Charge Your Phone with The Power of A Plant

There exists a perception that the organic world and the technological world must exist in diametrically opposed corners of the modern landscape, but that’s simply not true.

This has been especially demonstrated by a tech company that found a way to charge phones using a plant’s photosynthesis.

A Daily Hassle

On average, people report having to charge their phones about 2 times in order to prevent them from dying over the course of an average day. This isn’t just inconvenient, it’s also quite wasteful when you consider how much collective power is being sucked up by smartphones across the world on a daily basis.

Whether you’re environmentally conscious or you just hate the eyesore of the average charging square, you will probably be delighted to learn about Arkyne Technologies’ plant power invention that harnesses photosynthesis to charge your phone.

Not Your Average Planter

Arkyne’s invention is actually a high-tech planter, not a plant with magical charging capabilities. The planter (called Bioo Lite) uses the photosynthetic energy generated by a plant when it absorbs light and carbon dioxide, and uses that to charge your phone via a USB port.

You can pick the plant and where you’d like to leave it, and Bioo Lite takes care of the rest. So long as you keep your plant happy and healthy, you can expect three charges every day from this planter, whose conversion process takes place beneath the plants’ root system.

No one likes having to charge their phone constantly, but you might dread the process a little less if you could feel like you’re harnessing the natural energy produced by your house plants. Make charging just a little more fun by getting the job done with a plant.

Electric Cars That Do Not Need Recharging

It’s hard to believe that cars have only been available to the public for a little over a century.

In that time, they have undergone innumerable changes in terms of body and performance, but one important fact has remained constant: they contain and internal combustion engine that runs, at least in part, on fossil fuels. That all may be about to change, though.

It’s Electric

There was a time when a car engine running on fossil fuel felt revolutionary—and indeed, it was, but times have changed. In the late 1990s, as the public became aware of the human impact on climate change, car manufacturers first began unveiling hybrids

These cars used but electricity and fossil fuels, in a sort of hybrid between traditional vehicles and electrical ones, hence the name. While this was a step in the right direction, it fails to fully mitigate the emissions of fossil fuels. 

To solve this issue, the last decade has seen a concerted interest in electric vehicles, or EVs, from nearly every automaker in the world. Leading the charge toward electric vehicles that can perform on the same level as traditional ones in Tesla, who proved that high performance and carbon neutrality aren’t mutually exclusive with its Roadster in 2008.

Despite being leaps and bounds better for the environment than both traditional gas-dependant cars and hybrids, electric vehicles still have struggles with which to contend. For one thing, charging stations can be difficult to come by, but more overarching is the fact that electric vehicles do still leave a footprint. 

By requiring electricity to charge their batteries, they are still relying on fossil fuels, since most electricity is still produced by fossil fuels today. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if your home runs entirely on solar or some other form of renewable energy, but for the most part this isn’t the case. 

So, just as EVs are truly striking a chord with the public, is it time to look to the next step in this evolution? Is it even possible to create an electric car that doesn’t require recharging? The technology is still young, but the answer is yes. 

Cut The Cords

To be clear, there’s no way for an electric vehicle to run forever without recharging, this language simply refers to an electric vehicle that can recharge without having to be plugged in and pulling from the power grid.

As it turns out, that technology already exists. In 2018, Audi debuted ins 2019 A8 L e-tron. This vehicle can charge wirelessly simply by parking above a charging pad. The pad uses electromagnetic energy from two coils to transfer between the car’s batteries and the air gap, losing only about 10% of the energy in the process of the transfer. 

While other automakers continue to search for greater efficiency, a tech company called NanoFlowcell has also made a foray into electric cars that don’t need to recharge traditionally. Though the details of their technology remain somewhat murky, the company claims to use two separate tanks of ionic liquids to provide continuous charge. 

Other companies are experimenting with adding photovoltaic (solar) cells to the tops of vehicles to allow the sun to recharge the cars’ batteries. 

Though the industry is likely several years away from any major breakthrough on the front of electric cars that don’t need recharged, the technology is fast approaching, and it’s bound to make waves.

Boots with Turbo and Wheels

Did you ever spend time roller skating in your youth? If you did, there was probably a bit of a learning curve in the beginning.

The act of continuously pushing yourself forward while also remaining upright takes some practice, much like riding a bike. What if, instead of dealing with the scuffed up knees and bruised ego, you’d been able to strap on a pair of boots that did the work for you? Now you can. 

Getting Around 

Roller skates are essentially boots with wheels; it may not shock you to learn that they were first invented more than 280 years ago—before the United States was even an independent nation. However, roller skating didn’t truly pick up steam and popularity until the 1900s. 

In the ‘70s and ‘80s, skating rinks were the place to be for America’s nearly-teenaged population, but they haven’t maintained that same level of popularity today. Even so, everyone loves the idea of enjoying all of the fun of roller skating or blading with none of the work. 

Someone first attempted to solve this problem in 1956 when electric roller skates were created. Though they could propel users up to speeds of 17 miles per hour, they didn’t have an efficient way to slow them back down, making the ordeal pretty nerve wracking.  

It wasn’t until 2008 that a company came up with an updated version of this technology, albeit with a modern twist. Razor, the same company that manufactures some of the world’s most beloved non-motorized scooters, came out with a product called Turbo Jetts.

Rather than having a connected shoe, Turbo Jetts are a heel-shaped device with wheels that can be strapped on to any shoes. Users just step into the Turbo Jetts, tighten the straps, and then apply pressure to signal to the device that it can begin rolling. 

Simple as they look, Turbo Jetts can reach speeds of ten miles per hour. For most people, that would feel like a dead sprint, or at least pretty close to it. The batteries only last for about half an hour, and the max weight is around 175 pounds, but these are a fun and easy way to ride short distances. 

An Extra Boost

If you’re interested in more high powered footwear, a newly developed version of inline skates called thunderblades might be right up your alley. These skates essentially use the same technology as boosted skateboards to help them reach their top speed of 25 miles per hour.

What’s more, these boots are supposed to have a range of 20 miles on a single charge, and the company also claims they can boost riders up at 20% grade. Once flipped on, the boots can move both forward and in reverse. 

Of course, this is all information released directly from the thunderblades company about prototypes. It seems likely that they’ll come to market, though, given the overwhelming support they received in raising initial capital. 

If you ever dreamed of skating around effortlessly as a kid (or as an adult), your dreams are getting a little closer to reality, and you might just get to see them come true in the next few years.

Satellite Controlled Cars

It’s easy to forget just how much of daily life is influenced by satellites.

Your cell phone service, mobile GPS, perhaps even your Internet wouldn’t be possible if not for satellites. Still, the idea that satellites can control cars probably feels a little space-aged; in reality, that age has arrived. 

With No Help from You

Autonomous cars are all the rage, in terms of tech advancements getting lots of media buzz. It’s important to understand, though, that these cars aren’t operating all on their own. Sure, you won’t be doing any steering, but there is an outside force that tells these cars where to go: satellites. 

Many new cars are already something called connected cars. These are cars equipped with a number of functions only possible through the use of a satellite connection. This includes things like playing music and integrated navigation systems that will work even when you lose cell service. 

The first shades of these connected cars came in 1996 when the OnStar system was unveiled by General Motors. Since then, connectivity has only gotten more advanced. Today, the next wave of autonomous cars will rely on a mix of software and satellite connection to know where to go, how to get there, and what potential obstacles lie along the way. 

The Role of Satellite

You’re likely familiar with the fact that satellites are responsible for modern GPS, but you may be wondering how exactly they’re integral to autonomous cars. Simply put, satellites allow the car to communicate with the manufacturer’s cloud, receiving updates and sending data all the time. Not to mention, highly precise maps are what allow self-driving cars to function with such accuracy. 

To break it down further, autonomous cars are essentially sophisticated machines run by integrated computers. Like all computers, the ones in autonomous cars rely on software to perform their functions. Inevitably, software becomes outdated over time. Just like you might update the operating system on your phone or laptop, a self-driving car’s operating system would also eventually need updated. 

Satellites communicate these updates to the cars and perform them automatically, resolving any need for users to check on potential updates. 

Perhaps the more immediate use of satellites in autonomous cars is the actual driving. The combination of information gathered from cameras on the autonomous cars and satellite views of the cars help the vehicles know how they must adjust in order to stay on the road and avoid dangers. Some of this is integrated within the car, but a large portion of it relies upon satellite imaging of roadways. 

Who Makes it Happen?

Satellite controlled cars aren’t just hypothetical anymore. Though Tesla is probably the most well-known champion for autonomous cars in the modern age, Google unveiled its first self driving car more than 5 years ago. Without a steering wheel or pedals, this vehicle doesn’t even allow for the option of manual control. 

Instead, the entire system is reliant upon satellite signals and internal sensors. These cars aren’t yet mainstream, but society appears to be reaching a tipping point where new vehicles will feature this sort of highly advanced technology. 

If you buy a car 10 years down the road, you may find that it’s a satellite controlling the vehicle rather than you.

Plasma Engines

How much do you know about engines? If you’re like most people, probably not much beyond the fact that they need fuel to function.

With the development of plasma engines, though, even that fact is not a certainty, and engines as you know them may soon perform a lot differently.

 

Out of Thin Air

Your run of the mill jet engine ignites fuel and compressed air to create thrust as this ignition is propelled out the back of the engine. This system has worked fine for decades of air travel, but isn’t it time to move on to something more advanced? German researchers certainly think so. 

Plasma engines don’t rely on an outside fuel source, like gasoline. Instead, they use power to create electromagnetic fields within the engine. By compressing gasses present in air, they excite them into a plasma. This is the same sort of reaction that occurs in fusion reactors. 

For the most part, research into plasma engines has to do with propelling aircraft through space, but that body of research isn’t the end of plasma engines’ usefulness. 

A team at the Technical University of Berlin wants to expand the current knowledge of plasma engines and put them in jets, rather than just spacecraft. Though plasma engines in general aren’t well-known, and are largely still in research phases, they are usually only considered viable in very high altitudes. 

However, this team has developed a plasma jet engine that can also function at ground level, meaning that it could be used in takeoff and landing, as well as during high altitude flights. Because they wouldn’t require refueling and have greater performance capabilities, plasma jet engines would allow for planes to travel greater distances in less time. 

A Novel Idea

Arthur C. Clarke’s “A Space Odyssey” featured spaceships that navigated the universe with plasma engines, using nuclear reactors to propel them. Whether he was drawing on Clarke’s inspiration or his own experiences in space, astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz first developed a similar engine in 1983. 

Diaz’s engine, known as VASIMR, turned a fuel source like hydrogen or helium into plasma by stripping their electrons. Magnetic fields could then be used to direct the rocket’s thrust in whatever direction necessary. What’s more, because the plasma particles are held together by magnetism rather than a canister, there is no limit to how hot that can be, and therefore this method allows spaceships to move much faster with less fuel. 

Today, theories believe that this technology could be used to create something called hyper drive, that would allow for the kind of super fast space travel science fiction flicks have promised is possible.

Mirroring a decades-old Space Race, Russia is also interested in developing these sorts of high powered plasma engines for their spacecraft. They have not reached quite the same level as Americans, but with a thorough understanding of the technology and the tools to apply it, it’s only a matter of time. Most movies that feature far advanced space travel rely upon plasma engines, and it appears that their widespread use isn’t far off. Whether it’s in a spaceship or the plane you’ll be riding in 50 years, this likely isn’t the last you’ve heard of plasma engines.

Flying Boots

When science fiction writers used to imagine the 21st century, they saw a world in which technology had so fully integrated with daily life that

human feet hardly touched the ground, between jetpacks and hover cars. Though that vision hasn’t been fully realized, the technology for flying boots has long been established. 

Looking Back to Move Forward

The idea of wearing flying boots probably feels like one firmly planted in the future, but the reality is that NASA first developed such technology in the 1960s. An engineer designed what he called “rocket boots,” which would allow astronauts to move about more quickly while in outer space. 

In concept, flying boots are somewhat simple compared to other technological feats. The NASA design simply required astronauts to press down their big toes, which would trigger the release of pressurized gas and send them moving. Of course, a large part of the design’s success was thanks to the low gravity environment. 

Still, if the idea is sound from an engineering standpoint, why couldn’t it work here on Earth with some modifications? That was NASA’s logic when they decided to make their flying boots patent public in 2016. 

In doing this, they opened the door for any scientifically-minded members of the public to improve upon the designs they had already developed. Though it hasn’t happened yet, NASA’s release of their patent brings the world one step closer to strapping on a pair of boots and flying to the grocery store. 

Navy Seals and Segways

Most people on Earth have heard of America’s most best military task force, the Navy Seals.

These servicemen are equipped with some of the most advanced technology that the U.S. Military can get its hands on, and one such technology is something known at Jetboots.

These aren’t the flying boots of your dreams, but they are a sort of version of them. Rather than actually being boots, this is a system that Seals attach to their legs with propulsion mechanisms on the outsides of their bodies. They can control the direction and speed of the propulsion with their hands, making Jetboots a kind of mix between flying boots and jet packs. 

Despite the fact that flying boots aren’t currently widely available, they are certainly possible. In fact, the existence of the segway is a hint that the technology is available, just waiting to be fully developed. 

The same internal mechanisms necessary to keep a segway upright while moving forward could do the same things for flying boots. It would take a delicate balance of propulsion and, well, balance, but flying boots certainly aren’t out of the realm of possibility. 

Getting Around in Sci-Fi

Flying boots have made countless cameos in science fiction films and television. Often, they’re an integral part of the character’s persona, like in Iron Man. Other times, they actually steal the show, like in Jupiter Ascending

The difference between Sci-Fi and the real world is that science fiction creators can bend the laws of the universe to fit their needs, or conceptualize science that doesn’t yet exist to solve problems of real world physics. Still, on this planet with the current body of technology, flying boots are more than just a fantasy—they could come true.

Teleportation

How many times have you wished for teleportation abilities?

Maybe when you’re stuck in traffic and late for work, or hiding in the bathroom in the middle of a bad first date? As it turns out, teleportation isn’t all just sci-fi dreaming, but the reality of the technology isn’t quite what you’re imagining. 

More Science Than Magic

At its core, teleportation is simply the immediate transfer of information from one spot to another. The reality is that humans, and any other complex living or inanimate object, are too difficult to beam to a different place within the blink of an eye, because there’s simply too much information to try to communicate at once. 

Much smaller members of the quantum universe, though, are a different story. Elements of quantum physics, like photons and electrons, are all identical to one another. This makes it possible replicate them in another space at the same time. It should be noted that quantum teleportation doesn’t eliminate the existence of the first photon, electron, or neuron, it simply immediately transfers its data to another location. 

Basically, all of this is to say that although real-life teleportation won’t beam you from one place to another in a flash, it could make data transfers more secure than they have been in decades. 

Failing to see how quantum teleportation translates to heightened security? You’re in good company, it’s difficult for most people who aren’t physicists to wrap their heads around this idea. Think of quantum particles as a pair of dancers. Once they become involved in something called quantum entanglement, the connection cannot be broken even if there’s a great deal of space between them. 

Like two dancers, one particle will always react to another. Therefore, someone at the receiving end of a series of particles could decipher a message based on their relationship to entangled particles from the sender. In this way, highly encrypted messages could be sent from one place to another. 

Why Can’t It Work for Humans?

The only reason that quantum teleportation is possible is that the particles are so small and simple that they don’t require any sort of unpacking or breaking down. People, on the other hand, contain a massive number of atoms that would all have to be broken down and reconfigured in a new place. The breaking down on its own would almost certainly prove lethal for any living being. 

Still, the idea that teleportation can occur at all was born out of myth and legend. Without Shakespeare’s The Tempest, or the original story of Aladdin, scientists may never have conceptualized the possibility of teleportation.

The idea has been further cemented by countless film and television depictions of teleportation, from Star Trek to The Wizard of Oz. Basically, teleportation of living beings is theoretically possible (there are particles everywhere in the universe that could be configured into a new creature), but it’s highly unlikely. 

In any case, quantum teleportation allows for new questions and new possibilities. Even if the only application that these developments ever lead to is a new method for more secure data transfer, even that will be a feat of modern science.

Holographic Touch Screen Computers

There was a time when video was the newest frontier of visual technology, but modern society has become jaded to the wonders of display.

Still, even digital natives are bound to be mystified by the rise of holographic touch screens, and they may soon be coming to a computer near you. 

Different Modes of Function

The concept of a holographic touch screen is basically self explanatory based on the name. They feature 3D graphics that can be manipulated by touch, but the ways in which different companies plan to implement this technology vary substantially. 

A New York-based startup chose not to rest on any laurels when it came to developing their holographic touch screens. Of course, touch screen technology itself is the basis for this endeavour, but rather than make their product look like anything else on the market, Looking Glass Factory created something wholly different in 2018. 

Their screen looks more like a cube than a traditional monitor. It is essentially two different computer screens, which combined allow you to view things as three dimensional. These screens are intended for designers or health care professionals whose jobs rely upon seeing images very accurately. 

Though these displays are impressive by all accounts, they’re not exactly user friendly. The Looking Glass system must be hooked up to a separate computer, and doesn’t display an entire screen in holographic form, but rather only certain parts. 

Perhaps a more consumer friendly option is one that Apple may unveil, if a 2011 patent ever comes to fruition. The patent featured a holographic touch screen system similar to that projection keyboards. A series of lenses would create 3D graphics in front of a screen, and those same lenses would be used to determine where a user’s fingers are interrupting the light. 

This disruption would signal to the device it is being touched, and the graphics would respond accordingly. Of course, this system would take some adjustment from users as they wouldn’t physically be “touching” anything other than light. 

Far Out Theories and Futuristic Flicks

The inspiration for holographic touch screens comes, perhaps, from multiple sources. The first of these is obviously the technology of holography itself, which was first conceptualized in 1947. At the time, the possibility of holographic items was viewed as more scientifically useful than recreational. 

An even greater source of inspiration for these computer screens may come from science fiction, which has long been a hypothetical champion for such devices. Think of any kind of control room scene, from that in the newest member of the Spiderman franchise to Avatar—are the screens holographic? Are they manipulated by touch? Of course. 

Unlike many other technologies that aren’t widely commercially available, there is no question that holographic touch screens are entirely possible. In reality, the same technology already exists in different applications. Whether it is the cost of implementing it, or the logistical restraints that have kept tech moguls from rolling out such products is uncertain. 

Someday, perhaps not so far in the future, you’ll have a hard time remembering that your computer screen was ever two dimensional, or that you ever had to use a trackpad or mouse to manipulate it.