Mickeycaskill writes: Vodafone says fuel cells could reduce the carbon emissions and noise pollution caused by mobile base stations in remote areas of developing economies. The company has 122 million mobile data customers in emerging markets and needs to expand its network in these countries to meet demand. However many base stations are in rural areas where grid power is unreliable and need on-site power generation. These are typically diesel powered, but Vodafone wants to move away from this type of power and says solar power is too expensive and not suitable for urban areas. It has already deployed 200 fuel cells in South Africa and wants to replicate the model elsewhere.
An anonymous reader writes: The end of annoying restaurant muzak may be nigh: A KFC branch in South Africa has put together a playlist of local artists for diners to enjoy — so long as they do so in silence. The in-shop broadcasts can only be heard using bone conduction as a speaker — diners put their elbows on the table and cup their ears if they want to hear the tunes.
An anonymous reader writes: Two years in the making, President Obama formally unveiled his plan to cut power plant emissions today, calling it the "single most important step that America has ever made in the fight against global climate change." The "Clean Power Plan" includes the first ever EPA standards on carbon pollution from power plants. CNN reports: "Under the plan, the administration will require states to meet specific carbon emission reduction standards, based on their individual energy consumption. The plan also includes an incentive program for states to get a head start on meeting standards on early deployment of renewable energy and low-income energy efficiency."
Mark Wilson writes: Is the battery in your smartphone being used to track your online activities? It might seem unlikely, but it's not quite as farfetched as you might first think. This is not a case of malware or hacking, but a built-in component of the HTML5 specification. Originally designed to help reduce power consumption, the Battery Status API makes it possible for websites and apps to monitor the battery level of laptops, tablets, and phones. A paper published by a team of security researchers suggests that this represents a huge privacy risk. Using little more than the amount of power remaining in your battery, it is possible for people to be identified and tracked online. As reported by The Guardian, a paper entitled The Leaking Battery by Belgian and French privacy and security experts say that the API can be used in device fingerprinting.
Lucas123 writes: As part of her campaign pledge, Hillary Clinton has said she would make it a priority in her first term to increase the number of solar panels by 500M and U.S. installed solar capacity from 21 gigawatts (GW) today to 140GW by the end of 2020. Her plan, is to increase solar, wind and other renewables so that they'd provide 33% of America's electricity by 2027, enough to power every home. While the plan may sound overly ambitious, experts say, it's not. Today, renewables provide about 15% of America's power. Shayle Kann, senior vice president at GTM Research, said the Clinton's renewable energy goal is doable, but with caveats. In order to achieve the goal, current programs, such as federal tax breaks for solar installations (set to expire next year), must continue and future initiatives, such as Obama's Clean Power Plan that will begin in 2018, must not be curtailed. Considering that if elected, Clinton wouldn't take office until 2017, the her campaign goals could be more bravado than reality. Clinton, however, is not alone. While most candidates have yet to announce their clean energy plans, Clinton's Democratic contender, Martin O'Malley, also came out with strong support for the end of fossil fuel use and a full clean energy economy by 2050, and creating a national goal of doubling energy efficiency within 15 years.
Hallie Siegel writes: A team of researchers from ETH Zurich have just set a new endurance record for solar powered flight of an unmanned autonomous aircraft, achieving over four days of solar-powered flight in a range of weather conditions. Being able to demonstrate more than 24 hours of endurance is important because overcast skies can inhibit recharging and poor weather or high winds can effect power consumption. Nice achievement for this class of aircraft.
AmiMoJo writes: Three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company will face mandatory indictment over the March 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The prosecution inquest panel of randomly-selected citizens voted for the indictment on Friday, for professional negligence resulting in death and injury. "Tokyo prosecutors in January rejected the panel's judgment that the three should be charged, citing insufficient evidence. But the 11 unidentified citizens on the panel forced the indictment after a second vote, which makes an indictment mandatory. The three are former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, and former executives Sakae Muto, 65, and Ichiro Takekuro, 69. Citizens' panels, made up of residents selected by lottery, are a rarely used but high-profile feature of Japan's legal system introduced after World War Two to curb bureaucratic overreach."
Sepa Blackforesta writes: Scientist from University of Osaka claim have fired the world's most powerful laser. The beam was intact for 2-petawatt, pulse lasted just one picosecond. While it produced a huge amount of power, the energy required for the beam itself is equivalent to that needed to power a microwave for two seconds. An associate professor of electrical engineering at Osaka University Junji Kawanaka says “With heated competition in the world to improve the performance of lasers, our goal now is to increase our output to 10 petawatts.”
Kim Dotcom was the founder of Megaupload, its successor Mega, and New Zealand's Internet Party. A while ago you had a chance to ask him about those things as well as the U.S. government charging him with criminal copyright violation and racketeering. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.
Flash Modin writes: English cities are hard up for cash as the national government dolls out cuts. And in response, the country's councils — local governing bodies — have slashed costs by turning off an estimated 750,000 streetlights. Fans of the night sky and reduced energy usage are happy, but the move has also sparked a national debate. The Automobile Association claims six people have died as a direct result of dimming the lights. But a new study released Wednesday looked at 14 years of data from 63 local authorities across England and Wales and found that residents' chances of being attacked, robbed, or struck by a car were no worse on the darker streets.
AmiMoJo writes: Sharp has announced that sales of DC powered air conditioners will begin by the end of the year. Most appliances use the standard AC electricity supply in homes, but as solar panels become more common switching to DC can save on conversion losses. Solar panels produce DC, which is then typically converted to AC before being fed into the house's wiring, and then converted back to DC again by appliances. Sharp has announced that it intends to produce a range of DC powered appliances for home use.
Mickeycaskill writes: Cambridge Electronics Inc (CEI), formed of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), claim semiconductors made of gallium nitride (GaN) could reduce the power consumption of data centers and consumer electronics by 20 percent by 2025. CEI has revealed a range of GaN transistors and power electronic circuits that have just one tenth of the resistance of silicon, resulting in much higher energy efficiency. The company claims to have overcome previous barriers to adoption such as safety concerns and expense through new manufacturing techniques. "Basically, we are fabricating our advanced GaN transistors and circuits in conventional silicon foundries, at the cost of silicon. The cost is the same, but the performance of the new devices is 100 times better," Cambridge Electronics researcher Bin Lu said.
An anonymous reader writes: A NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV modified to run Ubuntu Linux is providing interesting data on how NVIDIA's latest "Tegra X1" 64-bit ARM big.LITTLE SoC compares to various Intel/AMD/MIPS systems of varying form factors. Tegra X1 benchmarks on Ubuntu show strong performance with the X1 SoC in this $200 Android TV device, beating out low-power Intel Atom/Celeron Bay Trail SoCs, AMD AM1 APUs, and in some workloads is even getting close to an Intel Core i3 "Broadwell" NUC. The Tegra X1 features Maxwell "GM20B" graphics and the total power consumption is less than 10 Watts.
An anonymous reader writes: Samsung wants to reduce the number of cords in your house and has unveiled a new monitor that can wirelessly charge your smartphones. Called the SE370, Samsung says the monitor is the first of its kind to have this capability. The monitor comes in 23.6-inch and 27-inch sizes. According to Samsung : The SE370 "declutters work areas by doing away with unnecessary cables and ports needed to charge mobile devices. Along with superior picture quality, enhanced visual performance and thoughtful design, the monitor seamlessly integrates advanced technologies that offer both professionals and consumers an optimal viewing and usability experience."
An anonymous reader writes: An open letter published by the Future of Life Institute urges governments to ban offensive autonomous weaponry. The letter is signed by high profile leaders in the science community and tech industry, such as Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Noam Chomsky, and Frank Wilczek. It's also signed — more importantly — by literally hundreds of expert researchers in robotics and AI. They say, "The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting. If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow. Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce."
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has granted approval to AT&T to purchase DirecTV for $48.5 billion. AT&T will become the largest provider of cable or satellite TV in the U.S., with 26.4 million subscribers. "Adding TV customers gives AT&T more power to negotiate with big media companies over prices for those channels. The deal also combines a nationwide satellite TV service, the country's largest, with the No. 2 nationwide wireless network as time spent on mobile devices increases." The FCC did put conditions on the deal: AT&T must make fiber internet service available to 12.5 million people, offer cheaper internet plans to low-income customers, and not mess with the internet traffic of online video competitors.
gthuang88 writes: Wireless charging of electronics is an old concept, but there's a new player in the competition between companies like WiTricity, Energous, and tech giants Apple, Samsung, and Qualcomm. A new spinout from Dina Katabi's lab at MIT, called Pi, may have a new take on how to charge mobile devices at a distance. The company isn't talking yet, but Katabi's research suggests the system uses an array of coils to produce a magnetic field and detect when a device is within range, like a Wi-Fi router. The array can then focus the magnetic field on a coil attached to a phone or mobile device and induce a current to charge the battery. But it's still very early, and the field of wireless charging needs to settle on technical standards and work out its commercial kinks.
AmiMoJo writes: French lawmakers have approved a bill to reduce the country's reliance on nuclear power from 75% to 50% by 2025. The policy was one of President Francois Hollande's campaign pledges. The legislation also includes a target of reducing the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared to the level in 1990. The new law aims to eventually halve France's energy consumption by 2050 from the 2012 level. The ambitious goal came in the lead-up to the COP 21 climate change conference in Paris later this year. France will chair the meeting.
dkatana writes: New York mayor Bill de Blasio pledged this week to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. He made the announcement at the start of a two-day conference on climate change at the Vatican. He was in Rome by invitation of Pope Francis, who has become a hero to the environmental movement and has used his moral authority and enormous popularity to focus world attention on climate change and its effects on the poor. "I believe fundamentally in the notion of giving our private sector friends an opportunity to come along peacefully. And if that's not going to work, to put strong mandates and clear mandates on. And I believe, but the way, that that has tremendous public support." de Blasio said. Nearly three quarters of New York City's greenhouse gas emissions come from energy used to heat, cool, and power buildings, making building retrofits a central component of any plan to dramatically reduce emissions.
An anonymous reader writes: This article takes a look at the future of electronic devices powered by the human body. From the electric voltage in mammal ears called the endocochlear potential, to body heat, and muscle motion, there are a number of exciting new areas of energy research being explored. Ars reports: "Staying alive guzzles energy. In order to keep us ticking, our bodies need to burn between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day, which is conveniently enough to power a modestly used smart phone. So if just a fraction of that energy could be siphoned, our bodies could in theory be used to run any number of electronic devices, from medical implants to electronic contact lenses—all without a battery in sight. Recently, researchers have taken important strides toward unlocking this electric potential."