Authors Posts by Silvia Pikal

Silvia Pikal

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Almost Half of Canadians Aged 18-34 Own Smartphones

Nearly half, or 48 per cent, of Canadian mobile phone users aged 18 to 34 report owning a smartphone, according to a new study by the Quorus Consulting Group released this week by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). Smartphone adoption climbs to 55 per cent among those 18 to 24 years old.

Official: EV Cup Heading to the US November

The roar of super-charged engines and the strong smell of exhaust fumes may be what comes to mind when most people think of car racing, but the EV Cup will feature quiet, clean vehicles, with the screech of tires replacing the whine of engines. The EV Cup claims to be the world’s first racing series that exclusively features zero-emission electric vehicles.

Microsoft Encouraging Higher Prices for Windows Phone Apps

With Microsoft’s software update due this fall, nicknamed Mango, the company is trying to bring over developers to the Windows Marketplace for Mobile by encouraging them to charge more for Windows Phone apps. Microsoft hopes to compete with the highly successful iTunes App Store by offering up better quality apps, as opposed to cheap or free apps that involve fart sounds.

Apple to Preview Cloud Service in June @ WWDC?

Rumours are floating around that Apple will preview its cloud service as early as June at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. Three people briefed on Apple’s private talks that didn’t want to be named told BusinessWeek that Apple will be able to scan customers' digital music libraries in iTunes and quickly mirror their collections on its own servers. If the sound quality of a particular song on a user's hard drive isn't good enough, Apple will be able to replace it with a higher-quality version.

Clean Screens: Prototype Enables Touchless iPhone Hand Gesture Controls

While the Bluetooth headset has allowed people to look like they are talking to imaginary friends, a new device will let iPhone users get in on the action and look like they’re gesturing and talking to no one. A team of researchers at the Hasso-Plattner Institute in Germany have designed an interface that allows you to use apps on your iPhone and answer calls by tapping the palm of your hand.

Thought: EEG Headset Utilizes Dry Wireless Technology for Gaming and Neuromarketing

Neuromarketing is using brain imaging or other brain activity measurement technology to measure subconscious responses to products, advertising and other marketing. Critics have called neuromarketing “junk science” that uses suspect research methods, but it’s gaining increasing interest.

RIP Credit Cards: Google Wallet To Change Mobile Payments

Google Wallet is a free mobile app that stores virtual versions of your credit cards, debit cards and coupons, eliminating the need for plastic and replacing your wallet with your phone. It will be compatible with none other than the Nexus S 4G, on Sprint. The app will launch “soon" but we've learned a great deal about it in the meantime.

Omnidrectional rover robot uses screws to move

Rovers are key to exploring planets that are too far and expensive for manned missions, but they have their limitations. NASA rover “Spirit” scaled a mountain the height of the Statute of Liberty, but couldn’t maneuver its way out of a sand bog. In 2009 Spirit became stuck and in NASA controllers’ attempts to free the rover, the wheels only sank deeper. Lack of sun in the rover’s current location meant Spirit went into low-power hibernation mode, and on May 25 2011 NASA made their last communication with Spirit.

Metamaterials Could Improve Wireless Charging

Theoretically, the metamaterial would make it seem as if there was no space between the transmitter and the recipient, resulting in a minimal loss of power.

Leyden Energy Launches Three-year Lithium Ion Batteries

How many of you have run into the overheating, premature death of a laptop battery? I know we have. Then you may like the news of a three year battery - guaranteed. Last week Leyden Energy launched its next-generation replacement lithium-ion batteries for laptops.

Molten Salt Could Provide Steady Solar Power Even at Night

While solar panels can use stored energy from the day to provide power at night, and solar power is absorbed by higher-end solar panels even when it is cloudy, the panels still work best when the sun is shining its brightest. The solution to a steady supply of solar power even on cloudy days and at nighttime might come in the form of molten salt, which is an excellent conductor of heat.

Microsoft Unveils Windows Phone Mango to be Released This Fall

Today, Microsoft has given a preview of its latest Windows Phone OS update, known as Mango. According to Microsoft, Mango will deliver more than 500 new features to ensure a seamless integration of communications, apps and internet searching. Microsoft focused on developing three main things in Mango, which include a web experience that goes beyond the browser, a smarter approach to apps, and improved communication features that make it easier to connect and share with others.

First Android Clamshell To Be Released in Japan

Clamshell phones were once considered to be the hip and happening design for cellphones, but the trend didn’t carry over to smartphones. Most love the sleek, thin bodies of smartphones, but there is a soul or two who might yearn for the satisfying flip open

Paralyzed Man Stands and Takes Steps After Spinal Implant

Rob Summers, 25, was paralyzed below the chest in a hit-and-run accident in 2006. Summers, a baseball player at the time, was told he may never walk again. But now, after receiving a spinal implant that stimulates neurons using electrodes, Summers can stand up while using bars for support and bear his own weight for up to four minutes.

Friday Android App Knows What You Did Last Night

Friday is an Android app that functions as a search engine for your life. The app allows you to find out where you were, what calls you made, what emails you sent and what song you were listening to on any given day. The app gives you analytics of your entire phone usage. Such an app would have come useful to the guys in The Hangover when trying to locate their lost buddy, since the app tracks GPS location too.

ZeroTouch’s Touchless Sensing Could Improve Smartphone Interaction

While touch-sensitive frames have been around for years, their size and responsiveness has been limited. A new prototype called ZeroTouch has been developed at Texas A&M University's Interface Ecology Lab, and creates more possibilities for interaction beyond typical interfaces like glass touch-screens on smartphones and laptops.

Smartphone Sales up 85% year-over-year with Android in the Lead

Gartner predicted that worldwide smartphone sales will reach 468 million units in 2011, with Android taking 38.5 per cent of the smartphone market. Gartner’s prediction sounds about right and might even be too low of an estimate when it comes to both smartphones and Android’s growth.

New 100W-equivalent LED Bulb Only Uses 16W of Power

Unlike traditional incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs give improved energy efficiency, brilliant light and can last for years. California-based Switch Lighting announced its 100 watt-equivalent LED bulb at the 2011 LIGHTFAIR International Trade Show in Philadelphia this week.

Video Conferencing ATMs to Outsource Banking Industry

For old-fashioned people stuck in the past who complain about not being able to talk to a real person at the ATM, now they will be able to. Virtually. The world's biggest ATM provider is giving a throwback to the days when taking out cash from the bank required talking to a human. NCR is unveiling an ATM with integrated two-way video conferencing that lets users talk live with a remote teller.

Making Hydrogen Without Emissions and Highly Dangerous Temperatures

With the recent news of Toyota opening a hydrogen fuel gas pipeline-fed fueling station for recharging fuel cell hybrid vehicles by 2015, it appears that hydrogen fuel may soon be a viable alternative. However, the technology to produce it must overcome a few barriers first.

Metallic Glass Could Now Be As Cheap to Produce as Plastic

In 1960, the first metallic glass was developed at the California Institute of Technology. A metallic glass is an alloy that’s been heated up and then cooled down very quickly so that it doesn’t have a chance to form crystals, allowing the material to keep its amorphous structure. Thus, metallic glass is stronger than steel or titanium and just as tough, and 20 times stronger and stiffer than plastic. Metallic glass is an ideal material for everything from cellphone cases to aircraft parts.

BMW Hopes to Prevent Collisions With Left Turn Assistant

Turning left at intersections is often dangerous due to crossing two lanes of opposing traffic, poor visibility and busy intersections. BMW hopes to lower the rate of collisions with their left turn assistant system. The system combines camera, laser and vehicle-to-vehicle communication technologies in an effort to make left turns safer.

Green Limo Goes Up Against Concrete Jungle

Activist art and design group REBAR, based in San Francisco, started PARK(ing) Day in 2005. PARK(ing) Day is a one-day international event where people transform public parking spots into parks.

Researchers Create Blood-Powered Hydroelectric Generator for Human Implant

Researchers in Switzerland hope to power pacemakers and other electrical devices with small turbines designed to fit inside a human artery, working like a blood-powered hydroelectric generator.

New Pressure Sensor Can Stretch to Twice Its Size

There may now be a way to prevent such an injury. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute of Silicate Research have developed a sensor that can be stretched to twice its size. The sensors could be integrated into a car seat to determine the position of the occupant such as when the person is leaning over or sitting back in the seat. This would allow the force of the airbag to be lessened if the occupant is leaning forward in the event of an accident.

Eton’s Soulra XL solar-powered iPhone boombox available for pre-order

Eton’s cordless, solar-powered boombox, the Soulra XL, is now available for pre-order. The Soulra XL has a 72 square inch monocrystal solar panel and a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack, and can be fully charged in five hours giving five hours of play, and can charge an iPod or iPhone while its blasting your iPod’s tunes.

Potential Solution to Earbud Listener Fatigue

Listener fatigue is a painful discomfort that can happen to anyone listening to an iPod on the subway, a musician playing a gig, or to someone wearing a hearing-aid. If listener fatigue occurs from listening to an iPod, you just take out your earphones. For professional musicians and people who require hearing-aids, it’s not that simple.

Microwave Photons in Cellphones Could Damage Human Tissue

The controversy over whether signals from cellphones and cellphone towers cause damage to biological tissue continues to rage on, irking skeptical researchers and consumers alike. Adding to the debate, a researcher from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico suggests that microwaves sent out from cell phones can interact with human tissue in ways that haven’t been considered before.

Amazon To Release Android Tablet?

When interviewed by Consumer Reports, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said to “stay tuned” for the company’s plans to release a tablet device. Bezos suggested that if they did produce a tablet, it would not kill the Kindle, but supplement it.

Cellphones Could Be Killing Off Bees

In 2006, beekeepers around the world reported that honey bee colonies were disappearing, and there didn't seem to be a cause. The phenomenon was initially given the name colony collapse disorder, and researchers considered several different factors that could be responsible for CCD, including pathogens, parasites, environmental stress and cellphone signals.

Toyota Opens First Pipeline-Fed Hydrogen Fueling Station in US

There are a few hydrogen fueling stations around the US, but this one in Torrance, California, is fueled by an active hydrogen pipeline, which would reduce the reliance on truck fuel deliveries.

Free EV Charging @ SFO

San Francisco will offer free EV charging at 19 city-owned parking garages and at the San Francisco International Airport until the end of 2013 . Next month, the city will install more than 80 plug-ins to encourage the purchase of EVs. As well, officials hope the chargers will reduce fears of not having enough juice to get from point A to point B.

Microsoft To Unveil Windows Phone Mango on May 24

The Windows Phone OS is getting some major updates. Known as "Mango" the new Windows Phone OS release will add multi-tasking,  turn-by-turn navigation, Bing music identifier, SMS dictation and "more."

Dirt Could Power Cell Phones in Africa

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 22 per cent of households have mobile phones. People who live in remote areas benefit from mobile phones as they can use them to contact health care practitioners, or use health care apps and stay connected with their family and friends. Yet over 500 million people living in the region lack power in their homes.

Google Music Beta Service Launches at I/O Event

Google is getting ready to bring their own cloud music service to the market, a little more than a month after Amazon launched their Cloud Player.

iPhone App Helps Doctors Diagnose Stroke

With a few scrolls and clicks on an iPhone, doctors can now look at 3D brain images and diagnose a stroke. A study from the University of Calgary suggests that doctors using the app are 94 to 100 per cent accurate in diagnosing acute stroke, compared to a traditional medical diagnostic work station. ResolutionMD Mobile delivers advanced visualization of 2D and 3D, CT and MR images directly to a doctor’s cellphone.

Ortsbo Translation Software Review

The Ortsbo iPhone app is currently undergoing review to be available on the Apple App Store. The Commobility and Intertainment Media teams are also working on apps for platforms including Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone, which are scheduled to launch summer 2011.


Piggyback Concept combines Phone, Tablet and Laptop into one device

Brooks Benefiel's Piggyback Tablet is a three-in-one concept that could render purchasing individual tablets and netbooks unnecessary. The Piggyback Tablet concept uses a smartphone to power a tablet and netbook computer. While Motorola's Atrix 4G smartphone has an optional laptop dock, the phone only becomes a netbook when plugged in, whereas when plugged into the Piggyback, the phone becomes both a tablet and a netbook

Cheaper Catalyst Could Accelerate Hydrogen Fuel Development

Researchers from the United States and Denmark have found an inexpensive alternative to platinum, the pricey catalyst traditionally used in hydrogen fuel production. The researchers at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University and the Technical University of Denmark developed a molybdenum sulfide catalyst that shows a potentially viable solution for making cheap hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water.

Freshwater + Seawater to Power Batteries

Stanford researchers have developed a battery that takes advantage of the difference in the amount of salt between freshwater and seawater to produce electricity. Potential sites for a power plant that utilize the battery would be anywhere freshwater enters the sea, such as river mouths or estuaries.

Quantum Optics Researchers Store Information in a Single Atom

Researchers with the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany have managed to store quantum information in a single atom. The researchers wrote the quantum state of single particles of light, called photons, into a rubidium atom and read it out again after a certain storage time. This technique could potentially be used to design powerful quantum computers and to network them with each other across large distances.

Chevy’s new ‘money saving’ tires are a cash grab

Chevy’s got a quick solution for rising gas prices - new tires! The tires, designed for the Chevy Cruze Eco, boost fuel efficiency by three miles per gallon. That's 38 extra miles on a tank of fuel. According to Chevy, the new tires will save big bucks - about $112 a year.

Sensor Glove Helps Stroke Patients Recover Hand Motion with Video Games

People who have suffered strokes are often left with physical impairments, including partial or total paralysis on one side of the body, which means a loss of muscle control. In an attempt to aid rehabilitation, four McGill Engineering undergrads developed a biomedical sensor glove that can help stroke patients recover hand motion by playing video games.

Wireless, Self-Powered sensors can be controlled by Android App

EnOcean has created self-powered, energy-harvesting sensors which monitor the temperature and light settings of a building and adjust them accordingly. The wireless technology functions to improve energy efficiency and reduce costs in buildings and industrial facilities. EnOcean’s wireless modules are in use in over 100,000 buildings. The sensors are located in EnOcean’s light switches.

Award Winning Concept Allows Live 4D Fetus Watching with PreVue Viewing...

A new concept from Australian industrial designer Melody Shiue would bring the ultrasound into the home, with a wearable e-textile device called PreVue. The device gives 4D imaging of the fetus. Worn around the pregnant woman’s abdomen, it allows viewing of the fetus at anytime, day or night. The intent of the device is to enhance the bond between parents and the fetus.

Artificial Leaf Could Power Home on 1 Gallon of Water a...

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created the first feasible artificial leaf. While the leaf doesn’t look anything like its plant inspiration, it works in a similar way. The leaf is a solar cell the size of a poker card, and it mimics the process of photosynthesis by using water and sunlight converting it into energy. In this case the energy is electricity.

Fire-Fighters Could Extinguish Flames With Electricity Instead of Water

A group of researchers at Harvard University described the possibility of firefighters battling flames not with water, but with electricity. The researchers drew on earlier observations that electricity can control the shape of flames and applied it to quenching fires.

Porsche’s First Plug-in Hybrid Available For Pre-sale At $850,000

The 918 Spyder has been given the green light for production and is pre-selling at the price of US $850,000. Of course it will be limited to 918 units, production is scheduled to start on September 18, 2013 - delivery of the first vehicles ordered should start in November 2013. The sooner the car is ordered, the sooner it will be manufactured - provided you pay out almost a million dollars.

Radiation Detection App Rejected by Apple – Goes Through iPhone Jailbreak

Apple has been under scrutiny for the iPhone 4′s flawed antenna which loses signal if users hold the device in a certain way. Israeli company Tawkon developed an app that lets iPhone users see and lower their exposure to cellphone radiation, and the app showed that the iPhone releases an increased amount of radiation when struggling to find a clear signal. 

U.S. Army Goes Green with Smart-Charging Micro Grid

The U.S. Army has taken a step towards more sustainable energy with its first smart-charging micro grid at the Wheeler Army Airfield in Honolulu, Hawaii.