Tag: europe

Europe's Newest Green Energy Sources: Pedestrians and Body Heat

By Smriti Rao | April 15, 2010 11:49 am

WATTRobinUtrechtEPA4It was a green idea that boogied straight off the dance floor and onto the city streets. Residents in the French city of Toulouse are testing out a special stretch of pavement in the city center that produces energy every time someone walks across it.

The pavement is embedded with special sensors that convert energy from motion into electricity. It’s an idea that was first implemented in a Rotterdam nightclub by the Dutch company Sustainable Dance Club (SDC), where the company installed special modular dance floors that harvested the dancers’ energy.

City authorities in Toulouse hope to replicate that system in the city center; as people walk across the special pavement, they’ll help generate between 50 and 60 watts of electricity. Energy captured during the day would be stored in a battery that could be used to power a nearby street lamp at night.

French authorities are powering ahead with the testing despite concerns about the system’s high cost, and have already overcome several problems along the way. The Guardian reports:

The prototype of the modules, said [City deputy mayor Alexandre] Marciel, was unsuitable for street use as “at that stage they only worked if you jumped on them like a kangaroo. So a model was developed on which you can walk normally and still produce enough energy to power the lights,” he said.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

Look Kids, Big Ben in 1890! Augmented Reality Meets Tourism

By Boonsri Dickinson | August 19, 2009 11:04 am

monaco.jpgTrying to pack everything into a European vacation can leave you with little time to do activities you actually enjoy. European researchers involved in the iTacitus project are working to solve this problem by tapping into augmented reality, a technology that blends real world information with stored digital data.

The researchers want to create a virtual time machine for tourists who like to snap pictures. The program would use these photos to search for historical information based on the location, and create a “smart itinerary” so travelers could navigate from place to place.

First, you’d have to snap a photo with a smart phone or camera. Then the image would be downloaded to software stored on a central server, and you’d instantly have access to cultural and historical information about the place you’re visiting. Science Daily reports:

“[Tourists] can look at a historic site and, by taking a photo or viewing it through the camera on their mobile device, be able to access much more information about it,” explains Luke Speller, a senior researcher at BMT in the United Kingdom who oversaw development of the technology.

“They are even able to visualize, in real time, how it looked at different stages in history,” he adds.

Along with museums and tourist boards, the researchers hope that tourists will also contribute their travel experiences so they can build up a database of user-generated content.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Will the Laptops of the Future be a Pair of Eye Glasses?
DISCOVER: A GPS to Augment Your Entire Reality

Image: flickr/ Ben

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!

Weird Science Roundup: News From Around the World…And Space

By Rachel Cernansky | March 6, 2009 6:23 pm

phone.jpgRoman Catholic bishops have called for a new kind of abstinence this Lent: no text messaging. They have deemed every Friday during Lent “no SMS day,” partly to honor “concrete” rather than “virtual” relationships. But the refrain from phones is also an attempt to bring attention to the ongoing conflict in Congo, which is partly fueled by coltan, a mineral found aplenty in the eastern part of the country and which is crucial for many technologies, including cell phones.

Others, meanwhile,  are embracing technology to the fullest—enough to try and turn magic carpet rides into reality. In space, no less. A Japanese astronaut will try to fly on a carpet when he arrives at the International Space Station later this month—he’ll also try 16 other challenges out of the total 1,597 total suggestions submitted.

Over in Italy, a “vampire” skeleton has been exhumed from a mass grave in Venice. It is thought to be from a period during the Middle Ages when vampires were believed to spread the plague by chewing on people’s shrouds after dying—an act that grave-diggers sought to prevent by putting bricks in the mouths of suspected vampires.

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