Tuesday, July 8, 2014

iKubu Backtracker - Eyes in the Back of Your Head

Cycling is a fun when you do it leisurely on an almost vacant track, but can be tricky if you have to do it on a busy highway especially if you’re not an expert. And if even if you are, you would need a balance between the front and back. You have to take care of the vehicles approaching from the back as well as the ones in front. There are simple gadgets like mirrors and rear-view cameras to aid the bikers but they need to be checked constantly. They also fail in fog.

iKubu has created a sleek gadget that will make the life of many amateur and even expert bikers quite easy. The device called backtracker uses a radar system to automatically detect the approaching vehicles and notify the biker. It, hence, improves the visibility and awareness of the surroundings for the rider.

The Backtracker has two modules which communicate via Bluetooth LE. One of them, containing 25GHz radar antenna, an ARM processor and a 40-lumen tail light, is fixed to the seatpost. The other is mounted on the handles.

Recycled Concrete Tube Hotel

You will usually find people looking for luxurious hotels to spoil them for a couple of nights. However, there is also one particular type that is looking for the exact opposite; a bare minimum accommodation to spend some time away from all the luxury.

Even if those numbers are small, one can always find people who are looking for a cheaper accommodation. This is where the young and aspiring Chinese hotelier from Henan Province comes in. He has managed to construct low cost hotels by making use of industrial grade concrete tubing.

He managed to acquire a few meters of recycled concrete tubing and saw this as an opportunity that he availed by cutting the tubing into 15 individual structures. Each of these structures is designed for two persons’ accommodation and comes equipped with a double bed, a restroom, sound proofing and air conditioning. However, beware; there are no views to enjoy from within this tubing! The exterior has some peculiar and great street art on it to make the hotels look more fun instead of dull concrete color.

The hotels are turning into something popular both to tourists and locals alike. The owner hopes that those busy with their urban lives would like to spend some time away from all the hassle and would opt for these hotels!

Spark: Creating Clean Energy Through the Power of Music

While we conveniently go on about our daily tasks that make use of electricity and hardly ever stop to realize that we are taking this for granted, a large number of people residing in Kenya don’t have access to electricity at all. They are completely off the grid. Although the alternative energy sources to provide them with electricity are being employed, but the price is too high and you won’t see the majority buying units for their homes anytime soon.

This is where Sudha Kheterpal comes in with the invention of Spark that is generating funds on Kickstarter as of now and can be best described as a kinetic device that allows you to charge a battery and use this power!

The working principle behind the Spark is simple and ingenious; grab the gadget that is shaped like a rock and shake it (I like to shake it shake it – Madagascar) like you would shake a maraca, this movement is used to charge a rechargeable battery contained within it that can hold charge up to 20 hours of charge. 12 minutes of shaking will provide you with enough energy to power up a light for one hour. The inventor for the past few decades has been performing as a professional percussionist and has toured with the Spice Girls, Dido and Faithless. In her words; ‘I’ve always wondered if all that energy that I give out on stage as a performer could be harnessed and used.’

The idea had been brewing for quite some time and she finally decided to bring an engineer (what would we do without these folks) and a designer (equally important) on board with her and this trio created a flint stone look alike device that contains a small energy producing unit. Shaking the gadget results in the movement of a magnet between coils made of copper-wire that generates a current in the wire, subsequently charging the battery.

Although 12 minutes of shaking and an hour of light isn’t what you would call efficient and the team is fully aware of this as they work to cut down shake-power ratio to half. As per Sudha, the aim of this invention is to employ it as an educational tool and plans to distribute the gadget to 75% of Kenyan children studying in school. She says; ‘If every school child has a shaker or kit they can put together. The impact of that is huge.’ We wish her luck for her endeavours!

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