project in Arizona just came online and it is officially the world's largest solar panel power plant. Owned by NRG Energy and MidAmerican Solar, the plant will generate 290 megawatts at peak capacity, enough to power 230,000 homes.
The Fly Citycopter concept from designer Eduardo Galvani is a two-person aircraft that can be parked on a roof. The electric-powered vehicle is currently designed to have a 300-mile range and a top speed of 120 miles per hour. Pilots could stop and recharge at any one of a number of electric vehicle charging stations popping up all over the country.
Beginning May 17, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta will show off 17 concept cars from the early 1930s to the 21st century that embody visionary thinking. Although none have been mass-produced, their presence has inspired automakers and car enthusiasts around the world. Shown here is Marcello Gandini's "Stratos HF Zero" (1970), a wedge-shaped car only 33 inches tall. The exhibit goes until Sept. 7.
Apple has filed a patent for a holographic phone, a concept that sounds absolutely cool. We can't wait. But what would it look like? A video created by animator Mike Ko, who has made animations for Google, Nike, Toyota, and NASCAR, gives us an idea. Check it out here.