Tag Archives: wireless

The wirelessly charged electric bus line

From Charged:

The city of Milton Keynes will replace the diesel buses on one route with eight electric buses that will use wireless charging. The route currently transports more than 775,000 passengers a year over a total of 450,000 miles. Electrification is expected to remove about 500 tons of tailpipe CO2 emissions per year, and cut running costs by between £12,000 and £15,000 per year.

The busses will charge when parked over a primary coil in the ground. In 10-minutes the coil can send enough energy to the secondary coil in the bus that it can complete its route. The plan is to place the primary coils at the beginning and ending locations for the bus route and coordinate charging with bus driver breaks.

If all goes well this technology could be “real contender in the future of public transport.”

 

Learn more –  UK city to add wirelessly charged electric buses to fleet

Continue reading

R&D spending by the big three in smartphones – Nokia, Google, Apple

A fascinating graphic and the article it is pulled from.

 

 

Nokia led the wireless revolution in the 1990s and set its sights on ushering the world into the era of smartphones. Now that the smartphone era has arrived, the company is racing to roll out competitive products as its stock price collapses and thousands of employees lose their jobs.

This year, Nokia ended a 14-year-run as the world’s largest maker of mobile phones, as rival Samsung Electronics Co. took the top spot and makers of cheaper phones ate into Nokia’s sales volumes.

Nokia is losing ground despite spending $40 billion on research and development over the past decade—nearly four times what Apple spent in the same period.

Instead of producing hit devices or software, the binge of spending has left the company with at least two abandoned operating systems and a pile of patents that analysts now say are worth around $6 billion, the bulk of the value of the entire company.

 

Source: Wall Street Journal - Nokia’s Bad Call on Smartphones

Photos from inside Apple Headquarters

It’s the Chocolate Factory for tech nerds.

Search the web for “Apple HQ,” and most of the results you get will be pictures of Apple’s Cupertino headquarters — from the outside. Usually with some fanboy standing next to the “1 Infinite Loop” sign. But what we really want to see is what’s inside the ultra-top-secret place where all our favorite gizmos are dreamed up.

This discussion will be moot a few years down the road when Apple opens its gigantic new wheel-shaped campus. But for now, this is the ultimate Nerdvana.

via Apple Gazette (w/ 20+ more photos)

Reception Desk
Wireless Testing Lab

Continue reading

Best Buy to close 50 stores in the U.S. and 11 in the U.K.

Selling consumer electronics isn’t as easy as it used to be for Best Buy. The big-box retailer is closing 50 stores and compensating employees based on customer service after its fiscal fourth-quarter sales fell short of expectations.

The company today reported a fiscal fourth-quarter net loss of $1.7 billion, on revenue of $16.63 billion, up 3 percent from a year ago.

Best Buy’s problem: Amazon. Best Buy has been trying to grow its e-commerce business to compete better, but the big-box approach to selling consumer electronics isn’t what it used to be. That reality has Best Buy thinking small.

The company outlined the following moves:

  • It will cut $800 million in costs by fiscal 2015.
  • Close 50 big-box stores this fiscal year.
  • Open 100 Best Buy Mobile and small stores this year.
  • Boost online revenue by 15 percent.
  • And Best Buy will change its employee compensation model to revolve around customer service and business goals.

“The company is gradually becoming a physical showroom for online retailers,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter.

via c|net – Business Tech

 

The company is also closing 11 stores in the UK, and:

As part of the plan to fix its troubles in Europe, Best Buy says that it will bring its “Wireless World” experience to some of the 2,500 small box mobility stores it currently operates in Europe.

via c|net – The Digital Home

 

// Photos via Kevin Dooley & MJ/TR

Next Generation Energy

I recently attended a fascinating seminar on emerging technology in energy. Here are some of my notes and thoughts on the next generation of energy:

Energy Harvesting

My favorite new term. It refers to using existing energy sources (solar, wind, geothermal, thermo) and turning them into electricity to feed the grid. Pretty much covers all the new energy sources. Excludes coal, nuclear, etc.

Smart Grid

Apparently, its just a dream.

Obama is pushing it and so is Energy Secretary, Steven Chu. All reasonable folk expect this is to be the foundation of our energy future. Without a modern grid we have no hope of utilizing the latest innovations. It would be like giving jet fuel to a horse drawn carriage.

Future, hah!, says the wizened gentleman behind me. He begins to explain his reaction after telling me he left the business and is only attending this seminar for nostalgia purposes. Suspect. He relates that the grid is already smart on a macro level. Utilities know how to share power, monitor, and get it to needed locations. What we are talking about is the micro level and involves pushing that technology to every city, home, and building. An expensive feat that will probably never result from government or utility spending.

More to be explained on that in following section.

What is a big deal then? Energy storage on the grid. If we are over-producing solar power in hot deserts and wind power at night, where will at all go. Our current infrastructure does not have an ability to use/transport/store this energy supply. If we can figure out a way to get the energy to high population areas then our grid will be smart.

Smart Metering

This is where the real change is happening. Power outlets with remote controls. Home appliances with timers. Motion sensors. Sleep modes for computers.

All of these involve the new energy monitoring lifestyle. They give us an opportunity to take control of our energy use. A lot of us want more and this where smart metering comes into play. Hook up all those devices to a software package and you get data heaven. Charts, graphs, recommendations. This seems to be where the juice is (pardon the pun).

Google is offering a software package, called Power Meter, and partnering with Energy, Inc. Their product, the TED5000, has been flying off the shelves for over a year now. It appears that this version of the smart grid, one that is decentralized and at the individual level will be driving the market for years to come.

PV – Photo Voltaic

The process of converting solar energy into electricity. We all know about this and see it on many roofs. For many years the market has been stuck growing at a snails pace. New investments were needed to make this energy type economical. Now we are starting to see that and many seem to be surprised that the former ceiling of 20% (solar energy to electrical energy conversion) is being broken. Wikipedia tells us (with sourcing) that:

Photovoltaic production has been doubling every 2 years, increasing by an average of 48 percent each year since 2002, making it the world’s fastest-growing energy technology. At the end of 2008, the cumulative global PV installations reached 15,200 megawatts.

Second Generation PV

As the investments ramp up the technological innovation is booming. Folks with pent up projects are finally getting dollars (or more likely Yuan) to operationalize their theories. A big group of these innovations are centered around ultra-thin, low cost solar arrays. Instead of the bulky flat panels we will get complex micro solar panels with interesting features like: solar tracking (panels follow the sun), economies of scale (driving down cost), and mirrors (increasing efficiency through reflecting). Our presenter mentioned that these second generation panels have the capability to drive down costs to match that of nuclear and coal power.

Third Generation PV

This one feels more like a laboratory study than a real consumer product. Still their are companies releasing this on the market and our presenter even said that it is in calculators now. This grouping of PV focuses on the materials used to create solar panels. Searching for organic, nano, and molecular replacements for the raw materials (silicon, cadmium, lithium) that we use now. Definitely a major need since many of the raw materials used for solar panels are rare and sometimes for rogue states.

20% Problem

Touched on this a bit before. It boils down to a maximum reached by first generation solar panels. For many years their maximum solar to electrical conversion was 20%, with 80% lost/wasted. In comparison to coal and nuclear, which are 60-70%, this makes solar 3x as expensive and require 3x as many panels/turbines/etc.

The 2/3rd generation technologies mentioned above easily breach the 20% ceiling. One already at 35% through stacking panels, utilizing off band (UV) rays, and mirrors. I expect it wont be long until that number is doubled.

NIMBY

Not in my backyard. This is representing a real problem. In the coming years we will ‘plant’ thousands of solar panels and wind turbines. Few are happy to have them muddy up their roof or beautiful view.

Even worse this backlash is fostering more support for nuclear power plants. They don’t have to go in your backyard!

I just wish somebody would think long term on this. Nuclear Waste. Nuclear Countries. Nuclear Weapon. Not sure we need more nuclear in our lives, especially if the alternative is just a solar panel.

ARPA-E

Maybe you have heard of DARPA, an uber-advanced military research group that created the internet, builds robots, and many other amazing innovations. the Department of Energy has created ARPA-E which stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. A place to conceptualize and test the advanced energy projects of the future.

Wireless Sensors

Wireless sensors presents a massive new industry of tiny sensors that require little energy. They serve a simple function which is to turn on, send data, and shut down. They only turn on when activated and gather a specific amount of data to transmit. After transmission they shut back down.

This allows them to be placed nearly anywhere and even form a mesh network. Activate one sensor that passes data and/or activation signal to the next one. In a few minutes you can have data from thousands of sensors. My brother wrote a dissertation on this using planes as an example. Place a sensor on all critical plane equipment. When the plane lands activate the sensors and get a status report on the plane.

Wireless Electricity

Wireless charging is coming. At the recent CES it was the rage. Consumer products are on the market. An MIT startup, Witricity, has several patents and deals with government, industry, and consumables. Hooray for the day when we are free from our cable jungles.

Graphene

A new material created in the lab with amazingly sophisticated microscopes that can be manipulated into a ridiculous array of uses. The presenter showed it as rope, tires, and even circuits. He passed around prints, stickers, rope, and cardboard made out of graphene. It appears to be the next gore-tex, or material than can be turned into anything. Cheap and moldable. It will be fun to see how this material is used.