We've seen some interesting advances in battery technology as of late -- ZPower, for example, promises we'll see its silver-zinc batteries in at least one notebook line later this year -- but don't count lithium ion out. A new breakthrough in lithium battery technology could lead to either a higher storage density than what's being used today, or the ability to charge and discharge much faster.
How it works is that the lithium resides in a material designed to move through the battery quickly, paving the way for charges to be shifted in and out of storage at a much faster rate than what's possible when relying on lithium ions to act as the primary charge carrier. The process involves creating a disorganized lithium phosphate coating on the surfaces of LiFePO4 crystals. Tweaking the ratio of iron to phosphorous in the starting mix and heating the material to 600C under argon for several hours, a material with a glass-like coating is created with high lithium mobility. This allows lithium to move quicklly through the outer coating.
The end result is a battery that can fully discharge in under 10 seconds, a feat that previously would have required using supercapacitors. Capacity retention is improved too, as after 50 charge and recharge cycles, no significant change in the total capacity of the battery was noted.
The fruits of a 10-year funded agreement with the U.S. Army that began in 2004 has paid off for Arizona State University's Flexible Display Center (FDC), who has just created the first ever flexible touchscreen display. The display is based on active-matrix electrophoretic technology from E-Ink Corp out of Cambridge, MA, and will find initial application as a military device.
"Our displays have always been flexible, but so far the touchscreens have been glass, which are not rugged enough for many applications," said Sri Peruvemba, E-Ink's VP of marketing. "Now we have a partner that can build a flexible touchscreen to match our flexible display."
That partner is DuPont Teijin films, who manufacturers the plastic used in place of glass in conventional touchscreens. In this case, amorphous silicon thin-film transistors were fabricated on DuPont's flexible Teonex polyethylene napthalate substrate. The end result is a rugged, light-weight device suitable for battlefield scenarios.
Beyond military use, Peruvemba said the technology could become commercially available in as little as 18 months.
From the 10-inch floppy disk to Super Talent's ultra-tiny 16GB Pico USB key, storage makers are always looking for ways to shove more storage capacity into smaller mediums. A pair of professors -- Ting Xu at the University of California, Berkeley and Thomas Russell at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst -- have come up with a technique they say could stuff up to 10.5 terabits of data, which is the equivalent of 250 DVDs, into a disk no larger than a quarter. That's 15 times more dense than the densest data storage device that currently exists.
"If you can't keep up with Moore's Law, forget it," says Russell. "This is beating Moore's Law by a couple orders of magnitude."
Although the machine’s return to action was scheduled for November 2008, the restart was pushed to July 2009. Now CERN has further delayed the re-launch. Around $24 million dollars have already been spent in repairing the gargantuan machine. You can expect more apocalyptic predictions during the time leading to its relaunch.
After a lengthy standoff that ultimately punished the consumer rather than each other, Intel and Nvidia recently came to an agreement over using Nvidia's SLI technology on Intel chipset-based motherboards, specifically the Core i7 friendly X58. And now for the first time, Intel has licensed SLI for use on its own DX58SO "Smackover" motherboard.
"The addition of Nvidia SLI technology to the Intel DX58SO motherboard has been a welcome addition," said Clem Russo, VP and GM of Channel Desktop Platform Group at Intel. "The pairing of our new Core i7 processors on our Extreme Series motherboard and Nvidia GeForce graphics has resulted in some of the world's fastest consumer gaming PC platforms. For playing any of today's hottest PC titles, this is one awesome combination that our customers have been asking for."
Nvidia says the DX58SO supports any combination of GeForce GPUs, including support for quad-SLI, which will come as a boon to Smackover owners who have been lusing over Nvidia's new dual-GPU GeForce GTX 295 videocard.
As the economy finds it increasingly difficult to free itself from the clutches of the proverbial bear, it is safe to assume that the eagerness with which investors rallied to fund tech startups has been consigned to history, at least for the time being. The tenebrous economy has also made angel investors nervous. Angels are now trying to maintain a safe distance from tech start-ups just like all other investors.
Most tech start-ups count on angel investors for funds in their infancy. However, the economic meltdown has sapped their otherwise unbridled optimism. According to a survey conducted by the Angel Capital Association in November, fifty percent of investors invested well within their expectations in 2008. And one in every three angel investors feels that the slide in investments will continue.
The abysmal lack of confidence isn’t the only thing to blame, but the dearth of liquidity has also forced them to pull in their horns. However, the doughtier investors are still investing, though at a decreased pace, as they want to make the most of plummeting company valuations.
Dan Martin, a San Francisco-based angel investor, told CNET that stocks are a better investment avenue than “investing in the friend of a friend who wants to open a green Chuck E.” But there is still hope for budding tech entrepreneurs as many angels are expected to make joint investments with others in their fraternity.
If you check the list of hot topics on Twitter right now, you’ll fine #TED at the top of the list. That’s because today is the opening day of the annual TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference, a prestigious gathering of just over 1000 of the world’s most influential thinkers, entertainers, and futurists. This private event (registration costs $6,000, and that’s only after you’re invited) hosts a series a thought-provoking presentations aimed at stimulating the minds of attendees who are then encouraged to engage in an exchange of ideas throughout the week-long session.
Past speakers include Al Gore, JJ Abrams, and Jeff Bezos, who each gave provocative talks about their passions and innovations. This year’s lineup includes Green Auto Pioneer Shai Agassi, web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee, and one Bill Gates. The public typically has to wait several months before videos of these 18-minute long TED talks get uploaded, but we’ve received special access to the live stream of the main stage. Over the next three days, we’ll be posting recaps of tech-related talks to give you some insight into what goes on in this exclusive and enlightening forum. Keep tabs on our TED coverage by clicking this link!
If John Madden ever gets his hands on a new touch recognition SMART Board, we're throwing in the towel and never watching another game football again. It's bad enough watching Madden draw swirlies on the screen as he explains that the team who scores more points by the end of the game will be the winner, but can you imagine the added dimension of moving players and objects around? *shudder*
Despite the potential risks involved, fans of SMART Boards will be stoked to learn that touch recognition has found its way onto the interactive whiteboard. According to Smarttech, the touch recognition feature makes it possible for compatible Boards to discern between writing with a pen and attempting to move objects with your fingers and will switch modes automatically.
"For teachers new to the SMART Board, this feature helps them become proficient more quickly," Smarttech writes on its product page. "That’s because the intuitive flow of writing and erasing on the board is similar to how traditional chalkboards and whiteboards are used. And the sooner teachers become comfortable with the technology, the sooner they can start engaging students with interactive lessons."
You can view a clip of the new SMART Board in action on YouTube here, which demonstrates some nifty functionality such as moving newly written words around.
Touch recognition-capable SMART Boards are expected to available in early February, so any day now.
Vivek Kundra is a strong contender as he has relevant experience. He is currently the CTO of the government of Washington, D.C. Indian-born Kundra spent a fair amount of his childhood in Tanzania before his parents brought him to Maryland at the age of 11.
Cisco’s CTO, Padmasree Warrior, is the other candidate. She has also served as a chief technology officer at Motorola. Warrior was also born in India and studied at the much vaunted Indian Institute of Technology. “President-elect Obama and his team fully understand the importance of digital infrastructure to further our technology leadership as a nation”, she told BusinessWeek.
IBM took its patent filing mojo to a whole new level last year, filing more patents in a single year than it has ever done before. But not only is IBM's 4,186 patents inside 12 months a new record for the company, it's also the most ever issued by the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office to one company in a year-long time period.
"IBM's leadership in the strategic use of intellectual property is based on balancing proprietary and open innovation," said Dr. John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president and director of IBM Research. "Our goal is helping stimulate innovation as public investments in large infrastructure projects are being planned to boost global economies. We also anticipate that adding additional transparency to the patent system will help tackle the continuing patent quality crisis, which is impeding inventors, entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes."
This marks the 16th year in a row IBM has led the charge in patent filings, with Samsung being its nearest competitor in 2008 with 3,515 patents. Microsoft, who's pay-as-you-go computing concept patent was ultimately denied, checks in at No. 4 with 2.030 patents.