Ultrabooks are turning out to be a test of metal, er, mettle for PC vendors. Conceived by Intel and expected to begin populating store shelves later this year, ultrabooks have among their defining characteristics: a full-voltage processor, a thickness cap of 0.8 inches, and a sub-$1,000 price tag. But, as PC vendors are fast learning, making an ultrabook is easier said than done.
GE claims to have developed an LED light bulb that distributes light like an incandescent bulb, but doesn't need to be changed for 17 years (4 hours per day). The bulb sips just 9 watts and provides a 77 percent energy savings, all while providing about the same light output as a 40W incandescent, GE says.
"This is a bulb that can virtually light your kid's bedroom desk lamp from birth through high school graduation," says John Strainic, global product general manager, GE Lighting. "It's an incredible advancement that's emblematic of the imagination and innovation that GE's applying to solve some of the world's biggest challenges."
The LED bulb sports a funky aesthetic, and there's good reason for that. According to GE, the fins around the side help direct light downward on the intended surface and all around rather than beam light out the top of a lampshade like most current LED bulbs do.
Look for GE's LED bulb to ship this Fall or early 2011 for around $40 to $50.
It took three firms working together to jointly develop an LED street lamp that doesn't require electricity from the grid, instead drawing energy from the sun.
Dubbed "Super CaLeCS Toki," the street lamp generates power by using photovoltaic (PV) cells and then stores the electricity in an electric double layer capacitor (EDLC) made by Nippon Chemi-Con. The EDLC contains 240 cells with a winding structure, a rated voltage of 2.5V, and a capacitance of 2,300F. By combining the capacitor with PV cells, the company claims the street lamp can stay lit for 14 continuous hours.
Stanley Electric provided the LED unit, which is comprised of two LED lamps with a power consumption of 15W. The company also tapped into technology used for automotive headlights to enhance the weather resistant nature of the LED unit.
And a third company, Tamura, contributed a newly-developed voltage control scheme called "maximum-efficiency tracking algorithm." Tamura says its power supply controller can charge the capacitor in about two hours in clear weather conditions, or six hours in rainy or overcast skies.
If you find yourself in Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz, Germany late at night be sure that you’ve got your cell phone with you. In an attempt to save energy, the citizens of the town have set up their streetlights to turn off unless you use your cell phone to turn them on!
The program has been a moderate success so far. So far the town of only 900 has managed to save $5,300. Not too shabby! Other towns, such as Döblitz, resident Heinrich Frühauf tripped and fell in the darkness, and not long after the town was turning on their lights with cell phones as well.
Though, main issues with the program still remain. Many worry that this is just a gateway for corner cutting. Perhaps it might cause people to not use as much light as safety would require, causing for manhole accidents or night crime.
Wi-Fi is fast emerging as the most popular technology for wireless communication between disparate gadgets, but security remains a major concern. However, researchers at Boston University’s College of Engineering are working on an alternative way of connecting devices that will be innately more secure than Wi-Fi.
Moreover, an LED-based communication technology will enjoy a distinct security advantage. It will be more secure compared to Wi-Fi due to the inability of light to penetrate through opaque surfaces like walls.
“Imagine if your computer, iPhone, TV, radio and thermostat could all communicate with you when you walked in a room just by flipping the wall light switch and without the usual cluster of wires,” said an ebullient Thomas Little, a BU engineering professor, about the idea. Soon, our networks will quite literally “light up”.
We are consuming huge amounts of bandwidth daily. Just 10 years ago I would have been thrilled with a 4Mb down 512Kb up connection. Today that’s just so-so when it comes to broadband. Downloading video, music, or whatever, is consuming massive amounts of bandwidth and communications companies are working hard to keep up. It’s only going to get more crowded on our current system.
Fiber optics is the big thing for moving large amounts of data around. After all, there isn’t anything that is faster than light (without getting into Quantum physics…). The internet’s current speed woes comes from routing information to its various destinations, not transporting it.
Fiber optics still relies on regular routers to relay information to its correct destination. Where fiber optics can handle frequencies in the terahertz range, electronics work on the gigahertz range. Those pulses of light have to be converted into electrical signals, which are stored, routed, and turned back into optical signals with lasers to be transmitted on. The conversion, besides adding significant cost and complexity, it slows down the data transmission.
So the simple thing to do is to slow light down and remove the needed conversion process. I can hear Han Solo now, “Slow down light speed? Not on this ship brother.”
That is just what researchers are trying to do using "metamaterials". If they can slow down light during the switching process, there would be no need for the electrical conversion step. It could be a first step into building a light based computer.
You can catch the whole article on the BBC website here.
Don't worry, you needn't fear seeing your neighborhood turned into a tricked out light display with gimmicky LEDs (the same can't be said about your neighbors' PCs), but inside those homes, incandescent and compact fluorescent lightbulbs might be on their way to becoming extinct. Helping put them on the endangered tech list are researchers at Purdue University who claim to have found a way to create low-cost LEDs.
Light-emitting diodes are said to be about four times more efficient than your standard lightbulb, they're easier on the environment, and with a lifespan perhaps as long as 15 years, LEDs seem destined to light up your living room. One thing preventing them from doing that are the high manufacturing costs, driven in large part by a costly sapphire substrate used to make LEDs. Compared to conventional incandescent and fluorescent lightbulbs, LED replacements would be at least 20 times more expensive.
Find out how researchers from Purdue University say they can get around the cost barrier associated with LEDs after the jump.