Benedict Evans, Whatsapp and $19bn
Researchers at Duke have built a metamaterial array that harvests free energy sources like ambient wifi and microwave radiation:
The device wirelessly converts the microwave signal to direct current voltage capable of recharging a cell phone battery or other small electronic device, according to a report appearing in the journal Applied Physics Lettersin December 2013.
It operates on a similar principle to solar panels, which convert light energy into electrical current. But this versatile energy harvester could be tuned to harvest the signal from other energy sources, including satellite signals, sound signals or Wi-Fi signals, the researchers say.
The key to the power harvester lies in its application of metamaterials, engineered structures that can capture various forms of wave energy and tune them for useful applications.
Undergraduate engineering student Allen Hawkes, working with graduate student Alexander Katko and lead investigator Steven Cummer, professor of electrical and computer engineering, designed an electrical circuit capable of harvesting microwaves.
They used a series of five fiberglass and copper energy conductors wired together on a circuit board to convert microwaves into 7.3V of electrical energy. By comparison, Universal Serial Bus (USB) chargers for small electronic devices provide about 5V of power.
"We were aiming for the highest energy efficiency we could achieve," said Hawkes. "We had been getting energy efficiency around 6 to 10 percent, but with this design we were able to dramatically improve energy conversion to 37 percent, which is comparable to what is achieved in solar cells."
An incredible breakthrough that could lead to ambient charging of mobile devices, simply through the addition of a small array circuit. Carried to a logical conclusion, we could potentially do away with wires, and items as basic as light bulbs could be powered by wifi or cell signals. The communication medium can become the power supply, as well.
American adults this year will for the first time spend more time each day using digital media than watching TV, according to a new report by eMarketer.
Adults in the U.S. are averaging five hours and nine minutes daily with digital media, up from four hours and 31 minutes last year and three hours and 50 minutes in 2011. The amount of time they spend watching TV has essentially stayed flat in that time period. It was pegged at four hours and 31 minutes this year, down slightly from four hours and 38 minutes in 2012.
Overall, the amount of time spent consuming media in all its forms — digital, TV, radio and print — is cranking ever upward, though radio and print are dropping off, according to eMarketer. U.S. adults are spending an average of 11 hours and 52 minutes every day with media, up 13 minutes from last year.
The surge in digital consumption has predictably been driven by mobile. U.S. adults now spend an average of two hours and 21 minutes per day using their mobile devices for activities other than phone calls, up 46 minutes from last year.
There isn’t anybody on earth that’s going to want to hold a tablet to their ear. - Matt Burns, You’re Funny, Huawei
I am betting that this will become the norm, actually. Or doing the equivalent through earphones, which will rapidly be wireless and unobtrusive. Google Glass is the new glowing blue bluetooth earplug, perhaps, but talking into a 7 or 9 inch tablet won’t be odd in 2014. For many, these tablets will become their proximals: the devices they always have within reach.
Which is why ‘mobile’ is the wrong adjective. These are ‘proximal’ devices: the ones we always have near to hand.
Tomfoolery blog, Mobile eats the Enterprise
Marc Andreessen wrote this great article about why software will eat the world. A similar seismic shift is happening because of the sensor-rich computers we carry around in our pockets. In the consumer space, the shift is obvious — mobile devices beat desktop & notebook PC shipments, time spent in mobile apps beats that spent on the internet(daily!), and we’re awfully close to catching up to TV. Mobile usage will be even more disruptive in the enterprise space because it’s accompanied by three tsunamis of changing work behavior:
- We have broken through cube walls: As people increasingly work remotely from each other, it will be imperative to collaborate from wherever we are.
- Power belongs to the People: Mobile workers are not only choosing their own devices, they are choosing their own apps. And these apps better be good, because they know how powerful an app can be, how amazing it can look, and how much it can offer.
- Career employees are gone forever: The parallel forces of hyperspecialization and jobfluidity are requiring teams to be more flexible than ever before.
Though we are already able to see early benefits from mobile use at work, this is just the beginning. Location-aware, context-aware, human-aware computing is here, and as an industry, we are just beginning to understand the possibilities.
At Tomfoolery, when we set out re-imagine how teams communicate and work together, starting with a mobile-focused approach seemed not only smart but it felt like the only way to do it.
It may be a bit precipitous to judge a company’s product strategy by blog post, but I will go out on a limb and say that Tomfollery is going to release awesome software (even if they do quote Marc Andreessen). After all, a company whose motto is this
We believe all work is personal. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough.
is probably hacking interesting software.
It’s a social-mobile world folks…
A recent survey by the Centers For Disease Control discovered that we’ve crossed the halfway point into wirless phoneland:
Over half of American homes don’t have or use their landline, Stacey Higgenbotham
[…] more than one-third of American homes (35.8 percent) had only wireless telephones during the first half of 2012 while 15.9 percent of all households had both landline and wireless telephones but received all or almost all calls on the wireless phones. This means 51.7 percent of U.S. homes don’t have or didn’t use their landlines in the first half of 2012. That’s a 1.8 percent increase from the same period a year ago.
The CDC wants to know because of its interest in health data. There is a generation of products — like testing pacemakers — that rely on landline connections, but I expect that innovation in mobile apps will solve that gap.
Dourish and Bell, Divining a Digital Future. 2011, MIT Press. (via gordonr)