Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Thin Is The New Fast": GE introduces Thin, Silent Cooling Jets For Mobile Products

General Electric's recently patented Dual Piezoelectric Cooling Jets (DCJ) looks rather crude upon first look at the released PR images.  Sort of a cross between a floppy disc and a mini-CD sleeve.

Don't let that fool you: this is just one more innovation to add to the growing potential of tablet technology becoming cheaper, more powerful, and especially more efficient as well.

The new cooling jet design, based on the human lungs, acts in a similar fashion by drawing in air to cool the insides of a working computer.  This not only results in heat transfer out of your laptop or tablet ten times more than natural convection, but the DCJ amounts wholly to 5mm in thickness; allowing for your device to be even 50 percent thinner than the average product on the market.  One other benefit: the new design is completely devoid of any resemblance to the traditional cooling fan, which generally accounts for all the noise your device makes.

GE originally intended for the DCJ model to augment the cooling systems in aircraft, but they then decided to shrink it down for mobile tech, perhaps serving as a valuable indicator to where American manufacturing is headed for the next decade.  You can see more about the product by watching a publicity film made by GE here.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stanford Lab Makes Peel-And-Stick Solar Cells, Campus Remarks "That's Nice" After Rose Bowl Win

What's a good way to tell that the Gen Y-Millenials are growing up?  They're re-inventing the statement sticker .  Well, that and solar panels...

Researchers at Stanford University may have completely turned that field on its head with a new technique that creates peel-and-stick solar cells.  The cells can be applied to nearly any surface (roofs, vehicles, the bottom of a suburban, disenfranchised teenager's skateboard) and have the same energy storage capacity as a standard industry cell.

The simple-but-elegant-process involves applying a solar cell onto a nanometer thick layer of Nickel and Silicon, and then applying a thermal tape on top of the cell and protecting it from treatment in plastic.  After the layers are heated, the cell is peeled off the Nickel very carefully in water.   The tape is now sticky enough that the cell can be patted carefully onto any flat surface.

In addition to weirding out surrounding people in a public place, what if this Joker sticker powered your Mac book as well?  

And if you take a close look above at the image published along with the full report, you'll notice what kind of surface the researchers had in mind.

Solar-powered cell phones and tablets/laptops would save a monumental amount of energy, to say nothing of the overall economic and environmental savings in eliminating the need for chargers.  And this is only one example dozens of potential applications for this breakthrough.

Personally, I think the real potential lies in pairing this research with another project conducted in summer of 2012 by a team at Rice University that involved painting the layers of a battery onto almost any surface, making it conductive.    Imagine: a painted battery on your home's inner walls, solar cells adhered to the outer walls.  Instead of worrying how our homes can use the grid more effectively, perhaps the answer lies in our homes becoming the grid itself....

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Stuff We Should Make: Rise of The Wireless Wristwatch In 2013

Over the next few months, the tech world is going to be all abuzz over the beta release of the Google Glass prototype.  While the glasses-looking headset that give you hands-free access to the internet is truly exciting and potentially world-changing in the long run, if you're more interested in technology that has a more immediate chance of being part of day-to-day life, my money's on a wristwatch prototype made by an American start-up.

The Pebble- designed by Pebble Technology and co-founded by Eric Migicovsky of Silicon Valley, who happens to be all of 25 years old- is billed as "the first watch built for the 21st century".  The wristwatch serves as a bluetooth wireless extension for your iPhone or Android, designed to not just show the time, but access your smartphone's apps for things like music selection, GPS, and text messaging.  This is especially handy for us joggers and cyclists who really can't stand having to buy cumbersome arm straps and gloves in order to keep our phone on us.  The Pebble is also water-resistant and has a battery that lasts over a week, and may soon feature a "golf rangefinder" app as well (for when you can't find an area over six thousand yards wide, I guess).

Pebble Technology is a Kickstarter success story, with Eric and two other founders seeking $100,000 on the internet fundraising site and instead raising over $10 million as of August 2012, as reported in Huffington Post.  While there's always room for improvement (I'm a little wary of thick block frames but maybe that's just me) this is the kind of product that can easily integrate into an average American lifestyle yet, at least a little easier than Google's billon-dollar effort to turn us all into Xur from "The Last Starfighter".

And we all know what happened to that guy....

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company

Friday, January 4, 2013


Warren Buffet, owner of billion-dollar Berkshire-Hathaway and possible visitor from an Ozzie and Harriet-alternate reality, has been lauded in the press lately for his folksy optimism.  Much of that is due to post-recession America wanting some optimism to feel better about its economy, but it goes without saying Buffet's folksy optimism is closely followed because it usually yields moves that show remarkably successful financial foresight.

That probably explains why the internet is on fire with the news that his MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company has just purchased two solar plant facility projects by the California-based SunPower, a solar panel manufacturing and solar development company.

The Antelope Valley Sun Projects were acquired for a price tag between $2 and $2.5 billion by MidAmerican's alternative energy division, MidAmerican Renewables.  Both plants are expected to be operational by 2015 in the Los Angeles and Kern Counties, and generate up to 579 megawatts of power for surrounding residents and SoCal Edison.

This is not just a big deal for the fact that the Antelope Valley Projects are projected to eventually rival a fossil fuel plant in energy output, a level unprecedented in solar energy. Buffet already owns a 550-megawatt plant project developed by First Solar in San Luis, CA, and this latest move now effectively makes him and MidAmerican the chief beneficiaries of the more than $2.5 billion California's Proposition 39 law will generate for the state's renewable energy projects.  Now that he's both feet in the US Solar industry, how many countless businesses will follow?

Time will tell, but it's probably safe to observe that once again, Mr. Buffett's old-fashioned foresight has somehow laid a pathway to the future for American industry.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

5 US Companies That Will Turn Your SmartPhone Into A Tricorder

Star Trek fans watched Leonard McCoy (of whose occupation escapes me at the moment) for years use a handy mobile device called a "tricorder" that could diagnose the symptoms of an ill shipmate, Klingon, or green-skinned-alien-native-girl.  Now, Qualcomm is speeding up the process to make the fictional gizmo a reality with the Tricorder X Prize Competition.  Rewarding $10 million to the firm that develops the most qualified product to successfully diagnose 15 diseases ranging from diabetes to to sleep apnea, Qualcomm's competition has already drawn 230 entries from over thirty countries around the world.

Among the entries from the US include:

AgaMatrix - Although funded by French-based pharmaceutical company Sanofi, AgaMatrix hails from Salem, NH and originated the WaveSense technology that Sanofi uses for its iBGStar, which monitors glucose levels for diabetics.  The iBGStar plugs into your iPhone and stores data from a blood sample into an app that can be transferred to a physician's software.

MobiSante - Based in Redmond, Washington, MobiSante has already created the first FDA-sanctioned ultrasound device that plugs into a smartphone.  The projected cost is$7000, which new parents already know pales in comparison to a standard ultrasound price.  

AliveCor - This San Francisco-based start-up has already cleared FDA hurdles with an iPhone case containing two electrode sensors in it, enabling it to be an effective tool for electrocardiograms (ECG's).  Qualcomm has a tangible interest in this firm because its already sunk venture capital into it.

CellScope - An idea of David Fletcher's at UC Berkeley labs in 2006, CellScope focuses on optical attachments to a smartphone and has recently designed a mobile otoscope (that thing the doctor has been torturing your ear with since you were a toddler).  CellScope is already on a trial basis with the Atlanta Pediatric Device Consortium and may be ready for the public as early as this upcoming year, with a price tag of around $200.

Scanadu - The California firm has already developed a wireless sensor called the Scout.  When pressed against a patient's temple, it lists a variety of biological functions like heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygenation, and temperature.  As if that weren't impressive enough, they're also in the works to release Scana-Flu, which collects cartridges of samples gargled by patients and analyzes them.  Scanadu hopes to combine the sample analysis of Scana-flu with the sensor tech of Scout.

With over $1 billion invested by venture firms in digital medical technology in the first nine months of 2012 alone, these are products you and I will definitely be seeing not just in our lifetimes, but in the next few years as well.  Most in the field expect the health community to resist any new tech that takes authority out of the professionals' hands and places it in that of the patients, but with a staggering shortage of health experts for a growing global population on the horizon, areas where the system can save time and money can use ideas, even (maybe especially) those from science fiction.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company