A new electric bus prototype doesn’t just pick up passengers at its bus stops; it also picks up a charge for its battery.
Unlike its public transportation contemporaries, the electric “Aggie bus” at Utah State University has no overhead wires. Nor does it need to be plugged into a power source. Instead, the battery receives a five-kilowatt wireless boost from a charge plate installed at each bus stop. With consistent routes and frequent stops, the bus is able to charge as it goes rather than requiring a big battery on board to stockpile an entire day’s worth of power.
What’s the News: Metamaterials could improve wireless power transfer, letting us one day charge our devices without the hassle of cords and wires, says a study published last week in Physical Review B. While wireless power transfer already works to for tiny amounts of energy, metamaterials could theoretically be used to safely and efficiently boost the technique to handle more power, such as microwaves and lasers.
UPDATE: Today (Tuesday) the FCC voted to pass the net neutrality regulations mentioned toward the bottom of this post. The rules include the provisions that wireless and traditional Internet be treated separately, and generally made everyone unhappy. However, expect a fight in Congress to either overturn the rules or strip the FCC of its authority in this sphere.
Behind closed doors, wireless providers are talking about a future that’s a net neutrality advocate’s worst nightmare.
Last week the tech companies Allot Communications and Openet, which provide products for large carriers like AT&T and Verizon, demonstrated new products in a web seminar, some details of which have leaked out. The PowerPoint slides detail a plan to monitor your online behavior and charge you for your use of certain applications. For example:
In the seventh slide of the … PowerPoint, a Vodafone user would be charged two cents per MB for using Facebook, three euros a month to use Skype and $0.50 monthly for a speed-limited version of YouTube. But traffic to Vodafone’s services would be free, allowing the mobile carrier to create video services that could undercut NetFlix on price. [Wired]
We brought you the good. It’s time for the bad.
Two weeks ago the Federal Communications Commission approved the opening of the “white spaces”—unused frequencies between the TV channels that became available when TV converted to digital. There’s certainly cause to be excited: This could lead to “super wi-fi,” or “wi-fi on steroids.” The new range is in a lower frequency than current wi-fi, which could allow it to penetrate walls and travel longer distances than our current networks, and it can be used without a license.
But there are also plenty of challenges that could keep super wi-fi from being super, at least in the short run.
1. It’ll be clogged up in the city
I spoke this afternoon to Mubaraq Mishra from UC-Berkeley, who studies all kinds of angles about how the white spaces will be used. The first problem, he says, is that while these newly opened areas could greatly improve Internet speeds in rural areas, people packed into cities won’t see as much benefit.
Mishra’s analysis of white space availability versus population density shows the Internet speed difference clearly. There are relatively few people scattered across Nebraska, and so relatively few TV channels, which means less bandwidth to which TV signals possess priority access. But in New York there are lots of people and lots of TV channels, meaning there will be high demand for the few white spaces available. “The raw availability will just be a lot lower in Manhattan,” Mishra says.
There may never have been this many people this excited about white space.
Today the commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission agreed to the rules that will allow unlicensed use of the empty space between TV channels (available now that TV has gone totally digital), and opens the door to super wi-fi networks whose reach could be measured in miles.
Unlike current Wi-Fi airwaves, whose reach can be measured in feet, the spectrum that would carry Super Wi-Fi would be able to travel for several miles because of that lower frequency. Through brick walls, even—something your Linksys really struggles with. [Gizmodo]