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— Environment

Pigments from peanuts: a better way to make dyes from agricultural waste

Researchers at the Argentine National Institute for Industrial Technology (INTI) are taking a new approach to the manufacture of natural dyes from agricultural waste. The method involves extraction of pigments from waste and conserving them in dust form, meaning they can be dry stored for use all year round. Over the past year numerous agricultural materials have been tested with one of the most promising candidates being peanut shells – one of Argentina's main exports. Read More
— Computers

Military software developer premiers social media app at CES

Given the wild success of Facebook and Twitter, it was no surprise to see various fledgling social media platforms being promoted at CES in Las Vegas. One that caught our attention was SMYLE, the creation of New Jersey-based Drakontas, a company with a background in providing geospatial tools for “warfighters and tactical professionals.” SMYLE is Drakontas’ foray into the world of civilian technology, but it remains big on something that is important to soldiers and cops: collaboration. Read More
— Electronics

Planon releases credit card-sized scanner for receipts

Keeping track of receipts can be a hassle. The paper itself has a tendency to curl up, it creases very easily, and trying to sort out a sheaf of curly, creased-up receipts is no one’s idea of fun... or at least, the folks at Planon hope it isn’t. They’ve just released the SlimScan SS100, a “credit card-sized” high-resolution color scanner designed specifically for scanning receipts. The device – which was on display at CES – comes with Planon’s PaperPort SE software (for Windows only), which allows users to organize their scanned receipts once they transfer them onto their PC. Read More
— Environment

Zeolite-based wood glues shown to absorb pollutants off-gassed from particleboard

It has been estimated that up to 85 percent of all wood materials (such as particleboard or plywood) contain adhesives that in turn contain formaldehyde, and the World Health Organization has classified formaldehyde as a carcinogen. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to simply avoid eating those wood products – even the fumes given off by formaldehyde have been shown to pose a health hazard. Many people turn to keeping spider plants in their homes or offices, as they help neutralize airborne toxins, but now help could be coming from another source. German researchers have discovered that by adding special minerals to wood adhesives, those adhesives themselves can help clean the air. Read More
— Electronics

TI’s bqTESLA wireless charging development kit helps designers cut the cord on portable devices

Between Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and the latest-gen cell phone networks, we hardly ever have to plug anything into our mobile devices these days. That is, until the batteries die. Then we’re rooting through a rat’s nest of USB cables and adapters trying to find the right wall wart and a plug that fits the charging port. Clearly wireless charging’s day has arrived, and Texas Instruments has released the industry’s first Qi-certified wireless power development kit. The bqTESLA kit is meant to help design engineers integrate wireless power technology into devices such as smartphones, digital cameras, and MP3 players. Read More
— Inventors and Remarkable People

Happy 10th birthday to Wikipedia

Like "Google", "Wikipedia" has entered the common lexicon. I haven't yet heard anyone say they're going to Wikipedia something but I'm sure that someone, somewhere, is already doing it. Many of us have Wikipedia bookmarked as our "go to" site, the first port of call to get an overview of a topic. The free, online encyclopedia features roughly 17 million articles in 270 languages, all created by a volunteer community. On 15 January this year Wikipedia celebrates its tenth birthday – what had the potential to become disastrously chaotic has become a valued icon, consulted by more than 400 million people every month. Read More
— Good Thinking

Noise-canceling device plugs into your MP3 player, removes sound of dental drill

Hands up, who doesn't get just the teensiest bit nervous about going to the dentist? Not many of you, I'll wager. Dentophobia – fear of dentists and dental care – is one of the most common phobias, and it's the high-pitched whine of the dentist's drill that causes most anxiety. If this applies to you, take heart. You may soon be able to relax (or at least tune out the sound of the drill) and listen to music on your own MP3 player, connected to a noise-canceling device developed by Kings College London in conjunction with Brunel University and London South Bank University. Read More
— Home Entertainment

inMotion Air universal wireless speaker system incoming

Altec Lansing has come to the rescue of music lovers who like the idea of streaming music wirelessly around the home, but can't afford to invest in systems from Olive or Sonos, or who don't want to be shackled to Apple Air or iOS devices. The inMotion Air universal wireless speaker can pump out any audio stored on a computer up to 333 feet away via an included adapter, while mobile devices can also supply the music via Bluetooth. Audio enhancement technology offers CD-quality performance, regardless of source compression encoding. Read More
— Automotive

MINI Paceman Concept gets production nod

MINI’s track record of producing near production-ready concept vehicles is set to pay dividends again with the MINI Paceman Concept vehicle. The concept car, which made its world debut at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, will be used as the basis for the seventh production model in MINI’s lineup. Described by MINI as the first crossover coupe in the premium small car segment, the Paceman Concept is based on the same platform as the MINI Countryman but with the styling of a coupe. Read More
— Science

World's lightest solid material, known as 'frozen smoke', gets even lighter

Researchers have created a new aerogel that boasts amazing strength and an incredibly large surface area. Nicknamed ‘frozen smoke’ due to its translucent appearance, aerogels are manufactured materials derived from a gel in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with a gas, resulting in a material renowned as the world’s lightest solid material. The new so-called “multiwalled carbon nanotube (MCNT) aerogel” could be used in sensors to detect pollutants and toxic substances, chemical reactors, and electronics components. Read More