by Roderick Gladwish
Assistant Professor of Bioengineering
Back in Matrix 169 it
was reported that Microsoft were granted a U.S. patent to
transmit power and data using the human body. They are still
at it. This time by providing a grant to scientists at Rice
University, Huston, who are using sound to transmit digital
information through the human skeleton. The inventors, who
call it OsteoConduct, have been surprised how clearly the
signals propagate through 20 or more joints. They also see
the potential in current technology mobile telephones because
many already have vibrators and sensors that could send and
receive signals. Microsoft keep trying so expect something
about this in Matrix 205, unless someone stops me
Source: Rice University, Huston
Institute of Technology researchers have managed to energise
a 60W light bulb without using wires from seven feet away.
Electromagnetic induction is the usual method of wireless
electrical power transmission. Common in transformers and
electric motors, it uses two coils of wire to generate and
receive magnetic fields caused by electricity flowing in the
conductors. This works best over short distances where the
magnetic field lines in one coil can interact with the other.
Lead researcher, Dr Marin Soljacic, realised there was another
way of transferring energy through the air. Rather than depending
on close proximity the transfer uses coupled resonance. An
example of mechanical coupled resonance is when a lorry parked
outside a building with its engine running causes a window
to vibrate. The engine note matches the resonant frequency
of the glass thus the window becomes the best receiver of
the sound energy.
Soljacic’s idea is that a transmitter pumps out electromagnetic
waves and only devices tuned to the same frequency will respond
and collect the energy.
Their experiment consisted of two copper coils, each a self-resonant
system. One attached to the power source, was the sending
unit. It fills the space around it with a non-radiative magnetic
field oscillating at MHz frequencies. The resonant nature
of the process ensures the strong interaction between the
sending unit and the receiving unit, while the interaction
with the rest of the environment is weak.
Moffatt, an undergraduate in physics, explains: "The
crucial advantage of using the non-radiative field lies in
the fact that most of the power not picked up by the receiving
coil remains bound to the vicinity of the sending unit, instead
of being radiated into the environment and lost."
People would be unaffected saying that magnetic fields interact
weakly with living organisms and are unlikely to have any
serious side effects.
MIT believe it could remove the need for the tangle of cables
littering homes today.
Source: MIT and Annanova.com
new engines, planes and spacecraft fill this page, what about
a new shoe?
A flat driving shoe that converts to a stiletto at the push
of a button has been developed. Funded by insurance company
Sheilas' Wheels, they claim the footwear concept would make
women safer and more comfortable behind the wheel.
A survey, also sponsored by them, showed that 10% of female
motorists admitted a car accident or a ‘near-miss’
due to their footwear. The ‘Safe Shoes’ report shows
80% of female drivers wear inappropriate footwear when in control
of a car – choosing style over safety.
Jacky Brown, spokesperson for Sheilas’ Wheels, said: “Our
Sheila Driving Heel design could provide safety-conscious female
motorists with the ultimate driving shoe - allowing women to
wear a safe flat shoe whilst driving, and a fashionable heel
once they are out of the car.”
first space hotel gets closer. Bigelow Aerospace has reported
the successful launch and deployment of their second inflatable
module, Genesis II.
It is designed to test and confirm systems for future manned
It is a follow on from Genesis I that has been in orbit since
July 2006 and continues to return data and images.
Both modules are 15 feet (4.4m) in length and inflate to 8
feet (2.54m) in diameter. The skin is made of several layers
that include proprietary impact-resistant materials. Testing
on the ground has shown that the expandable shells of a Bigelow
module are more resistant to space debris than the modules
on the International Space Station (ISS). The
way the ISS is going Bigelow's project many be finished first.
Source: Bigelow Aerospace
Aerospace's inflatable habitat is part of the rush to space
tourism. So far it has been small companies leading the way,
but now the big boys are starting to act.
EADS Astrium unveiled their space-plane concept earlier this
year. EADS Astrium is a subsidiary of the European Aerospace
and Defence giant EADS, who also owns Airbus. EADS Astrium’s
programme director Hugues Laporte-Weywada describes it as
"a business jet-sized vehicle equipped with a rocket
That's a fair description as they plan to use conventional
jet engines to reach 12km then a rocket engine to get to 60km
and coast to 100km, the edge of space. Passengers will enjoy
a few minutes of weightlessness.
EADS Astrium are confident
that with their knowledge of aerospace technologies from both
Astrium and Airbus that their vehicle will fly by 2012. An
ambitious goal; however, as Alan Bond, the man behind the
air-breathing engines of 1980's HOTOL project, says, "We
could have been doing this 30 or 40 years ago without too
much trouble at all".
Bond is involved in the 'son of HOTOL' Skylon project.
Source: EADS Astrium, Professional
ability to focus light has been one of mankind’s greatest
advances giving us technology from spectacles to lasers. Light
is the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum, focusing
other parts of it is more difficult; however, the pay off is
Scientists at the University of Michigan are proposing a device
that could focus other electromagnetic spectrum frequencies.
They envision a plate or a disc etched with a specific pattern.
As the waves pass through the ‘lens’, it is sculpted
into different sizes and shapes. The lens does not refract or
bend the waves as conventional lenses do, but it reshapes them.
As an example of the benefit, the storage on a CD could be increased
over 100 times using a terahertz wavelength, even though it
is a 1000 times longer than the wavelength currently used, when
usually longer wavelengths mean less data storage.
Potential applications include: data storage, non-contact sensing,
imaging, and nanolithography.
University of Michigan