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Environment

New nanoparticle electrode could bolster large-scale storage of renewable energy

There's no doubt that sources of renewable energy such as wind and solar are critical to a clean energy future, but just as important is a way to store the energy generated for use when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing. Researchers at Stanford University are reporting the development of a new high-power electrode that is so cheap, durable and efficient that it could enable the creation of batteries that are big enough and economical enough for large-scale storage of renewable energy on the grid.Read More

Science

Analogue computer chip mimics brain's neural function

The human brain contains approximately 100 billion neurons, and each one of those communicates with many others by releasing neurotransmitters. Those neurotransmitters cross a gap – properly known as a synapse – between the sending (presynaptic) and receiving (postsynaptic) neurons. Ion channels on the membranes of the postsynaptic neurons open or close in response to the arrival of the neurotransmitters, changing the neurons’ electrical potential. Should that potential change to a sufficient degree, the neuron will produce an electrical impulse known as an action potential. It’s a very complex process ... and scientists from MIT have now recreated it on a silicon computer chip.Read More

Music

238 labels down: Is Spotify fair to artists?

It's been a week of intense speculation as to the role and future of Spotify within the music industry. On Wednesday of last week the UK-based distributor STHoldings put out a strongly-worded statement (apparently since withdrawn) announcing its decision to pull the catalogues of 238 record labels from the service, as well as from Napster, Rdio and Simfy. The statement reignited the debate as to the role of Spotify and similar subscription-based services within the music industry, and it's a debate that hinges on what Spotify is, or, more crucially, what it replaces. Read More

Science

Camera trap app sends shots of random wild critters to your iPhone

Why do ecotourists travel thousands of miles to catch glimpses of rare, exotic animals, when they could get long, lingering looks at them just by turning on their TV? Well, partly because it’s fun to travel. Also, however, it’s a lot more exciting when you never know what you’re going to see, or when, or where. While it’s not quite as epic as trekking through the African Savannah, the Zoological Society of London’s Instant Wild App is bringing that same sort of wilderness-lottery-like excitement to the iPhone. Users can subscribe to feeds from camera traps located in several areas of the world, and will receive photos of the animals that trigger those traps, as they’re triggered. While that might be neat enough in and of itself, users can then proceed to help conservationists protect those creatures.Read More

Outdoors

DeLorme inReach gets the word out when you're lost in the woods

Whether they involve hiking, paddling, pedaling or climbing, multi-day backcountry wilderness trips can be very rewarding. For some of us, however, there’s always that one worry – what if something happens and no one knows where to find us? A cell phone likely won’t do much good, as coverage isn’t available across about 90 percent of the planet. A satellite phone would do the trick, but they tend to be quite expensive. That’s where DeLorme’s new inReach device comes into play ... just think of it as a satellite-enabled panic button.Read More

Electronics

AAXA P4 Pico Projector comes with 75 minutes of battery life, Windows CE onboard

Handheld projectors can be very useful devices when you need to project a large image on-the-go, but many of them lack enough brightness, resolution and battery life. California-based company AAXA Technologies has rolled out its P4 Pico Projector with the aim of addressing some of these issues - it offers 80 lumens of brightness, 75 minutes of battery life and can handle 720p videos.Read More

Architecture

Living-in-nature pod can be transported to the mountain peak of your choice

This stunning alpine modular lodge is the creation of Italian design firm LEAPfactory. Dubbed LEAP (living ecological alpine pod) the modules are built entirely off-site, ready to be transported by helicopter to the summit of choice. Breaking away from traditional alpine structures, the pod is fitted with high-tech features and "at the end of its life cycle [it] can be lifted away by helicopter without leaving any permanent trace of its presence in the natural environment" says LEAPfactory. Read More

Marine

The Iguana 29 - the upmarket amphibian 10-seat tender vessel

The Iguana 29 is a new take on amphibious vehicles, using retractable caterpillar tracks to deliver surefooted drive across extreme terrain at up to 8 km/h while on water it is quick to plane and has 35 knot speed. Most impressive of all is that the hybrid version of the Iguana can run in electric only mode in nature's most delicate areas. The Iguana 29 and its retractable caterpillar design looks to address an important need for boats capable of entering and exiting the water in complete independence. The Iguana has enough carrying capacity to be very versatile and could serve as tender, to land anywhere, as a leisure craft offering freedom from marinas, berths and other constraints, or for transporting goods and equipment. Larger versions of the currently ten-seater amphibian are planned.Read More

Music

Colorfly portable music player takes Hi-Fi on the road

The modern smartphone has quickly become an essential part of modern living. It's a powerful portable computer, a high resolution camera, and a mobile communications center. However, if you're of the school who thinks that just because such a device can also play music, there's no need to spend good money on a separate audio player - the Colorfly Pocket Hi-Fi C4 pro may well be the dedicated music player to change your mind. Hidden within a gorgeous walnut outer shell with hand-carved motif and controlled by deliciously old-school physical buttons and sliding volume pot, the black circuit board heart of this music player is home to some top notch tech with one purpose - to deliver audiophile-pleasing, Hi-Fi-quality audio.Read More

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