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    Technology

    THE NEW LIFE OF A BATTERY

     

    In the past two decades, almost all the new technologies developed require some kind of battery to power them. And although smart devices like smartphones, smart homes, and smart wearables are becoming even more advanced they are being limited in evolution because of the limited power supply provided by the batteries used to power them. For a few decades now, there has been no significant advancement of batteries but it is believed that this is about to be changed in the coming years because of the fact that we are on the verge of a power revolution.

    Huge brands in the technology world are have taken interest in finding a way to provide a better alternative to the Lithium-ion batteries that are currently used in most devices as a result of the limitations of the Lithium-ion batteries. There have been a rapid evolution of the chips and operating system of these devices that make them more efficient to save power. Currently, the batteries of most of these devices can only last a day or two before we have to recharge them. However, various research institutes have started to show interest in developing a new way to power these devices.

    Although it may take some period of time before we are able to develop batteries that will last a week, there has been some development in this field presently.  Some of the most promising battery discoveries that may prove to be a great thing in the future include;

    GOLD NANOWIRE BATTERIES

    Some year back, some researcher at the University of California claimed that they have successfully developed nanowire batteries that are capable of withstanding plenty of recharging. If this works, it could result in the development of batteries that do not die. These batteries will be made with nanowires, which are a thousand times thinner than the human hair. These nanowires batteries have always broken down when they are being recharged. However, the nanowire batteries developed by the University of California are said to make use of gold nanowires that are in a gel electrolyte to prevent them from breaking down when recharging. These nanowire batteries were tested and are said to be capable of recharging over 200000 times in a matter of three months and displayed no sign of degradation at all.

     

    SOLID STATE LITHIUM IONS

    The solid-state Lithium batteries are said to be capable of providing stability but at the cost of electrolyte transmission. Some time ago, the Toyota scientist published a paper that explains their tests of a solid state battery that uses sulfide supersonic conductors. This process is then used to develop a battery that is capable of working at super capacitor level to completely charge or discharge in about seven minutes. This battery is the perfect battery for cars.

    The solid state of these batteries makes them more stable and safer than the present Lithium-ion batteries. The solid state battery is said to be able to operate in temperature as low as -30 degrees Celsius and as high as 100 degrees Celsius. However, one of the main downsides of this new battery is the fact that the electrolyte needed still pose challenges.

     

    SODIUM ION BATTERIES

    Some scientists in Japan are currently working on new kinds of batteries that do not require Lithium like your smartphone battery. This new type of batteries will make use of sodium, one of the most common materials on Earth as opposed to Lithium which is very rare. These new batteries are said to seven times more efficient than the Lithium-ion battery.

    The development of Sodium ion batteries has been going on since the 1980s when researchers were looking for a better and cheaper alternative to Lithium-ion batteries. Since sodium is the sixth most common element on Earth, these batteries should be cheaper to make. These batteries are said to be expected to be made in commercial size in the next five to ten years.

     

    UPP HYDROGEN FUEL CELL

    The Hydrogen fuel cell charger is a portable charger that was developed by Upp. This portable charger makes use of hydrogen to power a device and keep you off the grid. This charger is also very environmentally friendly. One hydrogen fuel cell is capable of providing about five full charges of a mobile phone. It has 25Wh capacity in each cell. The hydrogen cell only has one by-product which is released in form of water vapor. This hydrogen fuel cell charger is capable of charging most USB devices with a 5V, 5W, 1000mA output.

     

    UBEAM OVER THE AIR CHARGING

    UBeam is an over the air charging battery that uses ultrasound to transmit electricity. The power is then changed to sound waves that are inaudible to animals and humans, which is then transmitted and changed back to power when it reaches the device.

    The over the air charging concept was discovered by a 25-year-old astrobiology graduate Meredith Perry. She established the company that will start developing a way to charge gadgets over the air with the use of a 5mm thick plate. This method uses transmitters that can be attached to the walls or made into decorative art, to transmit power to smartphones and laptops. These gadgets will only require a thin receiver to receive the charge.

     

    STOREDOT

    Storedot is a start company in the nanotechnology department at Tel Aviv University that has designed a charger that is capable of charging a mobile in 30 seconds. The Storedot charger can work with current smartphones and it makes use biological semiconductors that are made from naturally occurring organic compounds known as peptides which are short chains of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins).

    This process is used to develop a charger that is capable of charging smartphones in about 60 seconds. The battery will contain a non-flammable organic compound that is enclosed in a multi-layer safety protection structure that prevents overvoltage and overheating, so there will be no issues of an explosion.

     

    REFERENCES

    Pocket-lint

    Battery University

     Saft Batteries

     

    The Tech Tale of Cities and Amazon

    The Tech Tale of Cities and Amazon


    The tech revolution is really becoming stronger and stronger every day. It is driving many economies across the globe, and we will experience an expansion in the tech space.

    This is what is driving Amazon to establish its second headquarters in three cities, a decision that is guided by talent, demographics and local government incentives.

    This move is projected to create about 50,000 jobs across the three cities.


    Ever since Amazon announced that it was considering establishing its second headquarters, many cities staged themselves and joined the race so that they could be picked by Amazon.

    However, along with the local government incentives, which could be in form of subsidies, the tech giant is really interested in cities that have a long-term commitment to the education, innovation and livability.

    The move by Amazon to these cities would be a huge benefit to their communities.


    Three cities that could be shortlisted
    includes New York, Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia and Dallas. However, Amazon is still far in their selection.


    Just recently, Wall Street Journal and New York Times had indicated that Amazon may be splitting its future second headquarters between two cities, New York and Arlington, with 25,000 jobs in each.

    The process of looking for the right cities to establish the second headquarters has certainly not been rushed, actually, Amazon released their 20 cities shortlist in January 2018. It is expected that the selection of the final site will be revealed before the end of the year.


    It has always been believed that Northern Virginia was always the favoured site to receive the second headquarters of the retail giant,  owing to its proximity to Washington D.C. talks are still advancing with representatives in New York and Dallas.


    There are various factors that were used in the selection of the 20 finalists, including their interest in university research, science education and accessible neighbourhoods.

    These cities may not be the ones that offer the best incentives in the country, but they are believed to be having the best public and private assets in addition to their interest in education and innovation.


    There were cities that fared better than others, and it is believed that even they would not be selected by Amazon, they would still create more tech jobs long into the future.

    Cities that fare the least, are actually working very hard to outperform the rest of the country in terms of creating more tech jobs which help accelerate future growth regardless of Amazon’s decision.


    How cities stack up as a tech economy.
    Amazon is really interested in a deep pool of talented workers. This is one great indicator that distinguishes cities on the Amazon’s final list from other areas and it is actually what makes New York City among the top cities that should be selected by the retail giant.

    By talking about a deep pool of talented workers, we are talking about the software development engineers who are at a premium in the American workforce.


    In fact, every city that is really faring greatly in this talent is on Amazon’s list. New York is one city that is quite attractive and producing the top software development engineers.


    It is important to note that tech firms are not only interested in programmers, but also they need accountants and architects, consultants and managers. All these industries work together in one way or another, and they lead to a city that is rich in talent that is invaluable to tech firms.


    Amazon would also be keen at looking at cities have high numbers of filing for patents. In fact, filing for a patent is a good indicator that a new idea has been brought up and is being developed.

    This actually happens hand in hand with the local universities, which are known to accelerate the development of the idea until it matures. This a good factor because, as mentioned earlier , Amazon really wants a city that has long commitments to education.

    New York is doing well in this segment, but it cannot be said to be the best.The growth of young firms in New York together with other top cities on the list are vibrant cities where  young firms are launched andaare able to thrive.

    There are low levels of young firms failing to grow. Due to this, these cities are able to start and grow companies, which are actually job creators.


    In this cities also, digital services companies are continuously coming up and are able to thrive because every company knows the value of being strategically placed on the internet.

    These digital services companies are a fast-growing part of the economy, and the growth is now happening in various other cities.


    Nurturing new talent

    Amazon values education and is keen on looking for cities that are highly committed to education. There are regions that produce more college graduates than others.

    Those with more college graduates are able to expand their pool of talented workers in various fields such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).


    A city that experiences a greater production of college graduates has a deep pool of talented workforce that most tech firms would be looking for.

    Amazon and any other tech firm know the importance of STEM talent. The cities with the strongest scores in the nurturing new talent have always focused on building and attracting STEM talent for many years.


    Quality of life and transportation.


    Cities with a good quality of life seem to attract more workers. The quality of life goes hand in hand with the housing stocks and transport systems.

    The top cities in Amazon’s list seem to do very well in this area.  A lot of workers would want to work in those cities, which contributes to the expansion of their pool of talent.


    What cities offered Amazon so that they can be selected. 


    Details of what cities offered Amazon have been hard to get. Amazon has seen a lot of offers going its way from the various cities that they shortlisted.

    Some cities have actually tried so much to get the attention of Jeff Bezos, like Tucson, Arizona, sent a 20-foot cactus to Amazon, while the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri claimed he had bought quite a good number of items on Amazon and left reviews which included details of the city on each and every product.

    However, these were just stunts that never worked for these two cities for they failed to appear in the final list.


    Those that made it to the 20 finalists’ list, on the other hand, have offered massive incentives in terms of tax breaks and development sites.

    However, there are cities that have chosen to keep their offers a secret.


    The reason for these cities to make very nice offers is very evident and any city would wish to have Amazon establish their second headquarters in them.

    The greatest thing that has prompted, so many cities to offer what they can, to get Jeff Bezos’ attention is the fact that the company expects to spend more than $5 billion on its new project and better yet it would lead to the creation of 50,000 jobs to its new second headquarters.


    Atlanta’s mayor, Kasim Reed, said that the city would offer  great incentives and development that would worth more than $1 billion.

    Boston, actually proposed an Amazon Task Force in its 109-page bid, wherein it stated that they would have paid city staffers who would be the representatives of Amazon in the Boston’s government.


    New York is offering a huge space for both development and housing for potential employees of the retail giant who would move there.

    Northern Virginia, on the other hand, has opted to keep its bid details a secret. Additionally, a city like Dallas and Austin, Texas are not offering any major tax break, but they are keen on showing their merits.


    Why Washington D.C. is considered the front-runner?


    One thing that you should note is that the selection process has been kept a secret with an incredible operational security and no leaks.

    However, almost everyone thinks that it will go to the Washington D.C. region. This could be due to various reason including that the district would give the company a local base for influencing national decisions as well as a huge local workforce that would make it hard to demonize the company.

    Also, it is believed that Jeff Bezos is renovating his large mansion in Washington D.C. which would be a great place to hold galas and events. Jeff Bezos is also the owner of Washington Post Newspaper.


    Conclusion


    Currently, a lot of speculation is happening, but the final city is expected to be announced soon. Every city wants to have Amazon establish their second headquarters in them.

    This will have a huge impact on the local communities, in terms of the creation of more jobs and the acceleration of the economy. 

    LEOS: LEOs For The Future

     

    There has been a rapid growth of Low-Earth-Orbit technology, which is simply known as LEO, constellation technology in recent years. This was triggered by with start of the new space revolution.
    Despite this rapid growth, people still have a better understanding of the LEO constellation. They are not quite so conversant with the new satellite innovations and technologies. So there is a need to give people more insights about this innovation and technologies.
    The LEO industry is not slowing down any time soon, in fact, the industry is projected to skyrocket in the near future due to the advancement and arising of new technologies which are being utilized in the ground-breaking opportunities.
    The LEO industry can also be referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Space Revolution.
    Here you are about to get some great information about the LEO industry, as well as the technology and the innovation that has been utilized in the industry.
    The purpose of the large LEO constellations.
    The large LEO constellation is there to serve one obvious purpose, which is to have a constant 100% global coverage. Data shows that there are slightly less than 4 billion current internet users in the world, and this means that another 4 billion people do not have internet access.
    This a problem that the new developments in the LEO satellite constellations are seeking to address. While the new LEO constellations have been developed with the intention to achieve or get closer to 100% internet access, they also want to provide 100% coverage in certain areas such as the constant worldwide surveillance and imaging.
    • There are many smaller LEO satellites that are used. These numerous smaller satellites are launched to the low-earth-orbit so that they can work together and operate effectively as one large satellite. On the other hand, the large constellations are launched to provide a global coverage given their location relative to earth.
    The difference between LEO satellites and traditional satellites.
    Traditional satellites have always been GEO satellites. GEO means Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit, which is a circular orbit 35,786 kilometres above the earth’s equator and follows the direction of the earth’s rotation.
    The traditional satellites, being GEO satellites are, therefore, fixed at a position on the GEO belt which moves with the earth as it rotates. Since they are placed at a larger distance than the LEO satellites they are able to cover larger areas of Earth- the land mass and water bodies.
    Traditional satellites are associated with several limitations as opposed to LEO satellites. The limitations include:
    • GEO satellites do not offer coverage around the polar caps.
    • The entire frequency spectrum is shared across the entire coverage area.
    • The mobile antennas on the ground that point to a GEO satellite experiences limitations and challenges. This happens as the mobile antenna moves further away in longitude from the orbital slot location.
    The frequency bands that the LEO constellations will operate on
    Currently, it is not clearly known what frequency spectrum will be used by the LEO satellites. However, it is confirmed that if they were to use the C-band, it would be necessary to use larger antennas on the ground in order to support the C-band LEO constellation. Therefore, this would present some limits to the new LEO constellations in terms of providing global internet access to anyone at home across the globe.
    C-band is currently widely used, thus it would not need interferences since it would lead to some problem. It is always known n that the higher the band, the more bandwidth is available. Additionally, the higher the frequency the less widely it is used. This leads to less interference.
    The best thing about selecting the right frequency band to be used in any constellation is that there are guidelines that are set and frequency spectrums that are allocated which help in the decision about which bands can be used and which cannot be used for various applications.
    The frequency spectrum that is being used in the LEO satellite is based on approval from government ran regulatory bodies such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
    The spectrum that any company chooses to use in their development of their LEO satellite constellation should not interfere with any existing satellite constellation systems and terrestrial networks. This can be ensured by filing an application to get an approval, which can also be put in the public domain so that users can raise concerns if any.
    Some of the LEO constellations such as the Leo sat and OneWeb filed with the FCC for approval to use the Ku-band for the RF links between the satellites and the user terminals, and Ka-band for RF links between the satellites and gateway earth stations. Similarly, SpaceX had filed for the same in 2016, but later in the Spring of 2017, they refiled for the approval to use a V-band solution for all satellite uplinks and downlinks.
    SpaceX Starlink
    In 2015, Elon Musk announced the SpaceX Starlink program which would revolutionize the satellite side of things. Thus in 2016, SpaceX filed the FCC application, which wanted an approval for 1600 satellites to go up until 2021. The satellites were later reduced to 800.
    These satellites would fly between 1,100 km and 1,325 km above the ground, and go round the Earth in 83 distinct orbital planes. The satellites will communicate with one another via onboard optical links such that data could be bounced along the sky rather than coming back to the ground.
    On the ground consumers will be required to mount a new terminal with electronic antennas that will automatically connect to whichever satellite that is offering the best signal. As I stated earlier, LEO satellites move relative to the Earth, thus the system will switch between the consumers and the satellites every 10 minutes or so.
    There will be thousands of satellites in the sky, therefore, this means that there will be not less than 20 available to choose from.
    The communication of these satellites will be based on two frequency bands: Ka and Ku. These bands appear on the radio spectrum, but at higher frequencies. Ka-band has higher frequencies between 26.5GHz and 40GHz, while Ku-band has frequencies ranging from 12GHz to 18GHz.
    In February, SpaceX actually launched its first two Starlink satellites which are shaped like cylinders and have solar panels for wings. They are referred to as Tintin A and B which were confirmed to be successfully communicating. If these prototypes continue to work, other numerous satellites would be launched to join them in 2019. If this system will operational they will replace the decommissioned satellites, in which they would be instructed to lower their orbits such that they would fall toward Earth and burn up on re-entry, and in the process, this would help reduce space debris.
    Reduced Latency
    Latency is the amount of time it takes information to travel from your computer to its destination and then back to your computer. The GSO satellites have a latency of about 700 milliseconds which is quite high compared to the LEO satellites.
    The LEO satellite is much closer to the users and that’s why SpaceX and LeoSat have chosen to develop their LEO satellites. They are anticipating a latency of about 20 to 30 milliseconds. So the latency that is associated with the LEO satellites is very low compared to other satellites.
    However, the LEO system actually is a trade-off such that you get a lower latency but the system is complex. You will have to launch hundreds of satellites in order to ensure you have a complete constellation. Also, you need to have an antenna system that is able to track them.
    Competition in the LEO system
    There are about 12 companies that are actively taking part in the development of LEO constellation the Richard Branson’s OneWeb is actually launching its satellites, and their services are expected to start in 2019. They are also planning to launch several more constellations in 2021 and 2023, where they are targeting 1,000 terabits by 2025.
    There is also Telesat which operates GSO satellites but has plans on LEO system for 2021 which will feature optical links with expected latency of 30 milliseconds to 50 milliseconds.
    LeoSat is planning to launch its first round of satellites in 2019 which would go through to 2022. These satellites will move round the Earth at 1,400km high. They will connect to other satellites in the mesh through optical communications and beam information up and down in Ku-band.
    LeoSat is actually setting up 78 satellites that weigh about 1,200Kg featuring four panels and four lasers that will help connect to other neighbouring satellites. This connection is very important as it will help satellites to pass data along faster.
    Every company that is pursuing the LEO system, has its own innovation and technology which might be more supreme than the other. One thing to note is that these companies have different target markets and they are actually working together in various aspects so that they can reach their target markets. Some are targeting the planes, ships and military bases while others are focusing on developing nations or rural consumers. However, the ultimate goal of all these companies is one: to provide internet access to all the areas where there is none or where it’s insufficient at a cost low enough to sustain their business model.